The FBI (Fit Body Initiative)


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To foster this growth at full capacity, individuals in early childhood require ample access to good nutrition, quality health care, early learning opportunities, among other vital resources. The lack of these services in the early years can adversely affect long-term health, learning and behavioral capabilities, which are difficult to reverse at later stages of life.

Businesses can contribute to closing the ECD funding gap and ensure that all countries receive pre-primary aid through leveraging their core assets, expertise, leadership, funds, services, or developing creative solutions to equip marginalized communities with educational opportunities. In addition to highlighting the dire need for global early childhood education opportunities, the scorecard advocates for increased financing.

This is an issue that GBC-Education members have been advocating for as well. Read the scorecard in full here. T o learn more about ECD and the work being done to support it, see our brief. He may have wanted to roil civil unrest, but he didn't want to take any lives in the process. By late January, the cousin Matthew had only met two months prior had obtained the liquid explosives and rented a storage unit in the city of Hayward.

The two of them later drove 20 miles south, to Milpitas, where Matthew was instructed to buy two cell phones: one for the bomb's trigger device, and the other to call the trigger device, detonating the bomb. Having gathered all the chief materials, they now had one final task: build the car bomb. On February 2, Matthew and his partner met at the Hayward storage unit.

Using 12 five-gallon buckets of liquid explosives and an assortment of household items, they assembled the bomb. They also tested the trigger device to make sure it would set off the bomb when called. By the end of the day, all that was left to do was attach the completed trigger device and a blasting cap. Everything was now in place to blow up the Bank of America building on Hegenberger Road—an act Matthew believed would set the stage for a much larger conflict.

Before the two men parted ways, he expressed his commitment to the cause, telling his partner that he had jihad in his heart and was willing to lay down his life for it. Five days later, Matthew's contact rented him a room for the day at a hotel near the storage facility. Thinking about the task that lay before him—an irrevocable act that would culminate in permanent exile from the only country he'd ever known—he tried to keep his cool as best he could.

In the hours leading up to the attack, the contact offered Matthew one final out. It was not too late to turn back, he told him; they could disassemble the bomb and both skip town. Matthew replied that he was ready, adding that he only hoped that the plot achieved its goal. After all, he now had a lot riding on its successful execution: not only the fulfillment of his gambit for revolution, but also a clandestine escape that would allow him to leave behind a life increasingly riven by financial and psychological instability.

This was his ticket out. Sometime around 10 p.

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They planned to carry out the bombing late that evening, shortly after midnight. His partner followed him there and oversaw Matthew putting the finishing touches on the bomb. Matthew then drove the SUV to the Bank of America building, parked it beneath an overhang, and fled on foot to meet his partner at a nearby location. It was now well after midnight. The streets were dark and mostly vacant. Sitting in his partner's car, Matthew called the cell phone in the trigger device—the final step that was supposed to detonate the bomb.

The bomb hadn't gone off. For a moment Matthew was confused, unsure of what their next move was going to be. Then, as he was looking out the car window, he suddenly caught sight of a handful of law-enforcement officers. They were rapidly descending on the vehicle. Frantic, Matthew urged his partner to hit the gas and make for a narrow escape. But instead, his partner acted startled and confused, and seemed to ignore Matthew's pleas. JTTF officers soon had the vehicle surrounded.

As Matthew would eventually surmise, his partner—the person with whom he planned the entire bombing—was not really an extremist with ties to the Taliban. He was an undercover FBI agent. Matthew first drew the attention of the FBI in December , after he'd posted comments online railing against American foreign policy and indicating an interest in engaging in violent jihad.

FBI - Definition by AcronymAttic

Acting on this intelligence, the FBI dispatched an informant posing as someone considering committing an act of extremist violence against the United States. When the informant approached Matthew to further investigate his leanings, Matthew allegedly expressed a willingness to join the Taliban. And when Matthew got out of jail in late , the job he landed at the plumbing company wasn't the stroke of good fortune it appeared to be. His supervisor there was also on the FBI's payroll, another confidential informant, and he would eventually lay the groundwork for the meeting between Matthew and his "adopted cousin," the undercover FBI agent.

It seems that even after Matthew's hospitalization in revealed a young man with severe mental illness, as well as an informant's opinion a year later that Matthew was "harmless," the FBI continued pursuing their sting on the year-old. At some point in , the agency conducted a threat assessment on him and subsequently accelerated its investigation.

After the assessment, it seemed no longer satisfied with facilitating his hazy aspirations of traveling overseas and joining the Taliban. The FBI seems to have felt that in order to truly neutralize the threat, it needed Matthew to become embroiled in something deeper, something far more dangerous. To do this, the FBI needed to accommodate Matthew's revolutionary pipe dreams. Because he lacked the experience, technical acumen, or financial means to pull off the costly, logistically complex attack he outlined to the agent, the FBI handled almost everything: It purchased the requisite materials and brewed the simulated explosive mixture for the car bomb, constructed the bomb's trigger device, rented a storage unit near the bank, and provided Matthew with the vehicle that he used in the attack, a Mazda CX7.

Shortly before 1 a. When the officers opened the car door, he managed to scramble away, making a mad dash down the empty street. Then he blacked out. When he came to, a large officer was on top of him, wrestling him to the ground. He was transported to Santa Rita Jail, where he would remain for another year while his case wended through pretrial proceedings. Although Matthew's anti-American rants and possession of an assault weapon might have made FBI agents uneasy, court documents recounting the events leading up to the staged bombing clearly demonstrate that prosecutors did not find him guilty of committing a single terrorist crime on his own.

It's a tricky paradox, one that's steeped in moral ambiguity: These men and women's participation in terrorist acts may prove some degree of culpability, but their terrorist activities only ever existed within the FBI's elaborate schemes. What should the real punishment be for a simulated crime? In his book, The Terror Factory , Trevor Aaronson writes that, while working as an investigative reporter for various newspapers, "I couldn't help but notice how the U. Instead, he notes, many were underemployed, cash-strapped, and marginalized figures, misfits with histories of delusional thinking and petty crime who simply did not have the conviction or wherewithal to carry out any kind of terrorist attack on their own.

For most of this decade, the FBI's Counterterrorism Division has been focused primarily on "lone wolf" terrorists: actors without any direct link to a terrorist organization but committed to the same extreme religious ends and violent methods for achieving them. According to Aaronson, the FBI is specifically looking for young Muslims between the ages of 16 and 35 who have expressed radical beliefs, hostility toward U. Matthew checked every box. After the agency's surveillance dragnet pulls up someone who fits that description, the FBI relies on its deep network of informants to gauge just how ready that individual is to act on his loose talk and social-media screeds.

To better understand exactly how the FBI's Counterterrorism Division was operating differently today than it had in the past, I reached out to Michael German, a former undercover FBI agent who is now among the most outspoken whistleblowers on the agency's counterterrorism tactics. Since then, the bar for initiating a sting has gotten much lower. Their only hypothetical tie to extremists is the FBI, which "portrays itself as the terrorist group.

The agency largely targets what he called "low-hanging fruit": young men who are poor, asocial, and often mentally ill. For its part, the FBI, which did not respond to interview requests for this story, has long argued that it simply can't afford to wait for aspiring extremists to fine-tune their plans or hook up with recruiters; the exigency of keeping America safe requires them to embrace an aggressively pre-emptive model. And if the men they arrest were willing to carry out a terrorist attack with an informant or undercover agent, the logic goes, what's stopping them from doing the very same thing with a real member of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, or the Taliban?

German and another expert I spoke to, however, articulated a few other reasons the FBI could be motivated to "manufacture" terrorism cases—that is, to use informants and undercover agents to facilitate terrorist activity where none existed before. Counterterrorism is now the FBI's number one priority. The agency has over Joint Terrorism Task Forces throughout the country, which employ thousands of special agents and police officers working for the Counterterrorism Division.

In order to keep an operation of this size going, German told me, agents and task-force officers must "prove statistical accomplishments. The more experts I spoke to, the clearer it became that a certain culture of careerism was at least partly responsible for perpetuating a Counterterrorism Division that demands substantial FBI resources.

New York University counterterrorism expert Arun Kundnani explained that the structure of incentives at the FBI is set up in such a way that special agents "make their careers on these convictions.

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Even confidential informants appear to profit from the business of nabbing perpetrators of terrorist crimes: Aaronson writes that informants can earn "performance incentives" of tens of thousands of dollars if the cases they work lead to successful convictions. The question of entrapment continues to loom over many of these cases.

In many instances, it can be difficult to parse the nuances of who initially proposed the crime, how much pressure the agent or informant may have put on the individual, and what mixture of incentives the FBI put into play, including cash, employment, housing, and other rewards like an imaginary field verdant with marijuana. A lack of transparency often pervades these sting operations, which primarily come to those outside the agency in snippets and flashes—glimpses of the months, weeks, and days leading up to the decisive criminal act, which is itself often rendered in court filings in careful, vivid detail.

It's a climax that's meticulously choreographed by the FBI, an intricate simulacrum that mimics a real terrorist attack through all the sets, props, and supporting players a satisfying production requires. That the central actor is not aware he is participating in an extravagant yarn seems to matter only at the very end, when the fiction takes a sudden and irreversible swerve back into the reality hiding underneath all along.

