Western Europe had the largest decline in the number of international terrorist incidents of any region in 2000. Several European states moved to strengthen and codify anti-terrorism legislation, and many signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing, which was opened for signature on 10 January 2000. There were notable examples of counterterrorism cooperation among several countries, such as the US-UK-Greek collaboration on the British Defense Attache's assassination in Athens, Spanish-French cooperation against the Basque terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), and Italy and Spain's agreement to create common judicial space. Greece undertook a series of more stringent counterterrorism measures in the wake of the murder of the UK Defense Attache by the terrorist group 17 November, but Athens still has not made any arrests in connection with any of the group's 21 murders over the past quarter century. France and Turkey both made impressive strides in combating terrorism through aggressively pursuing the perpetrators and their terrorist groups.
In Southeastern Europe, groups of ethnic Albanians have conducted armed attacks against government forces in southern Serbia and in Macedonia since 1999. One group in southern Serbia calls itself the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (PMBLA). One group in Macedonia calls itself the National Liberation Army (NLA). Both groups include members who fought with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 1998-99 and have used their wartime connections to obtain funding and weapons from Kosovo and elsewhere. The PMBLA has, on occasion, harassed and detained civilians traveling through areas it controls. Both the PMBLA and the NLA have fired indiscriminately upon civilian centers. (In the same region, ethnic Albanian assailants carried out a terrorist attack against a bus in Kosovo on 16 February 2001, killing at least seven civilians and wounding 43 others.)
In keeping with Austria's constructive security relationship with the United States, the Interior Minister discussed closer cooperation in countering crime and terrorism during a visit to Washington in August. Vienna also enacted an expanded police-powers bill enabling authorities to collect and analyze information more effectively.
On 26 February, Austrian letter bomber Franz Fuchs committed suicide in his prison cell where he had been serving a life sentence for masterminding a series of letter-bomb campaigns in Austria and Germany between 1993 and 1997.
Authorities held Halimeh Nimr, a suspected member of the terrorist Abu Nidal organization (ANO), in custody from January to May. In September, she failed to appear in court to be tried on charges of attempting to withdraw some $8 million from a bank account controlled by the ANO, which subsequently threatened to target Austrian interests if the funds were not released to the group.
In 2000, citing the statute of limitations, France declined an Austrian Government request that Illich Ramirez Sanchez, a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal, be extradited to face criminal charges for a terrorist attack on the Vienna headquarters of OPEC in 1975.
The Austrian Government continued to allow the political front of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to maintain its offices in Vienna, which have been open since 1995. Authorities estimate some 400 PKK militants and 4,000 sympathizers reside in Austria.
The Interior Ministers of Belgium and Spain met in Brussels in June to discuss Belgium's refusal to extradite Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) members suspected of terrorist acts. The Belgian minister pledged that his government would no longer refuse Spanish extradition requests.
In 2000, Belgium did reject Turkey's request for the extradition of suspected Turkish terrorist Fehriye Erdal to prosecute her for her alleged role in the 1996 handgun murder of a prominent Turkish industrialist and two associates in Istanbul. Erdal, arrested in Belgium in 1999, is allegedly a member of the Turkish Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) terrorist group. Belgian authorities denied Turkey's request on the grounds she could receive the death penalty if tried in Turkey. Belgium also declined to prosecute her under the 1977 European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, noting that it covers only terrorist acts using bombs or automatic weapons. After Brussels denied Ms. Erdal's political asylum request, she went on a hunger strike and subsequently was released from prison and placed under house arrest. She may be tried later on charges arising from criminal activities in Belgium.
In February, authorities paroled two members of the "Cellules Communistes Combattantes" after they had served 14 years of their life sentences for involvement in a series of bomb attacks against US, NATO, and Belgian interests in 1984 and 1985. One attack resulted in the deaths of two firemen in Brussels.
During 2000, France maintained its traditional tough stance against terrorism. On the legal front, Paris was the first to sign the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing, which was a French initiative. The French Government's nationwide "Vigi-Pirate" plan--which uses military forces to reinforce police security in Paris and other major cities to prevent a repeat of the Paris metro attacks by Algerian terrorists--remained in effect. Vigi-Pirate increased security at metro and train stations, enhanced border controls, and expanded identity checks countrywide.
