Chapter 2. Country Reports: Europe Overview
While Europe continued to face terrorist threats from a variety of sources in 2014, a primary area of concern in many countries was the emergence of the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters participating in the conflict in Syria and Iraq in the ranks of such groups as al-Nusrah Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Significant numbers of foreign terrorist fighters came from countries such as France and Belgium in Western Europe, while, on a per capita basis, certain western Balkan countries such as Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina also figured as significant foreign terrorist fighter source countries. At the same time, violent extremist groups espousing left-wing and nationalist ideologies continued to operate in Europe, such as the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) in Turkey.
Returning foreign terrorist fighters were deemed responsible for terrorist attacks in a number of countries, including Belgium, where in May, a French citizen killed four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels. In March, three persons, including a police officer and a gendarme, were killed in an incident involving three young men who were believed to be foreign terrorist fighters returning to Europe from Syria. Terrorist incidents attributed to other groups were reported in a number of countries, including attacks in Chechnya in the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation in October and December, attributed to the Caucasus Emirate, and in Turkey in October, attributed to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
By virtue of its location, the international transport hubs on its territory, and its long border with Syria and Iraq, Turkey remained the main transit route for foreign terrorist fighters. In 2014, Turkey increased cooperation with source countries to develop an extensive banned-from-entry list of known or suspected terrorists and introduced tougher traveler screening procedures, making it more difficult for foreign terrorist fighters to cross its borders. Turkey’s border security challenges, however, continued to be aggravated by its failure to impose visa requirements for certain major foreign terrorist fighter source countries such as Libya.
To counter the foreign terrorist fighter threat, European countries strengthened existing legislation and, where necessary, introduced new legislation aimed at criminalizing participation in terrorist elements in foreign conflicts, in keeping with commitments made under UN Security Council Resolution 2178; however, some European countries are struggling to successfully prosecute cases under the new laws. Countries such as France and Albania adopted such legislation, for example. In the Western Balkans, major law enforcement actions have been conducted resulting in arrests of persons allegedly returning from or intending to travel to Syria and Iraq, or facilitating and supporting such travel. Concern about foreign terrorist fighters was also an important factor in efforts to improve border security and improve the effectiveness of traveler screening and information-sharing among law enforcement bodies. The European Council, for example, urged the adoption of an EU Passenger Name Record system and a number of Schengen Area countries called for improvements in border security and information sharing measures under the Schengen Information System.
Individual countries implemented strategies to counter terrorism and address the foreign terrorist fighter threat, such as Norway’s National Action Plan, the Netherlands’ Comprehensive Program to Combat Jihadism, and Denmark’s Countering Violent Extremism Action Plan. Many strengthened programs to counter the messaging of violent extremism, stop radicalization to violence, and thwart the recruitment efforts of ISIL and similar groups. Community groups and religious leaders played a key part in these efforts.
While taking strong action against terrorist threats internally and in the region, European countries also made important contributions to countering terrorism worldwide. Approximately 40 European countries, plus the European Union, joined the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and participated actively in its efforts. The important efforts of France in West Africa, Spain in North Africa and the Sahel, and Denmark in Afghanistan, are representative of the counterterrorism contributions of individual European countries elsewhere in the world.
Overview: Albania continued to be a strong supporter of counterterrorism efforts in 2014 and joined the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. In August and December, Albania donated a sizeable amount of weapons and ammunition for Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq. Albania is a source country of foreign terrorist fighters going to Syria and Iraq.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Albania criminalizes terrorist acts; financing of terrorism; collection, transfer and concealment of funds that finance terrorism; conducting transactions with persons in the UN list; recruiting and training people to commit terrorist actions; incitement of terrorist actions; and establishing, leading, and participating in terrorist organizations.
In 2014, Parliament added three statutes to Albania’s Criminal Code aimed primarily at strengthening the government’s ability to address the problem of Albanian nationals who travel to fight in the conflict in Syria. The changes made it illegal to (1) participate in; (2) organize the participation of; or (3) call for participation in military action in a foreign country. Specifically, these statutes punish participation in “military or paramilitary organizations in an armed conflict taking place in the territory of a foreign country,” unless a person is a citizen of the foreign country, a member of the armed forces of one of the parties in the conflict, or a member of an official military mission of another country or an international military organization. The statutes also cover recruiting, training, equipping, or providing funds or other material support for people participating in these military actions. Those people guilty under these statutes are subject to maximum penalties of between three years (calling for participation) and 15 years (organizing the participation) in prison. These laws came into effect on September 3.
While Albanian law enforcement actively detects and deters illicit activities related to drugs and smuggling, it has not taken an equally aggressive approach to countering potential terrorist threats. With concern about terrorism increasing in connection with foreign terrorist fighters, however, the Albanian State Police announced plans in October 2014 to expand substantially its counterterrorism unit. A significant effort will likely be needed to equip and train the unit sufficiently to achieve the necessary level of capacity to counter terrorism effectively.
Albania does not have the capacity to collect biometric data other than that contained on biometric identity cards and passports presented at border crossing points. The Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), funded by the Department of State, provided a new information technology module to the Albanian government which gives it the capacity to incorporate online fingerprint identification functions, and is in the process of providing fingerprint scanning equipment to equip all 26 border crossing points. The border control module will allow Albanians to collect entry and exit information of international travelers.
The Customs agency has improved its performance at ports of entry and has strengthened its relationship with the Border Police.
In March, Albanian State Police acted against an alleged Syria fighter recruitment ring, resulting in the arrest of nine people for “Inciting Acts of Terrorism.” Two of the arrestees were imams at mosques on the outskirts of Tirana that allegedly promote violent extremism. As of December 31, 2014, the investigation was ongoing.
Corruption, combined with a poorly functioning judicial system, continued to hinder Albania’s law enforcement efforts.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Albanian financial intelligence unit (FIU) is a member of the Egmont Group. Albania is also a member of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body.
Albania has adopted measures against persons and organizations listed by the UN as financers of terrorism, and it has established a preventive anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) system that includes extended due diligence and the obligation to file suspicious transaction reports and currency transaction reports.
The FATF currently lists Albania on its list of High Risk and Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions. Since June 2012, Albania has been working with FATF and MONEYVAL to address the identified weaknesses in AML/CFT. In 2013, Albania adopted a new law against financing terrorism to comply with the FATF and MONEYVAL Recommendations and has focused on its implementation in 2014, resulting in the confiscation of approximately 10 million euros (approximately US $11,189,000), a large increase from the 213,000 euros (approximately US $241,712) confiscated in 2013.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Albania is a member of the UN, OSCE, NATO, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Albanian government participated in the Foreign Terrorist Fighters roundtable for Balkan countries hosted by the State Department on the margins of the UNGA.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Government of Albania provides financial support to the Albanian Islamic Community (AIC), the official administrative body of the Albanian Sunni Muslim community, and actively engages it to discuss radicalization to violence and terrorist recruitment.
Overview: Austria was vigilant in its counterterrorism efforts and U.S.-Austrian law enforcement cooperation was generally strong. Austria’s Office for State Protection and Counterterrorism (BVT), the key counterterrorism agency within the Ministry of the Interior, reported that, while no specific climate for fostering terrorist attacks existed within Austria, radicalization within violent Islamist extremist groups increased. The country’s traditional, broad perception that Austria is safe from terrorist attacks was challenged by a significant rise in the number of foreign terrorist fighters from Austria headed to Syria and Iraq. The BVT charged or monitored those returning from Syria, as well as other potentially violent radicalized individuals among second- and third-generation Muslim immigrants. Continued concerns over data privacy protection, amplified by public debate about suspected NSA locations and activities in Austria, slowed the implementation of counterterrorism legislation and agreements in some cases.
Austria is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and has taken a whole-of-government approach to implement UN Security Council Resolutions 2170 and 2178 as well as Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) good practices on foreign terrorist fighters. Throughout 2014, the Ministries of Interior, Justice, and Foreign Affairs have increased enforcement and engagement to counter incitement of terrorist acts motivated by extremism and combat the problem of foreign terrorist fighters, with law enforcement agencies focusing on intelligence gathering and investigations and Integration officials (within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) focusing on public outreach and engagement to prevent radicalization to violence.
The BVT estimated the number of Austrians fighting in Syria and Iraq at approximately 160, predominantly of Chechen, Turkish, and Balkan origin. Twenty-five are suspected to have been killed in Syria, while an estimated 60 have returned to Austria. Formal criminal investigations have been launched against 117. In December, a prosecutor submitted the first terrorism court case in Austria specifically against an ISIL sympathizer accused of membership in ISIL and of financial support to Syrian fighters.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Austria has a broad legal framework to combat terrorism. Relevant statutes criminalize training in terrorist camps abroad and allow wiretapping of individual suspects or small groups with the permission of an independent judge or ombudsman. Plans for structural reform of Austria’s CT-agency BVT were being discussed by the end of 2014.
The Austrian Parliament passed additional counterterrorism legislation in December (effective January 1, 2015) to enhance existing counterterrorism laws. The counterterrorism legislation amends existing law on the use of symbols and prohibits the use and distribution of symbols attributable to ISIL, al-Qa’ida, and any organization linked to these groups. Limited exemptions from these restrictions apply to media coverage, films, theater, and exhibits, provided that they do not serve to propagate the ideology of a terrorist organization.
As part of the same legislative package, an amendment to the border control law allows border authorities to confirm that minors have received parental permission to leave Austria when there is a suspicion that the minors are traveling to participate in fighting activities abroad. Border authorities are empowered to deny departure to a minor and withhold his or her passport until an investigation is complete. An amendment to the Austrian citizenship law allows authorities to withdraw citizenship from an Austrians who voluntarily and actively participates in fighting in an armed conflict if the individual holds a second citizenship.
Law enforcement officials have increased surveillance and arrests, with the most significant being the November 28 arrests of 12 suspects in a nation-wide series of raids involving 900 police officers in raids against 40 locations in various Austrian cities. The key suspect, Vienna-based ISIL sympathizer Mirsad Omerovic, alias Ebu Tejma, is being held in pre-trial detention. In December, the BVT also created an office for tracking and reporting radical content on the internet. The BVT then passes this information on to social media providers, such as Google or Facebook, with an official government request to delete the content.
In reaction to the challenge of foreign terrorist fighters during 2014, law enforcement agencies called for expanded police powers to monitor foreign terrorist fighter suspects more effectively. Under current law, police must delete all data collected on a violent extremist suspect after nine months if it cannot be proven that the monitored suspect committed any violations. This data would not be available in the event that police reopen an investigation. Austria’s Ministers for Interior and Justice have pressed for amended legislation to extend data retention provisions.
Border security forces make effective use of security measures including biographic and biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry and information sharing internally and with other EU countries. Border security officials at ports of entry have discretion when determining those documents and passengers subject to screening on arrival.
Austrian law enforcement routinely cooperated in investigative areas with U.S. law enforcement, from the informal sharing of preliminary investigative information to joint, multilateral investigative projects and enforcement operations.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Austria is an active member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has developed comprehensive anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation, including the enactment of a new Sanctions Act; undertaken reforms of the financial intelligence unit operational procedures and supervisory framework; developed and published secondary legislation (regulations), thematic and sectorial guidelines, and explanatory notes. Austria is also a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.
The Austrian Parliament approved the bilateral agreement with the United States on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in October, and pertinent formalities for the law to become effective were concluded by the end of 2014. Under the agreement, Austrian banks will require U.S. citizens resident in Austria to waive bank secrecy and allow the exchange of account information with the United States.
Non-profit organizations are not required to file suspicious transaction reports as part of their license to operate or as a matter of law.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Austria is a member of various regional security platforms, including the OSCE, the Salzburg Forum, and the Central European Initiative, which it chaired in 2014. Austria regularly leads law enforcement training programs with Salzburg Forum countries and the Balkan states.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Austria continued efforts to counter violent extremism, largely in response to the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon as detailed above. In addition, the Austrian government undertook or continued several other initiatives. The Integration Office within the Foreign Ministry, in cooperation with the Islamic faith community, released a flyer addressing misinterpretation of the Quran by violent extremists.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Islamic Faith Community undertook an information campaign in mosques, Islamic organizations, and community centers that includes education outreach to the majority population to differentiate between Islam and what Austria describes as jihadism, or violent extremism. In November, the Austrian government opened a counseling center and a de-radicalization hotline, aimed at friends and family members of potential violent extremists
The Austrian government is in the process of revising the existing 1912 Law on Islam, updating the rights and responsibilities of the Islamic communities. The law would further formalize Islam’s place within Austria and contain provisions related to religious education, pastoral care in hospitals and prisons, afford some recognition of Islamic holidays, and formalize some Islamic traditions.
Overview: Azerbaijan maintained its strong counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and actively opposed terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money, and material through the Caucasus. The country remained focused on its counterterrorism efforts, to include prosecuting numerous individuals under statutes related to terrorism, confiscating sizeable quantities of illegal arms and munitions, and seeking to arrest foreign terrorist fighters returning to Azerbaijan from conflicts abroad. Azerbaijan also amended its law on terrorism to stiffen penalties for involvement in foreign mercenary activity.
Azerbaijan indicated its willingness to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) by continuing to share information and working to disrupt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Iraq and Syria and of illicit funding to support violent extremist groups there. Influential figures, including the heads of the Caucasus Muslim Board and the State Committee for Work with Religious Associations, undertook efforts to counter ISIL ideology publicly.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Azerbaijan continued to use counterterrorism legislation, first adopted in 1999, that governs the investigation and prosecution of individuals who have committed or plan to commit terrorist acts. The Ministry of National Security is primarily responsible for combating terrorism, although the Ministry of Internal Affairs also plays a role as the country’s primary law enforcement entity. Both ministries effectively demonstrated the ability to detect and deter terrorist activities, as well as prosecute foreign terrorist fighters returning to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani law enforcement officers participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program and received technical training in counterterrorism skills.
Authorities demonstrated a capability to effectively use watch lists and biographic/biometric information at ports of entry. Information sharing within the host government and with other countries was strong. Collection of advance passenger name records on commercial flights was possible.
Authorities also amended the law on terrorism in April 2014, increasing penalties for fighting as a mercenary or recruiting or sponsoring mercenaries, specifically designed to counter Azerbaijani citizens’ involvement in groups such as ISIL.
Significant law enforcement actions related to counterterrorism included:
- On June 20, the Ministry of National Security announced that it had detained 18 violent extremists in Baku’s Badamdar neighborhood. Authorities stated the individuals were becoming radicalized and showing indications of carrying out violent activity and potentially travelling to Syria.
- On September 23, the Ministry of National Security announced that it had arrested 26 individuals who had fought as foreign terrorist fighters outside Azerbaijan, many as ISIL-affiliated terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
- On December 1, authorities carried out a counterterrorism operation following an attack on a Baku mosque, one of the perpetrators of which was alleged to have fought with a Kurdish militia against ISIL in Syria.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Azerbaijan is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Azerbaijan has increased its professionalism in anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) since 2009, when it adopted AML/CFT legislation. This legislation created a financial intelligence unit, the Financial Monitoring Service (FMS), and imposed the necessary obligations on financial institutions to conduct customer due diligence and report suspicious transactions to the FMS. Institutions from outside the formal financial sector that conduct monetary operations, however, are often not required to report, which presents vulnerabilities.
In order to bring Azerbaijan’s legislative framework into conformity with international standards, including those of the UN, the EU, and the FATF, Azerbaijan continued to implement MONEYVAL recommendations to address AML/CFT issues. The U.S. government has been one of the FMS’ leading partners since its formation, currently working through Treasury and the FDIC to provide technical assistance and training to the Prosecutor General’s Office and others to improve enforcement capabilities. USAID also previously supported these efforts.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Azerbaijan remained an active member of the OSCE, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and other regional organizations. Azerbaijan also continued to work with NATO on counterterrorism initiatives. Additionally, Azerbaijan took part in working group meetings of Caspian Sea littoral states to coordinate law enforcement efforts aimed at combating terrorism as well as smuggling, narcotics trafficking, and organized crime.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: In response to reports of growing Sunni Salafi movements, as well as evidence of numerous Azerbaijani citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq, Azerbaijani officials made attempts to counter domestic radicalization to violence and violent extremism. Specifically, authorities sought to bring mosques under greater control by installing cameras inside, replacing Salafi clerics with moderate leaders, forbidding Salafis from taking leadership roles in mosques, banning books promoting extremist views, and increasing control over public television. These methods sometimes failed to distinguish between persons who incited violence and persons who rejected violence but sympathized with some of the philosophical goals of various political movements. Additionally, government leaders regularly spoke out against radicalism, and frequently pledged to combat the political influence of radical groups and to undermine such groups’ ability to obtain financial support.
Overview: Belgian authorities maintained an effective counterterrorism apparatus that was overseen by the Ministries of Interior and Justice in 2014. They continued to investigate, arrest, and prosecute terrorism suspects and worked closely with U.S. authorities on counterterrorism matters. The Belgian government has formed a task force focused on countering radicalization to violence and developed a national strategy to address the issue.
The new coalition government, which assumed power in October, announced a number of new measures aimed at disrupting the significant number of Belgian foreign terrorist fighters who have traveled to Syria and Iraq. These include strengthening and enforcing legislation that would prohibit traveling abroad to participate in armed groups, and stripping dual nationals of their Belgian citizenship if they are convicted of these or other terrorism crimes. Belgian officials announced stricter enforcement of regulations that allow them to prohibit passport issuance of or revocation of passports to disrupt the travel of suspected foreign terrorist fighters.
As one of the leading countries of origin for foreign terrorist fighters in Europe, Belgium has focused efforts on identifying, disrupting, and decreasing the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. According to Belgian government statistics, of the estimated 358 foreign terrorist fighters of Belgian origin, approximately 47 have been killed and 87 have returned to Belgium. Both the Ministry of the Interior and the Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAM) continued their implementation of new strategies to address the foreign terrorist fighter problem in 2014. A December 2013 study by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization estimated that Belgium has the highest per capita number of Syrian foreign terrorist fighters of any European country.
Belgium is an active member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), conducting air strikes and sending support personnel to the campaign against ISIL in Iraq. On December 18, the Council of Ministers approved the extension of the mission through June 30, 2015, as well as the deployment of up to 50 military trainers to Iraq in 2015. The number of personnel and length of the training mission will be determined based on a Ministry of Defense needs assessment.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: On May 24, a shooter killed four individuals at the Brussels Jewish Museum. Mehdi Nemmouche, a French-Algerian dual national arrested by French authorities a few days later near Marseilles, is the key suspect in the shooting. He was extradited to Belgium on July 30 and was in prison awaiting trial at year’s end. In early December, the French police arrested five additional individuals in Marseilles for their alleged participation in helping prepare for the Brussels Jewish Museum attack. Nemmouche reportedly fought in Syria with ISIL from December 2012 through March 2014.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Belgian government continued to make use of counterterrorism legislation that was reinforced in 2003 to provide authorities with enhanced powers to investigate and prosecute terrorist suspects. On October 13, the Belgian government took the final step to implement the Prevent and Combating Serious Crime (PCSC) Agreement with the United States by publishing a royal decree in the country’s official register.
