“Because this is a fight for hearts and minds against violent extremism and those ideologies that would pervert the true Islamic faith, we have both stepped up our work with our allies to expose the damage that this extreme and violent ideologies do and to support those working across all faiths to uphold the common ground of dignity tolerance and respect for all.”
--Gordon Brown, Prime Minister, United Kingdom
Speech to the House of Commons, November 30, 2009
European countries continued to enhance their abilities to combat the threat from terrorism by strengthening counterterrorism legislation, improving multilateral cooperation, and prosecuting and jailing terrorist suspects. Several significant terrorist plots were foiled in 2009, as governments continued to focus both on foiling specific attacks and on understanding and countering the process of radicalization. Toward that end, European governments continued their efforts at outreach to domestic Muslim communities and made attempts to gain support from those communities to counter the appeal of violent extremist ideology. France trained police to recognize signs of incipient radicalization, Germany continued engagement through its German Islam Conference, the Netherlands Justice Ministry continued to focus on radicalization, and the United Kingdom continued to implement numerous counter-radicalization programs.
European nations worked in close partnership with the United States against a terrorist threat characterized by both external and, increasingly, internal components. The abortive attempt on December 25 to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight resulted in even greater cooperation between U.S. security agencies and European ones, especially those of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. More broadly, the contributions of European countries in sharing intelligence, arresting members of terrorist cells, and interdicting terrorist financing and logistics remained vital elements in the global effort to combat terrorism. The United States and European Union continued to cooperate closely on counterterrorism, although differences over standards for protection of data complicated efforts to agree on the sharing of bank data collected by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). In October 2009, the United States and EU exchanged instruments of ratification on the US-EU mutual legal assistance and extradition agreements.
European nations were active participants in a variety of multilateral organizations that contributed to counterterrorist efforts, including the G8, NATO, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Council of Europe’s FATF-style regional body, the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). (See Chapter 5, Terrorist Safe Havens (7120 Report) for further information on the G8, NATO, FATF, OSCE, and ICAO.)
Terrorist activity and the presence of terrorist support networks in Europe remained a source of serious concern. Judicial proceedings in countries across Europe resulted in the successful convictions of several terrorist suspects. For example, Spanish courts convicted all 11 suspects linked to an alleged plot in Barcelona, and in April, the trial began in Germany of the Sauerland Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) cell connected to plotting against U.S. bases. French authorities detained and prosecuted suspects tied to terrorist organizations ranging from Islamist groups to Corsican Nationalists to Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). However, efforts to combat the threat in Europe were sometimes slowed by legal protections that made it difficult to take firm judicial action against suspected terrorists, asylum laws that afforded loopholes, the absence of adequate legislation, or standards of evidence that limited the use of classified information in holding terrorist suspects. Terrorists also sought to take advantage of the ease of travel among Schengen countries. At times, some European states have not been able to prosecute successfully or hold some of the suspected terrorists brought before their courts – a product, in part, of insufficient measures to use intelligence information in judicial proceedings. The EU as a whole remained reluctant to take steps to block the assets of charities associated with HAMAS and Hizballah.
Cooperation with and among European law enforcement agencies remained vital for counterterrorism successes. U.S.- Danish cooperation helped foil an October plot to attack a Danish newspaper; Franco-Spanish cooperative efforts against ETA led to a series of arrests of senior ETA political and military leaders. European countries continued to maintain pressure on the PKK, which raised funds, often through illicit activity, to fund violence in Turkey.
No major terrorist attacks took place in Western Europe in 2009, although ETA bombings, the attempted December 25 airline attack, an abortive suicide bombing in Milan, and arrests in countries across the continent brought home the scope of the challenge facing European governments and security forces – as did the public statement by the head of Britain’s MI5 that some 2000 terrorism suspects are under constant surveillance in the UK. Greece bore the brunt of a reinvigoration of domestic terrorism, with many attacks claimed by radical leftist-anarchist terrorist groups. Swedes were arrested for suspicion of terrorism in the border area between the Northwest Frontier Province and the Punjab in Pakistan. Italy arrested suspects linked to a terrorist network broken up in 2008 in France and Belgium, and persons connected to the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India who were also implicated in plots against Denmark and Italy. The level of threat in Western Europe remained high, particularly in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. The lead-up to the September elections in Germany saw a drumbeat of threats from persons linked to the IJU and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, with German-speakers repeatedly warning that the country would be attacked if its Afghanistan policy did not change; fortunately, nothing came of the threats. Nonetheless, German authorities expressed concern over their estimate that roughly 185 individuals have undergone paramilitary training over the past ten years at Islamist extremist training centers located primarily in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Albania pledged to increase its contribution of troops to Afghanistan, froze bank accounts related to money laundering and terrorist financing, and aggressively worked with the United States and other countries to combat terrorism. Albania made progress in identifying vulnerabilities at land and sea borders, but the government and police forces continued to face challenges to enforce border security fully and to combat organized crime and corruption.
On January 14, 2008, the criminal trial began against Hamzeh Abu Rayyan, the suspected administrator for UNSCR 1267 Committee-designated terrorist financier Yassin al-Kadi, who is charged with hiding funds used to finance terrorism. This marked the first-ever criminal terrorist finance-related trial in Albania. The trial continued throughout 2009. A civil suit filed by al-Kadi to release his assets from seizure was dismissed and refiled several times. It was later reviewed by higher courts on matters of jurisdiction and statute of limitations. After being dismissed in June, it was filed again and is now pending trial in Tirana District Court. In addition, al-Kadi’s company, Loxhall, filed a lawsuit in April. It aimed to annul the Council of Ministers’ decision, as well as the two orders of the Ministry of Finance related to the administration of seized terrorism assets. This lawsuit was rejected in October, and is now pending appeal.
On October 12, a local imam, Artan Kristo, was arrested in Durrës. Kristo, also known as Muhamed Abdullah, was accused of “publicly inciting and propagating terrorist acts” for allegedly calling for jihad in the AlbSelafi.net online forum. Previously, Kristo was named as a suspect in the murder of the Secretary General of the Albanian Muslim Community, Salih Tivari, in January of 2003. The Durrës court decided to detain Kristo pending trial.
As of October, the Ministry of Finance stated it maintained asset freezes against six individuals and 14 foundations and companies on the UNSCR 1267 list. No new assets were frozen this year under Albania’s Terrorist Financing Freeze law. Despite this, the effectiveness of the government’s counterterrorist financing effort was undermined by a lack of data-processing infrastructure and an inadequate capability to track and manage cases properly.
Armenia’s counterterrorism partnership with the United States included granting blanket over-flight clearance and ad hoc landing rights to U.S. military aircraft, deployment of a peacekeeping contingent to Iraq, and participation in bilateral assistance programs that strengthened the government’s capacity to monitor illicit financial flows and confront trafficking in hazardous substances. Widespread corruption, however, continued to hamper full implementation and enforcement of laws that would improve Armenia’s counterterrorism posture and response capability.
In December, the Armenian parliament approved Ministry of Defense plans to send a 35-45 troop contingent to Kunduz, Afghanistan. Armenian troops are expected to protect the Kunduz airport runway and other facilities near the airport.
In recent years, Armenia has achieved measured progress in implementing border security and combating trafficking in persons, drugs, and WMD materials. This progress has included the installation of radiation portal alarms at all land ports of entry and its main airport, and the use of sensors for increased monitoring of Armenia’s mountainous border with Georgia. Additionally, the Armenian Border Guard Service now has full connectivity of its automated Border Management Information System with all points of entry, which should reduce the possibility of passport and visa fraud.
In 2008, Armenia revised its law on combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The revision significantly expanded the range of reporting entities required to report suspicious transactions to the Financial Monitoring Center (FMC), a specialized intelligence unit within the Central Bank that is responsible for combating money laundering and terrorist financing. In 2009, as a result of the work of the FMC, Armenia recorded its first successful money laundering prosecution.
According to Austria’s counterterrorism agency, the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (BVT), there was a growing number of radicalized individuals among second- and third-generation Muslim immigrants and among converts to Islam.
Austria has a fairly comprehensive counterterrorism and anti-money laundering legislative framework in place. In December, the government introduced a bill that would make it a crime to attend terrorist training camps abroad or to receive terrorism training on the Internet.
In August, Austria’s Supreme Court upheld a prison sentence for a young couple jailed for terrorist threats conveyed through the Internet in late 2007. In a related development, a Canadian court ruled in October 2009 that a Moroccan national, who had maintained close contact with the Austrian couple, was guilty of having planned bomb attacks against OPEC, UN sites, and German facilities in Austria and Germany in 2007.
There are believed to be 4,000 sympathizers of the PKK in Austria. Some Turks in Austria supported Turkish extremist Metin Kaplan, who advocates replacement of the Turkish state by an Islamic regime and who has been linked to violent criminal acts.
Austria closely followed EU policies to counter terrorist financing and actively participated in the EU Clearinghouse mechanism, which designates terrorist financiers under UNSCR 1373. Austria fulfilled its obligations to freeze assets, pursuant to UNSC resolutions and EU Clearinghouse designations, but did not initiate any freezing actions independently. Parliament passed two relevant laws in 2009. The Administrative Assistance Implementing Act provides a new basis for handling foreign authorities’ assistance requests for exchange of tax information. Austrian authorities will provide information in tax proceedings, including data formerly blocked by bank secrecy regulations. The Law on Payment Services integrates European Council Directive 2007/64/EC on payment services into domestic law and establishes a license requirement for money transmitters, which previously was regulated under the Banking Act for relevant businesses. The FATF’s 2009 Mutual Evaluation Report, which includes FATF assessment of Austria’s anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing (AML/CTF) regime, acknowledged that Austria has established a comprehensive AML/CTF system, but raises questions about its effective implementation. In reaction, the Austrian government announced additional legal changes to bring its AML/CFT standards fully in compliance with the FATF’s 40+9 recommendations.
The BVT continued to monitor a handful of mosques in Vienna suspected of preaching radicalism. Likewise, it continued to follow the activities of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad movement, certain radicalized converts to Islam, and suspected Afghan and Chechen extremists entering Austria as asylum seekers.
Austria has about 23,000 Chechen refugees. According to counterterrorism experts, a small Vienna-based Chechen group serves as the European arm of the Chechen separatist movement headed by Dokku Umarov. The Vienna-based group is suspected of extorting money from the Chechen exile community in Austria.
In late 2008, domestic and international media reported a possible link between Austria and the terrorists responsible for the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai. As reported by the Indian newspaper “Indian Express” in 2008, one of the SIM cards used by one of the terrorists had been issued by a Vienna-based telecommunications company. An Austrian newspaper subsequently claimed the terrorists had communicated via a Voice-Over-Internet Server in Vienna.
As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Austria chaired the al-Qa’ida and Taliban Sanctions Committee 1267. In this capacity, Austria sought “to place particular focus on observance of rule of law and human rights with terrorism suspects.”
Vienna is the seat of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and of the related Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB). In 2009, Austria contributed US$ 825,000 to the UNODC. In October, together with a handful of other nations, Austria held a two-day counterterrorism networking workshop in Vienna, gathering representatives from 100 nations and 40 international organizations and UN units. In Afghanistan, Austria supported criminal law and criminal justice capacity building programs. Austria worked with the UNODC and the EU to establish more effective border control checkpoints along the Afghan-Iranian border.
Austria continued its participation in the Salzburg Forum, a regular meeting platform of interior ministers from Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria designed to fight terrorism and organized crime in the region. Similarly, the Austrian government worked throughout the year to promote and expand the Pruem Treaty, under which the seven EU signatory states share information from their police databases. The treaty, which involves the exchange of DNA, fingerprint, and vehicle data, was designed, in part, to identify terrorism suspects.
Azerbaijan actively opposed terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money, and material through the Caucasus. The country stepped up efforts and has had some success in reducing the presence of terrorist facilitators and hampering their activities. At the end of 2009, Azerbaijan demonstrated an increasing level of seriousness and urgency in taking steps to combat terrorist financing, and is proceeding with efforts to implement its law on anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing (AML/CTF) and to establish a Financial Investigative Unit (FIU). The Central Bank, which houses the FIU, prepared an action plan in October to bring Azerbaijan’s AML/FIU into conformity with the standards of the United Nations, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and other international organizations and conventions, and submitted the plan to MONEYVAL, the FATF-Style Regional Body (FSRB) hosted by the Council of Europe. That institution, in turn, reviewed Azerbaijan’s proposals in December and agreed to withdraw its advisory (on non-compliance) on Azerbaijan. The FIU has requested technical assistance from the U.S. government to improve the legal framework in the AML/CTF area, establish information systems, build capacity for AML/CTF stakeholders, and develop a mid-term strategy plan for the FIU. Azerbaijan continued to identify possible terrorism-related funding by distributing lists of suspected terrorist groups and individuals to local banks.
Azerbaijan has granted blanket overflight clearance, engaged in information sharing and law-enforcement cooperation, and has approved numerous landings and refueling operations at Baku’s civilian airport in support of U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) military operations in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan maintained 90 soldiers in Afghanistan and cooperated with ISAF in medical and social services and civilian capacity-building.
In 2007, the Ministry of National Security (MNS) arrested 15 Azerbaijani citizens who were members of the “Mahdi Army Group,” an extremist organization the government linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. On June 18, 2009, the Military Court of Grave Crimes sentenced Lieutenant Kamran Asadov and 20 accomplices to prison terms from two to 15 years for their participation in an abortive plot to attack the United States and British embassies in Baku in late 2007. Asadov and his co-conspirators stole weapons and ammunition from the army base where he was posted and committed an armed robbery at a Lukoil gas station.
