In 2000, South Asia remained a focal point for terrorism directed against the United States, further confirming the trend of terrorism shifting from the Middle East to South Asia. The Taliban continued to provide safehaven for international terrorists, particularly Usama Bin Ladin and his network, in the portions of Afghanistan it controlled.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1333, passed in December 2000, targets the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Taliban ignored its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 (passed in November 1999) and has continued to provide shelter to Usama Bin Ladin. In UN Security Council Resolution 1333, the Security Council:
Until the Taliban fully complies with its obligations under this resolution and Resolution 1267, member states of the United Nations should:
The sanctions imposed by these two resolutions are targeted sanctions. They are not economic sanctions.
The Government of Pakistan increased its support to the Taliban and continued its support to militant groups active in Indian-held Kashmir, such as the Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), some of which engaged in terrorism. In Sri Lanka the government continued its 17-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which engaged in several terrorist acts against government and civilian targets during the year.
Islamic extremists from around the world--including North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Central, South, and Southeast Asia--continued to use Afghanistan as a training ground and base of operations for their worldwide terrorist activities in 2000. The Taliban, which controlled most Afghan territory, permitted the operation of training and indoctrination facilities for non-Afghans and provided logistics support to members of various terrorist organizations and mujahidin, including those waging jihads (holy wars) in Central Asia, Chechnya, and Kashmir.
Throughout 2000 the Taliban continued to host Usama Bin Ladin despite UN sanctions and international pressure to hand him over to stand trial in the United States or a third country. In a serious and ongoing dialogue with the Taliban, the United States repeatedly made clear to the Taliban that it would be held responsible for any terrorist attacks undertaken by Bin Ladin while he is in its territory.
In October, a terrorist bomb attack against the USS Cole in Aden Harbor, Yemen, killed 17 US sailors and injured scores of others. Although no definitive link has been made to Bin Ladin's organization, Yemeni authorities have determined that some suspects in custody and at large are veterans of Afghan training camps.
In August, Bangladeshi authorities uncovered a bomb plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a public rally. Bangladeshi police maintained that Islamic terrorists trained in Afghanistan planted the bomb.
Security problems associated with various insurgencies, particularly in Kashmir, persisted through 2000 in India. Massacres of civilians in Kashmir during March and August were attributed to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) and other militant groups. India also faced continued violence associated with several separatist movements based in the northeast of the country.
The Indian Government continued cooperative efforts with the United States against terrorism. During the year, the US-India Joint Counterterrorism Working Group--founded in November 1999--met twice and agreed to increased cooperation on mutual counterterrorism interests. New Delhi continued to cooperate with US officials to ascertain the fate of four Western hostages--including one US citizen--kidnapped in Indian-held Kashmir in 1995, although the hostages' whereabouts remained unknown.
Pakistan's military government, headed by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, continued previous Pakistani Government support of the Kashmir insurgency, and Kashmiri militant groups continued to operate in Pakistan, raising funds and recruiting new cadre. Several of these groups were responsible for attacks against civilians in Indian-held Kashmir, and the largest of the groups, the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack against an Indian garrison in Srinagar in April.
In addition, the Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, continues to be active in Pakistan without discouragement by the Government of Pakistan. Members of the group were associated with the hijacking in December 1999 of an Air India flight that resulted in the release from an Indian jail of former HUM leader Maulana Masood Azhar. Azhar since has founded his own Kashmiri militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and publicly has threatened the United States.
Maulana Masood Azhar, Jaish-e-Mohammed leader
The United States remains concerned about reports of continued Pakistani support for the Taliban's military operations in Afghanistan. Credible reporting indicates that Pakistan is providing the Taliban with materiel, fuel, funding, technical assistance, and military advisers. Pakistan has not prevented large numbers of Pakistani nationals from moving into Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban. Islamabad also failed to take effective steps to curb the activities of certain madrassas, or religious schools, that serve as recruiting grounds for terrorism. Pakistan publicly and privately said it intends to comply fully with UNSCR 1333, which imposes an arms embargo on the Taliban.
The attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in October prompted fears of US retaliatory strikes against Bin Ladin's organization and targets in Afghanistan if the investigation pointed in that direction. Pakistani religious party leaders and militant groups threatened US citizens and facilities if such an action were to occur, much as they did after the US attacks on training camps in Afghanistan in August 1998 and following the US diplomatic intervention in the Kargil conflict between Pakistan and India in 1999. The Government of Pakistan generally has cooperated with US requests to enhance security for US facilities and personnel.