In January, the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) relaunched its assassination and bombing campaign in Spain, and French police responded aggressively by interdicting cross-border operations, arresting group members, and shutting down logistics and supply cells in France. At year's end, ETA had killed 23 persons and wounded scores more.
On the judicial front, French courts tried and convicted numerous ETA terrorists. In January, Javier Arizkuren Ruiz, alias Kantauri, a former ETA military operations chief, was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. A Paris appeals court in September reportedly authorized Ruiz's extradition to Spain to stand trial for an attempt to kill King Juan Carlos in 1995. Twelve other ETA militants received lengthy jail sentences. The court sent Daniel Derguy, believed to be the ETA chief in France, to prison for 10 years. In October, 10 senior French and Spanish ETA members were convicted of criminal conspiracy in connection with a terrorist organization. Ignacio Gracia Arregui, alias Inaki de Renteria, reportedly a top ETA leader, was sentenced in December to five years in jail. Others convicted received prison sentences of five to 10 years. France often has extradited convicted ETA terrorists to Spain when they have completed their prison sentences.
In October, a French judge ruled in favor of a suit charging Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi with "complicity to murder" in the bomb attack in 1989 against a UTA airliner over the Niger desert that killed 170 persons.
In November, French courts also convicted seven Spanish citizens of membership in First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Group (GRAPO), a Spanish leftist terrorist group. In raids during the year, police officials seized bombmaking paraphernalia, false identity documents, and large amounts of cash.
French courts convicted a number of Algerian nationals on terrorist-related charges. Amar Bouakaze, an Algerian, was convicted in June for criminal conspiracy in connection with a terrorist organization. Evidence linked Bouakaze to Ahmed Ressam, a suspected terrorist being held in the United States. Another Algerian national was convicted of an attack that derailed a train in France in June, leaving two persons dead.
The Breton Resistance Army (ARB) claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in April that damaged a McDonald's restaurant at Pornic, but the group denied involvement in another attack the same month against a McDonald's restaurant near Dinan that killed a French employee. French police arrested four members of the Breton nationalist group Emgann (Combat) on charges of involvement in the Dinan bombing.
Six proindependence Corsican groups joined in proclaiming a cease-fire in late 1999, but bomb attacks against government offices on the island continued intermittently in 2000. One such Corsican group claimed responsibility for a failed attack in Paris in June. In October, Corsican separatists placed a car bomb in front of the police station in Marseilles. The device was not built to detonate but to serve as a warning for a possible future attack and to highlight the group's capabilities. Also in October, French courts sentenced 10 Corsican nationalists to four years' imprisonment for an attack that damaged an estate complex on Corsica in 1994.
France's counterterrorism efforts have been less robust on the diplomatic front where it has blocked concerted action by the G-8 aimed at Iranian-sponsored terrorism in the Middle East. Also, France's presidency of the EU yielded little practical US-EU counterterrorism cooperation.
Extreme rightwing violence against foreign nationals in Germany increased in 2000 and became a major political issue. Interior ministers from the German states met in November to address the problem and recommended the federal authorities adopt control measures, including establishing databases to track rightwing and leftwing extremists.
German officials detected no revival of organized extreme leftwing terrorist activity in 2000. Authorities sought several former members of the Red Army Faction (RAF), which was dissolved in 1998, and continued to prosecute former RAF members in court. Johannes Weinreich, a former RAF member and lieutenant to Carlos the Jackal, was convicted in January of committing murder and attempted murder during an attack in 1983 on a French cultural center in then-West Berlin. In November, RAF member Andrea Klump went on trial on charges of participation in a failed attack on the NATO base at Rota, Spain, in 1988. In December, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer testified at the trial of former acquaintance Hans-Joachim Klein, who was charged with three murders in connection with the 1975 attack in Vienna on petroleum ministers from OPEC states by "Carlos"-led terrorists.