After discovering Matthew's story, I reached out to him at the Oregon federal prison, where he's now incarcerated. Matthew and I exchanged e-mails and eventually began talking on the phone. It was the first time Matthew had spoken to a journalist since he was arrested in In a dozen or so phone conversations this past summer, I spoke to Matthew about his boyhood in Arizona, his struggle with mental illness, and the circumstances surrounding his decision in to carry out the crime he's now in prison for.

From the very first phone call, it was clear Matthew regarded the world with a frenzied, nail-biting paranoia.

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His sightlines were pitted with danger, the southern Arizona of his youth laced with invisible threats. The only magazines he'd ever read, he told me, he'd flipped through quickly and cagily at a mall before "going back to the mountains, where it's a lot safer. He depicted the part of Arizona where he was from and the surrounding desert as a "police state" and a "Wild West," full of cartel executions, human trafficking, underground silos, and caravans of army trucks hauling warheads.

His baroque descriptions sounded like a depraved post-apocalyptic wasteland, one almost cinematic in its gratuitous perils. Listening, I often had no idea where reality ended and grim fantasy began. Hints at just how long his paranoia stretched back effloresced around our conversations.

When I asked him when he thought the government first began tracking him, he replied that his best guess was that he'd been monitored "since I was a little kid. Early on in his childhood, Matthew began exhibiting unusual behavior that some family members worryingly read as signs he might not be developing in a typical way. His kindergarten teacher observed that he was restless and disruptive, and she recommended that he repeat the grade.

As he got older, feelings of paranoia took root. When his dad planned a fishing trip, Matthew obsessively fretted over the possibility of drowning. At the sound of a helicopter flying overhead, he'd lunge to the ground and curl up into a fetal position. Strange fixations also blossomed in his mind.

Role of FBI Special Agents

One day Matthew noticed a frayed American flag flying on a shopping-center flagpole. He proceeded to walk four miles to the shopping center and then shimmy up the flagpole and pull the flag down. Questioned later, he explained matter-of-factly that the flag should not be flying in that condition. But while evidence abounded of Matthew's aberrant behavior and unusual thought patterns, he never received a psychiatric diagnosis of any kind during his childhood.

A few weeks after Matthew was arrested, public defender Jerome Matthews ordered a full psychological evaluation to determine whether his client was competent to stand trial. If the mental-health professional, a Berkeley-based psychologist named Scott Lines, found that he was not, it would potentially open the door for an insanity defense. It wasn't an unreasonable legal path: Matthew had bipolar disorder and an extensively documented history of delusional thinking, and may have been in a manic state in the weeks leading up to and during the offense.

After administering a psychological evaluation and interviewing Matthew at Santa Rita Jail, though, Lines concluded that Matthew cleared the bar for competence. That summer, Jerome Matthews asked Lines to conduct a second evaluation. The report that Lines submitted—which later became an exhibit in the sentencing memorandum the defense put forth leading up to the court's decision—speaks to a young man riddled with delusions, often crazed by mania, and grasping for ballast amid a fluctuating cocktail of psychotropic medication.

At the time Lines visited the prison, in July , Matthew had been put in solitary confinement for some time. A defense attorney who's represented two dozen men accused of terrorist crimes told me that subjecting them to solitary confinement for long stretches during pretrial proceedings is typical, though few people know about it.

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He couldn't tell the psychologist what day of the week it was. While he was still on antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs at the time of the interview, he'd recently been taken off Depakote, a mood stabilizer, because of the tremors it caused him. As a result, he described careering toward a manic state: laughing for no reason, banging on cell doors, agreeing to mischief at the behest of other inmates. He told Lines he'd heard whispers coming from the prison's speaker system. It was clear evidence, he felt, of a psy-ops campaign to break him. In his report, Lines stood by his earlier determination that Matthew was competent to stand trial.

He did note, however, that Matthew's mental illness, combined with his dire financial straits, led to impaired judgment and diminished mental capacity at the time of the crime. The psychologist drew a direct line from the defendant's illness to the terrorist plot. By the time Lines conducted the second psychological evaluation in midsummer, the defense was in the early stages of negotiating a plea bargain.


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Although Jerome Matthews whose office told me it was against their policy to speak with the press about cases raised the issue of entrapment several times in his sentencing memorandum, the stakes were simply too high to take the case to trial. The single count against Matthew—attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against property used in interstate commerce—carried a sentencing range of 30 years to life in prison.

Court documents filed after the arrest revealed Matthew to be an almost shockingly vulnerable young man—perhaps the very lowest of the "low-hanging fruit. His medication interfered with his daily functionality to the point where he could not hold a shovel at work. In the year or so following his release from his first stint in jail in , Matthew was treated with an assortment of potent psychotropic drugs, including Risperdal, Zyprexa, Haldol, Depakote, and Zoloft.

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