The separatist group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)--redesignated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1999--remained violent in 2000, engaging in several terrorist acts against government and civilian targets. LTTE attacks, including those involving suicide bombers, killed more than 100 persons, including Minister of Industrial Development Goonaratne, and wounded dozens. Two US citizens and a British national were apparent incidental victims of the group in October, when an LTTE suicide bomber cornered by the police detonated his bomb near the Town Hall in Colombo. The LTTE continued to strike civilian shipping in Sri Lanka, conducting a naval suicide bombing of a merchant vessel and hijacking a Russian ship.
The war in the north between the Tigers and the Sri Lankan Government continued, although by year's end the government had re-taken 70 percent of the Jaffna Peninsula. The Government of Norway initiated efforts to broker peace between the two parties and may have contributed to an LTTE decision to announce unilaterally a cease-fire in December.
Several terrorist acts have been attributed to other domestic Sri Lankan groups. Suspected Sinhalese extremists protesting Norway's peace efforts used small improvised explosive devices to attack the Norwegian-run charity Save the Children as well as the Norwegian Embassy. Sinhalese extremists also are suspected of assassinating pro-LTTE politician G. G. Kumar Ponnambalam, Jr., in January.
Japan continued to make progress in its counterterrorist efforts. Legal restrictions instituted in 1999 began to take effect on the Aum. Four Aum Shinrikyo members who had personally placed the sarin on the subway in 1995 were sentenced to death. Tokyo also made substantial progress in its efforts to return several Japanese Red Army (JRA) members to Japan. The Government of Japan indicted four JRA members who were forcibly returned after being deported from Lebanon. Tokyo also took two others into custody: Yoshimi Tanaka, a fugitive JRA member involved in hijacking a Japanese airliner in 1970, who was extradited from Thailand, and Fusako Shigenobu, a JRA founder and leader, who had been on the run for 30 years and was arrested in Japan in November.
Several nations in East Asia experienced terrorist violence in 2000. Burmese dissidents took over a provincial hospital in Thailand; authorities stormed the hospital, killed the hostage takers, and freed the hostages unharmed. In Indonesia, there was a sharp increase in international and domestic terrorism, including several bombings, two of which targeted official foreign interests. Pro-Jakarta militia units continued attacks on UN personnel in East Timor. In one incident in September, three aid workers, including one US citizen, were killed.
Small-scale violence in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam occurred in 2000, some connected to antigovernment groups, allegedly with support from foreign nationals. Several small-scale bombings occurred in the Laotian capital, some of which targeted tourist destinations and injured foreign nationals. An attack on 24 November in downtown Phnom Penh, Cambodia, resulted in deaths and injuries. The US Government released a statement on 19 December that "deplores and condemns" alleged US national or permanent resident support, encouragement, or participation in violent antigovernment activities in several foreign countries with which the United States is at peace, specifically Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
In the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) abducted 21 persons, including 10 foreign tourists, from a Malaysian resort in April, the first time the group conducted operations outside the southern Philippines. ASG members later abducted several foreign journalists, three Malaysians, and one US citizen in the southern Philippines. (The US citizen and one Filipino remained captive at year's end.) After breaking off peace talks in Manila in April, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) mounted several terrorist attacks in the southern Philippines against Philippine security and civilian targets. Philippine officials also suspect MILF operatives conducted bombings in Manila, including two at popular shopping malls in May. Other groups, including the Communist Party of the Philippines New People's Army, and the Alex Boncayao Brigade, mounted attacks in the archipelago.
In January, 10 armed Burmese dissidents--linked to the takeover in 1999 of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok--took over the Ratchaburi provincial hospital in Thailand. Thai security forces stormed the hospital and freed the victims. All the hostage takers were killed, and no hostages were injured during the assault. Separately, Burma sentenced to death one terrorist involved in the 1999 Embassy seizure.
Indonesia experienced a sharp rise in international and domestic terrorism during the year, as weakening central government control and a difficult transition to democracy provided fertile ground for terrorist activities. Several bombings occurred in 2000, two of which targeted official foreign interests. Unidentified assailants detonated a car bomb in front of the Philippine Ambassador's residence in central Jakarta as the Ambassador was entering the compound on 1 August. The explosion killed two Indonesians, seriously injured three other persons--including the Ambassador--and slightly injured 18 bystanders, including one Filipino and two Bulgarians. Unidentified perpetrators also conducted a grenade attack against the Malaysian Embassy on 27 August, but no injuries resulted.
Six other bombings from July to November targeted domestic interests in the capital. The most destructive occurred on 13 September when a car bomb in the Jakarta stock exchange's underground parking garage killed 10 Indonesians. Other targets included the Attorney General's office, the Jakarta Governor's residence, a Jakarta hotel, a local nongovernmental organization, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, which was used as the courtroom venue for former President Soeharto's corruption trial. Multiple bombings also occurred in major cities in North Sumatra, Riau, and East Java.
