(Experts discuss new trends at terrorism forum)  (640)

By Berta Gomez

USIA Staff Writer

1ashington -- History suggests that terrorism is combated most

effectively when governments remain calm and act within existing legal

frameworks, says former Central Intelligence Agency Director William Colby.

Participating in a National Press Foundation forum on "New Trends in

Terrorism" March 31, Colby added that while the explosion at New York's

World Trade Center and the shooting outside the CIA (Central Intelligence

Agency) headquarters in Virginia are indications the United States might be

facing a new kind of terrorist threat, "It's not terribly different from

problems we've had in the past.  A cool hand and a cool head will enable us

to continue to fight this problem."

Anti-terrorism campaigns cited by Colby included the Italian government's

battle against the Red Brigade organization and the U.S. fight against air

piracy.  He stressed that both were successful because "they did it through

the law."  In contrast, he said, countries that countered violent

insurrections with terror campaigns of their own generally had less success

and struggled to return to normalcy.

Also addressing the forum, Douglas Gow of the Federal Bureau of

Investigation (FBI) pointed out that the overall threat of terrorism has

receded recently, mostly due to interdictions made possible by improved

intelligence and effective law enforcement.

He cited State Department statistics showing that terrorist incidents

worldwide fell from about 800 in 1987 to just over 300 in 1992.  Terrorist

attacks in the United States dropped from 51 in 1982 to four in 1992, he

said, citing FBI figures.

Gow stressed that this drop in domestic terrorist attacks occurred during a

period in which Americans were increasingly identified as the favored

target of terrorist groups.  So, despite the alarm generated by the World

Trade Center incident, "this is not a time for people to panic, but to have

faith in law enforcement," he contended.

At the same time, Gow and the other panelists agreed that the U.S.

government should strengthen some of the weaker aspects of its

anti-terrorism policy.  The area mentioned most often was immigration, and

the need to tighten -- and enforce -- visa restrictions.

Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation noted that the United States receives

about 25 million visitors annually, about 500,000 of whom remain in the

country after their visas have expired.  He suggested that the Immigration

and Naturalization Service (INS) be given more money to pay for inspectors,

and to deal more effectively with the "Herculean task" of tracking down

illegal aliens.

The panel also suggested improved coordination among various U.S. agencies,

and better intelligence-sharing at the international level.

Senator Larry Pressler, who has recommended legislation to promote these

goals, recommended that the United States allow capital punishment for

convicted terrorists who kill Americans.

Hoffman countered that the death penalty "never works" as a deterrent to

violence, and that some terrorists might actually welcome the chance to

become martyrs at the hands of the U.S. government.

All of the panelists agreed that any changes in U.S. laws or policies must

be made carefully.  "The problem," said Gow, "is how to balance security

needs against the kind of society we have."  Colby and others pointed out

that open societies like the United States will always be somewhat limited

in what they can do to counter terrorists.

Colby also said efforts to foster international cooperation are complicated

by conflicting perceptions and goals -- even among friendly states.

1everal U.S. allies recently voted to extend new IMF (International

Monetary Fund) loans to Iran, even though Washington believes Tehran is

abetting terrorism.  "I find that fairly outrageous, and I think our good

allies ought to be told that we think that," Colby said.