WASHINGTON -- This week the State Department published its annual Country Reports on Terrorism. For those who want facts about the radical Islamic jihad being waged against the West, it's fascinating reading. For simpering solons in Congress, slithering back up Capitol Hill with their vetoed "surrender supplemental," it is bad news. And for those with any grasp of history, it's deja vu.
Twenty years ago this summer, a joint select committee of Congress convened to investigate certain activities of the Reagan administration. In the midst of what became a nationally televised circus, one of the witnesses observed: "If you can't convince those who sponsor terrorism to desist from their support, then you are left to either protect yourself close in or to reach out to prevent and deter the act."
In the two decades since those hearings, radical Islamic terror has become the most serious threat to U.S. citizens, property and interests since the collapse of the Soviet empire. For years it was "someone else's problem" because it only happened "over there." Then, on Sept. 11, 2001, radical Islamic terror blew up in our midst -- "close in" was how I put it in 1987. Clearly we had not been doing all we could to "convince those who sponsor terrorism to desist from their support." And according to the data in this year's report, we still aren't.
Since it is prepared by the State Department, the report puts it a bit more diplomatically: "five years after 9/11, the international community's conflict with transnational terrorists continues." Though "cooperative international efforts have produced genuine security improvements," the report says, "major challenges remain."
"Major challenges" is the mother of all understatements. The table of incidents of terrorism worldwide shows that between 2005 and 2006, the number of terror incidents increased from 11,153 to 14,338 -- a 25 percent rise. Worse still, 20,494 people died at the hands of terrorists -- 5,800 more than the previous year -- a 40 percent increase.
Digging into the reports reveals other disturbing indicators. Bombings are up by 30 percent and casualties from explosive devices have increased by 39 percent. Individual suicide bombing attacks, where a terrorist wears or carries an explosive device rather than driving a bomb-laden vehicle, are up 25 percent. More than 50 percent of the victims of these attacks perpetrated by Islamic radicals were other Muslims. Among those casualties were more than 1,800 children, an 80 percent increase from the previous year.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.