WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Nearly seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, al Qaeda remains the biggest terrorist threat to the United States and its allies, the U.S. State Department said in an annual report on Wednesday.
The country-by-country survey of terrorism trends and incidents in 2007 said al Qaeda had used tribal areas of Pakistan to reconstitute some operational capabilities, replace killed or captured fighters and rebuild its leadership.
Al Qaeda “utilizes terrorism, as well as subversion, propaganda, and open warfare; it seeks weapons of mass destruction in order to inflict the maximum possible damage on anyone who stands in its way, including other Muslims and/or elders, women and children,” said the report.
The number of terrorism attacks worldwide fell slightly in 2007 to 14,499, from 14,570 in 2006. A total of 72,066 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in 2007, down from 75,211 in the previous year, data from the U.S. National Counter-terrorism Center showed.
In the two theaters of U.S.-led wars, terrorism incidents in Iraq fell to 6,212 last year from 6,628 in 2006, but in Afghanistan they rose to 1,127 from 969 in the previous year, data showed.
The report said Afghanistan had made progress fighting extremists, but “the Taliban-led insurgency remained strong and resilient in the South and East” with an undiminished ability to recruit foot soldiers from rural ethnic Pashtuns.
The list of designated state sponsors of terrorism — Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria — remained unchanged, despite efforts to remove North Korea from the blacklist through slow-moving nuclear disarmament negotiations with Pyongyang.
The report said Sudan continued to take significant steps to cooperate in anti-terrorism, but Cuba, Iran and Syria had not renounced terrorism or worked to combat terror groups. “Iran and Syria routinely provided safe haven, substantial resources, and guidance to terrorist organizations,” said the 312-page report.