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Apr 28th, 2010


Terror Attacks Spike in Pakistan, Afghanistan

By Lolita C. Baldor

April 28, 2010

WASHINGTON — An increase in terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan triggered a sharp rise in the number of civilians killed or wounded there last year, pushing South Asia past the Middle East as the top terror region in the world, according to figures compiled by a U.S. intelligence agency.

Thousands of civilians — overwhelmingly Muslim — continue to be slaughtered in extremist attacks, contributing to the instability of the often shaky, poverty-stricken governments in the region, the statistics compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center show.

The struggling nations provide havens for terrorists who are increasingly targeting the U.S. and other Western nations. At the same time, U.S.-led operations against insurgents increased in both countries.

“The numbers, to a certain extent, are a reflection of where the enemy is re-gathering,” said Juan Zarate, a top counterterrorism official in the Bush administration who is now senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“So, to the extent we are seeing more attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it’s a reflection of resistance to U.S. policy and presence as well as a strategic shift by groups like al-Qaida and foreign jihadis to concentrate where they think they will be most effective,” he said. …

But even beyond South Asia, the overall picture of terrorism last year underscored new threats in Somalia and Yemen, where insurgents have gained strongholds in vast lawless stretches.

The terror threat to the United States is partly a function of the level of violence worldwide, said Bernard Finel, a senior fellow with the American Security Project.

“The larger the pool of extremists, the larger the risk that some will choose to attack American interests or be recruited into groups like al-Qaida with global aspirations,” he said.

While there are varied reasons for the terror trends, they partly reflect policy decisions by the Bush and Obama administrations to pull out of the gradually improving situation in Iraq and focus military and diplomatic efforts on Afghanistan and Pakistan. …

The National Counterterrorism Center statistics measure attacks against civilians. They will be released later this week in conjunction with the State Department’s annual assessment of global terrorism. …

The numbers show that nearly 7,000 civilians were killed and injured in Afghanistan terror attacks last year, a 44 percent increase over 2008. In Pakistan, more than 8,600 were killed and wounded last year, a 30 percent jump. …

Overall, the number of terror attacks in Pakistan rose from about 1,800 in 2008 to more than 1,900 attacks in 2009. Suicide bombings more than doubled between 2007 and 2009, jumping from 40 to 84.

In Afghanistan, attacks increased from more than 1,200 in 2008 to about 2,100 in 2009. Officials warned that the 2008 numbers may be a bit understated because of the difficulties in obtaining accurate reports from the war zone.

Last year, the U.S. began pouring troops into the foundering Afghan war and more forces continue to move in this year, bolstering a gradually unfolding offensive into the southern region.

——

FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — April 28, 2009

AaronLarson
U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Aaron Larson poses with his fiancée Jackie Tentinger and 2-year-old son, Anikan, as he arrives home April 17, 2009 in Slayton, Minn. (Photo credit: Justine Wettschreck — Daily Globe / Associated Press)

Wetterling Friend Shares Story

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that Staff Sgt. Aaron Larson, who as an 11-year-old boy in St. Joseph was with his best friend Jacob Wetterling when Jacob was kidnapped by a masked gunman on Sunday, Oct. 22, 1989, had returned home to Minnesota after a year-long deployment in Iraq.

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One Response to “Taking the Terror Threat Pulse”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Shame in America: Birther Trump Says:

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