Trends in Terrorism: 2006

Trends in Terrorism: 2006
Updated March 12, 2007
Raphael Perl
Specialist in International Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Trends in Terrorism: 2006
On April 28, 2006, the Department of State sent to Congress its annual report
on global terrorism: Country Reports on Global Terrorism 2005. The 262-page
report provides an annual strategic assessment of trends in terrorism and the evolving
nature of the terrorist threat, coupled with detailed information on anti-terror
cooperation by nations worldwide. The report and underlying data portray a threat
from radical Jihadists that is becoming more widespread, diffuse, and increasingly
homegrown, often with a lack of formal operational connection with al Qaeda
ideological leaders such as Osama Bin Laden or Ayman al Zawahiri.
Three trends in terrorism are identified in the Department of State report which
are independently reflected in the work of analysts elsewhere. First is the emergence
of so called “micro actors,” in part spurred by U.S. successes in isolating or killing
much of al Qaeda’s leadership. The result is an al Qaeda with a more subdued,
although arguably still significant, operational role, but assuming more of an
ideological, motivational, and propaganda role. Second is the trend toward
“sophistication”; i.e. terrorists exploiting the global flow of information, finance, and
ideas to their benefit, often through the internet. Third is an increasing overlap of
terrorist activity with international crime, which may expose the terrorists to a broad
range of law enforcement countermeasures.
The report notes an overall increase in suicide bombings, especially in Iraq,
where terror incidents accounted for almost a third of all terror incidents globally in
2005 and more than half of terror related deaths worldwide. However, some
observers suggest that much of what the report characterizes as terrorist incidents in
Iraq would be better categorized as insurgent activity and also to some degree as
criminal activity. The report suggests that active, direct, state sponsorship of terror
is declining, with the notable exceptions of Iran and perhaps to some degree Syria.
Emerging trends that may require enhanced policy focus for the 110th Congress
are (1) attacks that aim to cause economic damage such as attacks on transportation
infrastructure, tourism, and oil installations, (2) the growing number of unattributed
terrorist attacks, and (3) the growing power and influence of radical Islamist political
parties in foreign nations. Recent suggestions that al Qaeda remains operationally
active are of growing concern as well.
The State Department report suggests an immediate future with a larger number
of “smaller attacks, less meticulously planned, and local rather than transnational in
scope.” If so, some adjustment in implementation of United States anti-terror strategy
and tactics to reflect a more international law enforcement oriented approach, such
as that envisioned in the February 2003 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism,
may be warranted. As the global economic, political, and technological landscapes
evolve, data being collected to identify and track terrorism may need to change.
This report will not be updated.

Background ......................................................1
Purpose and Scope of Report.....................................1
Definition of Trends............................................1
Importance of Trends...........................................2
Reported Trends in Terrorism........................................4
2006 State Department Report....................................4
More Micro-Actors........................................5
Increased Sophistication....................................5
Overlap with International Crime.............................5
Increase in Suicide Bombings/Links between U.S. Iraqi Operations
and Global Terror......................................6
Decline in State-Sponsored Terrorism..........................6
2005 NCTC Statistical Data......................................7
Trends Reported by Other Sources................................8
Issues for the 110th Congress........................................10
Consistency/Compatibility and Significance of Data.................10
A Weakened al Qaeda?........................................10
The Rise in Influence of Radical Islamist Political Parties.............12
Adequacy of International Anti-terror Cooperation...................13
What Are the Trends Related to Schools Teaching Radical Jihadism?....13
Terror Groups Evolving into Criminal Groups......................14
Resource Allocation Between Larger and Smaller Attacks.............14
Responding to Unclaimed/Anonymous Terrorism...................15
Some Implications for U.S. Policy....................................15
For Additional Reading............................................18

Trends in Terrorism: 2006
Purpose and Scope of Report
This report summarizes and discusses trends in terrorism as identified in recent
analyses by the State Department, the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC),
and independent analysts. Potential issues for Congress arising out of these analyses
are identified and discussed as well.
This report is one of several related CRS reports discussing issues related to
trends in terrorism.1 A selection of additional CRS reports addressing terrorismth
issues of likely to be of concern to the 110 Congress is found at the conclusion of
this report.
Definition of Trends
For the purposes of this report, trends in terrorism can be defined as changes in
the type, number, and lethality of terrorist attacks (modus operandi), attitudes of
terrorist groups, and other factors, over time. Changes in terrorist infrastructure such
as those related to command and control, capabilities, recruiting, and financing are
often considered particularly meaningful. What are the capabilities of a terrorist
group to inflict serious damage? Are they increasing or decreasing? For example,
a large number of terrorist groups might be seeking to acquire a nuclear, chemical,
or biological explosive device but may lack the resources or capability to achieve this
objective and the technical expertise to employ such technology. 2 In what ways are
terrorist capabilities and expertise changing?
Relevant as well is whether the leadership of a particular terrorist group or
network is being weakened; is its recruitment base, network, or target list growing;
and is the number of defectors from its ranks increasing or decreasing? To what
degree may an organization be changing its role from an operational one to an
ideological/inspirational one? Have the intentions or ideology of a movement or
group changed and if so are they more or less radical — more or less focused on
causing widespread damage? Are they becoming increasingly involved in criminal
activities or seeking to cause violence for its own sake? Also relevant are changes
in levels of popular and government support for specific terrorist organizations.

1 CRS Report RL33160, Combating Terrorism: The Challenge of Measuring Effectiveness
and CRS Report RL32417, The Department of State’s Patterns of Global Terrorism Report:
Trends, State Sponsors, and Related Issues, both by Raphael Perl.
2 For a discussion of issues involved in measuring terrorist capabilities and government
countermeasures, see CRS Report RL33160.

