US: Terrorism Threat has Shifted from Middle East to South Asia
The US State Department said Monday that the threat of terrorist acts against the United States remains but that the major sources of terrorism have shifted from the Middle East to South Asia.
"We are seeing a shift from well-organized, local groups supported by state sponsors to more far-flung and loosely structured webs of terror," said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Albright, speaking after the release of the State Department's annual report on global terrorism, said privately sponsored terrorism includes criminal enterprises such as blackmail and trafficking in drugs, guns and human beings.
The fight against terrorism has seen some success in the Middle East and North Africa, but opposition to the Arab-Israeli peace process remains and several states still support terrorism, according to the report.
The US State Department report on international terrorism in 1999 noted that "most Middle Eastern governments have strengthened their counterterrorist response," sparking a movement of terrorist activities to southern Asia, especially Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Washington especially underlined the efforts of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Algeria to fight terrorism. But the Middle East, along with South Asia, are the two regions that most trouble Washington.
Despite the current rapprochement with Teheran, Washington is particularly critical of Iran, which it accuses of actively giving financial and military support to groups opposed to peace with Israel, especially Hizbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
"Although there were signs of political change in Iran in 1999, the actions of certain state institutions in support of terrorist groups made Iran the most active state sponsor of terrorism," the report said.
The United States also accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of supporting international terrorism to fight against political opposition, but also sheltering various terrorist groups.
"Libyan support for terrorism has declined significantly in recent years, but Libya continued to have residual contacts and relationships with terrorist organizations," the report said.
Syria is accused of continuing "to provide safe haven and support to several terrorist groups," but Washington said the government "continued to restrain their international activities" which they operate through Lebanon.
Sudan is also accused of being a "central hub" for a number of international terrorist organizations, especially the network of exiled Saudi billionaire Osama Bin Laden, who is hiding in Afghanistan – (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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