World Terror Attacks Tripled In 2004, Half Of Them In Kashmir
26 April 2005
The Indian Express
Washington DC: The U.S. count of major world terrorist attacks more than tripled in 2004, a rise that may revive debate on whether the Bush administration is winning the war on terrorism, congressional aides said on Tuesday. The number of 'significant' international terrorist attacks rose to about 650 last year from about 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides briefed on the numbers by State Department and intelligence officials on Monday. The aides were told the surge partly reflected an increased tally of violence in India and Pakistan related to the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which both countries claim, and the devotion of more manpower to the U.S. monitoring effort, which resulted in more attacks being counted overall. The State Department last year initially released erroneous figures that understated the attacks and casualties in 2003 and used the figures to argue that the Bush administration was prevailing in the war on terrorism. It later said the number of people killed and injured in 2003 was more than double its original count and said 'significant' terrorist attacks - those that kill or seriously injure someone, cause more than $10,000 in damage or attempt to do either of those things - rose to a 20-year high of 175. The State Department last week unleashed a new debate about the numbers by saying it would no longer release them in its annual terrorism report but that the newly created National Counterterrorism Center that compiles the data would do so. A spokesman for the CIA, which is handling media inquiries for the NCTC, last week said no decisions had been made although other officials expected the data to be made public. Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday asking her to release the data, which include only international attacks and exclude violence that is classified as purely domestic. 'The large increases in terrorist attacks reported in 2004 may undermine administration claims of success in the war on terror, but political inconvenience has never been a legitimate basis for withholding facts from the American people,' Waxman said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters. BETTER TALLY RESPONSIBLE Former intelligence official Larry Johnson last week first disclosed the 2004 increase in his Web log, saying the 2004 numbers would rise at least 655 from about 172 in 2003. Waxman's letter said that of the about 650 significant attacks last year, about 300 reflected violence in India and Pakistan, leaving some 350 attacks elsewhere in the world - double the total 2003 count. He suggested this reflected enhanced U.S. efforts to monitor media reports of violence, thereby leading to the identification of 'many more attacks in India and Pakistan related to Kashmir.' He also said congressional aides were told of about 198 attacks in Iraq in 2004, up from 22 in 2003. Congressional aides said about 10 full-time employees worked on the 2004 count, up from about three in past years, and that this produced a more complete count. 'What it effectively means is that the Bush administration and the CIA haven't been putting the staff resources necessary and have missed (two thirds) of the world's terrorist incidents,' said a Democratic congressional aide. 'How can you have an effective counterterrorism policy from that?' A Republican congressional aide said it would be unfair of Democrats to claim terrorism was getting worse under the Bush administration, stressing that the 2004 and 2003 numbers were not counted in the same way and hence were not comparable. 'That is a conclusion that cannot be drawn because we have no baseline and certainly last year's revised numbers offer no accurate baseline of the universe of terrorist incidents,' he said. 'Without that you cannot reach an accurate conclusion.'