The year 1998 demonstrated the wide range of terrorist threats confronting the United States. Terrorists in Colombia continued to target private American interests, kidnapping seven U.S. citizens throughout the year and carrying out 77 bombings against multinational oil pipelines, many of which are used by U.S. oil companies. On August 7, 1998, the U.S. embassies in Nairobi,Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were attacked in nearly simultaneous truck bombings that left 224 persons dead, including 12 U.S. citizens (all victims of the Nairobi attack). The bombings also wounded over 4,500 persons.
In the United States, the FBI recorded five terrorist incidents in 1998. Within the same year, 12 planned acts of terrorism were prevented in the United States. There were no suspected incidents of terrorism in the United States during 1998.
Three of the terrorist incidents recorded in the United States occurred on the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. None of the three attacks–the bombing of a super aqueduct project in Arecibo and separate pipe bombings at bank offices in Rio Piedras and Santa Isabel–caused any deaths. By contrast, the bombing of a women’s clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, left an off-duty police officer dead and a clinic nurse seriously wounded. (Eric Robert Rudolph was later charged in this attack–as well as three previous bombings in Atlanta, Georgia.) The fifth incident, a large-scale arson at a ski resort in Vail, Colorado, caused an estimated 12 million dollars in damage, but resulted in no deaths or injuries. All of the terrorist incidents recorded in the United States during 1998 were attributed to domestic terrorists; there were no acts of international terrorism carried out in the United States in 1998.
Likewise, the 12 acts of terrorism prevented in the United States during the year were being planned by domestic extremists. Nine of these planned acts were prevented as a result of the arrest of several members of the white supremacist group The New Order, based in Illinois. The six men, who were arrested on weapons violations charges in February 1998, planned to conduct a crime spree that was to include bombings, assassinations, and robberies. Consistent with a steady increase in cases involving the use or threatened use of chemical and biological agents, two additional terrorist preventions involved the planned use of biological toxins. The final prevention involved a plan to detonate a bomb at an unspecified target in Washington, D.C.