Legal experts say the acquittal of two Palestinian activists on the main terrorism-financing charge on Thursday is a significant legal setback for the Bush administration's war on terror. 2

Legal experts say the acquittal of two Palestinian activists on the main terrorism-financing charge on Thursday is a significant legal setback for the Bush administration’s war on terror.

The acquittal of two Palestinian activists on the main terrorism-financing charge against them Thursday represented another setback on the legal front for the Bush administration’s war on terror, legal experts say.

Jimmy Gurule, a former high-ranking Treasury Department official in the Bush administration, said the acquittal of Muhammad Salah and Abdelhaleem Ashqar on the major racketeering conspiracy charge marks “one more in a series of disappointments” for the government.

“If I was the attorney general, I think they need to step back and engage in an assessment of these cases to see if there are lessons to be learned,” said Gurule, a Notre Dame law professor, following the verdict.

Among other setbacks in the courtroom fight against terrorism:

In 2005 a Tampa jury acquitted or deadlocked on all 17 counts alleging Sami Al-Arian, a former university professor, helped finance Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Two Arab immigrants were convicted in Detroit in 2003 of conspiring to provide support to terrorists, but the convictions were thrown out after prosecutors discovered documents helpful to the defense had not been turned over by the government. A federal prosecutor and a State Department official were later indicted over the matter.

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