The U.S. State Department submitted the report Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 to Congress on May 30, indicating that although terrorism is a threat, terrorist groups have been decentralized and more than half of all attacks were centralized in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The report is categorized into sections, including strategic assessment, country-by-country analyses of counterterrorism efforts, state sponsors of terrorism, safe havens for terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations. The report was prepared by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland; this was the first time it organized the data, so the report is not directly comparable to previous reports.
Some of the biggest shifts in 2012 included an increase in state sponsorship of terrorism in Iran through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, Ministry of Intelligence and Security and Hizballah; a weakening of al-Qa’ida in Pakistan and an increase in terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa.
The report said the Middle East and North African counterterrorism pictures are “complicated.” Yemen regained control over the Southern territory AQAP seized in 2011. Al-Shabaab was also expelled from southern Somalia. There are, however, large weapon stocks on the continent and Libya, the Tuareg rebellion and the coup d’état in Mali provide prime opportunities for terrorist groups.
The report also noted the decentralization of terrorist affiliates has dispersed terrorist threats and made their members more independent in search of funds to implement new plans. Eighty-five countries experienced terrorist attacks in 2012, while over half of all attacks occurred in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The report noted the most effective way to counter international terrorist attacks is to work with international partners to cut funding, strengthen law-enforcing institutions and eliminate terrorist safe havens.
“In the long term, we must build the capabilities of our partners and counter the ideology that continues to incite terrorist violence around the world,” the report reads.