by Melissa Nau
A new documentary sheds light on one of the Hudson Valley’s most controversial cases: the 2009 terrorist scandal leading to the imprisonment of the "Newburgh Four.” The four impoverished Newburgh locals were led by the rich, outspoken Pakistani businessman Shahed Hussain, in plots to bomb Jewish synagogues in the Bronx and to fire a Stinger missile at US military planes. The four African American Muslims were jailed for 25 years, while their leader was not—Hussain turned out to be an FBI informant. The case and imprisonments of the four men, who had no previous criminal records or political ties, continues to be debated: is this a victory against terrorism, or a government entrapment?
The Newburgh Sting, a film by David Heilbroner and Kate Davis, delves into the FBI’s role in targeting Muslim communities in poor neighborhoods in an eye-opening exposé. Through hidden camera footage, we are taken through the journey of how four men went from under the radar to FBI’s most wanted over the course of one year. HBO has already claimed the US and international rights to The Newburgh Sting; both Davis and Heilbroner have relationships with the company after working on Southern Comfort (winner of the Sundance Film Festival Grand Prize in 2001) and The Cheshire Murders. Heilbroner is also experienced in politics and law, having served as a Manhattan prosecutor and a criminal justice professor at John J. College.
The Tribeca Film Festival begins Wednesday, April 16. The Newburgh Sting will premier as part of the festival in select theaters starting Sunday, April 20. Click here for more information.