Holder tells Muslim audience 'no apologies' for sting operations

Attorney General Eric Holder told a Muslim and Arab-American audience Friday that law enforcement sting operations are not entrapment, calling the arrest of a would-be terrorist in November a "successful undercover operation."

Holder, addressing the Muslim Advocates's Annual Dinner in San Francisco, defended the sting that resulted in the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-born teenager who allegedly wanted to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting in Portland, Ore.

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Mohamud was one of several sting operations Holder's Justice Department conducted in 2010 where would-be terrorists who thought they were communicating with international extremists were actually talking to federal officers.

Some in the Muslim community have expressed concern over the arrests that have resulted, making accusations of entrapment or profiling.

"I make no apologies for the how the FBI agents handled their work in executing the operation that led to Mr. Mohamud's arrest," Holder said. "Their efforts helped to identify a person who repeatedly expressed his desire and intention to kill innocent Americans."

Holder said the sting operations, similar to one that helped nab a would-be bomber of Washington's Metro system earlier this year, "have proven to be an essential law enforcement tool in uncovering and preventing potential terror attacks."

"Because of law enforcement's outstanding work, Mr. Mohamud is no longer plotting attacks," Holder said. "He is now behind bars. And he will be brought to justice."

Holder defended the outreach his department has engaged in with Muslim communities in the U.S., noting that his office indicted more people for hate crimes than in any year since 1996 and convicted more hate crime perpetrators than in any year since 2000.

"When it comes to combating these heinous crimes, our message is simple: If you engage in violence fueled by bigotry — no matter the object or nature of your hate — we will bring you to justice," Holder said.

Holder also noted the restoration of the Civil Rights Division within DOJ, saying he wants to end the "us versus them" notion felt by some Muslim Americans toward the U.S. government.

"The Department's commitment to civil rights has never been stronger," Holder said. "And the prosecution of violence motivated by religious intolerance has been — and will continue to be — a priority."

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