"The campaign to eradicate terrorism has reached a new stage. It will be pursued on many fronts with determination and patience. The Alliance stands ready to play its role."
Lord Robertson, Secretary-General of NATO
8 October 2001
In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, European nations responded in dramatic fashion, offering immediate assistance to manage the crisis and working overtime to help build and sustain the international Coalition against terrorism. Working together bilaterally and multilaterally, the United States and its friends and allies in Europe demonstrated the positive impact of coordinated action. Sustaining this close cooperation and unity of purpose will be a strong element of a successful campaign over the long haul.
Many European countries acted quickly to share law-enforcement and intelligence information, conduct investigations into the attacks, and strengthen laws to aid the fight against terrorism. The UK, France, Italy, and other European allies partnered with the US in military operations to root out the Taliban and al-Qaida from Afghanistan. Belgium, the holder of the six-month rotating EU presidency on September 11, immediately focused its agenda on the fight against terrorism. Spain not only continued to weaken the Basque terrorist group, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), but captured leaders and members of an al-Qaida cell in Spain, and has moved to make counterterrorism a central item on the agenda of its six-month presidency of the EU which began in January 2002. Al-Qaida-related arrests were similarly carried out in Belgium, Bosnia, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK.
During the year it held the rotating presidency of the Group of Eight (G-8), Italy's guidance of joint activities of the Lyon Group law-enforcement experts and the Counterterrorism Experts Group (Roma Group) resulted in substantial progress on an Action Plan for combating terrorism. France provided outstanding political, diplomatic, and military support to the global counterterrorism campaign. The French have helped invigorate measures to bolster the UN's ability to contribute to measures against terrorism and to enhance regional counterterrorism cooperation within Europe. Greece offered noteworthy support for the antiterrorism Coalition. However, it remains troubling that there have been no successful arrests and prosecutions of members of the 17 November terrorist group. Germany's response to the September 11 attacks was superb, with important contributions to key diplomatic, law-enforcement, and military efforts. German police moved swiftly to investigate leads related to the attacks, identified al-Qaida members, made arrests, and issued warrants. Turkey \provided invaluable logistic and basing support to the campaign in Afghanistan as well as its full diplomatic and political support. Although Turkey's effective campaign against the PKK, DHKP/C, and Turkish Hizballah dealt setbacks to those groups, they still remain capable of lethal attacks.
The European multilateral response to the September 11 attacks through the European Union (EU) and NATO was immediate, forceful, and unprecedented. The EU showed itself to be a strong partner in sustaining the global Coalition and in fostering international political cooperation against terrorism. On the day of the attacks, the EU (under Belgium's presidency) voiced its solidarity with the United States. EU member states provided strong support for our efforts at the UN to adopt strong counterterrorism resolutions and for our diplomatic efforts around the world to get third countries to stand up against terrorism. Thereafter, the Council of the European Union adopted an Action Plan to identify areas—such as police and judicial cooperation, humanitarian assistance, transportation security, and economic and finance policy—that could make a contribution to fighting terrorism. In addition, the Council adopted a "common position," a framework regulation, and an implementing decision that significantly strengthened its legal and administrative ability and that of EU member states to take action against terrorists and their supporters—including freezing their assets. The EU strengthened its capacity to stanch the flow of terrorist financing by approving a regulation that enables it to freeze terrorist assets on an EU-wide basis without waiting for a UN resolution. The United States signed the US-Europol Agreement in December to facilitate cooperation between our law-enforcement authorities. The EU reached agreement on a European arrest warrant, which will greatly facilitate extradition within member states. Under the Belgian presidency, the EU also agreed on a regulation to freeze assets of persons and entities associated with terrorism; the measure was approved in December by the European Parliament. The EU also reached agreement on a common definition of terrorism and on a common list of terrorist groups and committed to coordinated initiatives to combat terrorism, including the intent to adopt quickly a directive preventing money laundering in the financial system and expanding procedures for freezing assets—to include proceeds from terrorism-related crimes. The EU is continuing to work internally and with the US and other countries to improve our ability to take common actions against terrorism.
For its part, NATO invoked Article V of the NATO charter for the first time, bringing the full weight of the organization to bear to provide for self defense against terrorism. NATO forces have played a key role in the effort to end Afghanistan's role as a safehaven and in providing direct military support in securing the United States from additional terrorist attacks.
Two of the newest NATO members, the Czech Republic and Hungary, made immediate offers of humanitarian and military assistance after the September 11 attacks. Amidst offers to "backfil" American and British troops in the Balkans, the Czech Republic deployed the 9th NBC (nuclear/biological/ chemical) company to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom in Kuwait and loaned NATO, for its use, a TU-154 transport plane. Hungary offered a military medical unit and is providing antiterrorism training to other countries in the region. Both countries pledged significant humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan at the Tokyo donors' conference.
