State Department: Terrorist Attacks Down 44 Percent in 2002
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 30, 2003 Terrorist attacks around the globe in 2002 were down 44 percent from the previous year, State Department experts announced here today.
There were 199 international terrorist attacks last year, compared to 355 in 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in introducing the department's coordinator for counterterrorism, Ambassador Cofer Black.
"I'm pleased to report that unprecedented progress has been made across the international community," Powell said. "Nations everywhere now recognize that we are all in this together."
Black explained several reasons for the significant decrease to the "lowest level of terrorism in more than 30 years."
The first was a significant drop in the number of Columbian oil pipeline bombings: 41 in 2002 vs. 148 in 2001.
Second, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, virtually every country increased its security awareness. Changes are most noticeable at airports and border crossings, Black said.
Third, many terrorist weren't able to launch attacks because they were in American custody. More than 3,000 Al Qaeda members have been arrested in some 100 countries.
Finally, Black credited the "overall post-9-11 security environment." Nations are working harder to share intelligence and law enforcement information.
"They are arresting suspects. They are thwarting attacks. Governments and financial institutions are drying up the terrorists' sources of revenue," he said. "Regional security organizations are steadily improving their counterterrorism capabilities."
Coalition military action in Afghanistan and Iraq is furthering the fight against international terrorism by chasing terrorists out of those countries and drying up safe havens.
Still, these successes should not suggest the fight is over. "Last year, terrorist attacks occurred in every region of the world," Powell said.
An October 2002 terrorist attack in Bali killed about 200 people from two dozen countries. Terrorists in Moscow took 800 hostages, "the largest terrorist kidnapping anywhere," Powell said.
During 2002, 725 people died in terrorist attacks, 30 of them American citizens. "Even as I speak," Powell said, "terrorists are planning appalling crimes and trying to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction. We cannot and we will not relax our resolve, our efforts and our vigilance."