Law and Disorder Radio – Trevor Aaronson on FBI Informants – Wajahat Ali on the Roots of the Islamophobia Network in the US – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder on Troy Davis – July 2007

Anwar al-Awlaki’s Extrajudicial Murder – Michael Ratner








Mother Jones: The Informants

Since 9/11, the FBI now spends more than $3 billion a year on counterterrorism. The bureau maintains a team of 15,000 spies in a nationwide network of informants. Many of these informants are tasked with infiltrating Muslims communities in the United States. We’ve discussed in the past, the expanded FBI guidelines plus the broad overreaching powers and underhanded tactics the FBI uses when targeting mosques and Muslim Americans. We talk with investigative reporter Trevor Aaronson about his recent article titled “The Informants” in Mother Jones magazine. The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. Aaronson asks “are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?”








Trevor Aaronson:

  • There are as many as 45,000 “hip pockets.” A hip pocket is somebody who isn’t on the FBI’s books.
  • Could be a store clerk – you should go check out this guy. It’s never information that can be used in court or any sort of criminal affidavit. It’s what the FBI could use to build information and get tips.
  • It’s all part of the FBI’s effort to build a larger network of people that could provide information to the FBI of potential terrorist threats.
  • Money is the incentive for informants. In the case of the Newburg Four outside of New York City, the informant earned $100,000 for his role in that case.
  • What the FBI has been particularly fond of is using immigration as a form of leverage.
  • To find people who are trying to get family over from overseas and use that as leverage, saying, well, if you work with us as an informant…
  • In the 500 defendants we looked at, 49 involved what we considered an agent provocateur, which is an informant which provided the opportunity and/or the means to move forward with a terrorist plot.
  • We were able to identify 13 informants by name, who were these high-level operators who moved from case to case, in some cases state to state.
  • When someone pleads guilty a lot of the information about the behavior of the informant and the actions of the FBI never sees the light of day.
  • Domain Management was a program that took crime data and looked for trends.
  • In 2004, the FBI hired a man from the CIA named Phil Mudd to help it transition to an intelligence gathering organization.
  • It started to allow the FBI to create demographic maps of specific cities. The technology that the FBI uses today are small transmitters. Informants: One thing we did find is that they usually have checkered pasts.
  • They tend to be economically desperate, if not poor. In many cases they’re converts to Islam, with such an elementary understanding of Islam that the informant is able to use that against them.
  • What we tried to do is build a database that we could draw conclusions from.
  • I think at the this point the FBI has gone too far the other way, bringing in people who don’t have the capacity to commit these crimes.
  • The FBI would admit they create a hostile environment for people who would commit terrorism. You engender this fear among the potential terrorist.
  • The problem is that you create fear in the community of people that aren’t terrorists either.

Guest – Trevor Aaronson, an investigative reporter and Investigative Reporting Program Fellow at the University of California-Berkeley.

Fear Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America

As many suspected, the attacks on September 11, 2001 didn’t drive anti-Muslim sentiment by themselves. There was some help–a lot of help. In a shocking new report, seven foundations have been part of a 10-year campaign to spread Islamophobia in the United States. The 130-page report by the Center for American Progress, titled “Fear Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America” names the foundations and key individuals who have promoted Islamophobia from 2001 to 2009. The report mentions that the funds from these foundations, such as Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker Foundations and Charitable Trust, Russell Berrie Foundation, went to think tanks and grassroots organizations to spread messages of hate and fear as far as they can. The Donor Capital fund was the single biggest contributor, donating $18 million out of the $42 million in the 8-year span.

Attorney Wajahat Ali:

This is an investigative report, an expose on how 7 funders had given $43 million over 10 years to a small interconnected group of individuals and organizations responsible for mainstreaming fear, bigotry and hate against Muslims and Islam in America.

What we do for the first time is dissect and expose this network, categorize it, name the names, connect the dots.

The network is broken into five categories.

There are 7 funders. The next group is what I call the Islamophobia scholars and experts, which is the nerve center of this Islamophobia network. A group of about 5 individuals and organizations that are primarily responsible for creating the manufactured talking points we just heard.

Some were misled by these individuals within the network, who are by the way very successful, by posing as legitimate experts and scholars on Islam.

Rush Limbaugh from the hate radio section.

Bridget Gabriel said a practicing Muslim can’t be a loyal American.

This group is so effective because it is so self reliant and incestuous.

Islamophobia is an exaggerated fear, hatred and hostility toward Islam and Muslims, that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political and civic life.

The report is intended for a mainstream audience. This report inoculates Americans. Inoculates them from the fear and misinformation. This report has gone viral. It’s all over Facebook, its all over Twitter.

Guest – Wajahat Ali, a researcher at the Center for American Progress. Wajahat  is a playwright, essayist, humorist, and attorney at law. His work The Domestic Crusaders is the first major play about Muslim Americans living in a post-9/11 America, and was published by McSweeney’s in 2011.

Audio Collage – Muslim Surveillance