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Close-up of a judge's gavel in a courtroom, representing the final ruling in the Newburgh Four case.
In a landmark ruling the last of the Newburgh Four gains freedom spotlighting the FBIs controversial tactics

By Darius Spearman (africanelements)

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Newburgh Four Member Gains Freedom After 15 Years: The FBI’s Controversial Sting Operation Criticized
(January 24, 2024) — In a significant legal development, James Cromitie, the last imprisoned member of the “Newburgh Four,” has been ordered released after a 15-year incarceration. This decision, made by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon, sharply criticizes the FBI’s role in the case, underlining serious concerns about entrapment and manipulation (Reuters).

“The FBI invented the conspiracy,” stated Judge McMahon, condemning the agency for orchestrating a terror plot that ensnared the Newburgh Four in 2009. The group, initially convicted for planning attacks on New York City synagogues and military planes, fell victim to an FBI informant’s manipulative tactics. McMahon’s ruling underscores a pivotal critique of law enforcement methods in counterterrorism (AccessWDUN).

According to court documents, the FBI informant, Shahed Hussain, targeted Cromitie, enticing him with financial rewards and fabricating a terror plot. Hussain’s history of controversial involvement in other FBI operations further complicates the narrative (Brennan Center for Justice).

Judge McMahon’s decision has reignited debates about the ethical use of informants and the principles of entrapment in law enforcement. Legal experts and civil liberties groups are calling for urgent reforms in FBI operations, particularly in cases involving vulnerable individuals (NTD).

“The men were entrapped for their race, religion, and working-class backgrounds by a government looking to spread fear of Muslims and justify bloated budgets,” said Amith R. Gupta, representing the defendants (AccessWDUN).

In conclusion, the release of James Cromitie marks a significant moment in the ongoing discourse on justice and counterterrorism. It highlights the fine line between national security and the preservation of individual rights, a balance that remains a critical challenge for law enforcement agencies.


  • “US judge condemns FBI while ordering release of man in ‘Newburgh Four’ case” – Reuters.
  • “Judge orders release of 3 of ‘Newburgh Four’ and assails FBI’s role in terror sting” – AccessWDUN.
  • “‘Newburgh Four’ Terrorism Case Releases Show Dire Need for FBI Reforms” – Brennan Center for Justice.
  • “Judge Orders Release of ‘Newburgh Four’ Defendant and Blasts FBI’s Role in Terror Sting” – NTD.

About the author:

Darius Spearman is a Professor of Black Studies at San Diego City College, where he has been pursuing his love of teaching since 2007. He is the author of several books, including Between The Color Lines: A History of African Americans on the California Frontier Through 1890. You can visit Darius online