Following the May 25 general elections, a new federal government was sworn in on October 11. The government’s coalition agreement proposed a number of measures to be taken in the fight against violent extremism. The new ministers were in the process of drafting legislation at year’s end.
Belgian law enforcement units can capably detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. The primary actors in this apparatus are the Belgian Federal police and its counterterrorism division, the Civilian and Military Intelligence Services, Office of the Federal Prosecutor, and the Crisis Unit. The Inter-Ministerial Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis plays a coordinating role, particularly with regard to foreign terrorist fighters.
Belgium worked closely with other Schengen zone states and Turkey to improve efforts to share information and interdict prospective foreign terrorist fighters traveling to Syria, including increasing border checks aimed at disrupting and decreasing the flow of the fighters. All new Belgian passports contain biometric data. Belgium has advocated for more systematic screening by partners at Schengen borders; of the approximately 20,000 asylum applications filed in Belgium in 2014, 94 percent were made at local offices in Belgium rather than at ports of entry into the country. Belgian officials have expressed concern that 80 percent of the approximately 10,000 unsuccessful asylum applicants simply disappear rather than accepting assistance to return to their country of origin.
Significant law enforcement and judicial actions related to counterterrorism included:
- On September 29, the trial began in Belgium’s largest terrorism trial ever, against the “Sharia4Belgium” organization founder Fouad Belkacem (aka Abu Imran) and 45 other organization members, some in absentia, on various terrorism-related charges. A verdict had not been issued at year’s end.
- On October 14, a Brussels Court handed down sentences to Rachid Benomari, Mohamed Said, and Mustapha Bouyahbaren for their participation in al-Shabaab activities in Somalia in 2011 and 2012. Benomari was sentenced to 18 years in prison, Said received a five-year sentence, and Bouyahbaren received a five-year suspended sentence. The three have appealed the ruling.
- On May 21, a Brussels Court sentenced 19 terrorist suspects for their active or passive participation in al-Shabaab activities in Somalia.
- On December 17, the Hof van Cassatie (Supreme Court) partially overturned the January 2014 appellate court ruling against the so-called Hamdaoui cell, also known as the “Sint-Jans Square Gang.” Hassan Hamadoui and other members of his cell were accused of participating in extremist chat rooms, of plotting possible terrorist attacks in Belgium, and of traveling to fight in Chechnya; all received prison sentences ranging from five to eight years. Hamdaoui’s appeal was rejected by the Hof van Cassatie and his 12-year sentence affirmed, but seven of his accomplices were granted a new trial because the prosecution failed to translate evidence and other documents into Flemish, as required by court procedures.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Belgium is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as well as the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a FATF-style regional body. Belgium’s financial intelligence unit, the Cellule de Traitement des Informations Financieres (CTIF), is tasked with tracking and investigating reports of financial crimes, including money laundering and terrorist financing, and has broad authorities under Belgian legislation to conduct inquiries and refer criminal cases to federal prosecutors. Belgium is also a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units. According to the 2013 CTIF annual report (the most recent report), of the 1,168 financial crimes cases that CTIF referred to prosecutors, only 25 (2.14 percent) were connected to possible terrorist and/or proliferation financing, a slight increase from the previous year (1.32 percent).
Regional and International Cooperation: Belgium continues to be a leader in regional cooperation and information exchanges, and the agreement among the parties in the new coalition government specifically refers to the importance of sharing information as a component in combating violent extremism. Belgium participates in EU, NATO, OSCE, and Council of Europe counterterrorism efforts, and is a member of the advisory board of the UN Counterterrorism Center. In December 2013, former Belgian Interior Minister Joelle Milquet hosted a ministerial meeting of her counterparts from EU member states affected by the foreign terrorist fighter problem. EU officials and representatives of the United States worked to develop additional areas of cooperation in border controls, radicalization prevention, and information sharing. In May 2014, Belgium hosted a follow-up meeting that was expanded to include officials from Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia.
As an EU member state, Belgium has contributed trainers and capacity building expertise to EU counterterrorism assistance programs in Sahel countries, including the Collège Sahélien de Sécurité; and the Belgian Federal Police have provided training to counterparts in the Maghreb.
Belgium is not a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) but has participated in GCTF workshops. Belgium is implementing UN Security Council Resolutions 2170 and 2178 to mitigate the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters and to restrict terrorist financing.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Countering violent extremism (CVE) remains a high priority for the Belgian government. The government has identified unemployment, alienation, and discontentment as potential drivers of radicalization to violence in some communities.
Belgian government support for projects such as the city pair program between Columbus, Ohio and Vilvoorde is designed to facilitate positive community engagement between the government, police force, and the Muslim community. The city pair program allowed for community leaders to exchange best practices in countering violent extremism and improving integration, thus providing unprecedented access to the municipal services and local minority community of Vilvoorde. Based on this exchange, Vilvoorde officials hope to create law enforcement and community advisory groups, similar to the DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties/FBI roundtable for the Somali community; to begin diversity training for law enforcement; to develop online counter-narratives to ISIL propaganda; to establish teacher and student exchanges that focus on cross-cultural education and sensitivity training; to design positive media campaigns for Muslims; and to found a Citizens Academy for the Belgian police force, modeled after U.S. programs.
OCAM’s “Plan R” (Action Plan Against Radicalization) promotes a series of measures designed to address radicalization to violence in Belgium, including the exchange of best practices between agencies and regions, the refusal of visas to extremist preachers, the increased financial screening of Belgian extremists, the watchlisting of foreign terrorist fighters, and the facilitation of contact between social services and the families of foreign terrorist fighters and returnees. OCAM has also worked to develop better cooperation with the prison system, and now has plans for a prison de-radicalization program based on community policing models.
Among the components of the government’s strategy on preventing radicalization to violence is an effort to counter extremist messaging on the internet. The Ministry of Interior is working to increase cooperation with the internet industry in Belgium, working with the big five internet providers to suppress violent extremist content.
The government counter-radicalization strategy includes an interagency effort to support local government actors who work with returnees from Syria and Iraq to monitor their reintegration into society and provide them with guidance and support. The new government has suggested it may link the receipt of social services for returnees and their families to mandatory participation in de-radicalization programs.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Overview: Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) remained a cooperative counterterrorism partner and continued to make slow progress in increasing its counterterrorism capacity in 2014. BiH law enforcement agencies generally keep close track of foreign terrorist fighter suspects in BiH and have carried out operations against them, although internal cooperation needs to improve. BiH’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, tasked with improving coordination between BiH’s many security and police agencies to better counter potential terrorist threats, has faltered significantly over the last year. Islamist extremist ideology and regional nationalist extremist groups both remain potential sources of violent extremism in BiH.
BiH has seen a significant number of its citizens travel to Syria and Iraq over the last year. In August, the BiH government began to consider a proposal to donate ammunition to the Government of Iraq to assist in its counter-Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) efforts. In November 2014, BiH joined the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and in December sent its Foreign Minister to Brussels to participate in the U.S.-led coalition ministerial.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: BiH does not have a comprehensive counterterrorism legal framework, but in July, Parliament enacted the first “foreign terrorist fighter” law in the Balkans region in an effort to discourage BiH citizens from participating in foreign paramilitary groups. The bill, which does not address BiH citizens who serve in the armed forces of internationally-recognized countries, criminalizes organizing, managing, training, equipping, or recruiting individuals or groups of people to fight abroad, and joining paramilitary groups and imposes both imprisonment and monetary fines.
Much of BiH’s coordination and cooperation issues are caused by overlapping law enforcement jurisdictions. The problem is also the result of personal, political, and institutional rivalries that exist among most police agencies as well as with the BiH Prosecutor’s Office and BiH Court. Many of these rivalries are deeply ingrained and difficult to overcome.
In October and November, BiH authorities arrested a combined total of 27 suspects in two separate actions under “Operation Damascus,” which targeted BiH citizens who went to fight in Syria and Iraq as well as those who supported them or aided them in their efforts.
On September 4, Bosnian authorities, in cooperation with Italian authorities, arrested in BiH Bilal Bosnic, a Cremona preacher, and another 15 activists, seizing large quantities of weapons. Bosnic was accused of having recruited and funded foreign terrorist fighters sent to Syria and Iraq.
On terrorism-related prosecutions, in October, the BiH Appeals Court ordered a new trial for Haris Causevic, who was convicted in 2013 of a terrorist act and sentenced to 45 years in prison for the June 2010 bombing of a police station in Bugojno, which killed one police officer and injured six others. The Appeals Court agreed with the defense that the first panel had prevented it from calling additional witnesses and ordered a new trial. The case will not be re-tried in whole, but only the parts where the defense can call these witnesses. This is the second time since 2013 that a court has overturned a terrorism case on appeal.
To track entries into BiH, the BiH Border Police (BP) use a computerized database and software system to support immigration and passenger information collection. The system links all 55 border crossings and all four airport locations (Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar, and Banja Luka) via the State Police Information Network, a network developed and donated by the Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), funded by the U.S. Department of State. Both the BP and the Foreigners Affairs Service (FAS) field offices are connected to this system. It provides the BP and FAS with immediate access to other supporting databases (including Interpol) to run appropriate checks and cross-checks. All law enforcement agencies in BiH have the capability to add data into this system, and any derogatory information will come up as a “hit” when a subject’s passport or BiH identification card is passed through the scanner at the point of entry. The BP has both legal authority and physical facilities at border crossings to detain individuals for up to 24 hours while they consult with SIPA and the BiH Prosecutor’s Office regarding next steps regarding questionable individuals.
Through the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program, Bosnian law enforcement received training in instructor development, critical incident management, and management of antiterrorism curricula.
Separately, ICITAP is working with the FAS to provide a biometrics system that will permit it to better monitor individuals entering and leaving BiH. This system is compatible with EU systems, and BiH has now met the requirements to share biometrics data with the EU. ICITAP is also helping to upgrade the existing Emergency Operation Center at the BiH Ministry of Security. In the event of a terrorist attack, these centers would be able to work together to ensure that required resources are made available anywhere in BiH. ICITAP, with Department of State funding, is also assisting with the construction of mobile command posts which can respond to the scene of any disaster and coordinate responses.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: BiH belongs to the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body, which in 2014 expressed concerns that BiH needed to improve its laws to better deter and detect money laundering and terrorist financing. BiH is also a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.
The new law on Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing created a financial investigation department within the government that is empowered to forward information and data to appropriate authorities concerning money laundering and funding of terrorist organizations. The bylaws and amendments to Criminal Code had not been implemented as of the end of 2014.
Regional and International Cooperation: BiH’s criminal code and related legal framework are generally harmonized with UN and EU counterterrorism standards. In September, BiH voted to support UN Security Council Resolution 2178, which requires countries to take certain steps to address the foreign fighter threat. The Bosnian government participated in the Foreign Terrorist Fighters roundtable for Balkan countries hosted by the State Department on the margins of the UNGA.
BiH law enforcement agencies regularly interact with their U.S. and European counterparts on counterterrorism investigations. Interpol has a Sarajevo branch office that enjoys good cooperation with all law enforcement agencies throughout the country, all which have direct access to its databases. Regional cooperation at the professional law enforcement level with Croatia and Serbia improved in 2014.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The main religious communities in BiH (Islamic, Orthodox, Catholic, and Jewish) continued to work together through the Interreligious Council to promote tolerance and confront acts of bigotry or extremism directed at any of the communities. Among public figures, the leader of the Islamic Community in BiH, Reis Kavazovic, continued to speak out against “misinterpretations of Islam” that lead to extremist violence, and the Bosniak Member of BiH’s Tri-Presidency, acting in his capacity as a political party leader, issued a statement in October that was sharply critical of ISIL and condemned those who support it. In academia, a noted professor from the faculty of Islamic Sciences at the Center for Advanced Studies in Sarajevo published a piece in Bosnia’s leading daily newspaper in November, condemning the ISIL terrorist organization.
Overview: Continued migration of asylum seekers from Syria to Bulgaria as well as increasing evidence of the transit of foreign terrorist fighters through Bulgaria raised the country’s counterterrorism profile in 2014. In response, the Government of Bulgaria has worked to enhance its prevention and enforcement tools, including new foreign terrorist fighter legislation and the development of a National Counter Terrorism Center. Bulgaria is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The Prosecution Service promised indictments in early 2014 against defendants in the 2012 airport bus bombing case in Burgas, but they had not been issued by year’s end.
U.S. agencies maintain a regular exchange of counterterrorism information with various entities within the Bulgarian government and assisted it to detect and react to terrorist threats within Bulgaria.
The Ministry of Interior and State Agency for National Security have responded strongly to evidence of possible domestic support for ISIL. In November, police arrested a group of Muslim men from Roma communities in the Pazardjik area for inciting war and anti-democratic activities. The men are followers of a controversial imam who posted pictures online of himself and some of his followers wearing clothing and holding a banner imprinted with the ISIL logo.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has designated a Counterterrorism Coordinator, who is a key point of contact for Post on issues like foreign terrorist fighters.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Bulgaria prosecutes suspected terrorists under several general provisions of the Penal Code but lacks a comprehensive counterterrorism legal framework. In 2014, the Minister of Justice introduced a new Penal Code which included updated counterterrorism statutes. The draft was not passed before the government fell and parliament was dissolved. With the arrival of a new government in November, the future of reforms to the code is unclear.
Law enforcement cooperation between U.S. agencies and their Bulgarian counterparts has historically been strong. However, the previous government reshuffled and reorganized key police units, and the resulting reassignment of personnel and imposition of new rules slowed joint casework. The new administration has promised to reverse many of the changes.
The Interior Ministry has operational units responsible for deterring, detecting, and responding to incidents, including the Specialized Unit for Combating Terrorism (SOBT), Security Police, and Special Police Forces. Specialized law enforcement units are properly equipped and supported with relevant training but lack resources in regional areas where the terrorism threat appears strongest.
The influx of asylum seekers in 2014, primarily from Syria, put significant strain on law enforcement. The Interior Ministry reassigned scores of local police to the border area to assist the besieged border police. The result has been increased deterrence against illegal border crossings but significantly less capacity for other law enforcement issues.
The establishment of the National Counterterrorism Training Center (NCTC) in 2014 provides the first inter-ministerial standing task force to develop law enforcement sensitive watch lists, coordinate between law enforcement and security services on counterterrorism checks and incidents, and build a common operating picture of the threats to national leadership facing Bulgaria. Officials at the center will have the ability to receive and provide information to border guards, customs officials, counterterrorism officials, intelligence officers, and the police. The center has also served as a taskforce center when coordinating inter-ministerial counterterrorism operations. Through Regional Strategic Initiative-funded Antiterrorism Assistance program support in counterterrorism skills and other initiatives, the Department of State provided technical training to NCTC staff and worked with them to develop a national counterterrorism strategy.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Bulgaria belongs to the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL). Bulgaria is also a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units. The Financial Intelligence Directorate of the State Agency for National Security (FID-SANS) has primary responsibility for anti-money laundering measures for all reporting entities. The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) also has a Special Supervision Directorate to investigate banks for compliance with money laundering and terrorist financing requirements. Although reporting by non-bank institutions, such as gaming entities, investment intermediaries, notaries, non-profit organizations (NPOs), and leasing companies has increased, it remained low. FID’s resources remained limited, particularly with respect to performing onsite inspections in non-banking institutions. Publicly available information on persons who own, control, or direct the activities of NPOs was not consistently maintained. In 2014, the government did not identify, freeze, seize, or forfeit any terrorism-related assets. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Bulgaria is a member of and active contributor to counterterrorism initiatives at the UN, EU, Council of Europe, OSCE, Organization for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and NATO. Law enforcement officials benefit from joint investigations and training opportunities with international partners. Bulgaria’s aforementioned participation in GCTF activities is an example of this contribution.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Grand Mufti of Bulgaria issued a statement and, along with the National Council of Religious Communities in Bulgaria, adopted a decree condemning ISIL and its violent activities. The Grand Mufti has been a voice of tolerance and moderation but he has complained that the Government of Bulgaria is not a strong enough partner in this effort.
Overview: The Government of the Republic of Cyprus collaborated closely with the United States, the EU, and other countries – bilaterally and multilaterally – in international counterterrorism efforts in 2014. In March, the Cypriot Supreme Court rejected the appeal against the Criminal Court’s 2013 conviction of Hossam Yaacoub Taleb, a Lebanese Hizballah operative, for conducting surveillance activities on Israeli targets in Cyprus.
Cyprus’ counterterrorism partnership with the United States included regular, routine protection for transiting U.S. military personnel, aircraft, and naval vessels throughout 2014; and participation in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance and Regional Strategic Initiative programs, which strengthened the government’s capacity to counter terrorism.
Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into the Republic of Cyprus government-controlled area, composed of the southern two-thirds of the island, and a northern third, administered by the Turkish Cypriots. The Republic of Cyprus government does not exercise effective control over the area administered by the Turkish Cypriots. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared the northern part an independent “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).” The United States does not recognize the “TRNC,” nor does any country other than Turkey. The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus patrols the buffer zone separating the two sides, but people, narcotics, and other illicit goods routinely cross uncontrolled.
Turkish Cypriots lacked the legal and institutional framework necessary to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism effectively. Within these limitations, however, Turkish Cypriots cooperated in pursuing specific counterterrorism objectives.
Cyprus is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In October, the government approved French civil aviation authorities’ request to access Paphos airbase to support humanitarian operations in Iraq. The government began an interagency review of its legal framework for addressing foreign terrorist fighters, including a review of its 2010 counterterrorism law to begin to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2178. Cyprus police have conducted a seminar on the foreign terrorist fighters issue. In September 2014, the police investigated five people for possible facilitation of travel to conflict areas abroad, but nothing suspicious was revealed.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Cypriot government has not yet tried a case under the 2010 National Law on Combating Terrorism, but has used the criminal code to prosecute terrorism-related offenses; for example, the prosecution pursued criminal charges against Yaacoub for his surveillance activities of Israeli tourist targets in Cyprus. In March 2014, the Cypriot Supreme Court upheld the Yaacoub convictions for participation in a criminal organization, participation and acceptance in committing a crime, and money laundering. In November 2014 Yaacoub, a Swedish national of Lebanese origin, completed his criminal sentence and was escorted to Sweden. Cypriot law enforcement continued to develop the capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents, under the coordination of the National Counterterrorism Coordinator with a specialized antiterrorist squad in the Cyprus National Police’s (CNP’s) Emergency Response Unit.
In 2014, the Council of Ministers approved a new National Counterterrorism Strategy for the Republic of Cyprus, based on the four pillars of the corresponding EU strategy: “Prevent, Pursue, Protect, and Respond.” Cyprus began participating in the newly-established Europol Data Fusion Center to help identify potential terrorist threats, strengthened security measures at borders and crossing points, and advocated adoption of an EU Directive on Passenger Name Records. U.S. training programs and analytic exchanges strengthened the capacity of Cypriot law enforcement to detect surveillance and prevent attacks on airports, bus, and rail systems.
CNP continued a screening watchlist mechanism. On the CNP’s Counterterrorism Office watchlist, among others, are all persons subject to travel bans and asset freezing sanctions by UNSCRs and EU decisions concerning terrorism. In cooperation with FRONTEX Eurosur Program, the CNP has also conducted training programs concerning false and falsified document detection, border security processing techniques, and recognition of foreign terrorist fighters at sea and airports.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Cyprus is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Cyprus’ financial intelligence unit (FIU), the Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS), is a member of the Egmont Group.
