Terrorism Trials & Investigations

U.S. Navy / Ben Balter (background)

Terrorism is increasingly complicating the traditional dichotomy between criminal conduct and acts of war. More than ever, policymakers, legal scholars and the public are debating the appropriate roles for civil and military actors in investigating and prosecuting terrorists and terrorism. Today, the United States continues to grapple with a range of dilemmas, from the proper forum for prosecution to the extent of the rights accused. Should accused terrorists be tried by a civilian jury or military commission? Should they be read their Miranda rights? Should their defense attorneys be permitted to review the evidence against their clients?

Latest in Terrorism Trials & Investigations

Documents

Documents: Maryland Federal Prosecutors Charge Man Who Plotted ISIS-Inspired Vehicular Attack

On Monday, the Maryland U.S. attorney's office alleged in a motion for detention pending trial that Rondell Henry stole a U-Haul with the intent of ramming the vehicle into crowds of people at National Harbor in Potomac, Maryland. Henry was arrested on April 3 pursuant to a criminal complaint charging him with interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle. A motion for pretrial detention explained that Henry poses a flight risk and public safety threat by revealing that his actions were inspired by the Islamic State and the 2016 truck attack in Nice, France.

Terrorism Trials & Investigations

International Terrorism Prosecutions: 2018 Wrap-Up

In the past few months, prosecutors have tried, juries have convicted, and judges have sentenced defendants from the height of the Islamic State’s power in 2014–15. Meanwhile, American law enforcement continues to prosecute individuals involved in terrorist-related crimes in the United States, even as new challenges—like prosecuting foreign Islamic State fighters—arise.

Terrorism Trials & Investigations

Document: Criminal Complaint Against Cesar Sayoc

The FBI has taken custody of Cesar Altieri Sayoc in connection with the attempted mailing of 13 pipe bombs to prominent former government officials, including former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and other public figures. The Department of Justice has brought five charges against Sayoc in the Southern District of New York.

Terrorism Trials & Investigations

Document: Federal Judge Grants Uzair Paracha's Motion for a New Trial

On July 3, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Uzair Paracha's motion for a new trial in light of new evidence. Paracha, a Pakistani citizen, was convicted in 2005 for allegedly helping an al-Qaeda operative gain travel documents and enter the United States.

Terrorism Trials & Investigations

The Only Islamic State-Funded Plot in the U.S.: The Curious Case of Mohamed Elshinawy

Most terrorism cases in the United States follow a well-worn narrative. An individual, usually young and male, reaches out looking to join the Islamic State. He connects with a supporter who feeds his dreams of committing an attack in his own backyard—or as in one case a few years ago, traveling to Syria to become one of the many soldiers of the Caliphate. The outreach out is sometimes successful in ways the young man does not intend.

Terrorism Trials & Investigations

Military Commissions Compared to Civilian Prosecution in Federal Court: A Revealing Snapshot

If you have paid any attention to the topic of military commissions over the past sixteen years, you do not need me to tell you of the troubles they’ve faced. Whatever their merits in theory (and I do think they have many), in practice they have been vexed beyond belief. Proceedings in cases of immense importance—above all, prosecution for mass murder on 9/11—threaten to rival Jarndyce and Jarndyce for their seemingly-intractable longevity. This is the opposite of what the founders of the system sought in fall 2001.

Federal Law Enforcement

Anatomy of a Presidential Untruth: What Data Did the Justice Department Really Provide the White House?

On Feb. 10 of last year, a Justice Department lawyer in the department’s National Security Division (NSD) assembled some data on international terrorism convictions for transmission to the White House. The lawyer, a man named George Toscas, included in his email to his superiors what he described as “some general statements that are supported by [the data] and can be used publicly.”

They included such anodyne claims as these:

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