According to the U.S. State Department, terror attacks and related deaths have been declining. However, the agency admits there are still potent threats to address.
Country Reports on Terrorism for 2017 showed that the number of global terrorist attacks dropped by 23 percent in 2017 and related deaths fell 27 percent. While attacks occurred in 100 countries, they were concentrated in five countries: Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Pakistan and the Philippines.
Nathan Sales, State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism highlighted U.S. efforts to push ISIS out of Syria and Iraq as the Trump administration’s significant accomplishments in the fight against terrorism.
Sales said 99 percent of ISIS stronghold in Iraq and Syria has now been liberated – freeing more than 7.7 million people from the reigns of that ruthless terrorist group.
Sales warned that terrorist threat has grown “more complex” as ISIS and al Qaeda continue to be potent threats.
“ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates have proven to be resilient, determined and adaptable, and they have adjusted to heightened counterterrorism pressure in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere,” the report says.
Sales cautioned that many of those ISIS fighters are now returning home from battlegrounds in Syria and Iraq, posing a more dispersed threat on potentially “soft targets,” such as hotels, markets and other places where civilians frequent.
“They have become more dispersed and clandestine, turning to the internet to inspire attacks by distant followers, and, as a result, have made themselves less susceptible to conventional military action,” Sales said.
“Further, the return or relocation of foreign terrorist fighters from the battlefield has contributed to a growing cadre of experienced, sophisticated, and connected terrorist networks, which can plan and execute terrorist attacks.”
“Al Qaeda is a determined and patient adversary,” Sales said. “They have largely remained out of the headlines in recent years. They were content to let ISIS bear the brunt of the international response. But we shouldn’t confuse a period of relative quiet with al Qaeda’s abandonment of its capabilities and its intentions to strike the United States and its allies.”