The United States counted a 75 percent increase in the number of people killed in international “terrorist” operations in 2000, with Asia the continent with the highest number of victims.
In its annual report on “Global Patterns of Terrorism”, the U.S. State Department said the casualty toll for the year was 405 killed and 791 wounded, against 233 and 706 in 1999.
The report listed the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) among 28 designated “foreign terrorist organizations” whose assets Washington freezes and whose members cannot obtain U.S. visas. U.S. sanctions against the IMU began in September.
It added the Colombian paramilitary group the AUC and the main rebel group in Sierra Leone, the RUF, to a category of “other terrorist organizations” against which the United States does not impose any legal sanctions.
The report made no change in the list of governments designated as “state sponsors of terrorism” — Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria — but recognized that state sponsorship has been in decline for decades.
Cuba and North Korea were on the list mainly for providing safe haven to groups which have been inactive for years.
It said Iran was the most active of the seven states, providing increasing support to groups such as Hizbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Iran says the groups legitimately resist Israel occupation.
Hinting at the possible inclusion in the future of Pakistan and Lebanon, the report said that the United States was “increasingly concerned” about reports of Pakistani support for Kashmiri groups and that the Lebanese government had been unresponsive to requests for the trial of people suspected of attacking U.S. citizens and property.
Despite pressure from domestic pro-Israeli groups, the U.S. State Department did not endorse Israeli allegations against the Palestinian Authority (PA) of President Yasser Arafat.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Monday that groups under Arafat’s control were directly responsible for most attacks on Israelis during the latest phase of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
The report said: “Israeli officials publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with PA counter-terrorism efforts during the crisis. The Israelis also accused PA security officials and Fatah members of facilitating and taking part in shooting and bombing attacks against Israeli targets.”
But it gave no indication of whether the United States accepted the accusations.
The report said the number of “international terrorist attacks” increased 8 percent during 2000, to 423 from 392, mainly because of 152 attacks on a Colombian oil pipeline.
The countries with the most killings were Colombia, where the government, backed by the United States, is fighting leftist rebels and drug traffickers, and India, where the Kashmir conflict has led to large-scale massacres.
The number of U.S. victims during the year rose from five in 1999 to 19, all but two of them as a result of the attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole in Aden harbor in Yemen in October.