Definitions used in Country Reports on Terrorism 2013:
Section 2656f(d) of Title 22 of the United States Code defines certain key terms used in Section 2656f(a) as follows:
Contextual Reporting. Adverse mention in this report of individual members of any political, social, ethnic, religious, or national population is not meant to imply that all members of that population are terrorists. Indeed, terrorists rarely represent anything other than a tiny fraction of such larger populations. It is terrorist groups--and their actions--that are the focus of this report.
Furthermore, terrorist acts are part of a larger phenomenon of violence inspired by a cause, and at times the line between the two can become difficult to draw. This report includes some discretionary information in an effort to relate terrorist events to the larger context in which they occur, and to give a feel for the conflicts that spawn violence.
Thus, this report will discuss terrorist acts as well as other violent incidents that are not necessarily “international terrorism” and therefore are not subject to the statutory reporting requirement.
East Asia and Pacific Overview
The Middle East and North Africa Overview
South and Central Asia Overview
Western Hemisphere Overview
State Sponsors of Terrorism
Terrorist Safe Havens
Programs and Initiatives Designed to Counter Terrorist Safe Havens
Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Please note that the complete Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 can be found at: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/index.htm.
Al-Qa’ida (AQ) and its affiliates and adherents worldwide continue to present a serious threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests. While the international community has severely degraded AQ’s core leadership, the terrorist threat has evolved. Leadership losses in Pakistan, coupled with weak governance and instability in the Middle East and Northwest Africa, have accelerated the decentralization of the movement and led to the affiliates in the AQ network becoming more operationally autonomous from core AQ and increasingly focused on local and regional objectives. The past several years have seen the emergence of a more aggressive set of AQ affiliates and like-minded groups, most notably in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Northwest Africa, and Somalia.
AQ leadership experienced difficulty in maintaining cohesion within the AQ network and in communicating guidance to its affiliated groups. AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was rebuffed in his attempts to mediate a dispute among AQ affiliates operating in Syria – al-Nusrah Front and al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), now calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – which resulted in the expulsion of ISIL from the AQ network in February 2014. In addition, guidance issued by Zawahiri in 2013 for AQ affiliates to avoid collateral damage was routinely disobeyed, notably in attacks by AQ affiliates against civilian religious pilgrims in Iraq, hospital staff and convalescing patients in Yemen, and families at a shopping mall in Kenya.
Terrorist violence in 2013 was fueled by sectarian motivations, marking a worrisome trend, in particular in Syria, Lebanon, and Pakistan, where victims of violence were primarily among the civilian populations. Thousands of extremist fighters entered Syria during the year, among those a large percentage reportedly motivated by a sectarian view of the conflict and a desire to protect the Sunni Muslim community from the Alawite-dominant Asad regime. On the other side of the conflict, Iran, Hizballah, and other Shia militia continued to provide critical support to the Asad regime, dramatically bolstering its capabilities and exacerbating the situation. Many of these fighters are also motivated by a sectarian view of the conflict and a desire to protect the Shia Muslim community from Sunni extremists.
The relationship between the AQ core and its affiliates plays out in the financial arena as well. As was the case for the last few years, the affiliates have increased their financial independence through kidnapping for ransom operations and other criminal activities such as extortion and credit card fraud. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are particularly effective with kidnapping for ransom and are using ransom money to fund the range of their activities. Kidnapping targets are usually Western citizens from governments or third parties that have established a pattern of paying ransom for the release of individuals in custody.
Private donations from the Gulf also remained a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly for those operating in Syria.
In 2013, violent extremists increased their use of new media platforms and social media, with mixed results. Social media platforms allowed violent extremist groups to circulate messages more quickly, but confusion and contradictions among the various voices within the movement are growing more common. Increasingly, current and former violent extremists are engaging online with a variety of views on tactics and strategy, including admitting wrongdoing or recanting former beliefs and actions.
Key Terrorism Trends in 2013
--The terrorist threat continued to evolve rapidly in 2013, with an increasing number of groups around the world – including both AQ affiliates and other terrorist organizations – posing a threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests.
--As a result of both ongoing worldwide efforts against the organization and senior leadership losses, AQ core’s leadership has been degraded, limiting its ability to conduct attacks and direct its followers. Subsequently, 2013 saw the rise of increasingly aggressive and autonomous AQ affiliates and like-minded groups in the Middle East and Africa who took advantage of the weak governance and instability in the region to broaden and deepen their operations.
--AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri experienced difficulty in maintaining influence throughout the AQ organization and was rebuffed in his attempts to mediate a dispute among AQ affiliates operating in Syria, with ISIL publicly dissociating its group from AQ. Guidance issued by Zawahiri in 2013 for AQ affiliates to avoid collateral damage was routinely disobeyed, notably in increasingly violent attacks by these affiliates against civilian populations.
--Syria continued to be a major battleground for terrorism on both sides of the conflict and remains a key area of longer-term concern. Thousands of foreign fighters traveled to Syria to join the fight against the Asad regime – with some joining violent extremist groups – while Iran, Hizballah, and other Shia militias provided a broad range of critical support to the regime. The Syrian conflict also empowered ISIL to expand its cross-border operations in Syria, and dramatically increase attacks against Iraqi civilians and government targets in 2013.
--Terrorist violence in 2013 was increasingly fueled by sectarian motives, marking a worrisome trend, particularly in Syria, but also in Lebanon and Pakistan.
--Terrorist groups engaged in a range of criminal activity to raise needed funds, with kidnapping for ransom remaining the most frequent and profitable source of illicit financing. Private donations from the Gulf also remained a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly for those operating in Syria.
--“Lone offender” violent extremists also continued to pose a serious threat, as illustrated by the April 15, 2013, attacks near the Boston Marathon finish line, which killed three and injured approximately 264 others.
--Many other terrorist groups not tied to AQ were responsible for attacks in 2013, including the People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), which carried out a number of high-profile attacks last year, including a February 1 suicide plot targeting the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.
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While AQ core leadership in Pakistan is much diminished, Ayman al-Zawahiri remains the recognized ideological leader of a jihadist movement that includes AQ-affiliated and allied groups worldwide. Along with AQ, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and other like-minded groups continue to conduct operations against U.S., Coalition, Afghan, and Pakistani interests from safe havens on both sides of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, and in Pakistan, terrorist groups and AQ allies, such as TTP, have executed armed assaults not only on police stations, judicial centers, border posts, and military convoys, but also on polio vaccination teams and aid workers. Other South Asian terrorist organizations, including Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), cite U.S. interests as legitimate targets for attacks. LeT, the group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, continues to pose a threat to regional stability.
AQAP carried out approximately one hundred attacks throughout Yemen in 2013, including suicide bombings, car bombings, ambushes, kidnappings, and targeted assassinations, regaining the initiative it had lost through 2012 as a result of sustained Yemeni government counterterrorism efforts. Of the AQ affiliates, AQAP continues to pose the most significant threat to the United States and U.S. citizens and interests in Yemen. AQAP has demonstrated a persistent intent to strike the United States, beginning in December 2009 when it attempted to destroy an airliner bound for Detroit, and again the following year with a plot to destroy several U.S.-bound airplanes using bombs timed to detonate in the cargo holds. In 2013, AQAP’s leader, Nasir Wahishi, was designated by AQ leader Zawahiri as his deputy, and the group continued to maintain a focus on Western targets.
