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Introduction


Patterns of Global Terrorism
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
2000
April 30, 2001
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The year 2000 showed that terrorism continues to pose a clear and present danger to the international community. From the millennium-related threats at the beginning of the year to the USS Cole bombing and the rash of hostage takings at the end, the year 2000 highlighted the need for continued vigilance by our government and our allies throughout the world. The tragic death of 19 US citizens at the hands of terrorists is the most sober reminder.

While the threat continues, 2000 saw the international community's commitment to counterterrorism cooperation and ability to mobilize its resources grow stronger than ever. As a result, state-sponsored terrorism has continued to decline, international isolation of terrorist groups and countries has increased, and terrorists are being brought to justice. Indeed, the vigilance of all members of the international community is critical to limiting the mobility and capability of terrorists throughout the world, and both we and the terrorists know it.

We base our cooperation with our international partners on four basic policy tenets:

  • First, make no concession to terrorists and strike no deals.
  • Second, bring terrorists to justice for their crimes.
  • Third, isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism to force them to change their behavior.
  • Fourth, bolster the counterterrorist capabilities of those countries that work with the United States and require assistance.

These points have been the basis for international cooperation and the foundation for important progress.

UN Security Council Resolution 1333, which levied additional sanctions on the Taliban for harboring Usama Bin Ladin and failing to close down terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, was a major victory for international cooperation against terrorism. This resolution, passed a year after its predecessor resolution 1267, showed the extent to which the international community is prepared to go to isolate those states that refuse to adhere to international norms.

The UN's action also reflected the understanding that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan remains a primary hub for terrorists and a home or transit point for the loosely organized network of "Afghan alumni," a web of informally linked individuals and groups that were trained and fought in the Afghan war. Afghan alumni have been involved in most major terrorist plots or attacks against the United States in the past 15 years and now engage in international militant and terrorist acts throughout the world. The leaders of some of the most dangerous terrorist groups to emerge in the past decade have headquarters or major offices in Afghanistan, and their associates threaten stability in many real and potential trouble spots around the globe--from the Philippines to the Balkans, Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, Western China to Somalia, and Western Europe to South Asia. This is why the Taliban's continued support for these groups is now recognized by the international community as a growing threat to all countries.

International cooperation against agents linked to this network extended far beyond the collaboration on UNSCR 1333. Numerous countries have sent the message to the Taliban and its supporters that the international community--as a whole and as individual member countries--will not stand for such blatant disregard for international law. Good intelligence and law enforcement work--exemplified by the Jordanian Government--enabled partner countries to thwart millennium attacks in early 2000. It has also led to invaluable coordination in the investigation of the October bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen's port of Aden. (It is worth noting that several suspects in the attack on the USS Cole fled back to, not surprisingly, Afghanistan.) We remain fervently committed to ensuring that those who committed and supported the attack on the USS Cole--and killed 17 US service persons--are brought to justice. We will continue to work closely with our allies to ensure that this terrorist incident and others like it do not go unpunished.

The opening in New York of the trial against those accused of perpetrating the bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 marked another major victory. Strong international cooperation with our allies--Kenya, Germany, and South Africa, for example--led to the apprehension of several suspects in those crimes. Their trial underlines the importance of cooperative diplomatic, law enforcement, and judicial efforts to combat terrorism. It sends the same strong message that is the cornerstone of US counterterrorism policy: we will be unrelenting in our efforts to bring to justice every individual who chooses terrorism against the United States to advance his or her agenda.

Afghanistan is not the only threat, nor the only rallying point for international cooperation. The conviction of Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi to life imprisonment for his role in the downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 also sent a strong message about the international community's determination to bring to justice those responsible for terrorist acts, regardless of how much time has passed. The US Government remains dedicated to maintaining pressure on the Libyan Government until it complies fully with the stipulations required by the UN Security Council to lift sanctions.

Central Asian states have stepped up their fight against terrorist elements in their region, particularly those operating from Afghanistan. At a US Government-hosted conference in June 2000, representatives from five Central Asian states discussed the challenges in their region and committed themselves to developing mechanisms for cooperating to deny sanctuary and financial support to terrorists. We look forward to a follow-up conference and continued constructive engagement with the countries of the region.

While our cooperation with states such as Jordan and Egypt is strong, the terrorism picture in the Middle East remains grim, particularly given the recent escalation of violence in the region. Despite domestic political changes that suggest evolution towards a more moderate policy, Iran remained the primary state sponsor of terrorism, due to its continued support for groups that violently oppose peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. We expect those states in the region that are committed to peace to distance themselves from all forms of terrorism and to ensure that their countries do not become safehavens or launching points for terrorist acts.

