The Case of the Liberty City Seven

September 16, 2021

Dan Reed (Leaving Neverland) discusses his new FRONTLINE documentary, In the Shadow of 9/11, the story of how seven Black men from Miami were accused of planning an Al Qaeda plot to blow up American buildings.

Their indictment marked the federal government’s first major post-9/11 counterterrorism sting within the U.S. Yet the men, who came to be known as the Liberty City Seven, had no weapons and had never communicated with anyone from Al Qaeda.

Reed joins The FRONTLINE Dispatch to discuss why this was a story he wanted to tell; how he built trust with sources, including the accused men themselves and an FBI agent with a key role in the sting; and what the documentary reveals about the federal government’s post-9/11 counterterrorism tactics — notably its use of informants and sting operations.

“It’s a story that really needs to be told, because Americans … have the right to know what techniques have been used to keep the country safe after 9/11,” Reed tells FRONTLINE’s executive producer, Raney Aronson-Rath. “But it’s just a very challenging story to tell. … I really think that FRONTLINE is the only place on American television that I could have done this.”

The feature-length documentary In the Shadow of 9/11 is now streaming on FRONTLINE’s website, the PBS Video app and YouTube.

More Podcasts

What prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate over 150 unsolved civil rights era killings? And what does justice look like for the families of the victims? Reporter James Edwards seeks answers to these questions, reflecting on his own family’s experiences along the way.
I’m Not A Monster
Secrets, lies and lasting consequences. For the past four years, journalist Josh Baker has been trying to uncover the truth about an American family’s journey from Indiana to the Islamic State group’s caliphate and back.
FRONTLINE Film Audio Track
FRONTLINE documentaries, in audio form. Stream or download full-length recordings of film audio tracks.

The FRONTLINE Dispatch is made possible by the Abrams Foundation and by the GBH Catalyst Fund. Additional support for The FRONTLINE Dispatch comes from the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.