Some of the thousands of fighters from around the world who are traveling to Syria to do battle against the Asad regime – particularly from the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia, and Eastern and Western Europe – are joining violent extremist groups, including al-Nusrah Front and ISIL. A number of key partner governments are becoming increasingly concerned that individuals with violent extremist ties and battlefield experience will return to their home countries or elsewhere to commit terrorist acts. The scale of this problem has raised a concern about the creation of a new generation of globally-committed terrorists, similar to what resulted from the influx of violent extremists to Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The violence and disorder in Syria extended to the various violent extremist groups operating amongst the Syrian opposition. In late 2013 and early 2014, violent infighting occurred between al-Nusrah Front and ISIL, resulting in the February death of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s envoy to Syria Abu Khalid
al-Soury, who was a member of Ahrar al Sham. Despite this infighting, ISIL is the strongest it has been since its peak in 2006; it has exploited political grievance among Iraq’s Sunni population, a weak security environment in Iraq, and the conflict in Syria to significantly increase the pace and complexity of its attacks. ISIL continues to routinely and indiscriminately target defenseless innocents, including religious pilgrims, and engages in violent repression of local inhabitants.
In 2013, AQIM remained focused on local and regional attack planning, and concentrates its efforts largely on kidnapping-for-ransom operations. While a successful French and African intervention countered efforts to overrun northern Mali by AQIM and several associate groups, these factions continued to pursue attacks against regional security forces, local government targets, and westerners in northern Mali, Niger, and the broader Sahel region in 2013.
Originally part of AQIM, the al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB), also known as al-Murabitoun, became a separate organization in late 2012 after its leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, announced a split from AQIM. AMB claimed responsibility for the January 2013 attack against the Tiguentourine gas facility near In Amenas, in southeastern Algeria. Over 800 people were taken hostage during the four-day siege, which led to the deaths of 39 civilians, including three U.S. citizens. AMB was also involved in terrorist attacks committed in Niger in May 2013, targeting a Nigerien military base and a French uranium mine.
Groups calling themselves Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia and the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Darnah also operated in the North Africa space. The three share some aspects of AQ ideology, but are not formal affiliates and generally maintain a local focus. In Libya, the terrorist threat to Western and Libyan government interests remains strong, especially in the eastern part of the country. Libya’s porous borders, the weakness of Libya’s nascent security institutions, and large amounts of loose small arms create opportunities for violent extremists. In Tunisia, Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia attempted suicide attacks against two tourist sites in late October 2013 and killed a political oppositionist in July that same year, suggesting the group remains intent on attacking Western and Tunisian interests.
In East Africa, al-Shabaab continued to pose a significant regional threat despite coming under continued pressure by African forces operating under the African Union’s AMISOM command and steady progress in the establishment of Somali government capability. Perhaps because of these positive steps, al-Shabaab targeted its attacks on those participating in the effort to bring stability to Somalia. In September 2013, al-Shabaab struck outside of Somalia (its first external attack was in July 2010 in Kampala, Uganda), attacking the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The assault resulted in the death of at least 65 civilians, including foreign nationals from 13 countries outside of Kenya and six soldiers and police officers; hundreds more were injured. Al-Shabaab’s attacks within Somalia continued in 2013, and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people, including innocent women and children.
Boko Haram (BH) maintained a high operational tempo in 2013 and carried out kidnappings, killings, bombings, and attacks on civilian and military targets in northern Nigeria, resulting in numerous deaths, injuries, and destruction of property in 2013. The number and sophistication of BH’s attacks are concerning, and while the group focuses principally on local Nigerian issues and actors, there continue to be reports that it has financial and training links with other violent extremists in the Sahel region. Boko Haram, along with a splinter group commonly known as Ansaru, has also increasingly crossed Nigerian borders to neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger to evade pressure and conduct operations.
Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Hamas-controlled Gaza continued rocket and mortar attacks into Israeli territory. The number of rocket and mortar launchings on Israel from Gaza and the Sinai was the lowest in 2013 in more than a decade, with 74 launchings compared to 2,557 in 2012. According to Israeli authorities, 36 rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory in 2013, compared to 1,632 in 2012. Of the 74 launchings on southern Israel, 69 were launched from the Gaza and five from the Sinai Peninsula.
Sinai-based groups, such as Ansar-Beit al Maqdis, also continued to pose a serious threat, conducting attacks against both Israeli and Egyptian targets in 2013.
Since 2012, the United States has also seen a resurgence of activity by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and Tehran’s ally Hizballah. On January 23, 2013, the Yemeni Coast Guard interdicted an Iranian dhow carrying weapons and explosives likely destined for Houthi rebels. On February 5, 2013, the Bulgarian government publicly implicated Hizballah in the July 2012 Burgas bombing that killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian citizen, and injured 32 others. On March 21, 2013, a Cyprus court found a Hizballah operative guilty of charges stemming from his surveillance activities of Israeli tourist targets in 2012. On September 18, 2013, Thailand convicted Atris Hussein, a Hizballah operative detained by Thai authorities in January 2012. On December 30, 2013, the Bahraini Coast Guard interdicted a speedboat attempting to smuggle arms and Iranian explosives likely destined for armed Shia opposition groups in Bahrain. During an interrogation, the suspects admitted to receiving paramilitary training in Iran.
On June 22, 2013, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) declared it would treat Hizballah as a terrorist organization. On July 22, 2013, the EU designated the “military wing” of Hizballah as a terrorist organization, sending a strong message to Hizballah that it cannot operate with impunity. Both Hizballah and Iran issued public statements to denounce the EU, demonstrating the impact of the designation. The EU designation will constrain Hizballah’s ability to operate freely in Europe by enabling European law enforcement agencies to crack down on Hizballah’s fundraising, logistical activity, and terrorist plotting on European soil.
Iran remained one of the chief external supporters of the Asad regime in Syria and continued to help ensure the regime’s survival. The IRGC-QF, Hizballah, and Iraqi Shia terrorist groups have all increased the number of their personnel in Syria since the start of the conflict. Iran also continued to send arms to Syria, often through Iraqi airspace, in violation of the UN Security Council prohibition against Iran selling or transferring arms and related materials.
While terrorism by non-state actors related to AQ and state-sponsored terrorism originating in Iran remained the predominant concern of the United States, other forms of terrorism undermined peace and security around the world. In Turkey, the DHKP/C was responsible for a number of high-profile attacks in 2013, including exploding a suicide vest inside the employee entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara on February 1. Anarchists in Greece launched periodic attacks, targeting private businesses, foreign missions, and symbols of the state. In Colombia, there were still hundreds of terrorist incidents around the country. In Northern Ireland, dissident Republican groups continued their campaigns of violence. “Lone offender” violent extremists also remain a concern, as we saw on April 15, 2013, in the United States, when two violent extremists exploded two pressure cooker bombs near the Boston Marathon's finish line, killing three people and injuring an estimated 264 others.
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To meet the challenges described herein, our response to terrorism cannot depend on military or law enforcement alone. We are committed to a whole of government counterterrorism effort that focuses on countering violent extremism; building the capacity of partner nation security forces to address threats within their own borders and participate in regional counterterrorism operations; and strengthening relationships with U.S. partners around the world to make the rule of law a critical part of a broader, more comprehensive counterterrorism enterprise. See Chapter 5, Terrorist Safe Havens (7120 Report) in this report for further information on these initiatives, which also include designating foreign terrorist organizations and individuals, countering violent extremist narratives, strengthening efforts to counter the financing of terrorism, and furthering multilateral initiatives such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum.