On October 4, a Baku court sentenced two Lebanese nationals, Ali Muhammad Karaki and Ali Hussein Najmeddin, to 15 years each, and sentenced four Azerbaijani accomplices to terms of two to 14 years. The court found that the group was planning attacks on the Israeli Embassy. The investigation revealed that Karaki and Hussein were linked to Hizballah and others in Iran.
In two separate trials in October, the Court of Grave Crimes sentenced 15 Azerbaijani nationals to prison terms ranging from six months to 30 months for participating in illegally armed groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the 11 cases where the accused received six months sentences, they were released, having already served that much time since their arrests. Depending on the individual combinations of charges proffered, each of the 15 defendants had been in jeopardy of a sentence of up to five or seven years.
On November 4, a Baku court sentenced 26 people – 23 Azerbaijanis, two Turkish nationals and a Russian national – to prison terms from two to 15 years for the August 17, 2008 attack on Baku’s main Sunni mosque, known as Abu Bakr. The grenade attack killed three people and wounded eight others. The mosque has not reopened since the attack. The Azerbaijani government linked the Abu Bakr Mosque attackers to the “Forest Brothers” organization of the North Caucasus, whose leader Ilgar Mollachiyev was killed in Dagestan in September 2008.
Belgian authorities are concerned with potential terrorist activities by domestic extremists, Islamic extremists, anarchists, and militant animal rights groups. International groups of concern to Belgium included extremists from al-Qa’ida and the Democratic People’s Party of Kurdistan (DHKP/C). The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is a known presence in Belgium and has television production studios in Denderleeuw. A fine levied on the studio several years ago did not impact the production facility significantly.
The inter-ministerial College of Security and Intelligence meets regularly and makes reports and recommendations to the Belgian government. The College is chaired by the Prime Minister’s Security Advisor. The Coordinating Body for Threat Analysis (OCAM/OCAD) develops common threat analyses that are discussed in the College. The College includes representatives from OCAM/OCAD, the State Security Service, the Federal Police, Customs, and the Ministries of Transport, Finance, Interior, Justice, and Foreign Affairs.
Belgian authorities have the ability to create a national list of terrorist entities, separate from UN and EU lists and coordinated by OCAM, including financiers and suspected financiers of terrorism. This information allowed Belgian authorities to develop and apply a national capacity to freeze assets, in addition to UN- and EU-mandated asset freezes that Belgium already implements. Belgium cooperated with the United States on security programs such as the Container Security Initiative, Megaports, and export controls.
Prosecutors continued to investigate the case of five suspected terrorists arrested in December 2008. Another nine persons taken into custody at the same time were released shortly thereafter due to lack of evidence. Belgium ratified the U.S.-EU Multilateral Legal Assistance and Extradition Agreements in July 2009. Belgium’s prosecutors are cooperating with the United States in the extradition of Nizar Trabelsi, who was convicted of plotting to attack American soldiers at Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium.
Belgium’s troop commitment to NATO ISAF operations in Afghanistan increased from about 250 troops in 2008 to nearly 540 in 2009. Belgians provided security for Kabul airport, operated and maintained six F-16s in Kandahar, ran an Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team in Kunduz, and participated in a German-run Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Despite ethnic polarization, corruption, and disputes among Bosnian political leaders that hindered the functioning of state government, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s law enforcement organizations cooperated with the United States on international counterterrorism issues. Bosnia remained a weak, decentralized state with poor interagency communication and competing security structures. Efforts by Republika Srpska officials to undermine state-level institutions slowed efforts to improve operational capabilities to combat terrorism and terrorist financing. These factors resulted in Bosnia being vulnerable to exploitation as a potential staging ground for terrorist operations in Europe.
The State Investigation and Protection Agency is the state-level Bosnian law enforcement agency with primary responsibility for counterterrorism operations. SIPA’s capacity is limited, but it improved its cooperation with the entity-level police forces in the Federation and Republika Srpska on terrorism issues. In an effort to more effectively investigate and prosecute terrorism cases, the State Prosecutor’s Office transferred responsibility for these cases to the Special Department for Organized Crime, which received technical assistance from the United States and other members of the international community. Politicization of the terrorism issue in Bosnia, including terrorism threat analysis, was less of a problem than in the past. The state-level intelligence service provided excellent cooperation, and Bosnian authorities were generally responsive to U.S. counterterrorism cooperation requests.
Some former members of the mujahideen brigade, whose citizenship was revoked by the Citizenship Review Commission, have pursued appeals of these decisions that remained unresolved. In the case of Abu Hamza al-Suri (Imad al-Husayn), the appeals process has lasted more than one year. The state-level Constitutional Court returned several portions of Hamza’s appeal to the State Court, and the court had not adjudicated this case at year’s end.
In July, Swedish citizen Misrad Bektasevic, who was convicted on terrorism charges in Bosnia in 2005, was transferred from Bosnia to Sweden, where he will serve the remainder of his prison sentence. Bektasevic was arrested by Bosnian Security Police in Sarajevo, when he was found in an apartment with explosives, weapons, and suicide bomb belts in 2005. A video with masked persons threatening to attack forces in Iraq and Afghanistan was found and a voice analysis proved that Bektasevic was one of the individuals in the video. In 2007, he was sentenced to eight years and four months imprisonment for terrorism-related crimes.
In November, four individuals with alleged ties to extremists, led by Rijad Rustempasic, were arrested for terrorism and weapons trafficking. One of the suspects wanted in this case remained at large at the end of 2009.
Bosnia has deployed 10 officers to augment Alliance military staffs operating under NATO’s International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
During 2009, 29 Bulgarians attended U.S. government-sponsored counterterrorism training courses within the context of the Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program, administered by the Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation. This training had courses in intelligence, security, operations, legal processes, and civilian-military cooperation. In July, 15 analysts from the Defense Information Service received a two-day seminar on terrorist network analysis and terrorist finance.
Bulgaria participated in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan with approximately 470 service members. At U.S. request, Bulgaria added its first Operational Mentor and Liaison Team in February and agreed to add a second. On a yearly basis since 2004, Bulgaria has deployed a frigate in support of the Mediterranean Operation Active Endeavor (OAE). OAE’s mission is to conduct maritime operations in the OAE area of operations to demonstrate NATO’s resolve to help deter, defend, disrupt, and protect against terrorist activity.
In November, the new center-right government achieved a major success with the passage of two bills designed to overhaul the structure and operation of the Ministry of Interior and the agency responsible for counterterrorism, the State Agency for National Security (DANS). The two pieces of legislation eliminate duplication of effort and unclear responsibilities, making it easier for them to cooperate and share information. The DANS amendments explicitly restored the powers of the Financial Intelligence Directorate (FID) to conduct on-site inspections of banks and other financial institutions, and collect “bank secret” information for money laundering and terrorist financing cases. The FID remained vigilant against terrorist financing and continued to cooperate with the U.S. government on identifying and investigating terrorist assets. The FID reliably distributed lists of individuals and organizations linked to terrorism to all of the banks in Bulgaria, the Ministry of Interior, Customs, and the Border Police. The FID has been responsive to all mandated UNSCR-designated terrorist organizations, and has also been supportive and cooperative on U.S. government designated individuals and organizations. The FID has advised the banking sector to use the Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control OFAC website as a reliable information resource for individuals and organizations associated with terrorism. The FID continued to provide feedback, including information on the response level of Bulgaria’s banks, to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, as well as to the U.S. Embassy.
In 2009, Croatia started the drafting process for an action plan to implement its national strategy for the prevention and suppression of terrorism. Croatia expanded its extensive counterterrorism legal framework by passing the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act, which entered into force in January.
In 2009, Croatia chaired the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). Croatia supported U.S. efforts in the 1267 Committee. Croatia also advocated providing further financial support to the Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force. The Croatian Interagency Working Group on Suppression of Terrorism amended its mandate adding UNSCR 1624 to the UNSC Resolutions it was already charged with implementing, such as UNSCRs 1267, 1373, and 1566.
Croatia is currently issuing biometric passports. In addition, Croatia signed a number of agreements in 2009 with the United States that strengthened information sharing and cooperation between U.S. and Croatian immigration, law enforcement, and security agencies. Croatia also worked with the State Department’s Export Control and Border Security program to improve security along its 750 mile border with Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia, as well as to monitor the country’s 6,000 miles of coastline.
The multinational Special Forces military exercise “Jackal Stone 09” held in September in Croatia had approximately 1,500 participants from 10 countries, including the United States, and developed the capabilities of the participants in countering terrorism.
During 2009, Croatia chaired the Council of Europe’s Committee of Counterterrorism Experts (CODEXTER). Following up on a Croatian initiative to develop cross-regional cooperation in counterterrorism, the Council, Spain, and the Organization of American States organized a Conference on Cyber Security in Spain in April. Under CODEXTER’s umbrella, Croatia kept an updated self-assessing Country Profile that summarized Croatia’s counterterrorism activities.
Croatia worked closely with the OSCE’s Action against Terrorism Unit. This resulted in a joint Croatian-OSCE workshop addressing cyber-security issues such as terrorist use of the Internet, held in Zagreb in November. More than 140 national representatives, as well as 20 internationally recognized experts from academia, business, and government, participated in this event.
As part of international efforts to counter violent extremists, Croatia participated in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, contributing approximately 300 troops. Croatia joined NATO in April and began contributing to the Alliance’s counterterrorism efforts.
Cyprus continued to stand as an ally of the United States in its counterterrorism efforts. The government was responsive to efforts to block and freeze terrorist assets, implemented Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, and conformed to European Union counterterrorism directives. Cyprus continued to allow blanket overflight and landing rights to U.S. military aircraft supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In January, Cypriot authorities detained the Cypriot-flagged MV Monchegorsk. The vessel, chartered by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, contained Iranian-origin weapons components allegedly headed for Hizballah that were confiscated by Cypriot customs officials after the Government of Cyprus determined the shipment was in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Cyprus’s legal framework for investigating and prosecuting terrorist-related activity remained relatively weak. The United States and Cyprus cooperated closely on terrorist financing and money laundering issues. The Cypriot Anti-Money Laundering Authority implemented new UNSCR 1267 listings immediately and informally tracked suspect names listed under U.S. executive orders. The Cypriot government maintained a “Prevention and Suppression of Money-Laundering Activities Law” that contained provisions on tracing and confiscating assets.
Since 1974, the southern part of Cyprus has been under the control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus; the northern part, administered by Turkish Cypriots, proclaimed itself the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)” in 1983. The United States does not recognize the “TRNC,” nor does any country other than Turkey. This de facto division has precluded counterterrorism cooperation between the two communities’ law enforcement authorities, and between Cyprus and Turkey. The largely porous, lightly-patrolled “green line” separating the two sides is routinely exploited for trafficking people, narcotics, and other illicit goods, and is vulnerable to penetration by terrorist groups. Since 2007, regular ferry service between Latakia, Syria, and Famagusta, in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, has facilitated increased illegal migration into Cyprus and the wider EU. The opening in 2009 of a new route between Famagusta and Lebanon could further facilitate such migration.
In the Turkish Cypriot-administered area, issues of status and recognition inevitably restricted the ability of authorities to cooperate on counterterrorism. Turkish Cypriots cannot sign treaties, UN conventions, or other international agreements, and lack the legal and institutional framework necessary to combat money-laundering and terrorist financing effectively. Within these limitations, Turkish Cypriots cooperated in pursuing specific counterterrorism objectives. < /p>
In 2008, pressure from the international community culminated in the Turkish Cypriot-administered area being included as a jurisdiction susceptible to money-laundering by FATF, the global anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-terrorism financing body. This designation galvanized Turkish Cypriot authorities and bankers, who quickly passed updated AML “laws” bringing offshore banks under the authority of the Central Bank. A financial investigation unit-equivalent was created and began operations.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has a presence in Cyprus. Its activities generally were fundraising and transit en route to third countries. Authorities on both sides believed there was little risk the group would conduct operations on the island. Cyprus maintained it was fulfilling all responsibilities with respect to the EU designation of the PKK as a terrorist organization.
The Czech Ministry of Interior’s office with primary responsibility for counterterrorism analysis, the National Contact Point for Terrorism (NCPT), concluded that there was no acute risk of a terrorist incident, but assessed that the overall security situation in the Czech Republic was unpredictable. The NCPT is the Ministry of Interior’s lead office for collecting and analyzing law enforcement data related to terrorism. A relatively new organization, the NCPT continued to recruit and train needed personnel, and to establish reporting protocols within the Czech National Police to ensure effective and timely dissemination of information. The NCPT determined that the country’s membership in NATO and the EU, and its military presence in Afghanistan, made it a potential target for an attack. Czech law enforcement officials also remained vigilant for signs that the country was being used as a logistical or staging base for potential terrorist attacks within Europe.
The NCPT perceived an emerging risk in a possible connection between increasingly violent right-wing extremism and terrorism. In October, a group of 10 individuals was arrested by the Czech National Police on suspicion of preparing to conduct a terrorist attack, possibly directed against an infrastructure facility such as a power plant. These individuals were members of the illegal right-wing extremist organization White Justice, which declared itself to be a militant neo-Nazi group. Evidence indicated that members of the group were conducting military training camps to teach small-unit military tactics. There were no other arrests related to terrorism in 2009.