The 10 Vilnius Group countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia) collectively and individually joined in condemning the September 11 attacks. These countries have actively supported the international Coalition against terrorism, offering military and diplomatic assistance and, in some cases, providing logistic support. They have undertaken numerous antiterrorism measures, ranging from strengthening border security to investigating suspect financial transactions.
In Southeastern Europe, groups of ethnic Albanians have conducted armed attacks against government forces in southern Serbia and Macedonia since 1999. Ethnic Albanian extremists of the so-called National Liberation Army (NLA or UCK) launched an armed insurgency in Macedonia in February. The NLA, which announced its disbandment in July, received funding and weapons not only from Macedonian sources, but also from Kosovo and elsewhere. The NLA and a group that operated in southern Serbia called the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (PMBLA or UCPMB) had strong ties with Kosovar political organizations, including the Popular Movement of Kosovo and the National Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo. Both NLA and UCPMB killed civilians and government security-force members and harassed and detained civilians in areas they controlled. Other ethnic Albanian extremist groups also espouse and threaten violence against state institutions in Macedonia and the region, including the so-called Albanian National Army (ANA or AKSH) and the National Committee for the Liberation and Protection of Albanian Lands (KKCMTSH).
Albania continued to be an active partner in the fight against international terrorism in the wake of September 11, pledging "any and all assistance" to US efforts. Government and political leaders quickly condemned the attacks. The Government also pledged NATO access to air and seaports for units participating in Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as commando troops. In addition, the parliamentary Assembly called upon all banks in Albania to locate the accounts of individuals suspected of possessing terrorist ties and to prevent fund withdrawal or transfer. The Albanian courts already have frozen the assets of one suspected al-Qaida supporter. The Ministry of Finance is working to strengthen its anti-money laundering legislation.
Various Middle Eastern-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have been identified as supporting terrorist activities continued to maintain a presence in Albania. Some of the NGOs continued to provide assistance to Islamic extremists throughout the region, to include procuring false documents and facilitating terrorist travel. In early October, however, the Albanian Government simultaneously raided the Tirana headquarters of four Islamic-based NGOs believed to be involved in international Islamic extremism, detained and interrogated their principal officers, then deported them, together with their families, into the custody of police authorities from their home countries. From late October through December, Albanian authorities conducted three additional raids: two on Islamic-based NGOs suspected of supporting extremist activity, and the third on the Tirana headquarters of an Albanian business owned by a suspected al-Qaida supporter watchlisted by the US Department of the Treasury. The Albanian Government detained and interrogated those organizations' principal officers.
Albania continues to cooperate closely with US counterterrorism efforts on a number of levels. Grossly insufficient border security, corruption, organized crime, and institutional weaknesses, however, combine to make Albanian territory an attractive target for exploitation by terrorist and Islamic extremist groups.
Belgian Government reaction to the tragedy of September 11 was swift and supportive. Prime Minister Verhofstadt publicly condemned the attacks on September 11 and again on 12 September before the European Parliament. During Belgium's six-month term of the rotating EU presidency in the second half of 2001, the EU made significant progress in combating terrorism. Belgium immediately thrust counterterrorism to the top of its agenda for EU reform efforts in the wake of the attacks. Belgium helped to obtain key EU-wide agreement on a European arrest warrant, which will greatly facilitate extradition within member states. As a NATO ally, Belgium contributed a navy frigate in the Mediterranean and backfill for Operation Enduring Freedom and provided aircraft for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
The Belgians cooperated on many levels with US counterterrorism efforts, from information sharing to policymaking. Belgian authorities arrested on 13 September Tunisian national, Nizar Trabelsi and Moroccan Tabdelkrim El Hadouti, (brother of Said El Hadouti who was charged in Morocco with helping to provide false documents to the Massoud suicide bombers) for involvement in an alleged plot against the US Embassy in Paris. Police also seized from Trabelsi's apartment a submachinegun, ammunition, and chemical formulas for making explosive devices.
Terrorists, however, have found it relatively easy to exploit Belgium's liberal asylum laws, open land borders, and investigative, prosecutorial, or procedural weaknesses in order to use the country as an operational staging area for international terrorist attacks. The forgery of Belgian passports and theft of Belgian passports from Belgian Government offices have facilitated terrorists' ability to travel. For example, the two suicide-assassins of Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud in Afghanistan on 9 September had traveled as journalists under false names on Belgian passports stolen from consulates in France and the Netherlands. The Belgian Government instituted a new passport with state-of-the-art anti-fraud features in March 2001.
In December, Belgian authorities arrested Tarek Maaroufi, a Tunisian-born Belgian national, on charges of involvement in trafficking of forged Belgian passports. Maaroufi was charged with forgery, criminal association, and recruiting for a foreign army or armed force. Belgian authorities suspect the forged passports are linked to those used by the two suicide-assassins of Northern Alliance leader Massoud. Italian authorities also sought Maaroufi for his ties to known al-Qaida cells. Belgian authorities also opened an investigation into the activities of Richard Reid, the accused "shoe bomber" who on 2 December was overpowered on board American Airlines Flight 63. Reid stayed at a hotel in Brussels from 5-16 December and frequented local cybercafes.
