In its annual report, Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1992, published at the end of April 1993, the U.S. State Department stated that in 1992 the number of international terrorist incidents had fallen to a seventeen-year low. This represents the continuation of a trend that began in 1989 and, if sustained, bodes well for the future. But it hardly seems the most auspicious time to produce a book on responses to the threat of international terrorism.
In fact, there are several valid reasons for publishing such a study at this time. First, as the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993 and the apparently related plots uncovered in June 1993 demonstrate, the problem is still with us-- all over the world. Second, the "new world disorder" of the post-Cold War period has added a whole new panoply of conflicts and sources of political violence to those longstanding issues left over from the earlier era, which continue to fuel international terrorism. In short, the current downward trend is not irreversible.
The third and final point is that we may benefit from both the reduced threat and the distance in time from the worst years by trying to gain a sense of perspective on that period. As this book sets out to demonstrate, academic research on terrorism has matured to the point where it can contribute to such understanding. If we utilize the present wisely, to learn from experience, we might better prepare ourselves for the next time international terrorism challenges the security and liberty of democratic states. And that is a sound reason for this book at this time.