French cartoonist Zeon arrested for anti-Zionist work


The French cartoonist Zeon was [arrested] Tuesday morning … by four police officers of the Brigade of Repression of Delinquency People (BRDP).

[At 7am] four police officers woke the cartoonist to take him before the judge to the High Court Instance of Paris. A complaint appears to have been filed by the BNVCA (National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism).

The complaint seems to refer to the drawing – for which Zeon had yet been released last year by the 17th chamber – representing a balance and unbalanced weight of several historical crimes, but also for another drawing, which was not retained by the prosecutor at the trial, representing a Palestinian child stabbed by a Israel-shaped knife.

The judge has indicted the designer of incitement to racial, religious hatred, by speech, writing, picture or means of electronic communication. Zeon refused to answer his questions. He was set free in late morning.

Quick reminder on the BNVCA

The National Bureau of Vigilance against Racism and Anti-Semitism was founded by the Commissioner of Police Sammy Ghozlan in March 2002 with Union support Jewish bosses of France and the Word and Light Association (offshoot of the Simon Center Wiesenthal).

According BNVCA site itself, this organization has a unique community privilege to make complaints of “anti-Semitic aggression.”

Source: Alain Soral’s Egalite Réconciliation


IN THE VIDEO, Sami Osmakac is tall and gaunt, with jutting cheekbones and a scraggly beard. He sits cross-legged on the maroon carpet of the hotel room, wearing white cotton socks and pants that rise up his legs to reveal his thin, pale ankles. An AK-47 leans against the closet door behind him. What appears to be a suicide vest is strapped to his body. In his right hand is a pistol. 

“Recording,” says an unseen man behind the camera.

“This video is to all the Muslim youth and to all the Muslims worldwide,” Osmakac says, looking straight into the lens. “This is a call to the truth. It is the call to help and aid in the party of Allah … and pay him back for every sister that has been raped and every brother that has been tortured and raped.”


Osmakac in his “martyrdom video.” (YouTube)

The recording goes on for about eight minutes. Osmakac says he’ll avenge the deaths of Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere. He refers to Americans as kuffar, an Arabic term for nonbelievers. “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” he says. “Woman for a woman, child for a child.”

Osmakac was 25 years old on January 7, 2012, when he filmed what the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice would later call a “martyrdom video.” He was also broke and struggling with mental illness.

After recording this video in a rundown Days Inn in Tampa, Florida, Osmakac prepared to deliver what he thought was a car bomb to a popular Irish bar. According to the government, Osmakac was a dangerous, lone-wolf terrorist who would have bombed the Tampa bar, then headed to a local casino where he would have taken hostages, before finally detonating his suicide vest once police arrived.

But if Osmakac was a terrorist, he was only one in his troubled mind and in the minds of ambitious federal agents. The government could not provide any evidence that he had connections to international terrorists. He didn’t have his own weapons. He didn’t even have enough money to replace the dead battery in his beat-up, green 1994 Honda Accord.

Osmakac was the target of an elaborately orchestrated FBI sting that involved a paid informant, as well as FBI agents and support staff working on the setup for more than three months. The FBI provided all of the weapons seen in Osmakac’s martyrdom video. The bureau also gave Osmakac the car bomb he allegedly planned to detonate, and even money for a taxi so he could get to where the FBI needed him to go. Osmakac was a deeply disturbed young man, according to several of the psychiatrists and psychologists who examined him before trial. He became a “terrorist” only after the FBI provided the means, opportunity and final prodding necessary to make him one.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI has arrested dozens of young men like Osmakac in controversial counterterrorism stings. One recent case involved a rudderless 20-year-old in Cincinnati, Ohio, named Christopher Cornell, who conspired with an FBI informant — seeking “favorable treatment” for his own “criminal exposure” — in a harebrained plot to build pipe bombs and attack Capitol Hill. And just last month, on February 25, the FBI arrested and charged two Brooklyn men for plotting, with the aid of a paid informant, to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State. The likelihood that the men would have stepped foot in Syria of their own accord seems low; only after they met the informant, who helped with travel applications and other hurdles, did their planning take shape.

FBI Tampa Field Office

FBI Tampa Florida Field Office. (Trevor Aaronson)

Informant-led sting operations are central to the FBI’s counterterrorism program. Of 508 defendants prosecuted in federal terrorism-related cases in the decade after 9/11, 243 were involved with an FBI informant, while 158 were the targets of sting operations. Of those cases, an informant or FBI undercover operative led 49 defendants in their terrorism plots, similar to the way Osmakac was led in his.

In these cases, the FBI says paid informants and undercover agents are foiling attacks before they occur. But the evidence suggests — and a recentHuman Rights Watch report on the subject illustrates — that the FBI isn’t always nabbing would-be terrorists so much as setting up mentally ill or economically desperate people to commit crimes they could never have accomplished on their own.

At least in Osmakac’s case, FBI agents seem to agree with that criticism, though they never intended for that admission to become public. In the Osmakac sting, the undercover FBI agent went by the pseudonym “Amir Jones.” He’s the guy behind the camera in Osmakac’s martyrdom video. Amir, posing as a dealer who could provide weapons, wore a hidden recording device throughout the sting.

The device picked up conversations, including, apparently, back at the FBI’s Tampa Field Office, a gated compound beneath the flight path of Tampa International Airport, among agents and employees who assumed their words were private and protected. These unintentional recordings offer an exclusive look inside an FBI counterterrorism sting, and suggest that, even in the eyes of the FBI agents involved, these sting targets aren’t always the threatening figures they are made out to be.

Film by Jeff Stimmel (no audio)

ON JANUARY 7, 2012, after the martyrdom video was recorded, Amir and others poked fun at Osmakac and the little movie the FBI had helped him produce.

“When he was putting stuff on, he acted like he was nervous,” one of the speakers tells Amir. “He kept backing away …”

“Yeah,” Amir agrees.

“He looked nervous on the camera,” someone else adds.

“Yeah, he got excited. I think he got excited when he saw the stuff,” Amir says, referring to the weapons that were laid out on the hotel bed.

“Oh, yeah, you could tell,” yet another person chimes in. “He was all like, like a, like a six-year-old in a toy store.”

In other recorded conservations, Richard Worms, the FBI squad supervisor, describes Osmakac as a “retarded fool” who doesn’t have “a pot to piss in.”The agents talk about the prosecutors’ eagerness for a “Hollywood ending” for their sting. They refer to Osmakac’s targets as “wishy-washy,” and his terrorist ambitions as a “pipe-dream scenario.” The transcripts show FBI agents struggled to put $500 in Osmakac’s hands so he could make a down payment on the weapons — something the Justice Department insisted on to demonstrate Osmakac’s capacity for and commitment to terrorism.

“The money represents he’s willing to do it, because if we can’t show him killing, we can show him giving money,” FBI Special Agent Taylor Reed explains in one conversation.

These transcripts were never supposed to be revealed in their entirety. The government argued that their release could harm the U.S. government by revealing “law enforcement investigative strategy and methods.” U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony E. Porcelli not only sealed the transcripts, but also placed them under a protective order.

The files, provided by a confidential source to The Intercept in partnership with the Investigative Fund, provide a rare behind-the-scenes account of an FBI counterterrorism sting, revealing how federal agents leveraged their relationship with a paid informant and plotted for months to turn the hapless Sami Osmakac into a terrorist. Neither the FBI Tampa Field Office nor FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. responded to requests from The Intercept for comment on the Osmakac case or the remarks made by FBI agents and employees about the sting.

Osmakac as a boy. (Photo courtesy of the Osmakac family)

SAMI OSMAKAC WAS 13 years old when he came to the United States with his family. Fleeing violence in Kosovo in 1992, they had first traveled to Germany, where they stayed until 2000, when they were granted entrance to the U.S. He was the youngest of eight children, and he and his older brother Avni struggled at first to adapt to a new land, a new language and a new culture.

“We came to Tampa, and at first we lived in this really bad neighborhood,” Avni recalls, wearing blue jeans, spotless white Nikes and a white New York Yankees Starter cap. “It was tough, but as we learned the language, things got easier. We adapted.”

The Osmakac family opened a popular bakery in St. Petersburg, across the bay from Tampa. They were Muslim, but they rarely attended the mosque. They didn’t usually fast during Ramadan, and Sami’s sisters did not cover their hair. Growing up, Sami wasn’t particularly drawn to Islam either, according to his family. He suffered the concerns many young men in the United States do, like getting a job and saving up for a car.

In July 2009, one of Sami’s older brothers had returned to Kosovo to get married, and just before Sami was to fly to the Balkans with his brother Avni for the wedding, he had a terrible dream. “An angel grabbed me by the face and pushed me into the hellfire,” he would later tell a psychologist. At the wedding, Avni took a photograph of Sami; he’s clean-shaven and wearing a pressed white suit. He looks happy. On the flight back from the wedding, during the final leg of the journey to Tampa, the plane Sami and his brother were on hit turbulence, losing altitude quickly. “I thought we were going to crash,” Avni remembers. Sami looked horrified.