The courts convicted Metin Kaplan, leader of the violent Turkish Islamist group Kalifatstaat, and sentenced him to four years in prison for publicly calling for the death of a rival. The trial of five defendants accused of the 1986 Libyan-sponsored bombing against the Labelle Discotheque, which killed two US servicemen, continued to progress slowly. The 1993 ban on the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its affiliates remained in effect. The PKK ceased to conduct violent demonstrations in 2000, following the seizure of the group's leader Ocalan.
Germany continued to cooperate multilaterally and bilaterally--notably with the United States--to combat terrorism. In 2000, German authorities arrested and extradited to the United States a suspect in the bombings in 1998 of the US embassies in East Africa.
The Greek Government undertook some meaningful steps to combat terrorism--especially in the wake of the Revolutionary Organization 17 November's (17 November) murder of UK Defense Attache Saunders in Athens--including efforts to persuade a historically skeptical public of the damage inflicted by terrorism on Greece's interests and international reputation. The government strengthened the police counterterrorism unit, implemented a multimillion-dollar reward program, and began drafting legislation to provide a legal basis for more vigorous counterterrorism efforts. Greek, British, and US experts cooperated closely in the still ongoing investigation of the Saunders murder. Nonetheless, despite these and other promising initiatives, as well as closer Greek-US cooperation, Athens resolved no outstanding terrorist incident and arrested no terrorist suspects in 2000.
In June, two motorcyclists shot and killed British Defense Attache Stephen Saunders in Athens' rush hour traffic. Revolutionary Organization 17 November, a violent far-left nationalist group, claimed the murder as revenge against NATO's military action in 1999 against Serbia. The group simultaneously claimed responsibility for attacks it had mounted in 1999 on the German and Dutch ambassadors' residences, on three Western banks, and on offices of the governing PASOK party. In a follow-up communique released in December, 17 November defended itself against mounting public criticism by trying to appeal to populist, pro-Serb sentiments and also by urging Greeks not to cooperate with the government's counterterrorism efforts.
Revolutionary Organization 17 November assassinated British Defense Attache Stephen Saunders in Athens in June. Heather Saunders--shown awaiting her husband's coffin at Gatwick Airport--has been instrumental in raising Greek public awareness of the plight of terrorism victims.
The Saunders murder and Greek preparations for the 2004 Olympics contributed to a political and public opinion climate more supportive of effective counterterrorism measures. The Prime Minister, his cabinet colleagues, and opposition leaders denounced the murder of Saunders and spoke out against terrorism in general. The Greek media provided extensive coverage of Heather Saunders' eloquent public statements in the aftermath of her husband's murder. The public widely observed a national moment of silence for all victims of terrorism, and Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos held an unprecedented memorial service for all Greek and foreign victims of terrorism in Greece.
The police sought to involve the public in the Saunders investigation and encouraged witnesses to come forward. Minister of Public Order (MPO) Khrisokhoidhis led the government's efforts, which included increasing the reward for information on terrorist attacks to $2.5 million. The police also opened toll-free hotlines to enable informants to pass tips anonymously. Although failure to cordon off the Saunders crime scene initially hampered the investigation, the Greek police subsequently worked effectively with British investigators to pursue a small number of useful leads. At year's end, the British Defense Attache's murder remained unsolved.
In the spring, Revolutionary Nuclei, another far-left, nationalist terrorist group, bombed buildings belonging to two Greek construction companies linked to the Greek Government, military, and NATO. Police safely removed a bomb the group had left outside the Peiraiefs (Piraeus) office of a former PASOK minister. On 12 November, the group mounted three separate but nearly simultaneous attacks against a British bank, a US bank, and the studio and home of the Greek sculptor whose statue of Gen. George C. Marshall is displayed at the US Embassy.
Throughout the year, a host of anarchist groups claimed responsibility for an average of two arson or bomb attacks per week on offices, shops, and vehicles, almost always in Athens; many of the targeted vehicles belonged to foreign diplomats, foreign companies, Greek officials, and Greek public-sector executives. The two most prolific groups, Black Star and Anarchist Faction, together carried out 31 attacks in 2000. No fatalities or arrests resulted from these attacks.
