The Near East region remained one of the most active in terms of terrorist activity in 2010. Multiple terrorist organizations displayed the capability and intent to strike at targets across the region. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) posed an increased risk to stability within Yemen and demonstrated anew its intent to strike the United States. Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI)-despite diminished leadership and capabilities – continued to conduct attacks across Iraq. Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) conducted attacks against Algerian government targets and undertook kidnappings elsewhere to extort ransoms. Hizballah in Lebanon continued to pose a significant threat to the stability of Lebanon and the broader region. In Israel and the Palestinian territories, several groups maintained the capability to launch attacks and acquired sophisticated weaponry from outside the country.
Governments across the region improved their own counterterrorism capabilities despite these persistent threats, effectively disrupting the activities of a number of terrorists across the region. The Iraqi government displayed increased capability and effectiveness in targeting multiple Sunni extremist groups as well as a number of Shia insurgents. In Algeria, AQIM became increasingly isolated in limited parts of the country as Algeria increased its already substantial efforts to target the group. While Saudi Arabia remained vulnerable because of the increased instability in Yemen, its efforts to target terrorist activity domestically remained resolute; the Saudi government displayed professionalism in tactical counterterrorism operations and counterterrorist financing, and made some progress on its efforts to counter violent extremist ideology. Israel and the Palestinian Authority also worked to diminish the threat posed by various Palestinian terrorist groups and Hizballah, including targeting weapons smuggling in and around the Gaza Strip and suicide bombers attempting to attack Israel via Gaza and the West Bank.
Overview: Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) continued to pose a significant terrorist threat in the mountainous areas east of Algiers. AQIM primarily targeted Algerian security forces, but civilians were also wounded or killed because of AQIM criminal activity. Algerian security forces isolated AQIM in the north, and the group launched fewer successful terrorist attacks but continued to execute suicide attacks, attacks using improvised explosive devices (IED), and ambushes in the areas east of Algiers.
The government has succeeded in reducing the flow of money to terrorists. Residents of the Kabylie region repeatedly took to the streets to protest kidnappings for ransom, prompting terrorists to release at least five hostages without receiving payment. In August, however, the president (equivalent to a town mayor) of Baghlia commune in Boumerdes was killed near his home, presumably by AQIM retaliating against protests Baghlia residents held earlier in the year to denounce kidnappings.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: AQIM perpetrated notable terrorist attacks in rural areas, including a cross-border attack in the south between Mali and Algeria, the first vehicle-borne suicide bombings since 2008 using of an improvised bomb attack method commonly used in Iraq. As the attacks highlighted below indicate, Algeria experienced a spike in terrorist incidents during the summer and just prior to the start of Ramadan, which began August 11. During Ramadan, there was a brief but significant uptick in AQIM attacks, compared to the same period in 2008 and 2009, possibly triggered by aggressive Algerian counterterrorism operations.
2010 incidents included:
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Algerian security forces – primarily gendarmerie troops under the Ministry of National Defense – conducted periodic sweeping operations in the Kabylie region southeast of the capital, targeting groups of AQIM fighters.
During the year, open source reports indicated that security forces killed or captured approximately 1,175 suspected terrorists. In December, a Boumerdes court sentenced six terrorists in absentia to death on a variety of charges, including murder, attempted murder, and belonging to a terrorist organization. Also in December, authorities suspended consideration of amnesty for 120 terrorists who had applied for amnesty under Algeria's Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation but who had resumed terrorist activity.
Also in December, the Interior Ministry began efforts to disband the communal guard forces, retiring older members and incorporating others into the army and municipal police forces. The Algerian government established the communal guard in 1996 by arming civilians to combat terrorism in the area between the cities of Blida, Algiers, and Medea. As terrorist incidents declined in that area, the government decided to disband the guard but used its forces to bolster counterterrorism units in the army and police.
Algerian law enforcement agencies cooperated with the United States and other foreign governments to prevent terrorist attacks against foreigners. The United States signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Algeria in April, creating a framework for increased legal cooperation between Algeria and the United States. The United States provided multiple training courses to Algerian police, judges, and customs officials on cyber crime, bulk cash smuggling, and counterterrorism tactics.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Algeria is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and its mutual evaluation report was adopted by that body in its December MENAFATF Plenary. Algeria has no specific legislation to freeze terrorist assets but maintained that its ratification of international terrorist financing conventions gave it the authority to do so.
In July, a presidential decree mandated that all financial transactions over US$ 6,671 be conducted by credit card, check, or other non-cash method in an effort to increase financial transparency, track illegal financing of terrorism and reduce the possibility of corruption.
Regional and International Cooperation: Algeria continued its efforts to create a viable regional mechanism to deal with AQIM in the countries to its south. It convened three separate meetings of regional foreign ministers, military chiefs of staff, and intelligence chiefs in Algiers to discuss coordinating a response to the threat of terrorism in the trans-Sahara region. Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger established a combined military command center in Tamanrasset in southern Algeria in September, and later established an intelligence sharing center in Algiers designed to feed information to the command center in Tamanrasset.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Beginning in 2010, the Algerian government enlisted religious scholars and former terrorists to appear on its Radio Quran radio station and appeal directly to terrorists still fighting in the mountains. Programs featured Islamic scholars from Algeria and Gulf countries who argued against the doctrines used by AQIM to justify terrorist operations. Former Algerian terrorists appeared on these programs and appealed to terrorists to stop fighting and surrender to Algerian authorities. Other radio programs instructed listeners in various aspects of Islamic law. Algerian newspapers reported that the radio appeals played a major role in convincing scores of terrorists to lay down their arms and take advantage of government amnesty. Under the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, the Algerian government has offered amnesty to terrorists who surrender and have not committed major terrorist acts, such as bombings and rape.
The government has the authority to prescreen and approve sermons before they are delivered during Friday prayers. In practice, each province and county employs religious officials to review sermon content. The Ministry of Religious Affairs' educational commission is responsible for establishing policies for hiring teachers at Quranic schools and ensuring that all imams were well-qualified and follow governmental guidelines aimed at stemming violent extremism. The government also has youth outreach programs through the Muslim Scouts.
Overview: The Bahraini government worked to actively counter terrorist finance, enhanced border control capability, contributed manpower to international counterterrorism operations, realign internal responsibilities, and successfully prosecuted a number of cases under its 2006 counterterrorism law.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Key to several Bahraini counterterrorism successes this year was a decision by the King to realign internal intelligence, analytical, and counterterrorism responsibilities in various government ministries under the Bahrain National Security Agency, which has resulted in a clearer delineation of roles and responsibilities allowed for greater capacity building and increased interagency cooperation.
Bahraini law enforcement actions included:
Countering Terrorist Finance: Bahrain worked actively to counter terrorist finance and hosted the Secretariat for the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Bahrain worked cooperatively with its banks on anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance (AML/CTF) issues. Bahraini law enforcement and customs officials also continued to build AML/CTF capacity through extensive training. In October, Bahrain imprisoned a Syrian national who had been convicted in absentia of terrorist financing by Bahraini courts and sentenced to a five-year prison term in February 2009. Despite progress, Bahrain has yet to adequately amend the law banning money laundering and combating terrorism finance. In addition, Bahrain’s designated non-financial businesses and professions remained vulnerable to terrorist financing, due primarily to the non-issuance of legislation for regulating and monitoring the sector. Bahrain was asked to provide MENAFATF a follow up report in 2011 outlining progress.
Regional and International Cooperation: Since formally endorsing the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism in March 2008, Bahrain has worked to expand air, sea, and causeway border control points through increased training, internal cooperation, and staffing the border with officers capable of recognizing and interdicting nuclear proliferation materials such as centrifuges and commercially banned items. Bahrain acceded to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism as well as the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 Amendment.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Bahrain's efforts to counter radicalization and violent extremism have been spearheaded by the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs (MJIA). The MJIA organized regular workshops and seminars for imams from both the Sunni and Shia sects, and expanded its international scholarship program to include religious schools in Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. It also completed an annual review of schools' Islamic Studies curriculum to evaluate interpretations of religious texts.
