Limo company owner was a controversial FBI informant

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — The owner of a limousine company involved in a crash that killed 20 people was a paid FBI informant known for his work in a series of controversial domestic terrorism investigations in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Records show Prestige Limousine is owned by Shahed Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant and Albany-area businessman who began going undercover for the FBI after he ran into legal trouble.

A stretch SUV in the company's small fleet sped off the road and crashed in Schoharie, New York, Saturday. State and federal authorities are investigating the cause and roadworthiness of the vehicle. A lawyer for the company said the limo was safe.

In 2009, prosecutors credited Hussain with rooting out radical Muslims in an elaborate sting at a mosque in Newburgh, a city north of New York City. At trial, the jury heard testimony that Hussain was posing as a wealthy representative of a Pakistani terrorist organization.

He drove a BMW and other luxury vehicles provided by the FBI to maintain his cover. He also made hundreds of hours of video and audio tapes of the defendants picking targets and ranting against Jews. His cooperation resulted in the conviction of four men in a thwarted plot to attack synagogues and shoot down military planes.

But Hussain's work also came under attack by defense attorneys and civil liberties groups as entrapment. They portrayed him as a master manipulator who entrapped a crew of aimless nobodies while earning $96,000 for his work.

Even U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon said at sentencing that she was not proud of the government's role in the plot.

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