- The Washington Times - Monday, August 18, 2003

A large-scale terror attack in the United States is “highly likely” in the next year owing to the continuing battle with al Qaeda and the country’s large number of internationally known landmarks, according to a research report released yesterday.

The Global Terrorism Index 2003/4 — released by the London-based World Markets Research Center — ranked the United States as the fourth most likely country to face a major terror attack in the coming year.

Colombia leads the list, followed by Israel, Pakistan, the United States and the Philippines.

North Korea, with its extremely tight controls on entry and on movements within it, was ranked as the least likely country to suffer an attack. It was 186 on the list.

Despite a lack of major terror incidents in the United States since the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people, the report found that the United States remained a prime target.

“The fact that there have not been any major attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11 is by no means an indication that the United States is seen as any less of a target by terrorist organizations,” the report says.

“Because of its leading roles in the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and terror, the U.S. remains the prime target for attacks by al Qaeda or its auxiliaries, both within the U.S. itself and, crucially, against U.S. interests abroad.”

The report’s findings determined that although “networks of militant Islamist groups are less extensive in the U.S. than they are in Western Europe,” the United States’ role in Afghanistan and Iraq has exacerbated anti-U.S. sentiment.

Key U.S. allies also face high threat levels, according to the report. Britain — the closest U.S. ally — was considered most at risk among European Union nations. It was 10th on the list, tied with Sri Lanka. Other allies that made the top 20 include Indonesia (7), Russia (16) and Saudi Arabia and Spain (tied at 19).

Criteria used to determine the rankings included the motivation for terror organizations to mount an attack, the extent to which these groups have a presence in the country, the scale of targets offered, the known capabilities of the groups present, and the skill of the nation’s security services.

Colombia and Israel were the only countries where the risk level was considered “extreme,” though the nature of the threats to the two countries differed.

Colombia faces threats from two major leftist militant groups, a widespread right-wing paramilitary rebellion and massive narco-trafficking that floods the country with money, arms and corruption.

In the past year, the largest Colombian rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym FARC, has shifted its operations from large-scale rural combat to smaller urban bombings and attacks.

Israel faces both internal and external security threats and probably would have ranked higher than Colombia if not for its competence in combating terrorism.

Besides the conflict with Palestinians residing in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, which has claimed almost 3,000 lives, Israel is the target of broad anger throughout the Muslim world.

The World Markets Research Center, specializing in country risk, has hundreds of clients in 45 nations, according to Guy Dunn, author of the report. Approximately 80 percent of those clients are multinational companies and banks.

The remaining 20 percent are mostly governments, universities and charities. They include foreign ministries, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Terrorism has moved from being a peripheral threat before September 11, 2001, to being a key risk to business, and no longer is isolated in the targeted countries, Mr. Dunn told the Associated Press.

In a client survey, 72 percent said they considered terrorism when making international location decisions, he said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide