U.S. government tactics in pursuing domestic terrorism cases target and entrap Muslim community members and fail to enhance public safety, according to a report released Wednesday by a human rights center at New York University's law school.
The government's use of surveillance, paid informants and invented terrorism plots prompts human rights concerns, according to the report by NYU's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. The authors examined three high-profile cases in New York and New Jersey that they said raised questions about the role of the FBI and New York Police Department in creating the perception of a homegrown terrorism threat.
In the cases, each of which resulted in convictions and lengthy sentences, informants pretending to be Muslims pushed ideas about violent jihad and instigated plots that law enforcement later foiled, the report says.
The researchers urged the FBI and NYPD to revise guidelines that govern such investigations.
An FBI spokeswoman said the agency's guidelines include effective oversight measures.
"The FBI does not investigate individuals absent specific information that they are committing crimes or pose a risk to national security," spokeswoman Kathleen Wright said by email. "We do not investigate people … based solely on their race, ethnicity, national origin, or religious affiliation. Our internal guidelines expressly prohibit this conduct as well as such tactics to recruit informants."