Overview: The Egyptian government's strong opposition to violent extremism, together with its effective intelligence and security services, made Egypt an unattractive operating environment for terrorist groups. However, while the government took steps to further secure its borders, Egypt's Northern Sinai region remained a base for the smuggling of arms and explosives into Gaza, and a transit point for Hamas officials and operatives. The smuggling of humans, weapons, cash, and other contraband through the Sinai into Israel and the Gaza Strip has created criminal networks that may be associated with terrorist groups in the region.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: In April and August, rockets were reportedly fired from the Sinai, striking in Jordan and Israel near the cities of Al Aqaba and Eilat, respectively.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Many of the Egyptian president's far-reaching powers in the realm of counterterrorism come from Egypt's State of Emergency, which has been in force since 1981. Since 2005, former President Mubarak had pledged to lift the State of Emergency and replace it with new counterterrorism legislation, noting that Egypt should follow the example of other countries that have recently passed comprehensive laws to combat terrorism. Counterterrorism legislation had reportedly been drafted, but not submitted to or approved by Egypt's Parliament. Parliament renewed the State of Emergency in May, though it limited its application to terrorism and narcotics cases.
Egypt maintained its strengthened airport security measures and security for the Suez Canal, and instituted more stringent port security measures. The United States provided technical assistance to Egypt in an effort to ensure that the Rafah border crossing is used only for the peaceful and legal movement of people and goods.
In February, an Egyptian state security court began prosecution of 26 men arrested in July 2009 and dubbed the "Zeitun" cell by the media for robbing and murdering a Coptic Christian jeweler to fund terrorism activities. The group was also charged with the February 2009 Khan El Khalili bombing and of having ties with al-Qa’ida. At the end of 2010, the trial had not been completed.
In April, an Egyptian state security court convicted 26 men of belonging to a Hizballah cell that reportedly planned to attack Israeli tourists in the Sinai Peninsula and ships passing through the Suez Canal. Arrested in late 2008, the 26 men were also charged with smuggling weapons and goods through tunnels into the Gaza Strip. Sentences ranged from six months to life in prison. Four of the individuals were tried in absentia.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Over the past eight years, Egypt has tightened its terrorist finance regulations in keeping with relevant UNSCRs. Egypt regularly informed its own financial institutions of any individuals or entities that were designated by the UN 1267 sanctions committee.
Regional and International Cooperation: Egypt actively participated in the Arab League's Counterterrorism Committee. The Egyptian Assistant Deputy Foreign Minister for Counterterrorism was elected chair of this Arab League committee in 2010. Egypt also assisted states in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia in building counterterrorism capacity.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Egyptian Government sponsored a number of counter-radicalization programs, including a "revision and reintegration program" for members of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya and Egyptian Islamic Jihad who remained in detention. The goal was to further encourage the renunciation of violence through interaction with Egypt's Islamic scholars at Al-Azhar. In addition, the Ministry of Awqaf (Endowments) issued guidance to imams throughout Egypt that included directions to avoid extremism in sermons. Egypt's Al-Azhar University cooperated with Cambridge University on a training program for imams that promoted moderate Islam, inter-faith cooperation, and human rights.
Overview: Iraqi and U.S. security forces worked together and continued to make progress combating al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), affiliated Sunni terrorist organizations, and Shia insurgents. Terrorist attacks primarily targeted Iraqi and U.S. security forces and government officials, but they were also aimed at stirring ethnic tensions among Iraqi sectarian groups and minorities.
AQI adapted to changing conditions and remained capable of large-scale and coordinated attacks. However, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) also improved its capabilities in combating terrorist networks with better targeting and capture and detention of terrorists. AQI operated primarily in regions with majority Sunni Arab populations, particularly focusing its efforts in and around Baghdad and Ninewa. The group targeted the ISF, government infrastructure, and sectarian groups in an effort to induce them to emigrate and to erode Iraqi security and governance capabilities.
Sunni leaders in Iraq have overwhelmingly rejected AQI and its extremist ideology. The Sons of Iraq (SOI) who cooperated with the security authorities continued to be a valuable asset in countering AQI. Some of AQI’s members have defected, and the group has lost support in key mobilization areas, disrupting its infrastructure. On December 23, the ISF arrested 93 suspects in a crackdown of AQI bases in Anbar province.
Iran continued to fund, train, and provide weapons and ammunition to Shia extremist groups that carried out attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces. Although attacks by these groups have decreased, their Iranian-supported networks continued to operate throughout Iraq's southern provinces. The Iraqi government pressed senior Iranian leaders to end support for Shia militias, and its national unity efforts to involve Iraqi Shia groups with Iranian ties, such as Asaib ahl al Haq (League of Righteousness), in the political process, have contributed to decreased Shia-linked violence. The ISF also carried out operations throughout southern Iraq and in Baghdad against extremists trained and equipped by Iran, including the Promised Day Brigade and Kata'ib Hezbollah (Brigades of the Party of God).
Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqah al-Naqshabandiyah (JRTN), a Sunni nationalist insurgent group with links to the former Ba'ath Party, also continued attacks during the year. JRTN targeted Iraqi and U.S. forces, Iranians, and Iraqi Shia groups whose members work with Iran.
Foreign fighters, though greatly diminished in number from previous years, continued to enter Iraq, predominantly through Syria. AQI and the group's Sunni extremist partners more often used Iraqi nationals, including women, as suicide bombers. According to Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI) security officials, however, four of the five terrorists who attacked the Our Lady of Salvation Church on October 31 were foreigners and 12 other terrorists, mostly foreign, have been implicated in planning the church attack, as well as planning to attack the French Embassy and the Ministry of Planning.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: The deadliest bomb attacks during the year were against security forces, government buildings, and western targets, and included:
Major attacks late in the year that also targeted religious and sectarian groups included:
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Government of Iraq took a number of steps to improve border security. A Council of Ministers' resolution called for a "unity of effort" among all government agencies at all Iraqi ports of entry (POEs). In addition, the MOI and the Minister of Interior for the Kurdistan Regional Government agreed to integrate all POEs in the Iraqi Kurdistan region into the Iraqi government’s POE structure. Also, the Iraqi Customs Police returned to duty at the port of Umm Qasr after a two-year absence. Their presence has improved control over imports into Iraq.
The Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF), an agency handling terrorist cases, fostered a collaboration between investigators from Iraq and the United States. The MCTF investigated terrorism, high-profile violent crimes, and murders conducted by terrorists and members of organized criminal enterprises. Iraqi partners conducted complex criminal and counterterrorism investigations, which led to coordinated prosecution of defendants in Iraqi criminal courts. Seventy-two percent of the cases opened and assigned to the MCTF were capital cases involving terrorism.
Iraq continued to face significant challenges moving criminal cases from arrest to trial. The Iraqi government carried out few investigations of alleged sectarian-based crimes; arrests following a murder or other crimes were rare. U.S. and third-country law enforcement officials have trained Iraqi investigators and judges in investigative methodology and forensic evidence collection during the year.
Judicial security was a challenge. Judges investigating and adjudicating terrorism cases faced threats to their personal safety and that of their families. It is likely that some terrorism cases were dismissed due to actual or implied threats. To ameliorate this threat, the Chief Justice of the Higher Judicial Council appointed a cadre of judges to hear terrorism cases; these judges lived in secure apartment blocks. In addition, the government moved several judges hearing terrorism cases from Mosul to Baghdad to protect their safety.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Iraq is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF). The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) has a Financial Intelligence Unit called the Money Laundering Reporting Office (MLRO), which is still in the early stages of development. Iraq has not yet had a mutual evaluation, a compliance test by the Financial Action Task Force-International Monetary Fund of its anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing (AML/CTF) regime. While the Director of the MLRO has undergone training on AML/CTF at the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation in the United States, Iraq appeared to have done little to enhance the MLRO to meet international standards. Iraq's AML/CFT legislation neglects to adequately outlaw money laundering and the financing of terrorism and conflicts with other areas of Iraqi legislation. The AML/CFT law was written in 2004 and requires amendment to bring it to international standards.
Regional and International Cooperation: In September, Iraq attended a security meeting held in Bahrain with the interior ministers from Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, as well as the UN, the Organization of Islamic Countries, and the Arab League. The participants issued a joint 20-point statement that stressed the importance of Iraq's internal security to the region and recommended the creation of "cooperative mechanisms" to further address regional security issues. Iraq, Turkey, and the United States continued their formal trilateral security dialogue as one element of ongoing cooperative efforts to counter the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the region.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Iraq's MOI initiated a program to counter violent extremism and youth radicalization by making documentaries about terrorists in detention and about victims of terrorism. The Iraqi government also developed programs to counter violent extremist propaganda and to provide local youth positive examples and role models in society. These included USAID projects for at-risk youths and 4H Clubs. The UN Children’s Fund in Iraq initiated a project to provide reintegration services for children released from pre/post trial detention. The United States supported a Government of Iraq program to provide local support following the release of militants in order to decrease recidivism and facilitate integration into local communities.