Suspected terrorist Avraam Lesperoglou, already imprisoned since December 1999 for passport fraud and draftdodging, was convicted in October of attempting to murder a policeman and sentenced to 17 years. Lesperoglou, who is suspected of being linked to Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA) and possibly other groups, still awaits trial on several terrorism-related murder charges.
In late November, a Justice Ministry expert committee began drafting legislation on terrorism and organized crime for presentation to Parliament. The controversial legislation is expected to provide for greater admissability of evidence from undercover police operations, use of DNA evidence, adjudication by all-judge panels of certain classes of terrorist cases, and protection of witnesses. The Greek Government has indicated the legislation will be consistent with EU standards and international norms.
In 2000, Greece and the United States ratified a mutual legal assistance treaty and signed a police cooperation memorandum to enhance bilateral cooperation on law enforcement, including terrorism. During the year, MPO Khrisokhoidhis met with cabinet-level officials in the United States and in the United Kingdom and signed a bilateral counterterrorism agreement in London. By year's end, Greece had signed all 12 and ratified all but two of the UN counterterrorism conventions.
Italy's counterterrorism efforts in 2000 focused primarily on the assassination in 1999 of Labor Ministry Adviser Massimo d'Antona by individuals who claimed to be from the extreme leftist Red Brigades-Combatant Communist Party (BR-PCC). Leaks from the investigation, however, complicated the arrest and interrogation of several suspects. One much-publicized suspect was released because of lack of evidence but remains under investigation. Later in the year, the Revolutionary Proletarian Nucleus, a leftist-anarchist group, issued a communique claiming responsibility for placing a bomb at the Milan office of the Italian Confederation of Free Trade Unions in July.
In February, Interior Minister Bianco warned of a possible resurgence of rightwing terrorism, and the Italian Government subsequently dissolved the neofascist organization Fronte Nazionale (National Front) and in October confiscated its assets. Bianco maintained, however, that leftwing and anarchist violence, exemplified by the BR-PCC and the Territorial Anti-Imperialist Nuclei (NTA), posed the greater threat. A spinoff group of the NTA--an anti-US, anti-NATO group--was behind several low-level bombing and incendiary attacks on Aviano Airbase in 1999.
In October authorities in Naples issued arrest warrants for 11 members of Al-Takfir w'al Hijra, a North African Muslim extremist group. Seven were apprehended in Naples, France, and Algeria, but four eluded arrest. Officials noted that members of the group, also active in Milan and other cities, engaged primarily in forging travel documents and raising funds from expatriate Muslims.
In January, the government expelled to his native country illegal immigrant and Algerian national Yamin Rachek, husband of Italian-Canadian dual national Lucia Garofolo who was arrested in December for carrying explosives from Canada into the United States. In June, the government pardoned Turkish national Ali Agca for his attack on the Pope in 1981 and extradited him to his native Turkey.
Spain was wracked by domestic terrorism in 2000. After abandoning its cease-fire in late 1999, the terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) began a countrywide bombing and assassination campaign, killing 23 and wounding scores more by year's end. ETA traditionally targets police, military personnel, and politicians, as well as journalists and businessmen. As 2000 progressed, however, the group appeared to become increasingly indiscriminate in its attacks, targeting, for example, intersections and shopping areas. The public responded with huge demonstrations in major cities, demanding an end to the violence. Also in 2000, the Spanish and French Basque youth groups united and continued their campaign of street violence and arson. Spanish authorities diligently prosecuted ETA members on terrorism and criminal charges, and the Aznar government reiterated its determination to eliminate terrorism and not negotiate over independence for the constitutionally autonomous Basque provinces. After difficult discussions over the role of moderate Basques represented by the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), the governing and opposition Socialist parties signed a common anti-ETA pact at year's end.
Spanish police officers inspect the remains of a passenger bus set ablaze after a car bomb, blamed on the ETA, exploded near Madrid on 30 October. The attack killed three persons, including a Spanish Supreme Court judge, injured more than 60 others, and destroyed dozens of cars.
