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Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1992


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Introduction Until recently, terrorism had receded from the attention of most Americans. Terrorism is now back in the headlines, and we see ominous signs that the problem will escalate, compounded by the resurgence of regional and ethnic conflicts around the world. Since the new year, we have had the bombing of the World Trade Center, the killing of two CIA employees outside CIA Headquarters, and several airplane hijackings. These incidents remind us of our vulnerability to violent attacks.

Terrorist attacks in 1993 will be discussed in detail in our next annual Patterns of Global Terrorism. Despite these worrisome trends, there is some good news to report. International terrorism in 1992 fell to the lowest level since 1975. This dramatic drop continues a pattern of decline that began several years ago but was interrupted in 1991, when acts of terrorism associated with the Gulf war raised the year's total. That war, however, heightened international concern and cooperation, so that other terrorist acts were not carried out.

We believe that the main reason for the steady decline in terrorism has been the growth of international cooperation and recognition of the danger terrorism represents to the world community. States have been increasingly willing to oppose terrorism and to assist in countering terrorist acts. The UN Security Council condemnation of Libyan terrorism and the imposition of sanctions against that country are the latest and most significant indications of this changed attitude.

In addition, the United States has continued its leading role in opposing terrorism. We have succeeded in focusing attention on three aspects of the issue that are critical to success: the ending of state sponsorship, the strengthening of the rule of law, and the refusal to reward terrorists through concessions.

By not making concessions, we obtained the release of the last American hostages in Lebanon in late 1991, and Germany saw two German relief workers, Thomas Kemptner and Heinrich Struebig, the last Western hostages held in Lebanon, freed in June 1992. Kemptner and Struebig's abductors had demanded the release of convicted Hizballah terrorists, Abbas and Mohammed Hamadei, from German prisons. The German Government refused to meet this demand.

We and other nations have also made progress in pressuring state sponsors of terrorism to cease their support of these international criminal organizations. Demonstrating the international condemnation of such sponsors, the UN Security Council, in a landmark resolution, imposed mandatory Chapter VII sanctions against Libya for its responsibility for bombing two civilian aircraft in 1988 and 1989, Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772, respectively. The United States, France, and the United Kingdom joined in asking for an arms and civil aviation embargo on Libya, a demand that Libyan Arab Airlines offices be closed, and a requirement that all states reduce Libya's diplomatic presence abroad.

In many ways, the efforts of the United States and other nations to strengthen the rule of law and to apply the law to terrorists are the cornerstone of our policy. Increasingly, terrorists have been identified, tracked, apprehended, prosecuted, and punished for their crimes. The United States, for example, cooperated successfully with Greece in the trial of Mohammed Rashid, who was accused of the 1982 bombing of a Pan Am aircraft. Ten years after his heinous act, Rashid was convicted and sentenced to a lengthy jail term in Athens, Greece. Our efforts on the Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772 cases are an example of strengthening international law to fight the menace of terrorism.

We also strengthen the rule of law when we help improve the judicial and law enforcement capabilities of other nations that may be victims of terrorist acts. Through training provided under the Department of State's Antiterrorism Training Assistance Program, we have improved the ability of other governments to preempt, to investigate, and to prosecute terrorists. The program is a success. In 1992 more than 1,125 senior officials from 25 countries received such training, bringing the total number of persons trained in the program to about 14,000 from 75 countries.

Despite progress and successes, the threat of terrorism, particularly state-sponsored terrorism, is still serious. In the coming decade we will certainly face serious challenges from terrorism growing out of ethnic, religious, and xenophobic tensions around the world. Our response must be to maintain our vigilance, increase our capabilities, and further develop cooperation.

Legislative Requirements This report is submitted in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(a), which requires the Department of State to provide Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of Section (a)(1) and (2) of the Act. As required by legislation, the report includes detailed assessments of foreign countries where significant terrorist acts occurred, and countries about which Congress was notified during the preceding five years pursuant to Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (the so-called terrorism list countries that have repeatedly provided support for international terrorism). In addition, the report includes all relevant information about the previous year's activities of individuals, terrorist groups, or umbrella groups under which such terrorist groups fall, known to be responsible for the kidnapping or death of any American citizen during the preceding five years, and groups known to be financed by terrorism list countries.

Definitions No one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. For the purposes of this report, however, we have chosen the definition of terrorism contained in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d). That statute contains the following definitions:

--The term ``terrorism'' means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

--The term ``international terrorism'' means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country.

--The term ``terrorist group'' means any group practicing, or that has significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism.

The US Government has employed this definition of terrorism for statistical and analytical purposes since 1983.

In a number of countries, domestic terrorism, or an active insurgency, has a greater impact on the level of political violence than does international terrorism. Although not the primary purpose of this report, we have attempted to indicate those areas where this is the case.

1 For purposes of this definition, the term ``noncombatant'' is interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who at the time of the incident are unarmed and/or not on duty. For example, in past reports we have listed as terrorist incidents the murders of the following US military personnel: Col. James Rowe, killed in Manila in April 1989; Capt. William Nordeen, US defense attache killed in Athens in June 1988; the two servicemen killed in the La Belle disco bombing in West Berlin in April 1986; and the four off-duty US Embassy Marine guards killed in a cafe in El Salvador in June 1985. We also consider as acts of terrorism attacks on military installations or on armed military personnel when a state of military hostilities does not exist at the site, such as bombings against US bases in Europe, the Philippines, or elsewhere.

Note Adverse mention in this report of individual members of any political, social, ethnic, religious, or national group is not meant to imply that all members of that group are terrorists. Indeed, terrorists represent a small minority of dedicated, often fanatical, individuals in most such groups. It is that small group--and their actions--that is the subject of this report.

Furthermore, terrorist acts are part of a larger phenomenon of politically inspired violence, and at times the line between the two can become difficult to draw. To relate terrorist events to the larger context, and to give a feel for the conflicts that spawn violence, this report will discuss terrorist acts as well as other violent incidents that are not necessarily international terrorism.

Laurence E. Pope, Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism

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