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Has the War on Terror™ Made the World Safer from Terrorism? 

Don't Panic: Your War Questions Answered

On Friday, April 28, the US State Department released "Country Reports on Terrorism," the federal government's most detailed public report about terrorism, who's committing it and how the nation is faring in its efforts to curb it.

On the same day, People magazine released its annual list of the world's "Most Beautiful People."

Here are some highlights from the two reports:

According to the State Department, 14,600 people were killed in approximately 11,000 terrorist attacks during 2005. That's a 350 percent increase over the number of terrorist attacks that the State Department tallied in 2004.

This year, People's "Most Beautiful" list included 100 people, double the number of honorees from the previous year.

State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Henry Crumpton says that, despite the sharp increase in the number of deaths attributed to terrorism in 2005, the world actually was safer from terrorism in 2005 than it was in 2004.

How's that? Because the number of attacks and deaths this year was compiled using a different, broader methodology than was used in previous years.

In a similarly creative approach to addition, the 26 spokes models from the game show Deal or No Deal who were included on this year's "Most Beautiful People" list were counted as one person.

Crumpton cautions people reading the terrorism report not to pay too much heed to any single year's statistics. "You can't measure this month by month or year by year," he says. "It's going to take a lot longer."

Crumpton's caution only seems to apply in years when the statistics look bad for the administration, however. In 2004, when an uncorrected, early edition of the State Department's terrorism report erroneously showed a decline in the number of terrorist attacks and deaths in 2003, the Bush administration touted the numbers as evidence that its policies were working.

Speaking of 2003, Avril Lavigne, one of this year's "Most Beautiful People," received eight Grammy nominations that year. "Being a girl is awesome. There's so much -- bags, shoes, makeup, accessories," she told People this year. "I love putting lotion on -- I'm obsessed with lavender."

Approximately 30 percent of terrorism attacks and 55 percent of deaths caused by terrorism in 2005 occurred in Iraq.

Naveen Andrews, one of 2006's "Most Beautiful People," plays Iraqi Army veteran Sayid Jarrah on ABC's hit series Lost.

According to the State Department, Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world. The report cites Iran's material support of Palestinian militant groups and its support of insurgents in Iraq.

According to People, actress and activist Angelina Jolie is the "Most Beautiful" person in the world. She is, the magazine explains, a low-maintenance beauty. "Indeed, her beauty needs are decidedly practical: a dusting of powder, a few strokes of mascara, a dab of Vaseline on her world-famous lips and -- voilà! -- she's ready to meet the president of Pakistan."

The State Department warns that "terrorists view the Internet as the most powerful and inexpensive form of communication yet developed." Terrorists use the Internet to plan attacks, recruit and communicate with themselves and the world. The leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has become as famous as he is in large part because of the videos he posts online touting his activities.

Osama bin Laden is less Internet savvy. He relies on audio and video cassettes to communicate with his followers. He does, however, have 529 profiles on MySpace. Al-Zarqawi only has six.

According to's "World's Most Beautiful pop quiz," Heather Locklear goes by the nickname "Camel" among friends because she can go for a really long time without drinking any water.

Al-Qaeda's leadership is "scattered," "on the run" and unable to direct terrorist activity "as fully as in the past," according to the State Department report. Terrorist attacks are increasingly carried out by "small autonomous cells and individuals" who are "extremely difficult to detect or counter." The State Department calls these terrorists "micro-actors."

One of 2006's "Most Beautiful People," Nicole Kidman, councils those with fair skin to "stay out of the sun and wear a hat," adding, "I couldn't live without sunscreen." Kidman was once married to Tom Cruise, who, at 5 feet 6 inches, undoubtedly is the world's most successful micro-actor.

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