FBI accused of abusing US Muslims: Human Rights Watch

Photo: FBI accused of abusing US Muslims: Human Rights Watch / Politics

An international human rights group has accused US law enforcement agencies of targeting American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism sting operations, Press TV reported.

Human Rights Watch said in a report on Monday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation targeted people who did not appear to have any involvement in terrorist plots.

It said the FBI went after particularly vulnerable people, including individuals with mental disabilities.

"Far from protecting Americans, including American Muslims, from the threat of terrorism, the policies documented in this report have diverted law enforcement from pursuing real threats," the organization said in the report.

"In some cases, the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act," according to the report.

Human Rights Watch released the report with the help of Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute.

The report is based on more than 215 interviews with defendants, family members, attorneys, and experts.

It specifically cited 27 cases, including the case of Boston-based Rezwan Ferdaus, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison for an alleged terrorist plot.

The federal government has prosecuted more than 500 terrorism-related cases since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.

Human Rights Watch, however, says its findings show many of the defendants would never have committed a crime.

"Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US," said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report.

"But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would never have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring, and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts."

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