35,000 worldwide convicted for terror
At least 35,000 people worldwide have been convicted as terrorists in the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. But while some bombed hotels or blew up buses, others were put behind bars for waving a political sign or blogging about a protest.
In the first tally ever done of global anti-terror arrests and convictions, The Associated Press documented a surge in prosecutions under new or toughened anti-terror laws, often passed at the urging and with the funding of the West. Before 9/11, just a few hundred people were convicted of terrorism each year.
The sheer volume of convictions, along with almost 120,000 arrests, shows how a keen global awareness of terrorism has seeped into societies, and how the war against it is shifting to the courts. But it also suggests that dozens of countries are using the fight against terrorism to curb political dissent.
EDITOR’S NOTE: After the 9/11 attacks, the world launched a war on terror. Here, in the first tally of anti-terror prosecutions ever done, The Associated Press examines how many people have been put behind bars under anti-terror laws, and who they are. AP reporters in more than 100 countries filed requests under freedom of information laws, conducted interviews and gathered data for this story.
The AP used freedom of information queries, law enforcement data and hundreds of interviews to identify 119,044 anti-terror arrests and 35,117 convictions in 66 countries, accounting for 70 percent of the world’s population. The actual numbers undoubtedly run higher because some countries refused to provide information.
That included 2,934 arrests and 2,568 convictions in the United States, which led the war on terror — eight times more than in the decade before.
The investigation also showed:
— More than half the convictions came from two countries accused of using anti-terror laws to crack down on dissent, Turkey and China. Turkey alone accounted for a third of all convictions, with 12,897.
— The range of people in jail reflects the dozens of ways different countries define a terrorist. China has arrested more than 7,000 people under a definition that counts terrorism as one of Three Evils, along with separatism and extremism.