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Counterterrorism Efforts

Counterterrorism work at the U.S. Attorneys’ offices involves investigation and prosecution, as well as other efforts aimed at preventing and disrupting acts of terrorism anywhere in the world where United States interests and persons are impacted. Examples of this work include:

  • investigating and prosecuting international terrorism cases;
  • investigating and prosecuting terrorist financing matters, including material support cases;
  • participating in the systematic collection and analysis of data and information relating to the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases;
  • coordinating, through NSD, with U.S. government agencies (including the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and the Treasury, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. intelligence community) to facilitate prevention of terrorist activity through daily detection and analysis and to provide information and support to the field;
  • investigating and prosecuting matters involving torture, genocide, and war crimes that are linked to terrorist groups and individuals;
  • participating in training, seminars, and lectures on terrorism-related topics including substantive law, policy, procedure, and guidelines for foreign and domestic law enforcement personnel, intelligence officials, the private sector, and the general public;
  • assisting in information sharing through Anti-Terrorism Task Forces Coordinators in the U.S. Attorneys’ offices through the Regional Coordinator system by facilitating information sharing between and among prosecutors nationwide on terrorism matters, cases, and threat information.

The material support statutes continue to be cornerstones of our prosecution efforts. Cutting off the provision of support and resources to terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations is essential to preventing terrorist attacks. The two primary material support statutes are 18 U.S.C. § 2339A, providing material support to terrorists, and 18 U.S.C. § 2339B, providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. The U.S. Attorneys’ offices have also used the terrorist fund-raising statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2339C, and the statute that outlaws obtaining military support from a designated foreign terrorist organization, 18 U.S.C. § 2339D, to combat terrorism. Additionally, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) provides prosecutors a useful tool to charge those who give or receive goods or services from a number of designated terrorists.

The U.S. Attorneys’ offices are also involved in a broad and diverse range of investigations and prosecutions involving many federal statutes, including:

  • aircraft piracy and related offenses (49 U.S.C. §§ 46501-07);
  • aircraft sabotage (18 U.S.C. § 32);
  • crimes against immediate family members of federal officials (18 U.S.C. § 115) and against internationally protected persons (18 U.S.C. §§ 112, 878, 1116, 1201(a)(4));
  • sea piracy (18 U.S.C. § 1651);
  • hostage taking (18 U.S.C. § 1203);
  • terrorist acts abroad, including murder, against U.S. nationals (18 U.S.C. § 2332);
  • acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries (18 U.S.C. § 2332b);
  • conspiracy within the U.S. to murder, kidnap, or maim persons or to damage property overseas (18 U.S.C. § 956);
  • provision of material support to terrorists and terrorist organizations (18 U.S.C. §§ 2339A, 2339B, 2339C, 2339D);
  • use of biological, nuclear, chemical or other weapons of mass destruction (18 U.S.C. §§ 175, 831, 2332c, 2332a);
  • genocide (18 U.S.C. § 1091);
  • war crimes (18 U.S.C. § 2441); and
  • torture (18 U.S.C. § 2340A).

The U.S. Attorneys’ offices also prosecute offenses such as identity theft and immigration violations as part of their counterterrorism efforts. Prosecution of terrorism-related targets on these types of charges, including 18 U.S.C. § 1028 (use of fraudulent identification documents), 18 U.S.C. § 1425 (immigration violations), 18 U.S.C. § 1542 (false statements in application and use of passport), 18 U.S.C. § 1546 (fraudulently obtaining travel documents) and 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (making misrepresentations to federal investigators), is often an effective method – and sometimes the only available method – of deterring and disrupting potential terrorist planning and support activities, and preventing terrorists from exploiting weaknesses in our identification, immigration, critical infrastructure, and financial systems to facilitate attacks.

Updated December 8, 2014