The Czech government’s overall efforts against terrorism are established in its “National Counterterrorism Action Plan for 2007-2009”. This strategic document set goals in four areas: improving communication and coordination between intelligence and law enforcement agencies; protecting the public and critical infrastructure; preventing the isolation and radicalization of immigrant communities; and conducting foreign policy to counter international terrorism. In October, after receiving the Ministry of Interior’s evaluation of the effectiveness of the 2007-2009 Plan, the Czech National Security Council tasked the Ministry of Interior to prepare a new plan for the period 2010-2011.
The Ministry of Finance’s Financial Analysis Unit and the Customs Service cooperated with the NCPT to combat terrorist financing. The NCPT has a public website with an anonymous Internet hotline.
The Czech Republic actively participated in the counterterrorism and nonproliferation efforts of multilateral bodies such as NATO, the EU, and the UN. The country’s bilateral cooperation with the United States was also close. The NCPT characterized the level and quality of cooperation it received from U.S. agencies and law enforcement offices as exceptionally good and very successful.
The Czech parliament approved an ongoing deployment of up to nearly 540 military personnel in Afghanistan. The Czech Ministry of Defense also slightly increased the size of its Provincial Reconstruction Team of civilian experts in Afghanistan’s Logar Province.
The Center for Terror Analysis of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) assessed that there is a general terrorist threat against Denmark, both from groups and individuals in Denmark as well as a threat against Danes and Danish interests abroad. The threat came primarily from networks, groups, and individuals who adhered to various forms of militant Islamist ideology, including al-Qa’ida-related groups and networks.
While there were no terrorist attacks in Denmark in 2009, a plot to attack the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten was disrupted through a cooperative effort of Danish and American authorities.
Denmark worked closely with the United States on UN and other multilateral counterterrorism efforts, including the Financial Action Task Force, and in international nonproliferation groups, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Denmark cooperated closely with EU partners and institutions within the field of counter-radicalization. Roj-TV, a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-affiliated media outlet, continued to operate in Denmark.
On October 3, the FBI arrested in Chicago U.S. citizen David Headley, formerly known as Daood Gilani. Headley was charged with planning terrorist attacks in Denmark, most notably against the headquarters of Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper whose 2005 publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed outraged many Muslims around the world. The joint investigation leading to Headley’s arrest was conducted by the PET and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with support from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Headley was also charged with planning the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Headley, has since pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to crimes relating to his role in the November 2008 Lashkar e-Tayyiba attacks in Mumbai, which killed more than 170 people – including six Americans – as well as to crimes relating to a separate plot to bomb Jyllands-Posten.
On June 11, the Danish parliament voted to maintain its troop level of up to 750 in Afghanistan until 2012. Danish troops served as part of the International Security Assistance Force. Most of these were engaged in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.
Estonia actively enforced all EU laws regarding counterterrorism and cooperated fully with the United States in law enforcement matters. Estonian passports issued since May 2007, including “gray” passports issued to stateless residents of Estonia, have the latest in biometric security features, including an embedded computer chip containing biometric information.
Participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation in Afghanistan was Estonia’s highest priority international mission. Estonia contributed an additional motorized infantry company in 2009, for a total of two companies plus staff officers and support elements, which equaled more than 280 soldiers. One unit formed part of a U.K.-led provincial reconstruction team in Helmand Province, and the additional company, also in Helmand, operated side-by-side with U.S. Marines providing election security. Although the second company was withdrawn, Estonia still had approximately 155 troops in Afghanistan at the end of 2009. Estonia participated in the European Police Mission to Afghanistan with two police officers and a political advisor. It was projected to give a total of 1.3 million Euros in assistance for the period 2009-2011, which includes funding for the fight against narcotics; the Afghanistan Population and Housing Census project; and for human capital and infrastructure development of Helmand province’s health care network, such as training of nurses, mid-wives, and other health professionals. While no longer participating in combat operations in Iraq, Estonia continued to support the NATO Training Mission in Iraq with a staff officer.
On March 11, Estonia amended the Penal Code to criminalize the financing and support of acts of terrorism or actions leading to the perpetration of an act of terrorism, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment or the liquidation of any entity used in such efforts. The MLTFPA also harmonized Estonian law with EU standards and brought Estonia’s money laundering regime into total compliance with Financial Action Task Force recommendations.
On October 12, the Government of Estonia began operating U.S. Department of Energy-funded radiation monitors at Luhamaa, on its southeastern border with Russia. The Estonian Border Guard was in the process of constructing helicopter landing pads at entry control points at Narva, in the east, and Varska, in the southeast, with U.S. Department of Defense Counternarcotics and Terrorism funds.
Information sharing between Finnish and U.S. authorities regarding terrorism-connected cases was an effective tool for both countries. Relevant Finnish agencies monitored potential threats closely and kept their international partners apprised of threats with connections outside the borders of Finland.
In a rare publicized case in November, a Finnish citizen was deported from Sweden to Finland because of suspected links to a terrorist organization. Media reports confirmed by the government indicated that this individual was closely monitored by the Security Police (SUPO) after his return from Sweden.
Finland took additional steps to verify the identity of those seeking to enter the country and anticipated a further surge in immigration through family reunification. The Government of Finland continued to exert significant efforts to assimilate newcomers into society and to avoid conditions that would lead to radicalization of minority groups. These measures included social benefits, Finnish language training, and ombudsmen’s offices to advocate on behalf of immigrants.
One new measure that Finland was considering to prevent the infiltration of terrorists or their facilitators into the country was the permanent stationing of SUPO officers at Finnish embassies abroad. If approved, this would be the first foreign deployment of dedicated counterterrorism personnel. The director of SUPO has publicly stated that these officers would be focused on “stop(ping) potential terrorists in the country of departure.” The government has made a request to parliament for US$ 2.3 million to fund the 15-20 personnel who would be involved in the effort.
Finland continued its contributions towards building counterterrorism capacity with overseas partners. It made donations, under its G8 Global Partnership pledge, of approximately US$ 14 to 21 million for the period 2004-2014, including about US$ 350,000 as part of the Nuclear Smuggling Outreach Initiative to provide equipment to the Kyrgyz Republic needed to prevent the smuggling of nuclear materials that might be sought by terrorist groups. Finland also began a police-prosecutor training program in Afghanistan to facilitate investigation and prosecution of serious crimes there, including those related to terrorism, and it continued to be the third-largest contributor of trainers to the EUPOL training program for Afghan police. On January 22, the government reached a decision to temporarily increase the strength of Finnish military crisis management personnel by approximately 50 soldiers from the current ceiling of 145, all expected to be deployed by the beginning of 2011. Finland also aimed to allocate a larger proportion of its development cooperation funding to the northern provinces of Afghanistan, and to deepen its participation in the EU police mission in northern Afghanistan.
In 2009, France found itself grappling with an Islamist threat that reflected the nation’s changing demographics. Several public announcements by al-Qa’ida (AQ) and other groups reiterated that French interests remained key targets of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In response to President Sarkozy’s June comments calling for the banning of the burka in France, AQIM spelled out their intentions to attack France stating, “We will do everything in our power to avenge our sisters’ and our daughters’ honor, by striking France and its interests, wherever they may be.”
Traditionally, local Corsican separatists, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) members, and ultra-left anarchist factions have been responsible for the majority of attacks and arrests classified as terrorism in France. The number and violence of ETA and Corsican attacks in France have continued their downward trend, however. In 2009, the French intelligence services recognized an elevated threat from an “international European network of radical Islamists with a strong presence in France.” In response to that threat, the French Ministry of interior created the National Police Intervention Force (FIPN) on December 1. The FIPN brings together the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) elements of multiple French Police units to form a 500-man SWAT team. France remained on high alert and recognized that it is a target of AQIM and of other extremist groups in France and abroad.
France and Spain’s concerted efforts against ETA operatives and leadership highlighted the benefits of close regional cooperation and demonstrated the effectiveness of the French counterterrorism program:
Although no terrorist attacks took place on French soil during 2009, French interests were targeted and attacked abroad:
The French government undertook several counterterrorism operations with other countries, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. In addition to undertaking operations to arrest and prosecute terrorists, France continued programs to address radicalization and extremism through the use of social and economic incentives. Of particular note, the French government went to great efforts to train police personnel to be aware of the signs of radicalization. The French government is very concerned about Islamist radicalization in the French prison system. In 2008, the governments of France, Austria, and Germany jointly commissioned a study to identify key indicators of radicalization in the prison system and offered suggestions on how to prevent or minimize radicalization within the penal system. In 2009, the document was provided to all 27 members of the European Union and was requested by, and provided to nine non-EU states. Within the EU, France hosted a conference on November 13 to help other EU-countries understand the benefits of a counterterrorism coordination center.
Preliminary detention for suspected terrorists in France is six days. The state may thereafter place suspects under pre-trial detention for up to four years when the evidence is compelling or when the suspect is considered to present an imminent threat. In conjunction with local government, the national government continued to increase video surveillance in major cities. French law allows for seizing of assets, video and telephone surveillance, monitoring of public transport records, and provides other broad powers for official access to connection data held by internet cafes and to various personal data. Notably, French nationality may be revoked, leading to expulsion from French territory, if the person in question was naturalized in the preceding 15 years.
France is actively engaged with the UN Security Council Counterterrorism Committee, the G8’s Counterterrorism Action Group, the UNSCR 1267 Committee and the European Council’s Antiterrorism Strategy action plan. France is an original member of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and continued to participate actively. France remained a member of, and contributor to, both the Proliferation and Container Security Initiatives. France continued to upgrade passports to the biometric standard. On May 15 and December 1, in support of U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay facility, France accepted two former detainees and resettled them in France.
On the military front, France currently has more than 3,000 troops participating in operations in Afghanistan. The French commitment included ground troops and air assets.
Georgia continued to support U.S. efforts in the fight against terrorism, increasing its role by providing a battalion of Georgian soldiers, approximately 750 troops, to be trained by the United States in preparation for a deployment as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. This is in addition to 173 Georgian troops already serving as part of ISAF with the French and one service member serving with Turkish forces. Additionally, Georgia has granted blanket flight clearance for all U.S. military aircraft engaged in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Russian claims of Georgian support for Chechen terrorists and harboring of such individuals in the Pankisi Gorge were unsubstantiated, and the Georgian government has made transparent efforts to prove this to the international community.
Border security operations and anti-corruption efforts at border checkpoints remained high priorities for the Georgian government, with its continued focus on countering the smuggling of contraband such as laundered money, drugs, and weaponry that could support terrorism. Significant improvements to infrastructure at border crossing points and employment of the Department of Energy’s Second Line of Defense Program to detect radiation continued. The new border crossing facility at Kazbegi/Larsi between Georgia and Russia was finished in September 2009, although due to the state of relations between Georgia and Russia, the border remained closed at the end of 2009.
Additionally, seven remote border posts were completed in 2009, enhancing the security of the Georgian- Azerbaijani border and further limiting illegal crossings. The fifth and final radar station on the Black Sea coast was also completed, which will enhance Georgian capabilities to secure its maritime border and interdict potential smugglers and counter any terrorist threats from this direction. The Georgian Border Police’s capabilities significantly improved, including its ability to monitor, patrol, and interdict criminals along the green borders. This was accomplished by the development of additional enforcement tools such as new communications equipment.
The situation in the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remained largely unchanged, and the Georgian government does not control its international borders located between these regions and Russia. This lack of control allowed for unrestricted and unidentified flow of people, goods, and other potentially dangerous items from Russia into Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The administrative boundary lines between Georgia and the conflict zones were furthered militarized in 2009 when Russia tasked its Federal Security Service (FSB) border guards to take over control from de facto authorities in both territories. Movement over these boundary lines was strictly controlled, although formal customs checks, security inspections, or other counterterrorism procedures did not exist.
German security officials estimated that roughly 185 individuals – both German nationals and permanent residents – have undergone paramilitary training over the past ten years at Islamist extremist training centers located primarily in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Approximately 90 of these individuals have returned to Germany and 15 of them were in custody in 2009. Germany investigated, arrested, and prosecuted numerous terrorism suspects and disrupted terrorist-related groups within its borders with connections to international Islamist, Kurdish nationalist, and Marxist-Leninist terrorist organizations. Two new legislative packages entered into force that strengthened Germany’s counterterrorism legal framework and provided security officials with new powers of investigation.
Throughout the year, a number of Islamist-inspired terrorist organizations, including the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), al-Qa’ida (AQ), and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, released videos featuring German speakers who threatened terrorist attacks in Germany or against German interests abroad. Bin Ladin and Zawahiri also issued statements threatening Germany prior to the German federal elections in September. In a number of instances, the identities of the individuals appearing in the videos were known and included German-Moroccan dual citizens Bekkay Harrach, Mounir Chouka, and Yassin Chouka.
During the summer, the frequency of the extremist video and audio messages increased. The messages threatened Germany with attacks if the government did not withdraw its military forces from Afghanistan in what security officials interpreted as an attempt to influence the September 27 national elections. The threats led German police to take heightened security measures at airports, railway stations, and other public sites. On November 13, the Stuttgart district court sentenced an ethnic Turkish man to six months in jail for breach of the peace after he posted one of the extremist videos featuring Bekkay Harrach on YouTube.
On January 1, new legislation went into effect that broadened the powers of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) in counterterrorism investigations. The law provided the BKA with preventative investigatory powers, that is authority to carry out actions based either on a suspicion that individuals are planning a crime or potentially involved in criminal activity, and gave it lead responsibility in terrorism investigations in which the threat extends across multiple federal states, in which state-level competence is unclear, or in which state officials request federal assistance.