The Republic of Cyprus government implemented new UNSCR 1267/1989 (Al-Qa’ida) and 1988 (Taliban) sanctions listings and informally tracked suspect names listed under U.S. Executive Orders (EO), including EO 13224. In June, the Council of Ministers proposed new legislation criminalizing and establishing penalties for circumvention of UN or EU sanctions, including terrorist financing. The proposal, which was pending before the House of Representatives at year’s end, aims to criminalize infringements of UNSCRs and relevant sanctions adopted by the EU, as well as impose effective, proportionate, and dissuasive penalties.
Regional and International Cooperation: In addition to hosting and participating in OSCE counterterrorism programs, Cyprus participated in counterterrorism initiatives of the UN and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended meetings of the Working Group on the External Aspects of Terrorism of the Council of the EU, an ad hoc working group on Lebanese Hizballah’s military wing, and a regional conference on foreign terrorist fighters.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Cyprus continued to participate in the EU Commission’s Radicalization Awareness Network meetings, with particular focus on the health, police, and prison sectors. The government exchanges best practices with partners on addressing terrorists’ internet recruitment efforts. The Police’s Counterterrorism Office conducted training of first line police officers and prison employees about radicalization to violence.
Overview: The Kingdom of Denmark (Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands) has devoted significant assets to counterterrorism programs, as well as to initiatives to counter violent extremism in Denmark and abroad. Denmark continued to cooperate closely with the United States, the UN, and the EU on specific counterterrorism initiatives, such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). Denmark remained a prominent target for global terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida, due in part to the crisis that began in 2005 when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published political cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb, and because of Denmark’s ongoing counterterrorism efforts, including involvement in the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). No large-scale terrorist attacks occurred within Denmark in 2014.
The Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) estimated that at least 110 Danish citizens and residents have voluntarily left Denmark to fight in Syria and Iraq, a significant number of whom have likely fought on behalf of ISIL. Danish security services have focused on addressing the issue of foreign terrorist fighters and monitoring the individuals who have returned; there is concern that Danish fighters could return to Denmark with terrorist training and seek to radicalize others.
Denmark has contributed air strikes, military personnel, and trainers to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.
Denmark introduced a national countering violent extremism (CVE) action plan in September 2014 and has already allocated approximately $10 million to CVE efforts.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Denmark continued to use its terrorism legislation from 2006, which allows greater information sharing between Denmark’s two intelligence services, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) and the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (DDIS). The legislation also permits official surveillance and wiretapping of terrorist suspects with a valid warrant and sufficient evidentiary proof.
In addition to the Danish National Police, the two Danish agencies most involved in countering terrorist threats in Denmark are PET and DDIS. Danish security and law enforcement organizations have adequate information sharing, thanks to the Danish government’s Center for Terror Analysis (CTA), which was established to share information between PET, DDIS, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Danish Emergency Management Agency.
Denmark continued to support border security via travel document checks for non-Schengen Area travel; has biographic and biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry; shares information within its own government and with other countries as appropriate. Security forces patrol and control Denmark’s land and maritime borders. Additionally, Denmark has a very competent Customs and Tax Authority (SKAT). As a member of the Schengen Agreement, Denmark has open borders with its EU neighbors and there are no passport controls at the land borders or in the airport terminals servicing most Schengen Visa area flights.
Counterterrorism-related law enforcement actions include:
In October, Moroccan-born Danish citizen Sam (formerly Said) Mansour, commonly known as ‘‘the Bookseller from Bronshoj’’ was charged with promoting terrorist propaganda. Mansour was convicted and on December 4, sentenced to four years in prison. Mansour had previously been sentenced, in April 2007, to three-and-a-half years in prison for producing and distributing graphic videos encouraging participation in violent extremism.
On October 22, 11 Danish citizens of Kurdish origin were found not guilty of financing terrorism. Their trial began in September 2013. The men, aged 29-73 years, were accused of having collected approximately $23 million for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization in Denmark. The defendants had allegedly channeled money to the PKK through the Kurdish-language broadcast station Roj TV. The defendants were acquitted on the grounds that prosecutors could not prove that the defendants knew that the money raised for the television station went to the PKK. The prosecutor has appealed the court ruling.
On December 18, Danish police arrested a 21-year-old Danish citizen in the Copenhagen suburb of Allerød and charged him with violating criminal code paragraph 136,1, “inciting terrorism.” The defendant is accused of posting a link on his Facebook page to a video of an ISIL spokesperson in Syria. In the video, the spokesperson calls for the killing of citizens from countries taking part in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. The defendant had just returned from Lebanon, where he had been arrested earlier at the Syrian border inside a vehicle filled with weapons and explosives.
- Also on December 18, a 26-year-old Danish citizen was charged in absentia for violating paragraph 136/2, “explicitly expressing support for terrorism.” In late June, the individual had posted on Facebook a number of pictures from the central square of the Syrian city of Raqqa which showed the accused posing next to several severed heads posted on a nearby fence, as well as photos of beheaded bodies filled with bullet holes. The accused was not present in Denmark when charged, and was presumed to still be in Syria.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Denmark is a member of the Financial Action Task Force), cooperates closely with other Nordic financial intelligence units (FIUs), and is a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of FIUs. Danish authorities can freeze assets within hours or days with a valid court order, however the confiscation process requires a full trial which may take months to years, depending on appeals.
In 2014, Denmark assisted Ethiopia in its efforts to combat terrorist finance, supporting a 17-month intensive capacity building and technical assistance program focused on institutional development within the Ethiopian Financial Intelligence Center (FIC) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The project has utilized expertise of the Danish State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime. As part of this Danish-supported program and an internally developed action plan, Ethiopia has undertaken considerable efforts to enhance its counterterrorist finance legislative framework and has demonstrated significant political commitment to addressing strategic deficiencies.
Regional and International Cooperation: The Danish government is committed to close cooperation with international organizations, particularly within the UN framework and through the EU, to ensure that it has both the capacity and the support needed to counter terrorism. Denmark actively participates in the UN, GCTF, EU, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, NATO, Interpol, Europol, the Middle Europe Conference, the Bern Club, and the EU Counterterrorism Group.
Denmark continued to be a close ally in counterterrorism capacity building in Afghanistan, contributing up to 750 troops in 2014, together with police, diplomats, and technical assistants. Afghanistan is also the single largest recipient of Danish foreign aid, receiving nearly US $30 million of non-military aid in addition to significant coalition military support. Afghanistan is currently the centerpiece of Danish efforts to develop an integrated approach where all relevant actors – such as the UN, NATO, individual nations and NGOs – coordinate efforts to systematically strengthen political, development, and security-related efforts.
The stabilization program for the Sahel region, launched by the Danish government in 2013, continued to contribute to international efforts towards preventing the Sahel from becoming a terrorist safe haven.
On April 18-19, the Governments of Burkina Faso and Denmark hosted a GCTF-affiliated workshop focusing on countering violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahel. The workshop aimed at improving understanding of the sources and drivers of violent extremism in the region and discussed concrete ways of addressing the issue.
In June, Burkinabé Minister for Territorial Administration and Security and the Deputy Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN opened the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy meeting where Denmark and Burkina Faso focused on countering violent extremism in the Sahel and West Africa, and forging stronger collaborative international efforts in the region.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: In September, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Children, Gender Equality, Integration, and Social Affairs presented an Action Plan to prevent radicalization and violent extremism. This plan details 12 specific areas for improving CVE efforts domestically. The plan calls for strengthening local officials’ actions by expanding the legal authority to use social services for persons aged 18 to 25. (Note: the authority previously existed only for minors below the age of 18.) This change is expected to improve cooperation between social workers, local law enforcement, schools, and national counterterrorism experts (PET and DDIS). The Action Plan also funds additional training for recognizing signs of radicalization to violence. Other parts of the Action Plan include monitoring of online extremist content; improving prevention methods by providing mentors, and encouraging youth to attend youth dialogues; and establishing a new exit center to help those at risk of radicalization. The third group of efforts includes the creation of a new Nordic Ministerial Network to coordinate CVE efforts across the region and pursue specific engagement with developing countries via Denmark’s Peace and Stabilization Fund, a part of Denmark’s foreign aid. The new CVE Action Plan also calls for mobilizing civil society by increased dialogue with PET, creating a new national hotline for parents and caregivers to report concerns, and providing training for civil society on how to recognize radicalization and react appropriately. Denmark’s CVE Action Plan now includes funding for law enforcement to provide strategic communication and counter narratives online in addition to continuing offline efforts. The exit program frequently uses individuals who can debunk the glorification of terrorism and the mystique of becoming a foreign terrorist fighter, as well as support for civil society groups includes training for an NGO that promotes stories of victims of terrorism.
Denmark has law enforcement resources dedicated to monitoring of internet-based violent extremist messaging. Under the 2014 national CVE action plan, Denmark will coordinate at a national level prior work with counter-narratives, including voicing stories from victims and families affected by violence and from former foreign terrorist fighters. Denmark provides training and resources to civil society groups seeking to present alternative narratives.
The exit program was initially designed to allow members of criminal gangs find a way out of the gang and back into lawful society; it has since been adapted successfully for use with extremists as well. The program provides a case manager, job training and placement, housing assistance, and other social services as needed to transition gang members or extremists back into productive members of society. In addition, the prison system provides a number of educational and vocational resources to all criminals.
Overview: France was an excellent counterterrorism partner in the face of the mounting challenge of foreign terrorist fighters. French government agencies worked with their U.S. counterparts for the exchange and evaluation of terrorist-related information and partnered in fostering closer regional and international cooperation. France’s security apparatus and legislation afford broad powers to security services to prevent terrorist attacks. France experienced five particularly serious attacks from December 2014 to January 2015, the most serious being the January 7 to 9 attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and the Hyper Cacher (Jewish kosher grocery).
The Government of France was concerned about the possibility of attacks against its interests in France and worldwide, and has taken steps to counter the potential threat posed by its nationals traveling abroad to engage in terrorist activity. The return of French nationals who joined groups fighting in the civil war in Syria is a major and increasing threat. On December 17, the Interior Minister estimated there were 1,200 French citizens or French residents linked to fighting among violent extremist groups in Syria, with approximately 390 in the theater; approximately 60 have been killed in combat. France’s main counterterrorism apparatus is its Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure (DGSI), which replaced the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur on May 12, 2014 and is tasked with counter-espionage, counterterrorism, and the surveillance of potential threats on French territory, along with economic protection issues including organized crime and corporate espionage.
France is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), was instrumental in passing UN Security Council resolutions 2170 and 2178, participates fully in multilateral counterterrorism fora, and has taken decisive domestic action to restrict terrorist financing and to limit the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. France has also conducted air strikes and contributed military personnel and trainers in Iraq.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: France has a system of non-jury courts for terrorism trials and a broad definition of what is considered a terrorist offence – the so-called “association of wrongdoers” offence – which allows it to cast a wide net and imprison a broad range of suspects. Under French law, foreigners can be deported if they are believed to pose a serious threat to public order.
A November 13, 2014 law took steps to counter the threat of foreign terrorist fighters via three key objectives: to prevent people from leaving the territory when there are reasons to believe that they intend to engage in illicit terrorist activities abroad; to counter online propaganda by blocking websites advocating terrorism (the law calls for blocking to be carried out under judicial supervision, to avoid infringement on the freedom of speech); and to criminalize individual preparation of acts of terrorism. This legislation builds on 2012 counterterrorism legislation that allows authorities to prosecute French citizens who return to France after committing an act of terrorism abroad, or after training in terrorist camps (notably in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region) with the intention of returning to France to commit terrorist attacks. Some groups raised data privacy concerns about both the 2014 legislation and earlier expansions of French government domestic surveillance powers.
France has two national police forces: the General Directorate of National Police (DGPN) and the Directorate General of the National Gendarmerie (DGGN), both subordinate to the Ministry of Interior. (The DGGN is part of the Defense Ministry but the Interior Ministry manages its policing functions.) The DGPN is responsible for civil law enforcement and criminal investigations in cities and large towns and is staffed with approximately 150,000 personnel. The DGSI combines law enforcement capabilities with domestic intelligence gathering.
France works diligently to maintain strong border security and implements national and EU border security legislation.
The following high profile arrests or law enforcement actions related to counterterrorism took place in 2014:
On February 17, a police investigation into people linked to the “Cannes-Torcy” terrorist cell revealed 900 grams of explosives as well as weapons in an apartment in Mandelieu-le-Napoule, near Cannes.
In February, the French courts cancelled the deportation order against Ali Belhadad, an Algerian national with a French residency permit, so he would be tried in France. Police said Belhadad was connected to a violent extremist group linked to Mohammed Merah, the man who killed seven in south-central France in March 2012.
Also in February, police arrested two men – a French citizen, and a Spanish citizen – affiliated with a leftist anarchist group, for Molotov cocktail attacks in Tarbes and Pau (southeastern France) in 2013. French citizen Damien Camelio, 31, was later sentenced to two years imprisonment for his role in attacking a church, a prison, and a military installation.
On May 30, police in Marseille arrested Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin; he was extradited to Belgium and charged with killing four at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 24; Nemmouche is allegedly a former Syria foreign terrorist fighter.
Police made the first arrests under France’s new foreign terrorist fighter legislation in late November, arresting two for selling ISIL flags and other terrorist propaganda online.
On December 21, a 20-year-old French citizen of African origin – a recent convert to Islam – was shot dead after entering a police station in Tours and slashing three police officers with a foot-long knife. The attack closely followed two other street attacks by mentally disturbed assailants and raised alarms throughout France.
- Throughout the year, police arrested dozens of people, including minors, throughout France, for being foreign terrorist fighters in Syria or Iraq, for recruiting others to fight, or for promulgating violent extremist propaganda online. Most were focused on Syria and Iraq, although there have been reports of French fighters elsewhere. Interior Minister Bernard Cazenueve said in December that “the dismantlement of jihadist networks is an absolute priority for the police” and said, as of December 17, 2014, there were 103 judicial cases against violent extremists concerning 505 suspects.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: France is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). France belongs to, or is an observer in the following FATF-related bodies: Cooperating and Supporting Nation to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, Observer to the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, Observer to the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, Observer to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, and Observer to the Middle East and North Africa Financial Task Force. France is a member of the Egmont Group and member of the Anti-Money Laundering Liaison Committee of the Franc Zone.
In mid-January 2014, the French Treasury froze the assets of “Perle d’Espoir” (Pearl of Hope), a nonprofit association registered in 2012. On November 18, the French arrested two employees, President Yasmine Znaidi and Naibl Ourfelli, charging them with terrorist financing and conspiracy.
The French financial intelligence unit “Tracfin” said that regular "1901 Law" non-profit organizations (NPOs) are not obliged to file suspicious transactions reports. NPOs are not regulated or monitored by Tracfin. According to the French monetary and financial code, only monetary and financial professions, government administrative structures, and related NPOs are regulated and monitored.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: France is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. Sworn in in 2013, France’s Jean Paul Laborde remained the Executive Director of the UN Counterterrorism Committee (CTC). France played a strong role on the UNSCR 1267/1989 and 1988 Sanctions Committees. In regional organizations, France participated in the drafting of the European Council’s Counterterrorism Strategy action plan, and helped create and implement NATO’s new Strategic Concept and the Lisbon Summit Declaration, both of which include major counterterrorism measures for member states. Through the OSCE, France engaged in new measures to counter transnational threats, including terrorism.
The Government of France undertook joint counterterrorism operations with countries including the UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Spain. France also played an active role in efforts to support counterterrorism capacity building in other countries both bilaterally and within the EU.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: France has an overall strategy to counter terrorism that includes countering violent extremism. France considers its integration programs for all French citizens and residents a major tool in countering radicalization and violent extremism. Many of these programs target disenfranchised communities and new immigrants.
The Ministry of Education works to instill "universal values" in all French pupils, regardless of ethnic origin or country of birth. Ministry regulations mandate that all French public schools teach civic education, and that all students attend school until age 16. The government also offers adult vocational training for older immigrants and minorities who have never attended French schools. The Interior Ministry plays a significant role in countering radicalization to violence by increased police presence in disenfranchised areas, neighborhoods, and regions with high criminality and juvenile delinquency rates.
The Ministry of Justice implements rehabilitation and reintegration programs for former criminals. According to the Ministry of Justice, as of December 1, there were 185 Muslim chaplains employed by the French penitentiary system.
According to the Interior Ministry, a toll-free hotline implemented in spring 2014 for families of radicalized citizens has received some 625 “pertinent” notifications and prevented between 70 and 80 French citizens from departing to fight in Syria.
Overview: In 2014, Georgia continued its robust engagement with the United States across a range of counterterrorism-related issues and remained a strong U.S. counterterrorism partner. However, there are continuing concerns about Georgia as a transit and source country for international terrorism. Media reported that, as of December, between 50 and 100 Georgian nationals from the Muslim-majority regions of Adjara and the Pankisi Gorge were fighting in Syria and Iraq for either al-Qa’ida affiliates or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including senior ISIL commander Tarkhan Batirashvili (aka Omar al-Shishani). Given Georgia’s geographic location, violent Islamist extremists continued to transit through the country between the Russian Federation’s North Caucasus and Syria and Iraq.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and former Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze publicly committed to provide humanitarian support as part of Georgia’s contribution to and membership of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. Following the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2178, the Georgian government initiated changes to its criminal code related to foreign terrorist fighters and modified regulations to strengthen document security along the border with Turkey. Georgian and Turkish nationals are allowed to cross the border in both directions using identification cards that lack the security features of passports, thus increasing the likelihood that fraudulent documents could be used at the critical Turkish-Georgian border checkpoint on the route to Syria through Turkey.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Georgia continued to enhance its counterterrorism legislation in 2014. In April, the Georgian government amended the Criminal Code to criminalize participation in international terrorism, recruitment for membership in a terrorist organization, and failing to hinder a terrorist incident. The Georgian government amended other terrorism-related articles in the Criminal Code in July to bring them into line with international best practices and make them more precise for use in criminal prosecutions. In November, Georgia updated its legislation on surveillance to provide for additional oversight of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is primarily responsible for counterterrorism and for conducting surveillance within the country. As of December, the Georgian government was preparing additional amendments to the Criminal Code and other relevant legislation related to foreign terrorist fighters to fully implement UN Security Council Resolution 2178. The country would benefit from additional legislation to allow for the creation of a means to identify and sanction individuals who are not included on UN sanctions list and to improve the Georgian government’s ability to prosecute terrorism cases.
Counterterrorism units within Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs have the lead in investigating terrorism-related incidents, and in December, the Georgian government established a new interagency mechanism that would operate as a joint task force to conduct a major counterterrorism operation, if needed. Overall, the Georgian government is largely capable of detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorism incidents. However, several ministries and offices share counterterrorism responsibilities, creating challenges to cooperation and information sharing. Nonetheless, the Georgian government took steps toward improving interagency coordination. The government set up a counterterrorism working group within the country’s State Security and Crisis Management Council to promote regular communication among relevant agencies and a crisis management unit within the same Council that would coordinate the government’s response in the event of a major terrorist incident.
