The Sunday Read: ‘The “Herald Square Bomber” Who Wasn’t’

After the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. authorities used informants to secure terror convictions. But did they help create plots where none existed?,

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The Sunday Read: ‘The “Herald Square Bomber” Who Wasn’t’

After the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. authorities used informants to secure terror convictions. But did they help create plots where none existed?

Produced by Anna Martin and Aaron Esposito; music by Aaron Esposito; edited by John Woo; written by Rozina Ali; and narrated by Soneela Nankani.

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April 25, 2021, 9:00 a.m. ET

In summer 2003, Shahawar Matin Siraj, then 21 and working at an Islamic bookstore in New York, met Osama Eldawoody, a nuclear engineer twice his age. To Mr. Siraj’s delight they struck up an unlikely friendship — never before had someone this sophisticated taken him so seriously.

At the older man’s encouragement, Mr. Siraj became entangled in a plot to place a bomb in Herald Square subway station. He would later want out of the plan, but it was too late: Mr. Eldawoody, it turned out, was one of thousands of informants recruited by the police and the F.B.I. after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Today on The Sunday Read, did the U.S. government’s network of informants create plots where none existed?


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Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Emma Kehlbeck, Parin Behrooz, Carson Leigh Brown, Anna Diamond, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Tanya Perez, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Margaret Willison and Kate Winslett. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.

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