Belgium is beginning to add legislative and judicial tools that will increase its ability to respond to terrorist threats. The Belgian Government assisted in the investigation of several cases of international terrorism, both among European states and with the United States. Belgian cabinet ministers agreed in November on a draft bill aimed at facilitating wiretaps, the use of informants, and other expanded investigative techniques.
Belgium fully implemented all UNSC resolutions requiring freezing of Taliban-related assets.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
After September 11, Bosnian Government authorities pledged to put all possible resources toward the fight against international terrorism. As Bosnia has been a transit point for Islamic extremists, the State border service enacted a variety of measures to control the borders more effectively, including the introduction of a new landing-card document travelers are required to complete upon arrival at the airport.
Following the attacks on September 11, Ministry of the Interior authorities arrested several individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activity, including an associate of Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah and five Algerian nationals suspected of being Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) operatives; Sabir Lahmar, one of the detained GIA operatives, had made threats against SFOR and US interests in the past.
Even before the September 11 attacks, the Bosnian Government was engaged actively in measures to combat terrorism. In April, authorities arrested Sa'id Atmani, a suspected GIA associate who roomed with Ahmed Ressam while he was in Canada, and extradited him to France in July, where he was wanted on an INTERPOL warrant. In July, Bosnian Government authorities arrested two members of the Egyptian group al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya—Imad al-Misri and al-Sharif Hassan Sa'ad. Both men were extradited to Egypt in October.
Various NGOs that have been identified as supporting terrorist activities, however, maintained a presence in Bosnia. The NGOs, which came to the region during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, continued to provide assistance to Islamic extremists throughout Bosnia, to include procuring false documents and facilitating terrorist travel. The Government has taken some significant steps to freeze assets and monitor activities of some of the NGOs, but their ability to carry out efforts to combat these organizations has been weakened by some residual support for those in the Islamic world that supported Bosnia wartime efforts.
Following September 11, Bosnian banking authorities have worked diligently to identify and freeze suspected terrorist assets in the financial sector.
France has provided substantial diplomatic, political, and other support to the war against terrorism. French officials expressed their determination to eradicate the "perverse illness" of terrorism and offered military and logistics contributions. Following the attacks on the United States, France played an important role in crafting a UN response to terrorism and joined other NATO allies in invoking Article 5, the mutual-defense clause of the NATO treaty. Paris quickly granted three-month blanket overflight clearances for US aircraft and offered air, naval, and ground assets that were integrated into Operation Enduring Freedom. At year's end, the French had also committed ground troops as part of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
During 2001, French law-enforcement officers tracked, arrested, and prosecuted individuals who they suspected had ties to al-Qaida and other extremist groups. In April, a Paris court sentenced Fateh Kamel to eight years in prison for running an underground terrorist logistics network linked to al-Qaida. French authorities established clear links between Kamel and Ahmed Ressam, who had plotted to attack the Los Angeles Airport in December 1999. On 10 September, a French magistrate opened a formal investigation into an alleged plot by an al-Qaida-linked group to target US interests in France and placed its alleged ringleader, Djamel Beghal, who was extradited from the United Arab Emirates on 1 October, in investigative detention.
In November, the French Parliament passed the "everyday security" bill, which allows for expanded police searches and telephone and Internet monitoring, along with enhanced measures to disrupt terrorist finances. Finance Minister Fabius responded rapidly to US requests related to Executive Order 13224 to freeze Taliban and al-Qaida finances. As of December, France had frozen $4 million in Taliban assets. Fabius also established a new interagency unit, designated FINTER, to provide a focal point within the Ministry for efforts to block the financing of terrorism. On an international level, the French were among the principal advocates for creating the UN Security Council's counterterrorism committee, and they cooperated with US officials in G-8 counterterrorism meetings.
Regionally, Paris continued working with Madrid to crack down on the terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA). In late 2001, the number of confrontations between French officers and the Basque group increased notably, resulting in the wounding of several policemen. French authorities also discovered that major ETA training activities were taking place within France. In an unprecedented decision in September, French magistrates refused residency to 17 Spanish Basque residents who had links to ETA and gave them one month to leave French territory. Moreover, French officials arrested several ETA members in September, including Asier Oyarzabal, the suspected head of ETA's logistics apparatus.
Pro-independence Corsican groups continued to attack Government offices on the island. The murder of nationalist leader Francois Santoni in August and the ongoing debate with the mainland over the island's autonomy heightened tensions and increased the threat of continued violence. French officers arrested Rene Agonstini in September for complicity in murder and kidnapping.
