U.S. law requires the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by April 30 of each year, a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation. This annual report is entitled Country Reports on Terrorism. Beginning with the report for 2004, it replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism.
The report covers developments in countries in which acts of terrorism occurred, countries that are state sponsors of terrorism, and countries determined by the Secretary to be of particular interest in the global war on terror. As provided in the legislation, the report reviews major developments in bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism cooperation as well.
The report also provides information on terrorist groups responsible for the death, kidnapping, or injury of Americans, any umbrella groups to which they might belong, groups financed by state sponsors of terrorism, reports on all terrorist organizations on the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list, and other terrorist groups determined by the Secretary to be relevant to the report.
Beginning with the report for 2005, Country Reports on Terrorism will also address terrorist sanctuaries and terrorist attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. It will also include statistical information provided by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on the number of individuals killed, injured, or kidnapped by terrorist groups.
Replacing Patterns of Global Terrorism with Country Reports on Terrorism
Since September 11, 2001, changes in organization and responsibilities in the intelligence community, combined with the dynamic pace of the global war on terrorism, prompted the Department of State to take a fresh look at Patterns of Global Terrorism, its contents and its governing legislation.
For years, statistical data on global terrorism had been published as part of the annual Patterns report, the last of which was provided to Congress in April 2004. As the volume of such data began to grow exponentially after 9/11, and the methodologies for analyzing it became more focused, past practices for accumulating statistical information could no longer suffice.
In July 2004, the 9/11 Commission recommended creation of a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to provide an authoritative agency for all-source analysis of global terrorism. The President implemented the recommendation by executive order in August 2004, and the agency was created via the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act the following December.
That law designates the NCTC as the primary organization for analysis and integration of “all intelligence possessed or acquired by the United States government pertaining to terrorism or counterterrorism.” It further states that the NCTC would be the government’s “shared knowledge bank on known and suspected terrorists and international terror groups, as well as their goals, strategies, capabilities, and networks of contact and support.”
Given NCTC’s mandate to be the U.S. Government’s “shared knowledge bank” for data on global terrorism, and the statutory requirements for the Department of State’s annual report to focus primarily on policy issues, it was appropriate to transfer the responsibilities for accumulating statistical information to NCTC. NCTC is already charged with compiling data on terrorist incidents and is the source of any data used to respond to the new statutory requirements.
To reflect the inclusion of NCTC statistical data in the Department of State’s annual report and to avoid any confusion resulting from comparing current data with that generated before NCTC’s participation, the name of the annual report was changed to Country Reports on Terrorism beginning with the 2004 document.