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... supports Professor William Snyder's sections of National Security Law, Counterterrorism Law, and Prosecuting Terrorists at the Syracuse University College of Law.

In U.S. Sting Operations, Questions of Entrapment

Nov 30th, 2010 defenses

The New York Times reports yesterday, November 29, 2010, in an article entitled "In U.S. Sting Operations, Questions of Entrapment," that the arrest last Friday of a Somali-born teenager who is accused of trying to detonate a car bomb at a crowded Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore., has once again "thrown a spotlight on the government's use of sting operations to capture terrorism suspects." 

In the case at hand, involving Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, law enforcement officials have said that Mohamud was given several opportunities to vent his anger in ways that would not be deadly, but that he refused each time. 

Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. said Monday:

“I am confident that there is no entrapment here, and no entrapment claim will be found to be successful.There were, as I said, a number of opportunities that the subject in this matter, the defendant in this matter, was given to retreat, to take a different path. He chose at every step to continue.”

The article cites a study this year by the Center on Law and Security at New York University, which tracks terrorism cases, and found that of 156 prosecutions in what it identified as the most significant 50 cases since 2001, informers were relied on in 97 of them, or 62 percent. The Times reports, "[t]he entrapment defense has often been raised, but as of September, it had never been successful in producing an acquittal in a post-Sept. 11 terrorism trial, the study found."

The Times Reports:

"The government’s 36-page affidavit filed in the Oregon case lays out a crucial conversation between Mr. Mohamud and an F.B.I. informer at their first meeting, on July 30, 2010. According to the affidavit, the informer suggested five ways that Mr. Mohamud could help the cause of Islam, some of which were peaceful, like proselytizing, and some of which were violent and illegal. Mr. Mohamud, the affidavit said, immediately picked a violent crime: becoming “operational,” by which he said he meant putting together a car bomb. The informer then offered to put Mr. Mohamud in touch with an explosives expert, setting off the chain of events that led to his eventual arrest."

For the full text of the article, click here

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