Four men from upstate New York are currently serving 25-year sentences in federal prison, convicted in 2009 for plotting to bomb synagogues in the Bronx and other acts of terrorism. The Newburgh Sting documentary, which airs on HBO tonight, “builds a credible circumstantial case” that the men “were the fall guys in an elaborate, cinematic performance orchestrated by the F.B.I.”
Before their arrests, informant (and sole personal witness for the FBI) Shahed Hussain presented the men with the terrorist plot, weapons and an unprecedented $250,000 offer. Hussain was being paid $100,000 to do this to avoid another jail sentence. In the surveillance footage included in the film, David Williams tells the informant, “We don’t want to hurt nobody. We want to just destroy property. We don’t want to take no lives.” There are also unexplained gaps in these tapes.
Even though Judge Colleen McMahon put the suspects behind bars, she stated, “I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that there would have been no crime here except the government instigated it, planned it and brought it to fruition.”
The final minutes of the sting are also missing from the evidence tapes. And though everyone knew the bombs were fake, FBI’s theatrics of heroism raged on, supported by Bloomberg, who told the media on the day following the arrests: “The good news here is that the NYPD and the FBI did exactly what they’re trained to do and they have prevented what could be a terrible event in our city.” (Image: HBO via NYT)