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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Chapter 3: State Sponsors of Terrorism


Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Report
August 18, 2011

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In order to designate a country as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the Secretary of State must determine that the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. Once a country has been designated, it continues to be a State Sponsor of Terrorism until the designation is rescinded in accordance with statutory criteria. A wide range of sanctions are imposed as a result of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, including:

1. A ban on arms-related exports and sales.
2. Controls over exports of dual-use items, requiring 30-day Congressional notification for goods or services that could significantly enhance the terrorist-list country’s military capability or ability to support terrorism.
3. Prohibitions on economic assistance.
4. Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

More information on State Sponsor of Terrorism designations may be found online at http://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/c14151.htm.

 

CUBA

Overview: Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982, the Government of Cuba maintained a public stance against terrorism and terrorist financing in 2010, but there was no evidence that it had severed ties with elements from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and recent media reports indicate some current and former members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) continue to reside in Cuba. Available information suggested that the Cuban government maintained limited contact with FARC members, but there was no evidence of direct financial or ongoing material support. In March, the Cuban government allowed Spanish Police to travel to Cuba to confirm the presence of suspected ETA members.

Cuba continued to denounce U.S. counterterrorism efforts throughout the world, portraying them as a pretext to extend U.S. influence and power.

Cuba has been used as a transit point by third-country nationals looking to enter illegally into the United State. The Government of Cuba is aware of the border integrity and transnational security concerns posed by such transit and investigated third country migrant smuggling and related criminal activities. In November, the government allowed representatives of the Transportation Security Administration to conduct a series of airport security visits throughout the island.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: Cuba did not pass new counterterrorism legislation in 2010. The Cuban government continued to aggressively pursue persons suspected of terrorist acts in Cuba. In July, Venezuela extradited Salvadoran national Francisco Antonio Chavez Abarca to Cuba for his alleged role in a number of hotel and tourist location bombings in the mid to late 1990s. In December, a Cuban court convicted Chavez Abarca on terrorism charges and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. Also in December, the Cuban Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of two Salvadorans, René Cruz León and Otto René Rodríguez Llerena, who had been convicted of terrorism, and sentenced them both to 30 years.

Regional and International Cooperation: Cuba did not sponsor counterterrorism initiatives or participate in regional or global operations against terrorists in 2010.

IRAN

Overview: Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2010. Iran’s financial, material, and logistic support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the Gulf, and undermined the growth of democracy.

In 2010, Iran remained the principal supporter of groups implacably opposed to the Middle East Peace Process. The Qods Force, the external operations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad. Iran provided weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict, Iran has assisted Hizballah in rearming, in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Hizballah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of Hizballah fighters at camps in Iran.

Iran’s Qods Force provided training to the Taliban in Afghanistan on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire weapons, such as mortars, artillery, and rockets. Since at least 2006, Iran has arranged arms shipments to select Taliban members, including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives. Iran has shipped a large number of weapons to Kandahar, Afghanistan aiming to increase its influence in the country.

Despite its pledge to support the stabilization of Iraq, Iranian authorities continued to provide lethal support, including weapons, training, funding, and guidance, to Iraqi Shia militant groups that target U.S. and Iraqi forces. The Qods Force continued to supply Iraqi militants with Iranian-produced advanced rockets, sniper rifles, automatic weapons, and mortars that have killed Iraqi and Coalition Forces, as well as civilians. Iran was responsible for the increased lethality of some attacks on U.S. forces by providing militants with the capability to assemble explosives designed to defeat armored vehicles. The Qods Force, in concert with Lebanese Hizballah, provided training outside of Iraq as well as advisors inside Iraq for Shia militants in the construction and use of sophisticated improvised explosive device technology and other advanced weaponry.

