Powell says terrorists are increasingly isolated

Tuesday, May 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ International cooperation against terrorists is increasing and paying off, Secretary of State Colin Powell said, noting the tightening of U.N. sanctions against Afghanistan and a conviction in the Pan Am 103 bombing.

``State sponsors of terrorism are increasingly isolated,'' Powell said Monday. ``Terrorist groups are under growing pressure. Terrorists are being brought to justice.

``We will not let up,'' he said, commenting as the State Department released its annual report on terrorism trends worldwide.

Another breakthrough Powell cited was the trial of the accused perpetrators of the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings. He also said there has been forward movement in the investigation into the bombing to the USS Cole last October in Yemen.

The State Department report, which reviews terrorist activity during 2000, said 19 Americans were killed last year in terrorist attacks, all but two in the Cole bombing.

The 19 dead was the highest for Americans for any year since 1996, the report said.

The number of anti-U.S. attacks rose from 169 in 1999 to 200 in 2000, the study said, largely because of an increase in pipeline bombings in Colombia. These attacks, though numerous, rarely result in casualties.

The report said Iran was the most active sponsor of terrorism worldwide last year, offering assistance for groups opposed to Israel. A State Department official said Iran has occupied the No. 1 spot for a decade although it has not always been officially designated as such in the annual reports.

``Statements by Iran's leaders demonstrated Iran's unrelenting hostility to Israel,'' the report said. ``Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continued to refer to Israel as a 'cancerous tumor' that must be removed.''

The report said terrorism by Palestinian groups opposed to the peace process increased during Israeli-Palestinian clashes that began in September.

Mahmoud el-Zaher, a spokesman for the Hamas Islamic resistance movement, said making the U.S. list was an honor.

``The report did not mention even how many Palestinians were killed and assassinated, how many lands and farms were erased, how many homes were demolished or who is using the tanks and the gunships and the heavy machine guns against the civilians,'' he said. ``Simply because it is Israel the U.S. did not include it in the report.''

The report does not make judgments about Israeli actions during this period even though the United States has criticized the ``targeted killings'' of some Palestinian officials.

Asked about the distinction, Edmund Hull, the State Department's counterterrorism chief, told reporters some acts fall into the terrorism category while others are considered human rights violations and, accordingly, are treated differently.

Nations that repeatedly provide support for actions of international terrorism are required by law to be placed on the State Department's terrorism list. Those so designated are subject to economic sanctions.

Pakistan is not on the list, but the 91-page report said the United States has been increasingly concerned about reports of Pakistan's support for terrorist groups in Kashmir.

Hull suggested to reporters that Pakistan has been able to remain off the list because of its cooperation with the United States on a number of terrorism cases.

The countries on the terrorism list are Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Libya. Hull noted that the United States has initiated a dialogue with Sudan based on evidence that the East African country has demonstrated a ``serious intent to get out of the terrorism business.''