ISRAEL, WEST BANK, AND GAZA
Overview: Israel faced terrorist threats from designated terrorist organizations, such as Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and Hizballah in Lebanon. Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist organizations continued rocket and mortar attacks into Israeli territory, and skirmished along the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip. The Government of Israel responded to these terrorist threats as it has in recent years, with operations directed at terrorist leaders, infrastructure, and activities such as rocket launching teams. Israeli officials assessed that Hizballah continued to re-arm following the 2006 Lebanon War. No suicide bombings were carried out against Israeli targets. Israeli law enforcement agencies and courts arrested and sentenced a number of terrorist suspects. The Government of Israel emphasized counterterrorism priorities such as countering terrorist finance and improving aviation security efforts. Israel actively participated in regional and international counterterrorism efforts.
Rocket and mortar fire emanating from the Gaza Strip was the most prevalent form of attack by Palestinian terrorist organizations. The Government of Israel held Hamas, as the dominant organization in effective control of Gaza, responsible for all rocket and mortar attacks emanating from Gaza, even though the majority of such attacks were conducted by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Resistance Committees from inside Gaza. Following such attacks, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched reprisal airstrikes targeting terrorist training and weapons facilities, tunnels, and indirect fire launch teams in Gaza. On November 3 and 17, joint IDF/Israel Security Agency (ISA) operations killed two senior leaders of the Army of Islam terrorist group in Gaza. In December, there was a marked increase of rocket and mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israel with a corresponding escalation of IDF reprisals.
Israeli government officials continued to believe that Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009 helped achieve an increased level of deterrence, as the number of rocket and mortar launches decreased in comparison to years prior to the operation. The number of rocket and mortar launches from Gaza increased, however, during direct peace talks in September. Israeli officials asserted that Palestinian terrorist organizations used the relatively quiet period since Operation Cast Lead to re-arm and reorganize in preparation for any potential future conflict.
The rocket attacks demonstrated technological advancements, allowing groups to continue indigenous manufacturing and stockpiling of rockets at a low cost; the rockets could also be launched from greater distances and with larger warheads. In addition, Iran increased the provision of medium-range rockets. Israeli experts assessed that Hamas successfully smuggled Fajr-5 rockets from the Sinai Peninsula through tunnels into Gaza, and subsequently began producing these rockets in Gaza, which were capable of striking Tel Aviv suburbs. The Israeli Cabinet approved a plan in January to strengthen the Israeli city of Sderot and other communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip against rocket attacks. The Israeli public, however, expressed frustration with the IDF's decision not to deploy permanently the Iron Dome short-range rocket interception system to protect communities within rocket range. The use of a state-of-the-art KORNET anti-tank missile fired at an IDF tank on December 6 demonstrated an increased technological capability for Gaza-based terrorists.
Northern Border: Israeli security officials remained concerned about the terrorist threat posed to Israel from Hizballah and its Iranian and Syrian patrons, arguing that Iran, primarily through the efforts of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, continued to employ a sophisticated arms smuggling network through Syria to Hizballah in Lebanon. Israeli politicians and security officials pointed to Hizballah's efforts to rebuild and re-arm following the 2006 Lebanon War as evidence that Hizballah remained a threat to Israel. Israeli government officials claimed Hizballah possessed as many as 45,000 rockets and missiles, some of which are capable of striking Israeli population centers including Tel Aviv.
West Bank: The IDF and ISA continued to conduct operations in the West Bank to maintain pressure on Palestinian terrorist organizations and their supporters. Overall, Israeli security services continued the trend of relaxing movement and access measures in the West Bank. Construction on the security barrier in the West Bank and Jerusalem continued at a low level in some areas.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: Israel faced a variety of terrorist attacks and threats in 2010, including drive-by shootings, rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip, skirmishes along the security fence surrounding Gaza, and in one case an attempted roadside bombing against an Israeli diplomatic convoy in Jordan on January 14. Israel also faced several new types of terrorist threats. During the first week of February, Israeli security forces neutralized three barrels containing explosive devices that washed ashore on beaches near Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Rishon Letzion. Israeli authorities believed terrorist organizations released the barrels into the sea from the Gaza Strip. On June 7, the Israeli Navy killed at least four alleged Palestinian terrorists in wetsuits off the coast of Gaza. The IDF claimed the terrorists intended to carry out an amphibious attack on Israel; the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed those killed were members of its maritime unit.
Terrorist organizations continued to target Israel with rocket and mortar fire from various locales throughout Gaza. In 2010, it was estimated that between 102 and 200 projectiles landed in Israel.
In addition to rocket and mortar attacks, the IDF estimated approximately 100 terrorist-related incidents took place near the security fence surrounding Gaza since the beginning of 2010. These incidents included attempts to place bombs and IEDs along the fence or infiltrate Israeli territory, exchanges of fire, and rocket-propelled grenade attacks.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: In January, the Israel Airports Authority launched a biometric security system for outbound passengers at Ben Gurion International Airport. The Unipass Airport Management System was being tested before gradual expansion to include within two years all departing passengers who voluntarily register.
In December, the Knesset passed a draft bill that withholds the salary and pensions of any Knesset member suspected of or convicted for committing a terrorist attack. It was named after the former chairman of the Balad Party, Azmi Bishara, who was under investigation on suspicion of aiding Hizballah. The draft bill must pass two more readings before entering into law.
In December, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a draft bill, which would empower courts to suspend attorney access to a terrorist suspect for up to 12 months in cases where suspicion exists that the meeting between the attorney and suspect might be used to coordinate a terrorist attack. The new draft bill may move forward following three readings and subsequent votes in the Knesset. The Minister of Internal Security initiated the draft bill; presently, attorney access to a detained suspect may be suspended for several periods of 21 days up to a maximum total period of three months.
On the law enforcement front, the ISA and Israel National Police (INP) continued to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement agencies on cases involving U.S. citizens killed in terrorist attacks, as well as other counterterrorism initiatives of mutual interest. Highlights included:
Countering Terrorist Finance: Israel continued to enforce strong measures to prevent the financing of terrorism. Israel's policy of restricting economic activity with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has sought to reduce inflows of funds that could support terrorist activity. The Government of Israel resumed social security payments to eligible Gazans, an indication of strong coordination among relevant authorities. Financing of Hamas through charitable organizations remained a concern for Israeli authorities. Regulation and enforcement of Israel's domestic financial industry is comparable in scope and effect to other highly industrialized and developed nations. Israel has active observer status in the Council of Europe’s Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation Of Anti-Money Laundering Measures (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Israel’s Money Laundering Prohibition Authority is a member of the Egmont Group.
Regional and International Security Cooperation: Through the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, Israel worked with Kenya and Uganda promoting such issues as border security, countering radicalization, and the "safe cities" concept - a network of cameras sending live footage to a 24-hour monitoring center. Israel also explored areas of counterterrorism cooperation with the Central Asian republics and the Economic Community of West African States. Israel hosted a homeland security conference with a counterterrorism emphasis in November, which was attended by several African nations, including Nigeria.
Israel agreed to join NATO's Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism (PAP-T), and was active in NATO crisis response, consequence management, and civil emergency planning working groups. Israel conducted a seminar on countering terrorist finance under the EU-Israel European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan, and participated in the EU Security Research Initiative to promote technological developments for counterterrorism purposes. Israel also engaged with the EU on transportation and aviation security efforts, including container security. Israelis participated in the OSCE Action against Terrorism Unit, including an October conference in Astana focused on transnational terrorism challenges. Israel was an active member of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), and hosted a GICNT event in Jerusalem in June. Israel was active in the Megaports Initiative and participated as an observer in the Gaza Counter Arms Smuggling Initiative.
Bilaterally, Israel participated in the annual U.S.-Israel Joint Counterterrorism Group. Israel conducted strategic dialogues, including counterterrorism discussions, with Germany, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, India, Russia, and the United States.
Overview: The primary Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in the West Bank were the Civil Police, the National Security Forces (NSF), the Preventive Security Organization, the General Intelligence Service, the Presidential Guard (PG), and the Civil Defense. Much of the PA security forces are under the Interior Minister's operational control and follow the Prime Minister's guidance. Israeli authorities, among others, noted continuing improved capacity and performance of PA security forces as a leading contributor to the improved security environment of the West Bank.
