The U.S. government has prosecuted almost 800 people for international terrorism-related offenses since 9/11, with a near-perfect record of conviction. The Intercept’s Trial and Terror database, compiled by Trevor Aaronson and Margot Williams, brings questionable tactics into sharp relief and exposes the many contradictions of the war on terror.
Most defendants have been charged with material support, criminal conspiracy, immigration violations, and making false statements — vague, nonviolent offenses that give prosecutors wide latitude for scoring quick convictions or plea bargains. While defendants caught up in FBI stings have often received harsh sentences, those with real terrorist ties have leveraged their connections for leniency. Meanwhile, the government has quietly released hundreds convicted on terrorism charges with little if any monitoring, suggesting they never posed much of a threat in the first place.