The United States said that governments have made progress in fighting terrorism,
but need more resources and stronger political will to sustain the global fight
against it. In a new report, the State Department praised Libya for renouncing
terrorism, but lashed out against Iran for what it said was Tehran's continuing
sponsorship of state-backed terrorism.
In its annual report, Patterns of Global Terrorism, the State Department
said the number of terrorist incidents last year was the fewest since 1969.
The death toll from terrorist attacks last year was also down, dropping from
725 in 2002 to 307 last year.
However, attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan were not included
in the department's tallies even though administration officials have labeled
the insurgents as terrorists. State Department counter-terrorism coordinator
Cofer Black said attacks on coalition military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan
do not meet the department's definitions for terrorism.
The report said that al-Qaida has been significantly damaged by international
anti-terrorist efforts. Mr. Black said increased cooperation is largely responsible
for the downturn in terrorism.
"It is truly what it should have been all along, a team sport," he said. "We're
in this together. We have a commonality of interest. We're in the business
of saving each other's people and citizens. The accepted objective is to protect
innocent men, women, and children. We're just doing a better job of it."
On the front of state-sponsored terrorism, the report labels Iran the single
most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2003. However, it also noted that
some of the other six countries officially designated as state sponsors of
terrorism have made significant changes. Cooperation from Sudan was vastly
improved, the report notes, and Libya has publicly renounced any further sponsorship
Mr. Black says Libya has, as he put it, come a long way, but still has a
bit more distance to go before the United States removes it from its list of
"They have clearly renounced terrorism," he acknowledged. "They have established
themselves as no longer supporting international terrorism. There are some
outstanding issues with the Libyans that we're in contact with them now that
we will need to resolve with them and that is to make sure that they have no
continued relationship with terrorist groups in any form."
Iraq also still remains on the list, even though the government of Saddam
Hussein has been toppled. Mr. Black said that the United States needs assurances
of the intentions and cooperation of any future Iraqi administration before
Iraq is off the list. "We need to assure ourselves that a new government in
Baghdad renounces terrorism as well as proves by fact indeed that they have
renounced and are taking every action to renounce terrorism, as well as to
be an effective partner in the international community to do this," he added.
On a regional level, the report said that East Asia (Southeast Asia in particular)
has become an attractive hub of support and logistics for al-Qaida and like-minded