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Security analysts at odds over terrorism repo -

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Security analysts at odds over terrorism report

The World Today - Thursday, 22 May , 2008 12:25:55

Reporter: Sara Everingham

ELEANOR HALL: A study by Canadian researchers has found that there has been a sharp fall in
terrorism and support for terrorism since 2001.

The researchers from the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver say that the number of people killed
in terrorist attacks around the world has dropped by 40 per cent in the last seven years.

But other security analysts disagree. They say terrorist attacks are increasing in number although
perhaps not as much as some political leaders would have us believe.

Sara Everingham reports.

SARA EVERINGHAM: It's a question that's widely debated: has the incidence of terrorism in the world
increased?

Canadian researchers say on their figures the number of terrorist attacks has dropped since 2001.

Andrew Mack is the director of the Human Security Report Project.

ANDREW MACK: Well we think on a review of the three major data sets in the United States, the
decline is around 40 per cent.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In his figures Andrew Mack doesn't include the intentional killing of civilians in
Iraq since the US invasion because he says they've occurred during wartime.

But Clive Williams, a terrorism expert from Macquarie University, says some of those deaths should
be included in the terrorism figures.

CLIVE WILLIAMS: You know, the US military tends to regard the insurgents as terrorists, whereas I
think many countries would regard them as insurgents. But clearly when the people that are fighting
against the Americans target civilians in market places and Shiite or Sunni mosques then clearly
that's an act of terrorism.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But even if the figures from Iraq are excluded some analysts say terrorist attacks
are still more prevalent and more deadly than they've been in the past.

David Wright-Neville is an associate professor at the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash
University.

DAVID WRIGHT-NEVILLE: That stands in stark contrast to a number of other studies. For example,
there was a study released last year by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruikshank that shows that terrorism
since the invasion of Iraq has gone up over 600 per cent around the world. And in fact if we take
out Iraq and Afghanistan from those figures, it's still gone up significantly on average I think
around about 12 per cent per year.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But he says the risk isn't spread evenly across the globe and he suggests that in
some Western countries the fear of terrorism doesn't reflect reality.

DAVID WRIGHT-NEVILLE: There is I think an incentive there for politicians to exploit the fear that
this generates. Terrorism is by its nature something that preys on the most basic of human emotions
and politicians I think are inclined to respond to that in ways that sometimes exaggerate our
fears.

SARA EVERINGHAM: David Wright-Neville isn't complimentary about the way the former prime minister
John Howard handled concerns about terrorism.

DAVID WRIGHT-NEVILLE: Well I think the former prime minister was a master at exploiting those
fears. He was also a master of scape-goating the root causes of terrorism and shifting the blame
onto particular religions and cultures. Really it's over-simplifying the phenomenon to the point of
absurdity.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But why is it that in last year's federal election campaign terrorism was not a
major theme?

David Wright-Neville again:

DAVID WRIGHT-NEVILLE: I think there's the boredom factor. I think that because we haven't had a
major attack in so long, it's no longer attracting the media attention and therefore the political
attention that it was say immediately after the London bombings.

SARA EVERINGHAM: If terrorism is falling off the front pages in the west, David Wright-Neville
hopes it's still in the foreground for policy makers.

Clive Williams says the official threat level for Australia hasn't changed since the September 11
attacks.

CLIVE WILLIAMS: Well there's the Pendennis trials going on at the moment, which haven't concluded,
but Faheem Khalid Lodhi was convicted of planning a terrorist attack, Willie Brigitte was deported
back to France and is serving time in France, and I think that there are ongoing probably people
who are influenced by what goes on outside of Australia and these would be home-grown people that
might do something in the future.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Clive Williams from Macquarie University speaking to Sara Everingham.