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Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube/Diller distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. His bi-weekly column appears regularly in newspapers around the globe. His website, DanielPipes.org, is one of the most accessed internet sources of specialized information on the Middle East and Islam.


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PostFri Jul 23, 2004 9:30 am     State (Dept.) of Confusion    


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State (Dept.) of Confusion

By Daniel Pipes
FrontPageMagazine.com
July 19, 2004

Patterns of Global Terrorism, an annual report compiled by the Department of State, provides the authoritative U.S. government survey of the scourge of terrorism. Unfortunately, as I documented in an article about the 2001 edition ("State's Terror Untruths"), it is a highly politicized document, reflecting the Washington debate and diplomatic imperatives, but this year it has veered into unreliability and even falsehood. It's a dangerous document likely to harm the war on terrorism.

Subsequent Patterns of Global Terrorism reports have been no less unsatisfactory, but they seemed untouchable, for who can or will tell State to clean up its act?

But, lo and behold, the 2003 report, issued on April 29, 2004, finally provoked so much flak, as acknowledged in a State Department press release and explained by Josh Meyer in the Los Angeles Times, it actually was revised. Meyer cites two main sources of criticism, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Democrat of California), the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, and Raphael Perl, author of a Congressional Research Service analysis of Patterns of Global Terrorism. While State huffed and puffed about its objectivity and blamed the problems on "clerical errors," their criticisms were thorough and devastating.

I had hopes that the revision would lead to a Patterns of Global Terrorism that is statistically accurate, politically neutral, and academically reliable rather than the "dangerous document" that has muddied the waters in recent years. But when the Department of State finally released its revised version of Patterns of Global Terrorism for 2003, the results were most disappointing.

To take just one theater, the Palestinian-Israeli, a huge disparity remains between the revised report and terror attacks as reported by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Appendix A of Patterns of Global Terrorism omits twenty-two fatal attacks against Israeli civilians claimed by various Palestinian terror groups – or more than half their entire number for 2003.

Here follows a chronological list, compiled by Anna Krasko and Teri Blumenfeld (and confirmed by other research), of those terror attacks not reported in the revised Patterns of Global Terrorism, as they appear on the MFA website. (The incidents that follow do not include attacks in which soldiers were killed, even off-duty at military bases, or attacks that resulted in injuries but no fatalities.) All these attacks qualify as ‘significant international terror incidents' under the State Department definition and do not differ in location, severity, identity of the victims or the perpetrators from incidents that did get noted in the report. Every effort has been made to match the State Department's criteria for inclusion, as defined thus:

The U.S. Government's Incident Review Panel has determined that the following incidents meet the criteria for significant international terrorist incidents. An International Incident is judged significant if it results in loss of life or serious injury to persons, major property damage (more than $10,000), and/or is an act or attempt that could reasonably be expected to create the conditions noted.

Those missing 22 fatal attacks against Israeli civilians:

Jan 2, 2003 - The charred body of Massoud Makhluf Alon, 72, from Menahemiya in the Lower Galilee, was found in the northern Jordan Valley in his burned out car. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the murder.

Jan 12, 2003 - Eli Biton, 48, of Moshav Gadish was killed and four people wounded when terrorists infiltrated the community and opened fire. Two terrorists were killed by Israeli forces. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mar 19, 2003 - Zion Boshirian, 51, of Mevo Dotan was shot and killed while driving in his car between Mevo Dotan and Shaked in northern Samaria. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 4, 2003 - The body of Tali Weinberg, 26, of Beit Aryeh, was discovered in a garage in Rosh Ha'ayin with numerous stab wounds. The suspect, Weinberg's boyfriend, arrested on June 11, a 21-year-old Arab resident of Kafr Qasem, is believed to have carried out the murder as part of a "loyalty test" administered by Palestinian terrorist organizations.

May 5, 2003 - Gideon Lichterman, 27, of Ahiya, was killed and two other passengers, his six-year-old daughter Moriah and a reserve soldier, were seriously wounded when terrorists fired shots at their vehicle near Shvut Rachel, in Samaria. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 11, 2003 - Zion David, 53, of Givat Ze'ev near Jerusalem, was shot in the head and killed by Palestinian terrorists in a roadside ambush half a kilometer from Ofra, north of Jerusalem. Both Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 17, 2003 - Gadi Levy and his wife Dina, aged 31 and 37, of Kiryat Arba were killed by a suicide bomber in Hebron. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 19, 2003 - Kiryl Shremko, 22, of Afula; Hassan Ismail Tawatha, 41, of Jisr a-Zarqa; and Avi Zerihan, 36, of Beit Shean were killed and about 70 people were wounded in a suicide bombing at the entrance to the Amakim Mall in Afula. The Islamic Jihad and the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades both claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 5, 2003 - The bodies of David Shambik, 26, and Moran Menachem, 17, both of Jerusalem, were found near Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, brutally beaten and stabbed to death. Believed to be terror victims.