During the past year, increased bilateral and multilateral cooperation with friendly nations has brought unified pressure and action against terrorism. We have expanded our bilateral dialogues with Russia, India, the United Kingdom, Israel, and Canada, and have extended cooperation in intelligence sharing, law enforcement, and antiterrorism training. In addition, we have worked closely with the member states of the G-8, which continued to condemn terrorism emanating from Afghanistan and Iran, and made strides in cutting off terrorist financing.

Like our G-8 counterparts, the United States places a high priority on denying terrorists their sources of financing and blocking their ability to use the funds they already control. In January 2000 we signed the new International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing. The Convention creates an international legal framework for investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting those involved in terrorist financing and describes preventive measures to identify and choke off sources of income for terrorists and to restrict the movements of such funds across international borders. We look to all members of the international community to join the 35 signatories and to ratify and implement the convention.

In addition, we are strengthening our efforts to fight the spate of hostage taking seen in 2000. Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and South America are just a few of the areas that have been plagued by hostage taking, often linked to terrorist elements. We maintain our policy that we will not concede to terrorist demands or pay ransom. Doing so only rewards the terrorist-criminals and encourages continued criminality. We do remain committed to negotiations with hostage takers for the safety of US citizens and other nationals.

The foundation of our efforts is diplomacy. Our diplomats and representatives maintain relations with countries that are the frontline of defense for US citizens at home and abroad. Our diplomatic efforts build crucial cooperation necessary for joint counterterrorism efforts and raise international political will to fight terrorism. We will continue to reach out to our allies while isolating those who are sympathetic to terrorism. We will continue to use all US tools and cooperation with these allies to disrupt terrorist activity and build a world that is intolerant of terrorists. And we will never rest until we have brought to justice each terrorist that has targeted the United States and its citizens.

Edmund J. Hull
Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism

Note

Adverse mention in this report of individual members of any political, social, ethnic, religious, or national group is not meant to imply that all members of that group are terrorists. Indeed, terrorists represent a small minority of dedicated, often fanatical, individuals in most such groups. It is those small groups--and their actions--that are the subject of this report.

Furthermore, terrorist acts are part of a larger phenomenon of politically inspired violence, and at times the line between the two can become difficult to draw. To relate terrorist events to the larger context, and to give a feel for the conflicts that spawn violence, this report will discuss terrorist acts as well as other violent incidents that are not necessarily international terrorism.

Legislative Requirements

This report is submitted in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(a), which requires the Department of State to provide Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of Section (a)(1) and (2) of the Act. As required by legislation, the report includes detailed assessments of foreign countries where significant terrorist acts occurred and countries about which Congress was notified during the preceding five years pursuant to Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (the so-called terrorist-list countries that have repeatedly provided state support for international terrorism). In addition, the report includes all relevant information about the previous year's activities of individuals, terrorist organizations, or umbrella groups known to be responsible for the kidnapping or death of any US citizen during the preceding five years and groups known to be financed by state sponsors of terrorism.

In 1996, Congress amended the reporting requirements contained in the above-referenced law. The amended law requires the Department of State to report on the extent to which other countries cooperate with the United States in apprehending, convicting, and punishing terrorists responsible for attacking US citizens or interests. The law also requires that this report describe the extent to which foreign governments are cooperating, or have cooperated during the previous five years, in preventing future acts of terrorism. As permitted in the amended legislation, the Department is submitting such information to Congress in a classified annex to this unclassified report.

Definitions

No one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. For the purposes of this report, however, we have chosen the definition of terrorism contained in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d). That statute contains the following definitions:

  • The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant/*/ targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
  • The term "international terrorism" means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country.
  • The term "terrorist group" means any group practicing, or that has significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism.

The US Government has employed this definition of terrorism for statistical and analytical purposes since 1983.

Domestic terrorism is probably a more widespread phenomenon than international terrorism. Because international terrorism has a direct impact on US interests, it is the primary focus of this report. However, the report also describes, but does not provide statistics on, significant developments in domestic terrorism.

/*/ For purposes of this definition, the term "noncombatant" is interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who at the time of the incident are unarmed or not on duty. For example, in past reports we have listed as terrorist incidents the murders of the following US military personnel: Col. James Rowe, killed in Manila in April 1989; Capt. William Nordeen, US defense attache killed in Athens in June 1988; the two servicemen killed in the Labelle discotheque bombing in West Berlin in April 1986; and the four off-duty US Embassy Marine guards killed in a cafe in El Salvador in June 1985. We also consider as acts of terrorism attacks on military installations or on armed military personnel when a state of military hostilities does not exist at the site, such as bombings against US bases in Europe, the Philippines, or elsewhere.



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