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Year-in-Review

"Year-in-Review" Continued...

Issue: "Year in Review 2002," Dec. 28, 2002

Islamic militants targeted Christians in Pakistan also, killing 40 in 2002. Intruders rolled hand grenades across the floor of the Protestant International Church in Islamabad in March; the explosions killed five, including two Americans. Similar assaults unfolded at other Christian sites, including an international school in Murree, a mission hospital in Taxila, a Catholic school in Punjab, and a legal aid center in Karachi. Al-Qaeda bombed the Macedonian consulate in Karachi in December, killing four Pakistani employees, including a Christian security officer who was knifed before the explosion. "We are very concerned about Christians in Pakistan who are paying a heavy price for being [Christians] and for being considered as allies of the West," said Nasir Saeed of the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement.

Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for attacks on an Israeli hotel, which killed 16 people on Nov. 28, and on an El Al flight in Kenya. The missile strike against El Al missed but provoked new worries about aviation safety. Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Indonesia, Jemaah Islamiyah, was behind a bomb blast in Bali that killed nearly 200 in October-the largest single terrorist incident since Sept. 11.

In the Philippines, an Oct. 2 bombing in the largely Christian southern city of Zamboanga killed four, including a U.S. Marine. Later that month, two bombs exploded in department stores in the same city, killing seven and injuring more than 150. A bomb in Manila tore through a bus, killing three and injuring another 23. These incidents were tied to Abu Sayaaf, the Islamic rebel group that kidnapped and held for over a year New Tribes missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham. Mr. Burnham was killed in a shootout during a June rescue attempt by the Philippine army. His wife survived and was reunited with the couple's three children in the United States.

In Moscow, anti-terror forces caused more deaths than Chechen rebels who took 850 people hostage in a downtown theater. The siege lasted for three days in October. Russian forces finally resorted to an opiate-based gas to flush out the rebels, who claimed to have wired the building with explosives. The gas killed 129 hostages and all 41 Chechens. It left many survivors with lingering sickness.

Despite the flurry of attacks, 2002 was a career-ending year for a significant number of terrorists. Senior al-Qaeda officials taken into U.S. custody include: Abu Zubaydah, captured in Pakistan in March; Omar al-Farouq, captured by Indonesian authorities in June; Ramzi Binalshibh, a Sept. 11 planner who was captured in a raid in Karachi in September; and Saudi citizen Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, believed to be the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing in Oct. 2000 and a key planner of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa. Abu Zubair, another Saudi and senior al-Qaeda member, was captured in Morocco in June. At the naval base in Guantanamo where the United States built a detention camp for terrorists, 600 suspected terrorists remain in custody.

Terrorism overshadowed other once-unimaginable events. At a November summit in the former Eastern Bloc capital of Prague, NATO invited into membership once-communist Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Those countries have proved particularly adept at moving away from their Cold War past.

But parts of the former Soviet empire slid back in 2002. Belarus hit churches with a tough new religion law that makes illegal all unregistered religious activity. It also outlaws any church activity of fewer than 20 members and religious activity in private homes. Churchgoers who protested the law in downtown Minsk were detained.

Slouching toward Cold War posture in the West are Venezuela and Brazil. Brazil's newly elected leftist president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, promised to turn his country into a nuclear power (notwithstanding a $30 billion loan Brazil recently begged from the International Monetary Fund). Mr. da Silva, a former union leader and Communist, is close to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, the firebrand president of Venezuela. Mr. Chavez survived a coup attempt in April. He could be on his way out after failing to end a crippling nationwide strike that drove up world oil prices in December. Mr. Chavez boasts of attending conferences with Latin American terrorists, including Tupac Amaru rebels in Peru, and FARC guerrillas of Colombia who have targeted Christian workers.

Muslim law in Nigeria caused increasing problems for Christians. Twelve northern states have now adopted Shariah, the Islamic legal code, in defiance of the country's constitution and its Christian president, Olusegon Obasanjo. Polarization extends to the streets. Kaduna now resembles 1980s Beirut, observers say, for its religious divide. More than 200 people were killed when Muslims rioted because the city was hosting the Miss World pageant. In nearby Zamfara state, Muslim clerics issued a death warrant against Kaduna journalist Isioma Daniel. They say she sparked the violence by suggesting that the Prophet Muhammad would probably have married one of the Miss World contestants if he were alive. Ms. Daniel fled to the United States.

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