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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism > Releases > Remarks > 2004

Remarks on the Release of the Revised Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003 Annual Report

Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Cofer Black, Director of the Terrorism Threat Integration Center (TTIC) John Brennan
Washington, DC
June 22, 2004

(2:40 p.m. EDT)

Secretary Powell and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Cofer Black announce release of revised Patterns of Global Terrorism report. State Department photo by Michael Gross. AMBASSADOR BLACK: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. The way I would like to start, I'll make some introductory remarks. I'll make some introductory remarks about a chart, which is an aid to describe a picture, and then I’ll turn it over to my colleague for some remarks, John Brennan, from the Terrorist Threat Integration Center. And then we'll take your questions, if that's all right

The 2003 Patterns of Global Terrorism was marred by significant errors. Over the past few weeks in particular, the past several days and nights, my staff here and John's at TTIC, and others in the U.S. Government counterterrorism community have conducted a comprehensive review of the figures in the 2003 Patterns report. We’ve revisited both the numbers themselves and the way we arrived at them. From the reexamination, we have concluded there were obvious problems with some of the numbers themselves. Events were left out. Some were mislabeled and counted in the wrong categories. Some events were counted twice and some portions of the year were omitted entirely.

I hope it goes without saying that we’ve already begun the process of improving the way we arrive at these numbers for future reports. The revised figures indicate that our earlier assessment was overly positive in some respects. Overall, the new numbers show that in 2003, total terrorist incidents were higher than last year, but still comparatively lower than 2001. There were 37 more Significant Incidents in the last year. There were 27 fewer Non-Significant events than 2002. The number of fatalities is slightly lower than last year, but the sharp increase in the number of the injured reflects the comparative increase in the proportion of significant attacks.

We have 18 more total events, five more significant events and 13 more Non-Significant events, than originally reported. These new figures are accompanied by a dramatic increase in the numbers of casualties originally calculated.

I want to be very clear: We here in the Counterterrorism Office, and I personally, should have caught any errors that marred the Patterns draft before we published it. But I assure you and the American people that the errors in the Patterns report were honest mistakes, and certainly not deliberate deceptions as some have speculated, as I said, when the Patterns was released.

However, numbers do not tell the whole story. The most important things in the report continue to be valid. We saw less state sponsorship of terrorism. Libya has renounced terrorism. Sudan has taken significant steps towards being a cooperative partner in the global war on terrorism. Afghanistan is no longer a breeding ground for terrorism.

I noted that terrorism showed no sign of fading away. Regardless of the number of attacks reported, we continue to be at war with terrorists, with the major fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, where terrorists are working with other elements to launch attacks against coalition targets.

I noted that with enhanced intelligence sharing and law enforcement cooperation, we are seeing more plots thwarted, more terrorists identified and more perpetrators brought to justice. While great progress has been made in the war on terror, and we have killed or captured a significant portion of the leadership of al-Qaida and its affiliates, the number of significant terrorist attacks, and particularly of casualties, underscores the seriousness of the remaining threat. The unprecedented cooperation between the United States and its foreign partners which are cited in the report continues and will empower us to prevail.

I have a chart here to my left and I would just make a couple of remarks about it before we bring on Mr. Brennan. You need to appreciate, as I'm sure you will, historians and others will look at these figures and pore over them with calculators. The attempt here, at least initially, will be to give you the essence of the situation. The numbers developed and the methodology has remained constant over the various patterns. There have been inconsistencies and we will go over these a little bit.

What I’ve tried to do, if you look at the top two rows -- and, again, the essence here is to convey something that is imminently understandable and help you to phrase your questions. In the top row across you have the 2003 corrected, we have a number of 208. These are total events and they are essentially a combination of significant events, the 175, and Non-Significant events, 33; essentially the combination of these two together, significant events being premeditated, politically motivated, conducted by subnational actors or clandestine agents against noncombatants with the intent to influence. The Non-Significant essentially meets the criteria of being international involving individuals of at least two different countries but does not meet the criteria for significant.

I think it is very important to note the injuries here, the dead and the injured. And I think, again, when reviewing the figures and looking at it, we find that to be certainly of significance.

Right below that line is the published. This is what we put out in the Patterns and you see the statistics of the year before. One thing I want to point out in that in Patterns, if you look, whatever you look at, essentially it will refer to the previous year or perhaps even to years before where there is an adjustment. This is very much a dynamic process. It is one of accuracy in reporting. It is one of compilation, recordkeeping and the like.

So, as an example, to give you a sense of how dynamic it is, you take 2002: 198 is what we carry in the Patterns; with a revision over time we think that it is 205. You look at 1998, 273. We think that that has gone to 274. Invariably, this has to do with examples such as there was an attack and six people allegedly were killed and it turned out to be perhaps seven. Someone that was wounded we found subsequently had died, and so the number can fluctuate.

