21 May 2002
International Terrorist Attacks in 2001 Killed 3,547 People
(Highest death toll due to terrorism ever recorded, report says)
By Merle D. Kellerhals, Jr.
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- International terrorist attacks killed more people in
2001 than in any previous year, but at the same time the actual number
of terrorist attacks declined worldwide, the U.S. State Department's
annual report on terrorism says.
"The terrorist threat is global in scope, many-faceted and
determined," Secretary of State Colin Powell said May 21 during a
briefing on the release of the department's "Patterns of Global
Terrorism: 2001" report. "The campaign against terrorism must be
equally comprehensive, multidimensional and steadfast. It must be
fought on many fronts, with every tool of statecraft."
Powell said the report, which is the 22nd to be presented to Congress,
marks the significant progress against terrorism that has been made by
the United States and its coalition partners in a variety of critical
areas. He said the coalition members have strengthened law enforcement
and intelligence cooperation.
"We have tightened border controls and made it harder for terrorists
to travel, to communicate, and therefore to plot. One by one, we are
severing the financial bloodlines of terrorist organizations," he
One major aspect of the fight against global terrorism, Powell said,
is increasing the capacity of other nations to fight terrorism in
their own country. "That is why the United States has launched a
train-and-equip program that will help the government of Georgia
develop its own capability to keep terrorists from crossing its
borders and to fight terrorists already within those borders," he
In addition, Powell cited U.S. internal defense efforts in Yemen and
Ambassador Francis Taylor, the State Department's coordinator for
counterterrorism, said the main objective of the 2001 terrorism
report, which is double the length of previous editions, is to put the
global campaign launched to defeat terrorism into perspective.
"Diplomacy helped build the coalition," Taylor said. "And our
diplomatic efforts must expand as the al-Qaida network seeks to
relocate and regroup around the world."
Taylor said that by the end of last year 1,000 al-Qaida operatives had
been arrested in more than 60 countries through cooperative law
enforcement efforts, and today that figure stands at 1,600 operatives
detained in 95 countries.
"But al-Qaida has not been defeated," he said.
Since the global campaign began last year, Taylor said, governments
have been able to block more than $100 million from reaching
terrorists worldwide, though it will take a sustained effort to
completely shut off the terrorists' funding pipeline.
Taylor said the State Department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance program
is at work in more than 130 nations as a vital part of the U.S. policy
to help bolster the anti-terrorism efforts of those who request it.
"It is vitally important that this worldwide capacity building
continue to ensure we close the seams that allow terrorists and their
supporters to operate, and commit the kind of evil that we witnessed
on 9/11," Taylor said.
While no one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance,
the United States defines terrorism as "premeditated, politically
motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by
subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to
influence an audience," the report said.
The terrorism report, which is required by federal law to be submitted
to the U.S. Congress annually, said terrorist attacks in 2001 fell to
348 incidents from 426 incidents the previous year. At the same time,
however, the number of people killed in international terrorist
attacks soared to 3,547 last year, up dramatically from the 409 people
killed in 2000, and "the highest annual death toll from terrorism
every recorded," the report said.
"Ninety percent of the fatalities occurred in the September 11 attacks
[on the United States]," the report said. In the absence of a final
official total from New York City authorities, the State Department
used 3,000 as the number of people killed in the World Trade Center
attacks, the report noted.
Citizens from 78 countries were killed in the terrorist attacks on the
World Trade Towers in New York City alone, the report said.
The number of people wounded last year in terrorist attacks rose to
1,080, up from 796 wounded in 2000, the report said. "Violence in the
Middle East and South Asia also accounted for the increase in casualty
totals for 2001," it said.
By geographic region, there were 33 terrorist attacks in Africa, 68 in
Asia, three in Eurasia, 194 in Latin America, 29 in the Middle East,
four in the United States and 17 in Western Europe, the report said.
The number of anti-U.S. attacks rose to 219 incidents in 2001, up from
200 in 2000 and 169 in 1999, the report said. The U.S. targets
included 204 businesses, as well as two military, three government,
seven diplomatic, and 12 other types of U.S. targets.
The report also said that 178 of the total terrorist attacks last year
were bombings against a multinational oil pipeline in Colombia --
which constituted 51 percent of the year's total attacks. In 2000,
there were 152 oil pipeline bombings in Colombia, which was 40 percent
of the total.
"An increased international awareness of terrorism did nothing to stop
or even slow the pace of terrorist actions by Colombia's three
terrorist organizations -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC), National Liberation Army (ELN), and United Self-Defense Forces
of Colombia (AUC) -- in 2001," the report noted. "Some 3,500 murders
were attributed to these groups."
And in 2001 as in past years, there were more kidnappings in Colombia
than any other country in the world, the report said.
The report also notes that 531 facilities were struck by terrorists in
attacks last year, and 397 were business facilities and buildings,
four were military, 13 government, 18 diplomatic, and 99 listed as
other types of facilities.
Terrorist attacks included 253 bombings, one assault, three fire
bombings, three hijackings, four vandalism events, five arsons, 36
kidnappings, and 41-armed attacks, the report said.
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 -- remain on the list of state sponsors.
The designation of state sponsors of terrorism is a mechanism for
isolating nations using terrorism as a means of political expression,
it said. The list, which imposes a strict set of sanctions, has
remained unchanged since Sudan was added in 1993.
"While some of these countries appear to be reconsidering their
present course, none has yet taken all necessary actions to divest
itself fully of ties to terrorism," the report said. "Sudan and Libya
seem closest to understanding what they must do to get out of the
However, the report said Iran, North Korea and Syria have in some
narrow ways made limited moves to cooperate with the international
community's anti-terrorism campaign.
Nevertheless, the report said that Iran remained the most active state
sponsor of terrorism last year. "Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS)
continued to be involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts
and supported a variety of groups that use terrorism to pursue their
goals," it said.
The report lists 33 groups that are currently designated by the
secretary of state as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) and
another 28 terrorist groups that have not been designated FTOs.
Usama bin Ladin's al-Qaida network still poses the greatest threat to
the United States and the international community, Taylor said.
The entire "Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2001" report can be found on
the State Department's Internet website at
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
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