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Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1992

The Year in Review

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One of the largest one-year decreases in the number of international terrorist incidents since the United States began keeping such statistics in 1968 occurred in 1992. International terrorist attacks declined during 1992 to 361, the lowest level in 17 years. This is roughly 35 percent fewer than the 567 incidents recorded in 1991, a figure that was inflated by a spate of low-level incidents at the time of the Gulf war. During 1992, US citizens and property remained the principal targets throughout the world; nearly 40 percent of the 361 international terrorist attacks during the year were directed at US targets.

US casualties from acts of terrorism were the lowest ever. Two Americans were killed, and one was wounded during 1992, as opposed to seven dead and 14 wounded the previous year:

On 8 January 1992 naturalized US citizen Jose Lopez was kidnapped by members of the National Liberation Army in Colombia and subsequently killedaked by automatic gunfire from a passing car. Another American serviceman in the vehicle was wounded. No group claimed responsibility. This attack occurred just before the visit of President Bush to Panama.

The one ``spectacular'' international terrorist attack during the year occurred on 17 March when a powerful truck bomb destroyed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The blast leveled the Embassy and severely damaged a nearby church, school, and retirement home.

Five American missionary nuns were brutally murdered in Liberia in two separate attacks during 1992. We have not included these murders as terrorist attacks because a political motivation appears to be lacking.

Twenty-nine persons were killed and 242 wounded. Islamic Jihad, a covername for the Iranian-sponsored group Hizballah, publicly claimed responsibility for the attack and, to authenticate the claim, released a videotape of the Israeli Embassy taken during surveillance before the bombing. There is mounting evidence of Iranian Government responsibility for this act of terrorism.

As was the case during the preceding three years, Latin America saw more terrorism in 1992 than any other region. Antiforeign attacks in that region were predominantly against American targets. Leftwing terrorism, particularly in Europe, is in decline, but ethnic and separatist groups in Europe, Latin America, South Asia, and the Middle East remained active last year.

The deadly Peruvian terrorist group Sendero Luminoso was dealt a major blow in September when security forces in Lima captured the group's founder, Abimael Guzman, and many of its high command. Guzman was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for his terrorist crimes.

None of the traditional state sponsors of terrorism has completely abandoned the terrorist option, especially against dissidents, nor severed ties to terrorist surrogates. Iraq's international terrorist infrastructure was largely destroyed by the Coalition's counterterrorist actions during that war. Since Operation Desert Storm, however, Saddam has used terrorism to punish regime opponents and to intimidate UN and private humanitarian workers. The Iranian regime has practiced state terrorism since it took power in 1979; it is currently the deadliest state sponsor and has achieved a worldwide reach.

There were fewer deaths caused by international terrorism during 1992, 93 vice 102 in 1991, but many more persons were wounded, 636 vice 242. The single bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina accounted for about 40 percent of all those wounded in terrorist attacks in 1992.


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International Community Acts To Counter Terrorism

In 1992 for the first time, the UN Security Council imposed Chapter VII sanctions against a state accused of acts of international terrorism.

The Security Council's deep involvement began on 27 November 1991 when the Governments of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a coordinated public statement directed at Libya in view of its responsibility for the bombings of Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772 and the resultant murder of more than 440 passengers and crew. The coordinated statements made by the three governments demanded that Libya:

-- Surrender for trial all those charged with the crimes. -- Accept responsibility for the actions of Libyan officials. -- Disclose all it knows of the crimes, including the names of all those responsible, and allow full access to all witnesses, documents, and other material evidence, including the remaining timers.

-- Pay appropriate compensation. -- Commit itself concretely and definitively to cease all forms of terrorist action and all assistance to terrorist groups. Libya must promptly, by concrete action, prove its renunciation of terrorism.

On 21 January 1992 the Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 731, which endorsed these demands. The Council:

-- Condemned the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772 and the resultant loss of hundreds of lives.

-- Strongly deplored the fact that the Libyan Government had not responded effectively to the requests to cooperate fully in establishing responsibility for these terrorist acts.

-- Urged the Libyan Government to immediately provide a full and effective response to those requests.

-- Requested the Secretary General to seek the cooperation of the Libyan Government to respond fully and effectively to those requests.

-- Decided to remain seized of the matter. Between the adoption of UNSC Resolution 731 and mid-March, the Secretary General and numerous other officials of the UN and interested governments attempted without success to convince Libya of the requirement that it comply promptly and in full with the terms of the resolution.

These efforts failed, and the Security Council adopted Resolution 748 on 31 March. The vote was 10 in favor and none opposed, with five abstentions. That resolution provided Libya a 15-day grace period to comply with UNSC Resolution 731. Absent such compliance, a series of sanctions went into effect. These sanctions, which were adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and are thus obligatory for all UN member states, include:

-- Banning all air traffic into and out of Libya. -- Prohibiting the operations of Libyan Arab Airlines offices worldwide. -- Banning the provision of aircraft and related services and parts to Libya.

-- Prohibiting all arms supplies and related material of all types and licensing arrangements for arms to Libya.

-- Requiring withdrawal of military advisers, specialists, and technicians from Libya.

-- Mandating that states significantly reduce the number and level of staff at Libyan diplomatic missions.

-- Requiring that states take steps to deny entry or to expel Libyan nationals who have been involved in terrorist activities.

These sanctions went into effect on 15 April 1992 despite efforts by Libya to have the International Court of Justice intervene. They have been widely applied throughout the world.

The Secretary General has continued his efforts to secure full Libyan compliance with both resolutions. While the Libyans have taken some cosmetic and easily reversible steps concerning the presence in Libya of terrorist training sites, they have yet to satisfy any of the requirements imposed by the Security Council resolutions.

Activity by international organizations to help counter the threat posed by international terrorism was not limited to the UN Security Council. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) heard Libya's request for a ruling that would have prohibited the UN Security Council from imposing sanctions on Libya. The ICJ ruled against Libya.

Technical experts from a number of nations that produce plastic explosives continued to meet under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization to review various marking chemicals to be included in plastic explosives in accord with the terms of the Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for Purposes of Detection. That Convention, completed in Montreal in 1991, has been signed by the United States and 45 other nations. The United States will submit the Convention for ratification by the Senate during 1993, upon completion of environmental, safety, and occupational health tests related to the introduction of a marking chemical into plastic explosives produced in this nation.

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