FBI agents had a goal to gather intelligence on Gardner’s associates and then use it to pursue criminal charges against them.
One way to do that was by obtaining intelligence on them, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent in Charge James L. Fuchs that was unsealed Monday.
“The FBI would collect intelligence on a number of persons and gather that information in a variety of ways,” the affidavit said.
“We also would collect information on other individuals to make an arrest.”
According to Fuchs’ affidavit, the FBI started gathering information on the Gardner associates after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“At the time, the intelligence community was not aware of the terrorist threats to the United States,” Fuchs wrote in the affidavit.
“A person with an established overseas terrorist organization would be viewed as a high-risk person.”
The FBI would then gather intelligence about the Gardner’s, and other individuals associated with them, and would then use that information to pursue civil and criminal charges, the affidavit stated.
According to the affidavit, in March 2001, agents had an agreement with Gardner’s former partner, who was working as an FBI agent, that he would be the one to get the intelligence about Gardner’s contacts with his associates.
Gardner was living in the United Kingdom and had been living in Florida for years, the court document said.
Agents were instructed to make a report on Gardner “in a timely manner,” Fuch said.
When the FBI received the report, it contacted Gardner and asked him if he was in contact with the Gardner associate, according the affidavit by Fuchs.
Gardner told the agents that he had been in contact since November 2002 with a Gardner associate who had been convicted of terrorism offenses.
Gardner, the document said, told the FBI that the man he was talking to was a “terrorist” who was planning to travel to the Middle East.
The FBI was able to confirm that Gardner’s name was on the man’s passport, and he was arrested on a terrorism charge, the federal document said in the next sentence.
“As soon as the FBI learned of his arrest, the agent contacted Gardner to arrange for his release,” Fucus wrote in a separate affidavit.
The agents were able to contact Gardner’s wife, who informed them that her husband had been arrested and that he was not a threat.
The affidavit said the FBI then interviewed Gardner’s brother, who also had a connection to the Gardner, and the FBI interviewed the man who was living with Gardner in Florida.
The man who the FBI identified as the man the FBI had interviewed in the Florida residence told the investigators that Gardner was “not a threat,” according to the FBI’s affidavit.
A man in Florida, who the affidavit identified as “Mr. Gardner,” told the court that Gardner had never talked to him about his alleged terrorist ties, and that Gardner never sent him any emails or text messages.
“I’ve never heard from him, he doesn’t have any contact with me,” the man told the judge.
“He’s not a danger to anybody.
He’s just a guy who was a criminal.”
Gardner was eventually charged with conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaeda and was charged with terrorism in the first degree, which carries a mandatory life sentence, according for the FBI.
“If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison,” Fuccus wrote.