Informants: FBI-Style Entrapment and Terrorism Stings

Informants

Al Jazeera (2014)

Film Review

Informants is an Al Jazeera documentary about the FBI use of informants to entrap vulnerable African and immigrant men and convict them on phony terrorism charges.

Their investigation focuses on three specific informants in Miami, Los Angeles and Toledo. In one Miami sting operation, an informant paid poor African American men and Muslim immigrants to take photos of federal buildings and got them to recite a pledge swearing allegiance to Osama bin Laden. This, in turn, would be the principal evidence against them at trial. There was no evidence whatsoever that any of them planned or engaged in acts of violence – nor had contact with any terrorist groups other than the FBI.

One African American convicted in this operation received a seven year sentence and spent two years in solitary confinement.

In Toledo, the FBI paid a mentally unstable victim’s rent as well as funding a trip to Jordan to visit his relatives. The informant also paid him to procure some secondhand laptops to smuggle into Iraq from Jordan. The victim received a 20 year sentence for his role in smuggling laptops to Al Qaeda and making the statement “I wish I could kill some American soldiers” in an on-line chat room.