Well, judging from their tactics in "fighting terrorism", they would produce child pornography themselves, if they legally could. They have been producing "terrorists" for a while now.
Yes. And I was troubled by what seemed like ineptitude in addition to all other moral problems that that approach entails.
But then I dug a bit deeper and found Al Queda training material that explicitly warned would be home made jihadists from seeking like minded and forming a cell with the motivation that any like minded you find will most likely be law enforcement or an informant.
That puts the tactic of trying to trap everyone and his brother and doing so very publicly in another, more effective light. While the moral and ethical problems with such an approach remain, it suddenly looks both effective and down right sneaky. Denying your enemy the well known effectiveness of organising and acting in a group, having him commit his forces piecemeal is good for your effort, and hinders his. (Its not for nothing that the military always fight in teams or groups, and almost all of the training is devoted to how to work as a team and part of a team.)
From that perspective you can almost see the powers that be thinking that finding and stopping "black swan" self radicalised terrorists is almost impossible, so the second best thing is to limit their effectiveness by denying them the advantage of organising. And this is something that has been borne out in e.g. in France. The Charlie Hebdo terrorists were brothers, and hence difficult to isolate with such a strategy. They'll trust each other implicitly. The other organised attacks were by groups that had been put together and trained abroad. Those are more dangerous but also much more vulnerable to traditional police and intelligence efforts (even though they obviously failed here).
So, from that perspective, i.e. pure effectiveness without trying western sensibilities too much (they even follow established law and everything), there could be something well thought out behind this approach. And Al Queda and its ilk has obviously taken notice themselves, so whether thought out in advanced and executed, or just a haphazard happy accident, it has had effect.
And isn't that a scary thought? They may not be wholly incompetent, but actually good at their jobs... :-)