Thursday, 7 June 2012

Confused NCTC report on terrorism

The publication of the 2011 US National Counterterrorism Center Report on Terrorism is a major non-event. The report makes no distinction between different kinds of terror attacks, lumping together the actions of groups such as the Afghan Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban in Pakistan, al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Shabaab in Somalia, plus various long-running insurgencies in Asia, Africa and South America. Nor does it appear to distinguish between attacks mounted against civilian targets and those mounted against military or paramilitary targets. As a result, it produces a porridge of statistics that are, in the end, meaningless.
The introduction to the report states: "In compiling the figures of terrorist incidents that are included in the Country Reports on Terrorism and the NTCT Report on Terrorism, NCTC uses the definition of terrorism found in Title 22, which provides that terrorism is 'premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents'.”
If you then turn to the back of the report (p19 onwards) where it lists major terror events that resulted in 10 or more fatalities, you find the following events listed for January 2011:
AQAP was the likely perpetrator of a complex attack in Yemen involving IEDs, rocket-propelled grenades (RPG), and small arms against a military convoy and government response vehicles;
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for a VBIED attack against a police station;
and for February 2011:
VBIEDs were detonated at police stations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, killing dozens. A VBIED was detonated at a police training facility in Somalia, in which scores of trainees were killed or wounded;
For August:
In India, a group of over 100 armed assailants probably affiliated with the CPI-Maoist group fired upon several military or paramilitary patrols, killing a dozen people.
There are dozens of similar examples in the report. By the NCTC's own definition, these are not "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets". Even if civilians are killed in such attacks, they still don't meet the definition given. Why, therefore, are they included in the statistics?

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