TDD (202) 514-1888
Fact Sheet: Department of Justice Anti-Terrorism Efforts Since Sept. 11, 2001
WASHINGTON – The highest priority of the Department of Justice since the
terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has been to protect Americans by
preventing acts of terrorism.
The ability of the Department to identify and prosecute would-be terrorists,
thereby thwarting their deadly plots, has improved dramatically over the past
five years thanks to: a core set of structural reforms, the development of new
law enforcement tools, and the discipline of a new mindset that values
prevention and communication.
Working side by side with other federal agencies, as well as state and local
law enforcement, the Justice Department has not rested in its efforts to
safeguard America – and to the credit of all who have stood watch, there has
not been a terrorist attack on American soil in five years.
I. Protecting America Through Investigation and
Prosecutors and civil attorneys at the Department of Justice
have had great success in America's federal courtrooms since the attacks of
Sept. 11, successfully identifying, prosecuting, and locking up hundreds of
terrorists or would-be terrorists. As Attorney General Gonzales has said,
"Prevention is the goal of all goals when it comes to terrorism because we
simply cannot and will not wait for these particular crimes to occur before
Prosecuting and Incarcerating Terrorists
To disrupt terrorist threats, the Department has used a variety of charges in
terrorism and terrorism-related prosecutions since the attacks of Sept. 11,
2001. Charges have been brought in cases involving terrorist acts abroad
against U.S. nationals; terrorist attacks against mass transportation systems;
visa or document fraud; prohibitions against financing of terrorism; and
participation in nuclear and weapons of mass destruction threats to the United
States, among other charges.
- Since the Sept. 11 attacks, and as of Aug. 31, 2006, 288 defendants have
been convicted or have pleaded guilty in terrorism or terrorism-related cases
arising from investigations conducted primarily after Sept. 11, 2001.
- In addition to these convictions, there are approximately 168 other
defendants who have been charged since Sept. 11, 2001, in connection with
terrorism or terrorism-related investigations. Those cases are either still
pending in federal courts, have not resulted in criminal convictions, or
involve defendants who are fugitives or are awaiting extradition.
Notable cases include:
- Richard Reid (District of Massachusetts) – British national Richard Reid
was sentenced to life in prison following his guilty plea in Jan. 2003 on
charges of attempting to ignite a shoe bomb while on an airplane from Paris to
- John Walker Lindh (Eastern District of Virginia) – Lindh pleaded guilty in
July 2002 to one count of supplying services to the Taliban and a charge that he
carried weapons while fighting on the Taliban's front lines in Afghanistan
against the Northern Alliance. Lindh was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
- Lackawanna Six: Shafal Mosed, Yahya Goba, Sahim Alwan, Mukhtar Al-Bakri,
Yasein Taher, Elbaneh Jaber (Western District of New York) – Six defendants
from the Lackawanna, N.Y. area pleaded guilty to charges of providing material
support to al Qaeda, based on their attendance at an al Qaeda terrorist
training camp. The defendants were sentenced to terms ranging from seven years
to 10 years in prison.
- Iyman Faris (Eastern District of Virginia) – In Oct. 2003, Iyman Faris was
sentenced to 20 years in prison for providing material support and resources to
al Qaeda and conspiracy for providing the terrorist organization with
information about possible U.S. targets for attack. Faris pleaded guilty in May
2003, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Oct. 28, 2003.
- Ahmed Omar Abu Ali (Eastern District of Virginia) – In Nov. 2005, a
federal jury convicted Ali on all counts of an indictment charging him with
terrorism offenses, including providing material support and resources to al
Qaeda, conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States, conspiracy
to commit air piracy and conspiracy to destroy aircraft. Ali was sentenced to 30
years in prison.
- Ali Al-Timimi (Eastern District of Virginia) – Al-Timimi was convicted in
April 2005 on all 10 charges brought against him in connection with the
"Virginia Jihad" case. Al-Timimi, a spiritual leader at a mosque in Northern
Virginia, encouraged other individuals at a meeting to go to Pakistan to
receive military training from Lashkar-e-Taibi, a designated foreign terrorist
organization, in order to fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Al-Timimi was
sentenced to life in prison.
