One in Five International Terrorism Prosecutions in Eastern Virginia
The Eastern District of Virginia headquartered in Alexandria leads the country in the number of international terrorism cases it prosecutes. The recent arrest of a Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) law enforcement officer, Nicholas Young, is but the latest example. "Long known for its expertise in espionage and terrorism cases" according to the Justice Department, a total of 232 out of 1,180 federal criminal prosecutions nationally for international terrorism—or one out of every five—have been filed in Eastern Virginia since Justice Department data began tracking these crimes in FY 1995.
The District of Columbia closely followed by the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) rank second and third, respectively, in the number of international terrorism cases they have prosecuted over the years. These districts prosecuted 91 and 89 international terrorism defendants according to the latest case-by-case data, updated through June 2016, analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.
Table 2. Criminal
International Terrorism Prosecutions
The Southern District of Florida (Miami) followed by the Western District of North Carolina (Asheville) were the fourth and fifth most active districts in the prosecution of international terrorism cases. Figures for these districts and the remaining 90 federal judicial districts are shown in Table 1.
Looking at the nation as a whole, the latest available data from the Justice Department show that during the first nine months of FY 2016 the government reported 49 new terrorism-international prosecutions. If this activity continues at the same pace, the annual total of prosecutions will be 65 for this fiscal year. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by TRAC, this estimate is up 10.2 percent over the past fiscal year when the number of prosecutions totaled 59.
The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with international terrorism offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (see Table 2).
Compared to five years ago when there were 48, the estimate of FY 2016 prosecutions of this type is up 35.4 percent. Prosecutions over the past year are similarly higher than they were ten years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are up 400 percent from the level of 13 reported in 1996.
The long term trend in international terrorism prosecutions for these matters going back to FY 1996 is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of prosecutions of this type recorded each fiscal year. Projected figures for the current fiscal year are shown. Each presidential administration is distinguished by the color of the bars. To view trends month-by-month rather than year-by-year, see TRAC's monthly report series for the latest data.
Leading Investigative Agencies
The lead investigative agency for terrorism-international prosecutions through June 2016 was "Justice - Federal Bureau of Investigation" accounting for 75.5 percent of prosecutions referred.
As shown in Figure 2, additional agencies with substantial numbers of terrorism-international referrals were: Homeland Security - Other (16.3%) and "Justice - Drug Enforcement Administration" (4.1%).
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 3 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of terrorism-international matters filed in U.S. District Court during the first nine months of FY 2016.
Note: There were an additional 40 other lead charges which were not individually ranked.
Table 3. Top Charges Files
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest projected decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 78 percent—was "Racketeering -interstate/foreign travel/transport" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1952). This was the same statute that had the largest projected decrease—67 percent—when compared with five years ago.
TRAC offers free monthly reports on program categories such as white collar crime, immigration, drugs, weapons and terrorism and on selected government agencies such as the IRS, FBI, ATF and DHS. For the latest information on prosecutions and convictions, go to http://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/bulletins/. In addition, subscribers to the TRACFed data service can generate custom reports for a specific agency, judicial district, program category, lead charge or judge via the TRAC Data Interpreter.