Importance of Trends
Identifying trends as indicators of terrorist activity can assist policymakers in a
number of areas including (1) prioritizing counter-terror resources; (2) targeting
terrorists and terrorist activity with the intention of preventing attacks; and (3)
showing anti-terror progress where it has been achieved.
In addition to trends influencing government responses, government anti-
terrorism strategies and tactics may also affect terrorism trends.3 For example,
hardening U.S. government physical infrastructure overseas or in the United States
might cause terrorists to shift the focus of attacks to softer non-government targets,
or to employ new explosion delivery methods such as improvised explosive devices
(IEDs), or to deploy suicide bombers. Likewise, better systems to evaluate the
authenticity and content of travel entry documents at lawful U.S. ports of entry might
prompt terrorists to switch from the legal entry tactics employed by the 9/11 hijackers
to crossing the U.S. border at unsecured locations.
Trends in terrorism may also be influenced by responses perceived by terrorists
as directly related to advancing their cause or detracting from it — such as the
number of governments that embrace appeasement policies — and the amount of
media coverage the terrorists receive. A related issue is how U.S. policies and actions
affect trends in terrorists’ popular support and recruiting. Has the U.S. intervention
in Iraq, for example, led to the demotivation, detention, or killing of more terrorists
than the number of individuals it may have radicalized in areas important to U.S.
interests around the world?
Some analysts question whether the diverse nature of individual terrorists and
terrorist networks — which often seek to cultivate surprise — allows for meaningful
trend analysis. Others point out the potential pitfall of using past trends as predictors
of future activity, such as assuming that because a particular activity has not been
observed for a long period of time, there is no concomitant threat. The absence of
violent conflict or even decreases in terrorist activity may simply mean that terrorists
are focusing attention on economic, political, or social spheres, or just that they are
in a planning or “waiting period.”4 Another potential pitfall is to project trends in

3 Insight into this phenomenon comes from a media report of a document reportedly
contained on a computer chip found June 7, 2006, on the body of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the
Jordanian born al Qaeda leader in Iraq. The document is said to list a number of allied
successes against terrorist activity including massive arrests, tightening financial outlets,
confiscating weapons and ammunition, and a media campaign successful in portraying
terrorism as harmful to the population and in magnifying the terrorist’s mistakes. A need
is cited for counteractions designed to improve the image of the terrorist “resistance,”
increase its number of supporters, and exploit social, ethnic and class divisions within the
society and between it and the allies. Building the group’s own armaments industry is cited
as a revised goal as well. See “Papers Reveal Weakening Terror Group,” by Rowan
Scarborough, The Washington Times, June 16, 2006, p.1.
4 For example, in The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies
Since 9/11, Ron Suskind reports that al Qaeda’s leadership called off a planned gas attack

a linear fashion. Such projections can miss qualitative changes in modus operandi,
particularly those that move to new types of terror.
Trends are usually identified by the executive branch and independent analysts
on the basis of empirical data collected by public and private sources. As the global
economic, political, and technological landscape evolves, and as terrorists may seek
to surprise and attack through more fluid organizational structures and in innovative
ways, data being collected to identify and track terrorism may need to change. Hence,
one challenge facing the counter-terrorism community is how to facilitate
incorporation of new data indicative of new trends while maintaining the continuity
of earlier data where relevant.5 Another challenge is how to anticipate sinister trends
and prevent them before they materialize. Such anticipation, supported by accurate
intelligence, is widely regarded as central to an effective policy of deterrence and
Markedly different pictures can be presented depending on what one chooses
to include in data relating to terrorism. For example, some would argue that the Iraq
casualties — which are largely the product of sectarian violence, rampant criminal
activity, and home grown insurgency — grossly distort the global terrorism picture
and perhaps should not be attributed to terrorist activity. According to NCTC data,
outside of Iraq, the total number of incidents with ten or more deaths remained at
approximately the 2003-2004 level — 70 per year. This suggests that, excluding Iraq,
the number of higher casualty terror attacks remains relatively stable.

4 (...continued)
on the New York subway system in 2003, speculation being that it was not deemed
spectacular enough. See “Book Argues al Qaeda Planned NYC Gas Attack,” Reuters
dispatch of June 17, 2006, and book excerpt in Time, p. 27-35, June 26, 2006. Calling off
a planned attack, if true, may suggest the presence of a trend of avoiding small-to-medium
incidents in the United States — or conversely — concentrating on a mega-attack that would
dwarf the incidents of 9/11 in terms of horror, casualties and economic damage. A common
pitfall of those seeking to identify or enumerate trends is an overreliance on quantitative
indicators at the expense of their qualitative significance. For example, a single large scale
attack causing many casualties could have a major impact, far more than a dozen relatively
small attacks.
Moreover, a single qualitatively creative/different incident may prove to be the beginning
of a trend by triggering a wave of copycat follow-on terror incidents with a resultant change
in terrorists’ strategy, weapons, tactics, and targets. See for example: “Hamas Trying to
Add Toxic Chemicals to Bombs,” by Amos Harel, [], (Israeli Daily),
June 6, 2006, citing Israeli security sources.
5 An example of such efforts is the recent upgrading by the National Counter Terrorism
Center (NCTC) of its collection methodologies to support the State Department’s annual
report on terrorism and the changes in format and content of the report [currently titled:
Country Reports on Terrorism, 2005]. See CRS Report RL32417, The Department of
State’s Patterns of Global Terrorism Report: Trends, State Sponsors, and Related Issues,
by Raphael Perl.

Reported Trends in Terrorism
2006 State Department Report
On April 28, 2006, the Department of State sent to Congress its annual report
on global terrorism: Country Reports on Global Terrorism 2005. 6 Statistical data
on terrorist incidents, which form the basis for the report’s analysis, are provided by
the newly created National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC).7 The 262-page report
provides an annual strategic assessment of trends in terrorism and the evolving nature
of the terrorist threat, coupled with detailed information on anti-terror cooperation
by nations worldwide. The report focuses on trends related to: (1) state sponsors of
terrorism; (2) foreign terrorist organizations; (3) the terrorist situation in individual
countries (including those that provide safe haven for terrorists); (4) potential
terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and (5) U.S. anti-
terrorism coalition building efforts and cooperative endeavors. Within its discussion
of policies intended to shape trends in a desired direction, the report emphasizes
building international will and capacity for counterterrorism, including the issue of
countering terrorism on the economic front.
The report and underlying data portray a threat from radical Jihadists which is
becoming more widespread, diffuse, possibly more deadly, and increasingly
homegrown, often with a lack of apparent formal operational connection with al
Qaeda ideological leaders although perhaps inspired by them or assisted through
training. This homegrown phenomenon of looser, and more local, networks was
manifest in the May 2003 restaurant, hotel, and Jewish cultural center bombings in
Morocco; the 2004 attacks on Madrid’s trains; the July 7 and July 21, 2005 terrorist
attacks on London’s transit system; and more recently — after the report’s release —
in the June 2, 2006, arrests of 12 men and 5 juveniles in Ontario, Canada on bombing
conspiracy-related charges.8 This emergence of a global-homegrown terror movement
has lent itself to the characterization of terrorism as a “glocal” phenomenon.
Five major trends in the evolution of terrorism are included in the State
Department report:

6 [] See also: testimony of John Scott Redd,
Director, National Counterterrorism Center, and testimony of Henry A. Crumpton,
Coordinator for Counterterrorism before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a
hearing on “Counterterrorism: The Changing Face of Terror,” June 13, 2006.
7 []
8 Canadian officials have stated that the majority of those arrested in the June 2nd operation
were native born Canadians. Note, however, that some experts, such as Peter Bergen and
Alexis Debat, think there was some Ayman Al Zawahari involvement in the London train
attacks — such as training of the bomb makers and perhaps in the Madrid attacks as well.
See Bergen article cited in note 27 below. See also: “Al Qaeda Video Emerges on Eve of
Anniversary” by Alan Cowell, New York Times, July 6, 2006, suggesting al Qaeda sought
to be associated with the July 2005 train and bus bombings.

More Micro-Actors. The report depicts the emergence of micro-actors as
having been spurred by the widespread use of the internet, militant preachers and the
impact of Arabic language television, coupled with U.S. and allied successes in
capturing, isolating, and killing much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan,
thereby reducing its centralized command and control capability. The result,
according to the report, is an al Qaeda seen to be assuming more of an ideological,9
motivational, propaganda role, and a reduced operational role.
The report views the operational component of the movement as increasingly
being assumed by small autonomous cells and individuals — often homegrown with
a resultant diversity in identity profiles, structures, motives, and tactics. Such
operational cells may be new to the terrorism landscape, may be technologically
savvy and small, decentralized, and without regular communication with other
groups or cells.10 These characteristics make their actions extremely difficult to detect
or counter. As a result, according to the report, a growing percentage of future
terrorist attacks may be carried out by micro-actors using traditional bombs and
bullets rather than more lethal weapons.
Increased Sophistication. Increasingly, according to the report, terrorists
are seen as exploiting the global movement of information, finance, and ideas to their
benefit. They are also seen as improving their technological sophistication across
many areas of operational planning, communications, targeting, and propaganda.11
According to some observers, terrorism has become a “web directed” phenomenon.12
Overlap with International Crime. The report describes a growing overlap
between terrorism and international crime. Such a trend, to the extent that terrorists
do indeed use the same supply, transport, and money-moving networks used by
criminal groups, creates a major vulnerability that can be exploited by law
enforcement authorities: the more terrorists engage in non-terror forms of criminal
activity, the more likely they are to show up on the law enforcement radar screen and

9 See CRS Report RL32759, Al Qaeda: Statements and Evolving Ideology by Christopher
M. Blanchard.
10 This lack of regular communication should not be construed as implying that such
relationships are necessarily casual.
11 Many experts are concerned about the vulnerability of global infrastructures to attacks
by cyber-terrorists. See CRS Report RL32114, Computer Attack and Cyberterrorism:
Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress, by Clay Wilson. Some speculate that al
Qaeda-linked terrorists attach numerological significance to the selection of dates for terror
attacks. For example, some suggest one possibility would be that a massive cyber-attack
might occur on the date 4/11, the phone number commonly dialed for information. For a
discussion of the overall issue of technology and terrorism, see “The Future of Terrorism”
by the editors of Discover, v. 27, No.7, July 2006, p. 32-42,76.
12 See for example: “Terrorists Turn to the Web as Base of Operations” by Steve Coll and
Susan B. Glasser, Washington Post, Aug.7, 2005, p. A1 and Terror on the Internet: The New
Arena, the New Challenges by Gabriel Weimann, United States Institute for Peace
(Washington, D.C.) 2006, 309 p.

the more likely they are to be subject to arrest and prosecution under a far reaching
umbrella of general criminal statutes and more specific terror related laws as well.13
Increase in Suicide Bombings/Links between U.S. Iraqi Operations14
and Global Terror. Also cited in the report are an increase in suicide bombings,
and a strong connection between the ongoing unrest in Iraq and the broader war on
terrorism. Terror incidents in Iraq, according to the report, accounted for almost a
third of all terror incidents globally in 2005 and more than half of all the terror
related deaths worldwide. There is concern that Iraq will become an exporter of
seasoned terrorists, weapons, and shared tactics — especially the use of improvised
explosive devices (IEDs) with “spillover” not only into the neighboring Gulf nations,
but to Europe and other regions as well.15
Decline in State-Sponsored Terrorism.16 Aside from Iran, and perhaps
to some degree Syria, the report suggests that, with a few notable exceptions, active
state sponsorship of terror is declining. The report continues to list Iran as the most
active state sponsor of terrorism.17 As in previous years, Syria is cited for providing
political and material support (presumably weapons) to both Hizballah and
Palestinian terrorist groups, which also enjoy sanctuary in Syria. Cuba and North
Korea are primarily cited for lack of anti-terror cooperation and past involvement in
terrorist incidents thereby possibly suggesting a trend of less active support for
terrorism than in previous decades.

