U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
1996 APRIL: PATTERNS OF GLOBAL TERRORISM, 1995
Office of the Secretary
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Philip C. Wilcox, Jr.
Acts of international terrorism in 51 countries in 1995 continued to
threaten civil society and peacemaking, including the Israeli-
Palestinian peace process, while international cooperation to combat
terrorism intensified. Terrorists failed to achieve ultimate political
goals, as in the past, but they continued to cause major political,
psychological, and economic damage.
Lethal acts of international terrorism and the number of deaths declined
in 1995, but a gas attack in Japan raised the spectre of mass casualties
by chemical terrorism. Except for Iran, which actively continued to
support terrorism in 1995, international pressure and sanctions largely
contained terrorism by other state sponsors such as Libya and Iraq.
Furthermore, individual and group-sponsored terrorist acts overshadowed
state-sponsored terrorism. Many of these terrorists - some loosely
organized and some representing groups - claimed to act for Islam and
operated, increasingly, on a global scale. These transnational
terrorists benefit from modern communications and transportation, have
global sources of funding, are knowledgeable about modern explosives and
weapons, and are more difficult to track and apprehend than members of
the old established groups or those sponsored by states. Many of these
transnational terrorists were trained in militant camps in Afghanistan
or are veterans of the Afghan war. In 1995 a conspiracy discovered in
the Philippines to bomb US airliners over the Pacific and led by the
suspected mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, exemplified this
kind of transnational terrorism.
Terrorism by extremist individuals or groups claiming to act for
religious motives continued to dominate international terrorism in 1995.
In Israel new suicide bombings by radical Islamic Palestinians and the
assassination of Prime Minister Rabin by a Jewish Israeli extremist
continued previous efforts by terrorists to derail the peace process.
Islamic extremists also waged a series of terrorist acts in Egypt,
France, Algeria, and Pakistan.
Ethnic-based terrorism also continued in 1995. The Kurdish group, the
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), pressed its terrorist campaign in Turkey
and Western Europe. Terrorist attacks or threats erupted in the
Caucasus, and Tamil separatists used terrorism to advance their cause in
One of the most chilling terrorist acts of the year was the gas attack
on the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult, indicating that terrorism
involving materials of mass destruction is now a reality.
Hostage taking continued to be a major form of terrorist activity,
especially in countries like Colombia, where terrorists often have been
able to extort ransom payments.
This report describes attacks of international terrorism by country and
region and patterns that can be derived from these attacks. It comments
on, but does not provide details on, domestic terrorism and other forms
of political violence. These are more widespread phenomena than
international terrorism, which involve citizens or property of more than
The United States believes that implementing a strict counterterrorist
policy is the best way to reduce the global terrorist threat. US policy
follows three general rules:
Nations around the world are working together increasingly to fight
terrorism through law enforcement cooperation. Several governments
turned over major terrorists to US authorities for prosecution in 1995,
including the reputed mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing,
Ramzi Ahmed Yousef. Some of Yousef's suspected gang members also were
apprehended by other governments and extradited or rendered to US
- First, make no deals with terrorists or submit to blackmail. We have
found over the years that this policy works.
- Second, treat terrorists as criminals, pursue them aggressively, and
apply the rule of law.
- Third, bring maximum pressure on states that sponsor and support
terrorists by imposing economic, diplomatic, and political sanctions and
by urging other states to do likewise.
Another major victory for the rule of law occurred in October, when a US
court convicted Umar Abd al-Rahman and nine codefendants of conspiring
to wage a war of urban terrorism against the United States.
Several multilateral conferences on counterterrorism in 1995 were a sign
of recognition that international cooperation against terrorists is
critical. Argentina, for example, convened a regional ministerial
meeting on counterterrorism in August in the wake of two major car
bombings in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994. Senior officials from Chile,
Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, the United States, and the host nation
discussed practical measures against the threat posed in the region.
The Group of Seven plus Russia also held an unprecedented
counterterrorist conference at the ministerial level in Ottawa in
December, responding to a mandate from the heads of state at the Halifax
Summit in June. In their Declaration, the ministers of the G-7 and
Russia pledged to take action in the following areas:
The United States, for its part, has made progress in many of these
areas. For example, the Clinton administration has sought to increase
the use of extradition as a counterterrorist tool. We are engaged in an
active program of negotiating new and updated extradition treaties with
nations around the world. At year's end, five new extradition treaties
were pending before the US Senate for advice and consent to
ratification, and nearly 20 others were at various stages of
- Strengthening the sharing of intelligence on terrorism.