II. Developing New and Maximizing Law Enforcement Tools
to Disrupt Terror Plots
Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it was clear law
enforcement lacked the tools needed to detect and prevent terrorism. Terrorists
possessed cutting-edge technology, while law enforcement struggled to use
decades-old legal tools that could not keep up. In the past five years, the
Justice Department worked closely with Congress to strengthen our nation's
criminal laws against terror, to update the legal authorities needed to detect
and disrupt terror, and to tear down the walls preventing intelligence and law
enforcement from gathering, sharing, and "connecting the dots" that could be
the key to protecting America from another attack. Some of the most significant
changes in this area since Sept. 11 follow, including a discussion of the legal
and constitutional affirmations given to these programs by federal courts.
Transforming the FBI To Meet the New Threat
Over the past five years, the FBI has fundamentally transformed its operations
to cultivate detailed information on terrorism in America. In order to disrupt
terrorists before they are able to strike, the FBI overhauled its
counterterrorism operations, expanded intelligence capabilities, modernized
business practices and technology, and improved coordination with its partners.
Some of the most significant adjustments include:
- Established a number of operational units that provide new or improved
capabilities to address the terrorist threat. These include the 24/7
Counterterrorism Watch and the National Joint Terrorism Task Force to manage
and share threat information; the Terrorism Financing Operation Section to
centralize efforts to stop terrorist financing; document/media exploitation
squads to exploit material found both domestically and overseas for its
intelligence value; deployable "Fly Teams" to lend counterterrorism expertise
wherever it is needed; the Terrorism Reports and Requirements Section to
disseminate FBI terrorism-related intelligence to the Intelligence Community;
and the Counterterrorism Analysis Section to assess the indicators of terrorist
activity from a strategic perspective.
- Realigned organizational structure to create five branches, including the
National Security Branch, Criminal Investigations Branch, Human Resources
Branch, Science and Technology Branch, and Office of the Chief Information
- Increased the FBI budget by nearly 200 percent to $6 billion since 2001,
and added nearly 6,700 new positions.
- Enhanced FBI-wide intelligence capabilities by increasing the number of
Special Agents assigned to Counterterrorism and doubled the number of
Intelligence Analysts to 485 and tripled the number of linguists to 700.
- Consolidated Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Counterproliferation
initiatives under a new WMD directorate.
- Dramatically improved information sharing through improved intelligence
products: Number of Intelligence Information Reports increased from zero before
Sept. 11 to 20,281 today; Intelligence Assessments increased from zero before
Sept. 11 to 827 today; Intelligence Bulletins from increased zero before Sept.
11 to 399 today.
The USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act, which passed both Houses of the Congress with an
overwhelming bipartisan majority and was signed into law by President Bush on
Oct. 26, 2001, has been an integral part of the federal government's successful
prosecution of the war against terrorism. Thanks to the Act, law enforcement has
been able to identify terrorist operatives, dismantle terrorist cells, disrupt
terrorist plots and capture terrorists before they have been able to strike.
The expiring provisions of the Act, including critical information sharing
provisions, were reauthorized on March 9, 2006, allowing investigators to
continue to use these vital authorities.
The USA PATRIOT Act provided vital enhancements to our ability to protect
against terrorism and other serious crimes. The Act has helped protect America
in the following ways:
- Helped bring down the "wall" that prevented effective information sharing
and cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence personnel.
- Allowed federal agents to better track sophisticated terrorists trained to
- Updated investigative tools to reflect new technologies and new
- Allowed law enforcement officials to obtain a search warrant from a single
court regardless of where a terrorist-related activity occurred.
- Gave national security investigators tools comparable to those used in
ordinary criminal cases for years.
- Increased the penalties for those who commit certain terrorist crimes and
those who support them.