On August 4, a second legislative package entered into force that made significant amendments to the German Criminal Code and criminalized a range of terrorism-related preparatory actions such as participating in terrorist training or acquiring weapons and bombs with the intent to commit attacks that endanger the German state. The amendments also outlawed the distribution and acquisition of bomb making and similar instruction materials if the intent is to motivate individuals to commit violent crimes. Establishing contact with a terrorist group with the intent of receiving training to commit attacks is also outlawed.
A high-profile trial of the four individuals belonging to the IJU cell arrested in Sauerland in 2007 began on April 22. The defendants were charged with membership in a foreign terrorist organization, preparation of a serious criminal offense involving explosives, and other violations. The defendants gave comprehensive testimony that included descriptions of their training at terrorist camps in North Waziristan, Pakistan. The trial had not concluded by year’s end.
German courts also began trials or reached verdicts in other notable counterterrorism cases:
During the year, German law enforcement authorities arrested a number of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism. Prominent new actions and arrests included:
Germany remained a strong advocate of the UNSCR 1267 al-Qa’ida/Taliban financial sanctions regime and proposed a number of individuals to the committee for designation.
Implementation discussions continued regarding a bilateral U.S.-German agreement to strengthen fingerprint and DNA information sharing to combat terrorism and serious crime. The U.S. Embassy’s Law Enforcement Working Group continued its ongoing engagement with state-level law enforcement contacts by organizing four security conferences throughout Germany that included terrorist themes.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Ministry of Interior continued their strategic dialogue and held a Deputies-chaired conference in June to strengthen cooperation across a range of counterterrorism-related issues. Germany participated in the DHS Customs and Border Protection’s Container Security Initiative in the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven and supported DHS Customs and Border Protection’s Immigration Advisory Program operating at the Frankfurt Airport. The DHS Transportation Security Administration’s presence in Frankfurt, together with U.S. and German air marshals, formed key parts of bilateral efforts to provide air transport security for the seven German airports with flights to the United States.
Domestic terrorism increased significantly in Greece in 2009, following large-scale rioting in December 2008. In 2009 there were more than 430 security incidents – defined to include incendiary and explosive attacks, as well as attacks involving small arms, grenades, and other infantry-style weaponry – far more than have been recorded in each of the previous 20 years. Local extremists increasingly targeted businesses and Greek law enforcement, and there was an increasing use of infantry-style weaponry in terrorist attacks.
The leftist domestic terrorist group Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility for shooting police officers and bombing financial targets, including U.S.-affiliated banks and the Athens Stock Exchange, which was targeted in an ammonium nitrate car bomb attack on September 2. A previously unknown group, Sect of Revolutionaries, emerged during the year to claim responsibility for attacks on police and other targets, including the only such lethal attack during the year: the June 17 murder of a police officer on protective detail outside the apartment building of a government witness in Athens. On October 27, unknown assailants attacked the Aghia Paraskevi police station in suburban Athens with AK-47s, seriously wounding six officers and a civilian. Two groups, the Guerilla Group of Terrorists and the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei (SPF), jointly claimed responsibility for the December 27 bombing of the National Insurance Company building in Athens.
The appeals of eight convicted members of the November 17 terrorist organization went before the Supreme Court in October. Prosecutors urged the court to sustain the convictions, but recommended consideration of reduced sentences for two of the convicts. On December 3, an appeals court threw out the convictions of three members of the People’s Revolutionary Struggle terrorist organization who had initially been sentenced in 2004 to 25 years each for the 1994 murder of a police officer, 48 attempted murders by bombing, and 42 bomb attacks and attempted bombings, though they had been released for health reasons and on other grounds pending appeal in separate decisions in 2005 and 2006.
Throughout the year, self-styled anarchists attacked banks, police stations, the homes and offices of politicians, and other “imperialist-capitalist” targets with tools such as firebombs and Molotov cocktails. Since these attacks usually occurred outside normal business hours, few persons were seriously injured and there were no deaths. Several U.S. businesses were targeted. On January 10 , a rock-throwing group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators caused some physical damage to the U.S. Embassy during a protest against the Israeli operation in Gaza.
Greece is increasingly an EU entry point for illegal immigrants coming from the Middle East and South Asia and there was concern that it could be used as a transit route for terrorists travelling to Europe and the United States. The number of illegal immigrants entering Greece, especially through the Aegean Sea, increased dramatically in 2008 and 2009, with more than 100,000 illegal immigrants, nearly half of whom originated from North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, arrested each year. Greek authorities participated in the Container Security Initiative and cooperated with U.S. officials on information sharing, as well as the training of Greek security and customs officials, and judicial personnel. Greece sustained its participation in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan by providing engineers and other support officers.
Hungary remained a consistent and reliable counterterrorism partner. In addition to the continued leadership of a Provincial Reconstruction Team, Hungary sent 28 troops to Afghanistan as part of a new joint Operational, Mentoring, and Liaison team (OMLT). The OMLT, which is commanded by a Hungarian Lieutenant Colonel, includes an equal number of troops from the Ohio National Guard. Additionally, Hungary deployed 40 troops to provide security during the national elections, as well as committing a Special Forces contingent, which operated with U.S. forces. At year’s end, Hungary had a total of 324 troops serving in Afghanistan. In response to President Obama’s calls for further allied support, Prime Minister Bajnai pledged in December 2009 to add a further 200 soldiers to the Hungarian contingent.
In September, the Prime Minister announced that Hungary would accept one detainee from the Guantanamo detention facility. This decision was controversial, but won cross-party support. In late November, the detainee was transferred to Hungary.
In a series of operations, Hungary arrested 19 of the approximately 20-member Hungarian Arrows National Liberation Army, a far-right extremist group suspected of committing or conspiring to commit terrorist acts. The remaining individual is still at large. Although Hungary’s legal code does not provide for the designation of domestic terrorist organizations, Hungarian authorities nonetheless carefully monitored potential extremist groups and closely cooperated with U.S. law enforcement and other agencies.
As a Schengen zone country, Hungary continued to manage its border responsibilities, including the increased entry of foreigners seeking asylum.
The Government of Iceland stated in its most recent terrorist threat assessment, conducted by the National Police Commissioner in 2008, that the likelihood of terrorist activities occurring in Iceland is low. In the same assessment, however, the government concluded that the potential consequences of such activities were severe enough to merit a high level of vigilance. The government, therefore, continued its efforts to strengthen domestic border security and counterterrorism capabilities during the year. Notably, the Government of Iceland passed legislation in December that clarified the legal definition of terrorism and strengthened penalties against money launderers.
The National Police Commissioner has primary responsibility for counterterrorism efforts in the country. The Viking Squad, Iceland’s counterterrorism unit, is considered the first line of defense in Iceland’s efforts against terrorism. The paramilitary unit is comprised of approximately 40-50 members who are trained in active counterterrorism response by U.S. and other European police and military counterterrorism units. The National Security Unit, which also falls under the jurisdiction of the National Police Commissioner, gathers intelligence, drafts threat assessments, and exchanges information with foreign counterparts with the aim to prevent or reduce the likelihood of terrorism.
The Icelandic Coast Guard (ICG) is responsible for Iceland’s coastal defense and monitors the ocean around Iceland, both within and outside of territorial waters. The ICG served as the Chair of the North Atlantic Coast Guard Forum in 2009 and hosted the organization’s annual conference in September. Also in September, the ICG hosted Northern Challenge 2009, a NATO-supported exercise focusing on explosive ordnance disposal and counterterrorism scenarios. The explosive ordinance team was called upon in December when a Lufthansa flight heading to Detroit made an emergency landing in Iceland after the aircraft was found to be carrying luggage for a passenger who had not boarded the plane. The explosive ordinance team found nothing suspicious and the flight was released in short order. The EOD team has served in international peacekeeping missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Icelandic government supported multilateral counterterrorism efforts. Iceland continued its deployment of personnel at Kabul International Airport and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Headquarters in Afghanistan in support of NATO operations.
In 2009, increasing levels of Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) and Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) violence in Northern Ireland were traced back to elements in Ireland with the assumed objective of undercutting the formation of an integrated Police Service of Northern Ireland. Counterterrorism measures implemented in previous years were sustained and relations between the U.S. government and Irish law enforcement officials were increasingly positive. Over the past year, there has been increasing levels of cooperation with Irish authorities to deny Islamist extremists the opportunity to use Ireland as a base for facilitation of terrorist activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Irish law enforcement authorities were focused on enhancing their coverage of what is assessed to be a small, ideologically dedicated group of Islamist radicals.
On October 10, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), an IRA splinter group responsible for some of the most notorious attacks of the Northern Ireland conflict, renounced armed struggle and agreed to disarm. Although INLA remained opposed to the British presence, officials from their political wing stated that the renunciation of violence was based on political calculations.
In 2009, Ireland enacted the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, which provided a statutory framework for evidence obtained by means of covert surveillance to be used in criminal trials.
In 2009, Ireland resettled two former Guantanamo detainees. Ireland continued a modest troop commitment to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. It also worked closely with the United States on UN and other multilateral counterterrorism efforts, including the Financial Action Task Force, the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
Italy continued to aggressively investigate and prosecute terrorism suspects, dismantle terrorist-related cells within its borders, and maintain high-level professional cooperation with its international partners. Italy was one of the largest troop contributors to the NATO mission in Afghanistan and justified its commitment to “prevent it from becoming a launching pad for terrorists,” according to the Italian Minister of Defense. Italy immediately called for the EU to provide increased counterterrorism assistance to Yemen after the failed December 25 bombing attempt of Northwest Flight 253.
During the last two months of 2009, two detainees from Guantanamo and one from Afghanistan were transferred to Italy for prosecution in terrorism proceedings pending in Milan. The transfers were made pursuant to a memorandum of understanding finalized between U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Italian Justice Minister Angelino Alfano in September.
Italy’s law enforcement and judicial authorities had several noteworthy cases in 2009:
Follow-ups to judicial proceedings initiated in 2008 included:
Domestic anarchist-inspired and extreme-left terrorist groups continued to present a moderate threat despite Italian authorities’ efforts to dismantle their organizations.
The Italian government continued to make use of reinforced counterterrorism legislation enacted in 2005, which facilitated the detention of suspects, mandated arrest for crimes involving terrorism, and expedited procedures for expelling persons who may be involved in terrorist activities.
In March, the European Court of Human Rights prevented the expulsion of eight Tunisians for association with terrorist organizations, ruling that it would violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhumane or degrading treatment even in cases of serious threat to the community. Despite the ruling, Italy expelled a number of individuals suspected of having ties to AQ, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, and Ansar al-Islam.
With respect to the financial aspects of fighting terrorism, Italy aggressively identified and blocked financial resources destined for suspected terrorist individuals and groups. The Italian government worked closely with the United States on anti-money laundering and information sharing, and cooperated with other foreign governments as an active member of the Financial Action Task Force and the Egmont Group. Italy also participated actively in the UNSCR 1267 process, both as a sponsor and as a co-sponsor nation.
As president and host of the 2009 G8 Summit, Italy played a leading role in the Roma-Lyon Group and the Counterterrorism Action Group, within which Italy led an initiative to enhance counterterrorism security measures in airports in the western Balkans. Italy effectively used its role as G8 host to promote counterterrorism cooperation.
Italy was an important partner in the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Container Security Initiative. In 2009, Italy appointed the Italian Customs Service to team with the U.S. Department of Energy to implement the Megaports program in Italy.
Italy participated in NATO’s Active Endeavour naval mission against terrorism in the Mediterranean, and contributed to international military missions in Afghanistan, where it held Regional Command-West and offered an additional 1,000 troops and pledged 200 Carabinieri police trainers at the president’s request. In Iraq, Italy played a lead role in the NATO Training Mission, among others.
Italy contributed training personnel to various regional counterterrorism training centers, such as the South East Asia Regional Centre on Counterterrorism in Malaysia, the Joint Centre on Law Enforcement Cooperation in Indonesia, and the African Union’s Antiterrorism Centre in Algeria.
In 2009, there were no direct acts of terrorism in Kosovo, although Islamist extremists were involved in domestic and international terrorism plots and extremists continued to maintain links to organized crime. The Kosovo government and the European Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) monitored suspected terrorist activity throughout the year. The recently-established Kosovo Intelligence Agency (AKI) and EULEX suspected that some of the many Islamic non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Kosovo were involved in suspicious activities, particularly in laundering money for future terrorist acts in the Middle East. The government sought to prevent extremists from using NGOs to gain a foothold in Kosovo.
The Kosovo Police (KP) and EULEX Police Counterterrorism Units (CTUs) were primarily responsible for Kosovo’s counterterrorism efforts. The KP’s CTU continued to suffer from a lack of resources, training, and expertise. On July 22, the KP CTU became fully independent, with EULEX acting only in a monitoring, mentoring, and advising role. The KP CTU focused on preventing terrorist attacks and training and equipping its officers.
Porous borders that were easily crossed by individuals trafficking in people, weapons, and narcotics hampered Kosovo’s counterterrorism efforts. The Kosovo Border Patrol (KBP) and KFOR (NATO Kosovo Force) jointly patrolled the “Green Border” perimeter, the area where there are no official manned borders or border gates. The KBP and KFOR patrols along the “Green Border” were conducted with their cross national counterparts along the Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Albanian borders. Poorly paid border and customs officials were susceptible to bribery and corruption.
Still, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has made modest progress improving border security. Kosovo passports have a wide range of security features; including rainbow printing, optically variable ink, and UV light reflection.
The Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office (KSPO), which was established in September 2006, conducted all governmental terrorism investigations in 2009. The KSPO reported that it had one case with terrorism charges in the trial phase and was pursuing an additional 10 active cases. Five cases, including holdovers from prior years, were inactive at year’s end. On March 13, the Kosovo Supreme Court, consisting of a combined panel of three international and two local judges, overturned Florim Ejupi’s June 2008 conviction on terrorism-related charges and acquitted him of all charges, citing a lack of evidence. Ejupi had been sentenced to 40 years imprisonment for the 2001 “Nis Express” bus bombing case near Podujeve/Podujevo that killed 11 Kosovo Serbs and injured 40 others.
The Government of Kosovo cooperated closely with the United States on combating terrorism. On September 23, it deported Betim Kaziu, a U.S. citizen, to the United States. On September 24, the Eastern District of New York charged Kaziu with conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. According to the indictment and other documents filed by the government, Kaziu traveled to Pakistan to obtain training for violent activities and then attempted to join al-Shabaab, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that operates in Somalia. In addition, Kaziu attempted to travel to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans to fight against U.S. armed forces. Ultimately, Kaziu traveled to Kosovo, where he was arrested by Kosovo law enforcement authorities in late August.
On July 27, FBI agents in North Carolina arrested Hysen Sherifi, along with six other men preparing for acts of terrorism. Sherifi, a 24-year-old Kosovo native, was a legal U.S. resident living in North Carolina. Sherifi was charged with multiple counts of conspiracy. As part of the conspiracy, the indictment alleges Sherifi traveled to Kosovo in July 2008 to engage in violent extremist activities, then returned in April to raise support for the mujahedin. Sherifi and the others were arrested before they could carry out any terrorist acts.
In May, the Cabinet of Ministers approved an action plan for responding to terrorist threats and attacks on people or objects in Latvia’s territory. In September, Latvia established a working group to develop an action plan for terrorist or pirate attacks against Latvian ships anywhere in the world. The Transportation Ministry is currently developing legislation to control hazardous cargo and is developing an action plan to respond to emergency situations related to hazardous cargo. Latvia regularly participates in the European Union’s Terrorism Working Group.
In October, the Counterterrorism Center of the Latvian Security Police and the Riga International Airport organized a counterterrorism exercise that simulated a plane hijacking and hostage situation. Representatives from the Security Police, Riga International Airport, Civil Aviation Agency, State Border Guards, State Police, State Fire and Rescue Service, Center of Emergency and Disaster Medicine, and the Prosecutor General’s Office participated.
As of December, Latvia was contributing 170 soldiers to support the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, including an Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team. Latvia’s Financial Intelligence Unit maintained a terrorist financing database that it shared with local banks.
The Lithuanian military was an active participant in multinational operations against terrorist and insurgent elements. In Iraq, Lithuania maintained four trainers serving in the NATO Training Mission-Iraq. In Afghanistan, Lithuania led a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghor Province that is responsible for maintaining a stable environment throughout the province and coordinating reconstruction efforts. Lithuania contributed approximately 215 personnel to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
The Government of Macedonia continued its close counterterrorism coordination with the United States, which included intelligence sharing on potential terrorist groups operating in or transiting the country. The government also cooperated with its regional and European Union partners, and worked closely with INTERPOL and other international law enforcement agencies.
Macedonia provided adequate security for weapons generally sought by terrorists with annual inventories and worked to improve security on its weapons facilities. The Macedonian Ministry of Defense provided intelligence and other support to the Ministry of Interior for actions against domestic and regional terrorist groups.
The Ministry of Defense provided troop contributions to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. In 2009, the Macedonian troop contribution reached the level of 240.
The Macedonian government trained several hundred police and military personnel in counterterrorism techniques, technologies, and methods in 2009. Macedonia cooperated closely on preventing terrorist financing and money laundering through close coordination with the U.S. Embassy and in partnership with the banking sector.
The Maltese government continued to freeze the assets of those entities on the UN 1267 consolidated list. Malta actively participated in the EU Clearing House and cooperated with other Member States and third states to defeat terrorist activities and, by extension, to prevent financing acts of terrorism, to deny safe havens to terrorists, and to exchange information to stop the commission of terrorist acts. The Maltese government has historically supported sharing information with the United States on matters related to terrorism, and has demonstrated a commitment to interdiction operations and compliance with international requests.
The Maltese criminal code includes several specific provisions on terrorism. The law addresses “acts of terror” and “terrorism” and enumerates the actions constituting the offense. Malta criminalized terrorist financing through the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which was expanded to include provisions for the funding of terrorism. Additionally, the act expanded the powers of the Maltese Financial Intelligence Unit to include terrorist financing. Since 2006, the Prevention of Money Laundering Regulations have been extended to financing terrorism and include controls that require proper record keeping, specific reporting requirements, and relevant training on the subject of terrorist financing.
Moldova continued to work on implementation of its UN obligations related to terrorist financing. The Government of Moldova welcomed information regarding terrorist financing from the U.S. government and other bodies, and actively applied such information in its monitoring efforts through its Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption.
A specific section in the Prosecutor General’s Office handles terrorism-related cases. The primary investigative body in counterterrorism cases is the Information and Security Service, Moldova’s intelligence service. In 2006, SIS was given the governmental lead to establish and manage a special counterterrorism center. In 2009, staffing and funding were minimal, as were its activities. The U.S. Embassy’s law enforcement assistance programs aid Moldovan efforts to impede the ability of terrorists and other citizens without proper documents to cross national borders. The programs also facilitated automation at ports of entry to ensure greater security of passports and travel documents.
The separatist-controlled Transnistria region of Moldova remained a potential area of concern. Moldovan law enforcement worked hard to track the whereabouts and activities of individuals moving in and out of Transnistria, an area where central government police and security services were not able to operate. Some of the individuals moving in and out of Transnistria were foreign students who remained in Moldova illegally, as the government lacked the resources to deport them when their visas expired. Corruption was endemic, and it was easy to obtain false travel documents in both Transnistria and Moldova.
The Ministry of Interior, through the Police Directorate and the Agency for National Security, is primarily responsible for counterterrorism operations. In 2009, the Ministry of Interior continued work on a National Counterterrorism Strategy to foster better counterterrorism cooperation among its different institutions.
Seventeen individuals, including four Americans, were convicted and sentenced to prison in 2008 for an intended terrorist act referred to as the “Eagles Flight” case. The individuals had appealed their conviction, and, in 2009, the appellate court dismissed their appeals, indicating that each was to serve the original sentence. During 2009, five of the individuals, including two U.S. citizens, completed their sentences, and were released from prison.
Montenegrin legislation on terrorism has been harmonized with EU standards and UN conventions. In 2007, Parliament passed the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. The FIU also publishes an international list of terrorists and terrorist organizations established pursuant to UN resolution 1267. In 2009, the FIU produced instructions for risk analysis for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. These instructions set out risk factors which determine the level of risk of individual clients, groups, and business relations.
Montenegro contributed to international efforts supporting the government of Afghanistan, and prepared to deploy a military unit to Afghanistan. In July, the Parliament of Montenegro approved a plan to send 31 military personnel to join the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan. This deployment is Montenegro’s first participation in a NATO-led peacekeeping mission. Montenegrin troops operated within ISAF’s Regional Command North.
Montenegrin police forces, including the “Special Anti-Terrorism Unit,” (SAJ), have received international and U.S. training and equipment. Besides the SAJ, the Special Police Unit is also training and equipping a high-threat arrest team that can be used to augment the SAJ during larger counterterrorism operations. For example, the George Marshall European Center for Security Studies trained government officials, police, and military officers through two programs in 2009: the Combating Terrorism Language Program and the Terrorism and Security Studies Program. Also, the Department of Justice ICITAP program provided training for the police organized crime unit, which is also responsible for conducting terrorism investigations. Despite significant training and equipment from outside donors, implementation of the laws is weak, corruption and porous borders remain issues, and Montenegrin law enforcement and security agencies will require additional assistance to attain international standards.
The Netherlands continued its response to the global terrorist threat with leadership and energy in the areas of border and transportation security, terrorist financing, bilateral counterterrorism cooperation, and Coalition efforts in Afghanistan. The Netherlands had 1,800 troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force. The Dutch led a Provincial Reconstruction team in Uruzgan province, commanded NATO’s efforts in southern Afghanistan through November, and contributed approximately US$ 95 million in development aid for Afghanistan. The Netherlands maintained five trainers supporting the NATO Training Mission in Iraq, rotated officials for the EU rule of law mission in Iraq, and dedicated naval resources to the counter-piracy efforts off the coast of Somalia.
In its December 2009 quarterly terrorism threat analysis, the Dutch National Counterterrorism Coordinator (NCTb) lowered the national threat level to “limited” from “substantial,” meaning chances of an attack in the Netherlands or against Dutch interests were relatively small but could not be ruled out entirely (The Netherlands has four threat levels: minimum, limited, substantial and critical). The NCTb attributed the reduced threat level to the fact that the Netherlands was less in the picture of international terrorist organizations as a specific “preferred target.” The NCTb also noted that al-Qa’ida’s (AQ) power to strike in Europe was less than a year ago. The NCTb believed that the threat of an attack against Dutch interests abroad was greater in countries and regions where groups affiliated with AQ were more active than in the Netherlands itself. According to the NCTb, the growth of domestic extremist networks seems to have decreased in recent years as a result of increased resistance to extremists within Muslim communities in the Netherlands.
The NCTb also cited a report by the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) showing that the growth of the Salafist movement in the Netherlands was stagnating, partly as a result of increased resistance by Muslims in the Netherlands to the anti-integration message of Salafist centers. Another factor that appeared to play a role was that, in the eyes of believers, some preachers are not sufficiently applying the doctrines they teach in their personal lives. According to the NCTb, the puritanical lifestyle, which demands considerable personal sacrifices and the limited scope for independent thinking, causes orthodox Muslims to leave the movement.
The Justice Ministry’s “Netherlands against Terrorism” campaign continued in 2009, with a particular focus on prevention of radicalization. A study commissioned by the City of Amsterdam concluded in October that the two-day training sessions given to professionals on how to recognize and handle radicalization were effective. The government’s terrorism alert system, which became operational in June 2005, now includes fourteen economic sectors: the financial sector, seaports, airports, drinking water, railway, natural gas, oil, electricity, nuclear, chemical, municipal and regional transport, hotels, public events, and tunnels and flood defense systems.
In November, the Foreign Minister announced plans to establish an international counterterrorism institute in The Hague. The institute is to focus on ways to prevent terrorism; strengthen and supplement international legal architecture for countering terrorism; and the relationship between counterterrorism policy, human rights, the rule of law, and international humanitarian law. The institute is to become an independent hub in the international counterterrorism network that includes academics, policy makers, and law enforcers from Europe, the United States, Asia, and the Middle East. It will also be engaged in prevention research, training, and will organize international symposia.
One major terrorism-related appeal case was still pending a Supreme Court ruling at year’s end. In February 2008, the public prosecutor’s office in The Hague appealed the verdict by the appeals court of The Hague that acquitted the seven members of the Hofstad terrorist group of participating in a criminal and terrorist organization.
In November, the appeals court in The Hague sentenced two former associates of convicted terrorist Samir Azzouz to an unconditional prison sentence of 104 and 74 days, respectively, which is equal to the time they served in pre-trial detention.
In September, the national prosecutor’s office released four men from The Hague who were arrested in Kenya in July on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack. The four suspects allegedly were travelling in a rented truck to an al-Shabaab terrorist training camp in Somalia. According to the prosecutor’s office, there was insufficient evidence to detain them any longer. However, the four – two Dutch nationals of Moroccan origin, one of Somali origin, and a Moroccan national with a Dutch residence permit – remained suspects and the police investigation continued.
In November, the Dutch police, at the request of U.S. law enforcement authorities, arrested Somali terrorist suspect Mahamud Said Omar in a center for asylum seekers. Omar, a Somali citizen granted permanent U.S. resident status in 1994, is suspected of financing weapons for terrorists and helping young men travel from Minneapolis to Somalia to train with and fight for al-Shabaab. U.S. authorities have requested Omar’s extradition.
On December 25, Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab unsuccessfully attempted to detonate an explosive device on a Northwest Airlines flight from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to Detroit. His attempt was foiled by an alert Dutch passenger, and he, the aircraft crew, and other passengers quickly subdued the suspect. Abdulmutallab arrived at Schiphol from Lagos where, after spending roughly an hour in the transfer area, he was subjected to the standard U.S. government-required security screening for U.S.-bound flights. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula later claimed responsibility for the failed attempt.
Dutch officials remained committed to active cooperation with the United States in designating known terrorist organizations and interdicting and freezing their assets, and supported the continued exchange of information on financial transactions. The Dutch government worked with the United States to emphasize the importance of balancing security and the effectiveness of the financial system. In July, the Netherlands assumed Presidency of the Financial Action Task Force for a one-year period.
In July, following the recommendations of a committee that investigated ways to improve the cohesion of Dutch counterterrorism legislation, the government decided to initiate an external investigation into the cohesion, legitimacy, effectiveness, and operational practicality of Dutch counterterrorism laws and regulations. The committee concluded that many counterterrorism laws passed in recent years overlap and might even be in conflict with fundamental human rights. The committee noted a general lack of guidelines for coordinating government action in the event of terrorist incidents and concluded that cooperation between departments was the vulnerable point. In line with the committee’s recommendations, Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin requested the Upper House of Parliament defer action on the Bill on Administrative National Security Measures, which would have allowed the Interior Minister to issue restraining orders to prohibit a terrorist suspect’s physical proximity to specific locations or persons.
