Am I wrong to feel no sympathy for entrapped "terrorists"?

Short story:For years now the FBI has been running entrapment set ups where they instigate and provide most of the planning and materials for fake terrorist operations and then they swoop in and arrest everyone. I remember reading an article I cannot find now that dealt with individuals rather than groups, desperate poor like drug addicts that were entrapped into planting for cash say a bomb(not real) and then arrested.

Now there is a real story here about if this qualifies as entrapment or not, or whether the FBI should be wasting time setting up homeless people and drug addicts as terrorists.

But I find myself feeling not one but of sympathy for these suspects, you planted what you thought was a real bomb for cash where casualties were a certainty? Wow let me cry a little tear for you, the proper thing to do when offered money to help in a bombing is to not do anything besides call the cops.

Holy crap did I link to Well there is the danger in googling for cites.

How about The Guardian?

I think the issue isn’t so much that we’re supposed to be feeling sympathy for the various low lifes who are apparently willing to be coaxed into terrorist acts*, but that these kinds of stings are a complete waste of time. The kinds of people who get caught in them are, frankly, not the sharpest knives in the drawer and there’s pretty much zero chance of them mounting an actual terrorist attack without the undercover agents providing all of the logistics and motivation. In the meantime those resources could be better used trying to uncover actual plots by actual terrorists who might be at least semi-competent.

*Although there have been some such operations where the level of actual participation by the people arrested is pretty iffy. Here’s a long but good story where, sure, the guys who got arrested didn’t always make the best decision but you can definitely feel some sympathy. Although in that case, after months of trying, the agent never did talk the people into any eco-terror and got them all on drug charges instead.

If we say you’re wrong, will you start feeling sympathy for them?

Exactly. Finding guys willing to set off bombs is easy; finding guys capable of building bombs and planning attacks is hard. If the FBI were serious about counter-terrorism, they’d go after the latter.


I just hate how all the articles use “he drove a dumptruck of money up to my house, I’m only human!” as some kind of character defense.:stuck_out_tongue:

You are not wrong to feel sympathy for these geniuses. Your scenario has some people planning on murdering another group of human beings, and getting busted. As a matter of fact, I’m sure that the FBI could have got off with a lot cheaper offer than 250K.

Am I correct that something must bring them up on the FBI’s radar before a sting operation usually comes into existence? (If it’s anything like the police murder-for-hire stings, it’s usually somebody going around soliciting a person’s death before the cops get involved. Or, someone advertising their paid assassin status.)

If somebody offered me a quarter of a million dollars to blow up a bridge, I would call the FBI and try to get the people busted. You, know, because I am not a terrorist. Also, for fun.

You drive a hard bargain, but at least we’re haggling.

I think that this is disgusting of the FBI. They’re grabbing at low-hanging fruit for the purpose of security theatre. They’re effectively jailing the destitute and mentally ill. That’s not security, it’s bulllying.

I’d venture to say that your lack of sympathy for them being setup comes partially from an existing lack of sympathy for the type of people who end up being netted in these “operations”.

Reading about them under such an overwhelming cloud of terrorism only makes you actually have enough “courage” to publicly say so. Typically, for people like these you’d keep your thoughts to yourself but seeing them “elevate” as a “terrorist threat” triggered something inside and you feel pissing on them in their “moment of truth” is the safest thing in the world.

I may be wrong, however.

? I’m not offended but I am curious what you mean by type of people, poor? Black? Did you look at the links?

If the evidence against them was completely fabricated as in some of these cases I am very sympathetic even furious, if they did nothing but talk and made no actual effort ditto. But if they made concrete real world actions such as planting fake bombs they believed were real provided by the FBI for money then no I don’t have much sympathy. If I offer you a million dollars to shoot someone and hand you a gun loaded with blanks and you go up to them and pull the trigger and are then arrested, are you a victim?

Maybe victim is too strong a word - how about “are you completely responsible for your actions?” instead.

By these people, I mean exactly what you said in OP: “homeless people and drug addicts”

My point is that FBI picked “homeless people and drug addicts” on purpose to create an image and dynamic of “defending the homeland” while at the same time ensuring two things: (1) “homeless people and drug addicts” are typically held in low esteem by the public so no fear of an outrage and/or a lawsuit, and (2) play upon existing feelings portion of the public already harbours toward “homeless people and drug addicts” regardless of the fact that their poor choices are a consequence of the fact that they are “homeless people and drug addicts”.

Final point was that having you started this thread, FBI conceived a perfect case of power abuse that everyone can enjoy.

Except “homeless people and drug addicts”, of course. They can go to hell.

There’s also this old case, which involves child pornography. Basically, law enforcement wore down the defendant over a period of over two years with various enticements until he finally bought something. Basically, this was someone who had some sexual interests that were beyond the norm but clearly was not a significant danger to anybody, and the government wore him down emotionally to get him to act out so they could arrest him. The SCOTUS didn’t like that.

By the way, did you ever wonder what happens if you actually don’t use setups of “homeless and drug addicts”.

Wonder no more -

I’m with the OP. I probably should feel disgusted at the FBI for entrapping these people, but at the end of the day, these were people who were perfectly willing to take part in a terrorist attack, and were actively trying to hurt innocent people. So, my sympathy for them tends to fizzle out.

Well actually I mentioned homeless people and drug addicts because the articles like to mention that as if it is meaningful or has any bearing.

Anyway here is a post of mine on drug addiction:

I’m famous here for making stupid topics like why not have public bathing facilities so the homeless could bathe.

I think the cases are total garbage BTW, probably unconstitutional as well.
Here is what the judge in one said, even though she put the defendants away!

I mean didn’t she just admit the whole case was illegal? :smack:

Are you a homeless person? A drug addict? A person suffering from mental illness?
The FBI isn’t interested in you.
So some FBI guy is assigned to catch terrorists. Now you would think that if he looked and didn’t find a terrorist, his boss would be happy with that. (hey, no terrorists!) But no, you must find and arrest a terrorist. NOW!


The government loves to crow about how they have been foiling terrorist plots. (and that’s why you don’t really need your civil liberties) We’re just doing this to keep you safe from the constant threat of terrorists. Nothing to see here, move along citizens.

The FBI isn’t always successful at pulling off this crap.

FBI-Created ‘Terrorist Plot’ Fails To Produce A Single Terrorist – But Does Plenty Of Damage To Individual Liberties

This American Life: 471: The Convert (Transcript)

The FBI is entrapping people. It’s just easier to entrap the stupid.