Overview of Terrorism in 1999

The number of persons killed or wounded in international terrorist attacks during 1999 fell sharply because of the absence of any attack causing mass casualties. In 1999, 233 persons were killed and 706 were wounded, as compared with 741 persons killed and 5,952 wounded in 1998.

The number of terrorist attacks rose, however. During 1999, 392 international terrorist attacks occurred, up 43 percent from the 274 attacks recorded the previous year. The number of attacks increased in every region of the world except in the Middle East, where six fewer attacks occurred. There are several reasons for the increase:

  • In Europe individuals mounted dozens of attacks to protest the NATO bombing campaign in Serbia and the Turkish authorities' capture of Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist leader Abdullah Ocalan.


  • In addition, radical youth gangs in Nigeria abducted and held for ransom more than three dozen foreign oil workers. The gangs held most of the hostages for a few days before releasing them unharmed.

Terrorists targeted U.S. interests in 169 attacks in 1999, an increase of 52 percent from 1998. The increase was concentrated in four countries: Colombia, Greece, Nigeria, and Yemen.

  • In Colombia the number of attacks against U.S. targets, including bombings of commercial interests and an oil pipeline, rose to 91 in 1999.


  • In Greece anti-NATO attacks frequently targeted U.S. interests.


  • In Nigeria and Yemen, U.S. citizens were among the foreign nationals abducted.

Five U.S. citizens died in these attacks:

  • The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) kidnapped three U.S. citizens working with the U'Wa Indians in Northeastern Colombia on 25 February. Their bodies were found on 4 March and were identified as Terence Freitas, Ingrid Washinawatok, and Lahe'ena'e Gay.


  • A group of Rwandan Hutu rebels from the Interahamwe in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda kidnapped and then killed two U.S. citizens, Susan Miller and Robert Haubner, on 1 March.

In 186 incidents in 1999, bombings remained the predominant type of terrorist attack. Since 1968, when the United States Government began keeping such statistics, more than 7,000 terrorist bombings have occurred worldwide.


Law Enforcement

The United States brought the rule of law to bear against international terrorists in several ongoing cases throughout the year:

  • On 19 May the US District Court in the Southern District of New York unsealed an indictment against Ali Mohammed, charging him with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals overseas. Ali, suspected of being a member of Usama Bin Ladin's al-Qaida terrorist organization, had been arrested in the United States in September 1998 after testifying before a grand jury concerning the U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa.


  • Authorities apprehended Khalfan Khamis Mohamed in South Africa on 5 October, after a joint investigation by the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and South African law enforcement authorities. U.S. officials brought him to New York to face charges in connection with the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, on 7 August 1998.


  • Three additional suspects in the Tanzanian and Kenyan U.S. Embassy bombings currently are in custody in the United Kingdom, pending extradition to the United States: Khalid Al-Fawwaz, Adel Mohammed Abdul Almagid Bary, and Ibrahim Hussein Abdelhadi Eidarous. Eight other suspects, including Usama Bin Ladin, remain at large. The FBI added Bin Ladin to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in June. The Department of State's Rewards for Justice program pays up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of these and other terrorist suspects.


  • On 15 October, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his role in a plot to bomb New York City landmarks and to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1993. Siddig Ali was arrested in June 1993 on conspiracy charges and pleaded guilty in February 1995 to all charges against him. His cooperation with authorities helped prosecutors convict Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman and nine others for their roles in the bombing conspiracy.


  • In September the US Justice Department informed Hani al-Sayegh, a Saudi Arabian citizen, that he would be removed from the United States and sent to Saudi Arabia. Authorities expelled him from the United States to Saudi Arabia on 11 October, where he remains in custody. He faces charges there in connection with the attack in June 1996 on U.S. forces in Khubar, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 U.S. citizens and wounded more than 500 others. Al-Sayegh was paroled into the United States from Canada in June 1997. After he failed to abide by an initial plea agreement with the Justice Department concerning a separate case, the State Department terminated his parole in October 1997 and placed him in removal proceedings.

Source: Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999, U.S. State Department