The First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Group (GRAPO), quiescent in recent years, stepped up its activity in 2000. In November, the group murdered a Spanish policeman following the arrest of seven GRAPO leaders in Paris, killed two security guards during a botched armed robbery attempt of a security van in May, and carried out several bombings that damaged property but caused no injuries. In November, the Spanish Interior Minister stated that arrests of GRAPO operatives in France had effectively dismantled the leadership and operational command of the group.
In June, Spain's Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja visited Washington in keeping with the active, high-level dialogue on terrorism between the United States and Spain. Spain also played an important role in the Central Asian Counterterrorism Conference sponsored by the US Department of State held in Washington in June. A Spanish court convicted Ramon Aldasoro, whom the United States extradited to Spain in December 1999, for his participation in the bombing of a police barracks in 1988.
Spanish and French interior ministries cooperated closely in combating terrorism, including arresting numerous ETA members and raiding logistics and support cells. France regularly delivered detained ETA terrorists, including several senior leaders, into Spanish custody. Spain also secured a pledge from Mexico to deny safehaven to ETA members. Spain welcomed the condemnation of ETA in November by all Ibero-American presidents--except Cuba's Castro, whose refusal harmed bilateral relations.
Combating terrorism remained a top Turkish domestic and foreign policy priority as ethnic, Islamist, leftist, and transnational terrorist groups continued to threaten Turkey. In 2000, previous Turkish successes in fighting these groups were consolidated, producing a dramatically lowered incidence of terrorist activity. The Turkish Government remained in the forefront of cooperative international counterterrorism efforts and worked closely with Washington on combating groups that target US personnel and facilities.
At the direction of its imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which long had sought to achieve an independent Kurdish state through violence, asserted that it now seeks, through a political campaign, only guarantees of Kurdish political, economic, social, and cultural rights in a democratic Turkey. The government did not respond to the PKK's declared change in tactics and goals. Prime Minister Ecevit warned that his government would reconsider its decision not to press for the death sentence against Ocalan if the PKK renewed its violence while the European Court of Human Rights reviewed his trial. The Court took up Ocalan's appeal in November.
Meanwhile, the number of violent clashes between PKK and government forces in Turkey declined significantly with 45 confrontations in the first 11 months of 2000, according to the Turkish General Staff, compared with thousands in previous years. Turkish forces mounted vigorous operations against the few hundred PKK guerrillas in southeastern Turkey and the several thousand who had withdrawn to northern Iraq, enlisting the aid of Iraqi Kurdish groups that have fought sporadically with the PKK over the last several years. Turkish officials and newspapers noted that Syria observed its commitment made in 1998 to abjure support to the PKK. In contrast, Iran allegedly continued to provide at least a safehaven to armed PKK militants.
Turkish security forces continued their effective campaign against the extreme-left terrorist group Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C, formerly Dev Sol). The group was able to mount only a few attacks. In August, the police arrested seven suspected DHKP/C terrorists that allegedly planned to attack the airbase at Incirlik, from which a joint US-British-Turkish force maintains "Operation Northern Watch" over the no-fly zone in Iraq. Several European countries, including Belgium, have declined Turkish requests to extradite PKK, DHKP/C, and other terrorists, citing Turkey's retention of the death penalty and the political motivation of the suspects' crimes.
The DHKP/C, joined by small extreme leftist factions, staged repeated violent uprisings in prisons to protest the government's efforts to transfer prisoners from overcrowded older prisons--in which terrorist and criminal groups effectively controlled entire wards--to newer prisons with cells for two or three prisoners. In December, the outlawed terrorist group Turkish Communist Party/Marxist-Leninist showed its opposition to the transfer program by killing two policemen. "Operation Return to Life," undertaken in December by security forces to gain control of the prison wards, left about 30 prisoners dead, some by their own hand.
