Sting operations, their role in catching terrorists

October 17, 2012 8:16:08 PM PDT
According to the Feds, Ahsan Nafis is the latest face of terror caught in a sting operation.

FBI or NYPD stings have thwarted at least, 5 other plots since 2007, including the scheme to bomb Riverdale Jewish Centers, the plot to blow up fuel-storage tanks at JFK Airport and last year's disruption of a plan to bomb a Manhattan synagogue.

All of them using undercover informants, usually paid and usually helping to facilitate the plot.

"We have seen a lot of these types of sting operations that we have to supply the perp not only the component but the means and mechanisms and it really borders somewhat on entrapment," said Nicholas Casale, Fmr. MTA Counterterrorism Director.

Still, this former head of Counterterrorism for the MTA supports stings.

"At some point it becomes immaterial, anytime we get a terrorist it's good," Casale said.

But are they terrorist dreamers or the doers? In this latest plot against the Federal Reserve, the informant provided the inert bomb-making material, even drove to the target site with the bomber, a scenario similar to other terrorist stings.

Some would argue these would-be terrorists are being induced by government agents.

"Some people may suggest that but to date I'm not aware of any of the cases and they number around 15 where there's been any mistrial when thrown out for any entrapment," said William Daly, Control Risks.

Still, the question needs to be asked: with so much money, time and resources going into these undercover operations, do they catch the real terrorists? A former FBI Investigator answers with his own question.

"If it's not the FBI on the other end of the internet, on the other end of a meeting, on the other end of a phone, who else might it be?" Daly said.

According to the Investigative Reporting Center at the University of California, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade, with the exception of three were actually FBI stings.

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