The FBI has been coaxing and even paying American Muslims to commit acts of terror as part of the agency's domestic sting operations, a human rights group said today. According to Human Rights Watch, the FBI may have sometimes "created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act," said the group's report. HRW said it interviewed 215 people involved in 27 such cases, half of which got convictions from a sting operation; in 30% of those, the FBI's agent played an active role, AFP reports.
The report looked at Rezwan Ferdaus, who got 17 years in prison for planning to attack government buildings. An FBI agent said he "obviously" suffered from poor mental health, yet the agent still created the whole plot, the report said. In fact, FBI agents allegedly liked focusing on people with vulnerabilities like low IQ or poor mental health. But US Attorney General Eric Holder has stood up for the FBI sting operations, saying they are "essential in fighting terrorism," and JM Berger, and expert in national security, said agents can't afford to shrug off reports about possible terrorists. "The question is how to sort out which cases merit investigation and which do not," said Berger. (Read more Human Rights Watch stories.)