Indonesian officials made little progress in apprehending and prosecuting those responsible for the bombings. The Indonesian National Police arrested 34 persons suspected of involvement in the Malaysian Embassy and the stock-exchange bombings, but a lack of evidence forced the release of all suspects in mid-October. The police claim the Free Aceh Movement (GAM)--a group seeking an independent state in northern Sumatra--conducted both attacks and planned another against the US Embassy to "create chaos" in Jakarta. The evidence made public as of December, however, does not support elements of this theory. Nevertheless, the GAM or Achenese separatists did conduct sporadic attacks on ExxonMobil oil facilities in Aceh early in the year. The group's primary target was Indonesian security elements, some of which continued to guard ExxonMobil facilities.
Indonesian nationalists and some radical Islamist groups occasionally carried out violent protests outside US diplomatic facilities in response to perceived US interference in domestic affairs and support for Israel. One demonstration culminated in a mob attack against the US Consulate in Surabaya on 15 September, and another involved the Islamist militant Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders' Front) threatening US citizens in the country. Other Islamist extremists in October searched for US citizens in a central Javanese city, warning them to leave the country.
Indonesian students attacked US Consulate gates during a protest in Surabaya on 15 September. The students were protesting perceived western intervention in Indonesian domestic politics.
Militiamen attacked a UNHCR aid office in Atambua, West Timor, on 6 September, killing three aid workers, including one US citizen. Suspected militia members also killed two UN peacekeepers--a New Zealander and a Nepalese national--during the year.
Aum Shinrikyo, which conducted the sarin nerve agent attack in the Tokyo subway system in 1995, remained under active government surveillance. The Aum now is required by law to report regularly on its membership, residences, and other holdings. The Tokyo district court in 1999 and 2000 sentenced to death four of the five senior cultists who actually placed the sarin on the subway. (The fifth culprit, Ikuo Hayashi, showed a repentant and cooperative attitude and, in 1998, received a less severe life sentence.) The prosecution of cult leader Shoko Asahara continued, with four drug-related charges dropped in October in an effort to expedite a verdict. Aum leadership took further steps to improve the cult's image following up its public apology and admission of responsibility for the subway attack with an agreement to pay $40 million damage to attack victims, rejection of cult founder Asahara as a religious prophet, a pledge to remove teachings advocating murder from the cult's religious doctrine, and a change of its name to Aleph.
Separately, four Japanese Red Army (JRA) members were returned to Japan in March after being deported from Lebanon. They later were indicted on charges of attempted murder and forgery of official documents. Japanese officials continued to seek the extradition of a fifth colleague, Kozo Okamoto, who was granted political asylum by Lebanon because he had participated in operations against Israel. In June, the Japanese Government successfully extradited Yoshimi Tanaka--one of the fugitive members of the JRA involved in hijacking a Japanese Airlines plane to North Korea in 1970--from Thailand. During a preliminary hearing before the Tokyo district court in July, Tanaka publicly apologized and submitted a signed report admitting to hijacking and assault charges. His trial began on 16 December.
In November, Osaka police successfully tracked down and arrested Fusako Shigenobu, a founder and leader of the JRA, who had been on the run for 30 years. Prosecutors have charged her with suspicion of conspiracy related to JRA's seizure of the French Embassy in The Hague in 1974, as well as attempted murder, and passport fraud. Police later seized two supporters who allegedly helped her evade detection while in Japan. Only a handful of JRA members remain at large.
Fusako Shigenobu, JRA founder and leader, was arrested in November.
Several small-scale bombings of undetermined origin occurred in Vientiane during 2000, some of which targeted tourist destinations and injured foreign nationals. Unidentified assailants threw an explosive device at a restaurant on 30 March, injuring 10 tourists from Britain, Germany, and Denmark. Bombings also occurred at Vientiane's morning market in May--injuring four Thai nationals--and the central post office in July, where two foreign tourists narrowly escaped injury. Unidentified perpetrators also detonated explosives at the Vientiane bus station, the domestic airport terminal, and a national monument. Authorities discovered other bombs planted at the morning market, a foreign embassy, and in a hotel outside Vientiane and rendered them safe.
Malaysia experienced two incidents of international terrorism in 2000, both perpetrated by the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). The ASG abducted 21 persons, including 10 foreign tourists, from the Sipadan diving resort in eastern Malaysia on 23 April. A suspected ASG faction also kidnapped three Malaysians from a resort on Pandanan Island in eastern Malaysia on 10 September. The group released most of the hostages from both incidents but continued to hold one Filipino abducted from Sipadan as of the end of the year.
