WASHINGTON, April 30, 2008 -- Are we winning? Looking at the just-released State Department report on terrorism, the answer appears to be "no."
The number of terror victims killed or injured is on the rise worldwide, according to the report, and al Qaeda's senior leadership has restored some of its control over the terror group's operations, and increased its mobility and ability to plan attacks.
Most dramatically, there was a 50 percent increase worldwide in suicide bombings last year. All told, 66,995 people were killed or wounded in terror attacks in 2007 (up from 59,327 in 2006 and 39,469 in 2005).
Some key figures:
- Iraq was the country most heavily hit by suicide bombings, accounting for 45 percent of the attacks and 60 percent of the victims.
- The number of attacks in Pakistan doubled, and injuries and fatalities in Pakistan quadrupled.
- Well over 50 percent of those killed or injured in terror attacks were Muslims.
- 2,400 children were killed or injured in 2007 by suicide attacks, an increase of 25 percent.
- Algeria and Thailand also saw big increases in the number of terror victims.
"Around the globe people are getting increasingly efficient at killing other people," said Russ Travers of the National Counterterrorism Center, which compiled the data for the report. One factor contributing the increased lethality of terror attacks: increased use of backpacks by suicide bombers that are easier to sneak into crowded areas.
The report says al Qaeda "and associated networks" remain "the greatest threat to the United States and its partners." That threat increased last year because al Qaeda's senior leaders had "greater mobility and ability to conduct training and operational planning, particularly that targeting Western Europe and the United States."
Officials also blame al Qaeda's ability to operate in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions has allowed the terror network to reconstitute itself and plan attacks elsewhere.
Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, restored some of his control over al Qaeda last year. Bin Laden remained the group's "ideological figurehead," but "Zawahiri has emerged as AQ's strategic and operational planner," according to the report.