The Africa region experienced significant levels of terrorist activity in 2013. In East Africa, the Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab remained the primary terrorist threat. Somali security forces and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) continued to make gains against al-Shabaab in 2013, but an inability to undertake consistent offensive operations against the group allowed al-Shabaab to develop and carry out asymmetric attacks, including outside of Somalia. Most notably, al-Shabaab launched an attack against the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya on September 21 that left at least 65 people dead. The attack, which targeted innocent civilians, was claimed by al-Shabaab as a response to the involvement of Kenyan armed forces units in Somalia, who in late 2012 expelled al-Shabaab from the port city of Kismayo, a major revenue source for al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab issued persistent threats to other countries contributing troops to AMISOM. Driven out of major urban areas, al-Shabaab has returned to a strategy focused on asymmetric attacks intended to discredit and destabilize the nascent Federal Government of Somalia. In 2013, the United States continued to support AMISOM and the establishment of a stable Somali government, and worked to enhance counterterrorism capacity in Somalia and throughout the broader region.
Various East African countries continued to detect, deter, disrupt, investigate, and prosecute terrorist incidents; enhance domestic and regional efforts to bolster border security; and create integrated and dedicated counterterrorism strategies. Counterterrorism cooperation across the region picked up following the Westgate attack and nations began to examine their procedures for responding to attacks on soft targets.
In West Africa, conflict in Nigeria continued throughout the northern part of the country, with Boko Haram and related actors committing hundreds of attacks, reportedly resulting in over a thousand casualties in 2013 alone. This violence reportedly spilled over into neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
French and allied African forces successfully disrupted and pushed back efforts by al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other violent extremist groups to control northern Mali. In August, successful elections took place in Mali and a regional African peacekeeping force was installed with Western support to restore stability and governance to the country. France and other international partners continue to contribute forces to the region to assist the Malian government to rebuild and to deter terrorist threats. Western efforts to increase counterterrorism capacity in the region were focused in 2013 on enhanced border security, regional information sharing and cooperation, and countering violent extremism.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Overall, countries in the East Asia and Pacific region continued to weaken the ability of terrorist groups to operate and constrain the activities of large terrorist organizations such as Jemaah Islamiya (JI), Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Ongoing concerns remained, however, notably in Indonesia, where terrorist attacks on police continued, and in the southern Philippines, where improvised explosive device (IED) attacks occurred on several occasions in Mindanao and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) conducted a violent three-week siege of Zamboanga City that killed dozens of Philippine Security Force members and displaced thousands. The tri-border region of the Sulu Sea remained an area of concern for cross-border weapons smuggling and kidnapping for ransom.
The Philippine government moved closer to a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) by signing three of the four annexes to the 2012 Peace Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), but terrorist incidents such as bombings and raids were more frequent in 2013 than in the years preceding the signing.
The trend of violent extremists focusing on domestic targets continued in Indonesia, with numerous attacks on police, including a series of separate high-profile attacks in which four Indonesia law enforcement officials were killed and seven were wounded. Indonesia also experienced its first suicide bombing in two years when a motorcycle-riding bomber targeted a police facility in Poso, Central Sulawesi. Challenges presented by overcrowded prisons and weaknesses in correctional facility management and security were highlighted when inmates, including convicted terrorists, escaped in a series of prison breaks.
Malaysia continued its legal reform efforts in 2013, bringing charges under the new Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act of 2012 (SOSMA). Malaysia arrested former al-Qa’ida operative Yazid Sufaat, who was the first to be charged under SOSMA. In Thailand, two Iranians behind a failed 2012 plot, in which explosives were accidentally set off that allegedly were targeting Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, were convicted.
Australia maintained its position as a regional leader in the fight against terrorism and worked to strengthen the Asia-Pacific region’s counterterrorism capacity through a range of bilateral and regional initiatives in organizations such as ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Pacific Island Forum. The Japanese government continued to participate in international counterterrorism efforts at multilateral, regional, and bilateral levels through the ASEAN-Japan Counterterrorism meeting and the Japan-China Counterterrorism Consultations.
Terrorist incidents, including deadly attacks, continued to plague Europe in 2013. Some attacks were apparently perpetrated by “lone offender” assailants while others were organized by groups claiming a range of extremist ideological motivations, from nationalism to right-wing and left-wing political theories to various religious beliefs, including violent Islamist extremism. In some cases the boundaries between ideologies were blurred.
A major challenge to Europe was the increasing travel of European citizens – mostly young men – to and from Syria seeking to join forces opposing the Asad regime. Many of them ended up in the ranks of violent extremist groups such as al-Nusrah Front or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). These “foreign fighters” sparked increasing concerns, and actions to address them, by European countries worried about the growing number of their citizens traveling to the battlefield and possibly returning radicalized. European governments, in particular the EU and several member states affected by this phenomenon, took action to assess the problem and to devise an array of responses to discourage their citizens from going to Syria to take part in the conflict. These efforts ranged from new administrative procedures to prevent travel to Syria, to steps to counter recruitment and facilitation efforts, and programs to investigate and/or reintegrate persons returning from conflict zones. In the western Balkans, governments in EU candidate states and aspirants were also committed to responding effectively to the foreign fighter problem, and sought assistance to fill gaps in their capacity to do so from the United States, the EU, and others. European governments also worked with the United States and other international partners in various fora, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum, to respond to the foreign fighter problem and strengthen general counterterrorism cooperation.
The Bulgarian government continued its investigation of the July 2012 attack in Burgas which left five Israelis and one Bulgarian citizen dead. In February 2013, the government publicly implicated Hizballah in the bombing. A court in Cyprus convicted a Lebanese Hizballah operative of various criminal offenses after he was apprehended surveilling potential Israeli targets on the island. Recognizing the threat posed by Hizballah, the EU in July 2013 agreed to designate what it termed the “military wing” of Hizballah as a terrorist group, a notable step forward.
Europe was the scene of several significant terrorist attacks in 2013. In Turkey, the most significant such incident in the country’s modern history took place in May when 52 people died in a bombing in Reyhanli, on the border with Syria. In the Russian city of Volgograd, an attack on a city bus in October and two more attacks at the end of December claimed a total of 41 lives. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara was the target of a suicide bomb attack by a member of the Revolutionary Liberation People’s Party/Front in February, in which a Turkish citizen on the Embassy guard force was killed. In January, three Kurdish women activists were murdered in Paris, allegedly by a Turkish Kurd now in French police custody, in a crime linked to terrorism although the motive of the killer remains unclear.
Disclosures about alleged U.S. “spying” on European partners sparked concern but did not have a major effect on long-standing and close transatlantic cooperation in combating terrorist threats.
THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA OVERVIEW
The Near East region experienced significant levels of terrorist activity in 2013, with instability and weak governance in North Africa, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen continuing to have ramifications for the broader region. Al-Qa’ida and its affiliates exploited opportunities to conduct operations amid this fragile political and security climate.
In Libya, lack of countrywide security coverage contributed to a high threat environment. Libya’s weak security institutions, coupled with ready access to loose weapons and porous borders, provided violent extremists significant opportunities to act and plan operations.
Reflecting its greater regional ambitions, al-Qa’ida in Iraq changed its name in 2013 to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and stepped up its attacks across Syria and Iraq. Iraqi security forces demonstrated some ability to confront this challenge in terms of protecting larger installations and events, and finding and arresting terrorist suspects. ISIL also took advantage of the permissive security environment in Syria. The Syrian government historically had an important role in the growth of terrorist networks in Syria through the permissive attitude the Asad regime took towards al-Qa’ida’s foreign fighter facilitation efforts during the Iraq conflict. Syrian government awareness and encouragement of violent extremists’ transit through Syria to enter Iraq for many years, for the purpose of fighting Coalition Troops, is well documented – Syria was a key hub for foreign fighters en route to Iraq. Those very networks were the seedbed for the violent extremist elements that terrorized the Syrian population in 2013.
Shia militants continued to threaten Iraqi security in 2013, and were alleged to have been responsible for numerous attacks against Mujahadin-e Khalq members that continued to reside at Camp Hurriya near Baghdad. Hizballah provided a wide range of critical support to the Asad regime – including clearing regions of opposition forces, and providing training, advice, and logistical assistance to the Syrian Army – as the regime continued its brutal crackdown against the Syrian people.
Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has also taken advantage of the instability in the region, particularly in Libya and Mali. In January, an AQIM offshoot led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar attacked an oil facility near In Amenas, Algeria, resulting in the deaths of 39 foreign hostages including three Americans. Kidnapping for ransom operations continued to yield significant sums for AQIM, and it conducted attacks against members of state security services within the Trans-Sahara region.
In Tunisia, the terrorist group Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia (AAS-T) precipitated a government crisis by assassinating, among others, two secular politicians in February and July 2013. Ansar al-Shari’a was designated a Terrorist Organization by the Tunisian government in August.
The Government of Yemen continued its fight against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), although struggling somewhat in this effort due to an ongoing political and security restructuring within the government itself. AQAP continued to exhibit its capability by targeting government installations and security and intelligence officials, but also struck at soft targets, such as hospitals. President Hadi continued to support U.S. counterterrorism objectives in Yemen, and encouraged greater cooperation between U.S. and Yemeni counterterrorism forces.
Despite these persistent threats, governments across the region continued to build and exhibit their counterterrorism capabilities, disrupting the activities of a number of terrorists. Although AQ affiliate presence and activity in the Sahel and parts of the Maghreb remains worrisome, the group's isolation in Algeria and smaller pockets of North Africa grew as partner efforts in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia increased.
In Egypt, significant political instability presented various security challenges for the government, leading to an increase in violent extremist activity in the Sinai and parts of lower Egypt, including Cairo. Government security forces aggressively targeted violent extremist activity in these areas.
In Gaza, sporadic rocket attacks launched by Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups continued, as well as ongoing and related smuggling activity by these groups along the Gaza-Sinai border region. Israeli officials expressed concerns about the smuggling of long-range rockets from the Sinai Peninsula through tunnels into Gaza, but also recognized the positive impact of increased Egyptian government efforts to fight smuggling through such tunnels in preventing weapons and dual-use materials from reaching Gaza.
In 2013, Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism worldwide remained undiminished through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and Tehran’s ally Hizballah, which remained a significant threat to the stability of Lebanon and the broader region. The U.S. government continued efforts to counter Iranian and proxy support for terrorist operations via sanctions and other legal tools. The United States also welcomed the EU’s July 2013 designation of Hizballah’s military wing as a terrorist organization.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA OVERVIEW
South Asia remained a front line in the battle against terrorism. Although al-Qa’ida’s (AQ) core in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been seriously degraded, AQ’s global leadership continued to operate from its safe haven in the region and struggled to communicate effectively with affiliate groups outside of South Asia. AQ maintained ties with other terrorist organizations in the region, such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Haqqani Network (HQN). These alliances continued to provide the group with additional resources and capabilities. In 2013, terrorists in South Asia carried out operations in heavily populated areas and continued to target regional governmental representatives and U.S. persons. On numerous occasions, civilians throughout South Asia were wounded or killed in terrorist events.
Afghanistan, in particular, continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, HQN, and other insurgent and terrorist groups. A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan. Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are now providing security across all of Afghanistan as the transition to full Afghan leadership on security continues in anticipation of the 2014 drawdown of U.S. and Coalition Forces (CF). The ANSF and CF, in partnership, took aggressive action against terrorist elements in Afghanistan, especially in Kabul, and many of the eastern and northern provinces.
Pakistan continued to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks. The Pakistani military undertook operations against groups that conducted attacks within Pakistan such as TTP, but did not take action against other groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), which continued to operate, train, rally, and fundraise in Pakistan during the past year. Afghan Taliban and HQN leadership and facilitation networks continued to find safe haven in Pakistan, and Pakistani authorities did not take significant military or law enforcement action against these groups.
Levels of terrorist violence were similar to previous years. India remained severely affected by and vulnerable to terrorism, including from Pakistan-based groups and their affiliates as well as left-wing violent extremists. The Government of India, in response, continued to undertake efforts to coordinate its counterterrorism capabilities more effectively and expanded its cooperation and coordination with the international community and regional partners.
Bangladesh, an influential counterterrorism partner in the region, continued to make strides against international terrorism. The government’s ongoing counterterrorism efforts have made it more difficult for transnational terrorists to operate in or use Bangladeshi territory, and there were no major terrorist incidents in Bangladesh in 2013. The United States and Bangladesh signed a Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative on October 22, 2013, to enhance bilateral cooperation.
The potential challenges to stability that could accompany the changes of the international force presence in Afghanistan in 2014 remained a significant concern for the Central Asian leaders. Additionally, terrorist groups with ties to Central Asia – notably the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Jihad Union – continued to be an issue even as they operated outside of the Central Asian states. The effectiveness of some Central Asian countries’ efforts to reduce their vulnerability to perceived terrorist threats was difficult to discern in some cases, however, due to failure to distinguish clearly between terrorism and violent extremism on one hand and political opposition, or non-traditional religious practices, on the other.
WESTERN HEMISPHERE OVERVIEW
In 2013, governments in Latin America made modest improvements to their counterterrorism capabilities and their border security. Corruption, weak government institutions, insufficient interagency cooperation, weak or non-existent legislation, and a lack of resources remained the primary causes for the lack of significant progress in some of the countries. Transnational criminal organizations continued to pose a more significant threat to the region than transnational terrorism, and most countries made efforts to investigate possible connections with terrorist organizations.
Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere remained a concern. However, due to strong sanctions imposed on the country by both the United States and the EU, Iran has been unable to expand its economic and political ties in Latin America.
The United States continued to work with partner nations to build capacity to detect and address any potential terrorist threat.
There were no known operational cells of either al-Qa’ida or Hizballah in the hemisphere, although ideological sympathizers in South America and the Caribbean continued to provide financial and ideological support to those and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and South Asia. The Tri-Border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay continued to be an important regional nexus of arms, narcotics, and human trafficking; counterfeiting; pirated goods; and money laundering – all potential funding sources for terrorist organizations.
Despite the peace negotiations throughout the year, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia committed the majority of terrorist attacks in the Western Hemisphere in 2013.
STATE SPONSORS OF TERRORISM
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 is designated, it remains 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:
--A ban on arms-related exports and sales;
--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;
--Prohibitions on economic assistance; and
--Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.
This report provides a snapshot of events during 2013 relevant to countries designated as State Sponsors of Terrorism; it does not constitute a new announcement regarding such designations. More information on State Sponsor of Terrorism designations may be found online at http://www.state.gov/j/ct/c14151.htm.
Cuba was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982.
Cuba has long provided safe haven to members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Reports continued to indicate that Cuba’s ties to ETA have become more distant, and that about eight of the two dozen ETA members in Cuba were relocated with the cooperation of the Spanish government. Throughout 2013, the Government of Cuba supported and hosted negotiations between the FARC and the Government of Colombia aimed at brokering a peace agreement between the two. The Government of Cuba has facilitated the travel of FARC representatives to Cuba to participate in these negotiations, in coordination with representatives of the Governments of Colombia, Venezuela, and Norway, as well as the Red Cross.
There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.
The Cuban government continued to harbor fugitives wanted in the United States. The Cuban government also provided support such as housing, food ration books, and medical care for these individuals.
Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity, including support for Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and for Hizballah. It has also increased its presence in Africa and attempted to smuggle arms to Houthi separatists in Yemen and Shia oppositionists in Bahrain. Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and its regional proxy groups to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East. The IRGC-QF is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.
Iran views Syria as a crucial causeway in its weapons supply route to Hizballah, its primary beneficiary. In 2013, Iran continued to provide arms, financing, training, and the facilitation of Iraqi Shia fighters to the Asad regime’s brutal crackdown, a crackdown that has resulted in the death of more than 100,000 civilians in Syria. Iran has publicly admitted sending members of the IRGC to Syria in an advisory role. There are reports indicating some of these troops are IRGC-QF members and that they have taken part in direct combat operations. In February, senior IRGC-QF commander Brigadier General Hassan Shateri was killed in or near Zabadani, Syria. This was the first publicly announced death of a senior Iranian military official in Syria. In November, IRGC-QF commander Mohammad Jamalizadeh Paghaleh was also killed in Aleppo, Syria. Subsequent Iranian media reports stated that Paghaleh was volunteering in Syria to defend the Sayyida Zainab mosque, which is located in Damascus. The location of Paghaleh’s death, over 200 miles away from the mosque he was reported to be protecting, demonstrated Iran’s intent to mask the operations of IRGC-QF forces in Syria.
Iran has historically 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), although Hamas’s ties to Tehran have been strained due to the Syrian civil war. Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict, Iran has also assisted in rearming Hizballah, in direct violation of UNSCR 1701. Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Hizballah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of its fighters at camps in Iran. These trained fighters often use these skills in support of the Asad regime in Syria.
Despite its pledge to support Iraq’s stabilization, Iran trained, funded, and provided guidance to Iraqi Shia militant groups. The IRGC-QF, in concert with 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. Similar to Hizballah fighters, many of these trained Shia militants then use these skills to fight for the Asad regime in Syria, often at the behest of Iran.
On January 23, 2013, Yemeni authorities seized an Iranian dhow, the Jihan, off the coast of Yemen. The dhow was carrying sophisticated Chinese antiaircraft missiles, C-4 explosives, rocket-propelled grenades, and a number of other weapons and explosives. The shipment of lethal aid was likely headed to Houthi separatists in Northern Yemen. Iran actively supports members of the Houthi movement, including activities intended to build military capabilities, which could pose a greater threat to security and stability in Yemen and the surrounding region.
In late April 2013, the Government of Bosnia declared two Iranian diplomats, Jadidi Sohrab and Hamzeh Dolab Ahmad, persona non grata after Israeli intelligence reported they were members of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. One of the two men had been spotted in India, Georgia, and Thailand, all of which were sites of a simultaneous bombing campaign in February 2012, according to Israeli intelligence. Both diplomats were subsequently expelled from Bosnia.
On December 29, 2013, the Bahraini Coast Guard interdicted a speedboat filled with weapons and explosives that was likely bound for Shia oppositionists in Bahrain, specifically the 14 February Youth Coalition (14 FYC). Bahraini authorities accused the IRGC-QF of providing opposition militants with explosives training in order to carry out attacks in Bahrain. The interdiction led to the discovery of two weapons and explosives cache sites in Bahrain, the dismantling of a car bomb, and the arrest of 15 Bahraini nationals.
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 allowed AQ facilitators Muhsin al-Fadhli and Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and also to Syria. Al-Fadhli is a veteran AQ operative who has been active for years. Al-Fadhli began working with the Iran-based AQ facilitation network in 2009 and was later arrested by Iranian authorities. He was released in 2011 and assumed leadership of the Iran-based AQ facilitation network.
Iran remains a state of proliferation concern. Despite multiple UNSCRs requiring Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear proliferation activities, Iran continued to violate its international obligations regarding its nuclear program. For further information, see the Report to Congress on Iran-related Multilateral Sanctions Regime Efforts (November 2013), and the Report on the Status of Bilateral and Multilateral Efforts Aimed at Curtailing the Pursuit of Iran of Nuclear Weapons Technology (September 2012).
Sudan was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1993. In 2013, the Government of Sudan remained a generally cooperative counterterrorism partner and continued to take action to address threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan.
Elements of al-Qa’ida (AQ)-inspired terrorist groups remained in Sudan. The Government of Sudan has taken steps to limit the activities of these elements, and has worked to disrupt foreign fighters’ use of Sudan as a logistics base and transit point for terrorists going to Mali, Syria, and Afghanistan. However, groups continued to operate in Sudan in 2013 and there continued to be reports of Sudanese nationals participating in terrorist organizations. For example, regional media outlets alleged one Sudanese national was part of an al-Shabaab terrorist cell that attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in September. There was also evidence that Sudanese violent extremists participated in terrorist activities in Somalia and Mali.
In 2013, Sudan continued to allow members of Hamas to travel, fundraise, and live in Sudan.
The UN and NGOs reported in 2013 that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is likely operating in the disputed Kafia Kingi area, claimed by Sudan and South Sudan, in close proximity to Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). At year’s end, the United States continued to engage the Government of Sudan, the AU, and the UN to evaluate these reports.
The kidnapping of foreigners for ransom in Darfur continued, although no U.S. citizens were kidnapped in 2013. These kidnappings have hindered humanitarian operations in Darfur. Abductees have been released unharmed amid rumors of ransoms having been paid.
In 2013, the United States continued to pursue justice for the January 1, 2008 killing of two U.S. Embassy employees. At the end of the year, the Sudanese Supreme Court was deliberating on an appeal filed by defense attorneys of the three remaining men convicted of the two murders, requesting that their death sentences be commuted. In February 2013, one of five men convicted of aiding the 2010 escape attempt by the four convicted killers received a presidential commutation of his remaining sentence. Government of Sudan authorities explained his release was part of a broad administrative parole affecting 200 other prisoners who had served some portion of their sentences with good behavior. U.S. officials protested the commutation and urged the Government of Sudan authorities to imprison the convicted accomplice for the full 12 years of his sentence.
In 2013, the U.S. Department of State designated three of the individuals who participated in the January 1, 2008 killings – Abdelbasit Alhaj Alhasan Haj Hamad, Mohamed Makawi Ibrahim Mohamed, and Abd Al-Ra’Ouf Abu Zaid Mohamed Hamza – as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order 13224.
In 2013, Sudanese authorities continued to prosecute 25 individuals detained during a raid in December 2012 on what the Government of Sudan described as a terrorist training camp operating in Dinder National Park. The so-called “Dinder cell” as of December was still awaiting trial on charges of terrorism and murder stemming from the deaths of several police involved in the December 2012 raid. At least one fringe party, Just Peace Forum, has called upon President Bashir to pardon members of the “Dinder Cell,” but the court cases were still ongoing at the end of the year. One trial judge from the country’s terrorism court remanded several cases back to the attorney general for additional interrogations.
The Government of Sudan has made some progress in opposing terrorist financing, although members of Hamas are permitted to conduct fundraising in Sudan. The Central Bank of Sudan and its financial intelligence unit circulate to financial institutions a list of individuals and entities that have been included on the consolidated list of the UNSC 1267/1989 (al-Qa’ida) Sanctions Committee, as well as the U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations and E.O. lists. The financing of terrorism per UNSCR 1373 (2001) was criminalized in Sudan pursuant to Sudan’s Money Laundering Act of 2003.
Sudan is generally responsive to international community concerns about counterterrorism efforts. Sudan’s vast, mostly unmonitored borders with Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea hampered counterterrorism efforts. Nonetheless, in recent years Sudan has forged increasingly stronger relations with its neighbors. For example, in December 2013, Government of Sudan law enforcement authorities hosted a regional workshop on counterterrorism initiatives under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s program for security sector reform.