- The USA PATRIOT Act Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005
reauthorized all expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, added dozens of
additional safeguards to protect Americans' privacy and civil liberties,
strengthened port security, and provided tools to combat the spread of
Examples of the use of tools and information sharing provided by
the USA PATRIOT Act include the following:
- In New Jersey, Hemant Lakhani was convicted of attempting to sell
shoulder-fired missiles to terrorists for use against American targets. Lakhani
was captured in recorded conversations saying he supported use of the missiles
for shooting down American commercial airliners, and that Usama bin Laden
"straightened them all out" and "did a good thing." Three other defendants
involved in money transfers related to the illegal missile deal have pleaded
guilty. The Lakhani investigation would not have been possible had American,
Russian and other foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies not been
able to coordinate and share the intelligence they had gained from various
- In a Chicago-area investigation in 2003, a court-authorized
delayed-notification search warrant allowed investigators to gain evidence of a
plan to ship unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) components to Pakistan, and to gain
that evidence without prompting the suspects to flee. The UAVs would have been
capable of carrying up to 200 pounds of cargo, potentially explosives, while
guided out of line of sight by a laptop computer. Delayed-notice of a search of
e-mail communications provided investigators information that allowed them to
defer arresting the main suspect, who has since pleaded guilty, until all the
shipments of UAV components had been located and were known to be in
Using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as a
Key Tool in the War on Terror
Since Sept. 11, 2001, use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
has been a key tool in fulfilling the Department's mission to fight terrorism
and protect our national security. Over the past five years, the Department has
significantly increased the coverage obtained under FISA, reflecting both the
increased focus on counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations and
the improvement in the operation of the FISA process:
- From 2001 to 2005, court-approved FISA applications to conduct electronic
surveillance or physical search increased by over 122 percent from 934 in 2001
to 2,072 in 2005.
- Based on current operations, FISA's use as an effective tool for
collecting foreign intelligence is projected to continue to increase by 10
percent or more in 2006.
- Since 2004, the number of pending non-emergency, non-expedite FISA
requests has been reduced by approximately 60 percent.
- The number of days it takes to process FISA requests for electronic
surveillance or physical search has declined about 35 percent since
- The Office of Intelligence Policy and Review's attorney staff has tripled
in size and more will be added in the near future.
- Standardized pleadings and automating parts of the drafting process have
made FISA filings shorter, more concise, and quicker to produce.
- New legislation proposed by U.S. Senator Arlen Specter would grant the
FISA Court jurisdiction to issue an order approving a program of terrorist
surveillance authorized by the President, subject to certain requirements, and
would also allow for oversight by the Intelligence Committees of
Utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program
- The Terrorist Surveillance Program is an essential tool for the
intelligence community in the War on Terror. In the ongoing conflict with
al-Qaeda and its allies, the President has the primary duty under the
Constitution to protect the American people. Officials in the intelligence
community have made numerous statements about the effectiveness of this program
in protecting America.
- The program is very narrow in scope, focusing on communications with al
Qaeda where one end of the phone call is outside of the United States.
- The program is lawful. It has been reviewed by a number of lawyers within
the Administration, including lawyers at the National Security Agency (NSA) and
the Department of Justice, and is reviewed periodically for its continued
effectiveness and to ensure that it remains lawful, and respectful of
Americans' civil liberties.
Upheld in Court
In fighting a new kind of war requiring the use of new tools, inevitable legal
challenges have been brought in our federal courts. On a number of occasions,
the courts have upheld that the tools and methods we have used are consistent
with the Constitution and the rule of law.
- Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, (U.S. 2004) – Upheld the President's authority
to detain U.S. citizens as enemy combatants when they are captured abroad in
active zones of combat, under the Authority to Use Military Force (AUMF),
subject to deferential judicial review. As the Supreme Court said, "The United
States may detain, for the duration of these hostilities, individuals
legitimately determined to be Taliban combatants who ‘engaged in an armed
conflict against the United States.' If the record establishes that United
States troops are still involved in active combat in Afghanistan, those
detentions are part of the exercise of "necessary and appropriate force," and
therefore are authorized by the AUMF."
- Holy Land Found. for Relief & Dev. v. Ashcroft (D.C. Cir 2003) –
Upheld Treasury Department/Office of Foreign Asset Control designation of
purported charity as "specially designated global terrorist" based on support
to Hamas. As the court said, "The law is established that there is no
constitutional right to fund terrorism."
- Center for National Security Studies v. United States Department of
Justice (D.C. Cir 2003) – Upheld the government's decision to withhold from
public release a comprehensive list of all detainees in the war on terror when
that list could tip off our enemies to the progress of our anti-terror
investigation. As the court said, "America faces an enemy just as real as its
former Cold War foes, with capabilities beyond the capacity of the judiciary to
explore. . . . we hold that the government's expectation that disclosure of the
detainees' names would enable al Qaeda or other terrorist groups to map the
course of the investigation and thus develop the means to impede it is
- Khaled El-Masri v. Tenet (E.D. Va. 2006) – Upheld assertion of
state secrets privilege and dismissed suit challenging alleged CIA seizure and
- In Re Sealed Case No. 02-001 (Foreign Intel. Ct. of Rev.) – Upheld
new intelligence sharing procedures that removed artificial barriers that
hampered the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agents to coordinate
efforts to prevent terrorist attacks. As the court said, "Ultimately, the
question becomes whether FISA, as amended by the Patriot Act, is a reasonable
response based on a balance of the legitimate need of the government for
foreign intelligence information to protect against national security threats
with the protected rights of citizens. We … believe firmly… that FISA as
amended is constitutional because the surveillances it authorizes are
- Al-Marri v. Wright (D.S.C. 2006) – Upheld the detention of alien
enemy combatant within the United States; Alien failed to rebut the
government's classification and detention of him as an enemy combatant.
III. Establishing Partnerships To Keep America Safe
In order to defeat complex terrorist networks, the Department
has increased its partnerships to enhance cooperation at every level of
government to better prevent terrorist attacks. These efforts include:
Coordinating with Our State and Local Partners
- Increased the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) from 35 to 101
since 2001, and established a National JTTF with representatives from 40
- Increased agents and police officers on JTTFs from under 1,000 before 2001
to nearly 4,000 today.
- Established the FBI Office of Law Enforcement Coordination headed by a
former police chief.
- Participating in state and regional intelligence fusion centers and other
regional multi-agency intelligence centers, including the National
Counterterrorism Center and the National Gang Intelligence Center; the
Terrorist Screening Center; and the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task
- Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the Department's Community Relations
Service (CRS) responded to more than 500 incidents across the country, bringing
together law enforcement, local officials, and Arab, Muslim and Sikh community
members, along with other members of the civil rights community, to address
mutual concerns and encourage cooperation.
Coordinating with Our International Counterparts
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Department has leveraged international law enforcement
cooperation to prevent terrorists from freely roaming the globe and to bring
them to justice. Principally in this area, the Department has:
- Expanded the number of FBI Legal Attaché offices in foreign countries from
44 on Sept. 11, 2001, to more than 60 today.
- Analysts have been placed in eight Legal Attaché offices since Sept. 11,
2001: Amman, Jordan; Baghdad, Iraq; Berlin, Germany; London, England; Mexico
City, Mexico; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; and Tel Aviv, Israel.
- Responded to hundreds of formal requests from our partners around the
world for assistance in terrorism investigations though our global network of
mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs).
- Shared thousands of pieces of threat-related information with our
- Provided critical evidence to other countries for use in terrorism-related
prosecutions and received critical evidence from other countries for use in
terrorism-related prosecutions in the U.S.
- Trained over 486 Iraqi jurists and prosecutors in courses developed and/or
delivered by the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development (OPDAT) Resident
Legal Advisors in Iraq, through May 17, 2006.
- Trained more than 80,000 Iraqi Police cadets and 44,000 former-regime
police in basic police skills and concepts, including policing in a democracy
and human rights, to date, through the International Criminal Investigative
Training Assistance Program (ICITAP). Additionally, there are more than 20,000
Iraqi police graduates of ICITAP's specialized, advanced, and management
IV. Combating the Dangerous Spread of Radicalization
Though the Department has achieved success on many fronts in the
War on Terror, new fronts have emerged through the efforts of terrorists and
terrorist sympathizers to radicalize others. These efforts are taking place on
the Internet, in neighborhoods, and in prisons. The Department has established
several programs to combat these new threats.
Curbing Radicalization in America's Prisons
The Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) understand the
importance of controlling and preventing the recruitment of inmates in our
federal prison facilities into terrorism. These efforts include:
- Housing the most dangerous and sophisticated international terrorists
under the most restrictive conditions allowed in order to ensure that they
cannot influence others, gain reinforcing prestige, or use other inmates to
send or receive messages.