Osmakac in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Osmakac family)

That’s when something changed in him, according to his family and mental health experts hired by both the government and the defense. Osmakac began to isolate himself from his siblings and attend the mosque frequently. He spoke of dreams about killing himself, and chastised family members for being more concerned about this life than what comes after.

In December 2009, Osmakac met a red-bearded Muslim named Russell Dennison at a local mosque. Dennison, who was American-born, was described by Osmakac as a “revert.” Muslims believe that all people are born with an understanding of the unity of Allah, so when a non-Muslim embraces Islam, some Muslims refer to this as reversion rather than conversion. Dennison went by the chosen name Abdullah; he says in a YouTube video that after being introduced to Islam, his faith grew stronger during a prison term in Pennsylvania. Osmakac’s dress changed after he met Dennison. Whereas he had once saved his money to buy nice shoes and Starter caps, he suddenly began to dress like Dennison, according to family members — cutting his pants high at the ankle, buying cheap plastic sandals and sometimes wearing a keffiyeh on his head. He refused to cut his beard, which he struggled to grow with any thickness, and he wouldn’t wear deodorant that contained alcohol.

It wasn’t just his physical appearance that was changing; by the beginning of 2010, his family also believed he was deteriorating mentally. He’d become paranoid and delusional. His skin was pale. He was sleeping on the floor of his bedroom and complained about nightmares in which he burned in hell. He stopped working at the family bakery because they served pork products. Near the end of the year, his family repeatedly asked him to see a doctor. He rebuffed them, saying that the doctors would want to kill him.(Osmakac later told a psychiatrist he in fact “was scared to go to a mental home.”)


Russell Dennison (YouTube)

Meanwhile, Osmakac’s friendship intensified with the red-bearded revert. Dennison, whose videos on YouTube are posted under the username “Chekdamize7,” frequently preached about Islam and ranted about the corruption of nonbelievers. Osmakac’s family believed that Dennison encouraged his extreme views, often recruiting him to make videos. Among their efforts was a two-part series in which they argued combatively about religion with Christians they confronted on the sidewalk.

Over the next year, Osmakac, who was without steady employment, established a reputation as a firebrand in the local Muslim community. He was kicked out of two mosques, and lashed out at local Muslim leaders in a YouTube video, calling them kuffar and infidels. In March 2011, Osmakac made his way to Turkey, in the hopes of traveling by land to Saudi Arabia, according to his brother. He’d been told that holy water from Mecca was a cure-all, Avni says — that if he drank it, the nightmares would cease. But Osmakac never got much farther than Istanbul, after encountering multiple transportation mishaps, and getting turned away at the Syrian border by officials who refused to let him cross without a visa. He quickly ran out of money, lost his will and called home for help. His family in Tampa helped purchase a plane ticket for him to return to Florida.

Osmakac would later tell several mental health professionals that he was in fact more interested in traveling to Afghanistan or Iraq to fight American troops, and perhaps even find a bride there. “If I got to Afghanistan or Iraq, someone would marry me to their daughter,” he mentioned to one psychologist. Osmakac got back in touch with Dennison in Florida, and would talk often of returning to a Muslim land so he could marry.


Osmakac’s altercation with Keffer, April 16, 2011. (YouTube)

ON APRIL 16, 2011, Osmakac was outside of a Lady Gaga concert in Tampa. Larry Keffer, a Christian street preacher with short-cropped brown hair and a thick, white beard, was outside the concert as well. Keffer was wearing a fishing hat, a green camouflage shirt and blue pants.

“Sin is a slippery slope,” Keffer yelled through a megaphone to the Lady Gaga fans as someone else recorded the demonstration.

Most of the crowd ignored Keffer. A few concertgoers taunted him. He taunted them back. A police officer directing traffic refused to acknowledge the demonstration, while Keffer ranted about Lady Gaga and the devil. Osmakac finally confronted Keffer, pointing his finger in the preacher’s face.

“You infidel, I know the Bible better than you,” Osmakac told the preacher.

“What’s your message?” Keffer replied, talking into the megaphone. 

“My message is, if y’all don’t accept Islam, y’all going to hell,” Osmakac said.

The men continued to provoke each other as people milled into the concert venue.

“Go have yourself a bacon sandwich,” Keffer told Osmakac.

“You infidel,” Osmakac said. “You infidel.”

As the argument escalated, Osmakac charged one of Keffer’s fellow demonstrators and head-butted him, bloodying the man’s mouth and breaking a dental cap. He then charged Keffer. Each wrapped his arms around the other, turning and twisting, until they broke free. The police officer managing traffic charged Osmakac with battery, giving him notice to appear in court. Osmakac was later arrested after failing to show up, Avni says, and his family had to bail him out; in just a few months’ time, Osmakac’s red-bearded friend would lead him straight into an FBI trap.


Java Village, owned by FBI informant Abdul Raouf Dabus. (Google Maps)

SAMI OSMAKAC AND Russell Dennison lived in Pinellas County, across the bay from Tampa. In September 2011, Dennison told Osmakac he knew a guy who ran a Middle Eastern market in Tampa. They should go see him, Dennison suggested. To this day, Osmakac doesn’t know why Dennison suggested this, or why he agreed to accompany him on the 45-minute drive to the store, called Java Village, near the Busch Gardens theme park.

When they arrived, Dennison introduced Osmakac to the owner, Abdul Raouf Dabus, a Palestinian. Dabus had flyers in his store promoting democracy, and he and Osmakac argued about the subject, with Osmakac contending that democracy and Islam were incompatible.

“Democracy makes the forbidden legal and the legal forbidden, and that’s greater infidelity,” Osmakac would tell Dabus. “Whoever enforces it is an infidel, is a Satan. Hamas is Satan. Muslim Brotherhood is Satan … If you don’t accept that God is the only legislator, then you become a polytheist, and that’s why I’m telling you.”

Osmakac didn’t know that Dabus would become an FBI informant. His work for the government has until now been secret.

According to the government’s version of events, Osmakac asked Dabus if he had Al Qaeda flags, or black banners. Osmakac disputes this, saying he never asked anyone for Al Qaeda flags.

Whatever the truth, the sting had just begun.


“He asked me if he can work a couple of hours, working and other stuff,” Dabus said in a phone interview from Gaza, where he now lives. “But it wasn’t really like a job. So basically, he was helping whenever he comes. And he got paid.” Dabus acknowledged he was paying Osmakac as the FBI was paying him.

In Tampa’s Muslim community, Dabus is well known. A former University of Mississippi math professor, Dabus was an associate of Sami Al-Arian, the University of South Florida professor who was indicted for allegedly providing material support to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in a case prosecutors argued proved successful intelligence-gathering under the Patriot Act. Dabus had worked at the Islamic Academy of Florida, an elementary and secondary private school for Muslims that Al-Arian had helped to found in Temple Terrace, a suburb of Tampa.

Dabus was among the witnesses in the Al-Arian trial, and his testimony was damaging to the government’s case. He testified that he had known Al-Arian only to raise money for charitable purposes, not for violence. During cross-examination, Dabus told the defense that he feared that Al-Arian’s trial meant Palestinians in the United States could no longer speak openly about the occupied territories. “There is no longer any security for the dog that barks in this country,” Dabus said.

He also questioned whether Al-Arian’s indictment suggested Muslims had become a new target for the U.S. government. “Our kids, will they have a future here?” he asked. “I don’t know.”

While Al-Arian would continue to battle federal prosecutors, living under house arrest in Virginia until finally agreeing to deportation to Turkey this year, Dabus remained in Tampa, active in the local religious and business community. But he acquired a reputation during this time for running up debts. From 2005 to 2012, he faced foreclosure actions on his home and businesses, as well as breach-of-contract and small-claims cases. In fact, when Dabus met Osmakac, he was in rough financial straits, records show. In July 2011, the bank holding the mortgage on his business’s building was granted approval to sell the property through foreclosure; Dabus owed $779,447. 

It’s unclear why Dabus became an FBI informant, or for how long he worked with the government. He says he was doing his civic duty in reporting Osmakac and the young man’s interest in acquiring weapons, and had not previously worked with the FBI, though an FBI affidavit in the Osmakac case described Dabus as having “provided reliable information in the past.”Money is a common motivator for FBI counterterrorism informants, who can earn $100,000 or more on a single case. Dabus estimates the FBI paid him $20,000 for his role in the Osmakac sting, though insists money did not motivate him.

