That’s inflammatory, but it’s also true. Going out and cultivating your own lone-wolf terrorist, given him the (apparent) means and opportunity to do something nefarious, and then arresting him is probably way safer than tracking down actually dangerous people, but you get the same amount of headlines and good press, so it keeps happening. It’s also partly our own fault for being taken in by such headlines, and for demanding such simple scorekeeping. “Hey,” we collectively say, “they’re catching terrorists left and right! That’s awesome!” Except most people never bother to ask themselves “gee, were those folks really terrorists, or were they confused dupes badgered into an ill-conceived plot by Feds who wanted a bust?”
It’s not just in terrorism where cops play this game. Manufacturing crimes to arrest people for is part and parcel of the drug war, too. For example, an undercover sting in Florida recently bagged a teenager for dealing weed only after the girl he was trying to date — a 25-year-old undercover cop — begged and pleaded for him to get her some pot. Nice. I’m sure we’re all much safer now that such a menacing character will have is life ruined.