Friday, August 6, 2010
The U.S. State Department released its country reports on terrorism for 2009 yesterday. Not surprisingly, much of the focus was on al-Qa'ida. The U.S. intelligence community assessed that al-Qa’ida and its affiliates, particularly al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be actively engaged in operational plotting against the United States. Al-Qa’ida in Pakistan remain the biggest terrorist security threat to the U.S. homeland.
The U.S. government also determined that al-Qa’ida suffered several significant setbacks in 2009 due to Pakistani military operations aimed at eliminating militant strongholds, leadership losses, and increased difficulty in raising money, training recruits, and planning attacks outside of the region. In addition, more imams, clerics, and former militants are speaking out against al-Qa’ida.
The report also concludes that "Iran continued its financial, material, and logistical support for Hizballah, HAMAS, and other terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Syria also continued to provide safe-haven as well as political and other support to HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and a number of other designated Palestinian terrorist groups."
The United States is working to combat terrorism by promoting effective civilian law enforcement, good governance, and the rule of law in states where terrorists operate. According to the State Department, "A major focus of this work involves effectively building capacity and making counterterrorism training for police, prosecutors, border officials, and members of the judiciary more systematic, more innovative, and far reaching. Dozens of countries have passed counterterrorism legislation or strengthened existing laws that provide their law enforcement and judicial authorities with tools to bring terrorists to justice."
Overall, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) estimates that there were 11,000 terrorist attacks in 83 countries in 2009, resulting in more than 15,700 deaths, which represents a 6% decrease in attacks and a 5% decrease in deaths from the previous year.