The Terror Factory

Inside the Terror Factory

Award-winning journalist Trevor Aaronson digs deep into the FBI’s massive efforts to create fake terrorist plots.

Editor's note: This story is adapted from The Terror Factory [1], Trevor Aaronson's new book documenting how the Federal Bureau of Investigation has built a vast network of informants to infiltrate Muslim communities and, in some cases, cultivate phony terrorist plots. The book grew from Aaronson's award-winning [2] Mother Jones cover story "The Informants [3]" and his research in the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley.

 Jeffrey Smith

Quazi Mohammad Nafis was a 21-year-old student living in Queens, New York, when the US government helped turn him into a terrorist.

His transformation began on July 5, when Nafis, a Bangladeshi citizen who'd come to the United States on a student visa that January, shared aspirations with a man he believed he could trust. Nafis told this man in a phone call that he wanted to wage jihad in the United States, that he enjoyed reading Al Qaeda propaganda, and that he admired "Sheikh O," or Osama bin Laden. Who this confidant was and how Nafis came to meet him remain unclear; what we know from public documents is that the man told Nafis he could introduce him to an Al Qaeda operative.