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Report Highlights Investment, Terror Risks

A new report on security risks in 2004 compiled by independent analysts concludes that while al-Qaida's leadership has been dispersed, other Islamic terrorist networks have become more active and harder to find.

The findings are contained in a report released by the London-based Control Risks Group, which advises multinational companies on political and security risks around the world.

According to the report, the world's three riskiest countries for investors are all in Africa: Burundi, Liberia and Somalia. And it says Ivory Coast totters "precariously on the edge of anarchy."

Several of the medium-risk countries listed in the report are in the Persian Gulf region. They include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. The report concludes that the Middle East is now as prone to terrorist attack as Southeast Asia and East Africa.

It says that, while the al-Qaida leadership has been dispersed and weakened since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, some regional terrorist networks remain highly active and more difficult to track down than before.

The report says major cities in Europe are vulnerable to terrorist attack. It notes that two British Islamic extremists carried out a suicide-bombing mission in Israel in March, and British police concluded in July that a suicide bombing will eventually occur in Britain.

The report says Asian countries will face a high potential of terrorist and political violence next year.

It says India and Indonesia may experience political instability during elections in 2004. It says India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party might decide it could benefit from communal violence between Hindus and Muslims before elections. And it says political tensions in Indonesia could rise if no presidential candidate wins an outright majority in July's election, forcing a run-off.

In the words of the report, "Asia will not be a destination for the faint-hearted investor in 2004."