Global Terrorism Victims Remembrance Day Begins but Some Still Feel Left Out
The Global Terrorism Index finds that Islamic State is still the world’s deadliest terrorist group. The United Nations established the annual remembrance day in 2017 but some say not all terrorism victims are treated equally
By Clint Van Winkle/The Media Line
August 21 is the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, established by the United Nations in 2017 “to honor and support the victims and survivors of terrorism and to promote and protect the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
According to the Global Terrorism Index, the deadliest terrorist groups in the world are still Islamic State and its affiliates, even though their attacks have been curtailed by the US-led task force.
Islamic State and its affiliates are followed by al-Shabaab in Somalia, the Balochistan Liberation Army in Afghanistan, and Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin in Mali.
“The goal of terrorism is to influence the behavior of people through fear,” counterterrorism expert Brian Bailey, a retired US Marine who served as a detachment commander at two US embassies for the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, told The Media Line.
“Everyone is at risk because anyone could be potentially impacted by terror-motivated attacks,”Bailey said.
In its most lethal attack this year, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the July 31 suicide bombing in Pakistan that killed 54 people and injured at least 200.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan were responsible for the Peshawar mosque bombing that killed more than 100 people and injured over 220 in January.
In the first six months of 2023, 4,600 deaths were attributed to 1,800 separate terrorist attacks in the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States.
A week ago, the Balochistan Liberation Army attacked a convoy of Chinese engineers in Pakistan, murdering 14 people.
This morning, an Israeli woman was killed in front of her child in a drive-by terrorist attack near Hebron in the West Bank. Over the weekend, an Israeli father and son were shot and killed by a terrorist at a car wash in the West Bank town of Huwara. The previous week, a Palestinian man was murdered by a settler in what the US State Department labeled a terrorist attack.
This year’s day of remembrance comes two weeks after the US observed the 25th anniversary of the near–simultaneous bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, 1998. In those attacks, which were claimed by al-Qaida, 224 people were killed and 4,500 were wounded.
Twenty al–Qaida associates have since been jailed over the attacks, seven of whom received life sentences. Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a retaliatory US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 31, 2022.
“We must never forget the attacks on our embassies. We must not forget the survivors and families of those impacted by these events,” Bailey said.
However, some terror attack victims feel as if they have been forgotten.
“Unless you are a victim of September 11 [2001, the al-Qaida-led attacks in the United States that killed almost 3,000 people], where legislation favors those victims, the rest of us seem to be forgotten,” a beneficiary of the US Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism Fund, who asked not to be identified, told The Media Line.
“Even though we are a part of the same ‘club,’ if you will, we are not treated equally. So, it is a day to remember that some victims of terror are worth more to politicians than other victims of terror, and it shouldn’t be that way,” the victim said.
The US Victims of State–Sponsored Terrorism Fund has 15,769 eligible claimants. Among them are victims of terrorist attacks across the globe, including the 1983 Beirut Marine Barracks bombing in which 241 US service members were killed in the deadliest day for the US Marine Corps since World War II; the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 members of the US Air Force and injured almost 500 people, and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen that killed 17 US sailors and injured 37 more.
The UN said it established the international day of remembrance to “amplify their voices and to advance assistance and support for their rights and needs” of all terror victims.
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