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Nations Working Together Reduce Terror Attacks

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2003 – The number of terrorist attacks in 2002 dropped to the lowest level since 1969, said U.S. Ambassador Cofer Black, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism.

Black, speaking to Egyptian reporters via satellite from here May 14, said the 199 terror attacks last year represented a 44 percent drop from 2001.

He said the advent of a true, international network to fight terrorism has been responsible for some of the reduction. He said all states are at a higher level of alert against terrorism, and many nations are taking advantage of enhanced communications capabilities, intelligence sharing and mutual support to counter terrorist moves.

Black stated that "attacks have been thwarted," but did not give any details. He said the key point to remember is that fighting terrorists is not just in countering their attacks, but also in putting into place conditions worldwide so people do not join those groups in the first place.

"One hundred percent defense is -- as you know with your experience in Egypt -- very, very difficult," he said. "What one can work towards is the development of an international program and relationships that are increasingly effective."

He said richer nations are helping nations who "are willing to fight (terrorism) but do not have the capacity."

Black said that efforts against terror in the last year have saved thousands of lives. "If you just look at al Qaeda, you're talking about half of their key senior operative personnel that know how to do these attacks have been put out of business," he said.

He said more than 3,000 al Qaeda operatives and their supporters are in jail. "You're looking at an organization that is under stress, that has a harder time to mount coordinated operations," he said.

Black said the United States does not negotiate with terrorists and is working to get states that sponsor terrorist groups to renounce that support. "Listen to the president," Black said. "He's going to confront states, those specific states that support terrorism. There were seven. Now, if you take away Iraq, there are six. We're not letting them get off the hook. They don't get a pass.

"If you're the Iranians and you're the Syrians and you're the Sudanese and you're the Libyans the president of the United States has a problem with you. Why? Because these states support terrorist groups who their stock in trade is killing innocent people."

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