WASHINGTON, May 31: An American report has said the core elements of Al Qaeda in Pakistan are headed for defeat but stressed that the network’s various affiliates continue to pose severe threats to the US.
The State Department’s ‘Country Reports on Terrorism’ for 2012 left unchanged the US list of ‘state sponsors of terrorism’. Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria remained on that blacklist, although Iran was singled out as the worst offender and Syria was taken to task for the crackdown on opponents of President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The annual report’s ‘strategic assessment’ said that Al Qaeda’s Pakistan-based core group continued to weaken as its leaders increasingly fought for survival. But it said that leadership losses with the core had driven Al Qaeda affiliates to become more independent by setting their own agendas and targets and raising money on their own, primarily through kidnapping and other crimes.
Because of this, the assessment noted that the US must defend itself from a “more decentralised and geographically dispersed terrorist threat” that had made it more difficult to successfully disrupt plots in some places.
“Though the (Al Qaeda) core is on a path to defeat, and its two most dangerous affiliates have suffered serious setbacks, tumultuous events in the Middle East and North Africa have complicated the counter-terrorism picture,” it said, pointing out Libya and Yemen in particular.
While terrorist attacks occurred in 85 countries last year, 55 per cent of the attacks and 62 per cent of the fatalities took place in just three countries: Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, the State Department said.
The report said there were 6,771 terrorist attacks in 2012, killing 11,098 people. More than 1,280 people were kidnapped or taken hostage.
The report alleged that 2012 was “notable in demonstrating a marked resurgence of Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism”.
“Iran and Hezbollah’s terrorist activity has reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s, with attacks plotted in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa,” it said.
The report covers events in 2012 and does not include such incidents as the Boston Marathon bombings in the United States or last week’s brutal killing of a British soldier on a London street.—Agencies