Hamas continued to consolidate its control over Gaza, eliminating or marginalizing potential rivals. Gaza remained a base of operations for several terrorist organizations besides Hamas, such as PIJ; Salafist splinter groups, such as Jund Ansar Allah and Jaysh al-Islam; and clan-based criminal groups that engaged in or facilitated terrorist attacks. Hamas relied on its internal intelligence, police, coastal patrol, border guard, and military-wing "Executive Force" bodies, probably numbering at least 15,000 in total.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: In 2010, there were multiple acts of violence conducted to achieve political goals by different sub-state actors in the West Bank, both Israeli and Palestinian. There were no attacks targeted against Americans. Attacks included:
Legislation and Law Enforcement: In response to the West Bank shootings that occurred August 31 and September 1, PA security forces and IDF personnel mounted large-scale campaigns throughout the West Bank. By noon on September 1, the PA had detained 283 Hamas supporters for questioning; by September 3 that number had grown to 600. PA President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad issued statements condemning each attack. On September 2, President Abbas announced that the PA security forces had tracked down the vehicle used to conduct the August 31 shooting.
The primary limitation on PA counterterrorism efforts in the Gaza Strip remained Hamas' continued control of the area and the resulting inability of PA security forces to operate there. No apparent progress was made in apprehending, prosecuting, or bringing to justice the perpetrators of the October 2003 attack on a U.S. Embassy convoy in Gaza that killed three U.S. government contractors and critically injured a fourth.
Limitations on PA counterterrorism efforts in the West Bank included restrictions on the movement and activities of PA security forces in areas of the West Bank for which the Israeli government retained responsibility for security (some 80 percent of that total land area).
The limited capacity of the PA's civilian criminal justice system also hampered PA counterterrorism efforts. U.S. assistance to police and prosecutors began to have an effect at the local district level in Jenin, where case management improved and backlogs decreased. The PA continued to lack modern forensic capability. Ongoing low-level violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank tested the limited mandates of PA security forces.
The Palestinian Legislative Council has not functioned since mid-2007, and President Abbas issued no decrees related to counterterrorism. However, a Memorandum of Understanding between police and prosecutors was finalized in 2010 that established best practices for working together, and the Ministry of Justice has begun the first re-write of the penal code in 50 years.
Countering Terrorist Finance: The PA continued its efforts against terrorist financing in the West Bank and Gaza by increasing its capacity to detect, analyze, and interdict suspicious financial activity. The Palestinian financial intelligence unit (referred to locally as the "Financial Follow-up Unit" or FFU) continued to build its capacity. The Palestinian Monetary Authority maintained a staff of roughly 80 in the Gaza Strip to conduct on-site bank examinations, including audits of bank compliance with the PA's 2007 Anti-Money Laundering decree. The PA Ministries of Interior and of Awqaf and Religious Affairs also continued to monitor the charitable sector for signs of abuse by terrorist organizations. PA security forces seized nearly US$10 million in cash from Hamas in 2010, according to PA officials. The PA is an observer to the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body.
Regional and International Cooperation: The United States continued to assist the PA's counterterrorism efforts through the capacity building of PA security forces. As of the end of the year, six NSF battalions and one Presidential Guard battalion had been trained and equipped under the auspices of the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC). USSC-run training of NSF battalions took place at the Jordan International Police Training Center in Jordan.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad consistently condemned acts of violence and reiterated their support for a peaceful, negotiated solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The PA Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, a former Hamas member who broke with that organization in the 1990s to protest its abuse of religion to justify violence, spoke out publicly against Hamas's rule of Gaza and against attempts to incite violence against non-Muslims. PA efforts to end incitement to violence continued with officials monitoring sermons given in West Bank mosques. There were no such efforts against incitement in Gaza, where the de facto Hamas authorities continued to support and practice incitement in public statements.
Overview: The Jordanian Government responded effectively to several terrorist incidents within the country, and its security forces detected and thwarted several others. Jordan remained committed to a just and durable settlement of the Israel-Palestine dispute and strongly backed President Obama's peace initiatives. In addition to its diplomatic and political assistance to the peace process, Jordan supported the Palestinian Authority and the development of state institutions through its law enforcement training programs at the Jordan International Police Training Center. Jordan was an important voice against violent extremism throughout the region.
2010 Terrorist Incidents:
Local and international media also announced the deaths or arrests of several Jordanian nationals participating in terrorist activities overseas:
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The first phase of the Joint Border Security Program was completed in September, including the installation of a suite of monitoring and communications equipment along a 50km stretch of Jordan's border with Syria. This border area has historically presented the highest risk of illicit infiltration and smuggling across Jordan's border and it accounted for the greatest number of interdictions by Jordanian law enforcement.
In addition, Jordanian security services remained alert to potential terrorist threats within the country and responded swiftly and effectively to counter identified plots. As a result of their vigilance, several planned attacks were disrupted prior to execution.
The State Security Court (SSC) has primary jurisdiction for terrorism cases and it maintained a substantial caseload during the year. For example:
Countering Terrorist Finance: Jordan remedied a number of significant deficiencies identified by the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) in its mutual evaluation of Jordan, and, by November, had effectively rectified the areas of non- or partial compliance with Financial Action Task Force’s core and key recommendations. Jordan implemented these improvements through royal decrees, which were binding and carried the weight of parliamentary legislation. Although the new parliament has the power to pass legislation, the decrees are permanent regardless of parliamentary action. Jordan additionally strengthened its capacity to investigate and prosecute terrorist finance cases. Enhanced legal authorities were matched by improved staffing levels and better physical infrastructure for Jordan's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The Jordanian government participated in several U.S. government-funded training courses, workshops, and technical assistance visits, and hosted a regional anti-money laundering/countering terrorist finance (AML/CTF) seminar aimed at strengthening operational cooperation between regional FIUs. These efforts resulted in significant operational improvements in 2010. The first two indictments for money laundering were brought in Jordan in January and April. In both, the predicate offenses were committed outside of Jordan. One conviction has been achieved to date, involving two defendants and resulting in a sentence of three years' hard labor, a fine of 10,000 Jordanian Dinars (approximately US$ 14,000), and confiscation of the criminal proceeds. In December, Jordan initiated its first domestic prosecution under its strengthened CTF legal regime.
Regional and International Cooperation: Jordan continued to play a constructive role in the process of stabilizing Iraq and integrating it back into the Arab region. Jordan is a member of the Friends of Yemen Working Group, and worked carefully with its international partners and Yemeni counterparts to reform the country's legal and judicial framework. As co-chair of the Rule of Law working group, Jordan hosted a meeting in Amman in July.
Countering Violent Extremism: The Jordanian Government remained firmly committed to combating not just terrorist organizations, but to countering the violent ideology that motivates terrorism. The Royal Aal al-Beit Institute for Islamic Thought, under the patronage of Prince Ghazi bin-Mohammad, continued its sponsorship of ecumenical events promoting interfaith dialogue. Known collectively as "The Common Word" series (after the missive written by Prince Ghazi to Pope Benedict XVI and signed by hundreds of Islamic scholars and Imams), these events sought to promote interreligious and cross-cultural understanding. In a September 25 speech at the UN General Assembly, King Abdullah II successfully proposed UN recognition of "World Interfaith Harmony Week. These interfaith outreach efforts build upon the 2005 Amman Message.
Recognizing the key role that incarceration has played in the radicalization of many terrorists, Jordanian authorities continued their program of theological engagement with suspected radical inmates. This program employed carefully selected and vetted religious scholars and jurists to introduce or reinforce more balanced views, based upon established Islamic jurisprudence and teachings. Jordan segregated extremist prisoners in order to deny them the opportunity to spread their violent ideology among the general inmate population.
Overview: Despite a lack of legal provisions that deal specifically with terrorism and terrorist financing, the Government of Kuwait maintained its efforts to counter terrorism, notably in the prosecutions of terrorists and terrorism facilitators for other offenses throughout the year.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Government of Kuwait lacks a clear legal framework for prosecuting terrorism-related crimes, often having to resort to other legal statues to try suspected terrorists, which hampers enforcement efforts. In February, Kuwait City's head prosecutor commented in al-Qabas newspaper that Kuwait needed stronger counterterrorism legislation and a clearer definition of what constituted a terrorist act.
On October 28, an appeals court upheld the May 10 acquittal of eight individuals accused of illegal weapons possession and planning to perform a hostile act against a foreign government, stemming from a plot to carry out attacks on U.S. and Kuwaiti installations at Camp Arifjan in southern Kuwait.
On June 28, a criminal court sentenced 11 defendants to three-year prison terms for a variety of terrorism-related charges, including acts of aggression committed in Afghanistan and possession of weapons training materials. Seven of the convicted were tried in absentia. The disposition of their cases was not known at the end of the reporting period.