The police and the judiciary dealt heavy blows to domestic Islamist terrorist groups in 2000, including the Turkish Hizballah, a domestic terrorist group of mostly Kurdish Sunni Islamists with no known ties to Lebanese Hizballah. Turkish officials and media assert that Turkish Hizballah has received limited Iranian support. Turkish Hizballah's adherents are anti-Western but primarily target Kurds who are viewed as insufficiently Islamic or unwilling to meet the group's extortion demands. They have not targeted US citizens. Through October, 723 police operations, mostly in predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey, netted more than 2,700 Turkish Hizballah suspects, approximately 1,700 of whom were arrested. The trial of 15 Turkish Hizballah suspects accused of 156 murders began in July in Diyarbakir.
Turkish authorities arrested members of the Jerusalem Warriors, a small ethnic Turkish Sunni Islamist group with tenuous links to the Turkish Hizballah. Turkish officials and media reported that they had received direction, training, and support from Iran. In August, 17 Warriors went on trial for involvement in 22 murders, including assassinations of several prominent Turkish secularist intellectuals. Four have been accused of killing USAF Sgt. Victor Marvick in a car-bombing in 1991.
The United Kingdom enacted two far-reaching counter-terrorism laws and continued its close cooperation with the United States and other nations in the fight against terrorism. As in previous years, UK authorities focused primarily on the threat posed by dissident Republican and Loyalist terrorist groups in Northern Ireland, while continuing their efforts to combat transnational Islamist terrorists settled in or transiting the United Kingdom.
The Terrorism Act, enacted in July and effective February 2001, replaces temporary and emergency laws that dealt with Northern Ireland-related terrorism. It broadens the definition of domestic and transnational terrorism throughout the United Kingdom to cover violent acts and threats against individuals and property--including electronic systems--intended to influence the government or promote political, religious, or ideological causes. The Act authorizes the government to ban groups involved in domestic or transnational terrorism and to use special arrest powers to prosecute their members or supporters. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, effective July 2000, created a statutory basis for intercepting communications and for covert surveillance.
London continued to work vigorously to combat Northern Ireland-related terrorism, but British press reports indicated that terrorist killings in the north increased from seven in 1999 to 18 in 2000. The dissident Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) is credited in press reports to have been responsible for attacks in Northern Ireland as well as in central London. The most spectacular incident involved a rocket attack in September that caused minor damage to the headquarters of Britain's foreign intelligence service, MI6, in central London. UK officials continued to prosecute dissidents suspected in previous attacks. Authorities repeatedly urged witnesses to come forward with evidence relating to RIRA's 1998 bombing in Omagh, which left 29 dead, and to the murder in 1999 of Republican defense lawyer Rosemary Nelson by Loyalist Red Hand Defenders.
Making the most of close US ties to the United Kingdom and Ireland, Washington continued its efforts to encourage normalization of political, law enforcement, and security arrangements in Northern Ireland as called for in the Good Friday Agreement. President Clinton's December visit demonstrated US support for achieving lasting peace in the troubled region.
London and Washington worked together to bring to justice suspects in the bombing of two US embassies in East Africa in 1998 and in the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. UK courts found Khaled al-Fawwaz, Ibrahim Hussein Abd al-Hadi Eidarous, and Abel Muhammad Abd al-Majid--indicted in the United States for involvement in the embassy attacks--extraditable to the United States. The three men are appealing the decision. In April, Manchester police, responding to a US request, searched two residences of associates of Usama Bin Ladin and his al-Qaida terrorist network. In May, a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands commenced the trial of two Libyans accused of murder, conspiracy, and breach of the UK Aviation Security Act in perpetrating the Pan Am 103 bombing. All charges but murder were later dropped. (In January 2001, one of the Libyans was found guilty of murder in connection with that attack. The judges found that he acted "in furtherance of the purposes of . . . Libyan Intelligence Services." Concerning the other defendant, Al-Amin Kalifa Fahima, the court concluded that the Crown failed to present sufficient evidence to satisfy the high standard of "proof beyond reasonable doubt" that is necessary in criminal cases.)
British authorities assisted Greek officials in investigating the assassination in June of Britain's Defense Attache in Athens by the terrorist group 17 November. London continues to investigate the murder of British and US citizens in Yemen in 1998 and a bomb incident in its Embassy in Sanaa in 2000, the day after the bombing of the USS Cole.