TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

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TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

• Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs): MLATs allow prosecutorsand law enforcement officials to gather information and subpoena witnesseslocated outside the United States through a treaty framework.Although not specifically designed to combat terrorism, MLATs arean especially important tool in international terrorism cases, as evidenceand witnesses in such cases are often located overseas.Charging StatutesThe number of statutes under which prosecutors may charge terrorism suspectshas expanded greatly since 9/11. The following statutes have been especiallysignificant in terrorism cases.• Federal law, under 18 USC § 2339B and 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI), makes it illegal to provide material support, including money,training, or personnel, to groups designated by Congress as “foreignterrorist organizations.” 18 USC § 2339B has a mens rea requirementof knowledge— in other words, the donor must know that the organization“is a designated terrorist organization” or “engages in terroristactivity.” A prominent case in which an individual was indicted under18 USC § 2339B was John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban”,charged with two counts of providing material support to terroristorganizations.• The law also contains a conspiracy element, which is especially usefulgiven that proving conspiracy to commit a crime is in many instanceseasier than proving perpetration of the crime itself. A notableexample in which this statute was used was the prosecution of the“Lackawanna Six,” a group of Yemeni-Americans arrested in upstateNew York who pleaded guilty to providing material support to alQaeda.• 18 USC § 2339A criminalizes the providing of material support tooverseas groups engaging in a number of violent crimes, includingterrorism. Unlike § 2339B, it does not require that the support beprovided to a group specifically designated by Congress as a foreignterrorist organization. It has been described as a “form of terrorismaiding and abetting statute.” 339 For example, this statue was used toprosecute defense attorney Lynne Stewart, who was convicted of providinginformation to an Egyptian terrorist organization for her client,Shaykh Omar Abdel Rahman.Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs | Harvard Kennedy School121

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