Despite a sharp decline in the number of terrorist incidents worldwide last year, attacks on U.S. citizens and property stayed roughly the same, a State Department report says.
The report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1990," said there were 197 "anti-U.S. attacks" last year, almost unchanged from 1989. No figure was given for that year."The United States remained, by far, the most popular target of international terrorists in 1990," said the study, released Tuesday.
Still, not a single such incident took place anywhere in North America during all of last year, it said.
Worldwide, there were 455 terrorist incidents last year, compared with 533 in 1989 and 856 in 1988. Bombings constituted 63 percent of the terrorist attacks in 1990, the report said.
The decline in overall terrorism levels from 1989 to 1990 did not take into account incidents such as the mass hostage-taking of Americans and others by Iraqi forces last fall because that action was carried out by a government and not by a "subnational or clandestine agent," State Department officials said.
At time the Persian Gulf crisis erupted, there were widespread predictions of a marked increase in international terrorism, particularly against U.S. interests, if the allied coalition used military force against Iraq. This threat has not materialized.
The study said another major change was the sharp decline in terrorist incidents in the Middle East. Once the leader in such attacks, the figure in the Middle East last year was 63, compared with 162 in Latin America and 96 in Asia. No figures in this category were given for 1989.
The report indicated that the overall decline may have been related to increased cooperation among governments on counterterrorism and increased law enforcement efforts.
Among the six countries the State Department lists as supporting international terrorism, Iran was held responsible for 10 attacks last year, compared with 24 in 1990.
Still, the report said Iran "continued to strengthen its relationship with Muslim extremists throughout the world, often providing them with advice and financial assistance."