June 12, 2003 - Avner Maimon, 51, of Netanya, was found shot to death in his car near Yabed in northern Samaria. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 17, 2003 - Noam Leibowitz, 7, of Yemin Orde was killed and three members of her family wounded in a shooting attack near the Kibbutz Eyal junction on the Trans-Israel Highway. The terrorist fired from the outskirts of the West Bank city of Kalkilya. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 19, 2003 - Avner Mordechai, 58, of Moshav Sde Trumot, was killed when a suicide bomber blew up in his grocery on Sde Trumot, south of Beit Shean. The suicide bomber was killed. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 26, 2003 - Amos (Amit) Mantin, 31, of Hadera, a Bezeq employee, was killed in a shooting attack in the Israeli Arab town of Baka al-Garbiyeh. The shots were fired by a Palestinian teenager, who was apprehended by police. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

July 7, 2003 - Mazal Afari, 65, of Moshav Kfar Yavetz was killed in her home on Monday evening and three of her grandchildren lightly wounded in a terrorist suicide bombing. The remains of the bomber were also found in the wreckage of the house. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

July 15, 2003 - Amir Simhon, 24, of Bat Yam was killed when a Palestinian armed with a long-bladed knife stabbed passersby on Tel Aviv's beachfront promenade, after a security guard prevented him from entering the Tarabin cafe and was wounded. The terrorist, who was shot and apprehended, is a member of the Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the attack.

Aug 10, 2003 - Haviv Dadon, 16, of Shlomi, was struck in the chest and killed by shrapnel from an anti-aircraft shell fired by Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon. Four others were wounded.

Aug 12, 2003 - Yehezkel (Hezi) Yekutieli, 43, of Rosh Ha'ayin, was killed by a teenaged Palestinian suicide bomber who detonated himself at the local supermarket.

Aug 29, 2003 - Shalom Har-Melekh, 25, of Homesh was killed in a shooting attack while driving northeast of Ramallah. His wife, Limor, who was seven months pregnant, sustained moderate injuries, and gave birth to a baby girl by Caesarean section. The Fatah al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sept 9, 2003 - Nine IDF soldiers were killed and 30 people were wounded in a suicide bombing at a hitchhiking post for soldiers outside a main entrance to the Tzrifin army base and Assaf Harofeh Hospital. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims: Senior Warrant Officer Haim Alfasi, 39, of Haifa; Chief Warrant Officer Yaakov Ben-Shabbat, 39, of Pardes Hanna; Cpl. Mazi Grego, 19, of Holon; Capt. Yael Kfir, 21, of Ashkelon; Cpl. Felix Nikolaichuk, 20, of Bat Yam; Sgt. Yonatan Peleg, 19, of Moshav Yanuv; Sgt. Efrat Schwartzman, 19, of Moshav Ganei Yehuda; and Cpl. Prosper Twito, 20, of Upper Nazareth. Sgt. Liron Siboni, 19, of Ramat Gan died of her wounds on November 19.

Sept 26, 2003 - Eyal Yeberbaum, 27, and seven-month-old Shaked Avraham, both of Negohot, south of Hebron, were killed during the holiday meal on the eve of Rosh Hashana in the Yeberbaum home when a Palestinian terrorist who infiltrated the settlement opened fire with an M-16 assault rifle. The terrorist was killed by IDF forces. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Nov 22, 2003 - Two Israeli security guards, Ilya Reiger, 58, of Jerusalem, and Samer Fathi Afan, 25, of the Bedouin village Uzeir near Nazareth, were shot dead at a construction site along the route of the security fence near Abu Dis in East Jerusalem. The Jenin Martyrs' Brigades, affiliated with Fatah, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Dec 25, 2003 - Adva Fisher, 20, of Kfar Sava; St.-Sgt. Noam Leibowitz, 22, of Elkana; Cpl. Angelina Shcherov, 19, of Kfar Sava; and Cpl. Rotem Weinberger, 19, of Kfar Sava were killed and over 20 people were wounded in a suicide bombing at a bus stop at the Geha Junction, east of Tel Aviv, near Petah Tikva. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack.

That the Department of State, even in revising its basic research document on terrorism, does such a shoddy job points to its inability to carry out this task which needs to be handled by some other department or agency, one that can properly do objective work.

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