New film satirizes FBI counter-terrorism stings

Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the attacks of 9/11 have been good for the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, and the entire counter-terrorism industry in the US that have used them to get increased funding and powers. In order to keep those dollars flowing, the FBI has had to repeatedly show success in fighting terrorism and one of the means of doing that is setting up sting operations. If they cannot find real threats, they will create ones.

Trevor Aronson writes about a new satirical film The Day Shall Come based on many of the real-life sting operations conducted by the FBI that recruits hapless people with absurd ideas and then coaxes them to take part in ridiculous plots that are then grandly ‘exposed’ by the agency.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the FBI has used aggressive sting operations to catch would-be terrorists, providing all the weapons needed for supposed attacks and often a good amount of “dial the number, brother” prodding. To date, more than 300 defendants have been prosecuted following FBI terrorism stings.

These stings are often preposterous when examined closely. Derrick Shareef was arrested after buying grenades from an undercover agent; since Shareef didn’t have any money and was living with the government’s informant, the FBI set it up so that the undercover agent, posing as an arms dealer, would accept ratty old stereo speakers as payment. Emanuel L. Lutchman, a mentally ill and broke homeless man, planned to attack a New Year’s Eve celebration with a machete — a weapon he was able to buy only because the FBI gave him $40.

The absurdities go on and on and on. Human Rights Watch criticized these types of FBI stings in a 2014 report for having “created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by conducting sting operations that facilitated or invented the target’s willingness to act.”

That’s the joke underpinning “The Day Shall Come”: Far from being enemies, the FBI has benefited from its biggest bogeymen, developing a symbiotic relationship with Islamist extremists while pursuing hundreds of targets who never posed much of a threat at all.

Here’s the trailer.


  1. says

    After 2001 some friends and I discussed the idea of counter-trolling the FBI. Problem is: they are dangerous gun-toting killers and if they don’t think it’s funny, it’s not funny.

  2. says

    For an outsider to lie to the FBI is a crime.

    Well… that’s a good rule to keep in mind, but where the FBI agent is undercover and you don’t KNOW they’re FBI it can be legal, since this is a crime of knowing or willful action. Also the matter must be “material” to a matter under the jurisdiction of the US government. If you’re trying to get an FBI agent into bed, lying about the number of dildos you own might be material to your seduction success, but the US government doesn’t determine who their employees get to fuck.

    That said, the ban on false statements is extraordinarily broad and any time you interact with anyone at all who might be representing the federal government (not just FBI agents) in any way, even tangentially, lying is a very, very bad plan. Seriously, I don’t know US law on the issue, but lying to a private corporation can fall under this section if the private corporation is under contract to the US government. There are limits to all this, but holy fuck are they broad.

  3. John Morales says

    As per Popehat, best is not to say anything.

    “Give me six lines written by the most honest man in the world, and I will find enough in them to hang him.” — Cardinal Richelieu

  4. ShowMetheData says

    Don’t know whether the victims of the FBI entrapment should be called
    Build-a-Berrorist or Build-A-Bearorist
    -- like that shop in the mall that fills empty teddy-bear casings with fluff.

    Probably ‘Build-a-Berrorist’

  5. John Morales says

    ShowMetheData, you think only innocents are trapped?

    (You yourself already called them victims; fine, but that does not entail that they were not victimisers themselves, does it?)

  6. says

    Meanwhile, proto-fascists who read The Turner Diaries are coached to be “lone wolves” who do not plot with others so that they can’t be swept up using the FBI’s lame tactics.

  7. ShowMetheData says

    Certainly if the OP and I say entrapment, we are referring to entrapment
    -- guiding the entrapees to resources
    -- funding the entrapees
    -- giving resources
    -- encircling them with radicalizing FBI informants

    Go through that list of 300 FBI targets and you will find some legitimate threats
    -- but how many resources were wasted on these marginal people who, if the FBI weren’t pumping them up, would be zero real threat

    There is NO discernment in threat on these entrapees -- or is the FBI, like many prosecutors have been proven to do, looking for the numbers regardless of actual threat

    At base, we are dealing with uncertainty of risk -- to alleviate that, you need more information
    The FBI had ALL the information -- but failed to discern anything except a vulnerable target

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