Middle East Terrorist Attacks Increase

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A State Department report released Wednesday shows a 16 percent increase in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan between 2006 and 2007.

Attacks were down in Iraq during that same time period.

Worldwide, more than 22,000 people were killed by terrorists last year. That's an 8 percent increase in deaths from the year before.

The State Department's funding of a cultural exchange program between the U.S. and Middle Eastern countries is raising some eyebrows. At issue is the group in charge of the exchange program.

Last year, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal terrorism case. Now the group is the recipient of a grant from the State Department.

The money will help fund an ISNA-run cultural exchange project with the Middle East. The program brings young Muslims from countries like Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen to the United States.

In return, Christian, Jewish and Muslim Americans will travel to the Middle East.

ISNA spokesman Sayyid M. Syeed told CBN News the project is designed to promote religous pluralism and fight stereotypes about America in the Middle East.

But critics say ISNA is the wrong group to run such a program. According to Islam expert Robert Spencer, the State Department should be investigating ISNA--not working with them. He says ISNA has ties to the radical Muslim brotherhood movement.

"The Muslim Brotherhood memorandum says that the Muslim Brotherhood and its outfit organizations in the United States are working to eliminate and destroy Western civilization from within," he said. "And the Islamic Society of North America is listed as one of the groups that is devoted to this activity in the United States today."

The Holy Land Foundation trial in which ISNA was named was declared a mistrial last October. The government plans to retry the case.

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