BREAKING: FBI plans, interview questions discovered in raided activist’s home

Activists in the Twin Cities today announced at a press conference that they were releasing a recently-found document that was left behind by federal agents when they raided Mick Kelly and Linden Gawboy’s Minneapolis home on 24 September 2010.

The FBI confirmed to the Associated Press that the documents appear to be authentic and were accidentally left behind during the raid.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression said in a statement:

FBI agents, who raided the home of Mick Kelly and Linden Gawboy, took with them thousands of pages of documents and books, along with computers, cell phones and a passport. By mistake, they also left something behind; the operation plans for the raid, “Interview questions” for anti-war and international solidarity activists, duplicate evidence collection forms, etc. The file of secret FBI documents was accidently mixed in with Gawboy’s files, and was found in a filing cabinet on April 30. We are now releasing them to the public.

The press conference was held at the office of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, which was raided the same day as the Kelly-Gawboy home. It is believed that the key used to raid the office was one that had belonged to a woman known as Karen Sullivan, now confirmed to be an undercover agent, and whose word appears to be the basis for the investigation.

The investigation has so far targeted 23 activists — several homes in the Twin Cities and Chicago were raided on 24 September 2010 and 14 activists were subpoenaed that month. After they refused to testify before a grand jury, nine more activists — all of them active in the Palestinian community or involved in Palestine solidarity work — in Chicago were subpoenaed, including myself (I believe I have been subpoenaed because of my solidarity organizing in Chicago, not because of my work with The Electronic Intifada). All 23 of us have refused to testify before the grand jury.

Last week we reported that bank accounts of one of the targeted activists, Palestinian community organizer Hatem Abudayyeh, and his wife were frozen but restored after a flood of phone calls were made to protest the move.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression statement adds:

Taken as a whole, the secret FBI file shows the willful disregard for the rights of anti-war and international solidarity activists - particularly the first amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. The documents make it clear that legal activity in solidarity with the peoples of Colombia and Palestine is being targeted. The documents use McCarthy-era language, which gives one the feel that the 1950s red scare has returned. And finally, the documents show the chilling plans for the armed raid that took place at the home of Kelly and Gawboy on September 24, 2010.

The documents show that public advocacy for the people of Colombia was the genesis of the FBI investigation. The ‘Operations Order’ for the FBI SWAT Team states “The captioned case was initially predicated on the activities of Meredith Aby and Jessica Rae Sundin in support of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a U.S. State Department designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO), to include their travel to FARC controlled territory.”

While we have no way of knowing if it was speaking tours or educational events on Colombia that got them so riled up, there is something we can state with certainty: There is nothing illegal about traveling to Colombia, or visiting the areas where the FARC is in charge. This is something that journalists, including U.S. journalists, do, and we have yet to hear of their doors being broken down. Upon returning from Colombia, Aby and Sundin spoke at many public events about their experiences.

The FBI interview questions for Meredith Aby ask “1) Have you ever met Lilia [sic] Obando? 2) Where? 3) When? 4) Why?” Liliana Obando is a well-known Colombian trade unionist who spoke in the Twin Cities at an event organized by the Anti-War Committee. She received a visa to travel in the U.S. from the U.S. government.

In addition to focusing on associational information and travel to Palestine and Colombia, the interview questions focus on the Freedom Road Socialist Organization:

The FBI documents include 57 interview questions about Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the organization that some of those who were raided or subpoenaed to the Grand Jury are members of. The questions include; “Are you a member?” “How many members are there?” “Who are the leaders?” And on and on and on. It is like pages of the calendar have been turned back 60 years.

The documents also show the amount of force used to raid the anti-war and social justice activists’ home. The committee says in the statement:

In the documents, the “Operations order” for FBI SWAT for “Operation Principal Parts” the raid on the Kelly/Gawboy home has the word “DANGEROUS” in underlined bold type at the top of the page. FBI agents were told to bring assault rifles, machine guns and two extra clips of ammunition for each of their side arms. Two paramedics were to stand by in the event of causalities. Other documents include photos of Kelly and Gawboy, as well as pictures of stairs leading to their front door and the front door itself.

What transpired on September 24 was this. Gawboy was awoken by the FBI pounding on the door. When she stated she wanted to see the search warrant, agents used a battering ram on the door, breaking the hardware and shattering a fish tank in the process. Gawboy was taken down the front steps in her nightgown while the FBI swat team entered her home.

The justification for this armed home invasion is given in the “Operations plan” - “Kelly is believed to be the owner of an unknown number of firearms which may be at his residence…”

Kelly, who learned to shoot while in Boy Scouts, owns guns - just like a lot of Minnesotans. The “Operation Plan” also claims that Kelly “offered to provide weapons training” - an outright lie that originated with the police infiltrator “Karen Sullivan” or a fiction writer at the FBI office.

Those of us who have been ensared in this fishing expedition have claimed from the beginning that activists are being targeted for organizing in opposition to US foreign policy in the Middle East and South America, and because of first-amendment activity like travel and association. The interview questions confirm that this is the focus.

Imagine being asked any of the following questions — all listed in the document — knowing that if you are not able to answer them completely, you could be vultnerable to perjury or contempt-type charges (emphasis mine):

“Have you, anyone from FRSO [Freedom Road Socialist Organization], or anyone you know, ever traveled to South America?”

“Have you, anyone else from FRSO, or anyone you know, ever traveled to the Middle East? Gaza? West Bank? Israel?”

And some questions are just incredible, like:

“Have you ever taken steps to overthrow the United States government?”

“What is your husband’s immigration status?”

“What do you think of terrorist groups? Do you support them?”

“Have you ever recruited fighters to the FRSO?”

As the Committee to Stop FBI Repression concluded in its statement today:

The bottom line is this: there can be no justification for the raid in the first place, and still less for it to be done by agents smashing doors and wielding machine guns. This is a recipe for people getting hurt or killed.

The events of September 24 and the ongoing grand jury are not about “material support of terrorism,” as any normal person would understand it. What is happening is this: anti-war and international solidarity activists are being targeted for practicing our rights to speak out and organize. We have done nothing wrong. Our activism is making this world a better place.

The documents left behind by federal agents can be downloaded from stopfbi.net.

 

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.