13 Reportedly, criminal activity financed, in part, the 2004 Madrid bombings (drug
trafficking) and the 2005 London bombings (credit card fraud).
14 Although the total number of suicide bombings increased in 2005, is not fully clear that
the ratio of suicide bombings to other forms of attacks has increased concomitantly.
15 NCTC data indicate that Iraq accounted for almost 30% of worldwide terrorist attacks
in 2005, and 55% of the fatalities. Moreover, attacks on non-combatants in Iraq also
increased significantly last year.
16 Nations on the State Department’s legislatively mandated list of state sponsors of
terrorism are Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Libya was certified by the
Secretary of State as being eligible for removal from the list on May 12, 2006. See
Presidential Determination No. 2006-14, May 12, 2006, which went into effect June 28,

2006. []

17 As in preceding years, the report cites Iran as the most active state supporter of terrorism
and states that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Intelligence and
Security were directly involved in the planning and execution of terrorist acts. That included
providing Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups with extensive funding,
training and weapons. The Revolutionary Guard, it is asserted, was increasingly involved
in supplying “lethal assistance” to Iraqi militant groups with the effect of destabilizing Iraq.
Also addressed was Iran’s continued development of a nuclear program and that Iran is “also
capable of producing biological and chemical agents or weapons.” Iran, the report states,
“could support terrorist organizations seeking to acquire WMD.” The report does not
specifically address growing concerns among some experts that Iran might use surrogate
organizations with broad networks, e.g. Hizballah, as delivery vehicles for dirty bombs for
the enriched radioactive material generated by its “nuclear research.” The report also does
not discuss Iran’s allegedly active role in training and equipping insurgents in Iraq. See June

22, 2006, Press Conference of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield.

The report says that the Saudi Government “carried out numerous operations
resulting in the capture or killing of all 26 wanted terrorists publicized in a December
2003 state announcement.” The report cites close cooperation with Pakistan’s
security services and notes that Pakistan “captured or killed hundreds of terrorists,
significantly increasing the effectiveness of its counterterrorism operation,” and
stresses that President Musharraf has declared a “Jihad on extremism” and promised
to close down extremist institutions. Some observers might argue, however, that the
report tends to mute criticism of nations of strategic importance to the United States,
such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, that arguably could do much more to curb
Echoing language of previous years’ versions of the report, the 2006 edition
states that Libya and Sudan “continued to take significant steps to cooperate in the
global war on terror.” Although specific examples of cooperation are cited for each
of the two nations, the report — which was drafted and went to press early in 2006
— otherwise contained little to support speculation that Libya would be
subsequently proposed for removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of
international terrorism.
2005 NCTC Statistical Data
Beginning with data collected in 2005, the NCTC substantially revised its
methodology for reporting incidents and increased the priority and number of
personnel assigned to compiling data on terrorism incidents and trends, leading to
what Administration officials characterize as more accurate and comprehensive
reporting. These methodological changes contributed to a significant increase in the
reported number of terrorism incidents.18
Data released by the NCTC concurrently with the Department of State’s 2006
terror report indicate the following:
In 2005, the NCTC lists roughly 40,000 individuals wounded or killed in
terrorist incidents as compared to 9,300 the previous year and 4,271 in 2003.
Reported terror-related deaths in 2005 numbered 14,602 as compared to 1,907 deaths
in 2004 and 625 in 2003. The report placed the number of total reported terrorist
attacks in 2005 at 11,111 as compared to 3,168 in 2004 and 208 in 2003. Foiled
attacks are not included in the data reported.
Other highlights of the NCTC’s data include:

18 See for example: “Terrorists Killed More than 14,500 People in 2005, Report Says,”
Bloomberg, April 28, 2006, citing public comments by Russell Travers, a Deputy Director
at the NCTC. Note that NCTC data come from a variety of open and closed sources both
U.S. and foreign, public sector and private sector/academia, including efforts at rigorous
tracking of incidents by U.S. Embassy personnel stationed overseas. However, it has always
been difficult to pin down details of attacks in villages in rural areas such as those of Algeria
or Egypt, for example, where the press and local government reporting of incidents may be
incomplete and sketchy.

!armed attacks and bombings accounted for the vast majority of
fatalities in 2005.
!of the 11,111 attacks reported, 6,000 or roughly 54%, were against
facilities and resulted in no casualties.
!of the approximately 40,000 persons worldwide killed or wounded — at
least 10 to 15 thousand were Muslim with approximately 80 mosques
being attacked, in most cases by Muslim extremists, with a high
percentage of these incidents occurring in Iraq.
!approximately 6,600 police, 1000 children, 300 government officials,
170 clergy/religious figures, 140 teachers, and 100 journalists were killed
or wounded by terrorists in 2005.
Trends Reported by Other Sources
Trends in terrorist activity have been the subject of analysis by many other
organizations and analysts. In many instances, such independent analysis is consistent
with the trends identified by the State Department in its recent report. In some
instances, the emergence of additional trends is also suggested. For example, a 2006
report by the Netherlands Central Intelligence and Security Services cites trends of:
!increasing home grown terrorism;
!decentralization and implantation of international jihad;
!radicalization and emergence of local networks and;
!incitement of jihad through the internet — to include self-
radicalization, possibly of lone operating terrorists.19
A multi-authored 2005 study by the RAND Corporation finds:
!increased focus on soft civilian-focused targets;
!ongoing emphasis on economic attacks; 20
!continued reliance on suicide attacks;
!a desire to attack with WMD but little ability to execute attacks;
!more homegrown attacks and;

19 Violent Jihad in the Netherlands: Current Trends in the Islamist Terrorist Threat,
[ ihad%20 i n % 2 0 t h e % 2 0 N e t h e r l a nds%202006_
20 When discussing attacks aimed to cause economic damage, analysts often cite as examples
attacks on oil related targets such as planned attacks on Saudi oil installations in February
and March 2006, the October 2002 attack on the French supertanker, Limberg, in the Straits
of Hormuz off the Yemeni coast, and a likelihood of future attacks on oil installations in the
Persian Gulf and possibly in Nigeria. Also notable and well documented are attacks aimed
at damaging tourism (e.g. Bali, Luxor) and those disrupting transportation infrastructure
(Madrid, London, and plots foiled in July 2006 reportedly aimed at the Holland tunnel in
New York).

