Terrorism Abroad: A Quick Look at Applicable Federal and State Laws [October 3, 2001]   [open pdf - 43KB]

"Terrorists' attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania have stimulated demands that the terrorists responsible and those like them be brought to justice. American criminal law already proscribes many of these acts of terrorism and there have been proposals to expand that coverage. Ordinarily, crime is proscribed by the law of the place where it occurs, but more than a few American criminal laws apply to terrorism committed outside the United States. The power to enact such laws flows from the Constitution and is usually limited by little more than due process notice. Practicality and reluctance to offend other nations have traditionally limited American exercise of such authority to instances where there is a discernible nexus to the United States. Yet where there is a clear connection to the United States, American criminal law, primarily federal law generally permits prosecution of terrorism committed overseas."

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CRS Report for Congress, RS21034
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