According to Mother Jones, the bureau—which has reportedly spent $3.3 billion pursuing terrorists since the 9/11 attacks—often goes after “disgruntled” individuals who seem willing to participate in a terrorist plot, including phony ones cooked up by federal agents. The FBI’s involvement goes so far as to provide plans, equipment and weapons to those eventually arrested for participating in the schemes.
One example cited was Michael Curtis Reynolds, who was arrested in 2005 for expressing interest in helping blow up pipelines and refineries in the U.S.
Later, the FBI concluded that Reynolds probably wasn’t as serious a threat as they previously feared, in part because he might be suffering from mental health problems.
The FBI’s handling of a 2009 “terrorist” case—in which the agency supplied fake weapons to a group of four impoverished, mentally unstable men—was harshly criticized by New York District Judge Colleen McMahan, who called it a “fantasy terror operation.” Said the judge of the FBI’s actions to thwart an alleged bombing plot: “Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of [defendant] Mr. [James] Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope.”
Susanne Brody, a defense attorney in another terrorism case, concluded, “When the government supplies a fake bomb and then thwarts the plot, this is insanity. This is grandstanding.”