- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Bush administration’s war on terrorism has made the globe more dangerous, Amnesty International charged yesterday upon the release of its annual report on human rights in the world.

The report also argues that crackdowns on various armed groups by the United States and other governments constitutes the biggest assault on human rights and civil liberties in 50 years.

As in past years, the report lists a variety of state-sponsored human rights abuses in countries that regularly find their way into the report, including Sudan, Cuba, China, North Korea, Israel, Colombia, Mexico, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

“To President Bush’s claim that the war on terror is making the world safer, we say he is sadly mistaken,” said William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

“It is clear that the way the war on terror is being conducted today is not making us safer. It is, in fact, a failure. It is making the world more dangerous.”

The report, prepared by Amnesty’s staff, says the number of armed groups operating in the world has increased 17 percent, from 132 to 154 in the past two years. More than one-third of the groups listed are Muslim extremist organizations.

The report also quotes the Atlantic Monthly, which said al Qaeda has committed nearly twice as many terrorist acts since September 11, 2001, as it did in the previous five years.

This contradicts the conclusion reached by the U.S. State Department’s “Patterns of Global Terrorism” 2003 report released April 29.

That report counted just 190 terrorist attacks in 2003, down from 198 attacks reported in 2002 and 346 attacks in 2001. That State Department report used different criteria to define terrorism and did not count attacks on coalition forces in Iraq.

Jessica Stern, terrorism expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the author of “Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill,” offered yet another set of figures at the Amnesty press conference yesterday.

She cited a Rand Corp. study showing that 2,303 terrorist acts were committed worldwide in the two years before the September 11, 2001, attacks, compared with 4,422 terrorist acts in the two years after the attacks.

“The war on terrorism has not reduced the threat of terrorism. The numbers have gone up,” she said.

She also said a primary motivation of religious terrorists is assuage the “humiliation” they think they have endured at the hands of the Christian West.

In that regard, photos of Iraqi detainees being sexually humiliated at Abu Ghraib prison will only feed their anger, she said.

“We are in a race with radical clerics who are seeking to use our actions to help mobilize new recruits.”

It was the second report from an international organization in as many days concluding that the world has become less safe since September 11, 2001.

On Tuesday, the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies said there are more than 18,000 al Qaeda members scattered throughout the world and that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq might have boosted the group’s recruiting drives.

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