On April 26, an appeals court overturned the December 2009 conviction of terrorist facilitator Nasser Ali Snaitan al-Otaibi on charges of collecting funds to commit hostile acts against coalition forces in Afghanistan, and vacated a seven-year prison sentence. The Court of Appeals found that the prosecution had not sufficiently linked funds collected at al-Otaibi's mosque to financing terrorist activity in Afghanistan.
UNSCR 1267 designee Mubarak al-Bathali was detained and released twice during the year. According to press reports, Kuwait State Security detained al-Bathali after he called the Yemeni Ambassador to Kuwait, offering to mediate between the Government of Yemen and al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In an alleged recording of the phone call available on YouTube, al-Bathali threatened that AQAP’s efforts in Yemen would escalate unless Yemen "stopped following American orders." Al-Bathali was detained on September 13 because of a video he posted to YouTube on September 11, threatening to "cut the neck" of Shia Member of Parliament Hussain al-Qallaf in response to incendiary comments made by exiled Shia cleric Yasser al-Habib. Al-Bathali was released four days later after making a public apology.
Countering Terrorist Finance: The Kuwaiti government lacked comprehensive legislation that criminalizes terrorist financing. Draft comprehensive anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance (AML/CTF) legislation was first submitted to the National Assembly in December 2009. Kuwait's parliament rejected the combined bill in November 2010, sending it back to the Council of Ministers with a request to separate terrorist finance from the AML law. By separating terrorist financing from money laundering, Kuwait made measured progress over the past year on its draft AML legislation, which remained under consideration by the Parliament. Despite the lack of adequate legislation, authorities have continued efforts to combat financial crimes, including holding an annual AML/CTF conference to educate government and private sector officials on the issues.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MoSAL) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) continued their monitoring and supervision of charities, including enforcing the ban on cash donations except during Ramadan, implementing an enhanced receipt system for Ramadan cash donations, and coordinating closely with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to monitor and prosecute fraudulent charitable operators. MoSAL reported a continued decline in the number of violations during its 2010 Ramadan audit and an increase in donations, despite more stringent collection regulations. MoSAL added an electronic bank debit option in 2010, allowing charitable funds to move through formal financial channels that can be more easily tracked. MFA and MoSAL officials also worked closely with recipient foreign governments, conducting foreign site visits and audits of selected foreign projects funded by Kuwaiti charities.
Kuwait is a member of MENAFATF, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In late 2010, Kuwait had its on-site visit as part of its mutual evaluation. The report of the evaluation will be discussed in 2011. Kuwait is also a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is a member of the Financial Action Task Force.
Regional and International Cooperation: As in previous years, the Kuwaiti Armed Forces, National Guard, and Ministry of Interior conducted a number of exercises aimed at responding to terrorist attacks, including joint exercises with regional and international partners.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Government officials routinely made statements denouncing violent extremism. In his opening remarks to the 31st Gulf Cooperation Council Summit on December 4, the Amir strongly condemned terrorist acts, expressing support for regional and international efforts in the fight against terrorism in all its forms. Kuwaiti television stations ran advertisements discouraging youth from engaging in terrorist activity, emphasizing the negative effects that extremism has on the families and social groups of radicalized youth.
The al-Salam Center, opened by the Government of Kuwait in 2009 – is a treatment facility modeled after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's rehabilitation center – to rehabilitate religious extremists, including Kuwaitis repatriated from Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. The facility is located in a secured area within Kuwait's Central Prison and is governed by a board of government officials, medical experts, and a religious scholar.
Overview: The Lebanese government, despite continuous political crisis and the looming threat of armed civil conflict, continued to build its counterterrorism capacity and to cooperate in supporting U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Over the course of the year, Lebanese authorities increased efforts to disrupt suspected terrorist cells before they could act, arrested numerous suspected al-Qa’ida-affiliated militants and Palestinian violent extremists, and uncovered several weapons caches. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), in particular, were credited with capturing wanted terrorist fugitives and containing sectarian violence.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, despite threats from the Hizballah-led opposition, remained steadfast in his support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). The STL was established in May 2007 by UNSCR 1757 to investigate the February 14, 2005, assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others, and it began its work in March 2009. After press reports indicated that the Tribunal planned to indict Hizballah members in the Hariri assassination, Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah vehemently denied Hizballah's involvement in the assassinations and vowed to "cut off" any hand that attempted to reach any of the militia's members, and Hizballah officials repeatedly threatened violence should any of the group's members be indicted by the Tribunal. The LAF, concerned about a sectarian conflict, deployed forces in Beirut and other key areas, and LAF commanders publicly voiced their intent to prevent any group from fomenting civil strife.
Several terrorist organizations remained active in Lebanon. Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, Asbat al-Ansar, Fatah al-Islam, Jund al-Sham, the Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions, and several other splinter groups all operated within Lebanon's borders. Al-Qa’ida (AQ)-affiliated extremists and Palestinian extremists operated primarily out of Lebanon's 12 Palestinian refugee camps. The LAF does not have a day-to-day presence in the camps but it occasionally conducted operations in the camps to combat terrorist threats. Hizballah, with deep roots among Lebanon's Shia community, remained the most prominent and influential terrorist group in Lebanon. The Lebanese government views Hizballah, a U.S. Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, as a legitimate "resistance" group opposing Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory and as a political party that was represented by elected deputies in Lebanon's parliament and has two ministers in the cabinet.
Security along the Syria-Lebanon border remained problematic. In 2010, the Government of Lebanon did not exercise control over parts of the border. Over the course of the year, conflicting reports surfaced of weapons smuggling from Syria and Iran to Hizballah and other militant groups in Lebanon.
Security along the Syria-Lebanon border remained problematic. In 2010, the Government of Lebanon did not exercise control over parts of the border. Over the course of the year, conflicting reports surfaced of weapons smuggling from Syria and Iran to Hizballah and other militant groups in Lebanon. Reports from UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the LAF claimed there was no conclusive evidence of arms smuggling to Hizballah in the UNIFIL area of operations south of the Litani River.
On February 15, fighting involved rocket propelled grenades and automatic gunfire broke out in the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp between Fatah and Asbat al-Ansar members, resulting in four deaths and numerous wounded. On June 19, a Spanish UNIFIL patrol discovered 300 kilograms of explosives buried in the ground on the road leading to al-Wazani and Abbasieh villages. On October 26, the LAF Intelligence Bureau discovered a large weapons cache and bomb making materials hidden in a drain near Majdal Anjar.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Lebanon participated in the Megaports and Container Security initiatives, becoming the first Arab nation to complete the Megaports installation and pass acceptance testing. The Megaports program was officially transferred to the Lebanese government in November.
In 2010, significant law enforcement actions against terrorists and terrorist groups included:
As described in the 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism, Lebanese authorities maintained that the amnesty for Lebanese individuals involved in acts of violence during the 1975-90 civil wars prevented the government from prosecuting terrorist cases of concern to the United States.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Lebanon is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF). Lebanon’s financial intelligence unit is the Special Investigation Commission (SIC), an independent legal entity empowered to investigate suspicious financial transactions, lift banking secrecy, and freeze assets. The SIC is a member of the Egmont Group. From January to November 2010, it investigated 179 cases involving allegations of money laundering, terrorism, and terrorist financing activities. The SIC referred requests for designation or asset freezes regarding Hizballah and affiliated groups to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the Lebanese government did not require banks to freeze these assets because it does not consider Hizballah a terrorist organization. In October, the SIC in collaboration with the IMF and World Bank, hosted a MENAFATF assessor training workshop, providing training to MENAFATF experts to conduct mutual evaluations.
Overview: The Libyan government continued to demonstrate a strong and active commitment to combating terrorist organizations and violent extremism through bilateral and regional counterterrorism and security cooperation, particularly on the issue of foreign fighter flow to Iraq. Domestically, the Government of Libya has continued implementation of a counter-radicalization program focused on rehabilitating former Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) leaders and members, as well as other Libyans formerly involved with extremist organizations. Regionally, Libya remained a counterterrorism ally and worked with neighboring countries to counter and respond to terrorist threats stemming from al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other extremist groups.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Libya maintained long-standing legislation that was used to counter terrorism and terrorist financing. During recent prisoner releases, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, the son of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, indicated that some individuals involved in domestic political opposition movements had been wrongly imprisoned on charges of terrorism. New legislation on immigration, ratified during the first half of 2010, contained articles designed to counter the spread of terrorism into Libya.
