ISIS TRIAL: FBI informant paid $119,000

Any way you look at it, $119,000 is a lot of money.  But how you see it - either the cost of fighting terrorism or tax dollars used to entrap - depends on if you are part of the prosecution or the defense.

On the witnesses stand for another full day, FBI informant Abdirahman Bashiir explained a couple more hours of the recordings he made of the three defendants, his former friends and alleged co-conspirators to travel to Syria.   The last excerpts played for the jury were made during a road trip to San Diego, where Bashiir had arranged to buy fake passports from an undercover federal agent. 

The prosecution ended its questioning of Bashiir by showing a video of a Jordanian pilot, in a cage, being burned alive.  After asking Bashiir to explain why his captors put debris on top, a symbol of those the pilot bombed, the prosecution turned Bashiir over to the defense.

Then, all three defense attorneys took aim at Bashiir’s motives, trying to imply he’s untrustworthy, insincere and motivated by money.

“I realized it was a lot of lies and I went back to being moderate,” testified Bashiir about his change of heart from radical Islam.  “I can tell you exactly my motivation. After my second subpoena and after my cousins were killed, I was traumatized. I wanted to slowly back out.”

As he was hammered for his constant lies, initially to a grand jury, then to his FBI handlers, he explained that he only wanted to help himself without hurting anyone else.  “At the same time I didn’t want my friends to get arrested either. So I constantly lied.”

Then came the questions about the paychecks.  As a defense lawyer went down the numbers, $25,000 for hotels, $7,200 for a car, $1,000 each for clothes and a laptop, Bashiir confirmed it all.  $119,000 in total, that he admitted it was hard to say no to.  But he denied all suggestions he felt he needed to push his friends in return.

Asked why he didn’t simply try to talk them out of their ISIS beliefs or their desires to go to Syria, he testified that they were far too committed.  “If I would have tried to talk the out of it, that would have never happened.  They would say you are against the brothers.”

Bashiir will return to the stand Tuesday morning.  The prosecution expects to wrap up its case either Wednesday or Thursday.  The defense attorneys may be planning to not take much time, because the judge said if they were all done by Friday, he would wait for closing statements until after Memorial Day.