Crime

Video: Short Documentary Looks Back at 'The Sleeper Cell That Wasn't'


November 18, 2013, 11:16 AM by  Allan Lengel

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It's been about a decade since the "Detroit Sleeper Cell"  case imploded and ended up being a big embarrassment to the Justice Department and the FBI.

You might recall, shortly after Sept. 11, 2001,  four men were charged in Detroit with operating a sleeper cell that was plotting to pull off terrorist acts.  In 2003, two of the four men were convicted of terrorism charges. One defendant was acquitted of all charges and another was convicted of document fraud. 

But the defense learned that the government withheld information that might have helped their clients, and eventually in 2004 U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen vacated the terrorism convictions. Essentially, the judge concluded the case was nonsense.

The Retro Report, a documentary organization, has partnered with the New York Times, to produce an 11 minute, 45 second  documentary, "The Detroit Sleeper Cell." The documentary was released Monday. 

The documentary takes a look back at the case and talks to some  key players, including former prosecutor Keith Corbett who assisted the lede prosecutor RIchard Convertino on the case.

"I think we overreacted in the post 9/11 world," Corbett says in the documentary. "I think we were looking for the boogeyman under every bed. I think in hindsight a couple deep breaths would have server everybody better."

Read Deadline Detroit's Three-Part Series: "Terrorism and the American Dream"


Read more:  Retro Report


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