Terrorism for most Utahns was only an abstract concept until last month when two LDS missionaries from Utah were gunned down by terrorists in Bolivia.
That suddenly made terrorism a very real concern for many Utahns - who have friends, relatives or acquaintances on church missions worldwide.That may also make a recent publication by the State Department of sudden interest to many. Titled "Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1988," it outlines areas in the world where terrorism is a problem.
Its pages may be of even more interest when two additional facts are considered: first, State Department and congressional sources have told the Deseret News they worry LDS missionaries may be targets for anti-American groups because they are easy to spot and represent America to many people; second, many terrorism experts say terrorism will be a problem for years to come.
With that in mind, here are some facts about terrorism in the world during 1988:
- The State Department reported 856 terrorist incidents worldwide, up from 832 in 1987.
- In those incidents, 658 people were killed and 1,131 wounded, including casualties to terrorists themselves.
- The United States "suffered a substantial increase in terrorist attacks," 185 - up from 149 in 1987 - resulting in 192 persons killed and 40 wounded. The State Department concluded that America "remains a primary target for international terrorists."
- Latin America was the center of the largest percent of incidents against U.S. citizens and property - 60 percent. About 20 percent of the anti-U.S. incidents took place in Asia; 10 percent in the Middle East; and 9 percent in western Europe. Also recorded was one attack in Africa.
The report also listed totals of "international terrorist incidents" in several nations, which follow by region:
LATIN AMERICA: Bolivia, 6; Chile, 9; Colombia, 88; El Salvador, 13; Honduras, 4; Peru, 15; Venezuela, 1.
MIDDLE EAST: Egypt, 3; Iran, 32; Israel, 3; Jordan, 2; Kuwait, 5; Lebanon, 28; Saudi Arabia, 22; Tunisia, 1.
EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA: Belgium, 4; Cyprus, 5; France, 15; Greece, 9; Italy, 3; Netherlands, 2; Spain, 56; Switzerland, 4; Turkey, 12; Britain, 4 (including the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people in Scotland); West Germany, 25.
ASIA: Australia, 4; India, 4; Japan, 2; Pakistan, 127; Philippines, 12; South Korea, 21; Sri Lanka, 1; Thailand, 1.
AFRICA (sub-Saharan): Lesotho, 1; Mozambique, various attacks, total not listed; Sudan, 2; Zambia, at least 3; Zimbabwe, 55.
Of note, the State Department did not report any terrorist incidents behind the Iron Curtain.
Columnist Jack Anderson - who has been working on TV specials about terrorism - told the BYU Management Society in Washington last week that he thinks he knows why the Soviets and other communists have such few problems: they fight fire with fire.
For example, Anderson said some Arab terrorists took Soviet hostages once. But the Soviets discovered which terrorist led that raid and kidnapped his brother. They then amputated his genitals and sent them to the leader, saying other portions of his brother's body would but cut off every 12 hours until the hostages were released. They were soon set free.
"We're too civilized to do anything like that though," Anderson said.
Omar Kader, a former BYU professor who has studied terrorism, said he is also afraid that nothing short of killing some terrorist groups will stop them. He said they are not afraid of dying and often perform terrorism believing they will be rewarded by their god for it.
Official U.S. policy calls for combating terrorism by not giving into any terrorist demands; making terrorists and their sponsors pay for their crimes; and providing anti-terrorism training to allies.
Still, as the report shows, terrorism is making the world a dangerous place for Americans abroad in almost every continent.