Russians busted for US election interference — using radical black nationalist groups

After years of baseless investigations alleging that President Trump colluded with Russians to steal the 2020 election, the FBI has busted some real Russians for U.S. election meddling — and their real colluders, who were radical left-wing black nationalist groups, not Republicans.

According to ABC7:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Four Americans affiliated with a Black empowerment and political organization have been charged along with three Russians with conspiring to covertly sow discord in U.S. society, spread Russian propaganda and interfere illegally in U.S. elections, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.

The U.S. citizens and two Russians were added to an existing case in Tampa, Florida, federal court involving Aleksandr Ionov, described by prosecutors as the founder of a Moscow-based organization funded by the Russian government to carry out a clandestine influence campaign in the U.S.

The four Americans are all part of the African People's Socialist Party and Uhuru Movement, which has locations in St. Petersburg, Florida, and St. Louis. Among those charged is Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the U.S.-based organization — which was raided by the FBI last summer when Ionov was originally charged.

"Russia's foreign intelligence service allegedly weaponized our First Amendment rights — freedoms Russia denies to its own citizens — to divide Americans and interfere in elections in the United States," said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

Funny how the Trump collusion case didn't end up as tightly focused and cut-and-dried as this one.  Seems a narrative has gotten broken.

With Congress threatening to defund the FBI, it appears that the federal agency is finally finding some interest in doing its job now.

The bust of this crew, with evidence of payments to miscreants, comes just a day after the FBI swooped down on a group running a Chinese police station in New York, resulting in at least two arrests.

Prior to that, pretty much the only game in town for the elite federal law enforcement agency was politicized KGB-style activity targeting dissidents — parents speaking out against wokester policies in public schools, Catholic Latin Mass enthusiasts, anti-abortion sidewalk counselors minding their own business, and January 6 protesters who stepped into the Capitol at Capitol Police invitation.  The picture was ugly.

Now we are seeing actual law enforcement, apparently cobbled together pretty quickly.

Why would I argue that?  Well, because Russian targeting of black nationalist groups goes way back — all the way to the Soviet Union days.  For the FBI, this was the low-hanging fruit, and it wouldn't take a genius to suspect that these might be the guys the Russians would seek to manipulate.

Russia's pawn, Che Guevara, after all, colluded with black nationalist groups for his terrorist plot to blow up New York's department stores in 1962.  There also were factions of Black Panthers who were close to the Cubans in that era and whose fugitives from the U.S. were sheltered by Cuba, such as Joanne Chesimard.  Black Panther–affiliated U.S. Communist Party USA vice chair Angela Davis was close with the Soviet bloc's nastiest client-state, East Germany.

But more recently, in studies of Russian interference in social media in the 2016 election, black nationalist groups were specifically targeted for disinformation by the Russians as easily manipulated groups.  

According to the New York Times, in a piece dated 2018:

The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 election made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans, used an array of tactics to try to suppress turnout among Democratic voters and unleashed a blizzard of activity on Instagram that rivaled or exceeded its posts on Facebook, according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The report adds new details to the portrait that has emerged over the last two years of the energy and imagination of the Russian effort to sway American opinion and divide the country, which the authors said continues to this day.

"Active and ongoing interference operations remain on several platforms," says the report, produced by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company based in Austin, Tex., along with researchers at Columbia University and Canfield Research LLC. One continuing Russian campaign, for instance, seeks to influence opinion on Syria by promoting Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president and a Russian ally in the brutal conflict there.

It wouldn't have been too hard for the FBI to go back to that plot point, largely ignored all these years, and pinpoint some Russian influence operations from some various likelies in that set and swoop down.

That's where the real pay dirt for lawmen was, and it has been sitting there awaiting the first taker.

All the same, it was a good thing they did it, given that both Russia and China are getting aggressive, and with Trump all investigated out, the coast is clear now to determine the truth about what the Russians are up to.

Obviously, they've got to show that they're doing something for Congress now, what with the threat of defunding, which concentrates their minds, and the actual threat out there, which has proliferated.

I suspect that with all the time wasted on political investigations, the bad guys have been having a field day, complete with payments to agents and actors, such as the accused in this incident.

Couldn't come soon enough, given the problems now emerging from the Russian and Chinese quarters.

Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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