Immediately following the September 11 attacks, Chancellor Schroeder pledged "unreserved solidarity" with the United States, initiated a sweeping criminal investigation in close cooperation with US law enforcement, and moved to prepare the German public and his Government to adopt antiterrorism legislation that included closing legal loopholes and increasing the monitoring of suspected terrorist groups.
On 16 November the Bundestag approved German military participation in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). German soldiers are currently serving in OEF and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and Germany has taken a leading role in efforts to train and equip a new Afghan police force.
Soon after the attack, German police conducted raids on several apartments in Hamburg where the September 11 hijackers and associates once resided. Numerous law-enforcement actions followed.
On 10 October, German police arrested a Libyan, Lased Ben Henin, near his Munich home in coordinated raids that also included the arrest of two Tunisians in Italy. Ben Hanin is suspected of links to al-Qaida's terrorist network and was extradited to Italy on 23 November.
On 18 October, German authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Zakariya Essabar, Said Bahaji, and Ramzi Omar who allegedly belonged to a Hamburg terrorist cell that included three of the September 11 hijackers.
On 28 November, German police arrested Mounir El Motassadeq, a 27-year old Moroccan, at his Hamburg apartment on charges he controlled an account used to bankroll several of the September 11 hijackers and had "intensive contacts" with the terrorist cell. The Federal Prosecutor's Office stated that El Motassadeq had close contact over a period of years with several members of the Hamburg cell, including the suspected ringleader, Mohamed Atta. He had power of attorney over hijacker Marwan al-Shehhi's bank account, according to the statement.
On 12 December, Germany banned a network of radical Islamic groups centered on the Cologne-based Kaplan organization. Police conducted 200 house searches in seven different German states in connection with the ban and seized the headquarters of the Kaplan group, which authorities had previously characterized as antidemocratic and anti-Semitic. The ban also covers the Kaplan-associated foundation, "Servants of Islam" and 19 other subsidiary groups with a total of approximately 1,100 members. The leader of the group, Metin Kaplan, who is serving a jail term for calling for the murder of a rival religious leader, is widely known in Germany as the "Caliph of Cologne."
Germany increased funding for the security services by some $1.5 billion and announced the creation of 2,320 new positions in various agencies to combat terrorism. Government authorities are using advanced technology to uncover potential terrorists, including so-called "sleepers" and terrorist-support personnel in Germany.
After four years of testimony and deliberations, a German court convicted four of five suspects in the 1986 bombing of the Labelle Discotheque in Berlin, in which two US servicemen died. One defendant was convicted of murder while three others were convicted as accessories to murder and sentenced to prison terms of 12-14 years each. A fifth suspect was acquitted for lack of evidence. The court's verdict also made clear Libyan Government involvement in planning and facilitating the attack. The prosecution has appealed the verdict to seek longer sentences, while the defense has appealed as well; the appeal process could take up to two years.
The Greek Government, after September 11, joined its EU partners in setting up interdiction mechanisms in support of the war on terrorism, to include greater security at points of entry, information sharing with the United States and its Coalition allies, and the monitoring of suspected terrorist financial assets. The Greek Parliament took meaningful steps toward demonstrating its commitment to combating terrorism by passing a comprehensive anti-organized-crime-and terrorism bill. Among its key provisions, the legislation mandates magistrate trials (eliminating citizen jurors, who have in the past been vulnerable to personal threats), sanctions police undercover operations, authorizes the use of DNA as court evidence, and permits electronic surveillance beyond traditional wiretaps.
Greek and US authorities maintained good cooperation investigating past terrorist attacks on US citizens. Nevertheless, the Greek Government has not yet arrested or convicted those terrorists responsible for attacks conducted by Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N) or Revolutionary Nuclei (RN) over the past two decades.
A series of court rulings that effectively reduced the sentences of suspected Greek terrorists or overturned guilty verdicts in high-profile terrorist-related cases represented a setback on one counterterrorism front.
Anti-State Struggle terrorist and longtime criminal fugitive Avraam Lesperoglou had been found guilty of several charges, including involvement in the attempted murder of a Greek police officer, for which he received a 17-year sentence. In April, the verdict was overturned on appeal. By October, charges regarding Lesperoglou's association with Anti-State Struggle similarly were dropped after prosecution witnesses failed to appear in court or recanted previous testimony identifying him at the scene of the crime. Following these developments, there were allegations of witness intimidation. In November, Lesperoglou was cleared of all charges and set free.
In another prominent case, self-confessed Urban Anarchist guerrilla Nikos Maziotis had his 15-year sentence reduced to fewer than 5 years. Afterwards, the trial judge ruled that he agreed with the unrepentant Maziotis' contention that "the placement of an explosive device at a Greek Government ministry was a political statement and not an act of terrorism."
The courts imposed only token penalties on a young woman caught in the act of placing a gas-canister bomb in front of the US Consulate General in Thessaloniki in 1999 and delayed until 2003 a prosecutor's request to retry the case.
