The FBI's focus on stings, which Assaad has worked in at least 10 states and overseas since becoming an operative in 1996, are being questioned by many counter-terrorism authorities, who wonder what the true value of the stings are. Since 9/11, the stings have largely targeted people that are more aspirational than operational.
Defense lawyers including attorney Richard Houlihan, who represented Naudimar Herrera – one of the two men who were found not guilty, called the case a classic example of law enforcement entrapment.
"Without [Assaad's] performance, none of this would have happened," Houlihan told ABC News. "He's dealing with seven basically inner-city kids from Liberty City. Poor, uneducated, looking for money."
Herrera said he and the others played along with Assaad because of the financial incentives promised by him.
"He was like, "Oh your name here. You say your name here." It was more like, it was more like a movie script," Herrera told ABC News. He said that anyone "blind about greed" would be "vulnerable to [Assaad's] intelligence."
Assaad said some tactics – like suggesting targets, as he did in this case with FBI offices in Miami – are necessary in undercover stings.
"Sometimes you have to see…what he's willing to do….what's he's capable of doing," says Assaad of suspected terrorists.
"When you are working undercover," Assaad says, "your job is to lie."
Megan Chuchmach contributed to this report.