The FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism

How the FBI has transformed from a reactive law enforcement agency to a proactive counterterrorism organization that traps hapless individuals in order to justify the $3 billion it spends every year fighting terrorists.


| March 2013


A groundbreaking work of investigative journalism, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism (Ig Publishing, 2013) exposes how the FBI has, under the guise of engaging in counterterrorism since 9/11, built a network of more than 15,000 informants whose primary purpose is to infiltrate Muslim communities to create and facilitate phony terrorist plots so that the Bureau can then claim it is winning the war on terror. The following is an excerpt from the book's introduction, showing the case against Michael Curtis Reynolds, a would-be terrorist who Aaronson argues was never a threat. 

Michael Curtis Reynolds was unemployed and living in his elderly mother’s house in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, when he became a government-manufactured terrorist.

At forty-seven years of age, Reynolds was a drifter with a bad employment history and a worse credit report. In addi­tion, his behavior over several decades suggested that his grip on reality was tenuous at best. In 1978, for example, he tried to blow up his parents’ house in Purdys, New York, wiring gasoline, cans of paint, and propane to a timed ignition device. The improvised bomb failed to ignite the propane and merely started a small fire. Reynolds pleaded guilty to attempted ar­son.

Reynolds got married in 1982 and fathered three chil­dren. His father-in-law, Richard Danise, despite not approv­ing of the marriage, tried to help his daughter Tammy and Reynolds start a life together, giving them an acre of land and signing for a mortgage to finance the construction of a home. But Reynolds couldn’t reconcile the reality of his average life with the fantasy of his outsized ideas. “He literally wanted to build a castle, with turrets and everything else,” Danise re­membered. The house was never built, and Tammy divorced Reynolds, getting full custody of their children.

Reynolds was a man on the margins, bouncing around from place to place, job to job. In 2005, outraged by the war in Iraq and living in his mother’s house in Pennsylvania, Reyn­olds logged in to a Yahoo forum called OBLCrew—OBL for Osama bin Laden—and shared his dream of bombing the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. He needed assistance, he told the forum members. No one responded. Reynolds followed up the next day. “Still awaiting someone serious about contact. Would be a pity to lose this idea,” he wrote.

The following day, a person claiming to be an Al Qaeda operative responded and offered $40,000 to fund the attack, which evolved into a plan to fill trucks with explosives and bomb oil refineries in New Jersey and Wyoming, as well as the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. They arranged to meet at a rest stop on Interstate 15 in Idaho, where Reynolds believed that he’d collect the $40,000 and move forward with his ambi­tious plan. But Reynolds didn’t know that his supposed Al Qaeda contact with money to burn was an FBI informant. On December 5, 2005, Reynolds arrived at the rest stop only to be greeted by FBI agents. At the time of his arrest, Reyn­olds had less than twenty-five dollars to his name. Eventually, he was tried and convicted of providing material support to Al Qaeda and received thirty years in prison. “Because of the astute work of the FBI, the diabolical plans of a would-be Al Qaeda sympathizer were uncovered,” Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Marino said in a statement following Reynolds’s conviction. “Individuals such as Reynolds repre­sent a threat to our safety. I commend the FBI and everyone involved in the prosecution of this case for bringing him to justice.”






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