Assessing Worldwide Stability

By Benavides, Amy | Security Management, June 1994 | Go to article overview

Assessing Worldwide Stability


Benavides, Amy, Security Management


Despite the recent escalation of violence in the Middle East, related terrorist incidents in Western Europe have actually decreased. From a high of seventy-four attacks in 1985, the rate dropped to eight attacks in 1993, according to Senior Analyst Andrew Corsun of the Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis (ITA) of the U.S. Department of State.

Corsun, who made his remarks at the 12th ASIS Annual Government/Industry Conference on Terrorism, tempered those encouraging statistics with the reminder that radical Palestinian and Islamic groups continue to maintain an active logistical infrastructure in Western Europe. In fact, Western Europe continues to be the primary operating area for Middle Eastern terrorist activity outside the Middle East. Their network can be activated to respond to future events at any time, he noted.

Senior analysts from the ITA covered every area of the world as they gave regional threat assessments to attendees. Following are highlights from the assessments, which are the opinions of the analysts and do not represent the views of the State Department.

Western Europe. The Basque Separatists (ETA) in Spain, the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) in Turkey, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the United Kingdom are the three most active separatist groups in Western Europe, according to Corsun. Separatist groups are not tactically interested in U.S. targets, so the greatest danger to Americans from these groups is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Only four Marxist/Leninist terrorist groups remain in the region: the First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance (GRAPO) in Spain, the Red Army Faction (RAF) in Germany, 17 November in Greece, and Devrimci-Sol (Dev-Sol) in Turkey. The decrease in the number of Marxist/Leninist groups has resulted in a decrease in the number of attacks on U.S. businesses in the region. In 1993, only two such attacks occurred.

Eastern Europe. Senior Analyst Maria Barton addressed the three major problems facing Eastern Europe: street crime, terrorism, and ethnic tensions. Ethnic conflicts represent the greatest potential threat because they may prevent the establishment of stability in the region, according to Barton.

Street crime is a lesser concern, but it is growing. Incidents continue to rise partly due to the increase in unemployment caused by an influx of former Soviet citizens seeking opportunities in Eastern Europe.

Terrorism was not a problem in the region during the Communist era. Since 1990, however, Eastern Europe has experienced five attacks, including one bomb attack against Soviet Jewish emigres on a bus in Hungary and the attempted assassination of the Turkish Ambassador to Budapest in December 1991. Barton says that should Middle Eastern terrorist groups decide to launch a new campaign in Europe, they may choose this area.

Sub-Saharan Africa. Crime is the single greatest threat to life and property in Africa, according to ITA Senior Analyst Al Hickson. Americans are not targeted for crime because of anti-American sentiments, Hickson said, but because they are perceived as affluent in an area that faces severe food shortages and abject poverty.

The second greatest danger in the area is random violence, which includes war and civil disturbances. Terrorism has historically not been a problem for Americans traveling in Africa. This situation may change, however, because of instability in many African countries and the possibility of spillover of terrorist activities from the Middle East.

East Asia/Pacific. Overall, this is the quietest and safest area in the world, according to Senior Analyst Jim Dunne. Escalation in crime has to be watched, however, as does potential growth in Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. The two most important countries to watch in this region are China and North Korea, which are engaged in weapons export without regard to who the buyers are or why they want the weapons. …

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