Anti-US terrorist attacks in Greece declined significantly from a high of 20 in 1999 to only three in 2001. Greece's most lethal terrorist group, Revolutionary Organization 17 November did not claim any attacks in 2001, nor did Greece's other prominent terrorist group, Revolutionary Nuclei. Anarchist groups appeared more active in employing terrorist tactics, however, seizing upon antiglobalization and antiwar themes. The three low-level incendiary attacks on US interests in Greece in 2001 consisted of one unclaimed attack against a US fast-food chain and two others against US-plated vehicles by the group Black Star. Other lesser-known groups attacked numerous domestic targets while the "Revolutionary Violence Group" attacked Thai and Israeli official interests.
Greek officials began planning for security for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens and continued to work with key countries having extensive security and/or Olympics experience through a series of consultative conferences and symposiums, to include several meetings of the seven-nation Olympic Security Advisory Group— Australia, France, Germany, Israel, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.
Italy stepped up its counterterrorism efforts following the September 11 attacks and has vigorously supported the United States diplomatically and politically. Taking a prominent role in the international Coalition against al-Qaida, Italy declared its support for the US-led war and offered to contribute military forces, including naval, air and ground units. Italy also enhanced its law-enforcement capabilities, recently passing a series of antiterrorism laws enumerating new criminal offenses for terrorist acts and providing new and expanded police powers.
Italy: A Terrorist Cell Wrapped Up
Italy has a long history of combating domestic and international terrorism. Through its exceptional law enforcement agencies and newly enhanced judiciary powers, Italy has dismantled numerous terrorist cells, identified and frozen assets belonging to terrorist groups, and thwarted several planned and potential attacks against Italian targets and other Western entities within its borders.
In January, Italian authorities worked with US officials to thwart an attack on the US Embassy in Rome. Italy's intelligence services launched an investigation that resulted in the US Embassies in Rome and the Vatican City, as well as the US Consulates in Naples and Milan, being closed to the public—the first such security closure of the Embassy in Rome since the Gulf war in 1991. Italy's prompt action, combined with heightened defenses put into place by police authorities, allowed the Embassy to reopen while the Italians pursued the investigation.
Information developed by Italian authorities helped to identify Tarek Maaroufi as a suspect, as well as two organizations already under investigation, the "Tunisian Combatant Group" and the "Salafist Group for Call and Combat " (GSPC). The Italian Government is seeking Maaroufi's extradition from Belgium.
Authorities learned that Sami Ben Khemais Essid, who spent two years in Afghanistan and trained as a recruiter for al-Qaida, directed the plot. They believe Ben Khemais headed al-Qaida operations in Italy. He owned a firm that was a front for his recruitment activity and terrorist-attack planning.
During surveillance of Ben Khemais Essid, police discovered he maintained connections to militant
Ben Khemais was arrested, convicted, and recently sentenced to eight years in prison. By April, five North Africans with links to Usama Bin Ladin were in custody in connection with the terrorist plot against the US Embassy. In October, additional arrest warrants were issued following information obtained by police and judicial authorities confirming a "significant" link between al-Qaida and those arrested.
According to an Italian press report, authorities also obtained evidence to suggest that the terrorist cell was contemplating using poison gas. On 14 March 2001, Italian police recorded a conversation in which Ben Khemais said, "The product is better. It's more efficient because this liquid, as soon as you open it, it suffocates people."
Another potential plot was foiled when individuals reportedly associated with Bin Ladin terrorists allegedly plotted to assassinate President George W. Bush during the G-8 meeting in Genoa, Italy, in July. The threat was taken seriously, but with tightened security for the summit, the danger was averted.
Following the attacks of September, Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi emphasized his country's solidarity with the United States in the fight against terrorism. Similarly, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi emphasized that "Italy is today at the United States' side, it always will be, as it has been in the past." Acting on its own accord, the Italian Government accelerated the procedures necessary to allow for US forces to conduct Operation Enduring Freedom flights from the Sigonella Air Base in Sicily. Sigonella became the most active air base in Europe for US military flights in transit to southwest Asia.
"The measures that Italy adopted are an integral part of the same strategy that also must be followed at the international level," Italian Interior Minister Claudio Scajola said during a news conference with US Attorney General Ashcroft on 15 December . "We have also decided to further intensify our working relationship on security measures, by reactivating the US-Italy Bilateral Committee in order to ensure an even more effective exchange of information between our two countries."
Italy played a prominent role in Operation Enduring Freedom by deploying the fourth largest force, including the aircraft carrier Garibaldi, over 2,500 military personnel, eight Harrier jets, and six Tornado reconnaissance aircraft. Italy also supplied two frigates and a supply ship to the Gulf. Separately, approximately 350 Italian soldiers have been assigned to the International Afghan Security Force for Afghanistan-whose mission is to assist in the stabilization of Kabul.
