In today’s post 9/11 America, there are 15,000 informants working with the FBI. That’s nearly three times as many as there were 25 years ago.
Over the years, when there has been a surge in the number of informants the FBI recruits and uses, there’s a specific target in the FBI’s sights — first organized crime, then drug smuggling, and now counterterrorism. […]
“The informants play larger roles where they acted almost as agent provocateurs, where they provided not only the opportunity for the person to commit this act of terror, but also the means,” Mother Jones contributor Trevor Aaronson tells NPR’s Laura Sullivan. “Providing them with the plan, with the so-called weapons that were needed to ultimately create the act of terror that these people are them prosecuted for,” Aaronson says.
Mother Jones partnered with the University of California-Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program where Trevor Aaronson is an investigative fellow. Aaronson writes about the FBI’s informant boom in the current issue of the magazine.
And how are the FBI agents finding so many informants willing to infiltrate mosques and Muslim communities? Sometimes, the money is alluring Aaronson says. In other cases, the money has nothing to do with it at all.
“A big reason, especially within the Muslim community and in counterterrorism investigations is that the FBI is able to use immigration against people,” Aaronson says. “If you are going to recruit an informant and you realize that he has an immigration violation, often times the FBI will be able to use that as a form of leverage to say ‘well if you work with us, we’ll work with the immigration authorities to make sure you’re not deported’.”[more]