So what we had said before and we want to -- you know, the numbers are what essentially drive patterns. Historically when we speak of what goes first, historically over the years what we have reported to you all is the figure here, "Total Events." And when you look at this, there are a lot of different things one can count. There are a lot of different views one can approach this. Essentially, in the past, we’ve always gone with the total events.

It has been pointed out to us, and I want to underscore this and this is correct, the significant events are extremely important. And when you see, "Significant Events," you see the numbers essentially increasing. So, as an example, you get 119 here in 1998, you have a significant event corrected at 175, which is the highest and has significance, remember. This is the significance in terms of hostage taking, kidnapping, people have been killed, wounded. It can also do with economic attacks, terrorist attacks, if it is assessed the value is over 10,000. So "significant" is important. It has gone up to 175 and it is in the realm, essentially, to what we had in 1999. So the total events, combination of significant and Non-Significant.

The dead and the injured, I think it’s very important with the horrific news of the execution of the South Korean citizen, I think it’s very important to emphasize the thrust of this report is the patterns of global terrorism. Yes, numbers are crucially important. We have to pay certainly a lot more attention than we have in this report to the general trend. Where are we? The global war on terrorism. A lot of people losing their lives. The lives that have been saved have been a result of international cooperation, increased effectiveness among law enforcement agencies around the world, intelligence services, financial operations and the like.

But in this, a lot of people are being hurt, a lot of people are dying. And, as an example, in 2003, approximately 1.5 percent of all the fatalities, the dead and the injured, are American; the other percentage at 98.5 percent are non-U.S. citizens, which I think is a real indicator-- this is a global war.

These attacks have been significant. In 2003, an important statistic, which Mr. Brennan can talk about a little bit more, I think, is that almost as much as 50 percent of the casualties have taken place in 11 incidents in 7 countries and they have all been the result of Islamic extremist terrorists.

So I will stop here just for a minute, if you can hold your questions. I'll turn it over to Mr. Brennan, who will give you the piece from the intelligence side, and then we’ll try and answer your questions.

John.

MR. BRENNAN: Thank you, Cofer.

Good afternoon. My name is John Brennan. I'm the Director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center known by its acronym TTIC. TTIC is a multi-agency entity that is composed of analysts from the major federal departments and agencies involved in the fight against terrorism. TTIC reports to the Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet. Although I am a CIA officer, TTIC is not part of the CIA.

Numerous factors contributed to the inaccurate information contained in the 2003 Patterns of Global Terrorism publication. TTIC provided incomplete statistics to CIA, which incorporated those statistics into material passed to the Department of State. The statistics were generated by a longstanding interagency review process and database over which TTIC assumed administrative control in May 2003. No changes were made to that process by TTIC and the same database was used to compile the statistics for the 2003 Patterns publication that was used in previous years.

I must point out that this database is retrospective in focus and is not used to monitor, track or analyze current terrorist threats.

There was insufficient review and quality control throughout the entire data compilation, drafting and publication process, including the inaccurate and incomplete database numbers provided by TTIC. I assume personal responsibility for any shortcomings in TTIC's performance and I regret any embarrassment this issue has caused the Department or the Secretary.

Anyone who might assert that the numbers were intentionally skewed is mistaken. Over the past several weeks, TTIC personnel have conducted rigorous review of the database, computer technology, procedures, interagency process, methodology, criteria and definitions that have been used to compile international terrorism statistics over the past 20 years. This review has exposed serious deficiencies and ambiguities that need to be addressed immediately. As a result, I have directed that the interagency process that has been used to compile statistics and to support the Department in its annual Patterns publication be overhauled and that changes be made in the staffing, database and computer technology involved in this effort.

To date, TTIC's technical and analytic focus has been on how we, as a government, can more effectively identify, integrate and correlate intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security and other terrorism-related information to prevent future terrorist attacks. While this focus will remain our number one priority, and we will allocate analytic and budget resources accordingly, we will put in place a system in conjunction with our partner agencies that will provide accurate and meaningful metrics on international terrorist events. The Department must have confidence that whatever information it receives from TTIC is accurate.

I would now like to say a few words about the revised statistics, charts and chronologies that are being made available today. When it was brought to our attention that the information in Patterns was incorrect, TTIC staff conducted a thorough review of all reported terrorist incidents that took place in 2003. On the basis of that review, a total of 208 incidents were determined to meet the definition of international terrorism as articulated in Section 2656f of Title 22 of the U.S. Code. One hundred and seventy-five of these incidents met the threshold for Significant Incidents as defined by the Incident Review Panel, known as the IRP, which is an interagency panel established in the early 1980s consisting of representatives of CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the Department of State.

Since May of 2003, a member of TTIC has chaired this panel and has voted in cases of tie. The interagency Incident Review Panel is the body that makes the decisions on international terrorist incidents. In addition to the 176 Significant Incidents, TTIC staff identified another 33 incidents that were deemed Non-Significant, according to the definition established by the Incident Review Panel many years ago.

The definitions for Significant and Non-Significant International Terrorist Incidents are included in the material that is being provided today. These 208 total incidents, including the breakdown between Significant and Non-Significant, were then reviewed and validated at a special session of the Incident Review Panel that was convened last week.

One final point. Frequently, there is incomplete and often contradictory information available on reported terrorist events. Thus, it is up to the Incident Review Panel to make the best possible decisions on whether incidents meet the established definitions and thresholds, as well as to make informed judgments on the number of casualties involved. The materials being made available today reflect those decisions and judgments.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: I wonder if you gentlemen can tell me -- you've accepted responsibility now -- is anybody going to be fired or disciplined or has anybody resigned as a result of this very embarrassing mistake that seems to have involved several people in systems and layers?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Well, I think that we've got a lot of hardworking people doing a lot of different things. And we have been looking at the architecture, the process involved with this. We're going to look at the entire spectrum of how the information is stored, how it's put together both here at the State Department and particularly at the Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

In terms of your question, certainly the Secretary of State will determine what is and what is not appropriate. As I tried to indicate, you've got some fine people working very hard doing a lot of things. And this was an error of commission, but it was one developed over a significant period of time. We're dealing with old equipment and how we store it, being able to extract information out of the computers. We've got to update our equipment. And I think we will be able to develop a product that's more meaningful.

What I have learned in this, and, you know, hopefully, there are good things that come out of something like this. Obviously, no one would want this to happen. I want to leave you with the sense that these are very hardworking, well-intentioned people that do make mistakes. There is the omission in the chronology – but not in the narrative, but in the chronology, there is an omission from about the 11th of November onwards. And the vote of the Incident Review Panel was -- in the process of December -- should have been caught clearly. And we're still amazed it was not, but it was not. And not to make excuses, but the people in our shop as well as John's and in other agencies at that time were working around the clock, were not on holiday. We all missed Christmas and the holidays. We were looking at saving lives -- as you remember, the aviation threat -- we were addressing that and other issues.

So this is not in the realm of excuse-making. Please don't get me wrong. But it is in the realm of everyone has a lot to do and we should have caught this. But I think that we need to support our people a lot better in terms of the technology support that we give them so that we can more readily keep track of this information and codify it and put it one system. Mr. Brennan is looking at that. And then the objective will be, you know, what do we want Patterns to do? I think Mr. Brennan would state the fact that, you know, essentially what it was asked to do was provide a narrative on countries of particular significance in terrorism. It was initially not to provide statistics and chronologies. We sort of added this on over time. We need to look at and we need to make proposals to the Secretary. Working with others is exactly what we would like the Patterns to be able to indicate to our customers. This example of the horrific reported beheading of the South Korean citizen. You know, there are ways, I think, that we can look at developing a new Patterns that can be more useful to our superiors and our customers and you than what, on occasion, has been a compilation of new numbers. But we need to do a better job to keep track of that.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Can you -- just to follow up on the questions posed by Secretary Powell, can you talk about how the new numbers reflect your assessment of the pattern, of the trend, of the threat of terrorism, and how you feel this affects -- these new numbers reflect how you're doing in the war on terrorism?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Sure. I will give you one answer and, if I may, also turn to Mr. Brennan, who makes his living doing specifically that. The key points, I think, that one has to walk away with when looking at this, there is truly a global war on terrorism underway. There continue to be unacceptably high loss of life and injured. We and Americans take this very personally and we -- and our highest priority here in the States is to defend the homeland. We've established procedures to do this and mechanisms. We're getting stronger and stronger every day as a function of effort.

But I think what these numbers will tell you, or suggest to me anyway, is that the considerable loss of life, only a little bit more than 1.5 percent of the killed and wounded are American, that the vast majority of these incidents have been perpetrated by Islamic extremist terrorists on non-Americans around the world.

There is an international partnership. It is that partnership that will save lives. We're truly in this all together. This is not American focused, and I think the numbers reflect that. Tremendous progress has been made tactically in how we do counterterrorism. And I keep coming back to this theme with you always, and even if the numbers had fluctuated even more than that, this is what I would be telling you: The practitioners of this type of work are growing increasingly effective. They're doing a great job.

What we don't have -- I'd love to have a chart of this -- is, you know, the incidents that we stop and the lives that we save. And that number would certainly be going up. But it is bloody, significant loss of life, and there it seems to be a lot of it al-Qaida-associated or -related, and it's something that we are dealing with more efficiently. And the bottom line is we have to do a better job to protect people, get the wounded and the killed down.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Can I just -- two very quick things: One, the explanation from TTIC as to the omissions post -- mid-November, but I guess also the November 8th Saudi Arabia attack, is simply that they were forgotten about and just passed over? I mean we’re talking about, in addition to the Saudi attack, four extremely huge car bombings in Istanbul, which were neglected.

And, secondly, I just want to -- when you go back in the previous years, 2002 and the revisions, say, the 198 to 205, has that been -- were there any additional casualties that -- or have the casualty figures for those years been -- been altered to include those?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Yeah. As I said, this is a dynamic thing, and there is associated with these a range that we're still looking at. We're going to still be, you know, working on this and refine that more.

QUESTION: Because while you may have revised the 198 to 205, the published versions has those same --

AMBASSADOR BLACK: That's correct.

QUESTION: And, presumably, those seven additional attacks did cause some death and injury.

AIMBASSADOR BLACK: Yes.

QUESTION: So those figures are, basically, all incorrect.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Well, no, they can -- as I say, they are subject to being updated. We are working on that. The majority of these have to do with individuals, in hindsight, where the numbers have changed. But we will continue to work on this and we'll continue to have updated figures.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that. Do you think the 725 --

QUESTION: Well, wait a second. Answer the first --

QUESTION: Do you think the 725 and 2,013 are wrong?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Excuse me?

QUESTION: Do you think the 725 dead in 2002 and the 2,013 injured in 2002 are undercounted because now you've added some events?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Yeah. I do not believe so. I believe there is accuracy to this. As we say at the bottom, you know, there continues to be research associated with this. This is the best snapshot that we can give you at this time.

QUESTION: And the first -- the first one? They were just -- all these major incidents in the second half of November and December were just forgotten about? Is that --

AMBASSADOR BLACK: No, they were not forgotten about.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, by your people who were putting this together.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: No.

QUESTION: Why were they not counted?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: A couple of issues here. One is that the initial request that came in, came in at the end of December and early January of the statistics. The Incident Review Panel did not meet until the middle of January in order to review those incidents in the latter half of November and in the month of December. When those incidents were determined to be Significant or Non-Significant, they were input into the database. Now, this database is an exceptionally antiquated database. It has been in use for more than 10 years, one that TTIC inherited and one that we now understand exactly its flaws and its deficiencies.

When they were input and it was input through only two parts of this database, they didn't spill over then to the other side that would actually generate the statistics. They were still captured in the database. Therefore, when the statistics and the chronologies that were built from those statistics were provided to CIA, it only stopped -- it only provided those -- that information up to the 11th of November. And, therefore, when that information went forward, as I said, there was inattention as far as the quality control and reviewing and seeing whether or not there was a complete statistical run at that time.

QUESTION: That doesn't explain the 8th of November attack in Saudi.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Well, what I said was then we also -- TTIC staff did a thorough review of all the terrorist incidents that were reported in 2003. Some of those incidents were deemed to be not international terrorist incidents. When our staff went back and took a look at them, in fact, they did meet the threshold for international terrorism. So you will see many changes throughout the course of the year as far as incidents that were included in Patterns that had been taken out and new incidents that have been put in prior to November 11th. This is a result of a thorough and constant review over the last two weeks and the analysts involved have scrubbed all of this information and that is why the special Incident Review Panel was convened last week in order to validate that.

QUESTION: But, in plainer English, isn't the answer to that question that this was a computer error?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: It is a combination of things. There was a transition from CIA to TTIC. There was the individual who was responsible for this unit left the position in December and was not replaced, has not yet been replaced. It's a CIA officer who left. There were individual contractors who actually had the inputting responsibilities for the database. Contractors rotated. And so the individual who was in charge of those contractors who left and the contractors then mis-input the new information into the database. So it was a combination of things: inattention, personnel shortages and database that is awkward and is antiquated and needs to have very proficient input be made in order for to be sure that the numbers will spill then to the different categories that are being captured.

QUESTION: Excuse me, if I could follow up? Then the failure, apparently, was that once this flawed information went to the CIA, it was not properly vetted there? And, similarly, it then went to the State Department where it was also not properly, if at all, vetted? Is that what happened?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: I will leave it to CIA and State Department to talk about the review that was provided to that information.

QUESTION: Well, we don't have them or we don't have the CIA here. What’s your understanding?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: My understanding is that the incomplete and inaccurate statistics that TTIC provided to CIA was then passed on to State Department in its same form.

QUESTION: Mr. Black, the Kerry Campaign is critical of you today, I mean of the report process, and at least a couple of members of the House Democrats are critical. They see a pattern, not just here but elsewhere. The Terrorism Office has been looked at pretty much as a politically neutral, you know, people who are serious about analysis.

Wasn't it a mistake as you look back just a couple of months for administration officials -- wasn't it poor form for administration officials to be using analytical material as examples of the President's success in a political -- in a politically charged campaign to say that this shows that he's doing a great job? Was that right? Didn't you sort of bring this on yourself -- not you necessarily, but by being a little exuberant? The man who was most exuberant is on vacation now so we can't ask him.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Well, the numbers are developed. TTIC provided those numbers to us and we analyzed those and we have tried to figure out what this meant, what the trends were.

QUESTION: Right.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: And I think as we've gone over this today, I guess one of the themes I'm trying to describe to you is the constancy: what was true then, what is true now. And there are a lot of ways to tell a story and I think the bottom line of the story remains constant: There is a global war; the terrorists need to be engaged and they are effectively being engaged; lives are being saved in this process; there has been unacceptably high loss of life and injury.

And as I pointed out, I think it is very important to look at the significant numbers of events, 175. That's a high. That's where most of your casualties are. And that is essentially in the realm -- if you look down the chart, we have the numbers here -- to 168. It's kind of in that range. Yet if you look at the total events, you know, you can choose and you may have to decide what to weigh.

We, historically, with the patterns, the State Department has put forward, you know, the patterns of terrorism, the overall number, the composite of the Significant and the Non-Significant. I think what we need to do is take this as an opportunity to figure out, you know, what the thrust is. And I think a good argument that can be made is that we should essentially go back to an emphasis of the narrative, and to develop what is a trend that is of use to our customer, to the Secretary of State and to all of you. And if it were me, whereas, you know, we are going to work very hard to get new technology and put enough people on this problem, I think it is the trend that is important, and perhaps get a little bit away from the minutiae of the, you know, determination between a Non-Significant event and something that's not even counted and stick with the fundamental charts.

QUESTION: Ambassador Black --

QUESTION: Ambassador, can I follow up --

QUESTION: Ambassador Black, could you explain to us, give us an example of what a Non-Significant event is? I know you've said that before. But one more time. What is a -- what constitutes a Non-Significant event?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Well, sure. If you look -- I think we've provided you a handout and there's a list of them and you can see for yourself what they are. But, essentially, the Non-Significant would be international. In other words, they involve the personnel of two countries or more, or the territories of two countries or more, and that are international but don't -- do not --meet the criteria for being Significant.

And this goes back to, you know, the definition that we work with in Title 22, you know, a premeditated, politically motivated and the like. And as Mr. Brennan pointed out, these are all things that we are looking forward to working on. But it is assessed, analyzed and adjudicated by the interagency panel.

QUESTION: Ambassador Black --

QUESTION: Also, sir, did you measure --

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Also, sir, did you measure how --

QUESTION: Ambassador Black --

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Please. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Going back to your storyline, one of the reasons that this has attracted so much interest, of course, is the trend that was drawn from those earlier remarks. And you had Deputy Secretary Armitage saying, "Indeed, you will find in these pages clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight." And what we're wondering is whether you would make the same statement today, based on numbers that show that the number of dead has increased from 307 to 625, more than doubled; the injured have gone up from 1,500 to 3,600, almost 150 percent. Secretary Powell said that, well, Rich Armitage was saying something based on a report that was, in fact, wrong.

Now that we know these numbers, would you say that the Bush Administration, in fact, and the report shows and that there is clear evidence that you're prevailing in the war on terrorism?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Well, I mean, I think we have to look at the numbers and consider them. I think it is important to emphasize, as you pointed out, the general thrust of the pattern of global terrorism. I mean, just as an aside, you know, the figure that you're pointing out in terms of injured, too, if you look in 1998, there were 5,952, and that's larger than the ones up above.

I think the way I would characterize it is that, and as the President has stated, this is a war of uncertain duration. It is global. You have Islamic extremist terrorists, primarily, that are focusing on the United States and leading nations in the global war on terrorism, and that the significant loss of life so far has been non-American. I think the fight is underway and it is the international relationships that we have with foreign countries that will allow us to prevail. We are determined to prevail. And I think as time goes by, we increasingly make improved progress in counterterrorism efficiency.

QUESTION: You're not prepared to --

AMBASSADOR BLACK: I'm not --

QUESTION: You're not prepared to repeat what he said?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Yeah, I'm going to --

QUESTION: You don't see the same evidence in this report that he did in that one?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Well, I don't think there is -- I don't think there is a difference. I'll let Mr. Armitage speak for himself. I'm giving you my view.

Yes, sir, in the back. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Yes. Ambassador Black, aren't you even now, with the corrected numbers, understating the problem? You said that terrorism -- terrorist incidents are down from where they were in 2001. In fact, if you look at Significant events, which are the ones, by definition, that we care about -- this is where there are casualties --

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Have gone up.

QUESTION: -- have gone up and are at a 20-year high. Is it not right -- they’re at a 20-year high with these new numbers?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: That is correct, in terms of the 175 figure.

QUESTION: A 20-year high. Why didn't you mention that? I mean, it's not in the report. You have this -- the spin seems to be here that we're in a situation where, yeah, it's up a little bit from last year but it's not as high as it was in 2001. But what matters, the Significant events, a 20-year high. That's a different story.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: I think you need -- well, what I'm trying to get to is, you know, one can emphasize various things. I think in my statement I've repeatedly said Significant events, and I pointed out 175, I said it is a high, that is true. You know, it is a high statistically. There are other, you know, there are other -- 168 is a reasonably close figure. You know, you can look at this and I guess it's like a Rorschach test. You know, you can see what you want.

What I'm trying to do is stick with the aspects of counterterrorism. I think this gives an opportunity to make a product, a publication, that is increasingly useful to people. You are -- if you're looking for me to say it -- which I have said repeatedly, 175 is a high --

QUESTION: A 20-year high.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: The significance of that, I think, is right there, 175. It is close to 168. And, you know, I think that the significant change is in terms of the casualties in a very small number of attacks. You know, you've got basically last year almost 50 percent. You know, it depends. What we're trying to do is count in a meaningful way, and if you look at last year, 2003, almost 50 percent of the casualties, the killed and wounded, come from 11 attacks. And included -- I should get --

QUESTION: This was last year?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Yeah, this was last year. But over -- I mean, it is significant. Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not arguing. I'm just trying to give some perspective of that. What would be considered as a major attack -- and I have to find a piece of paper here just to jog my memory -- as an example. This was determined by the interagency panel, but terrorism, whether it's Significant or Insignificant, is a function of this interagency panel of experts that come together and validate. And as an example of a low-end, what I would consider a low-end incident, would be: In Spain, on 8 September of 2003, Madrid, Spain, authorities safely defused a partial bomb hidden in a book that was sent to the Greek consulate. According to press reports, authorities suspected an anarchist group is responsible.

Okay. Now that would be carried as an incident. Okay? And what is the -- when you weigh these things, what is the value of that incident in terms of the 11 incidents that produce 50 percent of the casualties?

I'm not trying to argue. I'm just trying to say that there is, I think, a better way of looking at this, a lot better way to present it, perhaps, than we have with these kinds of numbers.

QUESTION: But, if I could, let me follow up on that point. Your first report said that the number of terrorist incidents, it didn't give us Significant or "Insignificant" terrorists incidents, was at a 34-year low.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Correct.

QUESTION: Now this report says "Significant events," those that we care about, those that cause death, serious injury, and more than $10,000 in damage, are at a 20-year high. Doesn’t that not only mean a difference in the charts here, but also in the first sentence of your conclusion that we have made significant progress in the two and a half years in the global war?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: We have made significant progress. We have presented, historically, the overall total of Significant and Non-Significant combined. And this is what we originally published, the 190, This is what's been updated and adjudicated, 208. And if you see that, that statistically is true. The 175 is high. You can choose that statistic. You can choose another one, you know. It's what we're trying to do is to present, I think, the essence of it.

I think it has significance that the numbers of incidents, you know, the Significant and "Insignificant" were, I think, it was like at a 34-year low. I do think it is also very important, as I have pointed out, the 175 figure, it's just previously, historically, that's not what we presented. And, in fact, you know, the presentation of a chronology is also an option that we put in. We, historically, also have not published the Non-Significant events which we have presented to you today.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Black, in your calculus, is there any calculation for those who are killed in the government or any government in the world war on terrorism of civilians who are killed by mistake, like in Iraq and Israel and anywhere when the government tries to counter terrorism, civilians are killed. Is there any calculation for these people, as well?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Yeah. I'll probably ask Mr. Brennan to jump in on this. I mean, again, the way that Patterns has come about, this is through our definitions of what is Significant, what is Non-Significant. And, essentially, to sort of essentially answer your story, if it is a domestic action, if a national of a country is killed by an individual of the same country, the same national in the same country, that's domestic and we don't count it.

QUESTION: But if it was killed by other forces, like the American forces in Iraq or Israeli forces in Palestine?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Well, I mean, these kinds of things go -- the -- it has to be against a noncombatant to be a terrorist incident, not against a combatant. It has to be involved individuals who are subnational, in other words, don't belong to a country, or be a clandestine agent for us to count them. Otherwise, outside of that, according to our definitions that are passed to us, we don't count it.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Can I just say one quick question to follow up?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Yes, ma'am. Yeah.

QUESTION: You were talking before about Islamic -- Islamic terrorism actually rising. The war in Iraq was supposed to be to change the dynamic in the Middle East and decrease that. I wonder if you -- what can you tell us about the impact of Iraq on the patterns of terrorism?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Well, I think the approach is to when there is a threat against civilization, it is probably prudent to confront it, to face it in an effective manner, and I think that's the approach that the President has taken and that's what we are doing.

And in the course of war, there are losses. And, unfortunately, whereas, our effectiveness in this type of activity is increasing because of the global nature of it and the viciousness of it, as we have seen today with the execution of the South Korean, you know, the numbers are unacceptably high.

QUESTION: If I could follow up on that. The International Institute for Strategic Studies, which is a fairly prestigious think tank in London, two weeks ago said in a report that the main effect of the U.S. invasion of Iraq was "accelerated recruitment" of terrorism.

Will you respond to that? I mean some people say the war in Iraq has made it worse not better.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: I don't think so. I think when you, when you reduce the areas in which terrorists can be trained, from which they can be facilitated and sent against targets, this is a good thing.

And I will tell you, my friend, I’ve heard that type of argument for years and that was the same justification that I had heard in similar quarters of, you know, why we did not defend ourselves in terms of against al-Qaida in Afghanistan. When there is a threat, a mortal threat of terrorists, those that facilitate this process have to be encouraged not to continue to provide that support.

QUESTION: Can we just ask Mr. Brennan a technical question?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Sure, you can ask. If you want to ask Mr. Brennan, I certainly would permit you to do it.

QUESTION: No, no, you were deferring to him on a similar question.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Please. So do you want to talk to --

QUESTION: I want to know how the Arab-Israeli or the Israeli-Palestinian attacks and counterattacks were dealt with here. In other words, when a café is blown up those are victims of terror, correct?

MR. BRENNAN: As long as it meets the established definition of international terrorism which means that it's politically motivated violence perpetrated by subnational groups or clandestine agents involving the citizens or territory of more than one country -- again, politically motivated violence perpetrated by subnational groups involving the citizens or territory of more than one country.

Now, as I look back over the years and the criteria that -- established by the IRP, it involves more than just citizens and property -- citizens and territory. It also seems to include property as well as symbols of another country.

QUESTION: Did we get hung up on one country? The question being, of course, that most of the terror groups operate out of the West Bank. Some operate out of Lebanon. Hezbollah is moving more -- getting a bigger presence in Gaza, and in all, but it's essentially been a Lebanon operation. Do you know what I'm talking about?

When cafes are blown up by Palestinian terrorists, the victims are listed here as victims of terrorism, no?

MR. BRENNAN: Frequently, if they involve citizens of other countries.

QUESTION: Well, is Palestine another country? It's not a country.

MR. BRENNAN: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Palestine isn’t a country.

MR. BRENNAN: That's correct.

QUESTION: So, but -- so are they victims -- are they victims of something going on within the country?

MR. BRENNAN: If it's politically --

QUESTION: And I want to know about the Israeli counterattacks. What do you do with that?

MR. BRENNAN: If it's politically motivated violence and there are many instances here, in Significant attacks, as well as the Non-significant attacks, for example, bus bombings in Jerusalem, attacks on the West Bank and other places that are included here.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. BRENNAN: And it is based on the IRP's determination about whether or not the type of attack meets the established legal definition of international terrorism and whether it meets the criteria for Significant or Non-significant. That's what they do.

QUESTION: When the Israelis attack searching for terrorists, they say a refugee camp and civilians are killed. Are they victims of terrorism?

MR. BRENNAN: Again, going back to the definition, subnational group or clandestine agents. So, that type of attack would not constitute that.

QUESTION: How do you take into account the Israeli soldiers that were killed

in the West Bank? Just to follow up on Barry's point, how did you account for Israeli soldiers that were killed in the West Bank which is an occupied territory?

MR. BRENNAN: If they were deemed to be combatants, they do not -- it has to be noncombatant target. I should have included that as well.

QUESTION: They were still in uniform?

MR. BRENNAN: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: If they were in uniform, they were not clandestine agents.

MR. BRENNAN: Well, there are individuals that are included in here, such as peacekeepers and others, who are, just because they are in uniform does not make them a combatant. So a determination is made by the IRP about whether or not they fit that combatant status. If they do, then that's deemed to be not international terrorism.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the --

QUESTION: Pardon me, sir. That's --

QUESTION: -- which would seem to be the genesis of the errors? It seemed to me that you initially said that the information was correctly inputted into your antiquated database, then for some reason it was not totaled, and then later you said that it was incorrectly inputted.

MR. BRENNAN: No, I did not say it was correctly inputted. I said that there was information that was subsequently inputted into the database that was not generated then when the database was pulsed. So some of the information from November and December was, in fact, input. But, in fact, looking back over the entire year, including that period, there were some incidents that should have been deemed to be international terrorist events.

QUESTION: Okay. So it was put in, but it just wasn't counted right, then, once it was put in?

MR. BRENNAN: Once it goes into the database, it's another step, in fact, several steps based on this database system that requires the individuals to generate the statistics based on incidents and whether they are Significant, Non-Significant, and casualties, whatever. That extraction process did not work for a combination of database problems, individuals who were not sufficiently trained on that, apparently, and also that there was lack of management oversight there because of the individual who was in charge of that unit left.

QUESTION: One question for Mr. Black. Can you tell us, the Significant event of 175 last year, that is the highest since when exactly, since what year?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: It's '82? I think it's 1982.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, can I ask one question with two semicolons to it, if I may? Okay? All right. And here goes my question. Talking about your definition of international terrorism, as applied to coalition forces in Iraq, if a Syrian or any non-Iraqi were to attack coalition forces that would not be a terrorist incident?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Do you want to take that?

QUESTION: And I still have two other parts to this question.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: I'll turn it over to Mr. Brennan, since it's his people that chair the --

MR. BRENNAN: A determination would have to be made by the Incident Review Panel to determine whether those individuals in uniform, as part of the coalition, were combatant forces.

QUESTION: And the same would hold true, then, if Hezbollah attacked Israel Defense Forces within Israel? Would Israeli forces be considered combatants?

