Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


What Is Terrorism?

A quirk in how the U.S. government defined terrorism meant that when Chechen rebels blew up two airliners almost simultaneously over Russia last year, only one was counted in an annual tally of terrorist attacks.

On board one plane were 46 Russians. But the other had 43 Russians and an Israeli citizen — a foreign national that allowed the explosion to meet the U.S. criteria for international terrorism.

A new database assembled by the National Counterterrorism Center that was to go online early Wednesday has broadened the definition of terrorism to include both bombings. In the process, the center has increased by fivefold the number of attacks it considered terrorism in 2004: 3,192 with 28,433 people killed, wounded or kidnapped.

Using a more stringent definition in April, the State Department and the counterterrorism center had tallied 651 significant international terror attacks last year, with more than 9,000 victims.

So reports the Boston Globe.