AS the death toll from the terrorist blasts at the United States embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam continued to mount yesterday, American transport planes brought in medical supplies and started flying out some of the victims for treatment. Rescue teams with special training in dealing with collapsed and bombed-out buildings, explosive experts and anti-terrorist intelligence units came in on the airlift. Most of the world - even old enemy Iran - joined in expressing outrage and condemnation. In the two East African capitals, the mood of grim determination, co-operation and solidarity among nations prevailed. The shockingly indiscriminate nature of these attacks only serves to strengthen the international revulsion. Very few of the many hundreds of dead and wounded are Americans. The vast majority are local Kenyans and Tanzanians, ordinary human beings without the remotest link with the US or its interests. But to the terrorist, innocent bystanders are either cannon-fodder or martyrs to a higher cause. Either way, they are ciphers, without interest to the bombers, except as a means to heighten the international anger on which they thrive. As if to accentuate the international community's mistake in seeing terrorism as a single-dimensional phenomenon, as no more than a particularly brutal expression of anti-Americanism or of the Muslim world's holy wars against the US and its ally Israel, yesterday also saw another terrorist attack. This time in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Iranian opposition groups in Baghdad blamed it on Teheran, although other reports suggest the sponsors of this violence were not the state, but a faction within the Iranian leadership. But, again, whoever it was aimed at, and by whom, the result was carnage among the innocent. Terrorism is a world-wide phenomenon, and, whether sponsored by states or by disaffected opponents of states, it is a form of war which can neither be settled by treaties nor controlled by conventions. That is part of what makes it so abhorrent and brings such expressions of outrage from governments appalled by their inability to contain it. It is also what makes it so brutally effective. Almost as soon as he had uttered it, President Bill Clinton's brave promise to bring the culprits to justice was beginning to sound forlorn. The task of identifying the perpetrators is not entirely hopeless, but it may not be simple either. At least one group has claimed responsibility, and there are other suspects - including Osama bin Laden, a Saudi businessman-turned-Islamic-warrior now living in Kabul - whose involvement cannot be discounted. Billionaire bin Laden's anti-American rhetoric, and suspicions he may have been involved in two massacres of Americans in Saudi Arabia, mark him out as a likely conspirator in any similar attack. But there are any number of other organisations and individuals with a grudge against the US. Some are home-grown American right-wingers with no link to the Middle Eastern fanatics usually associated with attacks on American installations and personnel abroad. The real murderers may never be found. The difficulty, however, even if the identity and motives of the bombers are established, will be in bringing them to book. The history of terrorist atrocities in recent years suggests that many of the most murderous groups and their leaders are still at large. Washington is steadily, though with varying degrees of success, attempting to mend fences with at least some of the nations it has for so long accused of sponsoring terrorism. Iran, under the relatively moderate leadership of President Mohamed Khatami, is similarly keen to mend fences with the Washington, though apparently less so to heed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's calls for better ties. But there is little sign that either Mr Khatami or many other national leaders are sufficiently in control to prevent acts of freelance terrorism by those opposed to their policies. The chances of actually capturing one of these freelancers, and putting him on trial, let alone allowing him to be tried in the country where his victims died, are limited indeed. Sporadically, however, the international community, or regional groupings, do sit down together and discuss the best way to limit the further spread of terrorism or protect themselves against its worst excesses. More often than not, these conferences fail because the political passions behind the terror reflect real antagonisms and differences of culture at national level. But occasionally something more constructive emerges. If the latest violence did one day have such a silver lining, it might be because neither Kenya nor Tanzania have any real involvement in America's international policies. Precisely because the victims were innocent bystanders in someone else's conflicts, nations might find common ground, for once, in the endless battle against terror.