30 April 2003
International Terrorist Attacks Fell 44 Percent in 2002
(Death toll due to terrorism also declined, State Department report
By Merle D. Kellerhals, Jr.
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- A decline in international terrorist attacks -- down 44
percent in 2002 from the previous year -- can be attributed to an
intensively waged war on terrorism across every region of the world,
the U.S. State Department's annual report on terrorism says.
International terrorists conducted 199 attacks in 2002, compared with
355 attacks in 2001, according to the annual "Patterns of Global
Terrorism: 2002" report, released April 30. Over the same period, the
number of people killed by terrorists declined to 725, down
dramatically from the 3,295 people killed in 2001. The 2001 total
included those killed in the September 11 attacks in New York,
Washington and Pennsylvania. The deaths in 2002 included 30 U.S.
"The evil of terrorism continued to plague the world throughout 2002,
from Bali to Grozny to Mombasa," said Ambassador J. Cofer Black, the
State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism. "At the same
time, the global war against the terrorist threat was waged
intensively in all regions with encouraging results."
The terrorism report, which is required by federal law to be submitted
to the U.S. Congress annually, said a total of 2,013 people were
wounded by terrorists in 2002, down from 2,283 the year before.
"The year saw the liberation of Afghanistan by coalition forces, the
expulsion of al-Qaida and the oppressive Taliban regime, the
destruction of their terrorist training infrastructure, and the
installation of a transitional government committed to democracy and
economic development," Black said. "Al-Qaida terrorists are on the
run, and thousands of them have been detained. More than one third of
al-Qaida's top leadership has been killed or captured, including some
who conspired in the September 11 attacks, the 2000 attack on the
[Navy's guided missile destroyer] USS Cole, and the 1998 bombings of
the two U.S. embassies in East Africa."
Black said that while solid progress has been made, due largely to
substantial international cooperation, the danger of terrorist attacks
"Al-Qaida is still planning attacks," he said in the report. "Every
al-Qaida operations officer captured so far was involved in some stage
of preparation for a terrorist attack at the time of capture. These
threats must be regarded with utmost seriousness. Additional attacks
Two key factors will determine the ultimate success of the
antiterrorism campaign, Black said.
"First, we must sustain and enhance the political will of states to
fight terrorism. The secret to maintaining a coalition is
demonstrating daily to its members that the fight is not over and that
sustained effort is clearly in their long-term interests," he said.
"Second, we have to bolster the capacity of all states to fight
terrorism. Despite our unmatched power, we recognize that the United
States will not be able to win without the help of others."
Black said the global antiterrorism coalition that was created in the
immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the United States
remains united. "The world is fighting terrorism on five fronts:
diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, financial and military," he
said. "The coalition's objectives are clear: to eliminate the threat
posed by international terrorism and to deter states from supporting
or harboring international terrorist groups."
The number of anti-U.S. attacks totaled 77 in 2002, down 65 percent
from the previous year's 219 attacks. Much of the substantial decline
in terrorist attacks against U.S. targets was accounted for by a sharp
drop in oil pipeline bombings in Colombia, down from 178 in 2001 to 41
in 2002, the report said.
By geographic region, there were five terrorist attacks in Africa, 99
in Asia, seven in Eurasia, 50 in Latin America, 29 in the Middle East,
none in the United States, and nine in Western Europe, the report
The terrorism report said 218 facilities were attacked by terrorists
last year, led by 111 attacks on businesses, 17 on government
facilities, 14 on diplomatic facilities, one on a military facility
and 75 on other facilities. The leading method of terrorist attack in
2002 was bombing. There were 137 bombings, 50 armed attacks, five
kidnappings, two fire bombings and two barricade hostage takings.
Other incidents included an assault and one other type of attack.
State-sponsored terrorism has declined over the past several decades,
the report notes, but seven governments -- Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya,
North Korea, Sudan, and Syria -- remained on the 2002 list of state
"Despite significant pressure from the U.S. government, the seven
designated state sponsors of terrorism -- Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya,
North Korea, Syria, and Sudan -- did not take all the necessary
actions to disassociate themselves fully from their ties to terrorism
in 2002," the report says. "While some of these countries have taken
steps to cooperate in the global war on terrorism, most have also
continued the very actions that led them to be declared state
The report said that Iran remained the most active state sponsor of
terrorism last year.
Finally, the annual report identifies 36 groups that are currently
designated by Secretary of State Colin Powell as foreign terrorist
organizations (FTOs) and another 38 terrorist groups that have not
been formally designated FTOs.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: