Terrorism: threat from the shadows.

Author:Fadil, Magda Abu
Position:International terrorism - Current Affairs

Each year, the US State Department produces its assessment of the terrorist threat from the Third World, not surprisingly with a special emphasis on the Middle East.

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM in 1992 fell to its lowest level since 1975, but new players have been added to the rogues' gallery spotlighted every year by the US State Department along with warnings that their actions will not go unpunished.

In its Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1992, the State Department has said that despite the statistical drop in incidents there were ominous signs the problem of terrorism would escalate, compounded by the resurgence of regional and ethnic conflicts around the world.

International terrorist attacks declined to 361 last year, the lowest level in 17 years - roughly 35% fewer incidents than the 567 recorded in 1991, a figure that was inflated by a spate of low-level incidents at the time of the Gulf war. According to the survey, United States citizens and property remained the principal targets throughout the world, with nearly 40% of the recorded international terrorist incidents for 1992 directed at Americans.

But the one "spectacular" attack of that year occurred on 17 March when a powerful truck bomb destroyed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. The blast which killed 29 people and wounded 242 others levelled the embassy in the Argentinian capital and severely damaged a nearby church, school and retirement home. The Islamic Jihad organisation, which the report said was a cover name for the Iranian-backed Hizbollah, claimed responsibility for the attack.

"There is mounting evidence of Iranian government responsibility for this act of terrorism".

Elsewhere, left-wing terrorism, notably in Europe, was in decline in 1992, but ethnic and separatist groups in the Middle East, Latin America and South Asia remained active. More specifically, none of the state sponsors of terrorism has completely abandoned the terrorist option, either against dissidents or severed ties to terrorist surrogates, the report said.

Sudan, which in 1993 earned the honour of being added to the State Department's list of countries supporting terrorism, was mentioned in the 1992 annual report as having persisted in harbouring representatives of Middle East terrorist groups. Khartoum's increasing support for radical Arab terrorist groups is directly related to the extension the Sudanese National Islamic Front's (NIF) influence over the government. "Elements of the Abu Nidal...

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