!the possibility of future attacks from the far right, anarchists, and
radical environmentalists.21
Trends noted by others include
!decreases in the average age of terrorist recruits;
!greater organizational/operational roles for women and non-
!potentially more terrorist acts rooted in a “backlash” against the
impact of globalization;
!more near-simultaneous coordinated attacks with follow-up attacks
on first responders;
!potentially wider use by criminals of terrorist-type tactics;
!more terrorists acts that remain unclaimed by those committing
them; and
!an overall rise in the number of terrorist attacks, potentially
encompassing acts rooted in a variety of causes and committed by a
growing diversity of groups and individuals.22
Some of the core “terrorism-enabling” factors that these sources view as
contributing to and facilitating many of the trends highlighted by the Department of
State and others include:
!Weak legal and law enforcement systems in some countries that
enable terrorist and criminal networks to operate with relative ease;
!Expanded, instant, and often relatively anonymous or secure
communications and networking channels offered to terrorists by the
Internet;23 and
!The potential for “spillover” of battlefield skills, technology and
ordnance from Iraq.

21 Trends in Terrorism, Threats to the United States and the Future of the Terrorism Risk
Insurance Act , by Peter Chalk et al, RAND, Center for Terrorism and Risk Management
Policy, 2005.
22 See the 2005 Princeton Colloquium on Public and International Affairs, “Rethinking the
War on Terrorism,” June 19, 2005. [
=com_content&task=view&id=21&It emid=11].
23 See “Jihad 2.0” by Nadya Labi, Atlantic Monthly, July/Aug. 2006, v.297, No.6, p. 102-

108. Note that intelligence sources suggest there are some 4,500 terrorist-affiliated websites,

not necessarily all operative. See also Terror on the Internet: The New Arena, the New
Challenges, by Gabriel Weimann, United States Institute for Peace, (Washington, D.C.)

2006, 309 p.

Issues for the 110th Congress
Consistency/Compatibility and Significance of Data
One important issue raised by the Department of State report is whether data
released by the NCTC concomitantly with the 2006 terror report can be used to
support categorical assessments of trends in terrorist activity, since both the
methodology for compiling such data and the resources devoted to the data have
significantly changed over time.24 Others might argue that in a long-term struggle
against terror it may not be critical whether terrorist incidents are up or down within
a particular time-frame. In the view of these observers, what might be more critical
is the need to recognize that terror remains an evolving widespread, ongoing, deadly,
and sustained threat that must be addressed on many fronts, and even if the data
should indicate downturns in terrorist incidents, policymakers need to beware a false
sense of complacency or victory.
A Weakened al Qaeda?
A controversial and politically volatile issue raised by the Department of State
report is to what extent al Qaeda has been weakened operationally in the wake of
capture and killing of a substantial number of its leaders and operatives.25 The

24 The NCTC uses a definition of terrorism for its 2005 data collection that is significantly
broader and includes acts of terror which formerly might have been excluded because they
were not considered truly international or that may have previously been excluded because
the victims might have not have been defined as non-combatants. See NCTC: Report on
Incidents of Terrorism, 2005, and NCTC: Country Reports on Terrorism 2005, Statistical
Annex. The revised/broader definition of terrorism used by the NCTC is “premeditated,
politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets.” In past years, the
report did not attempt to fully tally terrorist attacks that killed only the citizens of the
country in which the attack took place. This was partly due to difficulties with the resources
available to obtain accurate information on attacks that occurred in rural areas of some
countries or where the United States did not see itself directly affected by the violence.
However some observers argue that this resulted in not providing a sufficiently full picture
of the terrorist situation, especially when a major attack might have had important political
consequences, such as affecting peace talks or other developments.
In conjunction with the release of the 2006 State Department report, Rep. Henry A.
Waxman, ranking minority member of the House Government Reform Committee, released
a 4-page critique titled “The Bush Administration’s Data on Global Terrorism in 2005,”
which expressed concerns about the meaning of the upsurge in incidents and the role of Iraq
in the upswing.
25 Note that in many ways this is evidence of success in implementing the priorities set by
the September 2002, National Security Strategy of the United States, which states: “Our
priority will be first to disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations of global reach and attack
their leadership; command, control, and communications; material support; and finances.”
[ h t t p : / / www.whi t e house.go v/ nsc/ ml ] .
Contrast the new March 2006 National Security Strategy of the United States, which

common perception, correct or not, is that al Qaeda’s command and control
capabilities have been weakened to the point that the network is unwilling or unable
to conduct operations, thereby prompting an evolution in al Qaeda’s role to one of
ideological inspiration and guidance. An alternate perspective is that a resilient and
adaptive al Qaeda is planning the next mega-attack(s) and not wanting to get
involved on the operational level in smaller scale attacks until execution of its next
major operation.26 Under such a mindset, involvement in operations before the next
mega-attack is simply not a goal — topping the destruction and economic damage
of 9/11 is. Moreover, the terrorists may calculate that operational involvement prior
to the next mega-attack could compromise both the mega-attack and the organization
as well, a risk they may not want to take.27 An exception however, would appear to
be ongoing operational engagement in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.