- Pursuing measures to prevent the terrorist use of nuclear, chemical,
and biological materials.
- Inhibiting the movement of terrorists.
- Enhancing measures to prevent the falsification of documents.
- Depriving terrorists of funds.
- Increasing mutual legal assistance.
- Strengthening protection of aviation, maritime, and other
transportation systems against terrorism.
- Working toward universal adherence to international treaties and
conventions on terrorism by the year 2000.
In addition, President Clinton signed an Executive Order in January 1995
blocking the assets in the United States of terrorists and terrorist
groups who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process and
prohibiting financial transactions with these groups.
President Clinton and Secretary Christopher stressed the high priority
of counterterrorist efforts in their addresses to the 50th United
Nations General Assembly in October. In his UNGA speech, President
Clinton challenged all the world's governments to negotiate and sign an
international declaration on citizen security, including a call for
enhanced cooperation on counterterrorism.
Last year, at the dedication of a memorial in Arlington National
Cemetery to commemorate those killed in 1988 in the Pan Am 103 bombing,
President Clinton said: "Today, America is more determined than ever to
stand against terrorism, to fight it, to bring terrorists to answer for
their crimes." More and more nations are demonstrating that same
determination as the international battle against terrorism gets
stronger each year.
This report is submitted in compliance with Title 22 of the United
States Code, Section 2656f(a), which requires the Department of State to
provide Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for
those countries and groups meeting the criteria of Section (a)(1) and
(2) of the Act. As required by legislation, the report includes detailed
assessments of foreign countries where significant terrorist acts
occurred and countries about which Congress was notified during the
preceding five years pursuant to Section 6(j) of the Export
Administration Act of 1979 (the so-called terrorism list countries that
have repeatedly provided state support for international terrorism). In
addition, the report includes all relevant information about the
previous year's activities of individuals, terrorist organizations, or
umbrella groups known to be responsible for the kidnapping or death of
any US citizen during the preceding five years and groups known to be
financed by state sponsors of terrorism.
No one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. For the
purposes of this report, however, we have chosen the definition of
terrorism contained in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section
2656f(d). That statute contains the following definitions:
The US Government has employed this definition of terrorism for
statistical and analytical purposes since 1983. Domestic terrorism is
probably a more widespread phenomenon than international terrorism.
Because international terrorism has a direct impact on US interests, it
is the primary focus of this report. However, the report also describes,
but does not provide statistics on, significant developments in domestic
- The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated
violence perpetrated against noncombatant(1) targets by subnational
groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
- The term "international terrorism" means terrorism involving
citizens or the territory of more than one country.
- The term "terrorist group" means any group practicing, or that has
significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism.
Adverse mention in this report of individual members of any political,
social, ethnic, religious, or national group is not meant to imply that
all members of that group are terrorists. Indeed, terrorists represent a
small minority of dedicated, often fanatical, individuals in most such
groups. It is those small groups - and their actions - that are the subject
of this report.
Furthermore, terrorist acts are part of a larger phenomenon of
politically inspired violence, and at times the line between the two can
become difficult to draw. To relate terrorist events to the larger
context, and to give a feel for the conflicts that spawn violence, this
report will discuss terrorist acts as well as other violent incidents
that are not necessarily international terrorism.
Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox, Jr.
Coordinator for Counterterrorism
(1) For purposes of this definition, the term "noncombatant" is
interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who
at the time of the incident are unarmed and/or not on duty. For example,
in past reports we have listed as terrorist incidents the murders of the
following US military personnel: Col. James Rowe, killed in Manila in
April 1989; Capt. William Nordeen, US defense attache killed in Athens
in June 1988; the two servicemen killed in the La Belle disco bombing in
West Berlin in April 1986; and the four off-duty US Embassy Marine
guards killed in a cafe in El Salvador in June 1985. We also consider as
acts of terrorism attacks on military installations or on armed military
personnel when a state of military hostilities does not exist at the
site, such as bombings against US bases in Europe, the Philippines, or