WASHINGTON: A new US government report said on Thursday that the Al Qaeda network suffered ‘several significant setbacks’ last year, although its threat to Americans is more dispersed.
Al Qaeda “suffered several significant setbacks in 2009,” according to an annual State Department report.
It said the group faced a Pakistani military onslaught, has lost many of its leaders, and found it “tougher to raise money, train recruits and plan attacks” outside the Pakistan and Afghanistan region.
“In addition to these operational setbacks, Al Qaeda continued to fail in its efforts to carry out the attacks that would shake governments in the Muslim world,” said the Country Reports on Terrorism 2009.
“Yet despite these setbacks, the Al Qaeda threat was more dispersed than in recent years, which partially offset the losses suffered by Al Qaeda’s core,” the report said.—AFP
Anwar Iqbal adds:
According to the report, terrorist attacks in Pakistan declined last year, to 59 in 2009 from 80 in 2008, but the number of attacks remained high due to the deteriorating security situation across the country.
The highest number of casualties from terrorist attacks was reported from Iraq where 3,654 were killed in 2009. Afghanistan was second on the list with 2,778 deaths and Pakistan was third with 2,670 deaths.
In hostage taking, Pakistan was on top of the list as 3,366 people were kidnapped in the country during 2009. India was second with 2,088 hostages. Afghanistan was sixth with 619 hostages and Iraq was at the bottom of the 15-state list with 47 kidnappings.
Suicide attacks showed a worldwide decline, from 405 in 2008 to 299 in 2009. This was largely due to declining violence in Iraq. A total of 13 countries experienced suicide attacks in 2009. The country with the highest number of suicide bombings was Afghanistan with 99, followed by Pakistan with 84, and Iraq with 82.
Attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan accounted for about 60 per cent of all terrorist attacks in 2009.
Of the 10,999 reported attacks, about 4,850, or 44 per cent, occurred in South Asia. These attacks accounted for approximately 6,270 fatalities or 42 per cent of the worldwide total in 2009.
Attacks in Afghanistan nearly doubled from 2008 and increased in Pakistan for the third consecutive year.
On Oct 25, Al Qaeda in Iraq killed 155 people, including 24 children, and wounded 720 in a double suicide attack in Baghdad. This was the highest number of casualties in any terrorist attack in 2009. The second highest, with 127 deaths, was also in Iraq. The third highest was in Pakistan where on Oct 28 extremists killed 117 people and injured 200 others in Peshawar.