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NEW YORK (AP) _ U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, one of the nation's top prosecutors of terrorists over the past decade, said Thursday that she will step down at the end of the year.

White said she had planned to leave following the embassy bombings trial, which resulted in convictions of four followers of Osama bin Laden in April. But she said the Sept. 11 attacks delayed her departure.

White, 53, thanked President Bush ``for his leadership and commitment to protecting our country at home and abroad in this time of crisis.''

In 1993, White was named U.S. attorney in Manhattan and took over what was then the biggest terrorism case ever brought to court: the trials of six men in the World Trade Center bombing that same year. In the years that followed, she dispatched some of her top prosecutors around the world to pursue suspected terrorists.

When 12 Americans were among the 224 people who died in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, the government turned to White again. She obtained the indictments of 21 men on conspiracy charges.

More recently, White's office convened a grand jury to investigate the suicide jet hijackings that brought down the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

She also oversaw the criminal investigation of former President Clinton's pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, the ex-husband of a Democratic fund-raiser, and his commutation of the sentences of four swindlers from a Hasidic community that overwhelmingly backed Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate bid.

Justice Department officials had no immediate comment on White's departure or who would replace her.