Number of U.S. terrorism cases dropping: study

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of terrorism cases brought by the U.S. government has dropped steadily in recent years and an increasing proportion are dropped due to lack of evidence, according to a new study.

After bringing 355 terrorism-related cases in 2002, shortly after the September 11, 2001, hijacking attacks, the Justice Department filed only 46 cases in 2005 and 19 cases so far this year, according to an independent Syracuse University study released over the weekend.

At the same time, federal prosecutors have declined an increasing percentage of cases forwarded to them by investigators, most often due to lack of evidence.

U.S. attorneys rejected 91 percent of all terrorism-related cases forwarded to them so far in 2006, up from 35 percent in 2002, the report found.

"Given the widely accepted belief that the threat of terrorism in all parts of the world is much larger today than it was six or seven years ago, the extent of the recent decline in prosecutions is unexpected," said the report by the school's nonpartisan Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

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