Georgia continued efforts to strengthen its overall border security, in part due to its goal to attain visa-free travel to the EU. However, Tbilisi’s lack of control over its Russian-occupied territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, harsh terrain, and a continuing tense relationship with Moscow limited the country’s ability to secure its northern border. In 2014, Georgia took steps to strengthen document security by imposing stricter conditions on issuing a second passport and, since late July, issuing biometric passports. Georgian law enforcement used UN sanctions lists as terrorist watchlists and advance passenger name records on commercial flights at ports of entry, to help detect potential terrorist movement. More comprehensive biometric and biographic screening at ports of entry would enhance this capability, however. With significant U.S. support, the Georgian Coast Guard is now better equipped to patrol the country’s maritime borders, with the exception of Russian-occupied Abkhazia’s coastline, and the Georgian government continued to improve its ability to detect and interdict WMD. Georgia shares cross-border terrorism-related information with its southern neighbors – Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan – through police attaches and working-level interaction at border crossings. Chains of supervision at the border hamper official cross-border communication, however, as border guards and patrol police at border checkpoints must check with Tbilisi before sharing information with senior law enforcement in neighboring countries.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Georgia is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Georgia’s amendments to terrorist financing legislation – to address shortcomings highlighted in MONEYVAL’s 2012 evaluation – came into force in January, and in March, the Georgian government adopted a strategy and action plan for combating money laundering and terrorist financing to further improve regulations and build capacity. In response to recommendations from MONEYVAL and the FATF, the government established the Interagency Commission on Implementation of UNSC Resolutions to coordinate the government’s immediate compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Georgia is actively engaged on counterterrorism issues at the international, regional, and bilateral levels, and participates in regional organizations such as the Council of Europe Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism and its amending protocol, the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) Organization for Democracy and Economic Development. The Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (Warsaw Convention) came into force in Georgia in May. As of December, Georgia had concluded bilateral law enforcement and counterterrorism treaties with 23 countries. In 2014, Georgian law enforcement officials participated in counterterrorism-related training and capacity-building exercises with the Governments of Turkey, the UK, Israel, and Slovakia, as well as with the George Marshall Center in Germany, the OSCE, and the UN.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: In 2014, Georgia increased its nascent efforts to prevent radicalization in vulnerable populations, but more focus – particularly in the areas of economic development, community policing, prison reform, and outreach to Muslim communities – would strengthen the government’s ability to identify and provide alternatives to at-risk individuals. In order to increase the integration of Muslim youth into Georgian society, the Georgian government now allows students to pass exams in languages other than Georgian, and the government attempts to better advertise educational opportunities and scholarships to vulnerable populations. The Muslim-majority Adjara region already enjoys significant autonomy, and legislation passed in February gives more autonomy to municipalities and villages, including in the Muslim-majority Pankisi Gorge.
Overview: The threat from violent extremism increased in 2014 in connection with the threat posed by domestic radical groups as well as foreign terrorist fighters. Germany investigated, arrested, and prosecuted a sharply increased number of terrorist suspects and disrupted terrorist-related groups within its borders, many of whom were connected to al-Qa’ida (AQ), the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), other violent Islamist extremists, Kurdish nationalist, and neo-Nazi terrorist organizations. Security officials estimated over 550 residents in Germany have departed the country to participate in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the majority of which joined violent Islamist extremist groups in the fighting there. A third of these may have already returned to Germany. German officials actively investigated these returnees for any terrorist threat resulting from their experience abroad and possible desire to continue to support violent extremist causes. Bilateral counterterrorism cooperation with the United States remained excellent.
Germany is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and has provided arms, material support, and training to Kurdish security forces. The German government has committed support for further counter-ISIL training efforts in Iraq. Germany voiced its support for UNSCRs 2170 and 2178 and is currently preparing legislative amendments to specifically criminalize terrorist finance and foreign terrorist fighter travel, although German law already criminalizes both the provision of financial or material support for terrorist groups or acts as well as attendance at terrorist training camps. Germany is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and supported the GCTF good practices on foreign terrorist fighters. Domestically, the German government has increased enforcement efforts to prevent, interdict, and counter foreign terrorist fighter travel and has voiced support for strengthening EU and Schengen measures to do so. In September, the Ministry of Interior issued a ban against actions in support of ISIL, making it explicitly illegal to join, recruit, provide material support for, propagandize for, or display the symbols of ISIL. German security officials actively made use of existing provisions allowing them to seize passports of those deemed to pose a security risk and began preparatory work on other measures to block travel, such as limitations on national identification cards. In November, the Bundestag (parliament) approved a 2015 budget that included increased spending on law enforcement and domestic intelligence efforts to counter the foreign terrorist fighter threat.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The German government continued to apply its comprehensive counterterrorism legislation, which criminalizes membership in or support for domestic and foreign terrorist associations. The Criminal Code also makes a range of terrorism-related preparatory actions illegal, such as participating in terrorist training or acquiring weapons or explosives with the intent to commit attacks that endanger the German state.
German border management data systems, equipment, and infrastructure are highly developed. Data on suspected terrorists is shared between federal and state law enforcement agencies. The German passport and other identity documents incorporate strong security features. Germany does not collect entry/exit data. Collection and retention of Advance Passenger Information (API) is limited and Passenger Name Record (PNR) analysis is not used. Germany supports an EU-wide PNR directive and entry/exit systems rather than systems managed by individual member states.
Counterterrorism arrests, prosecutions, and trials:
Throughout the year, German police, prosecutors, and courts took various actions against ISIL members, supporters, or returned foreign terrorist fighters. At year’s end, the Federal Minister of Justice said authorities were carrying out approximately 300 investigations or prosecutions nationwide related to ISIL membership or support
In March, as part of a nationwide series of raids, police arrested German citizen Fatih Kharaman in Berlin, Turkish citizen Fatih I. in Frankfurt, and German-Polish dual national Karolina R. in Bonn. The three were indicted for providing financial or propaganda support to ISIL, and Kharaman and Fatih I. were also charged with ISIL membership and terrorist training during travel to Syria. In September, prosecutors indicted Kharaman for membership in Junud al-Sham, which fights alongside ISIL and other violent extremist groups. Also in September, the Federal Prosecutor General added additional terrorist finance charges against Karolina R. and also indicted Ahmed-Sadiq M. and Jennifer Vincenza M. for membership in and financial support to ISIL.
In June, the German Federal Police arrested a French citizen returning from Syria and subsequently extradited him to France on terrorism charges. The man arrived in Berlin by plane from Turkey and was detained upon arrival. He was suspected of having traveled to Syria to join ISIL forces, where he was wounded participating in combat.
In October, the Federal Prosecutor General indicted German citizen Harun P. for membership in the foreign terrorist group Junud al-Sham, as well as for murder and conspiracy to commit murder. P. traveled to Syria in September 2013 where he received paramilitary training and participated in a February 2014 attack on the central state prison in Aleppo that left two soldiers and five inmates dead. Prosecutors also charged him with attempting to incite the group to murder a teenaged German girl in Syria. Czech Police arrested him at the Prague Airport in April and later extradited him to Germany.
In October and November, police and prosecutors carried out a series of investigations and raids resulting in the arrest of multiple alleged members or supporters of ISIL. Police in North Rhine-Westphalia arrested Tunisian citizen Kamel Ben Yahia S., Russian citizen Yusup G, Moroccan-German citizen Mounir R., and Lebanese citizen Kassem El R. for providing financial, material, and recruitment support to ISIL.
In November, police including special counterterrorism units, arrested a German citizen suspected of being a returned ISIL fighter in Wolfsburg.
In November, a court in Stuttgart opened the trial of Lebanese citizens Ismail Issa and Ezzeddine Issa and German citizen Mohammed Sobhan Ayubi on charges of support for terrorism. Ismail Issa is also charged with membership in a foreign terrorist organization (ISIL). Police arrested Ismail Issa and Ayubi in November 2013 while they were transporting night vision equipment, medication, tools, and binoculars intended for ISIL. Ezzeddine Issa (Ismail’s brother) and Ayubi allegedly assisted him with financing, procurement, and transport. The trial was ongoing at year’s end.
- In December, a court in Frankfurt convicted Kreshnik Berisha of membership in a foreign terrorist organization (ISIL) and sentenced him to three years and nine months in prison. Berisha was arrested upon his return to Germany in December 2013, after having left for Syria in July of the same year. This was the first trial involving a returned foreign terrorist fighter from Syria to be concluded.
Other significant cases included:
In November, a court in Düsseldorf convicted four members of an AQ terrorist cell, ending a trial that began in July 2012. The court found three defendants (Moroccan citizen Abdeladim El Kebir, German-Moroccan citizen Jamil Sedikki, and German-Iranian citizen Amid Chaabi) guilty of membership in a foreign terrorist group and sentenced them to terms of nine years, seven years and five-and-a-half years in prison, respectively. The court found German citizen Halil Simsek guilty of support for terrorism and fraud and sentenced him to four-and-a-half years. The charges stemmed from El Kebir’s travel to a terrorist training camp in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and subsequent recruitment of his co-defendants for the preparation and execution of one or more bombing attacks in Germany. The United States provided evidentiary support and expert testimony in the case. The defendants filed an appeal in federal court, which was pending at year’s end.
In January, a Frankfurt court sentenced Emrah Erdogan to seven years in prison for membership in terrorist organizations (AQ and al-Shabaab) and incitement of robbery.
In February, a court in Hamburg convicted German-Afghan dual national Sulaiman Sadiki of membership in the foreign terrorist organization the Islamist Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and sentenced him to three years in prison. Sadiki attended an IMU/AQ terror camp in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region in 2009 and assisted with logistical tasks including weapons transport, as well as with the production of an IMU propaganda film. Sadiki fled before the trial’s conclusion but Bulgarian authorities arrested and subsequently extradited him to Germany.
In March, a court in Düsseldorf sentenced Josef Dweik to two-and-a-half years in prison for membership in the foreign terrorist organization the German Taliban Mujahedin, which he joined in the Afghan-Pakistan border region in 2010, intending to participate in the armed conflict in Afghanistan. The Federal Prosecutor General’s Office indicted Dweik on terrorism charges in September 2013.
In May, a court in Düsseldorf sentenced 29-year old Lebanese-German dual citizen Ahmed Krekshi to three-and-a-half years in prison for support of the foreign terrorist organization IMU. Krekshi transferred over US $4,700 to the IMU and contributed to propaganda efforts, as well as gathering intelligence on Germany.
In August, a Düsseldorf court convicted Turkish citizen Özkan Güzel and sentenced him to 26 months in prison for membership in the Turkish foreign terrorist organization the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C). The court found that Güzel had been involved with the DHKP-C since 1998 and that he was raising funds meant to support armed conflict.
In August, the Federal Criminal Police arrested Turkish citizen Mehmet D. on suspicion of membership in the foreign terrorist organization the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Federal prosecutors accused him of directing PKK activities (including fundraising and overseeing financial management) in northern and central Germany under the code name "Kahraman" since January 2013.
In September, the Federal Criminal Investigative Police (BKA) arrested three German citizens (Steven N., Abdullah W., and Abdulsalam W.) on suspicion of membership in terrorist group al-Shabaab. The three were arrested upon arrival in Frankfurt on a flight from Kenya and were reportedly considering travel to Syria to join violent extremist groups there. The following day, authorities in Kenya arrested two additional German citizens who were also thought to be members of al-Shabaab.
- In September, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court opened the trial of German citizen Marco René Gäbel, German citizen Tayfun Sevim, German-Turkish dual citizen Koray Nicholas Durmaz, and Albanian citizen Enea Buzo on terrorism-related charges. Authorities charged that the four formed a terrorist group and attempted to murder the leader of a far-right-wing political party in March 2013. Additionally, Gäbel is charged with attempted mass murder in a failed attempt to bomb the Bonn train station in December 2012, which potentially carries a life sentence. The trial was ongoing at year’s end.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Germany is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and an observer to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, and the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America against Money Laundering, all of which are FATF-style regional bodies. Germany’s financial intelligence unit is a member of the Egmont Group. In June, based on improvements reflected in its most recent FATF Mutual Evaluation Follow-up Report, FATF removed Germany from the Follow-Up process. German agencies filed 19,095 suspicious transaction reports in 2013 (the latest figures available), a 33% increase over the prior year. Agencies designated 208 of them for suspected terrorist financing, a significant decrease as a share of reports. Germany remained a strong advocate of the UNSCR 1267/1989 (Al-Qaida) and 1988 (Taliban) sanctions regimes.
Police and prosecutors began investigations and trials in a number of terrorist financing cases related to ISIL during the year, as noted above. None of these had reached a conclusion by year’s end.
In April, the Federal Ministry of the Interior banned a Hizballah-affiliated charity, the Lebanese Orphan Children Project (Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon) and seized nearly US $80,000 in assets. The group is suspected of transferring over US $4 million to Hizballah’s Al-Shahid Foundation since 2007. In June, a court issued a temporary injunction against parts of the ban after the organization filed a legal challenge, but left the assets frozen; a final ruling was still pending at year’s end.
Regional and International Cooperation: Germany is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and continued to participate in various multilateral counterterrorism initiatives. German cooperation with regional and international organizations on counterterrorism includes the UN and UN Security Council, EU, OECD, OSCE, NATO, Council of Europe, G-7, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and Interpol. Within the GCTF, Germany is a founding supporter of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, and the Institute’s Executive Director is a seconded German official. Germany also supports GCTF capacity building projects. Germany has advocated strongly within the EU for improved counterterrorism and border security efforts.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Germany has numerous programs to counter violent extremism at the state and federal levels. The Federal and State Ministries of Interior have formed a working group to ensure coordination and more effective support for efforts to analyze and counter the appeal of violent extremism, which meets regularly to compile and disseminate information and best practices.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior continued its counter-radicalization assistance center for concerned parents and friends of violent extremists; the center was established in January 2012 and has expanded to include a nationwide telephone hotline with clients referred to a region-specific advising partner. The hotline has received over 1,200 calls since its establishment. In September, the government folded the work of its HATIF (the Arabic word for telephone) program into the counter-radicalization assistance center, which has also taken on HATIF’s mission of assisting violent extremists who wish to exit the scene with reintegration.
In North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state with 17 million residents, state authorities continued and expanded the work of the “Pathfinder” initiative to work with communities to engage individuals believed to be susceptible to radicalization to violence. In some cities, NGOs or community organizations implement the programs, while in others, city government offices do so. In addition, North-Rhine Westphalia continued other programs to improve civic education and to provide opportunities for at-risk youth. In Berlin, the Violence Prevention Network runs a training program that serves ideologically motivated perpetrators both during and after detention.
In June, the state of Hesse opened a state-wide “Violence Prevention Network” supported by a counseling center in Frankfurt. The center’s mission is to advise at-risk youth and their friends, families, teachers, and classmates. Other states have announced similar plans or begun funding the work of NGOs involved in CVE and de-radicalization efforts, including Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Bavaria, and Baden-Württemberg.
Overview: In 2014, Greece continued to experience intermittent small-scale terrorist attacks such as targeted package bombs or improvised explosive device detonation by domestic anarchist groups. Generally, these attacks did not appear aimed at inflicting bodily harm but rather sought to make a political statement. Overall, Greek government cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism remained strong.
Senior Greek government leaders have emphasized that counterterrorism is one of their top priorities. The MFA has strongly condemned the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and called on the international community to join the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, of which Greece is a member. Greece has pledged to provide ammunition to Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting ISIL. In 2014, Greece also established a special legislative committee which began reviewing and updating its existing legal framework on terrorism to ensure authorities have the right tools in place to take action against foreign terrorist fighters.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: Greece’s two largest cities, Athens and Thessaloniki, experienced frequent, relatively small-scale anarchist attacks that used inexpensive and unsophisticated incendiary devices against the properties of political figures, party offices, private bank ATMs, ministries and tax offices, and privately-owned vehicles. Terrorist attacks included:
On April 26, Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility for an April 10 car bomb attack targeting the offices of the IMF and Greek Central Bank.
Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei claimed responsibility for sending a parcel bomb containing over one pound of explosives to a police station in Central Greece on April 29. This device malfunctioned and did not detonate.
- On December 12, an unknown group fired approximately 50 rounds of ammunition at the Israeli Embassy in Athens. This was similar to the attack that targeted the German Ambassador’s residence December 30, 2013. The attackers remained at large at year’s end.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Article 187A of the Greek Penal Code codifies the terrorism statute. In addition, Article 28(1) of the Greek Constitution subjects Greek citizens to applicable international laws, to include those related to terrorism. Article 28 (2) and (3) subjects Greek citizens to applicable EU Laws, including the EU law against terrorism. As noted above, Greece is presently reviewing and updating its existing legal framework on terrorism to ensure authorities have the right tools in place to take action against foreign terrorist fighters. The Police Directorate for Countering Special Violent Crimes (DAEEV) is responsible for counterterrorism in Greece. DAEEV is proactive and attracts highly motivated and educated young police officers. This unit has demonstrated a high capacity to collect information, but it lacks capacity to use the volume of data it collects and to share it with other services within the Greek police and Coast Guard.
Greece has a weak document system for birth certificates and Greek ID cards, which compromise the integrity of the Greek passports. The national ID card is extremely vulnerable to alteration and photo substitution, and it has not incorporated any new security features such as digitized photo and biometrics. The government is working actively to address this vulnerability.
Christodoulos Xiros, key leader and hit-man for the terrorist organization 17 November, disappeared in January while on furlough from prison. [Note: The Greek police arrested Xiros in early 2015.]
Nikolaos Maziotis, a lead member of the terrorist organization Revolutionary Struggle, who was convicted in absentia for his participation in this terrorist organization by an Athens appeals court in 2013, was re-captured by police in July 2014. Hellenic Police also arrested Andonis Stamboulos for membership in a terrorist organization, as he was a known associate of Maziotis. At the time of his arrest Stamboulos was carrying plans for an imminent attack on the headquarters of the ruling party and a list of potential high-profile targets.
On October 1, Greek police discovered two locations in Athens and Thessaloniki serving as hideouts for Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei. The trial of 19 suspected members of the group, which began in 2011 and was repeatedly postponed due to work stoppages by judges and judicial postponements, re-commenced on December 4.
In 2014, the Hellenic Police DAEEV directorate arrested at least seven suspected members of the DHKP/C to include the February 10 arrest of senior leader Hussein Tekin.
The porous nature of Greece’s borders remained a concern. While Greek border authorities have had success in stemming the flow of illegal migration at the land border with Turkey, their ability to control large-scale illegal migration via sea borders is limited. Recent regional upheavals have intensified illegal migration to and through Greece via the Greek Aegean islands. In September, the antiterrorism assistance program (ATA) provided analytic methodology and threat analysis training to Hellenic Police, while the Hellenic Police and Coast Guard hosted a three-day regional seminar with participants from Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Romania, Spain and the United States. The seminar “Developing Border Protection Management Strategies to Counter Illicit Migration, Trafficking and Terrorist Migration” enhanced the capabilities of law enforcement, Coast Guard, and border control agencies across the Mediterranean.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Greece is a member of the Financial Action Task Force and the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units. The Foreign Ministry’s Sanctions Monitoring Unit is tasked with ensuring that Greece meets its commitments to enforce international sanctions, including terrorism-related sanctions. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which is essentially an autonomous institution, although nominally under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance, received 5,526 suspicious transaction reports through October 31, 2014.