Designated in 1979 as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the Asad regime continued its political support to a variety of terrorist groups affecting the stability of the region and beyond, even amid significant internal unrest. The regime continued to provide political and weapons support to Hizballah and continued to allow Iran to rearm the terrorist organization. The Asad regime’s relationship with Hizballah and Iran continued to grow stronger in 2013 as the conflict in Syria continued. President Bashar al-Asad remained a staunch defender of Iran's policies, while Iran has exhibited equally energetic support for Syrian regime efforts to defeat the Syrian opposition. Statements supporting terrorist groups, particularly Hizballah, were often in Syrian government speeches and press statements.
The Syrian government had an important role in the growth of terrorist networks in Syria through the permissive attitude the Asad regime took towards al-Qa’ida’s foreign fighter facilitation efforts during the Iraq conflict. Syrian government awareness and encouragement for many years of violent extremists’ transit through Syria to enter Iraq, for the purpose of fighting Coalition Troops, is well documented. Syria was a key hub for foreign fighters en route to Iraq. Those very networks were the seedbed for the violent extremist elements that terrorized the Syrian population in 2013.
As part of a broader strategy during the year, the regime has attempted to portray Syria itself as a victim of terrorism, characterizing all of its armed opponents as “terrorists.”
Asad’s government has continued to generate significant concern regarding the role it plays in terrorist financing. Industry experts reported that 60 percent of all business transactions 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 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, and were facilitated by notoriously corrupt customs and immigration officials. This raised significant concerns that some members of the Syrian government and the business elite were complicit in terrorist finance schemes conducted through these institutions.
In 2013, the United States continued to closely monitor Syria’s proliferation-sensitive materials and facilities, including Syria’s significant stockpile of chemical weapons, which the United States assesses remains under the Asad regime’s control. Despite the progress made through the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon’s Executive Council and UNSC Resolution 2118 (2013) to dismantle and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons program, there continues to be significant concern, given ongoing instability in Syria, that these materials could find their way to terrorist organizations. The United States is coordinating closely with a number of like-minded nations and partners to prevent Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and advanced conventional weapons from falling into the hands of violent extremists.
TERRORIST SAFE HAVENS
|Terrorist safe havens described in this report include ungoverned, under-governed, or ill-governed physical areas where terrorists are able to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, transit, and operate in relative security because of inadequate governance capacity, political will, or both.|
Somalia. In 2013, large areas of territory throughout Somalia provided safe haven for terrorists. Following significant military offensives in 2012 that pushed al-Shabaab out of most urban areas of southern and central Somalia, al-Shabaab still maintained freedom of movement and some control in some rural areas,as well as a destabilizing presence in some urban areas. In each of these areas, al-Shabaab could organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate in relative security due to inadequate security, justice, and governance capacity. The absence of anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance laws, regulatory bodies, and counterterrorism law enforcement resulted principally from a lack of capacity, rather than a lack of political will.
In 2013, the city of Barawe served as al-Shabaab’s primary urban safe haven. Al-Shabaab also maintained a presence in the Golis Mountains of Puntland and in some of Puntland’s larger urban areas. Al-Shabaab continued to operate largely uncontested large sections of rural areas in the middle and lower Jubba regions, the Lower Shabelle region, and the Gedo, Bay, and Bakol regions. Additionally, Somalia’s long unguarded coastline, porous borders, and proximity to the Arabian Peninsula allowed foreign fighters and al-Shabaab members to transit throughout the region. Areas under al-Shabaab control provided a permissive environment for al-Shabaab operatives and affiliated foreign fighters to conduct training and terrorist planning. However, foreign fighters maintained limited freedom within al-Shabaab due to internal strife within the group. The capability of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to prevent and preempt al-Shabaab terrorist attacks remained limited in 2013, although the FGS was committed to countering terrorism and collaborating with international partners, including the United States. As 2013 came to a close, AMISOM was preparing for another offensive against al-Shabaab in conjunction with Somali National Army troops following the UN Security Council’s authorization of 4,000-plus additional troops for AMISOM.
The Trans-Sahara. The primary terrorist threat in the Trans-Sahara region in 2013 was posed by al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and associated splinter groups, such as the al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).Although its leadership remained primarily based in northeastern Algeria, AQIM factions also operated in northern Mali and the neighboring region. In 2013, these violent extremist groups used footholds in northern Mali to conduct operations, although safe haven areas in northern Mali were significantly diminished by the French and African intervention in 2013.
Mali. Although the Government of Mali lacks the capacity to control much of its vast, sparsely populated northern region, international and Malian forces were able to erode terrorist safe haven in the region in 2013. French Serval and UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) operations enabled Mali to redeploy government administrators and security forces to urban population centers in the northern regions through the end of 2013. These operations reduced the ability of AQIM and other terrorist groups such as Ansar al-Dine and MUJAO to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate in the northern region.
The new Malian government demonstrated its political will to deny safe haven to terrorists by supporting and collaborating with international efforts to stabilize northern Mali. The Malian government also demonstrated its political will to increase governance capacity in the North by holding a National Decentralization Conference in October 2013. During the conference, the Government of Mali identified measures to reinforce decentralized authority over northern Mali and to increase the capacity of local authority to govern over the vast territories. The government decided at the conference to create new administrative regions with the intention to increase the presence of the state in the northern region.
Despite having made some progress in disrupting terrorist safe havens in northern Mali, challenges remain, including dealing with long-existing, unregulated smuggling activities integral to the local economy. Controlling long and porous international borders also remains a challenge for the Malian government. The tacit engagement of local populations in illicit commercial activities and licit smuggling in northern Mali provides implicit support to criminal enterprises which undermines efforts to destabilize terrorist networks. Some segments of local populations have been willing to tolerate and enable AQIM's presence to avoid conflict and for financial gain, rather than ideological affinity.
In September 2013, the foreign assistance restriction to the Government of Mali was lifted. The State Department plans to reengage with the Government of Mali to strengthen biological security and reduce the risk of biological weapons acquisition by terrorists.
The Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral. The numerous islands in the Sulawesi Sea and the Sulu Archipelago make it a difficult region for authorities to monitor. The range of licit and illicit activities that occur there – including worker migration, tourism, and trade – pose additional challenges to identifying and countering the terrorist threat. Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have improved efforts to control their shared maritime boundaries, including through the U.S.-funded Coast Watch South radar network, which is intended to enhance domain awareness in the waters south and southwest of Mindanao. Nevertheless, the expanse remained difficult to control. Surveillance improved but remained partial at best, and traditional smuggling and piracy groups have provided an effective cover for terrorist activities, including the movement of personnel, equipment, and funds. The United States has sponsored the Trilateral Interagency Maritime Law Enforcement Working Group since 2008, which has resulted in better coordination among Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines on issues of interdiction and maritime security.
The Southern Philippines. The geographical composition of the Philippines, spread out over 7,107 islands, make it difficult for the central government to maintain a presence in all areas. Counterterrorism operations over the past 12 years, however, have been successful at isolating the location and constraining the activities of transnational terrorists. U.S.-Philippines counterterrorism cooperation remained strong. Abu Sayyaf Group members, numbering a few hundred, were known to be present in remote areas in Mindanao, especially on the islands of Basilan and Sulu. JI members, of whom there are only a small number remaining, are in a few isolated pockets of Mindanao. Peace agreements between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are suspected to have limited safe haven areas within MILF territories. Continued pressure from Philippine security forces made it difficult for terrorists to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Iraq. In the vast desert areas of western Iraq, especially in Anbar and Ninewa Provinces, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) established semi-permanent encampments. These areas reportedly included camps, training centers, command headquarters, and stocks of weapons. ISIL fighters allegedly controlled villages, oases, grazing areas, and valleys in these areas and were able to move with little impediment across international borders in the area.
