Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tide of Terrorism Spurs Crackdown

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tide of Terrorism Spurs Crackdown

Article excerpt

DESPITE a drop in the number of attacks in recent years, and some progress in fighting its perpetrators, terrorism remains a serious threat to Americans at home and abroad.

This was underscored last Sunday when an Islamic fanatic rammed an explosives-packed van into a bus in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip and killed eight people, including a United States college student, Alisa Flatow.

She was the third US citizen killed this year in a terrorist attack. Two US consulate workers died last month in Karachi, Pakistan, when gunmen ambushed their vehicle.

"Terrorism is cyclical. It is down, but not out," says a State Department official.

Moreover, there is growing concern that the threat could become even more serious. With ethnic and religious radicalism escalating and lethal technology increasingly available, some experts worry that extremists bent on mass murder may begin using biological and chemical -- and possibly nuclear -- weaponry.

Those expressing concerns point to last month's Tokyo subway nerve-gas attack that killed 11 people and injured more than 5,500 others.

"We hope that this does not herald the dawn of a new era long feared by counterterrorist experts: the increasing use of weapons of mass destruction against urban populations," says Adm. William Studeman, acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Testifying before a congressional hearing last week, Admiral Studeman added: "Unfortunately, we believe we will witness more of these types of attacks."

At first glance, the latest statistics give an optimistic spin to international efforts to stem the problem. The impression is bolstered by recent US counterterrorism successes, including the February arrest in Pakistan of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the alleged mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. But a closer look reveals a gloomier synopsis.

The State Department's annual terrorism report, due out this month, lists 331 incidents in 1994 compared with 427 the previous year. Of those, 66 attacks were aimed at US citizens or installations. Four Americans were killed and five injured.

While the volume of attacks decreased, however, the number of victims soared. In 1993, 109 people were killed worldwide. Last year, the death toll was 314.

Experts and officials attribute the more than threefold rise to the use of more powerful weapons and a readiness to kill indiscriminately on a grander scale. "There is a momentum in terrorism toward bigger and better methods of delivering destruction," says Prof. Jerrold Post, a political psychologist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

As for bringing suspects to justice, the US can point to the captures of Mr. Yusef and several others. But many have never been caught, including Mir Aimal Kansi, who is suspected of firing in 1993 on cars near the entrance to CIA headquarters, in Langley, Va. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.