In 2010, Libya took steps to improve its capacity to monitor its borders and coastlines in an effort to strengthen domestic counterterrorism and security capabilities. The Government of Libya has requested additional support for training of and technical assistance to border guards and security personnel. The government’s security ministries and agencies also cooperated with European partners to better train and equip domestic security forces. The government maintained strict port security measures and requested assistance from European nations to expand technical capacity to monitor its 2,000 km desert border.
The Libyan government enforced strict security measures and controls over tourist activity within the country, due to concerns that foreign tourists represented attractive targets for terrorists.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Libya maintained legislation to counter terrorist financing and money laundering. The Libyan Central Bank’s Financial Crimes Unit led Libya’s efforts to fight terrorist finance and money laundering but lacked the capacity to operate effectively. Libya’s largely cash-based economy further complicated regulation and monitoring of domestic financial activity.
Regional and International Cooperation: In September, the heads of state from Libya, Algeria, Mauritania, and Mali met in the coastal city of Sirte to discuss coordination efforts to identify and combat security threats linked to AQIM in the Sahel-Sahara region. Regional governments have publicly confirmed coordination between Libya, Algeria, and Mali on military and intelligence efforts to fight threats from AQIM.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: In coordination with the Qadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation (QDF), the Libyan government worked to combat domestic terrorist threats through a counter-radicalization program among former members of the LIFG and other terrorist organizations. The goal of the rehabilitation efforts was through dialogue on and exposure to moderate interpretations of Islam, to encourage Libyans formerly involved in terrorist activity to renounce violence and reintegrate into Libyan society.
At a March 24 press conference, QDF chairman and son of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, Saif al-Islam, announced the release of 214 prisoners as part of the counter-radicalization program. The released prisoners included the three top LIFG figures, 31 other LIFG members, 100 former members of "radical groups involved in Iraq," as well as 80 individuals charged as associates of “jihadist cells" but whom the Libyan courts had determined were actually prisoners of conscience. Another 37 former LIFG members were released in September as part of the same program. During the press conference, Saif al-Islam claimed that the individuals no longer constituted a threat to Libyan society and would be reintegrated into their communities. The Libyan government and QDF oversee the reintegration process, which includes job training and counseling.
The Libyan government, working with the government-sponsored World Islamic Call Society, QDF, and the government-affiliated Waatesimu Charity Organization, sponsored visits to Libya throughout the last year by a number of moderate Egyptian and Saudi Islamic scholars. The visits were designed to reach out primarily to populations of the country that have historically been politically disenfranchised, as well as to those in detention on terrorism-related charges. The World Islamic Call Society issued guidance to imams throughout Libya that included direction to avoid extremism in sermons.
Overview: Morocco’s counterterrorism efforts were comprehensive in 2010. The Moroccan government emphasized vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation, and counter-radicalization policies. Indications from Moroccan authorities’ disruption of certain groups, and the common characteristics of those groups, continued to support previous analysis that Morocco’s threat of terrorist attack stemmed largely from the existence of numerous small "grassroots" extremist cells. These groups, referred to collectively as adherents of Moroccan Salafia Jihadia ideology, remained isolated from one another, small in size, and tactically limited. Their international connections were also limited. The Government of Morocco’s counterterrorism efforts have effectively reduced the threat, but the existence of these relatively small groups pointed to the need for continued vigilance.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: Reports of Moroccans either preparing to go or going to terrorist fronts in Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan to receive training from al-Qa’ida (AQ) linked facilitators and/or to conduct attacks suggest Morocco remained a source for foreign fighter pipelines. With regard to al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The group remained unable to mount a successful terrorist attack in Morocco. Nonetheless, Moroccan authorities remained concerned about the ideological inspiration and knowledge transfer that AQIM may have provided to Moroccan extremists. AQIM repeatedly tried to incite Moroccans to commit violence against their government through website propaganda. The government remained concerned about numbers of veteran Moroccan violent extremists returning from Iraq to conduct terrorist attacks at home. A further cause of concern was Moroccans who were radicalized during their stays in Western Europe, such as those connected with the 2004 Madrid train bombings.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: At a tactical law enforcement level, the Moroccan Directorate General for National Security created a new police special weapons and tactics unit in cooperation with the French government. The new team is based at the Royal Police Academy in Kénitra, and, once operational, its primary responsibilities will be to dismantle terrorist cells and carry out other high-risk urban interventions. With regard to legislation, the Government of Morocco generally accorded terrorist suspects and convicts their rights and due process of law, with more access for defense lawyers and more transparent court proceedings than in previous years.
Morocco’s counterterrorism efforts led to the following disruptions of alleged terrorist cells:
Countering Terrorist Finance: Morocco has a relatively effective system through its Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which became operational in late 2009, for disseminating U.S. government and UNSCR terrorist freeze lists to its financial sector and legal authorities. While Morocco is not a regional financial center, it is well integrated into the international financial system. Money laundering was a concern due to the illicit narcotics trade, vast informal sector, trafficking in persons, and large level of remittances from Moroccans living abroad.
The Government of Morocco estimated that Morocco’s informal sector accounts for 15 percent of GDP. The predominant use of cash, informal value transfer systems, and remittances from abroad help fuel Morocco’s informal sector. Morocco pursued aggressive anti-money laundering legislation and has taken steps to act against violators. Although the legislation targets previously unregulated cash transfers, the country’s vast informal sector created conditions for this practice to continue. As of early December, the Moroccan Parliament was debating a new anti-money laundering law that is similar to U.S. anti-money laundering legislation. In addition, Morocco signed an arrangement with the U.S. Department of Treasury to receive technical assistance in the form of a FIU advisor.
Regional and International Cooperation: Moroccan-U.S. cooperation was particularly strong. Moroccan authorities continued to disrupt plots to attack Moroccan, U.S., and other Western-affiliated targets, and aggressively investigated numerous individuals associated with international terrorist groups, often in collaboration with international partners. Morocco and the United States worked together extensively on counterterrorism efforts at the tactical level and made plans to begin joint counter-radicalization programs.
Morocco ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Morocco has forged solid cooperative relationships with European and African partners by sharing information, conducting joint operations, and participating in training maneuvers. Morocco participates in multilateral peacekeeping operations on the continent and in training exercises. These were important steps, yet the lack of consistent cooperation among countries in the region remained a potential weakness for terrorist groups such as AQIM to exploit. Specifically, while Morocco and Algeria are members of the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Partnership, the level of bilateral cooperation on counterterrorism between the two countries did not improve. Morocco was specifically excluded from the Algerian-led Combined Operational Committee (CEMOC), formed at Tamanrasset, Algeria. Algeria and Morocco’s political disagreement over the Western Sahara territory remained an impediment to deeper counterterrorism cooperation.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: In addition to traditional security measures, Morocco's King Mohammed VI has promoted significant efforts to reduce extremism and dissuade individuals from becoming radicalized. At Ramadan, for example, the King hosted a series of religious lectures, inviting Muslim speakers from around the world to promote moderate and peaceful religious interpretations. In the past decade, and specifically following the Casablanca (2003) and Madrid (2004) terrorist bombings, Morocco has increasingly focused on countering youth radicalization, upgrading places of worship, modernizing the teaching of Islam, and strengthening the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (MEIA). Begun in 2007 under the MEIA, the pioneering experiment of training and using women as spiritual guides continued. Morocco also formed a Council of Ulema for Europe to train and send Moroccan imams and women spiritual guides to counter extremist messages in Moroccan expatriate communities in Europe. In 2010, the MEIA turned its attention to the medium of television. On June 19, Morocco connected its 2,000 largest mosques to a new television network named “Assadisa,” whose goal is to broadcast a tolerant version of Islam as part of the Ministry’s drive to fight radicalism.
In 2010, the Moroccan government continued to implement internal reforms aimed at ameliorating the socio-economic factors that terrorists exploit. The National Initiative for Human Development, launched by the King in 2005, is a $1.2 billion program designed to generate employment, combat poverty, and improve infrastructure, with a special focus on rural areas.
