Many trade information for cash. The FBI in 2008 estimated it had 15,000 paid informants.
About 30% of post-9/11 terrorism cases are considered sting operations in which informants played an “active role” in incubating plots leading to arrest, according to studies cited in the Human Rights Watch report. Among those roles are making comments “that appeared designed to inflame the targets” on “politically sensitive” subjects, and pushing operations forward if a target’s “opinions were deemed sufficiently troubling”.
ENTRAPMENT, the subject of much FBI criticism over the years, is difficult to prove in court. The burden is on a defendant to show he or she was not “predisposed” to commit a violent act, even if induced by a government agent.
Human Rights Watch observes that standard focuses attention “not on the crime, but on the nature of the subject”, often against a backdrop where “inflammatory stereotypes and highly charged characterizations of Islam and foreigners often prevail”.
Among the informants themselves there is less ambiguity. “It is all about entrapment,” Craig Monteilh, one such former FBI informant tasked with mosque infiltration, told the Guardian in 2012.
Informants, the study found, sometimes overcome their targets’ stated objections to engage in terrorism. A man convicted in 2006 of attempting to bomb the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan told an informant who concocted the plot he would have to check with his mother and was uncomfortable planting the bombs himself. One member of the “Newburgh Four” plot to attack synagogues and military planes – whose case is the subject of an HBO documentary airing on Monday – told his informant “maybe my mission hasn’t come yet”.
Once in court, terrorism cases receive evidentiary and pre-trial leeway rarely afforded to non-terrorism cases. A federal judge in Virginia permitted into evidence statements made by a defendant while in a Saudi jail in which the defendant, Amed Omar Abu Ali, alleged torture, a longstanding practice in Saudi Arabia. The evidence formed the basis for a conviction, and eventually a life sentence, for conspiracy to assassinate George W Bush. Mohammed Warsame, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, was held in solitary confinement for five years before his trial.
Another implication of the law-enforcement tactics cited the report is a deepening alienation of American Muslims from a government that publicly insists it needs their support to head off extremism but secretly deploys informants to infiltrate mosques and community centers.
“The best way to prevent violent extremism inspired by violent jihadists is to work with the Muslim American community – which has consistently rejected terrorism – to identify signs of radicalization and partner with law enforcement when an individual is drifting towards violence. And these partnerships can only work when we recognize that Muslims are a fundamental part of the American family,” Obama said in a high-profile 2013 speech.
Yet the Obama administration has needed to purge Islamophobic training materials from FBI counterterrorism, which sparked deep suspicion in US Muslim communities.
Comment: There is a clear motivate here, between the lines. The authorities wish to project the ‘reality’ of a ‘terror threat’ to keep the people afraid and justify military invasions overseas to accrue more wealth to themselves. It does not require a large leap of logic to see how the same authorities would, on occasion, not only manufacture ‘terror plots’ but also carry out real terror attacks themselves in the name of the patsies.
(Washington, DC, July 21, 2014) The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism “sting operations” based on religious and ethnic identity. Many of the more than 500 terrorism-related cases prosecuted in US federal courts since September 11, 2001 have alienated the very communities that can help prevent terrorist crimes. (source)
The FBI makes sure that there is no shortage in “terrorists”: