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How the FBI's Network of Informants Actually Created Most of the Terrorist Plots "Foiled" in the US Since 9/11

The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?

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"I can make you $250,000, but you don't want it, brother," he  once told [92] Cromitie when the target seemed hesitant. "What can I tell you?" (Asked about the exchange in court, Hussain said that "$250,000" was simply a code word for the bombing plot—a code word, he admitted, that only he knew.)

 

But whether for ideology or money, Cromitie did recruit three others, and they did take photographs of Stewart International Airport in Newburgh as well as of synagogues in the Bronx. On May 20, 2009,  Hussain drove Cromitie [93] to the Bronx, where Cromitie put what he believed were  bombs [94] inside cars he thought had been parked by Hussain's coconspirators. Once all the dummy bombs were placed, Cromitie headed back to the  getaway car [95]—Hussain was in the driver's seat—and then a SWAT team surrounded the car.

At trial, Cromitie  told the judge [96]: "I am not a violent person. I've never been a terrorist, and I never will be. I got myself into this stupid mess. I know I said a lot of stupid stuff." He was sentenced to 25 years.

For his trouble, the  FBI paid Hussain $96,000 [97]. Then he moved on to another case, another mosque, somewhere in the United States.

For this project, Mother Jones  partnered with the  University of California-Berkeley's Investigative Reporting Program [98], headed by Lowell Bergman, where  Trevor Aaronson [1] was an investigative fellow. The  Fund for Investigative Journalism [99] also provided support for Aaronson's reporting.  Lauren Ellis [100] and Hamed Aleaziz [101] contributed additional research.

 

Trevor Aaronson is an Investigative Reporting Program fellow at the University of California-Berkeley.

 
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