In June, a bill became effective making participation and cooperation in a terrorist training camp a serious punishable offense, even if the training takes place outside the Netherlands.
The Netherlands continued its strong commitment to effective cooperation with the United States on border security issues. In April, Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin and U.S. authorities performed the opening of the new FLUX (Fast Low Risk Universal Crossing) system at JFK airport enabling registered travelers between Amsterdam and a number of U.S. airports to go straight through U.S. immigration controls using iris scanners. FLUX was an initiative of the Dutch Justice Ministry and the Department of Homeland Security.
In December, the FBI hosted the Netherlands Police Agency (KLPD) for the second counterterrorism “Experts Meeting” in Washington, D.C. During the meeting, experts from the FBI and KLPD presented topics of mutual interest and concern to both the United States and the Netherlands. The meeting was the result of recommendations from the 2007 “Agreed Steps” meeting. The first “Experts Meeting” was hosted by the KLPD in the Netherlands in November 2008.
Norwegian authorities considered the threat of terrorist attacks in Norway low and the widespread belief among the general public was that Norway was not in danger of attack. In December 2008, the parliament revised its counterterrorism laws in order to be able to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism. These revisions allowed incitement, recruiting, and training for terrorist acts to become punishable offenses independent of whether an attack is actually carried out. They also require specific “intent” to commit an act that causes terrorism, whereas the prior standard had been “willfulness” to commit the act. As of December 2009, the government still had not yet ratified the Convention, but was expected to do so shortly.
In October, the Norwegian Attorney General indicted Abdirahman Abdi Osman, a Norwegian citizen of Somali ancestry, for collecting in excess of US$ 35,000 for al-Shabaab. Osman was charged with knowingly collecting money for a terrorist organization, knowingly contributing funds to a terrorist organization, and violating a UN Security Council resolution incorporated into Norwegian law that forbids the financing of arms deliveries to Somalia. Osman is not in custody and retains his passport. Osman is the only one of the six persons, three in Norway and three in Sweden, initially arrested in this matter who face charges.
In February, the jury in an appeals court affirmed a lower court’s 2008 conviction of Arfan Bhatti for attempted murder and aggravated vandalism, and affirmed the sentence of eight years imprisonment. In 2008, Bhatti had been acquitted of terrorism in connection with a plot to attack the United States and Israeli embassies; the vandalism charge was for the 2006 shooting of an automatic weapon at the Oslo synagogue. In June, the Supreme Court threw out the conviction for attempted murder on the grounds that the requirement of intent was not correctly decided by the appeals court. Bhatti was released from prison in June, and Norwegian authorities returned his passport. In November, the appeals court announced that Bhatti’s re-trial for attempted murder was delayed until May 2010.
Mullah Krekar (aka Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad), the founder of Ansar al-Islam, an organization on both the U.S. list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations and the UN list of entities linked to terrorist activities, resides in Norway. He has been arrested on several occasions by Norwegian law enforcement, but they have been unable to collect sufficient evidence to convict him. Norway has frozen his assets, restricted his movement to some degree, and ordered his deportation to Iraq. As of December 2009, the Norwegian government stated that it had not yet received sufficient human rights assurances from the Iraqi government that would allow it to carry out the deportation order pending against him.
Norway contributed more than 500 troops to International Security Assistance Force efforts in Afghanistan.
The Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration assessed the terrorist threat level in Poland as low. However, the Polish government devoted significant resources to counterterrorism activities to ensure that the threat did not increase.
Poland continued to support international counterterrorism efforts through its participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. At the end of 2009, Polish ISAF troops represented the seventh-largest national contingent. Additionally, Poland deployed about 17 soldiers as part of the NATO Training Mission in Iraq.
Through participation in initiatives including the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, Poland remained an active participant in various international undertakings to combat terrorist threats. Two years after integration into the Schengen zone, Poland maintained a close and growing collaboration with its European neighbors on counterterrorism.
The bilateral Counterterrorism Working Group (CTWG), formed in 2004 to further U.S.-Polish collaboration on counterterrorism by synchronizing counterterrorism policy and training counterterrorism specialists, continued to hold regular meetings. The CTWG identified specific areas of mutual interest, including critical infrastructure and terrorist financing, and developed further plans for training and cooperation.
Portugal worked proactively with other nations to combat terrorism and disrupt funding for terrorist groups. Because Portugal does not have any indigenous terrorist groups, the legal system and law enforcement focus is on preventing international groups from establishing operations on its soil.
Portuguese and American officials shared counterterrorism information effectively, including information on threat assessments and terrorist operative activities. In cooperation with other European Union partners, the Portuguese government continued to participate actively in ongoing EU efforts to remove institutional barriers to cooperation on counterterrorism.
In September 2008, the Government of Portugal created a new Secretary General for Internal Security, a move designated to facilitate communication between the Judicial Police, Public Security Police, and the National Republican Guard. As a result, the distinct law enforcement agencies were able to share information about terrorism investigations more effectively.
In August 2009, Portugal accepted two Guantanamo detainees for resettlement.
Portugal contributed approximately 145 Portuguese troops that were deployed in Afghanistan in support of ongoing International Security Assistance Force and NATO operations, including a C-130 transport aircraft with a supporting crew of 42 personnel on a three-month mission to support Afghan elections in August.
The Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) assessed that the terrorism threat in Romania was low, both in Romania and to Romanians and Romanian interests abroad. Romania also began implementation of the “National Anti-Terrorism Strategy,” which proved an effective mechanism for preventing the use of Romanian financial institutions, including the national banking system, for the purpose of financing terrorist-related activities. The Romanian Supreme Council for National Defense (CSAT) viewed terrorism as a high priority and ensured political and material support for the National System for Preventing and Countering Terrorism (NSPCT), in particular by assigning the SRI as the national authority for counterterrorism and the technical coordinator of the NSPCT.
Romania continued to provide a wide array of public, military, and diplomatic support to global counterterrorism efforts. On July 1, Romanian President Traian Basescu declared that Romania’s mission in Iraq was completed; from January through June, Romania was the third largest troop contributor in Iraq, by invitation of the Government of Iraq. Approximately five Romanian soldiers remained in Iraq after July 1, as part of the NATO training mission. As of December, approximately 1,050 Romanian troops were serving as part of coalition and NATO Alliance efforts in Afghanistan, primarily in the Zabul and Kandahar regions. Romania also continued to make airspace, ground infrastructure, and naval facilities available to U.S. and NATO forces.
On November 27, an explosion derailed the Moscow to St. Petersburg express train. As investigators combed the site of the attack for clues the following day, a second explosion occurred injuring the chief of the Investigative Committee. Chechen separatists were the primary suspects in these incidents, which killed 26 and wounded 90. It was the deadliest such incident in Russia outside the North Caucasus since 2004.
Attacks continued in the North Caucasus, where ongoing regional violence has been most significant in Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetia. According to the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies, there were 16 suicide bombings in Chechnya alone in 2009, compared to four in 2008. According to President Medevdev’s Political Representative for the Southern Federal District, almost 800 terrorist acts occurred in the North Caucasus in 2009, an increase of 30 percent compared to 2008. However, many attacks were often difficult to differentiate from criminal acts motivated by greed or revenge. The Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed to have prevented 80 terrorist attacks and killed more than 500 militants in 2009.
Throughout the North Caucasus, groups have, for the most part, moved away from mass attacks on civilians in favor of targeted attacks on police, local interior ministry officials, and departments responsible for combating the insurgency. On June 5, a sniper killed the Dagestan Interior Ministry chief and on June 22, Ingush President Yevkurov was injured by a suicide bomber. In August, an attack on an Ingush police station killed 20 and wounded 90.
The 1998 federal law “On Fighting Terrorism” and the 2006 federal law “On Countering Terrorism” remained the main counterterrorism legal authorities. On January 11, President Medvedev signed amendments to the law “On Countering Terrorism” that abrogated jury trial for espionage and terrorism cases, although the law is now under review by the Constitutional Court. In April, Russia lifted an almost 10-year counterterrorism regime in Chechnya, in which counterterrorist operations were under the direct authority of the FSB, that had severely restricted civil liberties. When the regime was lifted, the local MVD under President Ramzan Kadyrov took over responsibility for counterterrorist operations. In July, the Ministry of Justice drafted a law on compensation for civilian victims of counterterrorism operations. The National Antiterrorism Committee, organized in 2006, is the main government body coordinating the Russian government’s response to the terrorist threat. Interagency efforts to combat terrorism through anti-narcotics enforcement remained a challenge, particularly the use of financial intelligence to interrupt narcotics sales that provided revenue to terrorists.
Russia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (FATF). It is also a leading member, chair, and primary funding source of a similar body known as the Eurasian Group on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism (EAG). Russia, through the EAG, provides technical assistance and funding towards improving legislative and regulatory frameworks and operational capabilities.
The United States and Russian Counterterrorism Coordinators met in November to advance cooperation within the context of the United States-Russia Counterterrorism Working Group. They agreed to work together in the multilateral arena to strengthen international counterterrorism norms and increase capacity building; focus on Afghanistan with particular regard to counterterrorism/terrorist finance issues; strengthen UNSCR 1267 sanctions; counter the ideological dimension of violent extremism; and work on improving the bilateral exchange of transportation security issues. Cooperation continued on a broad range of counterterrorism issues. U.S. and Russian law enforcement agencies shared substantive, concrete terrorism intelligence.
At the St. Petersburg G8 Summit in July 2006, the United States and Russia jointly announced the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and invited other nations to join. The Initiative demonstrated Russia’s effort to take a leadership role to combat nuclear terrorism. It now includes 75 partner nations that cooperate in a variety of ways, including safeguarding radioactive and nuclear materials, preventing nuclear smuggling, and sharing information. In July, President Medvedev joined President Obama in a Joint Statement, which pledged enhanced efforts to prevent WMD terrorism through international cooperation, citing the fifth plenary meeting of the Initiative in the Netherlands in June.
In June, Russia hosted the Eighth International Meeting of the Heads of Special Services, Security Agencies, and Law-Enforcement Organizations, which the FBI, CIA, DOE, and NCTC attended. The 2009 agenda included discussion of terrorist use of the Internet, efforts to counter radicalization, the development of an international counterterrorism database, and the prevention of WMD terrorism through UNSCR 1540 and other instruments.
Russia continued to work with regional groups to address terrorism, including the EU, NATO (through the NATO-Russia Council), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the OSCE.
Pursuant to an Agreement signed by Presidents Obama and Medvedev at their July Summit in Moscow, Russia now permits flights in route to Afghanistan carrying lethal materiel to support the ISAF to transit its airspace.
Serbia’s law enforcement and security agencies, particularly the Customs Administration, Criminal Police, Border Police, Security Information Agency, and other security services continued to improve intra-governmental cooperation. Serbia has two police organizations that operated as counterterrorism tactical response units, the Special Antiterrorist Unit and the Counterterrorist Unit. The Criminal Investigative Unit for Counterterrorist Investigation within the Interior Ministry’s Criminal Investigation Directorate conducts terrorism-related investigations.
The Parliament passed new legislation that will aid in countering terrorism. Parliament passed on March 19, and amended on September 3, the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, which is compliant with international standards. The law applies all provisions of the previous Anti-Money Laundering Law to terrorist financing and expands the entities required to collect information and file currency transaction reports. It requires reporting of transactions suspected to be terrorist financing and creates mechanisms for freezing, seizing, and confiscating suspected terrorist assets. On December 11, the Parliament passed a law specifying that non-biometric passports would not be valid after December 31, 2010. On October 26, the Parliament passed the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy. The strategies define terrorism and note that separatism and religious extremism are security risks.
On July 5, the trial of Islamist extremists charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, illegal possession of firearms, and attempted murder concluded. The Belgrade District Court’s Special Department for Organized Crime convicted 12 individuals and acquitted two others. Authorities found evidence that the group was planning attacks on infrastructure in the city of Novi Pazar, on a local religious leader, and on several sites in Belgrade, including the U.S. Embassy. In a follow-up trial on September 8, an additional four individuals were convicted of planning attacks on police in Novi Pazar and storing large quantities of weapons and ammunition.
Bilateral cooperation continued to improve, and the United States provided counterterrorism training and assistance to the Serbian government. In February, the Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Assistance Training Program (ICITAP) conducted a counterterrorism workshop for Serbian police officers. The workshop covered trends in international terrorism, the formation of a joint terrorist task force, investigative techniques, vulnerability assessments, crime scene management, case studies, and practical exercise problems. In May, ICITAP conducted an informant development course for Serbian counterterrorism and organized crime investigators. Also in May, ICITAP held an anti-corruption workshop bringing together for the first time Serbian and Montenegrin police and prosecutors to discuss terrorism and corruption. In September, ICITAP and the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team provided joint training to a SAJ-sponsored counterterrorism regional training initiative. This training involved specialized counterterrorism units from Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, and Montenegro.
The police unit responsible for investigating criminal offenses related to terrorism is the Counterterrorism Unit (CTU) of the Bureau for Combating Organized Crime. The CTU develops Slovakia’s counterterrorism strategy, conducts criminal investigations, and makes arrests of suspected terrorists or extremists within Slovakia’s borders. Slovakia’s most recent strategy, approved in October 2007, focuses on developing the legislative and institutional framework to combat terrorism, as well as strengthening coordination, collaboration, and exchange of information among key institutional actors. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Bureau for Combating Organized Crime and the Slovak Information Service (SIS) provides support to CTU’s counterterrorism mission. On December 16, President Ivan Gasparovic signed a law making the financing of terrorism a punishable criminal offense in Slovakia. According to the amended Penal Code, financing terrorism can be punished by 20 to 25 years imprisonment.