2010 Terrorist Incidents: Jundallah, a terrorist organization that operated primarily in the province of Sistan va Balochistan of Iran, has engaged in numerous terrorist attacks within Iran. Jundallah’s primary target is the Iranian regime; however, it has also attacked many civilians. Since its inception in 2003, these attacks have resulted in the death and maiming of scores of Iranian civilians and government officials. Jundallah has used a variety of terrorist tactics, including suicide bombings, ambushes, kidnappings, and targeted assassinations. Following the February 2010 capture and execution by Iranian authorities of Jundallah’s leader, Abdul Malik Rigi, the group selected a new leader, Mohammed Dhahir Baluch, and confirmed its commitment to continue its terrorist activities. In July, Jundallah attacked the Grand Mosque in Zahedan, killing approximately 30 and injuring hundreds. On December 15, Jundallah claimed credit for another attack in the Southeastern city of Chabahar, where two suicide bombs killed at least 39 and wounded more than 100 people. In November, the United States designated Jundallah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for more information on Jundallah.)

Legislation and Law Enforcement: In 2010, Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) members it continued to detain, and refused to publicly identify those senior members in its custody. Iran has repeatedly resisted numerous calls to transfer custody of its AQ detainees to their countries of origin or third countries for trial.

In June, Iranian authorities executed former Jundallah leader Abdul Malik Rigi. In December, Iranian authorities executed 11 members of Jundallah reportedly connected to the July mosque attack.

SUDAN

Overview: Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1993, Sudan remained a cooperative partner in global counterterrorism efforts against al-Qa’ida (AQ) in 2010. During the past year, the Government of Sudan worked actively to counter AQ operations that posed a potential threat to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan. Sudanese officials have indicated that they viewed continued cooperation with the United States as important and recognized the potential benefits of U.S. training and information-sharing.

2010 Terrorist Incidents: The Sudanese government has taken steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist groups within Sudan and has worked hard to disrupt foreign fighters’ use of Sudan as a logistics base and transit point for violent extremists going to Iraq. Nonetheless, elements of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including al-Qa’ida-inspired terrorists, remained in Sudan, as gaps remained in the Sudanese government’s knowledge of and ability to identify and capture these individuals as well as prevent them from exploiting the territory for smuggling activities. Some evidence suggested that individuals who actively participated in the Iraqi insurgency have returned to Sudan, and may be in a position to use their expertise to conduct attacks within Sudan or to pass on their knowledge. Sudanese officials continued to view Hamas members as representatives of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas members conducted fundraising in Sudan, and Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) maintained a presence in Sudan.

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continued to operate in the region, though there was no reliable information that corroborated allegations that the Government of Sudan provided support to the LRA. Operating in small cells, the LRA carried out attacks in areas where the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, and Southern Sudan intersect. The UN estimated that in 2010, LRA attacks displaced 25,000 southern Sudanese. In October, the African Union (AU) announced that Uganda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic will form an AU-backed joint brigade to pursue the LRA.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: On June 11, four Sudanese men sentenced to death for the January 1, 2008, killing of two U.S. Embassy staff members escaped from Khartoum's maximum security Kober prison. One police officer was reportedly killed and another was injured in an exchange of fire at a checkpoint following the breakout. Police subsequently intercepted the get-away car and arrested the driver, but the four fugitives escaped on foot. On June 22, Sudanese authorities confirmed that one of the four convicts was recaptured. The whereabouts of the other three convicts remained unknown at year’s end. The Sudanese government cooperated with the United States in efforts to bring the four to justice.

Countering Terrorist Finance: The Central Bank of Sudan and its financial intelligence unit circulated to financial institutions a list of individuals and entities that have been included on the UN 1267 al-Qa’ida and Taliban sanctions committee's Consolidated List. Through increasing cooperation with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Sudan took steps in 2010 to meet international standards in combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The most significant achievement was passage of the Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act of 2010, approved by the Council of Ministers in January 2010 and ratified by Parliament in June 2010. Sudan continued its cooperation with the U.S. government in investigating financial crimes related to terrorism.

Regional and International Cooperation: Sudanese officials regularly discussed counterterrorism issues with U.S. counterparts. Sudan was generally responsive to the international community’s concerns on terrorism and was generally supportive of international counterterrorism efforts.

SYRIA

Overview: Designated in 1979 as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, Syria in 2010 continued its political support to a variety of terrorist groups affecting the stability of the region and beyond. Syria provided political and weapons support to Hizballah in Lebanon and allowed Iran to resupply the terrorist organization with weapons. The external leadership of Hamas, the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), among others, were based in Damascus and operated within Syria's borders. Statements supporting terrorist groups like Hamas and Hizballah consistently permeated government speeches and press statements.

