Revised State Dept. terror report doubles number of casualties

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The State Department released a revised version of its annual terrorist report that determined the bloodiest region for Americans in 2003 was the Middle East.

On Tuesday, the department re-issued its "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report that showed an increase in attacks deemed terrorist during 2003. The revised study more than doubled the number of terrorist casualties found in the original version released in April 2004.

The corrected report said 35 U.S. citizens were killed in terrorist attacks in 2003. Most of the U.S. victims were in the Middle East.

The largest number of Americans killed in the Middle East were targeted by Palestinian groups, the report said. The revised report cited Palestinian attacks on Americans in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Palestinian attack that resulted in the largest number of U.S. casualties took place on Aug. 19, 2003 when five Americans were killed in a suicide bombing attack on a bus that was leaving Jerusalem's Western Wall.

The revised report also cited the killing of three U.S. embassy security guards in a bombing of their convoy north of Gaza City on Oct. 15.

The bloodiest attack on Americans in the Middle East was the multiple suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia on May 12, 2003. Nine Americans were killed when Al Qaida operatives drove car-bombs into the Riyad compound of Vinnell Corp., which has been training the Saudi National Guard.

The revised report also led to new assessments of the trend in global terrorism. U.S. officials said the increase in the number of injured in 2003 was the result of insurgency targeting of civilian facilities.

"The increase reflects the numerous indiscriminate attacks during 2003 on soft targets, such as places of worship, hotels, and commercial districts, intended to produce mass casualties," the report said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the initial report contained accounting errors by the new Terrorist Threat Incident Center. Powell said the original report issued on April 28 did not seek to present a false picture of global terrorism.

"We have spent the last two weeks going back through years and years of data, and assembling not only the data, but how were things categorized, what system was in place, so to see if we could have solid trend analysis over time," Powell said. "And we discovered gaps in the data. We discovered errors in the way the data was being added up."

The new report said 67 attacks deemed terrorist took place in the Middle East in 2003.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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