On November 30, 2011, after Osmakac had begun working for Dabus, the two drove around the Tampa area together as Dabus secretly recorded their conversation for the FBI. Osmakac asked if Dabus could help him obtain guns and an explosive belt. However, transcripts suggest he was also having trouble separating reality from fantasy. “In the dream, I was shown that everywhere you go, everything you do, hush your mouth,” Osmakac says. “Don’t say nothing. So, yes, the dream is real. Allah showed me that dream for a reason. And he’s also protected me for a reason.”

A psychologist appointed by the court later diagnosed Osmakac with schizoaffective disorder.

Osmakac and undercover FBI agent “Amir Jones.” (YouTube)

ABOUT THREE WEEKS after this conversation, on instructions from the FBI, Dabus introduced Osmakac to “Amir Jones,” an undercover agent. He might be able to help Osmakac obtain weapons, Dabus told him.

“What are you looking for, so that I know if it’s something I can get you or not?” Amir asks Osmakac.

“I’m looking for, even if … one AK, at least,” Osmakac says.


“And maybe a couple of Uzi, ’cause they’re better to hide.”

“OK. OK.”

“If you can get the long extension like for the AK and the Uzi, the long magazines—”

“They’re called banana magazine,” Amir says. “OK.”

“And … couple of grenades, 10 grenades minimum, if you can,” Osmakac says.

“Now, and that’s it?” Amir asks.

“And a [explosive] belt.”

For all Osmakac’s talk, the FBI’s undercover videos suggest he was less a hardened terrorist and more a comic book villain. While driving around Tampa with Amir, a hidden FBI camera near the dashboard, Osmakac described a plot to bomb simultaneously the several large bridges that span Tampa Bay.

“That’s five bridges, man,” Osmakac says. “All you need is five more people …. This would crush everything, man. They would have no more food coming in. Nobody would have work. These people would commit suicide!”

Amir Jones, behind the wheel of the car, offered a hearty laugh.

BACK AMONG FEDERAL law enforcement agents, according to the secret transcripts of their private conversations, there were plenty of reasons to joke at Osmakac’s expense. FBI employees talked about how Osmakac didn’t have any money, how he thought the U.S. spy satellites were watching him, and how he had no concept of what weapons cost on the black market.

The source of their amusement was also their primary source of concern. Osmakac was, in the FBI’s own words, “a retarded fool” who didn’t have any capacity to plan and execute an attack on his own. That was a challenge for the FBI.


“Part of the problem is they want to catch him in the act,” FBI Special Agent Steve Dixon says, referring to federal prosecutors. “The attorneys do and stuff, but the problem is you can’t show up at a nightclub with an AK-47, in the middle of a nightclub, and pretend to start shooting people, or I mean people —”

“Right,” another speaker interrupts.

“— would get killed, just a stampede, just to get away from him,” Dixon finishes.

In constructing the sting, FBI agents were in communication with prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, the transcripts show. The prosecutors needed the FBI to show Osmakac giving Amir Jones money for the weapons. Over several conversations, the FBI agents struggled to create a situation that would allow the penniless Osmakac to hand cash to the undercover agent.

“How do we come up with enough money for them to pay for everything?” asks FBI Special Agent Taylor Reed in one recording.

“Right now, we have money issues,” Amir admits in a separate conversation.

Their advantage was that Dabus, the informant, had given Osmakac a job. If they could get Dabus to pay Osmakac, and then make sure Osmakac used his paycheck to make a payment toward the weapons, the agents could satisfy the Justice Department. “Once he gives it to him, it’s his money, whether we orchestrated it or not,” Reed says.

In conversations about this plan, FBI agents refer to Dabus as the “source,” short for confidential human source. “Jake” is FBI Special Agent Jacob Collins, who transcripts indicate worked closely with Dabus.

“The source has to tell him, ‘Hey, listen! You are gonna have to give [Amir] the three hundred bucks,’” says Richard Worms, the squad supervisor. “And that’s something Jake has the source tell him. ‘And I’ll take care of the rest … and here’s three hundred of my money for you.’ Is that something you accept?”

“That’s a feasible scenario,” Amir Jones answers.

“That’s what you’re going to do,” Worms says. “That way, the source has to be coached what to do.”

In order to avoid being vulnerable to entrapment claims, the FBI agents didn’t want their money being used to purchase their weapons in the sting. So they laundered the money through Dabus. In an interview, Dabus implicitly confirmed that arrangement, describing the $20,000 he estimates he received from the FBI as a mix of expenses and compensation.

“It also shows good intent,” Worms says of giving Osmakac the money, according to the transcripts. “He was willing to cough up almost his entire paycheck to get this thing going.”

“That does look really good,” concurs FBI Special Agent Taylor Reed.

Osmakac and Amir at a Days Inn in Tampa on January 7, 2012. (YouTube)

AMIR AND OSMAKAC arranged to meet at a Days Inn in Tampa on January 7, 2012. The FBI had the room wired with two cameras, a color one facing the headboard and a black-and-white one looking over the bed and toward the closet door, in front of which Osmakac would film his martyrdom video. Just as the FBI had orchestrated, Osmakac provided the cash to Amir as a down payment on the weapons.

The hotel surveillance video starts at 8:38 p.m. Osmakac is kneeling down on the floor and praying. He then stands and greets Amir, who has laid out the weapons on the bed. There are six grenades, a fully automatic AK-47 with magazines, a handgun and an explosive belt. Outside, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device is assembled in the bed of Amir’s truck. None of the guns or explosives was functional, but Osmakac didn’t know that.

“You know, they saying they like three trillion in debt, they like 200 trillion in debt,” Osmakac had said, describing their plot. “And after all this money they’re spending for Homeland Security and all this, this is gonna be crushing them.”

Amir shows Osmakac the weapons one by one. He demonstrates how to reload the guns, and how to arm and throw the grenades, as Osmakac had never received weapons training.

“This one’s fully automatic,” Amir says, as Osmakac holds the AK-47.

Osmakac then slips on the suicide vest, as Amir showed him, and sits down in front of the closet, where he’ll record his video. Amir is seated in a chair facing Osmakac, holding the digital camera out in front of him.

The FBI was making a movie — all the agents needed was, in their words, a “Hollywood ending.” Osmakac would give them that final scene.

Osmakac had settled on an Irish bar, MacDinton’s, as his target. The supposed plan, which Osmakac dreamed up with Amir, was for Osmakac to detonate the bomb outside the bar, and then unleash a second attack at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, before finally detonating his explosive vest once the cops surrounded him.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, FBI agents arrested him in the hotel parking lot. He was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction — a weapon the FBI had assembled just for him.

After the arrest, according to the sealed transcripts, the FBI agents intended to celebrate their efforts over beers.

“The case agent usually buys,” one of the FBI employees is recorded as saying. Another adds: “That’s true — the case agent usually pops for everybody.”

Osmakac loading the fake car bomb with Amir. (YouTube)

HOW OSMAKAC CAME to the attention of law enforcement in the first place is still unclear. In a December 2012 Senate floor speech, Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, cited Osmakac’s case as one of nine that demonstrated the effectiveness of surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act. Senate legal counsel later walked back those comments, saying they were misconstrued. Osmakac is among terrorism defendants who were subjected to some sort of FISA surveillance, according to court records, but whether he was under individual surveillance or identified through bulk collection is unknown. Discovery material referenced in a defense motion included a surveillance log coversheet with the description, “CT-GLOBAL EXTREMIST INSPIRED.”

If he first came onto the FBI’s radar as a result of eavesdropping, then it’s plausible that as part of the sting, the FBI manufactured another explanation for his targeting. This is a long-running, if controversial process known as “parallel construction,” which has also been used by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration when drug offenders are identified through bulk collection and then prosecuted for drug crimes.

In court records, the FBI maintained that Osmakac came to agents’ attention through Dabus. The informant reached out to the FBI after meeting Osmakac, and soon offered him a job at Java Village.

At trial starting in May 2014, Osmakac’s lawyer, George Tragos, argued that the Kosovar-American was a young man suffering from mental illness, who had been entrapped by government agents.

A difficult defense to raise, entrapment requires not only that the government create the circumstances under which a crime may be committed, but also that the defendant not be “predisposed” toward the crime’s execution. “This entire case is like a Hollywood script,” Tragos told the jury, pointing out that the central piece of evidence was that Osmakac used government money to buy government weapons.

A psychologist retained by the defense, Valerie McClain, testified that Osmakac’s psychotic episodes, along with other mental health issues, made him especially easy for the government to manipulate. “When I talked to him most recently, he was still delusional,” McClain testified. “He still believed he could become a martyr.” Six mental health professionals examined Osmakac before his trial. Two hired by the defense and two appointed by the court diagnosed Osmakac with psychotic disorder or schizoaffective disorder. The pair hired by the prosecution said Osmakac suffered from milder mental problems, including depression and difficulty adapting to U.S. culture.

Tragos wasn’t able to tell the jury that FBI agents might have agreed with McClain’s assessment of Osmakac. The transcripts of the accidentally recorded conversations among FBI agents weren’t allowed into evidence, but after the trial, District Judge Mary S. Scriven did agree to unseal a number of them, which were heavily redacted by the government before being entered into the court file.

