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National Security Affairs Department, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism
July 21, 2011

The Plots that Failed: Intelligence Lessons Learned from Unsuccessful Terrorist Attacks Against the United States
By Erik J. Dahl

Although little work has been done to collect and analyze data on how and why terrorist plots become thwarted, several researchers and organizations have studied what happens after plots are foiled and arrests are made, as defendants are put on trial. Organizations that study federal terrorism prosecutions have argued that the record suggests the government's claims of having foiled numerous terrorist plots are exaggerated. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, for example, examined cases against individuals identified as international terrorists during the five years following the 9/11 attacks. Their data showed that only about one in five of these cases resulted in convictions, and that the majority of those convicted received no jail time at all, indicating that public perceptions of the terrorism threat may be inaccurate or exaggerated.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2011
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