Non-profit organizations are not obliged to file suspicious transaction reports. However, all banks – through which these organizations conduct transactions – are legally obliged to report suspicious transactions of any kind, regardless of the type of entity (for- or not-for profit), and the government may directly monitor such entities if necessary.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Greece engaged constructively on counterterrorism initiatives in international fora and regularly participated in regional information exchange and seminars through such bodies as the UN, the EU, the OSCE, the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center for Combating Trans-Border Crime, and the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation.
Overview: The United States and Ireland worked closely in bilateral and regional counterterrorism, law enforcement, and information sharing efforts. Garda Síochána (the local and national police service of Ireland, referred to as Garda in this report) has comprehensive law enforcement, immigration, investigative, intelligence, and counterterrorism responsibilities.
In 2014, there were incidents carried out in Ireland by dissident republican groups (sometimes referred to as criminal terrorist groups by the Irish Department of Justice). Some violent actions committed in neighboring Northern Ireland by members of dissident groups were traced back to support provided by persons living in Ireland. Attacks were directed at Northern Ireland’s law enforcement personnel and security structures to disrupt ongoing post-peace process community rehabilitation efforts. Irish authorities worked to address these legacy issues stemming from “The Troubles,” and were actively involved in dealing with transnational terrorism issues. The targets for other attacks by dissident republican groups in Ireland have been other republican factions, and the incidents often involve criminal activity. Major Garda successes in disrupting the activities of such groups and infighting between dissident factions seem to have weakened threat capabilities.
Ireland is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: There were no significant terrorist attacks in 2014. As of the end of November, however, there were 127 bomb squad mobilizations for possible improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in 2014, 43 of which resulted in the discovery of viable IEDs that were subsequently disarmed by Ireland’s Army bomb disposal teams. The list below details terrorism-related incidents reported in the public domain.
In February, forensic tests on seven bombs sent to army recruitment centers in Great Britain showed that all of them had been mailed over a three-day period from Ireland. The bombs were all defused without incident. Irish authorities said that the parcels were sent as part of a new campaign being carried out by a group called the New IRA alliance.
On May 10, police discovered a 66-pound bomb in the trunk of a car parked in a Dublin hotel. Garda said that the bomb was intended for use against security forces in Northern Ireland. A 55-year-old man was subsequently charged with the possession of explosives in relation to the bomb, and membership in the IRA.
On May 25, five men were arrested when Garda found an explosive device (a beer keg with components for an IED) in their car. Garda said that the device was being transported to Northern Ireland by dissident republicans for an attack on security forces. Three of the five men were charged.
- On November 16, during a Garda operation targeting dissident republican groups, officers seized firearms and uncovered a suspected bomb-making operation. An army bomb disposal unit was called in to carry out a controlled explosion on bomb-making equipment found in one house. Two men suspected of having links to dissident republican groups were arrested.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2014, the Dáil (Irish Lower House) voted to renew the Offenses Against the State (Amendment) Act, which was first introduced following an IRA bombing in Omagh in 1998 that killed 29 people. The amendment allows for the drawing of inferences in certain circumstances in prosecutions and created offenses such as directing an unlawful organization, a category which includes the IRA. The law also extends the maximum detention time without being formally charged to 72 hours.
Ireland also introduced the Criminal (Terrorist Offenses) (Amendment) Act 2014 which would create three new terrorism offenses. The bill transposes into Irish law an EU Council Framework Decision on counterterrorism. When enacted, the offenses would be: public provocation to commit a terrorist offense, recruitment for terrorism, and training for terrorism. The new offenses would carry sentences of up to 10 years imprisonment upon conviction.
Law enforcement units have effectively demonstrated their capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. The Garda Special Branch provides specialized law enforcement capability and has primary responsibility for counterterrorism response, with the military performing specific functions when requested by the civil authorities.
Ireland works closely with the UK on border security, including the sharing of biographic and biometric information. Ireland has been active in highlighting the need for the sharing of passenger name records (PNR) on flights in the EU.
Significant law enforcement action against terrorists or terrorists groups in 2014 included:
On February 7, a Garda operation disrupted a major fundraising plan by dissident republicans involving the printing of counterfeit currency. The Garda seized fake notes worth US $24,000 along with two industrial sized printing presses, a cutting machine used to produce single notes, and computers programmed to impose graphics on the bills. Three men were charged in connection with the investigation.
On February 18, the Garda arrested two Irish Defense Forces personnel in connection with dissident activity and the discovery of a pipe bomb. The soldiers allegedly had links to a dissident republican group in Northern Ireland. One solider was subsequently charged, and one was released.
- The Garda seized up to 20 million euros (US $24,019,300) in counterfeit 50 euro notes along with printing and computer equipment in April. A man with reported connections to dissident republicans was arrested.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Ireland is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units. The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Bill of 2010 enacted the EU’s third money-laundering directive into Irish law, giving effect to several of the FATF Recommendations. In 2014, the Criminal Justice Act 2013 which amended the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 by providing for the cessation of mobile communications services where necessary for the aversion of terrorist threats went into effect.
A June 2013 FATF review found that Ireland relies exclusively on the EU listing system in relation to UN Security Council Resolution 1373 and that there is still no mechanism in Ireland for the immediate freezing of funds of EU “internal” or “domestic” terrorists that fall outside this EU list. However, Irish Criminal Justice legislation does provide a legal basis for immediate asset freezing if such crimes are suspected.
Law enforcement authorities monitor non-profit organizations for purposes of monitoring breaches of criminal law, but Ireland has yet to fully implement the Charities Act of 2009, which regulates the activities of charities and non-profit organizations in Ireland.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Ireland works closely with the UK in securing the Common Travel Area (CTA). The introduction of the British Irish visa required the sharing of biometric and other information. The net result was a more integrated system for checking travelers. Ireland participated in an ad hoc grouping of ministers from nine EU countries that met to discuss issues related to stopping the flow of foreign terrorist fighters.
In addition to counterterrorism capacity building overseas, Ireland also cooperated on counterterrorism efforts with Northern Ireland. The Irish Defense Forces provide a robust explosive ordnance disposal capability to the civil authorities, routinely deploying to investigate and disarm ordnance around the country. The 2 Brigade, which is responsible for the Dublin area and a significant portion of the territory along the border with Northern Ireland, has responded to 79 reports of explosive devices in 2014 through November.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Government of Ireland’s efforts to counter radicalization to violence focused on integrating minority groups into Irish society. These measures included providing social benefits, language training, health care, and the proactive advocacy work of an Ombudsman’s office in the affairs of immigrants. Through the Garda Racial, Intercultural, and Diversity Office, police officers are provided special training to assist with at-risk populations.
The primary strategy used by the Irish government is the Ethnic Liaison Officer program of the Garda. These officers liaise with representatives of the various minority communities in an area, and establish communication links with each of these communities. They support integration by involving members of ethnic minority communities in Garda and community social events.
Overview: Italy investigated and prosecuted terrorist suspects, dismantled suspected terrorist-related cells within its borders, and maintained a high level of professional cooperation with the United States and international partners. Terrorist and criminal activity by domestic anarchists and other violent extremists also remained a threat. Italy is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), conducting air strikes in Iraq, contributing military support, trainers, and humanitarian assistance to the crises in Iraq and Syria, engagement with foreign leaders – including Middle East partners – in support of the coalition, and enhanced efforts to identify, decrease, and disrupt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. Italy is implementing UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 2170 and 2178 to mitigate the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters and to restrict terrorist financing. Italy promoted Europol as a venue for EU-level coordination of law enforcement and intelligence cooperation across national borders. Italian law enforcement’s primary focus has been on preventing returning foreign terrorist fighters from using Italy to create bases for international operations and recruitment. As a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Fund (GCTF), and consistent with its implementation of UNSCRs 2170 and 2178, Italy has endorsed the GCTF Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the Foreign Terrorist Fighter Phenomenon. On December 11-12, 2014, it hosted in Rome a joint GCTF-UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) workshop on challenges and lessons learned in reintegrating returning foreign terrorist fighters.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: Representative incidents included:
On January 13, a Democratic Party Senator, Stefano Esposito, who was in favor of the construction of a controversial high speed railway Turin-Lyon, discovered three rudimentary explosive devices (Molotov cocktails) and a threatening note outside of his residence in Turin.
On January 24, a small bomb exploded outside the office of a foundation linked to the French Embassy to the Holy See in Rome, damaging three cars and some windows. The incident occurred on the same day of the meeting between the French President and the Pope in Rome.
On June 10, an anarchist group was considered responsible for an attack against an office of the Democratic Party in Florence that resulted in limited damages to the façade of the building.
On July 1, an explosive device detonated outside the office of the right-wing association Casa Pound in Bologna, and another small bomb was found unexploded outside of the office of the PD, also in Bologna.
- On December 21, a bottle of flammable liquid exploded near the Rome-Florence high-speed train line, damaging electrical cables and causing train traffic to halt. A second bottle did not explode. The attack is being attributed to a violent anti-high-speed train group known as NO TAV. The attack follows two similar incidents using rudimentary explosive devices on high speed train lines on December 2 and December 18.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Italian government continued to make use of reinforced counterterrorism legislation enacted in 2005 that facilitates detention of suspects, mandates arrest for crimes involving terrorism, and expedites procedures for expelling persons suspected of terrorist activities. At year’s end, the Government of Italy was drafting new legislation that would criminalize the travel of persons and export of materiel in support of armed conflict; Italy currently only criminalizes the recruitment of combatants.
Italy’s long history of countering both organized crime and violent ideological movements has given it a strong legacy in fighting internal threats to security, and authorities are leveraging those capabilities to counter terrorist recruitment, radicalization to violence, and networking. The Police, the ROS Carabinieri (gendarmerie), Guardia di Finanza, other specialized law enforcement agencies, and the intelligence services coordinated their counterterrorism efforts and met regularly. Italian judges have the authority to swiftly expel non-citizens for “seriously disturbing public order, endangering national security, or religious discrimination.”
The Italian Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) continued to implement a Memorandum of Cooperation with the United States, allowing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to conduct aviation security assessments at three Italian commercial airports. Italy demonstrated its capability to quickly enhance measures to counter threats against civil aviation; in 2014, Italy worked with the TSA to increase measures at major commercial airports to counter the threat of various types of improvised explosive devices. In 2014, Italy received a record number – over 150,000 – of refugees, asylum-seekers and economic migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya, presenting serious challenges to the capacity of Italian border security officials to comprehensively screen all incoming migrants. For most of the year, Italy continued an anti-smuggling and search and rescue operation, called Mare Nostrum; the operation has formally wound down in favor of a multination EU FRONTEX border security operation called Triton. Senior Italian officials have indicated publicly they do not believe the Mediterranean exodus has been used by terrorists to penetrate Italy. The government has not reported any returning foreign terrorist fighters among these arrivals, but Italian authorities and the Italian public remained sensitive to this risk and were especially concerned about an increasingly unsecure Libya. EU data privacy concerns limit the sharing of biometric data with the United States.
Significant law enforcement actions related to counterterrorism included:
On March 14, a Turin court sentenced two NO TAV (anti high-speed train) activists, Davide Forgione and Paolo Rossi, to two years and two months in prison. They had been arrested in August 2013 in a car containing materials meant to be used to make explosive devices.
On April 2, police arrested 24 persons, including a former parliamentarian, accused of planning violent actions to claim the independence of the Veneto region.
On May 30, Claudio Alberto, a NO TAV militant, was convicted and sentenced to four months’ imprisonment for intimidation against a worker outside of a high speed railroad construction site; Alberto and three other NO TAV members were sentenced to three years and six months in jail, but the court rejected the charges of terrorism over the objection of the government, resulting in the milder verdict. Other NO TAV activists were arrested in July 2014, accused of violence against a public officer, public damages, and the use of rudimentary explosive devices in Milan, Turin, and Lecce.
On June 18, a Rome judge sentenced two Informal Anarchist Federation (IAF) affiliates, Gianula Iacovacci and Antonio Antonacci, to six years, and to three years and eight months, respectively for 13 violent attacks against the offices of multinational corporations, banks, and a landfill in the province of Rome.
On July 11, a Genoa Court of Appeals upheld the 2013 conviction of Alfredo Cospito and Nicola Gai to 10 and nine years, respectively, in prison for a 2012 kneecapping attack against Roberto Adinolfi, Chief Executive Officer of the Ansaldo nuclear engineering company. The IAF had claimed responsibility for the incident.
On August 27, authorities announced that they had been conducting an investigation on five persons suspected of being close to violent Islamist extremist groups. Some of them might have recruited foreign terrorist fighters willing to fight in Syria and Iraq.
On October 14, the prefecture of Naples expelled a French citizen who repeatedly expressed approval for violent Islamist extremist movements.
On November 11, police arrested a Tunisian man suspected of having established an Ansar al-Shari’a cell. During a random inspection of a car, the man tried to fire a bullet at police officers and escape. Investigators found an original ISIL flag in the caravan where alleged cell members lived. Another Tunisian member of the same group, suspected of drug trafficking, disappeared after the arrest of his associate.
- On December 22, 14 people were arrested and 31 placed under investigation in L’Aquila (Abruzzo) accused of domestic terrorism. The suspects allegedly belonged to a far-right movement ideologically inspired by the former Italian, neo-fascist “New Order” movement. The suspects were accused of incitement of terrorism, subversion of democracy, conspiracy, discrimination, and of racial, ethnic, and religious violence directed at state objectives. The charges documented repeated attempts by the group to procure weapons through robbery or from abroad.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Italy is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a FATF-style regional body (FSRB); it has observer status with the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, an FSRB. Italy cooperated with foreign governments, including the United States, as an active member of the FATF and the Egmont Group. Italy also participated in the UNSCR 1267/1989 and 1988 designation process both as a sponsoring and co-sponsoring nation. Italy is co-chair of the ISIL Counter Finance Group (ICFG).
The Italian judiciary and financial police (Guardia di Finanza) continued to identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned individuals and organizations and to prosecute terrorist financing cases. In addition, Italy carried out several counterterrorism operations and prevented international money transfers to terrorist groups. Judicial and law enforcement efforts to counter terrorist financing included monitoring financial transactions such as financial services companies specializing in wire transfers, bank transfers, pre-paid electronic cards, payments on fraudulent invoices, and cash-in-transit. Cash-in-transit to countries involved in terrorist activity has decreased slightly.
Italy does not require that non-profit organizations send suspicious transaction reports. Reporting entities are, however, required to consider the specific money laundering and terrorist financing risks when entering in a relationship or carrying out transactions that involve non-profit organizations.
Regional and International Cooperation: Italy is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and actively participates in its work. In its capacity as EU President, Italy hosted a December 11-12 GCTF Expert Workshop on Reintegrating Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters: Challenges and Lessons Learned. Italy also supported counterterrorism efforts through the G-7 Roma-Lyon Group, the OSCE, NATO, the UN, and the EU. The Italian government and law enforcement, in particular the Carabinieri, engaged actively in international law enforcement and military capacity building programs.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Italy has a long history of countering organized crime and radical ideological movements. Italy’s countering violent extremism toolkit includes an anti-radicalization program in its prison system. The Ministry of Justice’s Prison Police continued financing counter-radicalization programs to train 120 agents working in the four prisons where persons convicted of terrorism were incarcerated. Prison Police worked with Italy’s largest Muslim confederation to assist in de-radicalization efforts within the prisons. Outside of prison, Italy’s diverse immigrant community and well-pronounced regional distinctions made it difficult for terrorist recruiters to employ broad-based or counter-state narratives. To the extent domestic recruitment of violent Islamist extremists occurs, it appears largely concentrated in the more industrialized North, although there were unconfirmed media reports of alleged foreign terrorist fighters emerging from Rome and Naples.
Overview: The threat of violent Islamist extremism has been slowly growing in Kosovo since its 1999 conflict, assisted in part by funding from foreign organizations that preach extremist ideologies. Approximately 150 to 200 foreign terrorist fighters from Kosovo have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or al-Nusrah Front, of which approximately 20 have been killed. Violent extremist groups actively use social media to spread propaganda and recruit followers. To date, no terrorist incidents have taken place inside Kosovo. An online posting of a video showing a Kosovo foreign terrorist fighter beheading a youth in Syria in the summer contributed to the Government of Kosovo’s decision to launch its first large-scale counterterrorism operation. The Government of Kosovo has thus far focused its counterterrorism efforts on law enforcement. Kosovar security officials began initial efforts in this year to reach out to non-security ministries, independent media, NGOs, and religious organizations to enlist their support on preventing radicalization of young people and reintegrating foreign terrorist fighters. A six-month delay in forming a new government following June elections slowed such efforts, however. The new government immediately reapproved previous draft legislation prohibiting citizens from fighting in foreign conflicts.
The Government of Kosovo welcomed cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism issues. The United States has mentored and assisted law enforcement and judicial institutions on active counterterrorism cases. The United States has provided counterterrorism training opportunities through the Export Control and Related Border Security program, the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program, Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training program, and the Office of Defense Cooperation.
Because the security and political situation in northern Kosovo continues to limit the government’s ability to exercise its authority in that region, the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) and EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) work with the Kosovo Police (KP) to maintain a safe and secure environment and strengthen the rule of law, including at the borders. Kosovo’s ability to exercise its authority in the north has improved since the signing of the 2013 Brussels Agreement to normalize relations with Serbia, but the two countries have yet to fully implement the agreement. Although Kosovo and neighboring Serbia do not usually cooperate on counterterrorism issues, the governments have had an Integrated Border Management (IBM) plan in place since 2013 and have participated in joint U.S. government-sponsored training.
Kosovo is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and has taken steps to support the various lines of effort within the limits of its capabilities. It has primarily focused on stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, tracking and restricting financing for terrorist groups, and providing humanitarian assistance to refugees from Syria. In 2014, Kosovo authorities arrested around 70 individuals suspected of terrorism, around 40 of whom were returned foreign terrorist fighters. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is tracking the finances of individuals and NGOs suspected of connections to terrorism. The Government of Kosovo is beginning to discuss ways to counter ISIL-related propaganda, but has taken no concrete steps. Kosovo is not a member of the UN and not an official party to UNSC Resolutions 2170 and 2178, however the Government of Kosovo has pledged to implement these resolutions unilaterally.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Kosovo’s legislative framework is sufficient to prosecute individuals suspected of committing or supporting terrorist activities, but prosecutors lack experience in trying such cases. Kosovo officials recognized the need to improve interagency cooperation.
