After one woman broke his heart, Khalil Abu Rayyan, a 21-year-old Michigan man, contemplated suicide. Then, when he confided his dark thoughts to another woman, she suggested he steer his violence toward other people.

Both women, it turned out, were FBI honeypots, and one of the recorded conversations with Rayyan entered into ongoing court proceedings provides a rare glimpse into how federal informants work.

The U.S. government now alleges that Rayyan, who has been indicted on federal gun charges, is an Islamic State sympathizer who talked of attacking a church in Detroit. Federal prosecutors have not filed terrorism-related charges, yet they are handling Rayyan’s indictment with the secrecy of a national security investigation.

The government has proposed a “limited protective order” that “would have kept sealed anything that even summarized material the government deemed sensitive,” according to a filing by the defense, which has so far refused to accept the proposal.

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