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Public Report on the Vice President's Task Force on Combatting Terrorism

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The Public Report of the Vice President's Task Force on Combatting Terrorism was issued in February 1986.

The Report

Background

In 1985, U.S. victims of international terrorism included 23 dead and 160 wounded. "Incidents in 1985 demonstrated that terrorism is increasingly directed against the Western democracies. The June 14, 1985, hijacking of TWA Flight 847 shortly after it left Athens was the first hijacking of a U.S. airliner in the Middle East since 1970. In addition, the hijackings of Egyptair Flight 648 and the Achille Lauro, the bombing of a restaurant on the outskirts of Madrid frequented by American servicemen and the shooting of the off-duty Marine Corps personnel in El Salvador demonstrate that Americans are being specifically targeted. The year ended with the brutal attacks in the Vienna and Rome airports where five Americans were murdered.

"During the past decade, terrorists have attacked U.S. officials or installations abroad approximately once every 17 days. In the past 17 years, terrorists have killed as many U.S. diplomats as were killed in the previous 180 years."[1]

Domestic Vulnerability

"Our vulnerability lies, ironically, in the strength of our open society and highly sophisticated infrastructure. Transportation, energy, communications, finance, industry, medicine, defense, diplomacy and government itself rely on intricate interrelated networks. Given these inherent vulnerabilities, and the fact that Americans are increasingly the targets of terrorist attacks outside the United States, it is apparent that a potentially serious domestic threat exists. Recent threats such as Qaddafi's statement that Libyans will attack "American citizens in their own streets" only serve to underscore this worsening climate." [2]

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