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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 02, 2003

THE STATE DEPARTMENT GETS IT WRONG ON TERRORISM AGAIN:
“PATTERNS OF GLOBAL TERRORISM” A DISTORTED PICTURE


People seem to be reading the new annual State Department report on terrorism uncritically. They see that terrorism is (obviously) down in the U.S. compared to 2001 and stop there. See the fantastic Best of the Web doing this yesterday.

The report though is the usual State Department white washing of Arab terror. Saudi Arabia is given its annual pass as is the PA. It is reports like this (and uncritical readings of them) that have contributed to the situation we are currently in.

A main flaw of the reports stems from the fact that it does not report on all terrorism but only “international terrorism” and in some cases the nebulous “significant terrorist incidents”. The definition of "international terrorism" is not applied evenly. A panel determines which attacks were significant according to certain standards but a review of the incidents versus what went on last year what areas are important to the United States. Thus there were four times as many significant terrorist incidents in India in 2003 than in Israel.

The second chart in the introduction (note links are to general sections) reveals that there were no casualties or deaths in North America from international terrorist attacks. An Egyptian attacking the Israeli airline counter at LAX on July 4th and killing 2 people (Jews) is not considered international terrorism by State and seems to appear no where in the report (The FBI eventaully came to view the attack as terrorism). Thus you can see that how the definitions are applied make all the difference. State can report terrorism as up or down depending on it political outlook. A real picture of terrorism does not appear due to State applying its definitions inconsistently.

This same chart indicates that there were 132 deaths resulting from international attacks in 2002 in the Middle East. Later in the report section on Israel the point is made that 370 persons were killed in 2002 by terrorists up from 200 in 2001. Why aren’t these people counted in the previously mentioned statistics? The statistical section lists casualties (injuries and fatalities) in the Middle East as having a 50% increase but indicates that international attacks are at he same level as the previous year. Perhaps the attacks have had an increasing deadliness? This is not discussed. Also note that the last chart in this section indicates that only 1440 Americans were killed (and 90 injured) in international attacks in 2001, the year including the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. This low number is obviously incorrect.

There seems to have been differing views regarding HAMAS by the people writing the report - here are two discriptions from different sections of the report. The truth seems to lie with the first (which seems to be purposely worded to attack the second description):

a) "HAMAS’s bombing of a cafeteria on the Hebrew University campus, which killed nine, including five US citizens, demonstrated its willingness to stage operations in areas frequented by Westerners, including US citizens. "

b) "The group [HAMAS] has not targeted US interests—although some US citizens have been killed in HAMAS operations—and continues to confine its attacks to Israelis inside Israel and the territories. "

Here is an interesting inconsistency in the report dealing with the Passover Attack lin Israel last year. The attack is mentioned three times in the report. Here are the descriptions. The attack took place during a ceremonial religious meal. Notice the different fatality numbers.

1) "On 27 March, a HAMAS homicide bomber entered the crowded restaurant of a hotel in Netanya, Israel, and detonated a bomb, killing 22 persons, including one US citizen, Hannah Rogen."

2) "HAMAS was particularly active, carrying out over 50 attacks, including shootings, suicide bombings, and standoff mortar-and-rocket attacks against civilian and military targets. The group was responsible for the most deadly Palestinian terrorist attack of the year—the suicide bombing of a Passover gathering at a Netanya hotel that killed 29 Israelis, including one dual US-Israeli citizen."

3) "In Netanya, a suicide bomber entered the crowded restaurant of a hotel and detonated the explosive device he was wearing, killing 22 persons including one US citizen and wounding 140 others. The Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) claimed responsibility."

I guess different people at State have different levels of sympathy for the victims and Israel. I have not added up the numbers, but based on the way the report is laid out, State most likely used the incorrect lower fatality number in calculating its statistics.

I have not thoroughly read the report. I am sure a closer reading will turn up other issues.