- Working with other law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community
to enhance the screening process for inmates and individuals who enter federal
- Improving security awareness regarding religious materials used in
correctional facilities, and improved supervision of religious services areas
and activities to include constant supervision of inmate-led groups and
provision of Islamic teachings and study-guides prepared by Islamic chaplains
who are full-time BOP staff.
- Enhancing requirements for religious staff and volunteers. Full-time BOP
chaplains must meet significant requirements for academic training, experience,
thorough background checks, and a demonstrated willingness and ability to
provide and coordinate religious programs for inmates of all faiths.
Outreach to the Muslim, Arab and Sikh
Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the Department of Justice placed a strong focus
on promoting cultural understanding of Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs, who became new
targets of backlash discrimination. Federal law enforcement has worked hard on
behalf of those who are, or are perceived to be, Muslim or of Arab,
Middle-Eastern, or South Asian origin.
- Since Sept. 11, the Department of Justice has investigated over 700
incidents involving violence or threats against individuals who are Muslim, or
of Arab, Middle-Eastern or South Asian origin and brought Federal charges
against 35 Defendants, yielding 32 convictions to date.
- With the help of the Justice Department in many cases, state and local
authorities have brought more than 150 bias crime prosecutions since Sept. 11,
V. Protecting the Privacy and Civil Liberties of
As an agency responsible for enforcing laws, the Department
strives to be a model for ensuring that Americans' privacy and civil liberties
are adequately protected in all of the Department's counterterrorism and law
- On Feb. 21, 2006, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales appointed Jane C.
Horvath as the Department's first Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer
(CPCLO), who actively participates in Department policymaking, ensuring regard
for privacy and civil liberties at the earliest stages of Departmental
- The Privacy and Civil Liberties Office works closely with the Department's
Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) to review bills concerning individual
privacy matters, civil liberties issues, the collection of personal
information, agency disclosure policies, or information sharing with the
- The Privacy and Civil Liberties Office actively participates in public
outreach activities, which include efforts sponsored by the Department's Civil
Division to Arab, Muslim and Sikh communities.
- The CPCLO works closely with the President's Privacy and Civil Liberties
Oversight Board. Together, they actively work with the Terrorist Screening
Center, the Directorate of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland
Security to address terrorist watch list redress issues.
VI. Looking Forward: Making America Safe
As the Attorney General has said, "We are safer today, but not
yet safe." Despite tireless efforts by the Department at home and abroad to
track, investigate, and prosecute terrorists; collaborate with state, local,
and international law enforcement; and stem the tide of radicalization, the
following are just some of the programs the Department is working to establish
in the fight to prevent future terrorist attacks.
The Department of Justice's National Security
The USA PATRIOT Act Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 authorizes the
Attorney General to reorganize the Department of Justice by placing the
Department's primary national security elements under the leadership of a new
Assistant Attorney General for National Security, fulfilling a recommendation
of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States
Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.
- This reorganization will bring together under one umbrella the attorneys
from the Criminal Division's Counterterrorism and Counterespionage Sections and
the attorneys from the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR), with
their specialized expertise in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and
other intelligence matters.
- Establishing the National Security Division of the Justice Department will
be another important step to ensure that those fighting terrorism on a daily
basis are doing so in the most efficient way possible. The Attorney General
hopes to complete the stand up of the new Division as soon as Mr. Wainstein is
confirmed by the full Senate.
- On March 13, 2006, the President nominated Ken Wainstein, U.S. Attorney
for the District of Columbia, to serve as the first Assistant Attorney General
for the National Security Division.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Administration has made great progress in securing
ports of entry and the border, implementing initiatives consistent with
recommendations of the 9/11
Commission, and increasing the number of Border Patrol agents. The President
a comprehensive plan to address illegal immigration, which includes the
- Since the President took office in 2001, the Administration has increased
funding for border security by 66 percent to more than $7.6 billion.
- The Department supports the President in urging swift passage of a
comprehensive plan in Congress. Any proposal must address all aspects of the
broken immigration system and come up with a rational way to approach it.
Congress has an obligation to act.