25 (...continued)
emphasizes that terrorism remains a global threat because of transnational inspiration,
diffusion of tactics, and localized cells that require short-term and long-term responses:
“Terrorist networks today are more dispersed and less centralized. They are more reliant on
smaller cells inspired by a common ideology and less directed by a central command
structure... From the beginning, the War on Terror has been both a battle of arms and a
battle of ideas — a fight against the terrorists and against their murderous ideology. In the
short run, the fight involves using military force and other instruments of national power to
kill or capture the terrorists, deny them safe haven or control of any nation; prevent them
from gaining access to WMD; and cut off their sources of support. In the long run, winning
the war on terror means winning the battle of ideas, for it is ideas that can turn the
disenchanted into murderers willing to kill innocent victims.”
[ ht t p: / / www.whi t e nsc/ nss/ 2006/ sect i onIII. h t ml ] .
26 See for example: “Al-Qaeda Still in Business” by Peter Bergen, Washington Post, July
2, 2006, p.B1. Historical data appear to indicate that al Qaeda has an established pattern of
lying low between large-scale attacks as reflected by seemingly inactive periods between
terror incidents in the 1990’s. According to terrorism analyst Alexis Debat: “Al Qaeda’s
leadership has never made empty threats, which suggests that, while on the run, it is still
connected to its “‘foot soldiers.” From Bin Laden’s call on attacking the West in 2002 ....
to Ayman al Zawahiri’s condemnation of Pervez Musharraf in 2003, which led to two
unsuccessful assassination attempts on the Pakistani president, it seems that every warning
formulated in these tapes was followed by action. There is also some evidence that the
leaders of Al Qaeda remain in close touch with their “operational commanders.” The
interrogation of one of them, Abu Faraj al Libbi, shortly after his arrest in March 2005,
established that he was in regular, if indirect, touch with Ayman al Zawahiri. Moreover,
Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News that one of the suicide bombers in the July 7,
2005 terrorist attacks in London, personally spent three days with Ayman al Zawahiri in
Pakistan’s tribal areas in January 2005. See [], January 2006 Terrorism
column under the title “Al Qaeda Social Club.” See also: Comments of Peter Bergen that
“al Qaeda is not feeling the heat of the war on terror,” CNN 360 Degree Report: “Ticking
Time Bomb” by Anderson Cooper, July 6, 2006.
27 For example, if one gives credence to reporting in the One Percent Doctrine, op. cit.
(footnote 4), the al Qaeda leadership was both quite informed about plans in 2003 to release
hydrogen cyanide gas in the New York subway system and quite capable of calling it off,
arguably because some future mega-attack — designed to top that of 9/11 — was in the

The Rise in Influence of Radical Islamist Political Parties
One trend that some observers view as not sufficiently emphasized in the State
Department report is the overall growth in numbers and political influence of radical
Islamist fundamentalist political parties throughout the world, some of which
reportedly serve — or might serve — as fronts for terrorist activity. Even if not
actively serving as fronts for terrorist activity, some are concerned that the actions
and agendas of such groups could facilitate creation of a political climate in their
home countries which views terrorism as a politically acceptable tactic and which
might make their home countries appear as an attractive location for active terrorist
groups to establish a secure base. Examples of such groups cited by scholars and the
media include the Justice and Prosperity Party and the Mujaheddin Council (MMI)
in Indonesia, the Party Islam in Malaysia, and more recently the Islamic Courts Union
which, as of the writing of this report, controlled much of southern Somalia.28
Groups in Pakistan are notable as well, especially the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal
(MMA or United Action Forum) and another long-standing Islamist party, the Jamiat
Ulema-i-Islam faction led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F).29

28 This is not to say that the State Department report does not address such groups
individually. At issue here is the collective synergy and impact generated by the activities
of such groups and any trends indicative of the growth or decline of such synergy. See for
example: “Radical Islamic Strain Clouds the Tolerance Displayed by Indonesia,” by
Timothy Mapes and Andrew Higgins, Asian Wall Street Journal, Feb 25, 2005, p. A1. See
also: “Indonesian Islamic Party Reaps Rewards of Goodwill” by Ellen Nakashima,
Washington Post, Jan. 14, 2005, p. A13. See also: “Spread of Islamic Law in Indonesia
Takes Toll on Women” by Jane Perlez, New York Times, June 27, 2006, p. A6; and “Out
of the Woodwork: Islamist Militants in Aceh” by Zachary Abuza, research paper published
Jan. 13, 2004. Note that the phenomenon of radical Islamist fundamentalist political parties,
or like minded democratically elected representatives, is by no means limited to Indonesia
and Malaysia.
For background on the Islamic Courts Union and U.S. concerns see “U.S. Puzzled by
Changing Political Landscape in Somalia” by Michelle Kelemen, National Public Radio,
Morning Edition, July 13, 2006. See also: “Q&A: Somali Islamist Advance,” BBC News
(international version) June 28, 2006 (17:01GMT).
29 See CRS Report RL33498, Pakistan-U.S. Relations and CRS Report RL32615, Pakistan’s
Domestic Political Developments, both by Alan Kronstadt.
The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA or United Action Forum) is a loose coalition of six
Islamist parties formed for the 2002 elections. Its largest constituent is the Jamaat-i-Islami
(JI), founded by Maulana Maududi in 1941 and considered to be Pakistan’s best-organized
religious party. JI chief Qazi Hussein Ahmed serves as MMA president. Another long-
standing Islamist party is the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam faction led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman
(JUI-F). The JUI is associated with religious schools that gave rise to the Afghan Taliban
movement. In addition to promoting a central role for religion in Pakistani affairs, Islamists
have been opposed to Westernization in both its capitalist and socialist forms. The
leadership of the MMA’s two main constituents — the Jamaat-i-Islami’s (JI) Qazi Hussein
Ahmed and the Jamiat-Ulema-Islami (JUI)-Fazlur’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman — are notable
for their sometimes virulent anti-American rhetoric; they have at times called for “jihad”
against what they view as the existential threat to Pakistani sovereignty that alliance with

Additional examples of the success of terror linked political groups include (1)
the Hizballah political party in Lebanon with 14 elected representatives in the
National Assembly as well as two ministers in the Government; and (2) the popularly
elected Hamas-led legislature of the Palestinian Authority, which won by a landslide
in January 2006, giving the party control of the governing Palestinian National
Authority. Any rise in the power and influence of terror-linked or terror-supportive
political parties — especially should their representatives be elected through
democratic processes — presents major policy dilemmas for the United States, since
it pits U.S. support for democracy directly against America’s commitment to
aggressively combat terrorism.
Adequacy of International Anti-terror Cooperation
Another potential issue related to the State Department report involves the
adequacy of international anti-terrorism cooperation, an avowed core component of
U.S. anti-terror strategy. Whereas the State Department’s Country Reports on
Terrorism report provides substantive in-depth data and analysis on levels of anti-
terrorism cooperation with individual countries on an individual basis, as well as
cooperative efforts underway using international or regional organizations, some
argue that it does not collectively link such levels of cooperation — or lack thereof
— to any overall trend or trends. In the aggregate, are levels of foreign nation
support or “buy-in” for U.S. counter-terror policy and programs increasing or
decreasing? Critics suggest any effort to plot trends in international cooperation
would be quite speculative and prone to stress quantitative factors, such as the
number of countries meeting certain cooperative levels, rather than the relative
importance of each country’s cooperation to United States strategic goals and
What Are the Trends Related to Schools Teaching Radical
Schools for youth in countries where there is teaching of radical Jihadism and
affiliated intolerance and hatred may serve as a breeding ground for terrorist ideology
and pro-terrorist sentiment. Madrasas, religious schools often backed by Saudi
money, are often perceived to encourage militancy and are a particular concern in

