FBI ‘groomed’ mentally vulnerable 16-year-old to become terrorist  – Middle East Monitor

In another sensational case exposing the FBI’s role in manufacturing terrorism cases using vulnerable people, the Intercept has uncovered details of a 16-year-old with “brain development issues” who is alleged to have been groomed by US intelligence officials to commit a crime that would not have otherwise happened.

The latest case involves Mateo Ventura, an 18-year-old from Massachusetts. His arrest was announced last week by the Department of Justice, triggering sensational media headlines about a foiled Daesh attack. However, details about Ventura’s relationship with US intelligence officials over several years shows that the case may be another instance of a troubled individual being groomed by undercover FBI agents to commit a crime.

Read: Entrapment is the tool of the Western intelligence matrix to criminalise Muslim communities

The circumstances surrounding Ventura’s arrest have raised concerns about the FBI’s tactics in manufacturing terrorism cases. The undercover FBI agent reportedly befriended Ventura online when he was just 16 years old. The US agent posed as a member of the terrorist group and solicited small cash donations in the form of gift cards from Ventura and instructed him to conceal their online relationship from everyone, including his family. Ventura, who had previously experienced bullying and had developmental issues, complied with the agent’s requests.

Contrary to the initial sensational narrative, the charging documents indicate that Ventura’s financial contributions were insignificant, with amounts as low as $25. Furthermore, when given the opportunity to travel to the Daesh held territory in Iraq and Syria, Ventura expressed reluctance and eventually reported his contact with the supposed Daesh member to the FBI. Ventura was arrested earlier this month and was charged with one count of “knowingly concealing the source of material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.”

Read: FBI rented Istanbul villa for Daesh suspects before alerting Turkish authorities, report reveals

Details uncovered about Ventura’s arrest and the US government’s own account of what led to his arrest, indicate that it is one of the many instances in which a troubled or mentally unfit young man was groomed by undercover FBI agents to commit a crime that would not have otherwise happened.

The FBI’s unethical practice of grooming has long been an issue. As many as 300 people are said to be victims of manufactured plots by American security agencies. Practices around FBI grooming was the subject of a 2019 movie by British director Chris Morris.  The tactic has been criticised by national security researchers who have scrutinised the FBI’s role in manufacturing terrorism cases using vulnerable people who would have been unable to commit crimes without prolonged government assistance and encouragement. A 2014 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report criticising the use of informants in terrorism investigations said: “In this way, the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals.”

FBI tactics uncovered following Ventura’s arrest were a mainstay of terrorism prosecutions for roughly two decades. While its use lately has waned, this month’s arrest may indicate that authorities are still open to conjuring terrorists where none existed.

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