Published in partnership with MintPress News.
WASHINGTON — Since 9/11, agencies like the FBI have been tasked with preventing the next terrorist attack. However, in their zeal to catch terrorists before they strike, they’ve created more terrorist plots than any actual terror groups.
Trevor Aaronson, an investigative journalist who specializes in cases of government entrapment, made this startling claim in a March TED Talk:
The FBI is responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than any other organization. More than al-Qaida, more than al-Shabaab, more than the Islamic State.
According to Aaronson, “The FBI is much better at creating terrorists than it is at catching terrorists.” In the 14 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Aaronson said there have only been about six actual domestic terrorist incidents, including the Boston Marathon bombing and a handful of failed incidents.
By contrast, he said the FBI has arrested dozens for “material support” of terrorism, usually impoverished or mentally ill Muslim-Americans who were convinced to take part in terrorist plots by high-paid undercover informants. A July report from Human Rights Watch, “Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions,” supports Aaronson’s allegations by detailing 27 separate cases in which the Justice Department and FBI, together with paid criminal informants, created the very terrorists they later prosecuted.
Andrea Prasow, a deputy director at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report, said:
Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US. But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would never have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring, and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts.
For example, The Intercept published Aaronson’s report of one incident in which an undercover government informant entrapped Sami Osmakac. Osmakac was so poor he could not afford to keep his car running, much less obtain the equipment or weapons needed to mastermind a credible terrorist attack, so the FBI carefully crafted a terrorist plot for him, even creating a mock suicide vest for him to wear in his “martyrdom video.” Aaronson wrote:
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.
According to Aaronson, Osmakac only became a terrorist “after the FBI provided the means, opportunity and final prodding necessary to make him one.”
Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian’s national security editor for the United States, wrote that entrapment claims are extremely difficult for defendants to prove in court, and judges often openly favor the prosecution in these cases, in one case even admitting 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.”
According to Ackerman, far from keeping Americans safer, these government tactics are worsening the rift between law enforcement officials and minority groups by “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.”