On both the law enforcement and legislative fronts, Italy has established a sophisticated system to thwart acts of terrorism. Furthermore, in response to the September 11 attacks, Italian authorities responded quickly and aggressively to US Embassy-Rome's requests for additional support and protection. The Italian Government, in an evident display of its commitment to the war on terrorism, passed in October a decree providing additional powers to the police and judiciary to investigate and pursue suspected terrorists. The Parliament supported the Government's action and passed the decree into law in December. The law also has enabled the Italian Government to act quickly on freezing assets of terrorist groups.
On 7 November, the Italian Parliament approved sending ground troops, air units, and naval units to assist in the operations against international terrorism. According to Italian authorities, more than 90% of the Parliament supported these counterterrorism measures and, according to then-Foreign Minister Ruggiero, these actions confirmed Italy's "awareness that the stakes are high and proves the solidity of our national consensus in facing this challenge."
According to Italian Minister Claudio Scajola, "Italy has known of terrorism in ways that the United States has never experienced, and we need to learn as much as we can from experiences that each nation has had, that we can use as a basis for cooperation with each other."
In the weeks following the attacks, Italian law-enforcement officials intensified their efforts to track and arrest individuals they suspect have ties to al-Qaida and other extremist groups. On 10 October they arrested several extremists connected to Essid Sami Ben Khemais—the Tunisian Combatant Group leader arrested by the Italians in April for plotting to bomb the US Embassy in Rome. In mid- and late November, Italian officials raided the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan and arrested Islamic extremists having possible ties to al-Qaida (see case study following this section). Italy also cooperated in stemming the flow of finances linked to terrorism. The Financial Security Committee, comprising senior officials of various ministries, including Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Justice, and representatives from law-enforcement agencies, was created in October to identify and block the funding of terrorist activity.
During the year Italy also concentrated on dismantling not only indigenous terrorist groups that in the past attacked Italian and US interests, but also groups suspected of international terrorist affiliations operating within and outside Italy's borders. In April, the Revolutionary Proletarian Initiative Nuclei (NIPR) bombed the Institute of International Affairs in Rome. The Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei (NTA) claimed to have attacked the tribunal courthouse building in Venice in August and the Central European Initiative (INCE) office in Trieste in September 2000. Both groups are leftist-anarchist entities that promote anti-US/anti-NATO rhetoric and espouse the ideals of the Red Brigades of the 1970s and 1980s.
Italy's vigorous leadership of the Group of Eight (G-8) Counterterrorism Expert's Group resulted in significant progress on a 25-point plan to guide the G-8's contribution to the global counterterrorism campaign. The Action Plan has fostered greater counterterrorism coordination among the foreign affairs and law-enforcement agencies of G-8 members. Italy's work with other European countries to combat terrorism as well as extensive cooperation among Italy, the United States, and several European countries—including Spain, France, Germany, Britain, and Belgium—led to the arrests on 10 October. Moreover, Rome worked with Madrid to improve bilateral efforts against terrorism, agreeing in early November at a summit in Granada to create a joint investigative team to fight terrorism and conduct joint patrols on long-distance trains to prevent illegal immigration.
Stressing solidarity as a NATO ally, Poland has taken a leadership role in expanding counterterrorism cooperation with key regional and international partners. In November, President Kwasniewski hosted the Warsaw Conference on Combating Terrorism. The Conference resulted in an action plan and a declaration that identified areas for regional cooperation and called for nations in the region to enhance their abilities to contribute to the global war on terrorism. Poland strongly supported the campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, and the US Central Command has accepted Poland's offer of specialized units. The Government of Poland has also taken significant steps to bolster its own internal capabilities to combat terrorist activities and the movement of terrorist funds. Poland's excellent border controls, high level of airport security, and its close cooperation on law-enforcement issues have discouraged potential terrorist movements through Poland.
The September 11 attacks in the United States triggered unqualified support from Madrid in the global fight against terrorism. Spain, which has waged a 30-year battle against the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist group, champions mutual assistance as a strategy to deny safehaven to terrorists and welcomes the global focus to help defeat all forms of terrorism. Immediately after the attacks, President Aznar announced that his Government will stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the United States in fighting terrorism; he has directed all relevant agencies to work closely with US law-enforcement counterparts. Spanish police broke up two al-Qaida-affiliated cells, arresting six members in late September and eight in November. Spain also offered military aid to Coalition efforts in Afghanistan. Madrid plans to use its leadership of the European Union—in the first half of 2002—to promote continued EU support for counterterrorism cooperation.
During his trip to Spain in June, President Bush declared that the United States stands "side by side with the government of Spain and will not yield in the face of terrorism."
