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Office of the Secretary
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Philip C. Wilcox, Jr.

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In most countries, the level of international terrorism in 1995 continued the downward trend of recent years, and there were fewer terrorist acts that caused deaths last year than in the previous year. However, the total number of international terrorist acts rose in 1995 from 322 to 440, largely because of a major increase in nonlethal terrorist attacks against property in Germany and in Turkey by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). (The PKK also committed lethal acts of terrorism.) The decline in lethal acts of international terrorism was not matched by a reduction in domestic terrorism or other forms of political violence that continued at a high level.

International terrorist attacks against US interests rose to 99 in 1995 from 66 in 1994, and the number of US citizens killed rose from four to 12. The total number of fatalities from international terrorism worldwide declined from 314 in 1994 to 165 in 1995, but the number of persons wounded increased by a factor of ten - to 6,291 persons; 5,500 were injured in a gas attack in the Tokyo subway system in March.

Significant acts of international terrorism during the year were:

  • Two US employees of the US Consulate in Karachi, Jacqueline Keys Van Landingham and Gary C. Durell, were killed on 8 March when their shuttle bus came under armed attack. A third employee, Mark McCloy, was injured.
  • On 20 March members of the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo placed containers of the deadly chemical nerve agent sarin on five trains of the Tokyo subway system during the morning rush hour. The cultists then punctured the containers, releasing poisonous gas into the trains and subway stations. The attack killed 12 persons, but despite the extreme toxicity of sarin, 5,500 escaped with injuries, including two US citizens. The attack was the first major use of chemical weapons by terrorists.
  • Two US missionaries, Steve Welsh and Timothy Van Dyke, were killed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) during a confrontation with a Colombian Army patrol on 19 June . The guerrillas kidnapped the two New Tribes Mission members in January 1994 initially to force the withdrawal of US military personnel engaged in military assistance projects in Colombia. FARC later changed this demand to a monetary ransom. Four other US citizens still were held hostage by guerrillas in Colombia as of the end of 1995.
  • On 26 June gunmen attempted to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during his visit to Ethiopia. The attempt was foiled by Ethiopian counterterrorist forces and Egyptian security forces. Al- Gama'at al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group or IG) claimed responsibility, and the suspects are believed to have fled to Sudan.
  • Terrorists bombed the Riyadh headquarters of the Office of the Program Manager/Saudi Arabian National Guard on 13 November, killing seven people, including five US citizens, and seriously injuring 42 others.
Western Europe experienced more international terrorist attacks during 1995 than any other region. However, most of the 272 incidents that occurred there were the low-level PKK arson attacks mentioned above. There were only 11 attacks in Western Europe that were lethal, that is, that resulted in the death of one or more victims.

In Israel, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish Israeli extremist in November, and Palestinian terrorists continued a series of massive suicide bombings and shootings in Israel, killing 47.

A high level of terrorism continued in Algeria by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), and terrorists probably associated with the GIA launched a series of bombings or attempted bombings in France.

There was no known international involvement in the 19 April bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people and wounded more than 500.

Twelve US citizens were killed in international terrorist attacks last year. In addition to the two US Consulate employees killed in Karachi, the two missionaries killed in Colombia, and the five citizens killed in Riyadh, a US tourist was murdered in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge, a US citizen was killed in a suicide attack on an Israeli bus in Gaza, and another died in a similar attack on a bus in Jerusalem. Forty-eight US citizens were wounded during all of 1995.

Various foreign governments cooperated with the United States in 1995 in arresting and transferring to US custody major international terrorist suspects wanted for alleged violation of US counterterrorism laws. Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who is under indictment as a key figure in the bombing in 1993 of the World Trade Center in New York City, was arrested and extradited to the United States by Pakistan in February. In August, Eyad Mahmoud Ismail Najim, a suspected accomplice of Yousef's in the New York bombing, was rendered to the United States by Jordan. In April, Abdul Hakim Murad was arrested and handed over to US custody by the Philippines for suspected involvement with Yousef in a plot to blow up US aircraft over Asia, and Wali Khan Amin Shah - another suspected coconspirator in this plot - was rendered to the United States by another foreign government in December.

On 1 October, Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman and nine codefendants were convicted in Manhattan federal court of conspiring to bomb the United Nations, the FBI building in New York, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, and other New York landmarks, and for the terrorist bombing in 1993 of the World Trade Center. Abd al-Rahman, known as the "Blind Shaykh," also was found guilty of plotting to murder Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and defendant El Sayyid Nosair also was convicted of "murder in aid of racketeering" in relation to the death of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990. Trial evidence showed that Abd al-Rahman was the leader of an organization whose aim was to wage a self-styled "holy war" of terror against the United States because he considered it an enemy of Islam. Abd al-Rahman and Nosair were sentenced to life in prison; the others received prison terms ranging from 25 to 57 years.

Senior HAMAS official Musa Abu Marzuq, who is suspected of involvement in terrorist activities in Israel, was detained in New York on 25 July as he tried to enter the United States - where he had lived previously as a legal permanent resident - after immigration officials found his name on a watchlist of suspected terrorists. Israel has requested his extradition. At year's end, that request was pending before US courts.

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