One suspected terrorist, Mustapha Labsi, has been held in Slovak custody since May 2007. In January 2008, the Supreme Court confirmed that he could be extradited to Algeria, where he was convicted in absentia to life in prison. In June, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Supreme Court must verify that Labsi will not face torture upon extradition. On October 28, the Regional Court in Bratislava decided again not to grant asylum to Labsi due to the serious threat he could pose to the security of Slovakia. On December 19, Labsi left a refugee detention center and fled to Austria, where he was apprehended by police. Labsi had not been returned to Slovakia at year’s end.
Slovakia cooperated closely with a range of international partners in numerous fora. Slovak police participated in the Police Working Group on Terrorism, a consortium of 30 countries, including EU member states, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Croatia. The SIS is engaged in the Club de Berne, which facilitates exchange of police and intelligence information on terrorism. Both CTU and SIS take a part in the EU’s Joint Situation Center.
In August, Slovakia hosted a conference on “Legal Aspects of Combating Terrorism and handling extremism” under the auspices of the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation – U.S. Embassy. A result of the conference was the creation of a forum for discussion between nine countries, the SIS, and the ministries of Defense, Interior, Justice, and Foreign Affairs.
In 2009, Slovakia increased its presence in Afghanistan from 51 soldiers to 319. This includes a substantial contingent in Uruzgan province, a very active operational area, as well as in Kandahar.
Slovenia is generally assessed as a low-threat country for terrorism and terrorist activity. The National Security Council, chaired by the president and including the defense, interior, justice, foreign affairs, and finance ministers, is the main body for counterterrorism policy. In the case of a terrorist incident, the NSC’s secretariat, led by the prime minister’s national security advisor, would lead the inter-ministerial working group tasked with a response, with subgroups focusing on specific threats. In 2005, the MOI and Slovene Police developed a response plan for a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction. Slovenia’s national policy also has plans in place to assess threat levels and specific guidelines on measures police officers are to take based on the corresponding threat level. According to the MOI, Slovenia’s counterterrorism plans follow EU security standards.
The Government of Slovenia actively participated in multilateral terrorism efforts, including the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. The U.S. Office for Defense Cooperation facilitated counterterrorism training for officials from various Slovene ministries, which included regional conferences and Marshall Center seminars. In fall 2009, Slovenia’s Ministry of Defense announced that it would host a regional counterterrorism conference in March 2010. Slovenia contributed 81 troops to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, including 15 sent specifically for security during the August 2009 presidential elections.
During 2009, Spain continued to confront and suffer from both radical Islamist terrorism and domestic Basque terrorists. Spain maintained close cooperation with the United States to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism, prevent future attacks, and worked hard to disrupt terrorist acts that might be directed against U.S. interests.
The Government of Spain and its citizens recognized that their country remained a principal target of Islamist terrorist groups who routinely called for “recapture” of the Iberian Peninsula, “liberation” of Spain’s North African enclaves in Ceuta and Melilla, and for the Spanish military’s withdrawal from multilateral forces in Afghanistan and Lebanon. In October, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) decision to name its propaganda unit, “al Andalus”, reinforced the Government of Spain’s concern that Spain remains a priority target for AQIM. In late November, AQIM kidnapped three Spanish aid workers in Mauritania as a convoy from their Barcelona-based non-governmental organization traveled through West Africa to deliver humanitarian assistance. At year’s end, two of the three were still being held; one had been released.
Spain’s geographical location and large immigrant population from North Africa and South Asia, combined with the ease of travel to other European countries, made it a strategic crossroads for international terrorist groups. Spain remained an important transit, fundraising, and logistical base for terrorist organizations operating in Western Europe. Spain continued to aggressively target terrorist recruiters and facilitators. The Ministry of Interior arrested 14 suspected Islamist terrorists.
In order to implement the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, Spain’s Council of Ministers in November approved legislative reforms in the nation’s counterterrorism laws. These reforms criminalized such offenses as inciting terrorism as well as recruiting, training, indoctrinating, or financing terrorists. The proposal requires parliamentary approval to become a binding law.
Meanwhile, the Spanish judiciary remained active in combating Islamist terrorism. In January 2008, authorities arrested members of an alleged terrorist cell for plotting to attack Barcelona’s transportation system. In December 2009, the National Court convicted all 11 defendants, primarily Pakistanis, for membership in a terrorist organization, with sentences ranging from 8.5 to 14.5 years. In November 2009, a Spanish judge indicted seven additional persons for their alleged roles in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.
On the domestic front, 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), whose aim is to create an independent Basque state. The group marked its anniversary with a series of high profile and deadly bombings. ETA claimed its first victim of the year weeks earlier when it used a car bomb on June 19 to assassinate a national police officer in the Basque Region. On July 29, ETA detonated an explosive-laden van outside a Civil Guard barracks in Burgos. The blast injured more than 60 Civil Guards, spouses, and children. The following day, ETA killed two Civil Guards in Mallorca with a car bomb.
2009 was also noteworthy for the change of administration in the Basque regional government. The Socialist Party, under Patxi Lopez’s regional leadership, assumed power as the first non-Basque nationalist government to administer the Basque Country since the restoration of democracy in Spain nearly 30 years ago. Lopez’s administration implemented a more unequivocal counterterrorism policy to confront ETA.
Building on strong results in 2008, Spain intensified its cooperation with the French government and continued to put considerable pressure on ETA. Joint operations with France resulted in, among other successes, the detention of ETA’s suspected military leader and its alleged political chief, who also reportedly served as the group’s communications chief. Each of these arrests – as well as numerous others – occurred in France with the participation of Spanish security forces. As of mid-December, security services had arrested 124 alleged ETA members or associates, including 31 in France. Joint operations also resulted in the seizure throughout August of more than a dozen arms caches. The European Court of Human Rights in June upheld Spain’s 2003 ban on the political party Batasuna for its ties to ETA.
Spain participated in the Megaports and Container Security Initiatives, and worked hard to deny terrorists access to Spanish financial institutions. The Spanish government maintained a robust law enforcement and intelligence posture against terrorist financing. Spain was a member of the G8 Counterterrorism Action Group and provided technical assistance to other countries to help build their institutions to counter terrorist financing. Spain is a longtime member of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force and its efforts to combat money laundering were considered comprehensive and effective.
During a visit to Washington in June, Spain’s Interior Minister and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed an Agreement on Preventing and Combating Serious Crime that allows for the exchange of fingerprints and other data on known terrorists and criminals while protecting individual privacy. The Interior Minister also signed a Letter of Intent with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to expand bilateral science and technology cooperation in order to enhance security and combat transnational threats.
In support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Spain increased its contingent of more than 750 troops to roughly 1,000. President Zapatero voiced support for President Obama’s strategy for increasing overall ISAF troop levels further.
The Swedish Security Service (SAPO), which has responsibility for counterterrorism, distinguished between attack and activity threats in its terrorism assessment. Attack threats, which included plans to carry out attacks in Sweden and/or against Swedish interests abroad, remained low. SAPO noted, however, an increased activity threat from individuals who were planning, supporting, or financing terrorist attacks in areas of conflict. A number of individuals with connections to radical and violent networks, primarily al-Qa’ida (AQ) and al-Shabaab, continued to depart Sweden for training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Iraq. According to estimates, the number of persons who seek ideological education, weapons training, or other activity in training camps abroad is likely to increase, and these individuals have the potential to speed up radicalization in Sweden. SAPO is responsible for trying to prevent such trips, but existing legislation leaves few possibilities to stop determined individuals from leaving Sweden. SAPO, therefore, continued to work to identify individuals planning to travel to training camps and held dialogues with them to try to prevent their travel, and it also spoke with persons who were suspected of returning from such travel. At least 20 Swedes were estimated to be active in camps around the world. Somalia continued to be the destination that attracted most individuals, and SAPO confirmed that it was aware of a hand-full of casualties involving ethnic Somali Swedish citizens fighting in East Africa.
In July, Xasaan Xussen, a spiritual leader for the Somali terrorist organization al-Shabaab, spoke at a conference in the Bellevue Mosque in Gothenburg. Xuseen’s visit was controversial because of a widespread concern that he came to Sweden to recruit young people and collect money for al-Shabaab. On July 15, the Somali Minister of Justice Abdirahman Janaqoo visited Sweden to discuss how to prevent young Somali-Swedes from traveling to Somalia and fight against the government. Together with two Somali parliamentarians, Minister Janaqoo met with representatives from the Swedish government to discuss radicalization of Somali-Swedes. In November, the media reported that a Swedish-Somali youth leader had used a youth center in one of Stockholm’s suburbs as a base for al-Shabaab recruitment.
Swedish authorities monitored individuals with connections to AQ, al-Shabaab, Ansar al-Islam, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Hizb Al-Tahrir, Hizballah, Islamic Jihad, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). According to Swedish terrorism experts, members of terrorist groups, such as Ansar al-Islam, and Hizballah, used funds earned in Sweden to finance terrorist activities elsewhere. The al-Aqsa Foundation in Malmo was shut down in 2007 when it was suspected of financing HAMAS. Its chairman, Khaled al-Yousef, went on trial for terrorist financing and violating international sanctions, though he was acquitted in November after the case had been reviewed in two different courts.
Swedish law does not provide the government with independent national authority to freeze or seize assets, unless in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation. However, once the EU takes action, the government can and does freeze assets of entities and persons listed on the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee list. This procedure is managed through the Sanctions Act (1995). On October 26, the Swedish branch of the Somali bank network Al-Barakaat was delisted from the UN’s sanctions list. The Swedish branch of the organization was first designated in 2001 and about US$ 142,857 of frozen assets will now become accessible. Sweden can also take action against entities designated by the EU clearinghouse process, although Sweden has not yet proposed individuals or entities for inclusion on such lists.
On March 15, a new law on money laundering and terrorist finance came into effect that covers a broader range of entities and requires companies to have better knowledge about customer transactions. Suspicious transactions have to be reported to the Financial Police for further investigation. A special unit at the Financial Supervisory Authority, which supervises and monitors companies operating on the financial market, has been established to oversee implementation of the new legislation.
In late 2008, the Swedish Parliament approved the new EU directive on counterterrorism, which was intended to harmonize the EU Member States’ domestic laws and to criminalize public exhortation to terrorist crimes, recruitment and training for terrorism purposes, including actions performed over the Internet. In order for Sweden to comply with the directive, changes in the current legislation and a new law have been drafted. On December 21, the government introduced its proposed bill for action by the Parliament for voting.
Between July 2008 and June 2009, Sweden applied its Special Alien’s Control Act once. The act was established in 1991 to prevent presumptive terrorists from entering or residing in Sweden but also permits for control of individuals, who due to asylum reasons still have to be granted a stay in Sweden. In this particular case, the government decided to deport the person from Sweden.
While there were no convictions for terrorism in Sweden during the reporting period, the following cases should be mentioned:
During Sweden’s EU Presidency in the latter half of the year, Sweden arranged a conference on prison radicalization and prevention; a seminar on enabling local police officers to detect and prevent radicalization; chaired the Working Party meeting on Terrorism and Terrorist Financing between the EU and the United States; and led EU efforts for negotiating the interim Terrorist Financing Tracking Program Agreement between the EU and the United States. Sweden also drafted and negotiated the EU’s new five-year program within Justice and Home Affairs, which involves counterterrorism and law enforcement cooperation. Sweden continued to contribute to counterterrorism capacity-building projects in third countries.
In November, the Swedish Parliament voted to extend the mandate for its troop contribution to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan for another 12 months. Troop numbers are expected to remain at 500 and Sweden will continue its engagement in northern Afghanistan.
The United States worked closely with the Swiss government, the Swiss Bankers’ Association, the Swiss Interagency Counterterrorism Task Force, and cantonal law enforcement authorities on counterterrorism issues. Swiss security services continued to monitor activities of terrorist groups with a presence in Switzerland and to coordinate with appropriate U.S. government officials, though the scope of the coordination is limited. Swiss law severely restricts the level of information-sharing possible on banking issues.
On February 1, the Government of Switzerland implemented a bill incorporating recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The legislation extended the scope of the federal law concerning the fight against money laundering in the financial sector to the fight against terrorist financing.
In 2008, the Government of Switzerland extended for the second time its ban against al-Qa’ida (AQ) and its associate organizations for three years. The ban includes not only all activities by the organization itself, but also all activities in support of the organization. Approximately US$ 17 million in AQ and Taliban assets in 25 separate bank accounts remained frozen.
The Swiss government maintained a list of individuals and organizations connected with international terrorism or terrorist financing, in accordance with UN lists. On October 13, Switzerland and other countries co-sponsored a UN workshop in Vienna to improve domestic and global efforts to prevent terrorism. National representatives from more than 100 UN Member States, as well as counterterrorism experts from regional and international organizations took part in this two-day event. They also exchanged information on national experiences, challenges, and lessons learned in order to more effectively link national and global counterterrorism efforts.
Swiss authorities have thus far blocked about 48 accounts totaling approximately US$ 20.6 million from individuals or companies linked to individuals or entities listed pursuant to relevant UN resolutions. The Swiss Attorney General also separately froze 21 accounts representing about approximately US$ 20.5 million on the grounds that they were related to terrorist financing.