Also, the lack of sustained coordination between Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional government security forces in the Disputed Internal Boundaries areas made it easier for insurgents and terrorists to operate or move through these areas unchecked.
The Government of Iraq lacked the capabilities to fully deny safe havens to terrorists, but not the will to do so. Iraqi Security Forces have conducted air and ground operations to destroy encampments but face well-trained and heavily equipped ISIL fighters. The scale of the terrorist presence in Iraq is compounded by the cross-border flow of weapons and personnel between Iraq and Syria. The United States has encouraged the Government of Iraq to seek broader cross-border counterterrorism cooperation with like-minded neighboring countries.
During the first half of 2013, Iraq, Turkey, and the United States continued a trilateral security dialogue as part of ongoing efforts to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the region. As part of peace process negotiations between the Government of Turkey and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, hundreds of PKK fighters left Turkey and entered the Iraqi Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq starting in May.
Lebanon. The Lebanese government does not exercise complete control over all regions in the country or its borders with Syria and Israel. Hizballah militias controlled access to parts of the country, limiting access by Lebanon’s security services, including the police and army, which allowed terrorists to operate in these areas with relative impunity. Palestinian refugee camps were also used as safe havens by Palestinian and other armed groups and were used to house weapons and shelter wanted criminals.
The Lebanese security services conducted frequent operations to capture terrorists. They did not target or arrest Hizballah members.
Libya. With a weak government possessing very few tools to exert control throughout its territory, Libya has become a terrorist safe haven and its transit routes are used by various terrorist groups, notably in the southwest and northeast. The General National Congress has tried to tackle the lawlessness of the southern region by temporarily closing – at least officially – the country’s southern border, and declaring large swaths of area (west from Ghadames, Ghat, Ubari, Sebha, Murzuq, and across a 620 miles off-road east to Kufra) as closed military zones to be administered under emergency law. In reality, however, Libya’s weak and under-resourced institutions have had little influence in that region, and have failed to implement this vague decree, as is evident from frequent ethnic clashes in the area. Instead, tribes and militias continue to control the area, and traders, smugglers, and terrorists continue to utilize ancient trade routes across these borders. All of Libya’s borders are porous and vulnerable to this activity, and the United States is working closely with the EU Border Assistance Mission to help the government mitigate these threats.
The Libyan government recognizes the gravity of the threats emanating from its borders, and is willing to work with the international community to overcome its inability to tackle these problems itself. In 2013, the United States signed an agreement with the Libyan government to cooperate on destroying Libya’s stockpile of legacy chemical weapons in accordance with its obligations as an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) member state. Libya successfully completed operations for the disposal of its remaining mustard gas filled in artillery projectile and aerial bombs in January 2014. Libya also previously completed the disposal of its remaining bulk mustard in 2013. There also have been reports of thousands of barrels of yellowcake uranium, a foundational material for nuclear enrichment, precariously secured in a former military facility near Sebha in Libya’s south. Although representing limited risk of trafficking due to the bulk and weight of the storage containers, Libya agreed to host an assessment team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to survey the stockpile in early 2014.
Yemen. The Government of Yemen, under President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, remained a strong partner of the United States on counterterrorism issues. Military campaigns against AQAP strongholds in the southern governorates in 2012, along with tribal resistance in the form of pro-government Popular Committees, eliminated much of the territory considered a “safe haven” for AQAP terrorists. In 2013, however, Yemeni security forces have been losing the ground gained in 2012. The impunity with which AQAP conducted ambush-style attacks and assassinations, particularly in the Abyan, Shebwah, and Hadramawt Governorates, suggests that AQAP has been successful in expanding its theatre of operations.
Yemen’s instability makes the country vulnerable for use as a transit point for weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related materials. In the past year the United States resumed training focusing on the development of strategic trade controls and continued to conduct border security training for Yemeni Customs and other enforcement agencies. Yemen has identified an inter-ministry group to work on nonproliferation-related issues.
Afghanistan. Several terrorist networks active in Afghanistan, such as al-Qa’ida (AQ), the Haqqani Network, and others, operate largely out of Pakistan. AQ has some freedom of movement in Kunar and Nuristan provinces largely due to a lack of Afghan National Security Forces’ capacity to control certain border territories in north and east Afghanistan. During 2013, the Afghan government continued to counter the Afghan Taliban and Taliban-affiliated insurgent networks with AQ connections. The increased capability of the Afghan Local Police units helped to secure some rural areas that had previously lacked a Government of Afghanistan presence.
Pakistan. Portions of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and Balochistan province remained a safe haven for terrorist groups seeking to conduct domestic, regional, and global attacks. Al-Qa’ida, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar i Jhangvi, Lashkar e-Tayyiba, and other terrorist groups, as well as the Afghan Taliban, took advantage of this safe haven to plan operations in Pakistan and throughout the region. Though they did act against TTP, Pakistani authorities did not take significant military or law enforcement action against other groups operating from Pakistan-based safe havens, such as HQN and the Afghan Taliban.
Colombia. Colombia’s borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Brazil include rough terrain and dense forest cover, which coupled with low population densities and historically weak government presence, have often allowed for potential safe havens for insurgent and terrorist groups, particularly the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Colombia continued its efforts to combat terrorism within its borders, targeting both the FARC and ELN. Additionally, even as the Government of Colombia engaged with the FARC in peace talks throughout the year, President Santos maintained pressure by continuing operational exercises to combat the FARC’s ability to conduct terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, illegal armed groups, primarily known as “Bandas Criminales,” use the porous borders, remote mountain areas, and jungles to maneuver, train, cultivate and transport narcotics, operate illegal mines, “tax” the local populace, and engage in other illegal activities. Colombia continued cooperation and information sharing with the Panamanian National Border Service, establishing a joint base of operation and strengthening control of their shared border in the Darien region. Improved relations with neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela have led to some increased cooperation from those countries on law enforcement issues. Stronger government actions in Brazil and Peru and continued cooperation with the Government of Colombia have also addressed potential safe haven areas along their shared borders.
Venezuela. There were credible reports that Venezuela maintained an environment that allowed for fundraising activities that benefited known terrorist groups. Individuals linked to Hizballah as well as FARC and ELN members were present in Venezuela.
LONG-TERM PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES DESIGNED TO COUNTER TERRORIST SAFE HAVENS
COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM (CVE). CVE is part of a strategic approach to counterterrorism (CT) that aims to deny terrorist groups new recruits. In 2009, the State Department created a CVE team in the Counterterrorism Bureau, to lead our efforts in this critical area. In our CVE programming and activities, we are seeking to (1) build resilience among communities most at risk of recruitment and radicalization to violence; (2) counter terrorist narratives and messaging; and (3) build the capacity of partner nations and civil society to counter violent extremism.
To be effective, CVE must work on multiple levels. First, our efforts must be well targeted. As such, we identify both key nodes and locales where radicalization is taking place, and focus our programming and activities in these areas. Second, our efforts must be tailored to take the local context into account. The drivers of recruitment and radicalization to violence are varied, often localized, and specific to each region, and our programming choices are developed in response to these factors.
Therefore, State’s CT Bureau emphasizes supporting local CVE efforts and building local CVE capacity. Given the growing international focus on CVE, we have also been able to develop a broader range of international partners to work within our efforts, including other governments, multilateral organizations, and non-governmental actors. Through these broad-based partnerships, we have been able to develop good practices, leverage others’ resources, and multiply its impact.