Prosecutors relied on the undercover FBI recordings and Osmakac’s own words to convict him. They played for the jury Osmakac’s so-called martyrdom video. They showed footage of Amir slipping over Osmakac’s shoulder the strap for the AK-47. They filled the courtroom with exchange after exchange of Osmakac’s hateful and violent rhetoric. Prosecutors played up Osmakac’s most ridiculous remarks, including his desire to bomb simultaneously the bridges that cross Tampa Bay. “The most powerful thing you can see are the defendant’s own words. His intent was to commit a violent act in America,” prosecutor Sara Sweeney told the jury. 

Following a six-hour deliberation, jurors convicted Osmakac of possessing an unregistered AK-47 and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. In November 2014, he was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.


Entrapment has been argued in at least 12 trials following counterterrorism stings, and the defense has never been successful. Neither Abdul Raouf Dabus nor Russell Dennison testified in or provided depositions for Osmakac’s trial.

The government couldn’t produce Dabus, the FBI’s informant, because he had traveled to Gaza and Tel Aviv, where he says he was receiving treatment for cancer. He says his involvement with the FBI was limited to the Osmakac case — to reporting a suspicious man who was asking about Al Qaeda flags. Dabus disputes the FBI’s claim in court records that he was known to provide reliable information in the past.

“I did my job with them. I went away, and it is over,” Dabus says. “But I do not regret, and I would never regret to call again.”

Before Dabus left the country, the bank was granted approval to sell his Tampa home through foreclosure. His family owed $302,669, or about $50,000 more than the house was worth. Java Village is now shuttered. The signs are still on the outside of the building. Inside, the shelves are knocked over. Canned and dry goods litter the floor. Two dogs now guard the property.

Dennison, the red-bearded man who introduced Osmakac to Dabus, remains a mystery. He left the area shortly after Osmakac’s arrest, and emails he sent in late 2012 to a mutual friend he shared with Osmakac suggest he was fighting in Syria.

Osmakac’s family suspects much of Dennison’s story is a lie, and that he was, and likely still is, working with government agents. How else could Dennison have so conveniently delivered Osmakac to Dabus?

Confidential FBI reports on Dennison, copies of which were provided to The Intercept, do not address whether he’s been linked to a government agency. But the reports suggest the red-bearded man had a peculiar knack for becoming friendly with targets of FBI stings. After Osmakac’s arrest, FBI Special Agents Jacob Collins and Steve Dixon interviewed Dennison at Tampa International Airport, according to one report. Dennison was headed to Detroit, and from there, he said he hoped to go to Jordan to teach English. Dennison described how he was in contact with Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, whose real name is Joseph Anthony Davis, a 36-year-old Seattle man who, like Osmakac, was troubled and financially struggling, lured by a paid informant into an FBI counterterrorism sting in June 2011. Abdul-Latif is serving 18 years for his crime.

Osmakac is now in USP Allenwood, a high-security prison north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“I was manipulated by [the FBI],” Osmakac says in a phone call from prison. He says he only wanted to move to a Muslim country, where he hoped to find a wife. Instead, he says, Dabus and the FBI exploited his mental problems and pushed him in different direction.

“I wanted to go and study the religion and get married, have children, just have nothing to do with this Western world,” Osmakac says. “I wanted to study Arabic and the religion in depth, hoping that Allah is gonna cure me one day from the evil inside that I used to believe. But the doctors are saying it’s not evil — it’s mental illness.”

Osmakac’s family is trying to raise money for an appeal.

“If my brother was truly part of a plot to kill people, I’d be the first one in line to condemn him,” Osmakac’s brother Avni says. “But my brother was mentally ill. We were trying to get him help. The FBI got to him first.”

This story was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

Illustration by Jon Proctor for The Intercept


Document: U.S. vs Osmakac Exhibit 2

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Deep Racism: The Forgotten History Of Human Zoos + Wikipedia


Racism is deeply embedded in our culture.  Slavery of African people, ethnic cleansing of Native Americans and colonialist imperialism are seeds that intertwine to create racism that still has impacts today.  One example of the sad human history of racism — of colonizers seeing themselves as superior to others — is the long history of human zoos that featured Africans and conquered indigenous peoples, putting them on display in much the same way as animals. People would be kidnapped and brought to be exhibited in human zoos.  It was not uncommon for these people to die quickly, even within a year of their captivity. This history is long and deep and continued into the 1950s.  Several articles below with lots of photos so we can see the reality of this terrible legacy. KZ

Through the 1950s, Africans and Native Americans Were Kept In Zoos As Exhibit

By M.B. David
Political Blindspot, February 13, 2013

Throughout the early 20th century, Germany held what was termed a, “Peoples Show,” or Völkerschau. Africans were brought in as carnival or zoo exhibits for passers-by to gawk at.

Throughout the late 19th century, and well into the 1950′s, Africans and in some cases Native Americans, were kept as exhibits in zoos. Far from a relic from an unenlightened past, remnants of such exhibits have continued in Europe as late as the 2000′s.

Brussels, Belgium in 1958

Only decades before, in the late 1800′s, Europe had been filled with, “human zoos,” in cities like Paris, Hamburg, Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Milan, and Warsaw. New York too saw these popular exhibits continue into the 20th century. There was an average of 200,000 to 300,000 visitors who attended each exhibition in each city.

Carl Hagenbeck of Germany ran exhibits of what he called, “purely natural,” populations, usually East Asian Islanders, but in 1876, he also sent a collaborator to the Sudan to bring back, “wild beasts and Nubians.” The traveling Nubian exhibit was a huge success in cities like Paris, London, and Berlin.

The World’s Fair, in 1889 was visited by 28 million people, who lined up to see 400 indigenous people as the major attraction. The 1900 World’s Fair followed suit, as did the Colonial Exhibitions in Marseilles (1906 and 1922) and in Paris (1907 and 1931) which displayed naked or semi-naked humans in cages. Paris saw 34 million people attend their exhibition in six months alone.

Just four years shy of the 20th century, the Cincinnati Zoo kept one hundred Sioux Native Americans in a mock village at the zoo for three months.

Ota Benga at Bronx Zoo

In 1906, the amateur anthropologist Madison Grant, who was the head of the New York Zoological Society, put a Congolese pygmy Ota Benga, on display at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. The display was in the primate exhibit, and Ota was often made to carry around chimpanzees and other apes. Eugenicist and zoo director William Hornaday labeled Ota, “The Missing Link.” The public flocked to see the display.

Benga shot targets with a bow and arrow, wove twine, and wrestled with an orangutan. Although, according to the New York Times, “few expressed audible objection to the sight of a human being in a cage with monkeys as companions,” controversy erupted as black clergymen in the city took great offense. “Our race, we think, is depressed enough, without exhibiting one of us with the apes,” said the Reverend James H. Gordon, superintendent of the Howard Colored Orphan Asylum in Brooklyn. “We think we are worthy of being considered human beings, with souls.”

In 1906, the Bronx Zoo kept Ota Benga on a human exhibit. The sign outside of her fenced in area of the primate exhibit read, “Age, 23 years. Height, 4 feet 11 inches. Weight, 103 pounds. Brought from the Kasai River, Congo Free State, South Central Africa, by Dr. Samuel P. Verner. Exhibited each afternoon during September.”

These sorts of, “human zoos,” continued even later. The Brussels 1958 World’s Fair kept a Congolese village on display. Even as late as April 1994, an Ivory Coast village was kept as part of an African safari in Port-Saint-Père (Planète Sauvage), near Nantes, France.

In Germany, as late as 2005, Augsburg’s zoo in Germany had similar exhibits. In August 2005, London Zoo also displayed humans wearing fig leaves, and in 2007, Adelaide Zoo housed people in a former ape enclosure by day. They were, of course, allowed to return home at night, unlike many of the earlier incarnations of these racist displays.

Many people console themselves with the belief that the racism of yesterday remains safely in the past. But the echoes of the, “human zoo,” into recent years show that this is far from the case. The racism of the past continues to bleed through into the present.

UNCOVERED: The Haunting ‘Human Zoo’ of Paris

Messy Nessy Chic, March 2, 2012

In the furthest corner of the Vincennes woods of Paris, lies the remains of what was once a public exhibition to promote French colonialism over 100 years ago and what we can only refer to today as the equivalent of a human zoo.

In 1907, six different villages were built in the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale, representing all the corners of the French colonial empire at the time– Madagascar, Indochine, Sudan, Congo, Tunisia and Morocco. The villages and their pavillions were built to recreate the life and culture as it was in their original habitats. This included mimicking the architecture, importing the agriculture and appallingly, inhabiting the replica houses with people, brought to Paris from the faraway territories.