President Bashar al-Asad continued to express public support for Palestinian terrorist groups as elements of the resistance against Israel. Damascus historically has allowed exiled individuals safe haven in Syria and Hamas Politburo head Khalid Meshaal and his deputies continued to reside in Syria, while the Syrian government provided Meshaal security escorts for his motorcades. Though the Syrian government claimed periodically that it used its influence to restrain the rhetoric and activities of Palestinian groups, Meshaal freely traveled around Damascus and the Syrian government allowed Meshaal's use of the Syrian Ministry of Information as the venue for press conferences. Open source reports indicated that Hamas used Syrian soil as training grounds for its militant fighters.

Added to the terrorist operatives calling Damascus home, in 2010, Iraqi Baathists continued to congregate in the Syrian capital and some of them call for violence against the Iraqi government, Iraqi civilian targets, and American and coalition forces within Iraq. Al-Rai Television, a television station owned by Iraqi Baathist Mishaan al-Jaburi and broadcast from a suburban Damascus location, transmitted violent messages in support of terrorism in Iraq throughout the year.

2010 Terrorist Incidents: The Syrian government stressed its success in achieving security and stability within its borders, and terrorist attacks on Syrian soil remained rare. However, a string of incidents over the past several years have increased concerns that militant groups can strike Syrian targets and have caused the authorities to strengthen their efforts to prevent attacks. Especially following a September 27, 2009 bombing near a Syrian security installation that killed 17, the regime has attempted to portray Syria as a victim of terrorism rather than a purveyor of it. In July 2010, the Syrian security services conducted a series of raids that netted operatives of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), accused of plotting and implementing terrorist attacks in neighboring Turkey.

Regional and International Cooperation: Syria continued its strong partnership with fellow state sponsor of terrorism Iran in 2010. Throughout the year, the countries exchanged frequent high-level visitors. Iranian President Ahmedinejad visited Damascus in February and September and President Assad visited Tehran in October. The Iranian National Security Advisor, Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, and Intelligence Chief all visited Damascus within the last year. Syria also allowed leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian groups resident in Syria to visit Tehran. Asad continued to be a staunch defender of Iran's policies, including Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Syria exhibited a mixed record on Iraq. Syria increased border monitoring activities, instituted tighter screening practices on military-age Arab males entering its borders, and expressed a desire to increase security cooperation with Iraq. These activities likely contributed to a decrease in Iraq-bound foreign fighters. At the same time, however, Syria remained a key hub for foreign fighters en route to Iraq and a safe haven for Iraqi Baathists expressing support for terrorist attacks against Iraqi government interests and coalition forces.

Attacks against coalition and Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens continued to have a destabilizing effect on Iraq's internal security. While Syria and Iraq returned their ambassadors to Baghdad and Damascus, respectively, in the autumn of 2010, Syrian and Iraqi security cooperation has been largely inactive since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in August 2009 accused Baathists harbored by Syria of fomenting terrorism in Iraq.

Legislation/Law Enforcement: Syria has laws on the books pertaining to counterterrorism and terrorism financing/money laundering, but largely used these legal instruments against only those groups perceived as a threat to the regime or country. Opponents of the regime, including Islamist activists and Kurdish separatists, were frequently charged with violating counterterrorism statutes. Furthermore, these laws were not enforced against Hamas, Hizballah, or the various Palestinian rejectionist groups based in Damascus.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Syria remained a source of concern regarding terrorist financing. Industry experts reported that 60 percent of all business transitions were conducted in cash and that nearly 80 percent of all Syrians did not use formal banking services. Despite Syrian legislation that required money-changers to be licensed by the end of 2007, many money-changers in 2010 continued to operate illegally in Syria's vast black market, estimated to be as large as Syria's formal economy. Regional "hawala" networks remained intertwined with smuggling and trade-based money laundering, facilitated by notoriously corrupt customs and immigration officials, raising significant concerns that some members of the Syrian government and the business elite were complicit in terrorist financing schemes.



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