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World: Terrorism A Problem Despite Progress

The United States has released its annual report on international terrorism. The report says the year 2000 showed that global terrorism continues to pose a clear and present danger to the world. Our correspondent Frank T. Csongos reports from Washington.

Washington, 1 May 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The United States says terrorism continues to pose a danger to the international community.

In its annual report Monday (30 April), the State Department said there were 423 international terrorist attacks in 2000, an increase from the 392 attacks recorded during the previous year. The main reason for the upsurge, the report said, was an increasing number of bombings of a multinational oil pipeline in Colombia.

The report said the number of casualties caused by terrorists also increased in 2000. During that year 405 people were killed, up from 233 in 1999.

The report said Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan continue to be the seven governments the State Department has designated as state sponsors of international terrorism. It said that Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2000.

In releasing the report, Secretary of State Colin Powell said there was one encouraging trend.

"International cooperation against terrorism is increasing and it is paying off."

Powell added:

"State sponsors of terrorism are increasingly isolated. Terrorist groups are under growing pressure. Terrorists are being brought to justice. We will not let up. But we must also be aware of the nature of the threat before us."

The United States says Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement continues to provide refuge to suspected terrorist Osama ben Laden despite UN sanctions and international pressures to hand him over for trial.

"Last December, The United Nations Security Council levied additional sanctions in UNSC (UN Security Council) Resolution 1333 against the Taliban for allowing terrorist camps to operate on Afghanistan territory and for harboring Osama ben Laden."

The report said Azerbaijan took strong steps last year to curb the international logistic networks that support fighters in Chechnya.

The department said these steps included closing international Islamic relief organizations believed to assist what it called militants in Chechnya. The study said these steps also included strengthening border controls with Russia and arresting and extraditing Mujaheddin supporters.

The report said there has been good cooperation on fighting terrorism between the Azerbaijani government and U.S. law enforcement.

On Georgia, the report said that with international assistance the country has steadily increased its border control presence. However, it said that neither Russian nor Georgian border guards have been able to seal the border entirely from individuals and small groups passing to and from the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

Concerning Kazakhstan, the report noted that the police killed four suspected Uighur separatist militants who were sought in connection with the murders of two policemen and a leader of the Uighur community in Kyrgyzstan.

In both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the report said, Islamic insurgency efforts continued, including several bombing incidents coinciding with Tajikistani parliamentary elections in February.

The report said despite the victory for moderates in Iranian elections in February, conservatives blocked most reform efforts.

Iran's involvement in terrorist-related activities, the report said, remained focused on support for groups opposed to Israel.

The report said Iraq planned and sponsored international terrorism last year. But it said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime has not attempted any anti-Western terrorist attack since its failed plot to assassinate former U.S. President George Bush in 1993 in Kuwait.