The human inhabitants of the ‘exhibition’ were observed by over one million curious visitors  from May until October 1907 when it ended. It it estimated that between 1870 up until the 1930s, more than one and a half a billion people visited various exhibits around the world featuring human inhabitants.

In 1906, this Congolese replica “factory” was built in Marseille as part of a colonial exposition. Congolese families were also brought over to work in the factory. In February 2004 its remains were burnt down.

Today, the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale is treated as a stain on France’s history. Kept out of sight behind rusty padlocked gates for most of the 20th century, the buildings are abandoned and decaying, and the rare exotic plantations have long disappeared.

In 2006 the public was granted access to the gardens but few people actually visit at all. The entrance is marked by a 10 ft Asian inspired portico of rotting wood and faded red paint that stands like the ghost of a slain gatekeeper. Visitors can instantly feel a sense of anxiety upon entering and quickly develop an understanding that this is not a place that the French are proud of. A hundred years on and there’s still an eerie presence of ladies clutching sun parasols and men in bowler hats arriving, eager to see the show on the other side of this now crumbling colonnade.

Only some of the pathways remain clear of overtaking nature and they all lead to various vandalized monuments, condemned houses with danger signs and abandoned paraphernalia that you can’t make any sense of.

A doorway to one of the houses at the Indonesian pavillion

The Moroccan pavillion

I sneaked over a fence into this eerie structure hidden at the back of the park, a workshop where scientists and students came to study tropical wood brought back from the colonies. 

More than thirty-five thousand men, women and children left their homelands during the high noon of Imperialist Europe and took part in ‘exotic spectacles’ held in major cities like Paris, London and Berlin. Entire families recruited from the colonies were placed in replicas of their villages, given mock traditional costumes and paid to put on a show for spectators. An opportunity to demonstrate the power of the West over its colonies, the expositions became a regular part of international trade fairs and encouraged a taste for exoticism and remote travel.

Europeans gawked at bare-breasted African women and were entertained by re-enactments of “primitive life” in the colonies. Here, anthropologists and researchers could observe whole villages of tribespeople and gather physical evidence for their theories on racial superiority.

The Tunisian pavilion. 

While the villagers had come to Paris of their own free will and were paid to be on display, they were equally oppressed, exploited and degraded. The distinction between person and specimen was blurred. They were not guests here. They were nameless faces on the other side of a barrier.

When the Exposition Tropicale ended its four month run in October 1907, it is unknown how many of the participants returned home safely. Villagers were enticed by lecherous agents or even mislead by their own village chiefs into joining circus-like troupes that toured internationally. From Marseille to New York, their vulnerability in a capitalist world was exploited every step of the way.

Some would eventually find their way home after a few years, but others would never make it. If they didn’t fall victim to diseases unknown to them; smallpox, measles, tuberculosis; they would die of adversity in an alien world.

There are rumors that one building, the Indochine pavillion, will be refurbished to function as a small museum and research centre. It may be an intelligent solution to a touchy subject. If the French government destroyed the gardens, there would be accusations of trying to cover up the past. If they were fully restored, it might be construed as a commemoration to a France’s once very sinister use of power.

And so the garden remains, hauntingly beautiful; a neglected embarrassment.

Gardeners stopped coming a long time ago. Wild and verdant, mutations of untamed tropical plants plucked from their homelands are left to fester in a junkyard of French colonial history. They are the ghosts of this purgatory, waiting for a ticket home.

Address: Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale, 45 bis Avenue de la Belle Gabrielle, 75012 Paris. RER station: Nogent-sur-Marne

Sarah’s Story: A Colonial Showpiece

The primitiveness of putting the ‘primitive’ on display began during the modern period when explorers like Columbus and Vespucci lured natives back to Europe from their homelands. To prove the discovery of exotic lands, the natives were flaunted and paraded like trophies. But what began as curious awe deteriorated into an era of racial superiority and the invention of the savage.

A 20 year-old girl from South Africa known as Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman would be emblematic of the dark era that gave rise to the popularity of human zoos. She was recruited by an exotic animal-dealer on location in Cape Town and traveled to London in 1810 to take part in an exhibition. The young woman went willingly under the pretense that she would find wealth and fame. Exhibitors were looking for certain qualities in their ‘exotic’ recruits that either coincided with the European beauty ideal or offered unexpected novelty. Sarah had a genetic characteristic known as steatopygia; a protuberant buttocks and elongated labia.

She found herself being exhibited in cages at sideshow attractions dressed in tight-fitting clothing that violated any cultural norms of decency at the time. A few years later she came to Paris where racial anthropologists poked and prodded and made their theories. Sarah eventually turned to prostitution to support herself and drank heavily. She had been in Europe for only four years.

When she died in poverty, Sarah’s skeleton, sexual organs and brain were put on display at the Museum of Mankind in Paris where they remained until 1974. In 2002, President Nelson Mandela formally requested the repatriation of her remains. Nearly two hundred years after she had stood on deck and watched her world disappear behind her, Sarah Baartman finally went home, where the air smelled of buchu and mint, and the veld called out her name.

Additional images via Les Expositions universelles de ParisInvisible ParisShane Lynam and Olivier Aubert


Trip Down Memory Lane
October 1, 2012

It is general historical knowledge that African civilization came before the rise of caucasian race. However, the Eurocentric historians have always tried to make Africa and other human race to seem inferior to the caucasian race. The historical achievement of civilizations like both the Egyptian and Nubian civilization were hidden until recently historians like Cheikh Anta Diop, Ivan Sertima, Amiri Baraka, Molefi Kete Asante,Rashidi Runoko and others came in to reveal it to the world.Africans and people from other race contributed immensely in literature,science,astrology,music and other forms of art. Despite all this, with the rise of caucasian race in human race recently in history, they rather saw all other race especially Africans (blacks)  as primitive beings whose mental capacity are akin to that of apes or monkeys. So in other to erroneously satisfy their myopic theory of Darwinism human zoos were erected across Europe to make mockery of other human race.
The Europeans/caucasians claim American native Indians were cannibals ( a word coined by Christopher Columbus upon landing in new world) but cannibalism has been well-known in Europe for many years.

In Gough’s Cave, England, remains of human bones and skulls from approximately 15,000 years ago, suggest that cannibalism took place amid the people living in the cave.

Archaeologists can trace back evidence to about 7,000 years ago proving mass cannibalism in Germany – even children and unborn babies were on the menu.

The Gruesome History of Eating Corpses as Medicine

Read more:

Eating other humans’ flesh and drinking their blood for medicinal purposes is well-documented:

Take when Pope Innocent VIII was on his deathbed in 1492, his doctors used vampire-like technique on 3 boys and had the pope drink their blood. The boys were bled until they died, and the pope died as well. Of course this was the same time that Columbus “discovered” America and coined the word “cannibal.”

The medical journal, The Lancet, published an article regarding corpse medicine. The article recounts notable doctors of 1600s England digging up bodies to use the bones for medicine. Noted in the article was the fact the human body was widely acknowledged as the “therapeutic agent”.

Medical treatments included ingesting flesh, bone, or blood, along with a variety of moss sometimes found on human skulls right up until the late 18th century. Use of medicines made from blood and other human body parts was widespread in Europe. Fresh blood was used as a cure for epilepsy and other body parts to treat a variety of diseases, including arthritis, warts, diseases of the reproductive system, sciatica, and even teenage acne…

One of the books this stuff is documented in Cannibal The History of People Eaters.

It’s quite a conceit to present the cultures of non-white peoples as deviant and hold them and their cultures up to spectacle….whilst whites and European cultures are quarantined as inherently sound and their cultures as apexes of civilization.

Europeans had no ethical or moral issues at all with cannibalism – for example – until the 19th century. The bodies of other humans was just another natural product available for use and recycling.

Candles made of human fat were used up until the 1880s.

King Charles II of England sipped ‘The King’s Drops’, a powder mix of human skull with alcohol.
Thomas Willis, a 17th-century pioneer of brain science, would routinely brewed a drink for apoplexy (or bleeding), that mingled powdered human skull and chocolate.

Did other Europeans consider these practices deviant and depraved? Was the King of England or respectable English scholar merely ‘racially primitive’ because of the liquids they drank?

Of course not, after all, a French Franciscan monk of the same time was making marmalade out of human blood, and even wrote a recipe for it. The instructions, in part, read like this:
“stir it to a batter with a knife…pound it…through a sieve of finest silk.”

Jam-making aside, the eating of human bodies could also be used as military weapon – something that was traditionally buried, down-played and ignored – in the way that rape in war has been hidden or dismissed.
Take the Crusades, for example. The 1st Crusade in particular, and the Siege of Maarat, or Ma’arra, in 1098 in the city of Ma’arrat al-Numan, in what is modern-day Syria. An eyewitness of the siege wrote, “In Ma’arra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled.” The chronicler Albert of Aix seemed to rank Muslims lower than dogs when he wrote, “Not only did our troops not shrink from eating dead Turks and Saracens; they also ate dogs!”

