The threat of homegrown terror in America has been “manufactured” by entrapping Muslim men into crimes they otherwise would not commit, a recent study from the New York University School of Law has concluded.
The study, Targeted and Entrapped: Manufactuing the “Homegrown Terror Threat” in the United States, focuses on three recent convictions of Muslim-Americans who attempted to commit acts of terror on US soil. The cases are: a man convicted in 2006 of plotting to blow up the Herald Square subway station; five men convicted in 2008 of conspiring to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.; and four others convicted last year of trying to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx and planning to fire missiles at military aircraft.
The study, published by the law school’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the school’s International Human Rights Clinic, shows that government informants egged on the Muslims to try to commit the acts of terror. While juries concluded the men committed the actions on their own accord, the judge overseeing one of the cases remarked that there was “something decidedly troubling about the government’s behavior” and that the informant went to great lengths to goad one defendant into taking part in the plot.
“Since September 11, 2001, the U.S government has targeted Muslims in the United States by sending paid, untrained informants into mosques and Muslim communities,” the study says. “This practice has led to the prosecution of more than 200 individuals in terrorism-related cases.”
The study was published last May and got little notice until former New York City Mayor Ed Koch came across it, reports The New York Times. Koch, an N.Y.U. graduate, tried to get the school to disavow the report and publish rebuttal he got Long Island Congressman Peter King to write up. The school’s dean, Richard L. Revesz, told Koch no, and the former Mayor took his battle public.
“Academic freedom doesn’t mean you have the right to distribute false reports, and when called to your attention, to do nothing about it,” Koch told the paper. “The dean doesn’t seem to care whether it’s factual or not.”
The Times finds that the difference between the two sides comes down to wording found in the study. For example, what King describes — as did prosecutors — as one group of defendants’ paramilitary training, the N.Y.U. report calls “recreational activities.”And while the report clearly states that “more than 200 individuals” have been prosecuted based on the actions of government informants, Smita Narula, an author of the report and a faculty director of the two groups behind it, said it “never claims that 200 people were entrapped.”
What the study does say is that “the types of evidence relied upon by the government in terror-related prosecutions are highly prejudicial, and build on the conflation of Muslim religious practice, political opinions critical of U.S. foreign policy, and terrorism.
“The prejudicial nature of relying on such evidence is magnified in the context of an entrapment defense, when the defendant’s predisposition to commit the charged crimes is at issue.”