MR. BRENNAN: It would all depend on the situation, the individuals involved and what their position was. Again, the Incident Review Panel, which is this multi-agency element, makes that determination.

QUESTION: So I guess then, in context of a war on terrorism, in your professional opinions, if you're free to respond to this, do you think the definition of international terrorism needs to be revised, given the realities of 2004? Is it -- does it tell the whole story?

MR. BRENNAN: I think the definition, as included in the law, is exceptionally broad, and is, in fact, quite inclusive, and therefore we need to take a look at whether or not that definition is as clear and unambiguous as possible in order to take into account the realities of 2003 and 2004.

In addition, the criteria that was developed by the Incident Review Panel many years ago to determine Significance or Non-Significance, I think is in need of immediate overhaul, as I mentioned, because a Significant incident will be determined if, in fact, there is serious bodily injury, death, major property damage of $10,000 or more, or the intent to do any of those.

So, therefore, a Molotov cocktail against an ATM machine, which is outside the Citibank, let's say, in some foreign country, and it was done, it was perpetrated by a group in order to show opposition against, let's say, a U.S. presence there, that is deemed then to be significant because it exceeds the $10,000 threshold.

Now I think one of the issues that we have to look at here is over the past 20 years, the Incident Review Panel consists of different representatives. There have been many different people there and there's a certain degree of subjectivity that is required as far as determining whether or not it meets the threshold, and then the application of that criteria.

And so I think Ambassador Black was exactly correct in terms of what type of metrics, what type of statistics, what type of lessons do we really want to learn from international terrorist events?

And so I think what we're going to be doing over the next several weeks is working very closely with the Department to determine exactly what needs to be done in order to fulfill the statutory intent of having an annual publication from the State Department that gives the government and the American people a true and fair assessment of the status of international terrorism. And I think over the years this has been on autopilot, and there are a number of issues here I think need to be addressed. And I think it needs to get on the right track so that we really come away with this type of information, so we learn from those lessons.

As far as TTIC is concerned, we are focusing, as I said in my remarks, on trying to stop the next attacks. We're putting our resources, we're trying to improve and enhance the technology on the different databases that we have access to, so we can bring it together in some type of integrated architecture.

We need to get this right. But this is looking back, as far as statistics. We need to understand this, that it's a stand-alone system. But if we're going to continue to do this, we have to make sure it's done well and it satisfies the need of Ambassador Black, Deputy Secretary Armitage, and Secretary Powell to give them what they need in order to really understand and then to comment on the status of international terrorism.

QUESTION: One more question.

QUESTION: Just a quick one on Iraq. If -- I understand your reasons for not counting attacks by terrorists, even Zarqawi, on-duty military personnel in Iraq, doesn't fit in your definition. But do you have any idea, either one of you, if you did include those? After all, the President continually refers to those as terrorist attacks; Zarqawi is a terrorist. If you did include those attacks, what would happen to your numbers?

MR. BRENNAN: They are terrorist attacks. The question is whether or not they meet the statutory language of international terrorist attacks. There are many incidents included in the material passed out today of events in Iraq. There were a number of attacks against hotels and other places.

Again, it's based on a determination. If it's an attack inside Iraq, by Iraqis, against an Iraqi target, that is domestic violence -- domestic terrorism. It doesn't meet the definitions as established for international terrorism. But if, in fact, it involves other types of citizens, noncombatants, or other features that are called for here in the international terrorism definition, then it would make it. Again, there are individual case-by-case decisions that need to be made on these incidents.

QUESTION: No, but I'm just asking, do you have any idea if you did count the attacks of Zarqawi and others on U.S. on-duty personnel, what would happen to those numbers?

MR. BRENNAN: When attacks take place and by the Zarqawi network or others, many of those have involved deaths of American soldiers, as well as noncombatants, and those deaths are included in the statistics and those events included in the statistics.

AMBASSADOR BLACK: That's why I think it's very important. You know, we're going to look forward to the opportunity to make this a better product and we'll go back to those that are the ones that come up with the definitions that we work with and look at a way to refine this to make it more useful, and hopefully, you know, begin to answer some questions like that.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: One last question. Mr. Black?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Just to clarify, the initial failure was the computer and programming input problem that was described by Mr. Brennan, then there was an apparent lack of vetting by the CIA, although you have not said so explicitly. And then, was there also a failure at the State Department to vet the material as received from those sources before you put it out? And has that now changed? Can you describe -- can you just clarify that?

AMBASSADOR BLACK: We are in the process of changing that and looking at it. Clearly, since I am the one that recommend to the Secretary that this document be published, it is my responsibility that it be error-free. It was not.

We do rely upon the TTIC and the CIA to provide us accurate information. And you've heard from Mr. Brennan about the plans he is making, both in terms of technology and personnel, to do that. But we, in my office, have to do a better job of proofreading what we get, and we obviously didn't do a good enough job of that and we're going to make corrections to do that.

QUESTION: Thank you.



Released on June 22, 2004

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