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Terrorism Attacks Increased Worldwide While Deaths Declined

By David Lerman
August 18, 2011 6:19 PM EDT

The number of worldwide terrorism attacks rose to 11,604 in 2010, up by more than 5 percent from the 10,969 the previous year, according to an annual State Department report released today.

While the number of attacks increased, the number of deaths dropped by almost 14 percent to 13,186, the report said. The number of deaths has been dropping steadily since 2007, when 22,719 people died from terrorist attacks.

Still, terrorism last year claimed 49,901 victims who were killed, injured or kidnapped, it said.

In Afghanistan, terrorist attacks jumped by 55.6 percent last year to 3,307, compared with 2,125 in 2009. In Iraq, attacks rose to 2,688 from 2,458, the report said.

Those statistics, compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center, are part of the annual country-by-country report on terrorism released by the State Department.

More than 75 percent of the world’s terrorist attacks and deaths took place in South Asia and the Near East, the report said. Those regions together accounted for 8,960 attacks and 9,960 deaths.

Offering a “strategic assessment” of the terrorist threat worldwide, the report said al-Qaeda remained “the preeminent terrorist threat to the United States in 2010.”

While the “core” al-Qaeda group, based in Pakistan, has become weaker, its affiliates have grown stronger, the report said. Those affiliates include al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, responsible for the attempted Christmas day airplane bombing in 2009 on a flight that originated in Amsterdam and was approaching Detroit.

World Cub Bombings

Similarly, al-Shabaab, a militant group in East Africa, also gained strength in 2010, when it conducted its first major attack outside of Somalia. It claimed responsibility for the twin suicide bombings that killed 76 people in Uganda during the World Cup.

“Al-Shabaab’s widening scope of operations, safe haven in Somalia and ability to attract Western militants, made it a continuing threat to U.S. interests in the region,” the report said.

In what the report described as a “troubling trend,” English-speaking militants increasingly used online venues such as chat rooms and video-sharing platforms. It cited the case of five Pakistani Americans contacted by a Taliban recruiter through YouTube who encourage one another to travel to Pakistan to train for warfare against the U.S.

Other groups, the report said, have grown weaker. Al-Qaeda in Iraq “continued to be politically marginalized as its constituency dwindled further,” it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Lerman in Washington at Dlerman1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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