Guibert of Nogent, in his work Historia Hierosolymitana noted that the Christian barbarians (or Tafurs) were feared by the Muslims because of their cannibalism. For that reason, on at least one occasion, the Tafurs publicly “roasted the bruised body of a Turk over a fire as if it were meat for eating, in full view of the Turkish forces.”

Guibert notes that the Franks (Germanic clans) also practiced cannibalism, but they did so “in secret and as rarely as possible.”

With all these past,the blacks and people of other race did not see Europeans as primitive and of inferior brains to use against them. In fact, when Africa had introduced way of writing the white race was oblivious of how to communicate through letters. Yet when the whites of yore got the opportunity of enlightenment it did not take them long to see all other human race as inferior to them even when some of them were aware that that perception was and is still wrong. They rather went on to introduce human zoos to shame fellow humankind.

Advertising post for human zoo in Germany

Human Zoos

Human zoos were 19th and 20th century public exhibits of people like a museum pieces (also known as “an ethnological exposition”, “the exhibition of human beings” and “a Negro Village”)- mostly non-Europeans. Africans, Asians, Indigenous people and many others were often caged and displayed in a makeshift ‘natural habitat’. These human displays were very popular and shown at world fairs where they drew Europeans and Americans in their tens of millions – from Paris to Hamburg, London to New York, Moscow to Barcelona.

The Edmond Pezon’s menagerie: this is Zizi-Bamboula.

This curiosity regarding indigenous races had a history at least as long as colonialism and Columbus brought indigenous Americans from his voyages in the New World to the Spanish court in 1493. Human zoos and exhibitions of exotic populations became common in the 1870s in the midst of the New Imperialism period. They could be found in many places including Hamburg, Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Milan, New York, and Warsaw, and hundreds of thousands of people visited these exhibitions.

Negro Village

The goal of that was to demonstrate people born in Asia and Africa, and show their primitive and sometimes even savage lifestyle. Such zoos, especially in Germany, had strongly pronounced racist implication, which was taken from the Social Darwinism currents, when people from Africa were often demonstrated together with monkeys in order to show their common origin.

This is the settlement of Iroquoises. People wear their traditional costumes and headwears decorated with feathers.

In 1874, Carl Hagenbeck, a German merchant in wild animals and entrepreneur of many Europeans zoos, decided to exhibit Samoan and Sami people (Laplanders) as ‘purely natural’ populations. In 1876, he sent a collaborator to the Egyptian Sudan to bring back some wild beasts and Nubian people.

Hagenback`s human zoo “Sudanese troupe”

The Nubian exhibit was very successful in Europe and toured Paris, London, and Berlin. He also dispatched an agent to Labrador to secure a number of ‘Esquimaux’ (Inuit) from the settlement of Hopedale; these Inuit were exhibited in his Hamburg Tierpark.

A family of Labradorean Eskimo is in Hamburg or Berlin Zoo, 1880. They adopted Christianity and took German names. Men’s name was Abraham Ulrikab, his wife’s name was Ulrika, they had two children — Sarah and Mary, their nephew’s name was Tobias; there were another family with them. It was the way to earn money for them; the family was to clear off debts and needed money. All of them died within five months because of smallpox which they didn’t have immunity to. Abraham Ulrikab made notes writing the Inuktuit language; he described all the humiliations that his family underwent.

Geoffroy de Saint-Hilaire, director of the Jardin d’acclimatation, decided in 1877 to organize two ethnological spectacles that presented Nubians and Inuit. That year, the audience of the Jardin d’acclimatation doubled to one million.

African child in Negro village being fed like a monkey

Between 1877 and 1912, approximately thirty ethnological exhibitions were presented at the Jardin zoologique d’acclimatation.

Native people of Suriname were displayed in the International Colonial and Export Exhibition in Amsterdam held behind the Rijksmuseum in 1883.

Ceylonese citizens were also shown at such exhibitions.

Both the 1878 and the 1889 Parisian World Fairs presented a Negro Village (village nègre). Visited by 28 million people, the 1889 World Fair displayed 400 indigenous people as the major attraction.

The idea of “a Negro Village” was the most popular in Germany, where the ideas of Social Darwinism were widely spread and accepted by many people. Even Otto Bismarck visited “the Negro Village” exhibition.

Negro Village

The 1900 World Fair presented tin nude in cages, often nude or semi nude.

“Negro Villages” are at the exhibitions in France.

Parisian world fair

The 1931 exhibition in Paris was so successful that 34 million people attended it in six months, while a smaller counter-exhibition entitled The Truth on the Colonies, organized by the Communist Party, attracted very few visitors.

This is a Somalia village, which was demonstrated in Luna Park, St. Petersburg.

Negro Village

One of the first modern public human exhibitions was PT Barnum’s exhibition of Joice Heth on February 25, 1835. Joice Heth (c.1756–February 19, 1836) was an African American slave. In 1835 toward the end of her life, blind and almost completely paralysed (she could talk, and had some ability to move her right arm), she was purchased by PT Barnum. He began his career as a showman by exhibiting her, claiming she was the 160-yearold nurse of George Washington. She died the next year; in all probability no more than 80 years old.

The Chinese Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker.

A caricature of Saartjie Baartman, called theHottentot Venus. Born to a Khoisan family, she was displayed in London in the early 19th century. Saartjie Baartman of the Namaqua, referred to as ‘the Hottentot Venus’, who was displayed in
London until her death in 1815.

This is Tuareg.

During the 1850s, Maximo and Bartola, two microcephalic children from Central America, were exhibited in the US and Europe under the names ‘Aztec Children’ and ‘Aztec Lilliputians’.

Five Indians from the Kawesqar tribe (Tierra del Fuego, Chili) were kidnapped in 1881 and transported to Europe to be demonstrated in a human being zoo. All of them died a year later.
The whole thing was staged and played to Western stereotypes:

African mother and child in negro village

  • Arabs were like in “Thousand and One Nights” from the 1300s.
  • American Indians were like in the cowboy-and-Indian books of the time.
  • South Sea Islanders were bare breasted and carefree – even though, as Gauguin discovered, that world was long gone if it ever was (but painted it anyway).
  • Black Africans were shown as savage hunters, spears and all, just a step above wild animals – even though most Africans of the time were herders and farmers. One show was called “Gorilla Negroes”.

      The picture of Australian aborigines, the Crystal Palace, 1884.

The Pygmies at the St Louis fair, on the other hand, liked to smoke cigars and wear top hats, which screwed up the show’s racist evolutionary ranking.

Pygmies were made to dance during numerous exhibitions to entertain visitors.

Some feared for the safety of white women. In both Victorian England and Nazi Germany, some opposed the shows out of fear of race mixing between black men and white women.

Africans shooting archery in 1904 St Louis “Savage Olympics Exhibition”

Human Zoo


At least as late as 2005 you could still see “African tribesmen” in grass skirts at a Western zoo (in Augsburg, Germany). But since the 1930s such things have become uncommon: film, and later television and cheap air travel, were able to give Westerners a much richer-seeming (but not always truer) experience of native peoples.

It is a very shameful period for Europeans, when people earned money kidnapping other people and showing them to others. So, the last African disappeared from the European Zoos in 1936. However, the last “Negro Village” was demonstrated at the Expo exhibition in Brussels in 1958.

Ota Benga at Bronx zoo see:


As if this human zoo racism against blacks are over, recently in India the govt decided to use the tribal hinterland black Andamanese for human zoo to generate tourist attraction to their country. Though the intended human zoo did not materialized but some Indians force Andamanese to dance for tourist in their nakedness for money.

Andamanese girls that were being used as human zoo by the Indian govt.

A human zoo, which features women from a protected tribe dancing for tourists in exchange for food, opened on India’s Andaman Islands.

Jarawa tribal women — some of them naked — are being lured to dance and sing for tourists and to live in a “Jarawa Habitat”.

Under Indian laws designed to protect ancient tribal groups susceptible to outside influence and disease, photographing or coming into contact with the Jarawa and some of the Andaman aborigines had been banned, but the Indian government seems to be looking the other way on the Human Zoo.

Tourists shoot photos and video of a ancient tribe, an indigenous people belonging to the Indian Andaman Islands, and treat them like animals in a zoo.

The tribe, thought to have been among the first people to migrate successfully from Africa to Asia, lives a nomadic existence in the lush, tropical forests of the Andamans in the Indian Ocean.

India’s Tribal Affairs Minister Sanjay Krishnabba Chandra said that they are looking into the situation to make sure that all the women in the zoo are treated properly – feed, bathed and cared for on a daily basis.

SeMany Indian citizens are outraged about the Human Zoo.

