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In-Depth Interview: Reporter Trevor Aaronson Tells of Florida Man Who Rejected FBI Informant Role Despite Intimidation, Extortion

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Trevor Aaronson returns to explain the case of a Florida man who aggressively rejected efforts by ICE and FBI to become an informant, and ran his own surveillance on the government’s surveillance of him.Aaronson reports for The Intercept, and the article we discuss is here.  He’s the author of Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s manufactured War on Terrorism.

Jabar Ali Refaie is an American-born Muslim who lives near Tampa, and he shared videos and other evidence with Aaronson to back up his claims of a 2-year campaign aimed at pressuring him to become an FBI informant.  First, ICE agents visited him at work with a dubious claim the Refaie was a victim of identity theft.  This was followed by surveillance, and Refaie says he found GPS monitors on his cars, surveillance tools hidden in the electrical outlets in his home, and he noted that he was often tailed by people he thought were agents.

When Homeland Security agents told him his house was being searched, he drove home using back roads, and was in an accident with a minivan registered to the FBI.  Refaie’s security cameras captured the raid, which was almost comical in its execution.  He recorded several conversations with an FBI agent who skillfully attempted extortion, saying that there was a “way out”, which Refaie vigorously rejected and called out as “extortion”.

The pretext for these actions are claims that Refaie sold illegal car parts on eBay, and he now faces charges for tax evasion, wire fraud and dealing in counterfeit goods.

It’s an astounding case, with many more details covered in the interview