The U.S. government's prosecutions of international terrorism cases have nearly returned to the levels before the Sept. 11 attacks, according to an independent analysis of government data.
Meanwhile, most charges are not related to terrorism and only a third of those prosecuted end up in prison, Monday's Washington Post quoted the study, conducted by Syracuse University, as saying.
As many as 90 percent terror investigations don't result in prosecutions at all, it said.
The findings, based on data compiled by the Justice Department's Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, echoes previous analyses by the Washington Post and others showing that most defendants in terrorism cases are charged with crimes unrelated to terrorism and many end up serving little or no prison time.
But the report also provides new insight into the extent to which prosecutions surged immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, only to return to the far lower levels of previous years.
In 2002, federal prosecutors filed charges against 355 defendants in international terrorism cases, the study said.
By last year, that number had dropped to 46, fewer than the number prosecuted in 2001. Just 19 such cases have been prosecuted so far this year, the study said.
The report called the decline in prosecutions "unexpected" and said it seemed to contradict regular warnings from the government that the threat of global terrorism is higher than before.
But Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said the report contains "many flaws" and includes "misleading analysis," adding that sentencing statistics are not a good measure of the department's counter-terrorism efforts.