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Project Salam Letters
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The Lawfare of
Preemptive Prosecution

A study by Project SALAM
National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms

May 2014
Written by Stephen Downs, Esq. and Kathy Manley, Esq.
Lynne Jackson, database designer
Jeanne Finley, editor

Lawfare: the use of the law as a weapon of war.
–– “Law and Military Interventions: Preserving Humanitarian Values in 21st-Century Conflicts” by Brigadier General (S) Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., USAF. In Humanitarian Challenges for Military Intervention, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, November 2001.

Download Inventing Terrorists by clicking here.


Click here to search database.

Press Reports on "Inventing Terrorists"

Carl Strock's blog on the Times Union, June 13, 2014, http://blog.timesunion.com/carlstrock/inventing-terrorists/467/



This study, sponsored by two national organizations, Project SALAM (Support And Legal Advocacy for Muslims) and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF), focuses on post-9/11 claims by the U.S. government that it keeps the county safe from terrorism by arresting hundreds of so-called “terrorists” who were about to strike the U.S. until the FBI foiled their plots. In fact, this study shows that there have been remarkably few actual terrorism threats to this country in the last decade. The vast majority of arrests in the war on terror have consisted of

The study shows that the war on terror has been largely a charade designed to make the American public believe that a terrorist army is loose in the U.S., when the truth is that most of the people convicted of terrorismrelated crimes posed no danger to the U.S. and were entrapped by a preventive strategy known as preemptive prosecution. The theme of the study links preemptive prosecution to the metaphor of “lawfare,” the use of the law as a weapon of war, in this case the war on terror.

Statistically, the study asks how many of the individuals who appear on the Department of Justice (DOJ) 2001–2010 list of “terrorism and terrorism-related convictions” (Appendix A) represented real terrorism threats, and how many were cases of preemptive prosecutions. The study then categorizes the cases of the individuals on the DOJ list as one of three types of cases: preemptive prosecutions, cases that contained elements of preemptive prosecution, or cases that were not preemptive prosecutions/represented real terrorism threats.

The statistical analysis shows that 72.4% of convictions on the DOJ list represent cases of preemptive prosecution that were based on suspicion of the defendant’s perceived ideology and not on his/her criminal activity. Another 21.8% of convictions on the DOJ list represent people who began on their own to engage in minor, non-terrorist criminal activity but whose cases were manipulated and inflated by the government to appear as though they were “terrorists”; these cases are referred to in the study as “elements of preemptive prosecution” or “elements.” Overall, 94.2% of all the terrorism-related convictions on the DOJ list have been either preemptive prosecution cases or cases that involved elements of preemptive prosecution.

The study defines preemptive prosecution, gives background on the origin of the concept, discusses the tactical patterns that characterize its use by the government, and provides a methodology for determining the categorization of a case. The study then shows, for cases on the DOJ list, the percentages for each categorization of a case, as well as percentages for the tactical patterns used in each categorization. The study concludes that the government has used preemptive prosecution to exaggerate the threat of Muslim extremism to the security of the country, and presents some hypotheses as to why the government has done this, without taking a position on which possibilities may be correct. The study also makes recommendations to change the present unfair terrorism laws.

Access the Project SALAM Database

The purpose of the Project SALAM database is to bring together information in one place about United States Justice Department’s post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecutions and convictions of Muslims.

How to Use the Database:

Click HERE and you will be able to view all records in the database. You will be able to search and find specific cases.


Please, if you have any questions at all, email Lynne Jackson and she will email back as soon as possible (expect no more than one business day).




Creative Commons License
Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution by Project SALAM and National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.