The Newburgh Sting Review

The Newburgh Sting is an HBO documentary, which first premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 20th of 2014. The film follows the FBI sting, which foiled a 2009 Bronx terrorism plot to bomb two synagogues and use Stinger missiles to show down military airplanes. Near the beginning of the documentary, we’re introduced to to the mastermind of the crime, James Cromitie, and his three accomplices, David Williams, Laguerre and Onta Williams. Thanks to the great undercover work by FBI information, Shahed Hussain, the terrorist plot is foiled and the terrorists are sent to prison for possibly the rest of their lives.

This would be wonderful, if there were many underlying factors at play here. For starters, Shaheed Hussain is a very shady figure. On the other hand, the four men, who are arrested for the plot, are clearly slow minded and lack any resources whatsoever. Within the documentary, the viewer gets a chance to view pieces of the conversations, which were recorded between Shaheed Hussain and Cromitie.

By using the footage from the sting and interviews with the accused’s family members, Kate David and David Heilbroner slowly unfold the story, until the viewer reaches the climatic moment of the attack, May 6, 2009. At this point, the viewer will have already likely formed an opinion on the case. You’ll either feel no sorrow for the would-be terrorists, or you’ll see that something very dangerous is going on here, but it originates from the government. Are these men jihadi terrorists or targets of an overzealous FBI?


All in all, The Newburgh Sting is a tremendously effective documentary, which is capable of steering the viewers opinion. It raises many questions to the actions of the FBI and the use of FBI informants to bring down potential terror suspects. In today’s world, it is crucial to question everything and The Newburgh Sting furthers that ideology even further. Wether or not the film is biased, the question remains. Would these men have ever come up with such a complex scenario, if it wasn’t for the clever mind of Shaheed Hussain and the US government? The film is one that everyone should watch, regardless of political stance. The documentary deserves an 8 out of 10.

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