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Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1990

European Overview

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Two trends emerge in examining terrorist statistics for Western Europe in 1990. The first is the sharp decline in "spillover" terrorism from the Middle East as compared with previous years (in 1988 there were 29 such incidents, 31 in 1989, and only 8 in 1990). The second is the persistence--and violence --of autonomist groups such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), and Corsican nationalists.

An alarming phenomenon is the continued attacks on Iranian political dissidents residing in Europe by official Iranian hit squads. Swiss authorities confirm official Iranian involvement in the murder of an Iranian dissident in Switzerland, and French authorities suspect that the November murder of an Iranian-American dissident in Paris was the work of Iranian hit men.

In Greece, domestic terrorist groups were responsible for several attacks on US and other targets. In September, Greece declined a US extradition request against Palestinian terrorist Muhammad Rashid, charged with involvement in the 1982 bombing of a Pan Am aircraft. Rashid will be prosecuted in Greece.

US interests continued to be targets of terrorism in Turkey, where domestic terrorism also increased during the year.

Perhaps the most dramatic changes in the last year have come in Eastern Europe, where the fall of communist regimes has undermined the active or passive government support which terrorists had previously enjoyed in that region.

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