The number of terrorist attacks worldwide in 2009 fell by about 6 percent from the previous year, and the number of deaths from these attacks declined by about 5 percent — marking the second consecutive year that attacks and fatalities from terrorism declined, according to the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2009, released August 5.
The 2009 report states that al-Qaida suffered several significant setbacks in 2009 as the result of Pakistani military operations aimed at eliminating militant strongholds. According to the report, al-Qaida also suffered leadership losses and experienced increased difficulty in raising money, training recruits and planning attacks outside of the region.
“The Obama administration has been working to strengthen the nation’s counterterrorism strategy,” said Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s coordinator for counter-terrorism, particularly seeking to “shape and constrain the environments where terrorists operate.”
Part of that effort, Benjamin says, is addressing the “upstream” factors of radicalization, which involves confronting the political, social and economic conditions that extremist groups exploit to win new recruits and funding. And the United States has been expanding foreign assistance to nations such as Pakistan and Yemen and their communities where violent extremism has made inroads, he added.
According to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), there were 10,999 terrorist attacks in 83 countries during 2009, resulting in 14,971 deaths. That compares with 11,725 attacks in 2008 and 14,435 attacks in 2007. In 2008, the number of deaths stood at 15,727, which was down from the 22,736 in 2007, the center’s report said.
Overall, nearly two-thirds of the attacks in 2009 were in South Asia and the Middle East, the center’s report said. At the same time, the number of attacks in Iraq continued to decline, which helped lead to the overall decrease in terrorism worldwide in 2009. In Iraq, the center’s report said, the number of attacks fell by nearly a third from 2008 to 2009, and suicide bombings have fallen from more than 350 in 2007 to about 80 in 2009.
Overall suicide attacks declined from 405 in 2008 to 299 in 2009, the NCTC said, with the drop attributed to declining violence in Iraq.
The terrorism report is sent annually to Congress, and a statistical annex is required to accompany it. The report is compiled from a number of U.S. government agencies, led by the State Department, throughout the year, but it does not include attacks on the U.S. armed forces and does not include terrorist attacks within the United States. The report covers the period of January 1–December 31, 2009, Benjamin said during a press briefing at the State Department.
(Source: US State Department, www.america.gov)