Global terror report: steep hike in Iraq, Afghanistan
US intelligence analysis shows sharp increase in 2006 attacks and casualties, with Iran as chief sponsor.
An annual US Department of State report on terrorism indicates that Iraq and Afghanistan saw huge jumps in terrorist attacks in 2006, and an even larger increase in the number of civilians injured or killed in those attacks.Skip to next paragraph
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The report, released Monday on the State Department website, is titled "Country Reports on Terrorism 2006," and includes statistics gathered from the National Counterterrorism Center. Although the report shows that overall incidents of terrorism worldwide increased by 25 percent over 2005, the jump was much higher in Iraq and Afghanistan, which together accounted for more than half of the 14,338 reported terrorist incidents worldwide in 2006.
According to the report, Afghanistan saw nearly 750 terror incidents last year, a 53 percent increase, while there were more than 6,600 such attacks in Iraq, an increase of 91 percent. In both countries, the number of people "killed, injured, or kidnapped" rose significantly: by 91 percent (to 2,943) in Afghanistan, and by 88 percent (to 38,813) in Iraq. [Editor's Note: The original version had the incorrect percentages for Iraq's increase in attacks and casualties, the incorrect number of attacks in Iraq, and the incorrect number of casualties in Afghanistan.]
The report defines "terrorism" as "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents," and says the numbers are gathered from reports of terrorism obtained through "open sources information." Casualties of attacks that were deemed to be specifically targeting US or coalition troops were not included in the results. The report also suggests not placing "too much emphasis" on the data, and that the "quality, accuracy, and volume of incident open source reporting" makes determinations of what constitutes a terrorist incident "highly subjective."
In a summary analysis provided with the statistics, the report says that there have been some "significant achievements" in the fight against terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but "it is clear that progress has been mixed."
Significant achievements in border security, information sharing, transportation security, financial controls, and the killing or capture of numerous terrorist leaders have reduced the threat. But the threat still remains, and state sponsorship, the terrorist response to intervention in Iraq, improved terrorist propaganda capabilities, the pursuit of nuclear weapons by state sponsors of terrorism, and terrorist exploitation of grievances represent ongoing challenges. Recent trends include the emergence of "guerrilla" terrorism in parallel with traditional "expeditionary" approaches, improved [Al Qaeda] propaganda warfare capacity, and emerging evidence of terrorist "conveyor belt" that seeks to deliberately manipulate and exploit grievances in at-risk populations.
The New York Times points out that at a news conference accompanying the release of the report, the State Department's acting coordinator for counterterrorism, Frank C. Urbancic Jr., said that terrorists continue to adapt to US and coalition methods to fight them, and that attacks in Afghanistan have increasingly mimicked those in Iraq.
"The terrorists, there's no question, are intelligent people, and they learn from each other," Mr. Urbancic said. "The people in Afghanistan are watching the people in Iraq, the people in Iraq are watching the people elsewhere, and there's a snowball effect. And they work through the Internet, they communicate."
The Associated Press writes that the report indicates one of the ways terrorists have changed tactics in Iraq is through the use of chemical weapons, which was first seen in a November 2006 attack in Sadr City.