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Chaos in the global village.

In 1992, 78 percent of all attacks against American targets abroad occurred in Latin America. Although the number of incidents declined in 1993, the threat itself is changing and becoming more diverse, according to Larry Daniele, an analyst for the Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis (ITA) of the U.S. Department of State.

Daniele made his remarks at the world threat overview session of the Overseas Security Advisory Council's (OSAC) annual briefing to members. Following are highlights from the OSAC meeting, which was held in Washington, D.C.

Latin America. American businesses, religious interests, and diplomats are the preferred targets of terrorists and other criminals in Latin America. "It used to be virtually all terrorism by indigenous groups, but that is no longer true," Daniele said. "Islamic groups have found their way to South America." In Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, the founding of Shiite communities has increased, he reported to attendees.

One of the countries that pose the highest risk to American interests is Peru. The main groups there have suffered setbacks at the hands of the Peruvian security forces, according to Daniele, so the climate is improving.

Since the capture of Abimael Guzman, the leader of Sendero Luminoso, or the Shining Path, the group seems to have changed its modus operandi, observed Daniele. It has shifted from government to civilian targets, but the numbers of attacks have decreased.

Daniele warned businesspeople to be aware of important anniversary dates of the Shining Path and groups like it because followers are likely to attack on those dates. Two significant anniversaries for the Shining Path occur in December--Guzman's birthday on the third and, since the group was founded on Maoist teachings, Mao Zedong's birthday on the twenty-sixth.

Colombia is another high-risk country, according to Daniele. There, the threat comes from drug traffickers and guerillas. Pablo Escobar, the recently killed leader of the Medellin drug cartel, was to blame for much of the violence at the beginning of this year. Since April, however, no significant incidents have occurred. Daniele said that the lull may have been caused by a group called People Persecuted By Pablo Escobar, which has waged a campaign of violence against Escobar.

The biggest threat to U.S. businesspeople in Colombia is kidnapping, according to Daniele. At greatest risk are oil and mining executives who work in the country's rural regions. The usual motive is ransom, and the executives are usually released unharmed.

Daniele noted that he sees signs of improvement in the region. Through most of 1993, there had been sixty-eight attacks against U.S. targets compared to 111 the year before. Insurgent groups were typically founded on Marxist or Maoist doctrines that are losing popular support as democracies on the continent are struggling to their feet. While terrorism is declining, however, violent crime is growing, and as long as people still view the United States as an exploitative country, its interests will be targeted.

Africa. Crime is the biggest problem in North African nations, and foreign businesspeople are the preferred target, according to ITA Analyst Al Hickson. The cause of this activity is explosive population growth, food shortages, poverty, debt, and the refugee crisis. Hickson does not foresee these problems going away in the near future. He predicted that the crime problem will continue to grow as well. He told the OSAC attendees that some victimization can be prevented by following commonsense measures, such as reading consular information sheets and going to markets in groups or with a native guide.

Hickson also pointed out that democratization is causing unrest in the area, and the threat of terrorism is high. He told OSAC members to expect more military mutinies in the future. Although such military actions are not necessarily anti-American, American businesspeople or business interest can be hurt or damaged incidentally by such unrest.

The analyst went on to say that even though Sub-Saharan Africa has been virtually unaffected by terrorism, businesspeople should still beware. The prospect of a terrorism spillover from the Middle East, the rise of Sudan as a state sponsor of these activities, and the possibility of terrorism in South Africa all make the use of guerilla war tactics a risk in the area.

Asia. "U.S. interests in Asia are probably less troubled by terrorism than anywhere else in the world," reported Analyst Kathy Henry. Problems with student groups in South Korea, the strained relationship between North and South Korea, crime and kidnapping in the Philippines, and possible repercussions resulting from the U.N. brokered elections in Cambodia are all still threats; however, they are declining, according to the ITA analyst.

Henry spoke of the war in Afghanistan, saying it, too, still poses a threat to U.S. interests in the area, even though the country is struggling toward a resolution of the conflict. Pakistan, on the other hand, has been added to the watch list for those countries that sponsor terrorism. Should it be added to the permanent list of high-risk countries, Henry predicted there will be a retaliation against U.S. targets. Still, she said, "Asia is a relatively safe place for American interests."

Middle East. Analyst Amy Stovall took OSAC members on a terrorism tour around the Middle East. She said the peace accord signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization will hang heavily over the region. Radicals on both sides of the issue can be counted on for violence as the details are worked out. Even though Palestinian violence has been declining since 1987, the violence in the Israeli-occupied territories of Gaza and Jericho will continue, she predicted. Although the violence is generally not directed at American targets, added Stovall, "it is easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time." Stovall reiterated what most people already know about the dangers of Lebanon and showed slides of destroyed buildings to prove it. She said, "Our strict security policy in Lebanon has protected us so far, but remember, in Lebanon we cannot be too careful." Yemen is also a dangerous place for Americans, according to Stovall. She touted Yemen as a good place for civil disorder and riots. Everyone is fair game there, but American targets are a favorite.

Western Europe. According to analyst Andy Corsun, terrorist incidents in Western Europe have dropped this year for three reasons: better cooperation among security forces throughout the continent; the failure of Communism; and the Middle East peace accord, which forced some state sponsors of terrorism to reel in their operatives for awhile.

While Western Europe is the primary operating area for Middle East terrorism outside of the region, many of the problems in Europe come from separatist groups. These groups, however, pose only an incidental threat to U.S. interests, Corsun told the OSAC group.

CIS. Analyst Dennis Pluchinsky summed up the factors leading to instability in Russia as follows: rising crime, no controls over weapons, inexperienced security and law enforcement personnel, economic uncertainty, refugees from civil wars in neighboring countries, and the right wing nationalist party threat.

He also explained that ethnic suppression throughout the entire CIS is a time bomb waiting to explode and that the rise in ultra-nationalism is the biggest problem the commonwealth faces.
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Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Security Spotlight; world-wide security threats
Author:Arbetter, Lisa
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Words:1198
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