“It’s deplorable. You cannot treat human beings like beasts for the sake of money. Whatever kind of tourism is that, I totally disapprove of that and it is being banned also,”  an Indian MP added. “(source:e the story below:

‘Human Zoo’ Allowed Tourists to Throw Bananas at Islanders

What horrible human outrages does this monstrous world of ours bring today? Video of a “human zoo” in India’s Andaman Islands, featuring women from the Jarawa tribe, ordered to dance for tourists in exchange for food.

The video, first published by Guardian sister paper The Observerapparently depicts a bribed policeman ordering the women to dance for tourists “on safari.”

“Dance,” the policeman instructed. The girls in front of him, naked from the waist up, obeyed. A tourist’s camera panned round to another young woman, also naked and awkwardly holding a bag of grain in front of her. “Dance for me,” the policeman commanded.

To shield tribes like the Jarawa from disease and culture shock, Indian laws ban outsiders from seeking out or photographing the people. Nonetheless,

On the day the Observer visited, when the gates opened the cameras immediately started clicking. Tourists threw bananas and biscuits to the tribes people at the roadside, as they would to animals in a safari park

This tribe began to have a contact with the modern world only at the end of XX century. Its population is about 300-400 people, locals and tourists are banned from contacting them, take their pictures and videos, otherwise, the offender will be arrested and brought to justice.However, for a bribe – about $ 560 – tourists may violate these prohibitions, and local police turn a blind eye to it.

[T]he price of a day out with the Jarawa: up to 15,000 rupees (£185) to buy off the police, another 10,000-15,000 rupees on top of that for a car, a driver, gifts for the Jarawa, and biscuits and snacks. Contact is guaranteed, he promised.

Believed to be the descendants of the first humans to migrate successfully from Africa to Asia, there are roughly 400 Jarawa alive today, the AFP reports. They began “to venture out of the jungle in any numbers” in 1998, prompting the government to create “a buffer zone” for the tribe in 2007. “Forced coexistence would be total genocide for them,” according to Anstice Justin, head of the region’s Anthropological Survey of India.

Though officials mostly agree that outrage is the appropriate response to this video (even those opposed to the protection laws don’t want this scandal attached to them) there is some dissent over the appropriate amount of outrage. We return to the AFP:

“Before the 2004 tsunami, people might have forced them to dance and there may have been some much smaller violations since then,” Justin said by telephone from the capital Port Blair.

“The video appears to be six to seven years old when Jarawas remained unclothed but now they wear dresses in public,” Director-General of Police Samsher Deol said.

Andamanese tribal people at the beach watch this:

The bribed officer from the video will reportedly “have his future promotion delayed by six months” as punishment.

It is about time every black person living everywhere should be given a needed protection and right to their dignified way of living without exploitation by the governments that control their lives. These Andamanese are the original inhabitants of India before the so-called white Indian Skin came to occupy their land. They must be seen as the bonafide owners of the land and if no compensation is given to them by the Indian government,their right to a dignified living must not be exploited through human zoo experimentation in the name of tourism. It is so racist and disrespectful to this ancient tribe of African origin.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Human zoo (disambiguation).

An ad for a “Peoples Show” (Völkerschau) in Stuttgart (Germany), 1928

Human zoos, also called ethnological expositions, were 19th- and 20th-century public exhibits of humans, usually in a so-called natural or primitive state. The displays often emphasized the cultural differences between Europeans of Western civilization and non-European peoples or other Europeans with a lifestyle deemed primitive. Some of them placedindigenous people in a continuum somewhere between the great apes and humans of European descent. Ethnological expositions have since been criticized as highly degrading and racist.

First human zoos

A caricature of Saartjie Baartman, called the Hottentot Venus. Born to a Khoisanfamily, she was displayed in London in the early 19th century.

In the Western Hemisphere, one of the earliest-known zoos, that of Moctezuma in Mexico, consisted not only of a vast collection of animals, but also exhibited humans, for example, dwarves, albinos and hunchbacks.[1]

During the Renaissance, the Medicis developed a large menagerie in the Vatican. In the 16th century, CardinalHippolytus Medici had a collection of people of different races as well as exotic animals. He is reported as having a troup of so-called Barbarians, speaking over twenty languages; there were also Moors, Tartars, Indians, Turks and Africans.[2]

Maximo and Bartola, c. 1867

One of the first modern public human exhibitions was P.T. Barnum‘s exhibition ofJoice Heth on February 25, 1835[3] and, subsequently, the Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker. These exhibitions were common in freak shows. However, the notion of the human curiosity has a history at least as long as colonialism. For instance, Columbus brought indigenous Americans from his voyages in the New World to the Spanish court in 1493.[4] Another famous example was that ofSaartjie Baartman of the Namaqua, often referred to as the Hottentot Venus, who was displayed in London and France until her death in 1815.

During the 1850s, Maximo and Bartola, two microcephalic children from El Salvador, were exhibited in the US and Europe under the names Aztec Children and Aztec Lilliputians.[5] However, human zoos would become common only in the 1870s in the midst of the New Imperialism period.

1870s to World War II

Ota Benga, a human exhibit, in 1906. Age, 23 years. Height, 4 feet 11 inches (150cm).
Weight, 103 pounds (47kg).
Brought from the Kasai River, Congo Free State, South Central Africa, by Dr. Samuel P. Verner.
Exhibited each afternoon during September.
a sign outside the primate house at theBronx Zoo, September 1906.[6]

In the 1870s, exhibitions of exotic populations became popular in various countries. Human zoos could be found in Paris, Hamburg, Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Milan, New York, and Warsawwith 200,000 to 300,000 visitors attending each exhibition. In Germany, Carl Hagenbeck, a merchant in wild animals and future entrepreneur of many European zoos, decided in 1874 to exhibit Samoan and Sami people as “purely natural” populations. In 1876, he sent a collaborator to the Egyptian Sudan to bring back some wild beasts andNubians. The Nubian exhibit was very successful in Europe and toured Paris, London, and Berlin. In 1880, he also dispatched an agent to Labrador to secure a number of Esquimaux (Eskimo / Inuit) from the moravian mission of Hebron; these Inuit were exhibited in his Hamburg Tierpark.

Geoffroy de Saint-Hilaire, director of the Jardin d’acclimatation, decided in 1877 to organize two ethnological spectacles that presented Nubians and Inuit. That year, the audience of the Jardin d’acclimatation’ doubled to one million. Between 1877 and 1912, approximately thirty ethnological exhibitions were presented at the Jardin zoologique d’acclimatation.

Both the 1878 and the 1889 Parisian World’s Fair presented a Negro Village (village nègre). Visited by 28 million people, the 1889 World’s Fair displayed 400 indigenous people as the major attraction. The 1900 World’s Fair presented the famous diorama living in Madagascar, while the Colonial Exhibitions in Marseilles (1906 and 1922) and in Paris (1907 and 1931) also displayed humans in cages, often nude or semi-nude.[7] The 1931 exhibition in Paris was so successful that 34 million people attended it in six months, while a smaller counter-exhibition entitled The Truth on the Colonies, organized by the Communist Party, attracted very few visitors—in the first room, it recalled Albert Londres andAndré Gide‘s critics of forced labour in the colonies. Nomadic Senegalese Villages were also presented.

In 1883, native people of Suriname were displayed in the International Colonial and Export Exhibition in Amsterdam, held behind the Rijksmuseum.

In the late 1800s, Carl Hagenbeck organized exhibitions of indigenous populations from various parts of the globe. He staged a public display in 1886 of Sinhaleseautochthones from the Indian subcontinent. In 1893/1894, he also put together an exhibition of Sami/Lapps in Hamburg-Saint Paul.