With regard to Morocco’s efforts to counter youth radicalization, Morocco has accelerated its rollout of education and employment options for youth, and expansion of legal rights and political empowerment for women. The United States worked closely with the Government of Morocco and key Moroccan civil society organizations to support this initiative through innovative assistance programs including a new USAID/INL program to work with youth in prison, recently released from prison, and marginalized youth at-risk of going to prison. The program also included a significant juvenile justice reform component.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist attacks within Oman’s land borders in 2010. On July 28, the Japanese tanker M Star was damaged in a terrorist attack by a water borne improvised explosive device (WBIED) while transiting the Strait of Hormuz. All major, navigable shipping lanes in the Strait were in Oman’s territorial waters. The Abdullah Azzam Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack, which resulted in no injuries and minor damage to the ship.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Oman took significant steps during the year to improve border security, as demonstrated by a number of training and border security workshops that were conducted in Oman.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Oman is not a regional or offshore financial center and did not have significant money laundering or terrorist financing concerns. The Omani government is generally transparent regarding its anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing enforcement efforts. As a charter member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), Oman participated in mutual Financial Action Task Force (FATF) evaluations, and enacted anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing (AML/CTF) legislation largely based on recommendations following a FATF evaluation. Oman’s first FATF mutual evaluation was completed in summer 2010. The report had not been released at year’s end. Oman is steadily improving its legal system related to AML/CTF. Notable progress was made in 2010, including an overhaul of its AML/CTF legislation. In July, Oman issued Royal Decree number 79/2010, which enacted new comprehensive AML/CTF legislation. This act consolidated Oman’s previous AML/CTF laws, created a national committee for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, and codified Oman’s “safe harbor”, which provides protection to those who provide otherwise confidential banking data to authorities in pursuit of authorized investigations, and mutual legal assistance regulations.
Overview: The United States continued to seek improved counterterrorism cooperation and information sharing with the Qatari government. Cooperation with U.S. authorities on counterterrorist finance continued to develop and in April, Qatar passed strong anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance (AML/CTF) legislation. Still, Qatari efforts to counter terrorist financing outside its borders by private individuals and charitable associations often fell short of recognized international standards. Qatar's leaders maintained political relations with top-ranking Hamas and Hizballah leaders.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Through a stringent visa and sponsorship regime, Qatar regularly refused entry to and deported foreign residents suspected of extremist sympathies, and monitored extremism in its citizen population. Qatari authorities have indicated that they will increase biometric features on resident ID cards in the near future.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Qatar is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) and undertook comprehensive MENAFATF assessments of its banking/financial sector and regulatory and enforcement framework in 2010. New AML/CTF legislation purported to meet international legal norms, but no prosecutions for terrorist financing occurred under the new law. Qatar made significant progress on building a financial regulatory framework but did not adequately enforce its laws and international standards to track funds transfers to individuals and organizations (including charities) associated with extremists and terrorist facilitators outside Qatar. Qatar has an increasingly capable Financial Information Unit (FIU) in its Central Bank. Local banks worked with the Central Bank and the FIU on CTF and AML issues.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Government authorities were recognized as regional leaders in improving educational standards and curricula, which included civic instruction that criticized violent extremist views. Qatar hosted well-regarded international fora on interreligious dialogue.
Overview: The Saudi government continued to build its counterterrorism capacity and its efforts to counter extremist ideology. Over the course of the year, Saudi authorities arrested numerous suspected al-Qa'ida (AQ) associates, uncovered several AQ arms caches, continued to develop a new facilities security force, implemented improved border security measures, and tightened laws to counter terrorist financing. In addition, prominent officials and religious leaders made public comments criticizing extremist ideology. Although Saudi Arabia's capacity to deal with internal threats remained strong, instability in Yemen provided an opportunity for al-Qa'ida in the Arabia Peninsula (AQAP) to recruit members, solicit funds, and plan attacks on Saudi Arabia.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Saudi Arabia cooperated to prevent acts of terrorism against the U.S. homeland, citizens, and interests. On October 29, international authorities intercepted two mail bombs destined for the United States based on timely information from Saudi authorities.
Saudi Arabia continued to improve border security measures, including installing biometric scanners at entry points throughout the Kingdom. U.S. government officials worked with Saudi officials on a number of border security issues, including the Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record program and compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. In April, 12 officials from the Ministry of Interior participated in a customs and border patrol exchange in the United States, and Saudi officials continued to request opportunities to learn about U.S. law enforcement "best practices."
Saudi authorities offer one million Saudi riyals (approximately US$ 270,000) to anyone who supplied information that led to the arrest of a terrorist, and five million riyals (approximately US$ 1.4 million) to anyone who supplied information about a terrorist cell. The reward for anyone supplying information to foil a terrorist attack is seven million riyals (approximately US$ 1.9 million).
On March 24, Saudi officials announced the arrest of more than 100 AQ suspects since November 2009. Those arrested were accused of planning attacks against government and oil installations across the Kingdom. They included 47 Saudis, 51 Yemenis, one Somali, one Bangladeshi, and one Eritrean. One of the arrestees, a woman named Haylah Al Qassir, allegedly helped AQ recruit young women and youths, hide fugitives, and plan and finance operations. During the arrests, police seized weapons, ammunition, video recording devices, computers, communication devices, money, and documents. In this operation, security officers also uncovered two six-member suicide bombing cells linked to AQAP. Officers arrested all 12 members as they were in the early stages of planning attacks against oil and security facilities in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia.
On November 26, Saudi officials announced that 149 AQ suspects had been arrested since April. These suspects had been part of 19 cells across Saudi Arabia and included 124 Saudis. The suspects allegedly planned to poison Saudi officials and journalists with gifts of perfume; to finance operations by robbing banks and companies; and to build explosive devices from mobile phones. They were also accused of sheltering suicide bombers who illegally entered the country from Yemen to attack civilian and military facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Countering Terrorism Finance: Saudi Arabia is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Saudi Arabia is also a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which itself is a member of the FATF, and its Financial Intelligence Unit is a member of the Egmont Group.
On May 6, Saudi Arabia's Council of Senior Scholars, the country's highest religious body, published, and King Abdullah endorsed, a fatwa criminalizing terrorist acts and the financing, aiding, or abetting of terrorists. The edict declared that these injunctions apply both within Muslim and non-Muslim countries, and it paved the way for comprehensive legislation and implementing regulations for the Saudi Arabian government to prosecute terrorist financing cases.
Saudi Arabia actively participated in the UNSCR 1267 Committee process, proposing individuals for listing and imposing the required asset freeze and travel ban on those listed. The June 2010 Mutual Evaluation Report of Saudi Arabia, conducted as a joint exercise between the FATF and MENAFATF, identified areas of progress and suggested areas for further improvement. According to its mutual evaluation report, Saudi Arabia has not implemented UNSCR 1373.
The Kingdom, due to a large number of transient workers, appeared to be the world's second largest market for remittances. Due to strict rules for banking and remittances in the Kingdom, a considerable part of the remittance sector may be underground. While there is no public data available on illegal remittances in 2010, these underground networks likely still exist.
Regional and International Cooperation: Since 2008, Saudi Arabia has been a member of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Saudi Arabia has security-related bilateral agreements including counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, India, Iran, Turkey, Senegal, Pakistan, Tunisia, Oman, Morocco, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, and Sudan. Saudi government officials also issued statements encouraging enhanced cooperation among Arab League states on counterterrorism issues.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Countering extremist ideology by ensuring what it calls “ideological security” was a key part of the Saudi government’s counterterrorism strategy. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs continued its extensive media campaign to educate young Saudis on the "correct" teachings of Islam to prevent their being drawn to extremist doctrines. The campaign included messages incorporated into Friday sermons at mosques, distribution of literature and tapes, and article postings on the Internet. In 2007, Saudi Arabia issued identification cards to imams and religious leaders to curb instances of unauthorized persons delivering Friday sermons. In 2010, the government continued to monitor these licensed imams and counseled them when necessary. According to the Ministry, they have not dismissed any imams for espousing extremist views since 2008.
As part of coordinated efforts to ensure ideological security, the ministries of Civil Service, Education, and the Interior moved over 2,000 teachers to administrative positions over the past two years for promoting extremist ideology. Over the summer, the Ministry of Education trained school principals and supervisors to report teachers who believed in extremist ideas or lack allegiance to the homeland. Although some overtly intolerant statements were removed or modified, educational textbooks continued to contain such statements against non-Muslim religious groups.
In September, King Abdulaziz University hosted a two-day seminar targeting youth on "The Saudi Moderate Approach." The seminar aimed to instill a culture of tolerance, reduce extremism, and develop patriotism.
The governmental Mohammed Bin Naif Center for Counseling and Care program continued to operate at least nine centers to rehabilitate those with extremist ideologies. These centers employed more than 100 scholars and academics specializing in Islam and Sharia law, and more than 30 psychiatrists and social researchers. Since its inception in 2006, the program has enabled over 300 former extremists, including former Guantanamo detainees, to be re-integrated into Saudi society. The Ministry of Interior estimates recidivism rates for former Guantanamo detainees to be 20 percent and for all other program participants to be less than 10 percent.