Madrid's top counterterrorism priority beyond supporting the global Coalition against terrorism remained combating ETA, which maintained its violent strategy throughout 2001, despite a Basque regional election that demonstrated diminishing popular support for the group's political wing. The group made good on its threats to target Spain's tourist areas during its summer campaign with a series of attacks that caused mainly property damage: a car bomb at Madrid's Barajas International Airport damaged scores of cars, while a bomb attack at a popular tourist resort near Barcelona slightly injured about 10 persons. It also continued to attack traditional targets—politicians, military personnel, journalists, and police. A bomb in Catalonia in March killed one police officer, while another bomb in Madrid in June fatally injured a Spanish general. An ETA commando headquartered in the Basque region is suspected of killing a Basque police officer in July. According to official Spanish Government data, ETA terrorists killed 15 persons in 2001, most of whom were members of either the military or security services.
Madrid scored a variety of successes against ETA during the year, dismantling a dozen important terrorist cells and disrupting some of the group's logistics bases. In October, the Spanish National Police dismantled an ETA cell in the Basque region that, in addition to organizing smaller commando cells, was planning to launch attacks. Two of those arrested were linked to the assassination of a senior Basque Socialist politician in February 2000. Spanish police in early December arrested several members of a cell suspected in several car bombings during the year, including the attack at Madrid's airport. They confiscated more than 100 pounds of explosives and a variety of false documentation.
Spain continued to forge bilateral agreements with states that can help it defeat ETA terrorism. In January, Madrid signed a joint political declaration with the United States, which included an explicit commitment to work jointly against ETA. Spain also concluded important agreements with France and Mexico, two key partners in the effort to deny potential sanctuaries to ETA members. During his visit to Mexico in July, President Aznar signed an agreement with Mexico that boosted intelligence sharing, security, and judicial cooperation on terrorism. In early October, Paris and Madrid signed a new bilateral agreement that eases extraditions of ETA suspects and improves antiterrorism cooperation. Under the agreement, a former ETA leader—charged in an attempted assassination of King Juan Carlos in 1995—was temporarily extradited to Spain to stand trial. Following his trial, he will be returned to France to complete a 10-year sentence there before being sent back to Spain to serve any additional time meted out by the Spanish court.
The Turkish Government, long a staunch counterterrorism ally, fully supported the campaign against terrorism. Turkey provided basing and overflight rights and has sent troops to Afghanistan to train the local military and participate in the International Security Assistance Force. At home, Turkish security authorities dealt heavy blows to the country's two most active terrorist organizations, the DHKP/C and Turkish Hizballah—a Kurdish Islamic (Sunni) extremist organization unrelated to Lebanese Hizballah. Police arrested more than 100 members and supporters of the DHKP/C and several hundred members and supporters of Turkish Hizballah and raided numerous safe houses, recovering large caches of weapons, computers and other technical equipment, and miscellaneous documents.
Despite these setbacks, the DHKP/C retained a lethal capability and, for the first time in its history, conducted suicide bombings. On 3 January, a DHPK/C operative walked into a police regional headquarters in Istanbul and detonated a bomb strapped to his body, killing himself and a policeman, and injuring seven others. A second DHKP/C suicide bomber attacked a police booth in a public square in Istanbul on 10 September, killing two policemen, mortally wounding an Australian tourist, and injuring more than 20.
Turkish Hizballah conducted its first attack against official Turkish interests with the assassination on 24 January of Diyarbakir Police Chief Gaffar Okkan and five policemen—revealing a greater sophistication than the group had shown in previous attacks. According to press reports, four teams consisting of as many as 20 operatives ambushed Okkan's motorcade as he departed the Diyarbakir Governor's office. Authorities recovered approximately 460 bullet casings at the scene. Hizballah operatives also ambushed three police officers in Istanbul on 14 October, killing two and wounding the other.
Chechen separatists and sympathizers also used Turkey as a staging ground for terrorist attacks. On 22 April, 13 pro-Chechen gunmen—led by Muhammed Tokcan, an ethnic-Chechen Turkish national who served fewer than four years in prison for hijacking a Russian ferry from Turkey in 1996—took over a prominent Istanbul hotel, holding hostage for 12 hours approximately 150 guests, including 37 US citizens. The gunmen, who eventually surrendered peacefully, claimed that they wanted to focus world attention on Russia's activities in Chechnya. Turkey's court system has been relatively lenient with pro-Chechen terrorists. The state court addressing the hotel incident did not indict Tokcan's group under the country's stringent antiterrorism laws but instead charged the militants with less serious crimes, including weapons possession and deprivation of liberty.
Separately, three Chechens hijacked a Russian charter jet carrying 175 passengers, mostly Russian nationals, from Istanbul to Moscow on 15 March. Fuel limitations forced the plane to land in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities negotiated with the hijackers overnight before special forces stormed the plane and captured two of the separatists. The third hijacker, one crewmember, and one passenger were killed during the rescue.