A Malaysian Islamist sect known as Al-Ma'unah targeted domestic security forces for the first time in July. Members of the group raided two military armories in Perak state, about 175 miles north of Kuala Lumpur, and took four locals hostage. Sect members killed two of the hostages--a Malaysian police officer and soldier--before surrendering on 6 July. Malaysian authorities arrested and detained several dozen members following the incident and suspect that 29 of those held also launched attacks against a Hindu temple, a brewery, and an electrical power tower.
Islamist separatist groups in the Philippines increased attacks against foreign and domestic targets in 2000. The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)--designated one of 29 Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the US Government--conducted operations outside the southern Philippines for the first time when it abducted 21 persons--including 10 foreign tourists--from a Malaysian resort in April. In a series of subsequent, separate incidents, ASG group members abducted several foreign journalists, three Malaysians, and one US citizen in the southern Philippines. Although obtaining ransom money was a primary goal, the hostage takers issued several disparate political demands ranging from releasing international terrorists jailed in the United States to establishing an independent Islamic state. The group released most of the hostages by October allegedly for ransoms totaling several million dollars, while Philippine Government assaults on ASG positions paved the way for some other hostages to escape. The ASG, however, continued to hold the US citizen and a Filipino captive at year's end.
Manila made some legal progress against ASG kidnapping activities in 2000 when a regional trial court sentenced three group members to life in prison for abducting Dr. Nilo Barandino and 10 members of his household in 1992. The Philippine Government also filed charges against ASG members involved in multiple kidnapping cases, although the suspects remained at large.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)--the largest remaining Philippine Islamist separatist group--broke off stalled peace talks with Manila in late April. After the military launched an offensive capturing several MILF strongholds and attacking rebel checkpoints near Camp Abubakar--the MILF headquarters in the southern Philippines--the MILF mounted several terrorist attacks in the southern Philippines against Philippine security and civilian targets. In July, Philippine Armed Forces captured Camp Abubakar, and the MILF responded by declaring a "holy war" against Manila and continuing attacks against civilian and government targets in the southern Philippines. Philippine law enforcement officials also have accused MILF operatives of responsibility for several bombings in Manila, including two at popular shopping malls in May and five at different locations in Manila on 30 December. Police arrested 26 suspected MILF members in connection with the May bombings and still held them at year's end.
Communist rebels also remained active in 2000, occasionally targeting businesses and engaging in sporadic clashes with Philippine security forces. Press reporting indicates that early in the year the Communist Party of the Philippines New People's Army (CPP/NPA) attacked a South Korean construction company and in March issued an order to target foreign businesses "whose operations hurt the country's economy and environment." The Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB)--a breakaway CPP/NPA faction--strafed Shell Oil offices in the central Philippines in March. The group warned of more attacks against oil companies, including US-owned Caltex, to protest rising oil prices.
Distinguishing between political and criminal motivation for many of the terrorist-related activities in the Philippines continued to be difficult, most notably in the numerous cases of kidnapping for ransom in the southern Philippines. Both Islamist and Communist insurgents sought to extort funds from businesses in their operating areas, occasionally conducting reprisal operations if money was not paid.
In January 2000, 10 armed Burmese dissidents--linked to the takeover in 1999 of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok--took over the Ratchaburi provincial hospital. Thai security forces stormed the hospital and freed the victims. Although no hostages were injured during the assault, all the hostage takers were killed. Separately, Burma sentenced to death one terrorist involved in the 1999 Embassy takeover.
Authorities responded with military force and legal action to separatist activity in the south. In February, security forces dealt a severe blow to the New Pattani United Liberation Organization--a Muslim separatist group--when they killed its leader Saarli Taloh-Meyaw. Authorities claim that he was responsible for 90 percent of the terrorist activities in Narathiwat, a southern Thai province.
In June, a Thai criminal court ordered extradited to Japan Yoshimi Tanaka--a member of the radical Japanese Red Army Faction, wanted for the hijacking in 1970 of a Japan Airlines plane. His trial in Tokyo began in mid-December.
Thai officials again publicly pledged to halt the use of Thailand as a logistics base by the Sri Lankan group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The pledges, which echoed reassurances made by Bangkok in previous years, followed the discovery in June of a partially completed submersible at a shipyard in Phuket, Thailand, owned by an LTTE-sympathizer, as well as an unclassified paper by Canadian intelligence published in December that outlined the Tigers' use of front companies to procure weapons via Thailand.