In addition to rehabilitation, the Ministry of Interior continued a program of counter-radicalization within the prison system. The Ministry worked with specialists, clerics, and teachers to stop violent extremist groups from recruiting prisoners. Since its inception in 2004, 3,200 prisoners have participated in 5,000 counter-radicalization meetings.
Overview: The Government of Tunisia placed a high priority on countering terrorism, using tight border and internal security controls to deter the formation of terrorist groups and block any potential for terrorist actions; social programs to reduce the impact of high unemployment and help prevent radicalization; and prosecution to punish potential terrorists. Domestically, the Tunisian government had a strong internal security apparatus through which it provided a tight security net across the country including check points, and unannounced identity document checks. It provided extensive security for those events or persons that could potentially attract terrorist attention, such as the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the island of Djerba, soccer games, and public demonstrations.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Tunisian government prosecuted at least 40 separate terrorism-related cases in 2010, many including multiple defendants. Of those cases, two involved people accused of joining a terrorist group outside the country, one case included charges of providing weapons, two cases involved receiving training for terrorist purposes, and several cases included charges of recruiting. The majority of charges, however, related to collecting money without authorization, joining a terrorist group, setting up an illegal group, holding unauthorized meetings, neglecting to inform the authorities of terrorist acts, and/or downloading prohibited material.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Tunisia is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF). The head of Tunisia's Financial Intelligence Unit served as MENAFATF’s President in 2010. The Tunisian government has complied with UNSCRs 1267 and 1373 in many respects, generally concerning the implementation of effective financial controls in Tunisia. There were at least four court cases in 2010 where individuals were charged with collecting or donating money with intent to support terrorist goals.
Regional and International Cooperation: The principal focus of Tunisian government counterterrorism efforts was to secure its territory. Thus, it worked with its neighbors Libya, Algeria, France, and Italy to seek information on migration and smuggling issues and to improve its border security. In December, the Tunisian government signed a new security agreement with Mauritania. Tunisia is a Mediterranean Partner for Cooperation in the OSCE. The Tunisian government participated in the October OSCE Mediterranean Conference on European Security, and in the December OSCE Summit in Kazakhstan. In his presentation at the OSCE Summit, Secretary of State for Maghreb, Arab, and African Affairs Harguem emphasized Tunisia's commitment to countering terrorism, expressed concern that unilateral security measures have reached the limits of their effectiveness, and called for greater international mobilization to create a global response to the phenomena of marginalization, exclusion, and poverty that encourage violent extremism. Tunisia is also host to the Arab League's Arab Interior Ministers' Council, which meets annually. In the December meeting, the ministers focused on combating terrorist use of the Internet. Tunisia acceded to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, as well as the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Tunisian government continued to maintain tight control over the religious establishment, appointing imams, dictating Friday sermons, closing mosques between prayer times, refurbishing mosques in need of repair, and keeping watch at the local level over who attends services. The Tunisian government promoted a moderate form of Islam through the educational system and the media.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Overview: The United Arab Emirates government continued to build its counterterrorism capacity and worked to strengthen international cooperation to counter terrorism. In 2010, the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) improved border security measures and renewed counterterrorist financing efforts. In addition, prominent officials and religious leaders continued to publicly criticize extremist ideology.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: On October 29, UAE authorities foiled a terrorist plot when authorities in Dubai discovered an explosive device in a package transiting from Yemen to the United States via aircraft. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the plot.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The UAE participated in the Megaports and Container Security Initiatives (CSI). Under the CSI, which became operational at Port Rashid and Jebel Ali Port in the Emirate of Dubai in 2005, three U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers co-located with the Dubai Customs Intelligence Unit at Port Rashid. In 2010, the UAE Ministry of Interior and the Abu Dhabi Customs Authority signed memoranda of cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These agreements facilitated ICE assistance to provide technical support and instruction in the establishment of two separate training academies to further build Emirati Customs and Police capacity. On May 10, Abu Dhabi Customs signed a memorandum of understanding with ICE to exchange investigation-related information obtained at ports of entry, which was the first U.S. Law Enforcement information-sharing agreement with the UAE.
Countering Terrorist Finance: The UAE continued efforts to strengthen its institutional capabilities to counter terrorist financing, but challenges remained. The Central Bank signed a memoranda of understanding (MOU) with regional financial intelligence units, building on cooperation initiated in 2008, and performed anti-money laundering training both locally and regionally. On October 25, the UAE’s Financial Intelligence Unit, the Central Bank's Anti-money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit, signed an MOU with the Federal Customs Authority to facilitate information sharing in an effort to improve the UAE's anti-money laundering apparatus.
The UAE is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a FATF-style regional body, and its most recent mutual evaluation was adopted by the plenary in 2008. It is also a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council and through this body, the UAE is also a member of the FATF. The UAE hosted the February 2010 FATF plenary meeting. Although the UAE has taken important steps to address hawala remittances, further vigilance is required.
The UAE Central Bank has provided training programs to financial institutions on money laundering and terrorist financing. Continuing initiatives from previous years, the United States and the UAE worked together throughout the year to strengthen efforts to combat Bulk Cash Smuggling (BCS), in particular from countries at higher risk of illicit finance activity. The UAE is an enthusiastic proponent of BCS training and has encouraged MENAFATF members to undertake the training.
Regional and International Cooperation: After the Japanese oil tanker M Star was damaged in the Strait of Hormuz in July, UAE authorities allowed U.S. Navy divers to do a forensic inspection of the ship while docked at the port of Fujairah.
The UAE hosted a plenary meeting for the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism on June 22, which was attended by representatives from 47 countries.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: In order to prevent extremist preaching in UAE mosques, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments provided prescribed guidelines for all Friday sermons and monitored compliance. The UAE worked to keep its education system free of radical influences and emphasized social tolerance and moderation.
Overview: In 2010, resource limitations and unstable security conditions in several parts of the country impeded the Yemeni government's ability to eliminate potential safe havens in Yemen. In addition, counterterrorism efforts were impeded by a lack of legislation. Yemen’s vulnerability along it long and weakly protected borders has allowed al-Qa’ida associates to find safe haven in Yemen. Nonetheless, the Government of Yemen continued to build its counterterrorism capacity and deployed its security forces against terrorist threats. The Yemeni government security forces killed or captured numerous suspected al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants, and received assistance in the form of equipment and training from the United States. The Yemeni government's response to the terrorist threat included large-scale kinetic operations against suspected AQAP members in the south. In turn, AQAP attacks against foreign interests, Yemeni government targets, and the Shia Houthi movement in the north increased dramatically in 2010.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: AQAP carried out attacks throughout Yemen, using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), ambushes, and car bombs against government, civilian, and foreign targets, particularly in the South but also within the capital city of Sana'a. Attacks included:
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Counterterrorism legislation sent to a Parliamentary committee for review in 2008 was not enacted by the end of 2010. For this reason, the Yemeni government must apply other means, including fraudulent document or "membership in an armed gang" laws against foreign fighters intending to go to Afghanistan or elsewhere. Those involved in acts resulting in injury, death, or property destruction may be prosecuted under existing laws. However, terrorism was not defined as a crime per se. As of the end of the year, legal, political, and logistical hurdles hindered an effective detention and rehabilitation program for Guantanamo returnees. The government lacked a legal framework to hold Guantanamo detainees for more than a short period of time. Yemen participated in the Megaports and Container Security Initiatives.
Countering Terrorism Finance: On December 29, 2009, Yemen's Parliament passed long-stalled counterterrorist finance and anti-money laundering legislation, which was signed into law on January 17, 2010, as Law No. 1 of 2010. It provided the government with powers to investigate and prosecute terrorist financial networks operating inside the country. The Financial Action Task Force’s International Cooperation Review Group, determined that the law was an improvement but did not yet meet international standards and was not yet effectively implemented. Yemen is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF). There was no information on whether Yemeni authorities have frozen, seized, or demanded forfeiture of other assets related to terrorist financing.
Regional and International Cooperation: The Friends of Yemen process began in 2010 as a forum for two dozen countries, including Yemen, to coordinate a strategic plan of assistance and reform for Yemen. Members have used the forum to advance initiatives such as those related to border security and detainee rehabilitation. Yemen acceded to the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Official and quasi-official media featured messages from President Saleh and other high-level officials and opinion leaders denigrating violent extremism and AQAP. However, Yemeni government messaging did not distinguish between terrorist groups and groups with political opposition to the Yemeni government, and often identified the Southern Movement and the Houthi organizations as "violent extremist" organizations.