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Overview of Terrorism in 2003

There were 190 acts of international terrorism in 2003, a slight decrease from the 198 attacks that occurred in 2002, and a drop of 45 percent from the level in 2001 of 346 attacks. The figure in 2003 represents the lowest annual total of international terrorist attacks since 1969.

A total of 307 persons were killed in the attacks of 2003, far fewer than the 725 killed during 2002. A total of 1,593 persons were wounded in the attacks that occurred in 2003, down from 2,013 persons wounded the year before.

In 2003, the highest number of attacks (70) and the highest casualty count (159 persons dead and 951 wounded) occurred in Asia.

There were 82 anti-U.S. attacks in 2003, which is up slightly from the 77 attacks the previous year, and represents a 62-percent decrease from the 219 attacks recorded in 2001.

Thirty-five American citizens died in 15 international terrorist attacks in 2003:

  • Michael Rene Pouliot was killed on 21 January in Kuwait when a gunman fired at his vehicle that had halted at a stoplight.
  • Thomas Janis was murdered by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia terrorists on 13 February in Colombia. Mr. Janis was the pilot of a plane owned by Southern Command that crashed in the jungle. He and a Colombian army officer were wounded in the crash and shot when the terrorists discovered them. Three American passengers on the plane -- Keith Stansell, Marc D. Gonsalves, and Thomas R. Howes -- were kidnapped and are still being held hostage.
  • William Hyde was killed on 4 March in Davao, Philippines, when a bomb hidden in a backpack exploded in a crowded airline terminal. Twenty other persons died, and 146 were wounded.
  • The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) denies any connection to the suspected bomber who claimed he was an MILF member.
  • Abigail Elizabeth Litle was killed on 5 March when a suicide bomber boarded a bus in Haifa, Israel, and detonated an explosive device.
  • Rabbi Elnatan Eli Horowitz and his wife Debra Ruth Horowitz were killed on 7 March when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on them as they were eating dinner in the settlement of Kiryat Arba.
  • The deadliest anti-US attack occurred in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 12 May when suicide bombers in boobytrapped cars filled with explosives drove into the Vinnell Jadewel and Al-Hamra housing compounds, killing nine US citizens. Killed at the Vinnell compound were: Obaidah Yusuf Abdullah, Todd Michael Blair, Jason Eric Bentley, James Lee Carpenter II, Herman Diaz, Alex Jackson, Quincy Lee Knox, and Clifford J. Lawson. Mohammed Atef Al Kayyaly was killed at the Al-Hamra compound.
  • Alan Beer and Bertin Joseph Tita were killed on 11 June in a bus bombing near Klal Center on Jaffa Road near Jerusalem.
  • Howard Craig Goldstein was killed in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Ofra on 20 June.
  • Fred Bryant, a civilian contractor, was killed on 5 August in Tikrit, Iraq, when his car ran over an improvised explosive device.
  • Three Americans were among the victims of a deadly truck bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad’s Canal Hotel on 19 August. They were Arthur Helton, Richard Hooper, and Martha Teas. UN Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello was also among the 23 fatalities.
  • Five Americans were killed in Jerusalem on 19 August when a suicide bomber riding on a bus detonated explosives attached to his body. They were Goldy Zarkowsky, Eli Zarkowsky, Mordechai Reinitz, Yessucher Dov Reinitz, and Tehilla Nathansen. Fifteen other persons were killed and 140 wounded in the attack.
  • Dr. David Applebaum and his daughter Naava Applebaum were killed on 9 September in a bombing at the Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem.
  • Three Americans were killed on 15 October in Gaza Strip as their US Embassy Tel Aviv motorcade was struck by an apparent roadside blast. They were John Branchizio, Mark T. Parson, and John Martin Linde, Jr. All three were security contractors.
  • Lt. Col. Charles H. Buehring was killed on 26 October in Baghdad during a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the Al-Rasheed Hotel. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz was staying at the hotel at the time of the attack.
  • Two Americans, William Carlson and Christopher Glenn Mueller, were killed in an ambush by armed militants in Shkin, Afghanistan, on 27 October. Both were US Government contract workers.


Most of the attacks that have occurred during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom do not meet the longstanding US definition of international terrorism because they were directed at combatants, that is, US and Coalition forces on duty. Attacks against noncombatants, that is, civilians and military personnel who at the time of the incident were unarmed and/or not on duty, are judged as terrorist attacks.

Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003U.S. State Department