Aug. 18, 2011 -- Around the globe, the number of terror attacks in 2010 rose by approximately five percent, yet the number of lives claimed in those attacks dropped, according to a comprehensive report released today by the U.S. State Department.
The 250-plus page document, titled "Country Reports on Terrorism 2010," says that 13,200 people were killed in 11,500 attacks in 72 countries. A vast majority of the attacks -- approximately 75 percent -- took place in the Middle East and South Asia. The rise in attacks but decline in deaths is attributed in the report to fewer mass-casualty attacks and a significant increase of attacks that claimed no deaths.
Of the 13,200 people killed, 15 were private American citizens -- 13 of whom were killed in Afghanistan. In the largest attack against American civilians in 2010, six members of a medical mission were gunned down in a Taliban ambush in the Badakhshan Province in August. The Taliban reportedly claimed the workers in the Christian medical team were spies.
In the Western Hemisphere, both the number of terror attacks and deaths caused by them dropped by 25 percent compared to the year before.
'Troubling Trend': Potential Jihadists Take to the Web
Al Qaeda, whose founder and longtime leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in May this year, was seen to be the "preeminent terrorist threat" to the U.S. in 2010, the report says. Though the hub of core al Qaeda in Pakistan "has become weaker," the report says the terror organization's affiliates have grown in strength.
"While [al Qaeda] senior leadership continued to call for strikes on the U.S. homeland and to arrange plots targeted at Europe, the diversity of these efforts demonstrated the fusion of interests and the sharing of capabilities among [al Qaeda] groups with different geographical focuses," the report says. "In a troubling trend, English-speaking militants increasingly connected to each other through online venues like militant discussion forums and video-sharing platforms, which encouraged both violent behavior and individual action."
U.S. officials, most recently President Obama, have repeatedly warned that one of the greatest threats to homeland security are so-called "lone wolf" terrorists who are self-radicalized online to carry out violent attacks and difficult for U.S. authorities to track.
The report comes out less than a month before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. In handwritten notes and computer files recovered at Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, evidence emerged the terror leader hoped for a high-profile attack on the U.S. homeland to mark the anniversary.
ABC News' Luis Martinez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.