Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bush Losing War on Terrorism - deaths more than tripled in 2004: US

Yahoo! News - Terrorist acts, deaths more than tripled in 2004: US: "Terrorist acts, deaths more than tripled in 2004: US

21 minutes ago Politics - AFP WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States said that terrorist activity in the world increased sharply last year with the number of attacks and dead more than tripling but that it was winning the global "war on terror."

The US National Counterterrorism Center, an arm of the Central Intelligence Agency, said in a report there were 651 terrorist attacks across the globe last year with 1,907 people killed.

This compares with 625 attacks involving 208 fatalities in 2003, according to State Department figures released last year.

A total of 6,704 people were wounded in terrorist strikes last year, according to the center, compared to the 3,646 reported for 2003. Another 710 people were taken hostage in 2004, the new report said.

But State Department Counselor Philip Zelikow said: "I think we are winning the war on terror but it is a very long struggle.

"And I want to triple underscore: No complacency."

The center released the figures for the first time and separately from an annual State Department country report on terrorism which said the global threat remained "significant" and Iraq was still the central battleground.

Earlier this month, the department said it had decided not to publish statistics after widely publicized errors were found in figures for 2003 that had to be revised.

NCTC acting director John Brennan said the center used new methodology, statutory criteria and counting rules to capture the fresh statistics and that it was unfair to compare 2004 figures with previous years.

"An increased level of effort allowed a much deeper review of far more information and along with Iraq were the primary reasons for the significant growth in terrorist incidents being reported," he said.

In Iraq, the number of terrorist incidents ballooned from 22 in 2003 to 201 last year.

The terrorist data has become a political hot potato, with Democrats suggesting that the administration of President George W. Bush was politicising the issue.

Congressional Democrats, led by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, charged that last year's erroneous report was used to bolster administration claims to be making progress in the war on terror, and urged the State Department to include data on terrorist attacks in its annual report.

"We also ask that you determine whether political consideration affected the department's decision this year to withhold data regarding terrorist attacks from its annual terrorism report," they said in a letter to the department.

More than half the attacks reported for 2004 were in South Asia, which recorded 327 incidents that produced 502 deaths. The bulk of the incidents were reported in the divided Kashmir state claimed by both India and Pakistan.

Most of those killed were in the Middle East, where 726 people died in 270 attacks. But the bloodiest strikes were in Europe and Eurasia, where 636 people were killed overall in 24 incidents, including a train bombing in Spain and school seizure in Russia.

Nearly half the incidents (46 percent) involved armed attacks, the report said, while suicide and other bombings accounted for 29 percent. Sixteen percent of the attacks involved kidnappings.

The State Department report highlighted the continuing terrorist threat despite what it said was success in whittling down the Al-Qaeda terrorist group.

The annual "Country Reports on Terrorism 2004" also identified Cuba, North Korea, Syria and above all Iran as continued supporters of terrorism.

The 129-page document said that "international terrorism continued to pose a significant threat to the United States and its partners in 2004."

"The United States and other donor nations must intensify to bolster the political will and the intelligence, law enforcement, financial and military capabilities of partner nations to combat terrorism, on their own or with us," it said.

The report said Iraq, which the United States invaded in March 2003 to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein, "remains the central battleground in the global war on terrorism."

The report said that Al-Qaeda, led by the fugitive Osama bin Laden, remained the primary terrorist threat to the United States despite success in arresting several top leaders and weakening its operational capability.

While there were no terrorist attacks last year on US soil, Americans were killed in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

It said many other countries were hit by terrorism, including Russia, Spain and the Philippines.

The department said Libya and Sudan took significant steps to cooperate in the anti-terrorism drive last year. "Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria, however, continued to maintain their ties to terrorism," it said.

"Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2004," the report said."

Vice President Hossein Mar'ashi: Iran to invest 40,000 billion rials in tourism industry - Irna

Dep. President: Iran to invest 40,000 billion rials in tourism industry - Irna: "Dep. President: Iran to invest 40,000 billion rials in tourism industry Semnan, April 27, IRNA
Deputy President and Head of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) Hossein Mar'ashi said here Wednesday, "Iran will invest 40,000 billion rials (around $5 billion) in tourism industry during the current (Iranian) year (ending on March 20, 2006).

Speaking at the weekly provincial administrative session of Semnan, the deputy president added, "The private sector would invest 23,000 billion rials (around $4 billion) of that amount and the public sector would cover the remaining 8,000 billion rials (around $1 billion)."
Referring to his two-day tour of Semnan Province tourism attractions Mar'ashi said, "The 9,000-year-old Tehran-Mashhad Road, that is an ancient tourism route, is one of Semnan Province's major tourism resources."
He added, "That well established, centuries-old corridor has as a matter of fact been influencing the social and economic spheres of life in Semnan Province throughout history, and full advantage of it should be taken in order to boost the province's tourism industry today."
Mar'ashi referred to Semnan Province's "national parks and other preserved natural resources" as that province's most precious wealth.

He reiterated, "Keeping in mind that your province is on the margin of the country's two great deserts, that potential alone can easily account for 5% of the country's internal and international tourism, if it is well preserved."
Mar'ashi added, "Your national parks are definitely a true tourism attraction that is unique throughout the whole Middle East." The CHTO head referred to Semnan Province's "climatic diversity" and the presence of a number of the country's mystic and religious personalities' holy shrines in the region as other tourism attractions of the province.

Semnan Governor General Hamid Haji-Abdolvahab, too, referred to "Higher education, tourism, and mines and industries" as the "main three axes of the province's development in the country's fourth comprehensive development plan.

He added, "Some 20% of the country's preserved national natural resources are located in Semnan Province, and 3.5 million of the 4.5 million pilgrims of Imam Reza (PBUH) who when there by land during the recent Nourouz (Iranian New year) holidays passed through Semnan on their way to and from Mashhad."