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Homeland Security


27 April 2005

Report Calls Struggle Against International Terrorism "Formidable"

Al-Qaida remains primary terrorist threat to the United States

By Merle D. Kellerhals, Jr.
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The battle against international terrorism remains formidable despite improved domestic security measures, military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and deepening international counterterrorism cooperation, according to the State Department's latest annual terrorism report.

"The slaughter of hundreds of innocents in the Beslan school, in the commuter trains of Madrid, on a Philippines ferry, and in a Sinai resort proved again that the struggle against terrorism is far from over," according to Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 released April 27.

"Over the long run, the spread of democracy and economic and social reform, sustained and encouraged by the United States and others, should promote political, economic and social conditions inhospitable to terrorist exploitation.  For now, however, the tasks confronting the United States and its partners in the struggle against terrorism remain formidable."

This year’s congressionally mandated publication -- Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 -- replaces the former Patterns of Global Terrorism report.  The terrorist incident statistics were prepared by the new National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in conjunction with the report.  The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act created the NCTC and designated it the primary authoritative organization for global terrorism analysis, including regular reporting requirements.

As in previous years, the State Department's terrorism publication contains country reports and regional information, lists and descriptions of foreign terrorist organizations and other terrorist groups, an accounting of state sponsors of terrorism and global terrorist networks, and related articles on anti-terrorism and counterterrorism training and interdiction programs.

Looking back on the events of 2004, the report says that while there were no attacks within the United States, many other nations were struck by terrorists.  Local groups inspired by the transnational group al-Qaida committed the most deadly attacks, the report said.

And the report said that al-Qaida remains the primary terrorist threat to the United States, "intent on attacking the U.S. homeland as well as U.S. interests abroad."

Significantly, the United States and its allies have degraded al-Qaida and its affiliates' leadership and depleted its operatives, the report said.  But al-Qaida has adapted to these circumstances by spreading its ideology to local groups throughout the world.

"The diffusion of the al-Qaida ideology in many countries makes even more crucial the need for deeper international cooperation to defeat emerging violent extremist groups," the report said.

In the report, the State Department’s analysis of state sponsors of terrorism finds that Libya and Sudan took significant steps to cooperate in the battle against terrorism in 2004.  Iraq was removed from the state sponsors list in October 2004.

"Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria, however, continued to maintain their ties to terrorism," the report said.

While some of these countries in the latter group have improved cooperation with international counterterrorism efforts in certain areas, they have also continued actions that led them to be designated as state sponsors, the report said.

Current efforts to bolster the political will and the intelligence, law enforcement, financial and military capabilities of allies must be intensified, the report said, whether countries do it on their own or in partnership with the United States.

In addition, the United States and its allies must step up efforts to counter the war of ideas and to prevent the spread of al-Qaida's ideology and the growth of extremist terror, the report concluded.  International cooperation remains a growing and integral aspect of the overall U.S. national security strategy to defeat terrorism, the report said.

The U.S. counterterrorism strategy contains four critical components:

  • Defeating terrorist organizations by eliminating their sanctuaries, leadership, finances, and command, control and communications capabilities;
  • Denying further sponsorship, support, and sanctuary to terrorists by cooperating with other states to take action against those who provide support;
  • Diminishing the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit by enlisting the international community to focus mutual efforts and resources on addressing legitimate political and social needs and by reducing security vulnerabilities in the countries most at risk; and
  • Defending the United States, its citizens and interests at home and abroad.

Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 can be obtained from the Internet at: http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/c14813.htm.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)


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