COMMENTS: Terrorism on the March

The State Department received a unanimous nod for the Story of the Day. All three networks led with the bad news on the global status of the War on Terrorism. Terrorist-minded organizations are on the march, according to the diplomats' annual report, 40% more deadly than in 2005. In 2006, terrorist attacks killed 20,000 people, more than half of them Moslems.

Even though the document was produced by the State Department, both CBS and ABC assigned Pentagon correspondents to summarize its findings. ABC's Jonathan Karl listed Afghanistan, Sudan and Nigeria as countries where terrorism is on the upswing and Indonesia where it is on the decline. Iraq, however, is by far the world's hotspot, according to the State Department, accounting for fully 13,000 of last year's global 20,000 terrorism death toll. After "doing away with a regime that sponsored terrorism," Iraq has turned into a "safe haven for terror attacks well beyond its borders," Karl commented. However, the American civilian toll from terrorists last year was "relatively small," CBS' David Martin pointed out, just 28 deaths.

NBC had Ned Colt cover the report from London, where a jury had just convicted a cell of five English-born militants for plotting to blow up a downtown nightclub. As in past years, Colt observed, the State Department named Iran as the nation state that is terrorists' most active sponsor. CBS' Sheila MacVicar covered the specifics of the surveillance to foil the London fertilizer bomb: 90 telephone lines bugged, 27,000 hours of audio and video monitored, 33,000 hours of stakeout duty. The video included two men "on the periphery of the investigation" who were not arrested and ended up as suicides in the mass transit bomb attack in London in July 2005. Unidentified sources at Scotland Yard told MacVicar that the cell was directed by abdal-Hadi al-Iraqi, the alleged al-Qaeda leader now held at the USNavy base at Guantanamo Bay.


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