Kosovo has a comprehensive legal framework that covers all criminal aspects related to terrorism. The Criminal Code of Kosovo follows the UN model on counterterrorism criminal legislation and criminalizes all forms of terrorism, including commission, assistance, facilitation, recruitment, training, and incitement to commit terrorism. It also criminalizes concealment or failure to report terrorists or terrorist groups, organization and participation in terrorist groups, and preparation of terrorist offenses against the constitutional order and the security of the state of Kosovo. It defines a terrorist group as a structured group of more than two persons, established over a period of time and acting in concert to commit terrorism. In addition, the Criminal Procedure Code provides authorities with all the necessary powers to investigate and prosecute such cases, including the possibility to use covert measures such as wiretapping, undercover agents, disclosure of financial data, and interception of computer communications. It further gives authorities flexibility to investigate criminal activity during the planning stage in order to prevent crimes and terrorist acts. The Procedural Code also allows Kosovo courts to admit evidence from other countries, thus allowing prosecution of international terrorism in Kosovo. This framework provides the relevant authorities with the tools necessary to fight all forms of terrorism.
Kosovo authorities drafted legislation in 2014 that would criminalize participation in or support for a military group that operates outside of Kosovo.
Kosovo’s law enforcement authorities demonstrated some capacity to detect prospective foreign terrorist fighters and prevent them from joining the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Authorities are inexperienced in dealing with terrorism cases, however, and communications and information sharing remained a challenge for law enforcement. The Ministry of Internal Affairs revised its counterterrorism strategy. The Kosovo Police Directorate against Terrorism undertakes counterterrorism investigative functions, and has experienced resource constraints that interfere with its ability to track suspected individuals. Prosecutions of terrorism cases are handled by the Special Prosecution Office (SPRK), which is composed of local and international prosecutors. The law provides the SPRK with exclusive jurisdiction over terrorism cases. Prosecutors’ lack of experience in dealing with terrorism-related cases complicates efforts to prosecute. The United States is mentoring law enforcement and prosecutors on terrorism-related cases. Representatives from Kosovo attended training activities and conferences on counterterrorism-related topics sponsored by the EU and the United States.
Kosovo has issued biometric travel and identity documents since 2013. All major border crossing points, including Pristina International Airport, are equipped with computerized fraudulent/altered document identification equipment, for which a database is updated regularly with information from other countries. The electronic Border Management System does not interface with Interpol, however, and does not always function properly. The KBP and Directorate against Terrorism also use biometric equipment to enroll suspicious foreigners entering or applying for benefits in Kosovo and locals who may be affiliated with terrorism. Although the Law on Border Control obliges airlines to submit Airline Passenger Name Recognition lists to Kosovo, KBP has had technical difficulties using the information. KBP is working with the Civilian Aviation Authority to resolve this problem. KBP applies specific profiling techniques to identify persons attempting to travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIL. In 2014, the KBP identified and blocked at least 12 such persons from leaving Kosovo and turned them over to the Directorate against Terrorism. Finally, with U.S. assistance, KBP is revising its curricula used to train border officers to focus more on early identification of persons affiliated with terrorism. Kosovo is not a member of the UN, Interpol or Europol; the UN Mission in Kosovo and EULEX serve as Kosovo’s intermediaries with these organizations, slowing down cooperation and preventing Kosovo from having access to their screening databases.
The Government of Kosovo mounted its largest counterterrorism operation to date in summer 2014 when it arrested 59 individuals suspected of terrorist activity. Investigations were ongoing, with no indictments filed; many of these suspects remained under house arrest at year’s end. The prosecution and the police were working together to collect evidence to indict these individuals. Kosovo authorities were working with EULEX to prosecute six other individuals arrested in June in connection with a separate case; all six suspects remained in detention at year’s end. Six terrorism suspects arrested in a November sting operation also remained in detention while authorities investigated the case.
Kosovo showed increasing political will during the year to address threats related to terrorism, and the state possesses the legal framework to do so. However, national institutions -- including investigative and prosecutorial elements -- have limited capacity, resources, and experience to handle terrorism cases effectively. The United States will continue to provide training and mentoring assistance to build the capacity of these institutions overall and specifically as it relates to counterterrorism cases.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Kosovo financial intelligence unit is not a member of the Financial Action Task Force or any similar regional body. Kosovo has a Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, which allows it to comply with international anti-money laundering (AML) and counterterrorist finance (CFT) standards. This law also established enforcement mechanisms for the examination of reporting entities and narrowly defines terrorist financing. However, Kosovo is not a member of a Financial Action Task Force-styled regional body, and lacks an appropriate registration and monitoring system to track NGOs that receive funding from suspicious entities.
Kosovo adopted additional legislation and regulations exclusively pertaining to Terrorist Finance. In January, authorities adopted the Strategy on Prevention and Combating Informal Economy, Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and other Financial Crimes. Other legislation, amendments, and directives are pending on AML, CFT, and its indicators.
Kosovo has not consistently frozen and confiscated assets without delay. Kosovo has at least one case in which €499,000 (US $595,550) was frozen per a court decision. The case is in its initial stages, and the prosecutor may only freeze bank accounts for 72 hours, during which time the pretrial judge is obliged to approve or reject the freezing order. Under a judge’s temporary order, assets may be frozen for 30 days, but owners may dispute asset freezes.
Regional and International Cooperation: The OSCE has provided training to Kosovo law enforcement on terrorism-related topics. Kosovo’s membership in many regional and international organizations has been blocked because a number of countries do not recognize its independence, which impedes cooperation on many issues, including counterterrorism. Further, due to Serbia’s opposition and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s non-recognition, Kosovo faces difficulties in participating in regional counterterrorism initiatives.
Kosovo has undertaken several efforts in support of counterterrorism capacity building and cooperation with other states. On December 5-6, Kosovo hosted a regional conference on “Challenges in the Combat against Organized Crime and Terrorism and Cooperation in South-Eastern Europe,” with support from the United States. Chief State Prosecutors from Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, and Slovenia participated. The conference served as a forum to promote and increase regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism. The Kosovar government participated in the Foreign Terrorist Fighters roundtable for Balkan countries hosted by the State Department on the margins of the UNGA.
Overview: Counterterrorism efforts in Macedonia include the passing of a law criminalizing fighting for, aiding, or abetting foreign terrorist groups. Dozens of Macedonian citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq as foreign terrorist fighters in recent years, although there are indications that the foreign terrorist fighter law passed in September 2014 may be having some deterrent effect.
Macedonia is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Macedonia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed that UN Security Council Resolution 2178 has been provided to all relevant government ministries for implementation. Completed or ongoing actions that further the resolution’s objectives include the passage of Macedonia’s revised foreign terrorist fighter law, the government’s hosting of a conference for European law enforcement and intelligence officials to discuss addressing the foreign terrorist fighters threat, the creation of an interagency foreign terrorist fighters-focused body, and the development of a counterterrorism action plan.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: There were no major terrorist incidents in Macedonia. A government building housing the Prime Minister’s office was damaged in the middle of the night on October 28 by unknown perpetrators. Although no one was injured, two rounds, possibly rocket-propelled grenades, were fired at the empty and closed building. According to a letter published in local media, a group calling itself the “National Liberation Army” (NLA) claimed responsibility for the attack. Some analysts dismissed the letter as not credible because it was released almost one week after the attack and did not make any demands. A letter, allegedly from the same group, also claimed NLA responsibility for two minor explosions outside police stations in Tetovo and Kumanovo on December 9.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Macedonia’s criminal code, criminal procedure code, and law on prevention of money laundering and terrorist finance contain comprehensive counterterrorism provisions. Domestic and international acts of terror are proscribed, and in September, the country’s counterterrorism law was modified to include a provision criminalizing participating in a conflict outside Macedonia’s borders as a foreign terrorist fighter.
The U.S. government is engaged in numerous efforts to strengthen criminal justice institutions and promote the rule of law. These include a number of Department of State-funded assistance projects that focus on the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) Public Security Bureau, as well as justice sector projects that support the implementation of the recently adopted Criminal Procedure Code.
Macedonia’s security sector is well equipped and disposed to deal effectively with terrorism within its borders. Primary responsibility for detecting and investigating terrorism falls to the Administration for Security and Counterintelligence within the MOI. Interdiction and arrest capabilities lie primarily with the Special Units, namely the Rapid Deployment Unit and the Special Task Unit, also within the MOI. The “Alpha” units of the Skopje Police Department (also MOI) respond to kinetic activity within Skopje (approximately half of Macedonia’s citizens live in Skopje); however, this unit is also deployed outside of Skopje. Since all of these entities are within the MOI, there are generally no problems in coordination among them.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Macedonia is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and has completed its fourth evaluation. Macedonia is also a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.
Macedonia is not an offshore financial center, and the Law on Banks does not allow the existence of shell banks in Macedonia. Banks do not allow opening of anonymous bank accounts and bearer shares are not permitted.
With the latest changes to the anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism law from September 2014, non-profit organizations were taken off the list of obliged reporting entities.
Regional and International Cooperation: Macedonia is an enthusiastic counterterrorism partner both regionally and internationally, although Greece’s unwillingness to recognize Macedonia’s name sometimes limits Macedonia’s ability to fully participate in multilateral fora. Foreign Minister Poposki participated in the Foreign Terrorist Fighters roundtable for Balkan countries hosted by the State Department on the margins of the UNGA. In October, Macedonia hosted a regional conference for European law enforcement and intelligence officials to discuss counterterrorism and foreign terrorist fighter issues.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Macedonian government is developing a formal strategy to counter violent extremism (CVE) and has appointed a national CVE coordinator. There have been no significant efforts by the Macedonian government to create strategic communication or counter narratives, and there are no existing programs to rehabilitate and reintegrate terrorists into mainstream society.
Overview: The Netherlands continued to respond effectively to the global terrorist threat in the areas of border and transportation security, counterterrorist financing, countering violent extremism, and bilateral and international counterterrorism cooperation. Cooperation with U.S. law enforcement remained excellent. In its March 2013 quarterly terrorism threat assessment, the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV) raised the national threat level from “limited” to “substantial,” the second highest rank, indicating the chance of a terrorist attack is considered realistic. The main factor for elevating the threat level was the uptick in the number of Dutch nationals travelling to conflict areas, especially Syria, as foreign terrorist fighters. The Brussels shooting in May, and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) beheadings in late summer, combined with some pro-ISIL demonstrations in the Netherlands, propelled the threat of ISIL-based extremism to the top of the political agenda. In response, the Dutch government released a Comprehensive Action Program to Combat Jihadism in August that included both existing and proposed measures to halt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Syria and elsewhere. The plan focused on risk reduction, travel intervention, disruption of recruiters, countering radicalization, addressing the use of social media, and information exchange and cooperation. Some new measures require a legislative change; others can be achieved through a change in policy or enforcement. Resilience by the Dutch population to terrorism and violent extremism remained high.
On September 24, the government announced its membership of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. The Netherlands is represented in Combined Forces Command CENTCOM, which coordinates the mission. The Netherlands has conducted air strikes and contributed military personnel and trainers in Iraq.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Netherlands continued to use counterterrorism legislation and legislation that supplements the criminal code to address terrorism. On September 4, the government submitted draft legislation to Parliament regarding the revocation of Dutch citizenship for dual citizens after a conviction for preparing to commit a terrorist act. On December 18, the Ministry of Security and Justice began the consultation process on draft legislation to revoke citizenship, without a court ruling, of dual national foreign terrorist fighters who have joined a designated terrorist organization.
The Netherlands’ law enforcement institutions effectively demonstrated their capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist threats. The reorganization of the police into one National Police structure that began in January 2013 continued in 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in 2016. This multi-year, country-wide reorganization effort is expected to improve police’s operational capacity and effectiveness. The Central Criminal Investigations Service of the National Police focuses on counterterrorism.
The Netherlands continued to strengthen its border security. Dutch ports of entry have biographic and biometric screening capabilities. The government coordinates and shares information related to foreign terrorist fighters with Interpol and Europol. The Netherlands makes efforts to prevent potential foreign terrorist fighters from traveling to the region; as of December 2014 it had revoked 53 passports of potential foreign terrorist fighters.
The Netherlands remained strongly committed to effective cooperation with the United States on border security. The Port of Rotterdam was the first European port to participate in the Container Security Initiative (CSI); in 2014 the two governments held discussions to have CSI go from a WMD-focused initiative to incorporate all threats.
Significant law enforcement actions related to counterterrorism included:
On May 15, authorities arrested a returned foreign terrorist fighter who allegedly planned to commit armed robbery to fund foreign terrorist fighters in Syria. His case was awaiting trial at year’s end.
On June 13, the prosecutor’s office appealed a 2011 verdict on five members of the Dutch chapter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to seek higher sentences. They are charged with membership of a terrorist organization and raising funds (often through coercion) for the LTTE. In 2011, they had been sentenced to between two and six years in prison. The case was awaiting further proceedings at year’s end.
On June 24, authorities arrested one suspect on charges of incitement, recruitment, and forming a criminal organization with terrorist intent. The case was in investigative proceedings at year’s end.
On August 6, Belgian police arrested two Dutch people at the Brussels Airport on charges of membership of a terrorist group, illegal weapons possession in a terrorist context, and financing terrorism. Dutch police officers are cooperating with the Belgian police on the case.
On August 27-28, authorities arrested two suspects on charges of incitement, recruitment, and forming criminal organization with terrorist intent. The case is connected to the June 24 arrest and was under investigative proceedings at year’s end.
On October 15, authorities arrested a man on suspicion of planning ISIL-inspired terrorist acts against local Amsterdam police officers.
On November 25, authorities arrested three suspects on suspicion of preparing to commit terrorist acts in Syria. Three other individuals are considered suspects but were not arrested.
On December 1, a district court sentenced a returned Dutch foreign terrorist fighter to three years in prison for preparing to commit murder with terrorist intent. This was the first trial of a returned foreign terrorist fighter from Syria and implemented the Dutch prosecution’s strategy to charge individuals with preparation for (extraterritorial) crimes when there is insufficient evidence the crime was committed.
- Also on December 1, a district court acquitted a woman from charges of recruiting four girls and two men to travel to Syria. The court argued that traveling to Syria in order to marry a foreign terrorist fighter does not constitute participating in the violent conflict; therefore recruiting young girls to marry foreign terrorist fighters is not recruiting for the violent conflict. The court also ruled that because the two men were the husband and former husband of the woman, and already radicalized, her encouraging them to go to Syria did not constitute recruitment. The prosecutor’s office announced plans to appeal.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Netherlands has been a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) since 1990 and is one of the Cooperating and Supporting Nations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, a FATF-style regional body. In its February 2014 report, FATF recognized that the Netherlands had made significant progress in addressing the deficiencies from the 2011 evaluation and should subsequently be removed from the follow-up process. The European Commission sets many rules for countering terrorist finance in directives that EU member states then implement via national legislation. The Netherlands cooperated with the United States in designating terrorist organizations and individuals as well as interdicting and freezing assets. Dutch authorities monitor financial transactions. Assets of persons on terrorist watch lists are frozen.
Assets are frozen immediately when an individual or entity receives a UN designation. The Netherlands also use EU listings and its own national designations. The list of individuals or entities is made public, but information on the amount of assets frozen or seized is not. As of December 2014, the assets of 18 individuals and three organizations were frozen. In May, Dutch authorities arrested a former Syrian fighter for attempting to commit crimes to raise funds for Syrian extremists.
Non-profit organizations may choose to apply to a private entity for a “seal of approval” certification for their financial transactions. Law enforcement can access this entity’s data based on court order. The FATF concluded that the requirements that have to be met in order to obtain this “seal of approval” are stringent. These requirements include knowing donors and beneficiaries and having safeguards to make sure directors and employees do not have a conflict of interests.
Regional and International Cooperation: The Netherlands sought bilateral, multilateral, and international opportunities for exchanging information and experiences on security, counterterrorism, and foreign terrorist fighter issues. The Netherlands is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and, in 2013, the Netherlands and Morocco proposed a Foreign Terrorist Fighters Initiative under the auspices of the GCTF. Several meetings organized in 2014, held in The Hague, Marrakech, and Abu Dhabi, led to the “The Hague-Marrakech Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the Foreign Terrorist Fighter Phenomenon” adopted on September 23 at the GCTF ministerial meeting. During this ministerial, the Netherlands and Morocco recommended a new working group on foreign terrorist fighters be established under the GCTF. This new working group, co-chaired by the Netherlands and Morocco, was inaugurated at a plenary meeting in Marrakech on December 15-16. The Dutch participated in an informal EU core group of 11 member states that focused on foreign terrorist fighters.
The Dutch have taken a lead role in the EU to establish protocols to combat terrorist finance and provide funds to the IMF for assistance to countries that lack the resources to implement these measures expeditiously. The Dutch cooperated with EU and OSCE counterterrorism efforts and contributed to the counterterrorism work of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The Netherlands hosted the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit and continued to chair the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism’s Nuclear Detection Working Group.
The Netherlands continued to finance a wide variety of counterterrorism capacity building projects such as the organization Free Press Unlimited in its project “Radio Life Link Somalia” and the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation on its program on rule of law and criminal justice capacity and cooperation in North Africa. The government also supported the International Centre for Migration Policy Development and programs related to terrorism and countering terrorist finance carried out by the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. The Dutch government provided assistance to the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism in Abu Dhabi and is a founding member of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law in Malta.
The Dutch government continued to work with the International Centre for Counterterrorism (ICCT) – an independent think tank on counterterrorism issues, established in The Hague in 2010 with Dutch government encouragement. The ICCT is implementing programs related to the collection and use of evidence collected by the military in the criminal prosecution of terrorist cases, the role victims can play in counter-radicalization, and rule of law capacity building projects in the criminal justice sector.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: CVE is integrated into the Dutch government’s approach to terrorism. The government’s strategy on CVE is the August 2014 Comprehensive Action Program to Combat Jihadism, which contains eight existing and proposed measures specifically focused on detecting radicalization and preventing new people from becoming foreign terrorist fighters. These include increased cooperation with Muslim communities, strengthening existing networks of local and national key figures, providing support to concerned citizens, supporting education institutions, setting up expert centers on social tensions and radicalization, directing actions at high-risk areas, mobilizing societal opposition and enhancing resilience against radicalization and tensions, and stimulating social debate about the values of democracy such as rule of law.
Local governments are responsible for countering radicalization to local governments with support such as tools and training provided by the NCTV. Many major cities are investing heavily in training local professionals. However, following the 2013 surge of foreign terrorist fighters to Syria and Iraq (as of December 22, 2014 Dutch officials reported there were 168 known foreign terrorist fighters from the Netherlands), the NCTV and the General Intelligence and Security Service increased support to local authorities and partners. This support includes identifying high-priority areas that are of interest to, or might host, radicalized individuals. The NCTV also invests in information systems that combine reports and red flags from different sources in order to assess potential threats by violent extremists.
The Comprehensive Action Program addresses combating pro-violent extremist content on social media and the internet. The government tracks extremist content and uses administrative measures to stop the online spread of terrorist propaganda. Website hosting companies were requested to check the content of hosted websites against their user policies (Notice and Take Down).
Programs are created and tailored by local governments around individuals of concern and focus on identification, investigation, and prosecution. Targets of the program include those who are becoming radicalized, those who want to go to Syria and Iraq, recruiters, and foreign terrorist fighter returnees. Partners involved may include, but are not limited to: the municipal government, police, the public prosecutor’s office, youth care, and child protection services. Interventions on radicalizing individuals remain case-specific and vary in intensity and design. Several local governments have joined forces with a non-profit organization that coordinates interagency, individualized programs for at-risk or radicalized individuals. After returning to the Netherlands, foreign terrorist fighters undergo a threat assessment by the government. Some returnees are prosecuted. The Netherlands also rehabilitates and reintegrates returned foreign terrorist fighters into mainstream society.