The PKK continued to pursue its "peace initiative"—launched by imprisoned PKK Chairman Abdullah Ocalan in August 1999—concentrating largely on its public relations efforts in Western Europe. The leadership announced early in the year the inauguration of a second phase of its peace initiative, called serhildan (uprising)—the term usually connotes violent activity, but the PKK uses it to refer to civil disobedience—in which PKK members in Europe openly declare their identity as Kurds and their involvement in the group, sign petitions, and hold demonstrations in an effort to push for improved rights for the Kurdish minority in Turkey. The PKK began conducting serhildan activities in Turkey toward the end of the year; authorities arrested some PKK members who participated.
The United Kingdom has been Washington's closest partner in the post-September 11 international Coalition against terrorism. The UK stepped forward to share the military burden of the battle against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. More than 4,000 British personnel were assigned to Operation Veritas, the UK contribution to the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom, which began on 7 October. Significant UK naval, air, ground, and special forces participated in operations against the Taliban and al-Qaida. London is leading the International Security Assistance Force to help the new Afghan Interim Authority provide security and stability in Kabul.
At home, the British detained 10 individuals with suspected foreign terrorist links and intensified surveillance of other individuals based on information indicating links to terrorist activities. At year's end, the UK had detained and was assisting in extraditing to the US four individuals charged with terrorist acts in the United States or against US citizens. Consistent with the UK's Terrorism Act of 2000, which widened the definition of terrorism to include international as well as domestic activities, the Government in February 2001 added 21 international terrorist organizations—including al-Qaida—to its list of proscribed organizations. Parliament in mid-December passed the Anti-Terrorism, Security, and Crime Act, providing authorities with additional tools in the battle against terrorism. The new legislation gives the Government legal authority to detain for six-month renewable terms foreign terrorist suspects who cannot be deported under UK law. It also provides for tightened airport security, allows security services full access to lists of air and ferry passengers, tightens asylum rules, and criminalizes the act of assisting foreign groups to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
The United Kingdom has been working with the United States and the UN to disrupt the cash supply of suspected terrorist groups. As of late 2001, UK authorities had frozen more than 70 million pounds ($100,000,000) of suspected terrorist assets. A proposed antiterrorism bill would require financial institutions to report suspicious transactions or face legal penalties.
In ongoing efforts to end domestic terrorism, the UK and other parties to the Northern Ireland peace process made progress toward fulfilling terms of the Good Friday Agreement. In October, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) put an undisclosed amount of weapons and ammunition "beyond use." Dissident Republican splinter groups—the Real IRA (RIRA) and the Continuity IRA (CIRA)—denounced the move, and called on disgruntled IRA members to join RIRA and CIRA. Statistics indicated that the number of terrorist killings in the North remained consistent, with 18 deaths in 2000 and 17 in 2001. UK authorities believe that RIRA is responsible for an intensified bombing campaign during the year on the mainland, with bombs exploding outside the BBC's London headquarters (March); in North London (April); in West London (August); and in Birmingham (November). Moreover, the year saw an upswing in Loyalist paramilitary violence, primarily in the form of pipe-bomb attacks on Catholic homes in North Belfast. In addition, for 12 weeks during the autumn, Protestants residing near a Catholic school in North Belfast held highly publicized protests that were sometimes marred by violence.
The United States continued to lend support to the Northern Ireland peace process, with President Bush stating in March that Washington stands ready to help London and Dublin "...in any way the governments would find useful." In March, the USG designated the RIRA as a Foreign Terrorist Organizations; and following September 11, the US Government included CIRA, the Orange Volunteers and the Red Hand Defenders on the Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL)—a move that means their members are barred from entering the United States. Later in the year, the Government of Colombia detained three individuals with IRA links based on suspicion they had been training rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist guerrilla group involved in drugs and on the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. US officials made clear Washington's displeasure about possible IRA/FARC connections, stating that the United States will have no tolerance for any ongoing or future cooperation between these organizations.
The Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia announced its support for international efforts to combat terrorism immediately after the September 11 attacks. Belgrade, already a party to six of the UN antiterrorism conventions, by year's end signed the convention on funding of terrorism and reportedly intended to sign four more in the near future. In addition, the Government of Yugoslavia planned to take steps to implement financial sanctions against groups involved in terrorist-related activity. Yugoslav officials arrested and detained several suspect Arabs in November and December, including 32 Afghanis transiting Serbia in late October.
The UN and NATO, the international civil and security presence exercising authority in Kosovo, have firmly supported international efforts to combat terrorism. The UN promulgated new regulations that will make it easier to identify and apprehend suspected terrorists and has worked to improve Kosovo's border security. NATO has increased its own border-interdiction efforts and its monitoring of organizations with potential links to terrorism. Kosovar political leaders expressed their strong support for the fight against global terrorism.
Various NGOs identified as supporting terrorist activities maintained a presence in Kosovo. The NGOs, largely staffed by a small number of foreign Islamic extremists and a few dozen local radicals, do not enjoy wide support among Kosovo's moderate Muslim population. In December, NATO Troops conducted raids against the Global Relief Foundation, an NGO in Kosovo with alleged links to terrorist organizations.