Upsurge in Terrorism Worldwide

Against the facts, US secretary of state Collin Powell tried hard for an upbeat note when he presented his department’s annual “Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000” report in Washington, insisting that “international cooperation against terrorism is increasing and it is paying off.”
He cited four examples to prove his point: the Lockerbie trial of the 1988 PanAm-103 bombers; the New York trial of four accused in the 1998 US embassy blasts in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam; the UN resolution levying additional sanctions against the Taliban regime for harboring the Saudi millionaire terrorist Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan; and Yemeni cooperation in the USS Cole bombing investigation.
Powell was talking against the figures contained in his department’s report: In 2000, terrorist attacks increased by 8 percent, the number of persons killed rose by 74 percent, from 233 to 405. Nineteen were US citizens – 17 sailors of the USS Cole who died in an explosion in the port of Aden in 2000. This year’s list of seven sponsor-states of terrorism was unchanged: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, with Iran remaining the most active – particularly in sponsoring Palestinian groups against Israel. For the second year in a row, South Asia “remained a focal point for terrorism directed against the US. Furthermore, “Islamic extremists from around the world… continued to use Afghanistan as a training ground and base of operations for their worldwide terrorist activities.”
“The Taleban provided logistics support to members of various terrorist organizations in Central Asia, Chechniya and Kashmir.” Noting concern over “credible reports” that Pakistan continues to support the Taleban and of Lebanon’s support for terrorist groups, the report warned those countries they could be considered next year.
debkafile‘s counter-terrorism experts take a close look at Powell’s four examples of international cooperation “paying off”.
The Lockerbie trial sentenced one of the accused Libyan agents to life and acquitted the second. The convicted man has appealed to the Scottish high court and both Scottish and English legal observers rate his chances of getting off excellent. Indeed, most Western experts in the field of terrorism, were disappointed by the failure of the trial failed to tear the veil off the extensive conspiracy behind the PanAm-103 bombing disaster, when the Libyans in the dock were patently no more than small cogs.
Those experts pass similar judgment on the embassy trial nearing its end in New York. Out the trial’s outset, the US federal prosecution promised broad exposure of a major global terrorist conspiracy and its workings. However the indictment’s scope has progressively narrowed. debkafile‘s counter-terrorism experts surmise that US federal authorities may be reluctant to expose their sources and modes of operation in combating terrorism, on the one hand. On the other, they may not have enough material to support a comprehensive indictment of the scourge and so the New York trial may taper off to the same sort of anti-climax as did the Lockerbie case.
The sanctions against the Taleban undoubtedly hurt its people, but they do not prevent its leaders from broadening their relations with Osama Bin Laden’s El Qaeda and other terrorist groups operating in Southeast Asia. Indeed Afghanistan is today a training ground and springboard for planting hundreds of Islamic militants in the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. They are also training ethnic Chinese Uighar Moslem extremists for destabilizing operations among the 150 million Moslems of the north Chinese province of Sinkiang.
On Yemeni collaboration in the USS Cole investigation, secretary Powell is markedly forbearing. debkafile‘s experts point out that the collaboration is very recent, initiated eight precious months after the USS Cole disaster and still very limited. The US investigation has discovered that the attack’s planners and executors spent at least two years in Aden setting it up, with the full connivance of senior Yemeni officers and officials. Yet no one in the Yemeni government thought to forewarn the Americans. Even that belated collaboration had a price: it persuaded Osama Bin Laden to relocate his terror machine from Aden to Lebanon.
The report also strikes Israeli readers as far from covering the reality of Palestinian terrorism: While Yasser Arafat’s Fatah rates its first mention, neither that group nor the Palestinian Authority is directly accused of practicing terrorism. Moreover, the report falls short of the facts when it notes: “As in years past, the Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were responsible for much of that terrorism.”
The point is that up until March 2001, the joint Palestinian-Israel security coordinating mechanism was still in place. Since it was monitored by the US Central Intelligence Agency, the authors of the state department report ought to have been informed about the creation of Arafat’s terrorist squads
and the launching of their shooting and terrorist raids against Israel targets. They might also be expected to have received the very long list of terrorist strikes in which Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Tanzim activists were directly involved. That information may have been omitted because its publication would have tended to spoil the positive note of Powell’s presentation.

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