Overview: Norway’s internal security service continued to assess that violent Islamist extremism remains the primary threat to the security of Norway. A small but outspoken group of violent Islamist extremists continued to be active in Oslo, although they were not responsible for any attacks. In 2014, a number of prominent cases raised concern about Norwegians radicalizing at home and traveling abroad to participate in terrorist activities. According to media reports, the Police Security Service (PST) publicly stated that more than 70 Norwegian residents had traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight in the conflict there.
In July, the government went on high terror alert upon receiving various streams of intelligence indicating that returning foreign terrorist fighters to Europe representing the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were planning an attack, possibly in Norway. On November 5, the PST raised the terror alert for the next 12 months, saying that a terrorist attack in Norway by violent extremists was “likely.”
Norway is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and the government co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2178 on foreign terrorist fighters. In October, the government announced it would send 120 trainers to participate in two capacity building missions for Iraqi security forces. Norway provided approximately US $200 million in 2014 to address the humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria. Although not a member, Norway is active in the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and participated in the December 9 Hedayah/GCTF Countering Violent Extremism Communications Expo in Abu Dhabi.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Terrorism is a criminal offense in Norway. Current laws criminalize conducting or planning to conduct a terrorist attack; receiving terrorism-related training; or providing material support to a terrorist organization with money, materials, recruitment, fighting, and related crimes. Maximum prison sentences are 30 years for serious terrorism offenses.
The PST is responsible for domestic security, including counterterrorism activities. A joint analysis cell with participants from the PST and the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS), the external security service, became fully operational in 2014. Both the PST and the NIS have placed significant resources in identifying, tracking, and taking action against Norwegian citizens who wish to travel to and from Syria and Iraq to engage in fighting. The PST and NIS maintain an evolving list of those who have traveled to Syria and Iraq, those who have returned, and those who have expressed an interest in traveling to the two countries.
Norwegian immigration authorities continue to use biometric equipment for fingerprinting arrivals from outside the Schengen area. Immigration to Norway is facilitated and regulated by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, which processes all applications for asylum, visas, family immigration, work and study permits, citizenship, permanent residence, and travel documents.
Norway faces some legal and technical barriers to stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. The largest legal barrier faced by Norwegian authorities related to the foreign terrorist fighter issue is that Norway cannot revoke or permanently hold a citizen’s passport for expressing support for a terrorist group (or expressing an interest to travel to Syria and Iraq), nor return an asylum-seeker who expresses support for a terrorist group to an area with ongoing conflict, such as Syria or Iraq.
Since enacting the 2013 counterterrorism laws, the Norwegian authorities have filed criminal charges against approximately five Norwegian individuals, which would not have been possible prior to the adoption of the new laws.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Norway is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units. The Government of Norway has largely adopted and incorporated FATF standards and recommendations. In response to UNSCR 2178, the government established an interagency group to combat money laundering and terrorist finance, which includes representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Finance, and Foreign Affairs.
Non-profit organizations are subject to strict accounting and regulatory requirements and the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime is charged with monitoring and the periodic testing of these requirements.
While the government does not physically distribute lists, all relevant financial institutions are required to be updated and compliant with new lists, and they feed new lists directly into their own computer systems.
Regional and International Cooperation: Norway is active in multilateral fora in counterterrorism efforts. Norway co-sponsored UNSCR 2178 on foreign terrorist fighters, and continued its support to the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF). Norway remains a member of the EU’s Radicalization Awareness Network, an umbrella network of practitioners and local actors involved in countering violent extremism that is designed to enable the members to share and discuss best practices in spotting and addressing radicalization and recruitment leading to acts of terrorism. Norway has been an active participant in the GCTF and took part in the Horn of Africa Working Group meeting in Nairobi in March, as well as the Detention and Reintegration Working Group meeting in Bali in August. Through the GCTF, Norway has implemented several new projects in the area of counterterrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE).
Together with Turkey, Norway is supporting the development of a Countering Violent Extremism Action Plan for the Horn of Africa. Norway has provided US $150,000 to the African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism, located in Algiers, for the project to strengthen controls over the cross-border movement of terrorists in spaces between official border posts. Norway continues to implement its agreement with the University of Pretoria’s Institute for Strategic Studies to build counterterrorism capacity in the police and judiciary systems of African countries, totaling US $1.1 million from 2013 to 2015. Norway also provided US $80,300 to a joint project led by the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate and the Global Center on Cooperative Security to promote regional counterterrorism cooperation in South Asia.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: In June, the Norwegian government published its national Action Plan against Radicalization and Violent Extremism, which is a whole-of-government approach to CVE. Priorities include strengthening research on CVE, improving national and local cooperation on counter-radicalization efforts, helping to promote reintegration of former violent extremists, and preventing online recruitment and radicalization. The Prime Minister has encouraged municipal governments to implement CVE efforts at the local level. Several municipalities around Oslo fjord, which PST assess is the most vulnerable to radicalization to violence, have increased their CVE efforts, including passing CVE action plans and increasing budgets for CVE and counter-radicalization activities.
Overview: The Russian government continued to make Russia’s counterterrorism efforts a priority during 2014. This was especially true in light of the incident-free February 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, organized in proximity to areas of the North Caucasus where ongoing violence and violent extremist activity had occurred, resulting in heightened concern over potential terrorist activity targeting the Games.
Russia was willing to work with the United States and multilaterally on counterterrorism issues, but challenges remained. While some bilateral counterterrorism joint activities were suspended in the wake of Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea, mechanisms for communication and cooperation remained, including in multilateral bodies. The Government of Russia continued to cooperate with the FBI’s investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Terrorist attacks related to problems in the North Caucasus continued to occur in Russia. Separatists and violent Islamist extremists calling for a pan-Islamic Caliphate within the North Caucasus constituted the main terrorist threats. Domestic violent Islamist extremists committed two terrorist attacks in Chechnya, in the North Caucasus, in the second half of the year – the first such major attacks in the region in a decade. The emergence and strengthening of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq in 2014 prompted some expressions of official Russian concern about ISIL’s potential to influence domestic insurgent groups.
On December 29, Russia’s Supreme Court issued a ruling recognizing ISIL as a terrorist organization and banned its domestic activity. With the ruling, participation in ISIL activities became a criminal offense under Russian legislation. In addition, Russia also took measures to address the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, which included law enforcement and judicial actions that resulted in the conviction of at least four Russian citizens, all of whom were sentenced to prison terms. Additional arrests were made but comprehensive information on foreign fighter cases was not publicly available.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) reported that there were 78 “terrorist crimes” committed in Russia, but it prevented 59 “terrorist crimes” and eight “terrorist attacks” from January to December 2014. In 2014, the majority of terrorist attacks in Russia targeted law enforcement and security services using suicide bombing devices and improvised explosive devices placed in vehicles. Especially in the regions of Dagestan, Chechnya, and Kabardino-Balkaria, the attacks were targeted and, in most cases, resulted in the death or injury of one or two persons.
- On October 5, a suicide bomber killed five police officers and himself, and injured 12 persons in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya in the North Caucasus. This was the first suicide attack in Chechnya in 10 years. The Interior Ministry branch in Chechnya reported a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside the concert hall where Grozny City Day celebrations were due to begin. The attack occurred on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday. News agencies reported that local police working a metal detector outside the concert venue became suspicious of the behavior of a young man in the crowd and as they approached him, he detonated the explosives. Authorities identified the culprit as 19-year-old Russian citizen Apti Mudarov.
- On December 4, a second attack occurred in Grozny. In the early morning, three cars carrying militants allegedly affiliated with the terrorist group Caucasus Emirate infiltrated the capital and clashed with police after reportedly attacking a police traffic stop. The group then stormed a centrally located nine-story building, which housed local media. The battle between militants and law enforcement lasted for at least 10 hours, according to official reports, and resulted in the deaths of all 11 militants, in addition to 14 police and one civilian. Official reports stated 36 police were injured. On December 5, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov ordered the burning of the homes of families of militants involved in the December 4 attacks and the expulsion of the militants and their families from Chechnya. According to first-hand accounts, as well as commentary from Amnesty International, on December 7-10, a total of seven houses of family members of known insurgents were burned to the ground in an act of collective punishment.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Russia has a comprehensive counterterrorism legal framework that includes the provisions of the Criminal Code and various federal laws to include, “On Countering Terrorism,” “On Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing,” “On Countering Extremist Activity,” “On Security on Transport,” and “On Security in the Fuel and Energy Complex.”
In 2014, Russia passed several amendments to its counterterrorism legislation that increased the penalties for, and broadened the definition of, terrorist-related crimes. The Criminal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Administrative Code, and the Federal Law on the Federal Security Service were amended to include:
- Article 60.3, which makes generating or disseminating terrorist propaganda an aggravating circumstance in criminal proceedings;
- Article 64, which prevents judges from sentencing terrorists to terms less than those prescribed elsewhere in legislation, to include excluding the possibility of parole;
- Articles 83 and 78, which remove the statute limitations for terrorism and supporters of terrorist activity; and
- Various amendments that increase the maximum term of imprisonment to 35 years when a count of terrorism is added to other crimes.
In addition, Russia added two new components to Article 205.1 of the Russian Criminal Code on “Aiding and Abetting Terrorist Activity.” These additions criminalize across several counterterrorism laws the act of organizing terrorist financing, leading an act of terrorism, and leading an organization that conducts “terrorist crimes.”
An amendment to the Administrative Code introduced administrative liability for legal entities that collect funds or provide financial services in the preparation, organization, or commission of an act of terrorism. The penalty ranges from 10 million to 60 million rubles (approximately US $166,000 to US $1 million as of December 31, 2014). In addition, Russia amended the Federal Law “On the Federal Security Service” to authorize designated FSB officers to demand an individual’s identification, and conduct searches of persons, clothing, and personal belongings and vehicles.
The Russian government continued to use its “anti-extremism” legislation to prosecute peaceful individuals and organizations, including the political opposition, independent media, and certain religious minorities. Despite having counterterrorism as its ostensible primary purpose, the law criminalizes a broad spectrum of activities, including incitement to “religious discord” and “assistance to extremism,” and does not precisely define what is meant by “extremism.” The law includes no stipulation that threats of violence or acts of violence must accompany incitement to religious discord, for example.
The threat of prosecution under Russia’s ”anti-extremism” legislation has an intimidating effect that results in restriction of freedom of speech and religious freedom under the guise of countering terrorism.
The FSB remains the primary agency responsible for counterterrorism activities within Russia. To a lesser extent, the Ministry of Interior (MVD) also has a role in counterterrorism matters.
The FSB International Cooperation Directorate, through a joint relationship with the National Antiterrorism Committee (NAC), has developed the “International Counterterrorism Database” (Russian acronym: MBD), which holds both an unclassified and a restricted section. The MBD is a repository of terrorism events, subjects, organizations, and methods to which international intelligence and law enforcement agencies can contribute. The FSB promotes this as the only international database that adheres to UNSCR 2178.
Russia issues International Civil Aviation Organization/EU (ICAO/EU) compliant passports with enhanced security features, such as holographic images on the hard plastic biographic data page. Russian citizens have the option of receiving a five- or 10-year version. Although ICAO/EU compliant passports were introduced in 2010, the previous style of passport (containing a photograph laminated to a bio-data page) continues to be issued and remains in widespread use. The older document has fewer and less sophisticated security features. Recently, the Russian government moved to further strengthen security features, passing a bill that mandated the inclusion of fingerprint data in Russian citizens’ foreign travel passports.
Border guards are responsible for air, land, and sea arrivals, although with over 12,000 miles of land border and over 23,000 miles of coastline, the extent to which they are able to patrol all land and maritime crossings is unclear. Border crossings, particularly on the frontiers between Russia and some former Soviet republics, may not be registered. Border guards have the capability of collecting biometrics at ports of entry, and while they currently do not do so regularly, on December 10 a Presidential Executive Order went into effect requiring biometrics collection for visas issued at Russian embassies in the UK, Denmark, Burma, and Namibia, in addition to requiring passenger fingerprint scanning at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport (one of three international airports in Moscow). This initial collection was reportedly a pilot program for an envisioned worldwide rollout, but federal legislation has yet to authorize or fund this program.
Standard operating procedures for the sharing of information within Russia’s government exist, but it is unclear how often these procedures are followed. A traveler to Russia must receive a visa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (via an Embassy or Consulate abroad), be permitted entry by the FSB (through the Border Guard Service), and then be registered with the Federal Migration Service (until 2012 a part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but now an autonomous organization).
Law enforcement actions/prosecutions in 2014 reportedly included:
On April 9, a court in the Rostov Region convicted five members of the criminal organization “Vilayat Galgaiche,” with sentences ranging from 14 years to life under Articles No. 205 (Act of Terrorism), No. 209 (Banditry), No. 210 (Creation of a Criminal Group/Organization and Participation Therein), No. 222 (Illegal Acquisition, Transfer, Sale, Storage, Transportation, or Bearing of Firearms, Components, Ammunition, Explosives, and Explosive Devices), No. 223 (Illegal Manufacture of Weapons), and No. 317 (Encroachment on the Life of an Officer of a Law Enforcement Agency).
On May 17, a court in the Dagestan Republic convicted seven members of the “Yuzhnaya” (Southern) terrorist organization of terrorism and participation in an illegal armed group. The seven men’s sentences ranged from two to fifteen years.
On October 19, during an ensuing investigation and raid, the Ministry of Interior confirmed that law enforcement officers killed Aslan Aliskhanov, a 33-year-old Russian citizen implicated in organizing an attack, as he resisted arrest. Aliskhanov purportedly was a member of an illegal armed group and was on Russia’s wanted list for participation in alleged militant activity.
On December 5, a court in Volgograd convicted four Russian citizens of involvement in the 2013 double suicide bombings in Volgograd, which killed 34 and injured over 40 persons. Alautdin Dadayev and Ibragim Mamedov each were sentenced to 19 years in a maximum security prison on charges of terrorism and participation in an illegal armed group. Two other men, Magomed Batirov and Tagir Batirov, each were sentenced to three years and 10 months for aiding an illegal armed group.
On December 17, Russian authorities announced that they arrested Khasan Zakayev last August, who authorities believe helped organize the October 2002 terrorist attack/hostage crisis at a Moscow theatre, local media reported. He was charged with “preparation for a terrorist attack,” among other related crimes.
Also on December 17, the General Prosecutor’s Office approved the indictment of two Russians for allegedly preparing a terrorist attack in Moscow. Yulay Davletbayev and Robert Amerkhanov, both residents of Bashkortostan, were arrested in May 2014 and charged with preparing to commit a terrorist act, among other related crimes.
- On December 23, the Supreme Court in Kabardino-Balkaria (North Caucasus) convicted 57 persons of participating in an armed rebellion on October 13, 2005 in Nalchik, with the goal of creating an Islamic caliphate. As a result of the rebellion, 35 law enforcement and military personnel were killed, along with 15 civilians. One hundred thirty one officials and 92 civilians suffered injuries. All 57 were convicted under the Criminal Code for participation in an “armed rebellion, terrorism, attempt on the life of a law enforcement agency, aggravated murder, and attempted theft of a weapon,” according to media reports. Five of the defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment in a special regime colony. The remaining 52 were sentenced from four years and 10 months to 23 years in prison. Human rights groups alleged there is significant evidence that authorities had tortured at least 12 of the defendants in custody. For further information, we refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: http://drl.j.state.sbu/reports/HRRWord.
Russian media reported that federal and local security organs continued their counterterrorism operations in the North Caucasus. These operations, although occurring throughout the region, were mostly focused in Dagestan, Chechnya, and Kabardino-Balkaria. Operations included roadblocks, raids of public venues such as cafes, and larger-scale military-style operations, especially in rural areas. On March 18, Caucasus Emirate confirmed the death of its top leader Doku Umarov. The FSB later claimed that Umarov was killed in a combat operation, but the precise date was not established. The initial claim of Umarov’s death was made by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in December 2013.
In 2014, the Russian government sentenced to prison at least four known individuals for fighting with militants against the Syrian government. Those known to have been convicted by the end of 2014 were sentenced to between two and four years in prison:
- Said Mazhayev, two years;
- Shamil Nurmagomedov, four years;
- Murat Nagoyev, four years; and
- Rustam Kerimov, three years, followed by a year of “restricted freedom” on traveling and running for political office.
Despite the tensions in the overall bilateral relationship with the United States, the FSB continued to cooperate on the Boston Marathon bombing case. Russia continued to disseminate threat information and responded to requests for information on counterterrorism matters, although its responses were often not substantive or timely. U.S.-Russian cooperation in the realm of security support during the 2014 Sochi Games, within certain limits, was effective.
While there were no known legal constraints to effective host government law enforcement and border security related to counterterrorism, attempts at judicial reforms have had little success due to a lack of political will and institutionalized corruption within law enforcement entities. Ethnic or clan ties in certain regions can make policing and prosecutions difficult. Important cases are often moved to Moscow or other regions to ensure a judge is not influenced by a clan.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Russia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and belongs to two FATF-style regional bodies: the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), and the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), in which it is a leading member and primary funding source. Through the EAG, Russia provides technical assistance and other resources towards improving legislative and regulatory frameworks and operational capabilities.
Russian banks must report suspicious transactions to the Federal Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring), a financial intelligence unit and member of the Egmont Group whose head reports directly to the President of Russia. Rosfinmonitoring receives reports from all non-profit organizations. The Central Bank can access these transaction reports after requesting them from Rosfinmonitoring.
In 2014, Russia enacted additional changes to Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation assuring tighter control over possible money-laundering and terrorist financing activity in the non-commercial sector in Russia. The government established a lower reporting threshold (RUB 100,000 – approximately US $1,700 as of December 2014) for Russian NGOs that receive money and in-kind assistance from abroad.
The most current data on investigations and convictions of terrorist financing is from 2013. In that year, the Russian government investigated 10 cases of terrorist financing, and one case resulted in a conviction. In addition, it suspended two transactions and froze US $18,610 from entities on the national terrorist list. The total number of measures taken in 2013 was below the five year average. In the period 2008 – 2013 there were 80 total investigations and 21 convictions. In the same period, the government suspended 32 transactions totaling US $106,172.
The law requires the freezing of assets without delay, but no later than one working day. In 2013, two transactions were suspended and US $18,610 was frozen due to National Terrorist List concerns.
Non-profit organizations have mandatory reporting requirements on transactions of cash and other property from foreign states, international and foreign organizations, foreign citizens and stateless persons, if the value of such transaction is equal or greater than RUB 100,000 (approximately US $1,700 as of December 2014). Russia does not use a risk-based approach towards its regulation of the sector and this and other regulations are also used to tarnish the reputations of organizations with no connection to terrorism or extremism, fixing them with the label of “foreign agent.”
