“How the FBI Created a Terrorist.” That’s the subtitle of a new exposé in The Intercept by Trevor Aaronson, a journalist who investigates the FBI’s use of informants in sting operations. The article tells the story of Sami Osmakac, a mentally disturbed, financially unstable young man who was targeted by an elaborately orchestrated FBI sting in early 2012. The operation involved a paid informant who hired Osmakac for a job, when he was too broke to afford inert government weapons. The FBI provided the weapons seen in a so-called martyrdom video Osmakac filmed before he planned to deliver what he believed was a car bomb to a bar in Tampa, Florida. His family believes Osmakac never would have initiated such a plot without the FBI. And transcripts of conversations obtained by Aaronson show FBI agents appeared to agree, describing him as a “retarded fool” whose terrorist ambitions were a “pipe-dream scenario.” The transcripts show how the agents worked to get $500 to Osmakac so he could make a down payment on the weapons — something government prosecutors wanted to prove their case. In November 2014, Osmakac was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison, despite a court-appointed psychologist diagnosing him with schizoaffective disorder. We are joined by Avni Osmakac, the older brother of Sami Osmakac, and Trevor Aaronson, contributing writer at The Intercept and executive director of the nonprofit Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
Trevor Aaronson, contributing writer at The Intercept and executive director of the nonprofit Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. He is the author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism. His most recent article for The Intercept is “The Sting: How the FBICreated a Terrorist.”
Avni Osmakac, brother of Sami Osmakac.