Are FBI sting operations an effective tool in counterterrorism operations in America?

11906535-largeby Josh Chambers

In America’s war on terrorism, one of the most commonly used tactics by law enforcement in the homeland are sting operations. Are they effective, efficient, and more importantly, constitutional?

 Since 9/11/2001, nearly 50% of all US counterterror convictions were informant-based

 30% were cases where the informants played an active role in the plot.

When these cases are looked at carefully, it is often fairly easy to tell that many of these sting operations appear to have elements of, or are, outright entrapment (e.g. the Newburgh 4, Sami Osmakac and Rezwan Ferdaus). Are we benefiting the greater good by utilizing tax dollars to frame poor or undereducated, often law abiding or low level criminals, in the name of a façade of a government provided security blanket? Today, there is an absolute media and social-media frenzy surrounding the Paris attacks; boisterous presidential candidates calling for the blockage of refugees coming from war-torn Muslim predominant countries, and even banning all Muslim traffic into the US and issuing special ID’s to Muslim Americans.

So, in effect, you have the FBI, law enforcement, and Homeland Security conducting these sting operations, which are quite often set-ups, in order to provide an aura of security. At the same time, there is hysteria around Islam in general among a seemingly large population of the U.S. and western countries. So, it would seem that trumped up charges on people who are being extorted, falsely accused, exploited, and ultimately separated from their families for years or decades, is not working on any front. The U.S. Government seems to be creating the terror they claim to be preventing.

Of course, not all of the operations conducted are set-up’s, and many of the people who

were caught up in the stings should be punished for conspiracy, attempted murder, or whatever charges apply, because they should know better than to agree to a plot to harm people or destruct property. However, as in the Newburgh 4 case, once the informant provided a stinger missile, which the 4 men thought was going to be used on an empty airplane because they didn’t want to harm people, they end up with a mandatory minimum of 25 years. This is a weapon that these men would not have sought to get their hands on, they were roped in under the promise of a lot of money to destroy properties they normally wouldn’t have touched, so they shouldn’t be handed such a heavy sentence or terrorism charges. It is a gross miscarriage of justice.

We need to take a serious look at how we conduct counter-terror operations against our own citizens. We need to be sure that constitutional rights are being protected. We need to end the entrapment stings and we need to screen the informants far more heavily. Again, with the Newburgh 4 case, the informant, Pakistani immigrant Shahed Hussain, was a criminal in his own right. He was a failed businessman, he had been in trouble with his job at the DMV for forging documents and taking tests for people, he had been a chronic liar, yet he was paid a large sum of money by the FBI to root around a mosque for some easy targets. Hussain walks free today, while the men he exploited sit behind bars until 2031.

America is better than this. We need to seriously start to hold our law enforcement, judicial system, and government accountable for this misconduct. There is real terrorism and terrorist plots out there that our resources are not being used on because they are wasted on instances of bogus sting operations.