U.S. releases annual report on global terrorism
The State Department on Thursday released its annual report on terrorism and counter-terrorism in countries around the world. Its central conclusion: the core al-Qaeda group located in Pakistan "remained the most formidable terrorist organization targeting the U.S. homeland."
Osama bin Laden's group suffered "several significant setbacks" in 2009, including the loss of leaders, increased pressure from the Pakistani military, and declining prestige in the Muslim world, according to the document.
But the organization has morphed into more of a dispersed threat, with allied groups in Yemen, Somalia and other countries, the report said.
Here are some other highlights of the report, which covers calendar year 2009:
The number of foreign fighters that transited through Syrian territory into Iraq has "decreased significantly" from "peak flows" in 2005-2007, the report said. Syria has increased border monitoring and adopted tougher screening for military-age Arab men entering the country, the report said.
The Islamic republic "remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism," the report said, providing training and funding to Hamas and Hezbollah, and weapons to the Taliban. Despite promising to promote a stable Iraq, "Iranian authorities continued to provide lethal support ... to Iraqi Shia militant groups that targeted U.S. and Iraqi forces," it said. The report also said Iran "remained unwilling to bring to justice" senior al-Qaeda members it held in detention.
The report, like last year's, uses softer language on Cuba than was the case in the past. It says there was "no evidence of direct financial support for terrorist organizations by Cuba in 2009," although its communist government continued to provide haven to members of Colombian insurgent groups and the Basque separatist organization ETA. Cuba also allowed several U.S. fugitives to live in the country, the report said.
Terrorist attacks worldwide decreased by about 6 percent in 2009 and resulting deaths dropped by around 5 percent, according to a statistical annex to the report. More than 15,700 people were killed in such attacks in 2009, it said.
UPDATE, 5:15 PM: Cuba reacted by demanding it be removed from the list of state sponsors of terror. "We categorically reject the State Department's decision to again include Cuba" on the list, said a statement from Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, director of North American affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry.
"Once again, the United States has put in doubt the seriousness of its commitment to fight international terrorism, and has maintained one of the most irrational aspects of its hostile policy toward Cuba," the statement said.
Mary Beth Sheridan
| August 5, 2010; 2:37 PM ET
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