29 (...continued)
Washington entails.
The May 2004 elevation of Jamiat-Ulema-Islami chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to the
position of Leader of the Opposition in Parliament spurred commentary that the “mullah-
military alliance” had become a “Musharraf-Maulana alliance,” further marginalizing
Pakistan’s more secular opposition parties. JUI leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman reportedly
said he considers Americans to be “criminals” and the Taliban “innocent” See; “MMA
Opposes Pak-US Military Drive,” News (Karachi), June 24, 2003. See also: “Battle Ground:
Despite U.S. Efforts, Pakistan Remains Key Terror Hub...” by Jay Solomon et al, Wall
Street Journal, July 22, 2005, p.A1.

Pakistan, especially in areas along the Afghanistan border.30 Therefore, it would
seem important to have a better understanding of trends concerning these schools and
their curricula.
Terror Groups Evolving into Criminal Groups
The overlap of terrorist activity with international crime presented by the
Department of State’s report suggests yet another challenge for consideration: To
what degree, if at all, will terrorist organizations increasingly morph into criminal
networks motivated by profit rather than ideology. It might be, at some later point in
time, some terrorist groups would shy away from terrorism which is generally not
considered good for criminal business activity. This is in line with thinking that
engaging in criminal activity — especially the lucrative illicit drug trade — can
become self-perpetuating as such criminal activity often becomes institutionalized
making it difficult for groups to disengage themselves. 31 A classic example involves
the so-called Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) which initially
provided hired protection to coca leaf growers and processors and subsequently
moved into coca cultivation and processing. Notwithstanding, a more likely scenario
appears to be that micro-terror actors will remain terror focused, but will increasingly
turn to crime to finance terror.
Resource Allocation Between Larger and Smaller Attacks
Both the Department of State’s trend analysis and that of non-government
specialists paint a picture of Jihadist-inspired terror groups consumed by the desire
to inflict major physical and economic damage with little ideological or moral
constraints on mass casualty attacks. Some in these groups appear to be actively
seeking the material, technology, and skills to carry out such attacks and, indeed, may
already possess them. On the other hand, the number of day-to-day “low-tech” terror
attacks using more traditional bombs and bullets appears to be dramatically rising in
frequency and cannot be downplayed.
This situation might pose a challenge in allocating resources. Should anti-
terrorism efforts and resources worldwide concentrate on preventing or mitigating
the growing phenomenon of day-to-day relatively low impact and low casualty
terrorist attacks, or should they concentrate on preventing or mitigating possible
catastrophic damage mass-casualty attacks on a scale heretofore not experienced, but
which may not be imminent? Are there measures which could negatively impact on
both types of terrorist interest and activity?

30 See “Pakistani Religious Schools Face Scrutiny,” by Riaz Khan, AP dispatch of July 19,

2005 (07:13 GMT).

31 See “Narco-Terrorism: International Drug Trafficking and Terrorism — a Dangerous
Mix,” testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, May 20, 2003. For a legal
framework for countering such terror/crime activity see “The Legal Basis for
Counterterrorism Activities In the United States,” by Raphael Perl, in Hi-Impact Terrorism:
Proceedings of a Russian American Workshop, National Research Council, National
Academies Press (Washington, DC 2002), p. 5-15.

Responding to Unclaimed/Anonymous Terrorism
Another potential issue is how to respond to the growing number of terrorist
attacks that are unattributed, or claimed in a manner in which the true identity of their
perpetrators is masked. Such a trend might suggest that increasingly the goal of
terrorist attacks is to inflict as much damage on the enemy as possible without linking
attacks to specific goals, such as the release of prisoners, and with little importance
given to gaining publicity for the specific group inflicting the damage. Terrorists may
believe that recruitment and popular support for terrorism will increase after each
successful attack, and that it is relatively immaterial for the perpetrating group to
publically identify itself. Moreover, not revealing — or masking — the real identity
of the perpetrating group makes it more difficult for law enforcement or retaliatory
operations to effectively target them.
In some instances it may not even be possible to determine if a particular event
is an act of terror. For example, is a particular train wreck, an explosion at a
chemical plant, a forest fire, an increase in computer viruses, or an outbreak of BSE
or West Nile virus, the result of negligence, an act of terror or an act of God?
Although there may not yet be sufficient data to confirm such a trend towards
anonymous terror attacks, some homed in on the phenomenon of “stealth terrorism”
as early as June of 1991 when it was discussed at a joint American Academy of
Science/Russian Academy of Science workshop on high-impact terrorism.32 More
recently, research conducted by the National Journal, which was largely based on
State Department data, found that in 2001 about 20% of the attacks in the
government’s database were not claimed by any terrorist organization; in 2002, it was
40%; in 2003, it was slightly more than half; and in 2004, more than 70% of attacks
carried no claim of responsibility.33 If validated, such a trend would have a direct
impact on anti-terror policies, since current doctrines of deterrence of, and retaliation
for, terrorist acts are predicated on: (1) identifying acts of terrorism and (2)
identifying those who commit them.
Some Implications for U.S. Policy
Looking at NCTC data in the aggregate, one might reasonably conclude that
terrorists are becoming less constrained and more indiscriminate in their targeting,
thereby inflicting casualties on a broader range of potential targets and victims.

