Report lauds global effort in terror war
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The response to the attacks of September 11 in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania highlight unprecedented cooperation the Bush administration shared with its allies around the world in combating terrorism, according to the State Department's annual terrorism report.
The department's Patterns of Global Terrorism report cites excellent cooperation with countries, not only in sharing intelligence to hunt terrorists and thwart terrorist plots, but also with strengthening financial controls to cut the flow of money to terrorist groups. More than 150 countries have issued orders freezing terrorist assets.
More than 1,000 arrests or detentions have been made since the September 11 attacks.
Although the investigation into the events of September 11 revealed al Qaeda operatives in many European countries, the report singles out the extraordinary efforts of its European allies in arresting many believed to be involved in the planning of the attacks.
It also hails many governments in the Middle East for "unprecedented cooperation" in the war on terrorism. However it cited the government of Lebanon and the Palestinian leadership for condoning terrorist activity against Israel.
In addition to the casualties suffered on September 11, the State Department said eight Americans were killed and 15 more wounded in other terrorist attacks.
The annual report, the first since the September 11 attacks, also noted growing U.S. concerns that terrorist groups could use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons for future attacks.
Although attempts to use these agents have involved crude and unprofessional delivery methods, there would be dire consequences if terrorist groups were to acquire sophisticated weaponry.
The State Department did not single out al Qaeda as the lone potential user of such agents. The report detailed Hamas' coating of shrapnel with poison and pesticides as an example of terrorist groups using such unconventional weapons.
Although the same seven countries listed last year as state sponsors of terrorism -- Cuba, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Iran, North Korea and Iraq -- remained on the list this year, the report said that "Sudan and Libya seem closest to understanding what they must do to get out of the terrorism business."
"Each has taken measures pointing it in the right direction," the report said. It cited Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi's statement condemning the September 11 attacks and justifying U.S. retaliation and Sudan's counterterrorism cooperation with the United States to investigate and apprehend suspected terrorists.
But the report went on to say that Libya's continued association with terrorist groups and Sudan's role as a "safe haven" for terrorists prevent those countries from shedding their "pariah status."
It said that Iran and Syria have also "in some narrow areas made limited moves" to cooperate with the international coalition against terrorism, but "seek to have it both ways" by clamping down on terrorist groups but maintaining their support for others.
South Asia was labeled as a "central point for terrorism" against the United States and its allies around the world. The report noted Pakistan's "fresh thinking" in combating terrorism, hailing President Pervez Musharraf's cooperation with the United States in its military campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The report, however, noted terrorist attacks against India by Pakistani-based militants fighting for Kashmir's independence and also said that "questions remain" whether Musharraf"s "get tough" policy against terrorists and his pledge to oppose terrorism anywhere will be implemented and sustained.
Terrorist activity in southeast Asia was also singled out in the report. Although the report said Indonesia was cited for taking some steps to combat terrorism, it noted that radical Islamic groups still operate in the country and continue to threaten U.S. interests. It said Jakarta has made little progress in arresting those responsible for terrorist activity.
The report also cites Central Asia for its cooperation in the war on terrorism and the U.S. military campaign against Afghanistan, noting that the U.S. has placed a priority on developing further counter terrorism cooperation in the region, which has been home to terrorist elements in the past.
Although Africa was hailed for condemning the September 11 attacks and many countries for taking steps to root out terrorism, international terrorist groups including al Qaeda "continue to exploit Africa's permissive operating environment," with its porous borders, many conflicts, lax financial systems and wide availability of weapons, to "expand and strengthen their networks." The report said that terrorists flourish in "failed states," such as those in Africa.
Somalia was cited in the report as a "potential breeding ground as well as safe haven for terrorist networks," because of the lack of a central government with sufficient law enforcement capabilities, Although some of the various ruling factions in Somalia have pledged cooperation with international counter terrorism networks, others are believed to have carried out terrorist activity in the past and could have links to al Qaeda.
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