The President and the Secretary of State established the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) in 2011 to lead an interagency effort to coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide foreign communications activities targeted against terrorism and violent extremism, particularly al-Qa’ida (AQ), its affiliates, and adherents. CSCC, based at the Department of State, collaborates with U.S. embassies and consulates, interagency partners, and outside experts to counter terrorist narratives and misinformation, and directly supports U.S. government communicators at our U.S. embassies overseas. CSCC’s programs draw on a full range of intelligence information and analysis for context and feedback. CSCC counters terrorist propaganda in the social media environment on a daily basis, contesting space where AQ and its supporters formerly had free reign. CSCC communications have provoked defensive responses from violent extremists on many of the most popular extremist websites and forums as well as on social media. In 2013, CSCC produced over 10,000 postings and 138 videos. CSCC also engages in a variety of projects directly supporting U.S. government communicators working with overseas audiences, as well as amplifying credible CVE voices and supporting local initiatives, in critical parts of the Middle East and Africa, such as Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Mali.
While public diplomacy and development projects can have a positive impact on the CVE environment, our CVE programs and activities are far more narrowly tailored and targeted. In fact, CVE programming more closely resembles programs for curtailing recruitment into militias or gangs. It requires knowledge of where youth are most susceptible to radicalization to violence and why that is so. We ensure that our areas of focus align with the areas of greatest risk by working with foreign partners and other U.S. government agencies, such as USAID and DoD, to identify hotspots of radicalization and to design programming. Key areas of programming include:
By sharing their stories, victims of terrorism offer a resonant counternarrative that highlights the destruction and devastation of terrorist attacks. Workshops train victims to interact with conventional and social media, create public relations campaigns that amplify their messages, and seek out platforms that help them disseminate their message most broadly to at-risk audiences.
The Department of State supports efforts to conduct outreach, engagement, and training tours among diaspora communities who may be targeted for recruitment or susceptible to radicalization to violence in certain regions. Efforts involve screening documentaries highlighting the tragedy and devastation wrought by the recruitment of youth to terrorism and holding community roundtables to raise awareness and discuss ways to prevent recruitment and radicalization to violence. These projects are especially effective in engaging Somali diaspora communities.
A number of multilateral bodies remain key partners for the Department of State in its CVE efforts. Through these partnerships, we are able to shape the international CVE agenda, leverage others’ resources and expertise, and build broader support for our CVE priorities.
CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAMS. As the terrorist threat has evolved and grown more geographically diverse in recent years, it has become clear that our success depends in large part on the effectiveness and ability of our partners. To succeed over the long term, we must increase the number of countries capable of and willing to take on this challenge. We have had important successes in Indonesia and Colombia, but we must intensify efforts to improve our partners' law enforcement and border security capabilities to tackle these threats. Our counterterrorism capacity building programs – Antiterrorism Assistance Program, Counterterrorist Finance, Counterterrorism Engagement, the Terrorist Interdiction Program/Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System, and transnational activities under the Regional Strategic Initiatives – are all critically important and work on a daily basis to build capacity and improve political will. For further information on these programs, we refer you to the Annual Report on Assistance Related to International Terrorism, Fiscal Year 2013: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/rpt/221544.htm.
REGIONAL STRATEGIC INITIATIVE. Terrorist groups often take advantage of porous borders and ungoverned areas between countries. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism created the Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI) to encourage Ambassadors and their Country Teams to develop regional approaches to counterterrorism. RSI operates in key terrorist theaters of operation to assess the threat, pool resources, and devise collaborative strategies, action plans, and policy recommendations. In 2013, RSI groups were in place for Central Asia, East Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, Iraq and its Neighbors, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Trans-Sahara (the Maghreb and the Sahel), and the Western Hemisphere.
One examples of an RSI program approved and funded in 2013 is the Explosive Incident Countermeasures (EIC) course for Bulgaria, which yielded almost immediate results when a week after the course ended, the Ministry of Interior officers that participated in the course successfully responded to two bomb threats, one of which was at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia.
RSI is continuing to fund Resident Legal Advisors in Malaysia, Mauritania, Niger, and Turkey. RSI also funds a number of regional workshops focusing on border security and larger counterterrorism issues. Two ongoing series include Eastern Mediterranean Working Groups on border security and the Gulf of Aden Regional Forum. These forums provide a venue for participants to discuss current counterterrorism issues, as well as joint efforts to counter them.
The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). The GCTF aims to strengthen the international architecture for addressing 21st century terrorism and promotes a strategic, long-term approach to dealing with the threat. Since its launch in September 2011, the GCTF has mobilized over US $230 million to strengthen counterterrorism-related rule of law institutions, in particular, for countries transitioning away from emergency law.
Other accomplishments since the launch include the adoption of six sets of good practices that are intended to both provide practical guidance for countries as they seek to enhance their counterterrorism capacity and bring greater strategic coherence to global counterterrorism capacity building efforts:
In addition, the GCTF has set in motion the development of two independent international training centers that will provide platforms for delivering sustainable training in the Forum’s two areas of strategic priority: countering violent extremism (CVE) and strengthening rule of law institutions. Hedayah, the first international center of excellence on CVE, officially opened in Abu Dhabi in December 2012. The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, to be based initially in Malta, is slated to begin operations in 2014.
In September 2013, Secretary Kerry announced that a core group of government and non-governmental partners from different regions will establish the first-ever public-private global fund to support local grass-roots efforts to counter violent extremism. The Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) will be the first global effort to leverage greater public and private-sector support for community-based projects aimed at addressing local drivers of radicalization by focusing on education, vocational training, civic engagement, and women’s advocacy. GCTF member Switzerland will host the GCERF in Geneva when it opens in the second half of 2014.
The UN is a close partner of and participant in the GCTF and its activities. The GCTF serves as a mechanism for furthering the implementation of the universally-agreed UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and, more broadly, to complement and reinforce existing multilateral counterterrorism efforts, starting with those of the UN. The GCTF also partners with a wide range of regional multilateral organizations, including the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the AU, and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND PROTOCOLS. A matrix of the ratification status of 16 of the international conventions and protocols related to terrorism can be found here: https://www.unodc.org/tldb/universal_instruments_NEW.html
|Foreign Terrorist Organizations|
Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)are designated by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). FTO designations play a critical role in the fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities.
In 2013, the following FTOs were designated by the Department of State: Ansar al-Dine on March 22, Boko Haram and Jama'atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan on November 14, and Al-Mulathamun Battalion on December 19. Also in 2013, the Department of State revoked the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group’s designation as an FTO on May 28.
Legal Criteria for Designation under Section 219 of the INA as amended:
|U.S. Government Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations|
Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB)
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB)
Ansar al-Dine (AAD)
Ansar al-Islam (AAI)
Army of Islam (AOI)
Asbat al-Ansar (AAA)
Aum Shinrikyo (AUM)
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
Boko Haram (BH)
Communist Party of Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA)
Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA)
Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG)
Haqqani Network (HQN)
Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI)
Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B)
Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM)
Indian Mujahedeen (IM)
Islamic Jihad Union (IJU)
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan (Ansaru)
Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT)
Jemaah Islamiya (JI)
Kata’ib Hizballah (KH)
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)
Al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB)
National Liberation Army (ELN)
Palestine Islamic Jihad – Shaqaqi Faction (PIJ)
Palestine Liberation Front – Abu Abbas Faction (PLF)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)
Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI)
Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
Real IRA (RIRA)
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N)
Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)
Revolutionary Struggle (RS)
Shining Path (SL)
Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)
|Please note that the complete Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 – including the Annex of Statistical Information prepared by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland – can be found at: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/index.htm.|