32 See “Terrorism Future: Tactics, Strategy, and Stealth,” by Peter Probst in Hi-Impact
Terrorism: Proceedings of a Russian American Workshop, National Research Council,
National Academies Press (Washington, D.C. 2002), p. 260-267.
33 See “Foreign Policy — Terrorism Tally Not that Useless,” by Corine Hegland, National
Journal, May 14, 2005. Note however, that in some cases there may be conflicting claims
of “credit” and it is not always possible to definitively sort them out. When a group is cited
by the NCTC as the culprit rather than a competing terrorist group, this does not necessarily
reflect the best consensus of the intelligence community as NCTC statistical reporting is
not designed to confirm the accuracy of perpetrator claims and public allegations against

Moreover, the State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 argues that
the threat from small terrorist groups or lone terrorists is rising in frequency, as is the
potential for these micro-actors to inflict deadly harm and costly economic damage.
This finding appears consistent with other research and analyses. If the trend
continues the immediate future is likely to bring “a larger number of smaller attacks,
less meticulously planned, and local rather than transnational in scope.” On the other
hand, “an increasing number of such attacks could fail through lack of skill or
Of growing concern is what many see as a trend by terrorists to launch near-
simultaneous multiple attacks aimed at causing economic damage — such as attacks
on transportation, tourism, and oil related targets and infrastructures. For example,
in February 2006, Saudi security forces thwarted a suicide attack at an oil processing
facility in the eastern part of that nation. An al Qaeda affiliated website subsequently
claimed responsibility. A wave of arrests in the Saudi Arabia in late March 2006
reportedly thwarted a second refinery attack.35
If terrorist acts are becoming more the product of localized micro- actors, it
raises the question of whether United States anti-terror strategy and tactics should
reflect a more international law-enforcement oriented approach. Such an approach
was envisioned in the February 2003 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism.36
For example, the inclusion of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of
National Security Intelligence as a member of the Intelligence Community will put
in place new structures to share information on the ties between international
terrorism and international drug trafficking. Increased sharing and cooperation
between the law enforcement and the intelligence communities could well lead to
disrupting some of the ties between terrorist and criminal groups, potentially
“defunding” some terrorist activities.

34 Country Reports on Terrorism 2005, p.13. Note however, that an attack(s) which is
“unsuccessful” in terms of destruction and death may still have a devastating effect on the
economy and emotional/social patterns of a nation, especially in terms of behavior and
attitudes shaped by public perceptions of security.
35 See “Saudis Thwart Oil Refinery Attack: al Qaeda claims responsibility on Web site,”
CNN World, February 24, 2006, and “Wave of Arrests in Saudi Arabia Thwarts Second
Refinery Attack” by Stephen Ulph, in Terrorism Focus, Vol. 3 Issue 13 (April 4, 2006)
published by the Jamestown Foundation.
36 To the extent that terrorists interact with the criminal underworld for logistical support
services — or to the extent that they bypass criminal groups and engage in other illegal
activities themselves, their exposure and vulnerability to law enforcement activity increases
as well. Much is being done to assist domestic law enforcement and security forces and
institutions in foreign nations, especially training of investigators and prosecutors, through
programs administered by the Department of Justice. In Mexico, for example, DEA has an
extensive training program in place for both law enforcement personnel and prosecutorial
staff. For background and analysis of the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism see
CRS Report RL32522, U.S. Anti-Terror Strategy the 9/11 Commission Report by Raphael
Perl. For the National Strategy see [
/20051006-3.html]. An NCTC coordinated interagency National Implementation Plan (NIP)
for the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism is reportedly in final stages of review and

Overall, policymakers may consider expanding programs that support foreign
law enforcement training and educational exchanges, joint/multilateral training
exercises, the creation of bi-lateral or multilateral law enforcement task forces, staff
exchanges of detailees among foreign and domestic law enforcement agencies, and
expansion of so-called “rule of law” programs. Some observers call for more
vigorous, focused, and better funded public diplomacy initiatives to counter terrorist
efforts to generate popular support and gain recruits.37
Collection and analysis of data which may reveal trends over time might also
be strengthened. Some might argue that it could serve United States and allied
interests to see more data analyzed and exchanged on terrorist motivations, tactics,
and organizations by a wide range of institutions in the public and private sector.
Greater participation in this process by industry, governments, and academia might
prove fruitful. However, compiling and sharing the data on a timely basis may
present yet another daunting challenge. 38
Most agree that the evidence shows that terrorists are seeking to kill as many
people as possible and concentrating on hitting economic targets such as support
infrastructure and tourism — rather than seeking to achieve immediate political
objectives such as gaining the release of prisoners. If correct, this might argue for
hardening targets, improving the technology and placement of detection equipment,
and generally beefing-up the nation’s ability to respond to large scale disasters —
whether caused by acts of God or acts of terror.39

37 Of potential importance here is the need for enhanced data to facilitate understanding of
the factors terrorists exploit to generate support and gain recruits. On the issue of public
diplomacy and anti-terrorism generally, see CRS Report RL32607, U.S. Public Diplomacy:
Background and 9/11 Commission Recommendations, by Susan B. Epstein.
38 International/regional organizations, such as the United Nations, NATO, and/or
INTERPOL, though not without downsides, might serve as useful clearing houses for such
39 See generally, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s “Remarks to the
Commonwealth Club of California,” July 28, 2005, especially those comments that discuss
the importance of detection technology and the role of risk analysis.

For Additional Reading
CRS Report RS21937. 9/11 Terrorism: Global Economic Costs, by Dick K. Nanto.
CRS Report RL32759. Al Qaeda: Statements and Evolving Ideology, by Christopher
M. Blanchard.
CRS Report RL33038. Al Qaeda: Profile and Threat Assessment, by Kenneth
CRS Report RL30252. Intelligence and Law Enforcement: Countering
Transnational Threats to the U.S., by Richard A. Best, Jr.
CRS Report RS22211. Islamist Extremism in Europe, by Kristin Archick et al.
CRS Report RL32816. The National Counterterrorism Center: Implementation
Challenges and Issues for Congress, by Todd M. Masse.
CRS Report RS22373. Navy Role in Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) —
Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.
CRS Report RL31672. Terrorism in Southeast Asia, by Bruce Vaughn et al.
CRS Report 97-960. Terrorism, the Media, and the Government: Perspectives.
Trends, and Options for Policymakers, by Raphael Perl. (Archived: available
from the author.)
CRS Report RL32758. U.S. Military Operations in the Global War on Terrorism:
Afghanistan, Africa, the Philippines, and Colombia, by Andrew Feickert.