Blood continued to be shed in the Middle East as
the Israeli/Palestinian conflict threatened to snowball out of control.
Israeli PM Ariel Sharon and PLO leader Yasser Arafat were unable to push
the peace process forward in a year tainted by violence on both sides.
Throughout 2002 the question on everybody's lips was: "Where is Osama
Bin Laden?" The terror chief continued to evade capture, despite
the efforts of the U.S. military machine to track him down. An audio tape
claiming to feature the voice of Bin Laden - confirmed as genuine by U.S.
intelligence officials - surfaced in November, adding to fears the al
Qaeda leader was still alive.
As the Taliban crumbled in Afghanistan, U.S. bombing raids continued throughout
January in an attempt to flush out al Qaeda terrorists. In June, Hamid
Karzai was officially elected as the Afghan head of state as the war-torn
country attempted to rebuild after a winter of conflict. However, the
situation remained precarious and Karzai narrowly escaped an assassin's
bullet in September.
American Taliban John Walker Lindh appeared in court in July, pleading
guilty to aiding the Taliban and carrying explosives in the commission
of a felony. In October a jury sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment.
With the War on Terror gathering momentum, President George W. Bush focussed
his sights on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. In November weapons inspectors
returned to Iraq and world leaders debated whether this would be enough
to prevent U.S.-led military action.
The UN food agency issued a warning to the world that more than 38 million
people in Africa are facing the prospect of famine. A report issued by
the agency claimed that as of December 2002, 18 million people were at
risk of starving in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan.
James Traficant, the former Ohio Congressman, was found guilty of bribery
and racketeering in April. Traficant became only the second member of
Congress to be expelled since the Civil War and was sentenced to eight
years in prison.
The remains of missing Washington intern Chandra Levy were discovered
in a D.C. park and medical examiners concluded she was murdered. Gary
Condit, who reportedly told police he'd had an affair with Levy, was no
longer considered to be a suspect in the case. Condit lost his Californian
Democratic Primary race in March.
January marked the beginning of a difficult year for the Catholic Church,
as a deluge of child sex abuse claims made the headlines. Pope John Paul
II was criticized for being too slow in condemning the actions of abusers
within the church, but in April he promised a plan of action to prevent
In October former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize in recognition for his work to promote world peace. He is the third
former President to receive the Nobel prize - after Woodrow Wilson and
French politics hit the news in April, after the electoral success of
far-right politician Jean Marie Le Pen. Le Pen shocked European political
leaders by making the final round of the French presidential elections,
but was comprehensively beaten by Jacques Chirac in the May 5 run-off.
In May the FIFA World Cup kicked off in Seoul as international soccer
teams met for the most popular sports tournament in the world. The final
was contested between Germany and Brazil, and the Germans were outclassed
2-0 after a typically strong display from the brilliant South American
For those in business, 2002 could well be remembered as the year of the
corporate scandal. Along with the collapse of Enron, telecommunications
giant WorldCom was also at the center of a financial storm. As investors
digested the bad news, markets across the world slumped and corporate
confidence began to evaporate.
Europe took a battering over the summer after experiencing its worst floods
in 100 years. Countries including Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic
were left to mount a huge clean-up operation as the relentless floodwaters
forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
World leaders turned a cautious eye to North Korea after the communist
state admitted having a secret nuclear weapons program. The North Koreans
had previously pledged to freeze all nuclear-related activities in an
agreement signed in 1994.
The search for life on Mars took a giant leap forward, when the Mars Odyssey
probe found huge reservoirs of ice just beneath the surface. If the ice
melted, creating warm pockets of water, conditions could be suitable for
life to develop. However, NASA scientists were cautious on the subject
of finding life, pointing out that single-cell beings would be more likely
to exist than little green men with attitude problems.