An American Security Project mid-year update to their annual report on global terrorism trends today showed several trends that raise serious concerns about U.S. counterterrorism policy, including a dramatic increase in Islamic violence in the Middle East, a worsening situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, new “hot spots” of violence in Somalia and Russia, as well as a dampening of the initial “Obama effect” in the Muslim world.
The mid-year report specifically found that terror attacks by Islamist extremists accelerated dramatically in 2008 with the most significant increases in Islamist violence occurring in Pakistan, Somalia, Russia, and the Philippines. Outside of the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, and excluding attacks in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, there were 670 attacks by Islamic extremist groups, with 214 alone occurring in the fourth quarter.
Assessing progress in the “war on terror” remains a tremendous challenge, with hard data lagging events on the ground. Over the next several months as we prepare a full update of our annual survey, we will continue to assess the impact of the global recession and financial crisis, trends in Muslim public attitudes towards the United States, and developments in South Asia. Ultimately, however, the explosive growth in Islamist violence in 2008 forces us to have a very pessimistic outlook on the struggle at the start of the Obama Administration.
You can download the report here.