Attorney General Eric Holder, in an effort to reach out to the national Muslim community, spoke to the Muslim Advocates outside San Francisco this weekend. According to the New York Times, Holder received standing ovations and a warm reception — until he started talking about the FBI’s recent terror stings.
“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,” Holder said. He called the stings, which have recently led to arrests in Oregon and Maryland, an “essential law enforcement tool in uncovering and preventing terror attacks.”
Holder acknowledged that the relationship with Muslim-Americans and law enforcement has become strained, even as the Justice Department pursues more hate crimes charges against those acting out against Muslims.
“We know that we have more work to do to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and those in Muslim and Arab-American communities,” he said, according to Reuters.
In the past month, FBI sting operations have netted a Portland, Ore., man — after they supplied him with a fake bomb and helped him plan an attack on a Christmas tree lighting ceremony — and a Baltimore man — after undercover agents suggested he attack a military recruiting center there. In both cases, the FBI says they offered the men violent and nonviolent strategies to accomplish their goal of helping Islam, and in each case, they chose violent means.
Holder has repeatedly defended the stings amid criticism that they amount to entrapment. “I’m comfortable with the way that we’ve been conducting ourselves with regard to these investigations,” he told TPM last week.