Counterterrorism activities were carried out by several police units: The Federal Criminal Police’s Counterterrorism Division focused on AQ-related cases and employed approximately 20 investigators within two operational units. Of the 130 employees who worked in the Department for Analysis and Prevention in the Federal Office for Police, approximately 12 concentrated on counterterrorism matters, in addition to the roughly 85 cantonal officers focusing on counterterrorism activities.
The Swiss government does not compile lists of prohibited organizations. The sole recent exception has been AQ, which is banned on the basis of UN Security Council decisions. However, terrorism and membership in a terrorist organization are illegal and subject to criminal penalties. Due in part to increased counterterrorism activities in neighboring EU countries, several terrorist organizations, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, had a presence in Switzerland. Switzerland does not extradite persons based solely on their membership in a terrorist organization.
In May, the Swiss government announced it would take part in an IMF project aimed at providing technical assistance for developing countries in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
On September 7-8, the United States and Swiss governments co-hosted an International Bioterrorism Response Coordination Exercise (called “Black ICE II”) in Montreux. This two-day exercise was an opportunity for officials from numerous international and regional organizations and national governments to examine the critical cooperation and coordination issues that would be necessary to respond to an international bioterrorism attack. Black ICE II built on the lessons learned through the original Black ICE I exercise, also held in Montreux, in September 2006.
Domestic and transnational terrorist groups have targeted Turkish nationals and foreigners in Turkey, including, on occasion, U.S. government personnel, for more than 40 years. Terrorist groups that have operated in Turkey have included Kurdish groups, al-Qa’ida (AQ), Marxist-Leninist, and pro-Chechen groups. The past year may have been a watershed year for Turkey in countering the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkish terrorism law defines terrorism as attacks against Turkish citizens and the Turkish state. This definition may hamper Turkey’s ability to interdict, arrest, and prosecute those who plan and facilitate terrorist acts to be committed outside of Turkey, or acts to be committed against non-Turks within Turkey. Nonetheless, Turkish cooperation with the United States against terrorism is strong.
Most prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey is the PKK. Composed primarily of Kurds with a nationalist agenda, the PKK operated from bases in northern Iraq and directed its forces to target mainly Turkish security forces. In 2006, 2007, and 2008, PKK violence claimed hundreds of Turkish lives. PKK activity was lower in 2009, but was still a constant throughout the year.
In 2009, the Turkish government and the Turkish General Staff agreed that military action against the PKK would not be sufficient to eliminate it as a terrorist threat. The government began an initiative, now known as the National Unity Project, to address the social and economic inequalities in Turkish society that purportedly fuel Kurdish dissent and PKK recruitment. Concrete steps within the scope of the Project were clearly devised to drain the PKK’s support, by, for example, liberalizing laws governing the use of the Kurdish language in broadcasting, education, and state buildings; reducing the application of counterterrorism laws to non-violent crimes; and providing legal incentives to bring members of the PKK who have not engaged in violence back into civil society.
A court case against an alleged terrorist organization known as Ergenekon continued throughout the year. Investigations into Ergenekon, a group allegedly composed of former military officials, bureaucrats, politicians, journalists, and underworld figures, began in 2007, and led to arrests beginning in the summer of 2008. In 2009, the focus of the case gradually shifted away from terrorism aspects, such as investigating and prosecuting suspects for illegally stockpiling arms and attempting assassinations of prominent minority leaders, to alleged coup-plotting by senior military staff. The responsible court may issue an interim decision on whether Ergenekon and its alleged members should be tried under counterterrorism laws or whether Ergenekon would be better classified as an organized crime ring and tried under laws against organized crime.
Terrorists associated with al-Qa’ida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and other Sunni extremist groups continued to have a logistical and operational presence in Turkey and used Turkey as a transit country. Newspapers reported several raids on alleged AQ cells.
Other prominent terrorist groups in Turkey included the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), a militant Marxist-Leninist group with anti-U.S. and anti-NATO views that seeks the violent overthrow of the Turkish state. Newspapers reported several operations against the group throughout the year. A DHKP-C suicide bomber failed in her April 29 attempt to assassinate former Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk. The Marxist-Leninist Communist Party took responsibility for bomb attacks against a police station in Gaziantep in April. On April 27, police raided a Revolutionary Headquarters cell in Istanbul, in an operation that resulted in the deaths of one suspected terrorist and one policeman. The Turkish Workers’ and Peasants’ Liberation Army, though largely inactive, is still considered a potential threat by the Turkish government.
Turkey has consistently supported Coalition efforts in Afghanistan. Turkey has more than 1,700 troops in Afghanistan, including four military training teams in Kabul and a civilian Provincial Reconstruction Team in Wardak Province. In November, Turkey re-assumed command of Regional Command Capital (the new name given to the former Kabul Multinational Brigade) for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Turkey has undertaken training of Afghan military and police officials, politicians, and bureaucrats in Turkey. It has pledged a total of US$ 200 million to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Turkey has provided significant logistical support to Coalition operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, authorizing the use of Incirlik Air Base as an air-refueling hub for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and as a cargo hub to transport non-lethal cargo to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Almost 60 percent of air cargo for U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2005 and 2009 transited the Incirlik cargo hub. Establishment of this hub allows six C-17 aircraft to transport the amount of goods it took nine to ten aircraft to move from Germany, and saves the United States almost US$ 160 million per year. More than 16 percent of the fuel for Coalition and U.S. Forces transited from Turkey into Iraq via the Habur Gate border crossing in 2009. Turkey was active in reconstruction efforts in Iraq, including providing electricity. Turkey contributed headquarters personnel to the NATO Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I) and completed military leadership training in Turkey for 89 Iraqi officers as a further contribution to the NATO NTM-I.
Pursuant to its obligations under UNSCR 1267 and subsequent resolutions, Turkish officials continued to circulate UN-designated names of terrorists to all law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and to financial institutions. Turkish officials also circulated U.S.-designated names, although only UN-listed names were subjected to asset freezes enforced through a Council of Ministers decree. This legal mechanism for enforcing sanctions under UNSCR 1267 was challenged in Turkish courts by UN-designated terrorist financier Yasin al-Kadi, whose assets had been frozen by the state. Following a series of legal actions, the decree freezing his assets has been successfully challenged but was still in effect pending appeal.
There were no terrorist incidents in Ukraine in 2009, but the Ministry of Interior (MOI) claimed to have disrupted a domestic plot still in the planning stages. The MOI detained five men accused of plotting to assassinate the leader of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (the unofficial Muslim Crimean Tatar community representative body). The men, some of whom are Crimean Tatars, claimed they are members of Egypt-based Al-Takfir wa al-Hijrah and had acquired weapons and explosives in preparation for the assassination attempt. The men are charged with illegal possession of weapons and explosives. The extent of the group’s links to outside terrorist organizations remains unclear.
In December, President Yushchenko vetoed significant amendments to Ukraine’s law on money-laundering and terrorist financing. The law would have expanded the scope of current financial monitoring and would have been a demonstrable step toward bringing Ukraine’s money-laundering and terrorist finance laws into compliance with international norms.
The Ukrainian government continues to contribute to the stabilization efforts in Afghanistan, with ten soldiers serving in Chaghcharan province under Lithuanian leadership. On December 12, the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council announced that the government plans to triple the size of its deployment to Afghanistan in 2010.
In March, the UK government released its updated counterterrorism strategy, CONTEST TWO, which contains sections covering the risks of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks, and highlights the threat from small terrorist groups. Published by the Home Office but based on broad intergovernmental input, CONTEST TWO is more detailed than its previous iterations in 2003 and 2006. The update focused more on isolating extremist voices who advocate violence and on encouraging moderate voices who advocate community cohesion. Then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith characterized the strategy as extremely broad-ranging, including proposals to tackle radicalization, support mainstream Muslim voices, prepare for attacks, and garner support from Islamic communities for investigations. Government ministers have indicated that 60,000 workers, including shop assistants and hotel employees, were being trained to respond to terrorist attacks as part of the new strategy. Since 2003, the number of police in the UK working counterterrorism issues has risen from 1,700 to 3,000.
Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee published in May a review of intelligence concerning the London terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005. The report cleared the police and security services of any blame for failing to track those responsible for the bombings. The report noted that the UK’s intelligence agencies and police had implemented operational changes and received increased resources from the government since the attacks, concluding that the government’s ability to detect a similar plot in the future had been improved.
In July, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center (JTAC) lowered the UK’s terrorism threat level from Severe to Substantial. In announcing the change, the Home Secretary stressed that the overall terrorist threat had not dissipated and that the public should remain vigilant.
Since 2005, the UK has been able to ban foreigners who promote hatred, terrorist violence, or serious criminal activity from entering the country. In October, the government implemented more stringent rules for determining who could enter the UK.
Important counterterrorism legislation enacted in the UK in 2009 included:
Prominent terrorism-related arrests included:
In the judicial arena, several high-profile terrorism cases were decided in 2009, including:
The UK is the second largest contributor to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, with more than 9,500 troops.
There was an escalation of terrorist activity in Northern Ireland, with more than 130 explosives, weapons, or ammunition finds attributed to dissident republican elements in the first half of the year. In January, police discovered a 300-lb car bomb prior to its detonation at Castlewellan, County Down. The bomb was placed in a car on Dublin Road, a mile from a primary school. Real IRA splinter group Oglaigh na hEireann (OnH) claimed responsibility for the home-made explosives, which they said were intended for detonation at Ballykinler Army Base.
On March 7, British Army soldiers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar were shot dead by gunmen outside Masserene Army Barracks in Antrim. Within 48 hours of that attack, Police Service of Northern Ireland constable Stephen Carroll was murdered in his vehicle in Craigavon as he supported a police response to a domestic violence call. The Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for both attacks. Throughout March, bomb disposal experts were called to 79 alerts, 28 of which were found to be viable devices.
In April, a 37-year-old man was shot in both legs in Rosemount Gardens in Londonderry in what appeared to be a paramilitary-style punishment shooting. Also in April, four masked men shot a 26-year-old man in the thigh, knee, and ankle in a similar attack at a house in Londonderry’s Creggan Heights. In May, components for a bomb containing approximately 100-lb of explosives were found by police near Roslea, County Fermanagh. In August, suspected dissident republican terrorists wearing balaclava masks set up an illegal roadblock in the south Armagh village of Meigh.
In June, some loyalist paramilitary groups decommissioned weapons. General John de Chastelain, head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and a number of independent witnesses, observed an act of decommissioning by the Ulster Volunteer Force. A series of bombs were discovered in separate incidents in September, including a 600-lb bomb found near the south Armagh village of Forkhill. Additionally, a dissident group also shot and injured a man in the Ballmagroarty area of Londonderry.
In November, the latest report of the International Monitoring Commission said that the dissident threat was at its highest in six years. At least two paramilitary-style shootings occurred: a 23-year-old man was shot in the legs in the Creggan area of Londonderry; a 27-year-old from Brandywell was also shot in the legs. The Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for shooting a man in the leg in west Belfast. Four men were arrested in relation to an attempted gun attack on a police constable in the village of Garrison in County Fermanagh. Dissident republicans were blamed for the attempted bombing of the Northern Ireland Policing Board headquarters in Belfast where a 400-lb bomb was discovered after it failed to detonate properly.
 The French intelligence services were aware of a rise in the kidnapping of French citizens, yet remained hesitant about classifying them as terrorist activity (as opposed to criminal) until a specific group had claimed responsibility and they could investigate the circumstances leading up to the kidnapping.
 Prior to that, EULEX's Police Executive Department (PED) exercised direct supervision over its KP counterparts. The KP and EULEX received information and analytical support from the Office of Criminal Intelligence, a division within EULEX's PED and the KP Department of Criminal Analysis.
 In September 2006, 17 ethnic Albanians, four of whom are U.S. citizens, were arrested and charged with planning terrorist acts to incite an ethnic Albanian rebellion. After a lengthy trial, in August 2008, the Higher Court in Podgorica convicted the defendants of plotting to disturb the constitutional order and security of Montenegro. Sentences ranged from three months to six years and six months in prison.
 Criminal acts of terrorism are defined by Montenegrin Criminal Code Article 365, which states that "anyone who, with the intention of endangering the constitutional order and security of Montenegro causes an explosion or fire or undertakes other dangerous measures or kidnaps a person or commits another act of violence or threatens to undertake some dangerous action or to use nuclear, chemical, biological or other dangerous substance and whereby may cause fear or feelings of insecurity among citizens shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of three to fifteen years."
 The EAG members are Russia, China, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. < /p>
 Article 260 of the Swiss penal code defines a terrorist as someone who takes part in an organization that keeps its structure and membership secret and that has the purpose of committing violent crimes or of enriching itself by criminal means. Anyone who supports such an organization or participates in its criminal activities can be punished with up to five years in prison. The penal code also provides for punishment of those who commit criminal acts outside of Switzerland if their organization conducts its criminal activities partly within Swiss boundaries or plans to do so. < /p>
 The UK's independent reviewer of counterterrorism legislation, Lord Carlisle, undertook a review of Operation Pathway and the manner in which police and security services pursued it. Carlile's report concluded that the police had no realistic alternative to arresting at least some of the suspects in the interest of public safety; that the arrests were made on the basis of the intelligence assessment; and that the need for early intervention based only on intelligence may result is some people being arrested and held in detention while the investigation continues, evidence is collected, and charges are considered. Carlile's report made a number of recommendations to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to improve operational performance and procedure. < /p>