At the 1901 Pan-American Exposition [8] and at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, where Little Egypt performed bellydance, and where the photographersCharles Dudley Arnold and Harlow Higginbotham took depreciative photos, presenting indigenous people as catalogue of “types,” along with sarcastic legends.[9]

In 1896, to increase the number of visitors, the Cincinnati Zoo invited one hundred Sioux Native Americans to establish a village at the site. The Sioux lived at the zoo for three months.[10]

Ad for an 1893/1894 ethnological exposition of Lapps in Hamburg-Saint Paul

In 1904, Apaches, Igorots (from the Philippines) and the famous Ota Benga were displayed, dubbed as “primitive”, at theSaint Louis World Fair in association with the 1904 Summer Olympics. The USA had just acquired, following the Spanish-American War, new territories such as Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, allowing them to “display” some of the native inhabitants.[11] According to the Rev. Sequoyah Ade,

“To further illustrate the indignities heaped upon the Philippine people following their eventual loss to the Americans, the United States made the Philippine campaign the centrepoint of the 1904 World’s Fair held that year in St. Louis, MI [sic]. In what was enthusiastically termed a “parade of evolutionary progress,” visitors could inspect the “primitives” that represented the counterbalance to “Civilisation” justifying Kipling‘s poem “The White Man’s Burden“. Pygmiesfrom New Guinea and Africa, who were later displayed in the Primate section of the Bronx Zoo, were paraded next to American Indians such as Apache warrior Geronimo, who sold his autograph. But the main draw was the Philippine exhibit complete with full size replicas of Indigenous living quarters erected to exhibit the inherent backwardness of the Philippine people. The purpose was to highlight both the “civilising” influence of American rule and the economic potential of the island chains’ natural resources on the heels of the Philippine-America War. It was, reportedly, the largest specific Aboriginal exhibit displayed in the exposition. As one pleased visitor commented, the human zoo exhibit displayed “the race narrative of odd peoples who mark time while the world advances, and of savages made, by American methods, into civilized workers.”[12]

In 1906, socialite and amateur anthropologist Madison Grant, head of the New York Zoological Society, had Congolese pygmy Ota Benga put on display at the Bronx Zoo in New York City alongside apes and other animals. At the behest of Grant, a prominent eugenicist, the zoo director William Hornaday placed Ota Benga displayed in a cage with the chimpanzees, then with an orangutan named Dohong, and a parrot, and labeled him The Missing Link, suggesting that in evolutionary terms Africans like Ota Benga were closer to apes than were Europeans. It triggered protests from the city’s clergymen, but the public reportedly flocked to see it.[6][13]

Ad for a Carl Hagenbeck show (1886)

Benga shot targets with a bow and arrow, wove twine, and wrestled with an orangutan. Although, according to the New York Times, “few expressed audible objection to the sight of a human being in a cage with monkeys as companions,” controversy erupted as black clergymen in the city took great offense. “Our race, we think, is depressed enough, without exhibiting one of us with the apes,” said the Reverend James H. Gordon, superintendent of the Howard Colored Orphan Asylum in Brooklyn. “We think we are worthy of being considered human beings, with souls.”[14]

New York Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. refused to meet with the clergymen, drawing the praise of Dr. Hornaday, who wrote to him: “When the history of the Zoological Park is written, this incident will form its most amusing passage.”[14]

As the controversy continued, Hornaday remained unapologetic, insisting that his only intention was to put on an ethnological exhibit. In another letter, he said that he and Madison Grant, the secretary of the New York Zoological Society, who ten years later would publish the racist tract The Passing of the Great Race, considered it “imperative that the society should not even seem to be dictated to” by the black clergymen.[14]

On Monday, September 8, 1906, after just two days, Hornaday decided to close the exhibit, and Benga could be found walking the zoo grounds, often followed by a crowd “howling, jeering and yelling.”[14]

In 1925, a display at Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester, England, was entitled ‘Cannibals’ and featured black Africans depicted as savages.[15]

Legacy of human zoos

A modern replica of the 1914 Congovillage exhibition in Oslo (2014)

The concept of the human zoo has not completely disappeared. A Congolese village was displayed at the Brussels 1958 World’s Fair.[16] In April 1994, an example of an Ivory Coast village was presented as part of an African safari in Port-Saint-Père, near Nantes, in France, later called Planète Sauvage.[17]

An African village, intended as a craft and cultural festival, was held in Augsburg‘s zoo in Germany in July 2005 and subject to widespread criticism.[18] In August 2005, London Zoo displayed four human volunteers wearing fig leaves (and bathing suits) for four days.[19] In 2007, Adelaide Zoo ran a Human Zoo exhibit which consisted of a group of people who, as part of a study exercise, had applied to be housed in the former ape enclosure by day, but then returned home by night.[20] The inhabitants took part in several exercises, much to the amusement of onlookers, who were asked for donations towards a new ape enclosure. In 2007, Pygmy performers at the Festival of Pan-African Music were housed (although not exhibited) at a zoo in Brazzaville, Congo.[21]

In Mexican zoos, such as Guadalajara Zoo and most evidently at the well-known safari Africam Safari, located in Puebla, Puebla, Mexico; there are “African Villages displayed,[citation needed] with sculptures of Africans with a bone on their head cooking a white explorer,[citation needed] and there are even native African people working as exhibit in these safari parks.[citation needed]

See also


  1. Jump up^ Mullan, Bob and Marvin Garry, Zoo culture: The book about watching people watch animals, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois, Second edition, 1998, p.32. ISBN 0-252-06762-2
  2. Jump up^ Mullan, Bob and Marvin Garry, Zoo culture: The book about watching people watch animals, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois, Second edition, 1998, p.98. ISBN 0-252-06762-2
  3. Jump up^ Joice Heth
  4. Jump up^ “On A Neglected Aspect Of Western Racism” by Kurt Jonassohn, December 2000, Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
  5. Jump up^ Roberto Aguirre, Informal Empire: Mexico And Central America In Victorian Culture, Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2004, ch. 4
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b “Man and Monkey Show Disapproved by Clergy”, The New York Times, September 10, 1906.
  7. Jump up^ On the 1931 Colonial Exposition in Paris
  8. Jump up^ See Charles Dudley Arnold‘s photo similar human displays had been seen of six men dressed in Native-American costume, in front and on top of a reconstruction of a Six-Nations Long House.
  9. Jump up^ Anne Maxell, “Montrer l’Autre: Franz Boas et les soeurs Gerhard”, in Zoos humains. De la Vénus hottentote aux reality shows, Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Eric Deroo, Sandrine Lemaire, edition La Découverte (2002), pp. 331-339, in part. p. 333,
  10. Jump up^ Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Ohio Historical Society.
  11. Jump up^ Jim Zwick (March 4, 1996). “Remembering St. Louis, 1904: A World on Display and Bontoc Eulogy”. Syracuse University. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  12. Jump up^ “The Passions of Suzie Wong Revisited, by Rev. Sequoyah Ade”. Aboriginal Intelligence. January 4, 2004.
  13. Jump up^ Bradford, Phillips Verner and Blume, Harvey. Ota Benga: The Pygmy in the Zoo. St. Martins Press, 1992.
  14. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Keller, Mitch (2006-08-06). “The Scandal at the Zoo”. New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  15. Jump up^ Paul A. Rees, An Introduction to Zoo Biology and Management, Wiley-Blackwell, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., Chichester (West Sussex), 2011, p.44. ISBN 978-1-4051-9349-8
  16. Jump up^ (French) Cobelco. Belgium human zoo; “Peut-on exposer des Pygmées? [link broken]”. Le Soir. July 27, 2002.
  17. Jump up^ Barlet, Olivier and Blanchard, Pascal, “Le retour des zoos humains”, abridged in “Les zoos humains sont-ils de retour?”, Le Monde, June 28, 2005. (French)
  18. Jump up^ (English) (French) “Vers un nouveau zoo humain en Allemagne? (original text in English below the French translation)”. Indymedia. December 6, 2005.; “England Hacks Away at the Shaken EU”. Der Spiegel. June 6, 2005.; “A Different View of the Human Zoo”. Der Spiegel. June 13, 2005.; “Zoo sparks row over ‘tribesmen’ props for animals, by Allan Hall”. The Scotsman. June 8, 2005.; Critical analysis of the Augsburg human zoo (“Organizers and visitors were not racist but they participated in and reflected a process that has been called racialization: the daily and often taken-for-granted means by which humans are separated into supposedly biologically based and unequal categories”, etc.)
  19. Jump up^ London Zoo official website;“Humans strip bare for zoo exhibit”. BBC News. August 25, 2005. Retrieved January 5, 2010.;“Humans On Display At London’s Zoo”. CBS News. August 26, 2005.;“The human zoo? by Debra Saunders (a bit more critical)”. Townhall. September 1, 2005.
  20. Jump up^ . tvnz. January 12, 2007.
  21. Jump up^ BBC News (2007-07-13). “Pygmy artists housed in Congo zoo”. Retrieved2008-08-22.

Bibliography and films

  • Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Eric Deroo, Sandrine Lemaire Zoos humains. De la Vénus hottentote aux reality shows, edition La Découverte(2002) 480 pages (French) – French presentation of the book here [1] ISBN 2-7071-4401-0
  • Anne Dreesbach: Colonial Exhibitions, ‘Völkerschauen’ and the Display of the ‘Other’, European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2012, retrieved: June 6, 2012.
  • The Couple in the Cage. 1997. Dir. Coco Fusco and Paula Eredia. 30 min.
  • Régis Warnier, the film Man to Man. 2005.
  • “From Bella Coola to Berlin”. 2006. Dir. Barbara Hager. 48 minutes. Broadcaster—Bravo! Canada (2007).
  • “Indianer in Berlin: Hagenbeck’s Volkerschau”. 2006. Dir. Barbara Hager. Broadcaster—Discovery Germany Geschichte Channel (2007).
  • Alexander C. T. Geppert, Fleeting Cities. Imperial Expositions in Fin-de-Siècle Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
  • Sadiah Qureshi, Peoples on Parade: Exhibitions, Empire and Anthropology in Nineteenth-Century Britain (2011).

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