The FBI’s recent arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized US citizen from Somalia who plotted to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, prompted outcry in some quarters (Muslim and non-Muslim) that the FBI’s actions constituted entrapment. Last night, “In a 20-minute speech delivered in [a] suburb of San Francisco at the annual dinner of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy and civil-rights organization, [Attorney General Eric] Holder rejected criticism by such groups.”
Here is an excerpt from Holder’s prepared remarks:
Some have expressed concerns about the recent charges brought against Mohamed Osman Mohamud in Portland, Oregon, for his alleged involvement in planning – and attempting to execute – a terror attack during a Christmas Tree-lighting celebration.
Mr. Mohamud’s arrest was the result of a successful undercover operation – a critical and frequently used law enforcement tool that has helped identify and defuse public safety threats such as those posed by potential terrorists, drug dealers and child pornographers for decades.
These types of operations have proven to be an essential law enforcement tool in uncovering and preventing potential terror attacks.
Since 2001, more than 400 individuals have been convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related violations in federal courts. And in those terrorism cases where undercover sting operations have been used, there is a lengthy record of convictions.
Our nation’s law enforcement professionals have consistently demonstrated not just their effectiveness, but also their commitment to the highest standards of professional conduct, integrity, and fairness.
I make no apologies for the how the FBI agents handled their work in executing the operation that led to Mr. Mohamud’s arrest. Their efforts helped to identify a person who repeatedly expressed his desire and intention to kill innocent Americans. As you may have read – and as the affidavit alleges – Mr. Mohamud chose the target location months in advance; provided FBI operatives with bomb components and detailed operational instructions; and repeatedly refused to change course when he was reminded that a large crowd – including children – would be in harm’s way.
Because of law enforcement’s outstanding work, Mr. Mohamud is no longer plotting attacks. He is now behind bars. And he will be brought to justice. But you also have my word that the Justice Department will – just as vigorously – continue to pursue anyone who would target Muslims, or their houses of worship.
Those who characterize the FBI’s activities in this case as “entrapment” simply do not have their facts straight – or do not have a full understanding of the law.
Some in the audience, according to the New York Times (above link), remained unconvinced.
Another incident has further complicated relations between Muslim communities in the US and the FBI. An FBI informant who infiltrated a mosque in Irvine, California so alarmed congregationalists with his talk of jihad that they reported him to authorities.
Some Muslims in Southern California and nationally say the cascading revelations have seriously damaged their relationship with the FBI, a partnership that both sides agree is critical to preventing attacks and homegrown terrorism.
Citing [the informant]’s actions and what they call a pattern of FBI surveillance, many leading national Muslim organizations have virtually suspended contact with the bureau.
What do you think?
(h/t Politico‘s Playbook, to which you can subscribe if want to sink into a deep depression about the state of US politics shortly after waking every morning).