WORLDWIDE TERRORIST AND VIOLENT CRIMINAL ATTACKS AGAINST TRANSPORTATION-1998
I. Executive Summary. Transportation and transportation infrastructures worldwide are increasingly becoming targets of violent attacks, by both terrorist and criminal elements. The 1,033 violent incidents against transportation worldwide in 19981 represent nearly a twenty percent increase over last year and is a one-hundred-and-seven percent increase since 1995. Attacks on all types of land transportation accounted for 69 percent of these incidents, and attacks against highways accounted for the single greatest number of incidents reported against land transportation. Attacks in the maritime arena accounted for 25 percent of all attacks. While civil aviation remains a high-profile potential target, it accounted for less than seven percent of the incidents reported. Bombings continue to be the preferred method of attack. Bombings, combined with armed attacks, accounted for about two-thirds of all violent incidents. Many of the attacks against transportation appear intended to cause mass casualties, as evidenced by the nearly 1,700 deaths and 2,200 injuries that resulted from these violent acts. Attacks were divided fairly evenly between the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia, with each respectively accounting for about one-quarter of all incidents. In the United States there were twenty-seven incidents, almost double the total from last year. As transportation and transportation infrastructures worldwide experience increasing levels of violence, the likelihood increases that US citizens traveling both at home and abroad may become victims of violence against transportation.
We believe that transportation and transportation infrastructures will remain attractive targets for attacks because they are vulnerable; they are predictable; large numbers of people can be affected by a single act; they attract broad media coverage; and may be associated with clearly identifiable national symbols, such as civil aviation. Additionally, we believe that the likelihood of additional violence against transportation systems in the US is increasing. Transportation presents an ideal target for terrorists willing to indiscriminately commit mass casualties. Public transportation carries millions of people daily. It has easy access with little security. Public transit systems utilize fixed routes with set schedules. The anonymity of passengers on public transit allows potential terrorists to readily blend in, and offers easy escape. Moreover, the cumulative effect of these many attacks across the various transportation modes shapes public attitudes toward transportation security. In addition, these attacks significantly affect the economies of those regions in which these incidents occur. Not only does a bomb on a crowded bus or train kill many people, it also creates fear and erodes public confidence in the ability of local, state, and federal authorities to protect its citizens. Without proactive security measures to prevent violence against transportation, both the number of incidents and resulting casualties are likely to continue increasing.
1 Violent incidents include acts of international terrorism, indigenous or domestic terrorism, and criminal acts. Data was compiled by the US Department of Transportation's Office of Intelligence and Security.