If that day without terrorists never comes – There’s always USAF Captain Clay "Mag" Percle from Clarksville, Tenn., a 1st Fighter Wing Raptor pilot. He recently flew a new 5th Generation F-22 stealth fighter from Lockheed Martin's plant in Marietta, Ga., to Langley AFB, Va.. The equipment has been flying homeland security missions since January. Lockheed Martin photo by Rita King

The momentous May 1st event - dubbed “A Day Without Immigrants” -- underscores the need for further study of U.S. immigration policy. After all, immigration has numerous economic, social, security and geopolitical implications. With that said, for the sake of argument, dare we imagine “A Day Without Terrorists”?

The U.S. State Department’s “Country Reports of Terrorism 2005” issued recently highlights global terror threats, their consequences and what “Days With Terrorists” mean to society. The Report’s statistical annex, compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center, chronicled some 11,111 terrorist attacks against noncombatants worldwide, resulting in 14,602 deaths (including 56 Americans) and 24,705 injuries. Of that figure, Iraq (“A central front in the global war on terror.”) suffered some 3,500 terrorist incidents and more than half of all fatalities.

Terrorism’s breadth of victimization (killed or wounded) in 2005 was substantial: 1,000 children, 300 government officials, 170 clergy/religious figures, 140 teachers and 110 journalists. While armed attacks and bombings caused the majority of the deaths, the 360 or so suicide bombings occurring in 2005 illustrate the broad adoption of that vile terror tactic. Although the Annex notes that no 2005 terror incidents reached the complexity of September 11, the roles of technology, multiple and coordinated attacks and manifold uses of improvised explosives devices figured prominently last year.

While we can dream of “A Day Without Terrorists,” the principal international terrorist attacks in 2005, a year filled with terrorism, included:
  • July 7: Four suicide bombers attacked London transportation systems, killing 56 and injuring over 700.
  • July 23: Bombings at several tourists sites in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt resulted in 67 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
  • August 17: About 500 small bombs exploded across Bangladesh, causing several deaths and over a dozen injuries.
  • October 1: Three suicide bombers targeted tourist sites in Bali, Indonesia, killing 20 and injuring 120.
  • October 29: A series of bombings in New Delhi killed nearly 60 and injured over 150.
  • November 9: Suicide attacks at three international hotels in Amman, Jordan, resulted in 63 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

Other intriguing 2005 terror trends include: extensive terrorist mobility, growing operational and weaponry sophistication and easy access to terrorist tools (e.g., training manuals and operational guidance through the Internet). The emergence of multiple, local autonomous terror cells and lone terrorists, coupled with a growing terror nexus with transnational crime, further fuel global terror.

State sponsors of terrorism (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) and terrorist-infiltrated safe havens (Triborder region of South America and the Afghan-Pakistan border) contribute to terror group recruitment, training, planning and operations. The Report cites dozens of foreign terrorist organizations (al Qaida - dozens of countries, Jemaah Islamiya - Indonesia, Tamil Tigers - Sri Lanka, Palestinian Islamic Jihad - Israel, FARC - Colombia and Real IRA - United Kingdom) and other “groups of concern” (terror groups based from Yemen and Bangladesh to Malaysia and Peru). These organizations undertook significant terror operations worldwide last year.

With reference to al Qaida, the Report suggests the group “remains adaptive and resilient,” while somewhat “less capable” and “predictable”. U.S. domestic terrorist groups - right-wing, left-wing or single-issue based, although outside the scope of the Report - provided a panoply of violence in 2005 justifying additional concern.

Clearly, “A Day Without Terrorists” would be a welcome change. Under such circumstances, political violence would be replaced with amicable discussions of highly complex issues, engendering compromise and reasonable solutions. Yet, if the multi-millennium record of political violence is any guide, “A Day Without Terrorists” is, sadly, wishful thinking. The Report is likewise foreboding, “It is likely that we will face a resilient enemy for years to come.”