Regional and International Cooperation: Russia continued to work in regional and multilateral groups to address terrorism. Russia participated in Global Counterterrorism Forum activities, as well as in a meeting of experts from the Anti-Terrorism Centers of the OSCE. The Russian government supported UN Security Council Resolutions 2170 and 2178.
Overview: The Government of Serbia continued its efforts to counter international terrorism in 2014. Serbia’s law enforcement and security agencies, the Ministry of Interior (MUP)’s Directorate of Police and the Security Information Agency (BIA) in particular, continued bilateral counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. Serbia’s two main police organizations, the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit and the Counter-Terrorist Unit, operated as counterterrorism tactical response units. Serbian and U.S. government officials collaborated against potential terrorist threats. Harmonization of law enforcement protocols with EU standards remained a priority for the Serbian government.
Serbia is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. As part of Serbia’s efforts to develop a national counterterrorism center, the government sent a working-level delegation to the United States in December to speak with experts at DOJ, the FBI, the NCTC, and other agencies. The Serbian delegation included members of the MUP’s counterterrorism department, BIA, the Office of the Prosecutor for Organized Crime, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, and advisers to the Minister of the Interior. The visit provided best practices to the delegation on tracking, analyzing, and acting upon information about known or suspected terrorists. The Serbian delegation witnessed examples of successful interagency cooperation and how domestic counterterrorism efforts are incorporated into regional and global counterterrorism efforts.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Serbian government improved its legislative capabilities with regard to counterterrorism and foreign terrorist fighter issues. In October, the Serbian Parliament ratified a foreign terrorist fighter bill – as an amendment to the criminal code – prohibiting Serbian citizens’ participation in foreign armed conflicts, or supporting fighters or organizations participating in armed conflicts abroad. Serbian authorities initiated their first case related to Serbian citizens traveling to fight in Syria. The Organized Crime Prosecutor’s Office indicted five individuals for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism, recruitment and training, and terrorist financing. The government has not yet ratified its National Counterterrorism Plan, which would establish the framework for future changes in legislation and authorizations for law enforcement in the case of terrorism and foreign fighter issues.
Serbia demonstrates some capabilities but does not have a strategic, interagency approach to handling terrorism-related matters. Serbia lacks non-criminal border control measures, such as the seizure of passports and travel bans, which could be used in cases in which security measures would be justified but prosecution would not be possible or desirable. Friction exists between law enforcement and prosecution elements, as well as between agencies competing for primacy on counterterrorism activities. Overlapping authorities and the lack of an overall coordination and cooperation plan further complicated efforts. Cooperation is most intense between the MUP Directorate of Police and the BIA, with sporadic friction over competencies and information sharing.
Transnational terrorism concerns within Serbia were similar to those in other Western Balkan states, which are located on an historic transit route between the Middle East and Western Europe. Serbia is also a source country of foreign terrorist fighters going to Syria and Iraq, particularly from its Sandzak and Presevo regions. Serbian authorities are sensitive to, and vigilant against, any efforts by foreign terrorists to establish a presence in, or transit through, the country. To this end, the Serbian government continued to cooperate with neighboring countries to improve border security and information sharing. The U.S. government’s Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program provided training courses to multiple entities within the government to address border security. However, long sections of Serbia’s borders are porous, especially those shared with Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbia’s ability to monitor and screen travelers remained limited.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Serbia is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) and has observer status in the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, both Financial Action Task Force-style regional bodies. Serbia is a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.
Serbia has yet to adopt a proposed bill allowing for the seizure of terrorist assets.
Serbia implemented UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373, but does not have a list of designated terrorist organizations and individuals that would include, among others, persons and entities listed by the UN.
Serbian authorities have an ability to seize and forfeit terrorist assets pursuant to asset forfeiture mechanisms. Serbian authorities still lack an asset freezing mechanism. The proposed Law on Freezing of Terrorist Assets awaits adoption by the Parliament.
Regional and International Cooperation: Serbia is engaged in limited regional and international cooperation on counterterrorism issues. Elements of the Serbian government, such as MUP and BIA, cooperate with Interpol and Europol on counterterrorism activities, including watchlists. The Serbian armed forces participated in multinational training exercises, some of which involved aspects that could be applied to counterterrorism activities; however, the majority of these training events and exercises were not directly focused on addressing terrorism. While Serbia is a member of the NATO Partnership for Peace program, Serbia is not involved in specific counterterrorism efforts through NATO, the UN, or the OSCE. Regarding regional border security, Serbia’s level of cooperation is strongest with Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania; cooperation with Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina is less developed. Because of the political sensitivity in Serbia towards Kosovo’s political status, cooperation on border security is least developed between Serbia and Kosovo. The Serbian government participated in the Foreign Terrorist Fighters roundtable for Balkan countries hosted by the State Department on the margins of the UNGA.
Overview: Spain was an active partner with the United States in efforts to track and disrupt transnational terrorism. Spain deepened its cooperation with Algeria, Mali, and Mauritania to combat and contain the threat posed by al-Qa’ida (AQ), its affiliates, and like-minded groups. The domestic terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) has not launched any attacks since it announced a “definitive cessation of armed activity” in October 2011, although the group had not formally disbanded or given up its weapons arsenal by the end of 2014.
Spain has been an active member and an outspoken supporter of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since its inception. Spain is in the process of deploying a 300-strong military training mission to Iraq and will stand up and lead the Besmayah training center south of Baghdad.
Spain is actively working to improve its legal framework to more effectively counter the movement of foreign terrorist fighters from Spain to conflict zones, better pursue suspected terrorists without clear affiliation to a known criminal organization, and curtail terrorist preparatory activities online. In terms of terrorist prosecution, Spain already boasts a mature legal framework as a result of its long fight against ETA.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Spanish Criminal Code specifically punishes any act of collaboration with the activities or purposes of a terrorist organization. Spain’s counterterrorism capabilities, coordinated by the national Center for Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime Intelligence (CITCO), have proven effective. The National Police and Civil Guard share responsibility for counterterrorism and cooperate well with the United States, with strong information sharing and joint threat assessments. On December 5, 2013, Spain approved a national cyber security strategy to safeguard its critical information systems, and created the Cyber Defense Committee to coordinate its cyber-security across the various government departments.
Spain continued to focus on improved security and the detection of false documents at its borders. Spain participated in the U.S. Immigration Advisory Program, which maintains staff at Madrid-Barajas International Airport. The program allows for coordination between Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, airline security personnel, and police regarding high-risk passengers traveling to the United States. Spain finished implementation of an automated system to read EU passports with biometric data and explosive trace detection equipment was also deployed at Spain’s five largest airports at passenger checkpoints. Spain continued to use a network of radar stations, known as the Integrated External Surveillance System, along its maritime borders. In September 2012, the Civil Guard began integrating Europol information in its fight against terrorism and organized crime. Previously, only the Spanish National Police had access to the Europol data.
The Spanish and Moroccan National Police participated in five joint operations against networks of foreign terrorist fighter recruiters and volunteers in March, June, August, September, and December. The raids led to 47 arrests, primarily in Morocco and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa, but also included apprehension of suspects in Barcelona and Madrid. Spanish and French law enforcement agencies and intelligence services carried out a joint operation in July that led to the arrest of two French terrorists in Melilla.
A number of ETA members were arrested in 2014, both in Spain and abroad. Juan Jesus Narvaez Goñi and Itziar Alberdi Uranga were arrested in Mexico in February. Maria Jesus Elorza Zubizarreta was arrested as she disembarked form a flight from Venezuela to Madrid in June. Tomas Elorriaga Kunze was arrested in a joint operation by German and Spanish police in November.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Spain is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units. Spain was reviewed under the new round of FATF evaluations and found to have “a strong system to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, with up-to-date laws and regulations and sound institutions for combating these threats.” The evaluation also recommended improvements “such as the implementation of targeted financial sanctions to allow the freezing of terrorism-related assets.” For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Since 2004, Spain has been part of the informal working group on jihadism known as the 5 + 5. The group brings together defense ministers or their designees from five European countries (Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and Malta) and five Maghreb countries (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya). Its mission is to exchange information and discuss the operational implications of the threat from violent Islamist extremists in the European theater, including that posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters. Four of the group’s members—Spain, Morocco, Algeria, and Portugal—held Seaborder 2014, a joint maritime exercise, in September. The full group met in December in Granada and expanded its mission to include cyber-terrorism/cyber-recruiting.
Spain’s participation in the G-4 with Portugal, France, and Morocco also has an operational objective. The four countries freely exchange tactics and intelligence on counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and organized crime/illegal immigration. Spain continued its work with the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and invited France and Morocco to participate in two nuclear attack simulations, one held in Spain and one in Portugal.
Spain cites the lingering effects of its economic crisis as an impediment to further regional and international counterterrorism cooperation. All efforts are made to not reduce operational capacity, according to the Ministry of the Interior, but resource constraints reduce Spain’s ability to take part in international training exercises. Spain believes the EU should supplement the country in terms of counterterrorism and border issues especially given the uniqueness of Spain’s North African enclaves forming the southern border of the EU.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Spain is working toward final approval of a new national strategy for countering radicalization to violence that will establish a national group managed by the National Counterterrorism Coordination Center that liaises with local, multi-sectorial CVE groups. Spain is an active member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and participated in the May 14-15 First Expert Meeting on Foreign Terrorist Fighters in Marrakech, and the Second Expert Meeting in Abu Dhabi on June 16-17. In Abu Dhabi, Spain and the United States together presented case studies on strengthening community resilience against radicalization and the related foreign terrorist fighters threats. The Spanish have also established a new mechanism to channel financial contributions from foreign countries to support Muslim communities in Spain, and Spain’s Prison System architecture has been modified to prevent radicalization to violence.
Overview: The United States and Sweden maintained good cooperation on counterterrorism and law enforcement issues in 2014. U.S. agencies worked with their Swedish counterparts for the exchange and evaluation of terrorist-related information. Sweden is also active within the EU, UN, and Council of Europe on countering violent extremism and the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters.
The Swedish government continued to highlight that terrorism can be motivated by right-wing, left-wing, or religious convictions. The Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) noted that the greatest terrorist threat in Sweden comes from violent Islamist extremists. The Swedish Security Service also expressed concern over the growing number of foreign terrorist fighters from Sweden traveling to Syria and Iraq to receive training and provide support to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as well as the possibility that returning foreign terrorist fighters could seek to commit terrorist attacks in Sweden or elsewhere.
The Swedish government appointed its first ever National Coordinator for Safeguarding Democracy from Violent Extremism. The Swedish government has described its approach to countering violent extremism as attempting to address underlying factors behind radicalization. The government seeks to “depolarize” Swedish society as a necessary step to counter violent extremism, with the idea that people who do not feel welcome and integrated in Swedish society might turn away from it, thereby turning to violent extremism.
The National Threat Advisory level in Sweden remained “elevated” (increased from level two to three on a scale of five levels) after first being raised in October 2010. Since then, Swedish law enforcement has disrupted several planned attacks.
Sweden is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, and has made generous humanitarian contributions to ISIL-impacted populations in Iraq. Sweden is a significant donor of humanitarian assistance for ISIL-impacted populations, and in 2014 contributed US $43 million and US $29.4 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria and Iraq, respectively. SÄPO is concerned with rapidly increasing numbers of foreign terrorist fighters who have left Sweden to join violent extremist groups in Syria and claimed that at least 110 individuals have traveled, with estimates of those who have traveled reaching as high as 350. Some of these travelers have been killed, but others have returned to Sweden. SÄPO views the returnees with specific concern as they could potentially plan an attack in Sweden, or could radicalize and recruit others for travel. SÄPO reported to Swedish press that it is conducting several “pre-investigations” related to individuals who have returned from conflict areas with fighting experience.
Foreign terrorist fighters in Sweden are recruited mainly through word of mouth by friends or family, as well as online. Foreign terrorist fighters traveling to Syria and Iraq from Sweden are most often young men of immigrant background, but not of Syrian descent. There is anecdotal evidence of women travelling to Syria as well, although their role upon arrival in Syria is less clear, with some appearing to travel to become wives to fighters or provide other logistical support to ISIL.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party continued to carry out significant support activities such as soldier recruitment and financing in Sweden in 2014.
The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency continuously reaches out to various agencies and communities to develop awareness of the foreign terrorist fighter threat, and the Counterterrorism Cooperative Council consisting of 13 government agencies coordinates Sweden’s interagency counterterrorism cooperation. The National Center for Terrorism Threat Assessment produces long- and short-term strategic assessments of the terrorist threat against Sweden and Swedish interests. SÄPO monitors returned foreign terrorist fighters to evaluate their condition.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Sweden’s legislation criminalizes incitement of terrorist acts, recruitment to terrorist organizations, and providing of terrorism training. While five people have been convicted under these laws, only two convictions have remained standing following appeals. In all other prosecutions, courts have deemed the evidence presented in many trials inadequate to prove that those prosecuted would actually carry out their terrorist plots, had they not been intercepted.
Swedish law enforcement prepared for a reorganization in 2015 to unite the country’s current 21 separate country police departments into one national agency with seven regions; this reorganization aims to streamline police work through clearer guidance and centralization of law enforcement efforts.
Sweden amended its Act on Criminal Responsibility for Public Provocation, Recruitment, and Training concerning Terrorist Offences and other Particularly Serious Crimes (2010:299) in July 2014, to include the ratification of the international Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism of 13 April 2005. Sweden is also undertaking an internal investigation into how to implement the various provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 2178, including the possibility of criminalizing the act of training with terrorist organization or waging war campaigns on behalf of terrorist organizations.
Sweden has a specialized division at the Prosecution Authority that deals with all terrorism-related cases. SÄPO has the main responsibility to counter terrorism in Sweden. There is timely sharing of terrorism-related information and prosecutors are consulted at early stages of investigations and work in coordination with counterparts in other components of law enforcement. Law enforcement units have a record of accountability and respect for human rights.
SÄPO works in concert with the border police and the Migration Board in countering terrorism, and is the sole agency with jurisdiction over counterterrorism investigations. SÄPO chairs the National Centre for Terrorist Threat Assessment (NCT); a permanent working group within the Swedish Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Council. The NCT is staffed by personnel from the National Defense Radio Establishment (FRA), the Military Intelligence and Security Directorate (MUST), and SÄPO. SÄPO also convenes the National Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Council (NTC, which works to increase Sweden’s ability to counter terrorism.) The Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Council consists of: the Armed Forces; the Civil Contingencies Agency; the Coast Guard; Customs; the Defense Research Agency; the Economic Crime Authority; the Migration Board; the National Bureau of Investigation; the National Defense Radio Establishment; the Prison and Probation Service; the Prosecution Authority; the Radiation Safety Authority; the Security Service; and the Transport Agency. This Council facilitates sharing of information across different Swedish agencies on counterterrorism issues.
Swedish citizen Johan Gustafsson, who was kidnapped by al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) when visiting Mali in November 2011, remained in AQIM’s detention at the end of 2014. Gustafsson was last seen in an AQIM-released photograph from August.
There was significant law enforcement cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of international terrorism. Swedish law enforcement officials work closely with U.S. counterparts and cooperation has directly supported several investigations/cases.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Sweden is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Sweden provided its latest Mutual Evaluation Report to the FATF in October 2012. The only new passage of legislation pertaining to Terrorist Financing in 2014 was the addition of an allowance to halt a transaction for two days for suspected terrorist financing, as well as an adjustment to increased rights for confiscation of assets.
The Finance Inspection agency (in concert with many other agencies) released a report on Financing of Terrorism under the FATF mandate in March. The report raised the issues of money flows both to and from Sweden, but commented that the flows are of “small scale and of legal origin” while noting Sweden’s vulnerability to many forms of terrorist financing. The report spoke of a knowledge deficit in many agencies about counterterrorist finance, noting this leads to a limited number of reported suspected terrorist financing activities. The economic crime unit and the tax authority are not required to look for terrorist financing when investigating financial crimes.
In November, the Finance Inspection launched a major investigation into Sweden’s largest banks and their handling of money laundering and terrorist financing.
Regional and International Cooperation: Sweden is a member of the EU, and also participated in an ad hoc group of the EU and several member states to focus on foreign terrorist fighter issues. Sweden participates in the EU’s Schengen cooperation and uses the Schengen Information System II for information sharing, port of entry screening, lost and stolen passport information and watch listing. Under the auspices of the PNR agreement between the EU and the United States, Sweden collects and shares PNR information from commercial flights.
Sweden co-sponsored UNSCR 2178 and supports the UN’s counterterrorism efforts. During the fall of 2014, Sweden was an active partner in formulating the EU’s counterterrorism/foreign terrorist fighter strategy for Iraq and Syria. Sweden also participated in the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s workshop on Counterterrorism and Foreign Terrorist Fighters in Marrakech in December 2014.
Sweden continued to contribute to counterterrorism capacity building projects through its development aid work carried out by the Swedish International Development Agency, and also via funding to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime-Terrorism Prevention Branch and the OSCE. Sweden also supported the EU’s work with capacity building projects in prioritized countries and regions such as Pakistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, the Maghreb, and the Sahel. Sweden provided trainers to the EU Training Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Sweden is a large donor to the UN’s Counter-Terrorism International Task Force (CTITF), with special focus on the CTITF workgroup that works on strengthening human rights in counterterrorism work.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: In a response to a report by the Defense College on how to counter violent extremism (CVE), the Swedish government appointed former Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Mona Sahlin as its national CVE coordinator in July 2014. The Swedish government has tasked the coordinator to improve collaboration among agencies, local authorities, and organizations at the national, regional, and local level regarding efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism.
The Swedish government is investigating how to enhance existing legislation to mitigate the risks posed by foreign terrorist fighters.
On the more general topic of youth and radicalization, the Swedish Media Council has conducted a study of how the internet and social media are used to promote anti-democratic messages that encourage the use of violence for an ideological cause aimed at young people. According to the study, preventive work should include efforts to equip young people with the tools necessary to challenge anti-democratic and violent messages targeting them from the internet, social media, their peers, and adults. Critical media training provided by schools for young people is an important measure to prevent violent extremism in Sweden. The Swedish Media Council has also developed an online training course for teachers.
Some municipalities strived to cultivate trusted relations with relevant community actors, to empower those best-placed to affect change, and to develop effective reintegration programs for returning foreign terrorist fighters. Such efforts were not coordinated at the national level, however.
Overview: Largely because of the ongoing conflict in Syria, Turkey has voiced increasing concern about terrorist groups near its border, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Nusrah Front, and other al-Qa’ida (AQ)-affiliated groups. Throughout 2014, Turkey served as a source and transit country for foreign terrorist fighters wishing to join these and other groups in Syria. The Government of Turkey intensified efforts to interdict the travel of suspected foreign terrorist fighters through Turkey to and from Syria and Iraq. These efforts include the development and implementation of a “banned from entry list,” as well as the deployment of “Risk Analysis Units” to detect suspected foreign terrorist fighters at airports, land border crossings, and border cities. Cooperation with other source countries increased during the year in response to the foreign terrorist fighter threat, with both Turkey and source countries seeking to improve information sharing in particular. Turkey is an active member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.
Prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Following three decades of conflict with the PKK, in late 2012 the Government of Turkey and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan began talks for a peace process. The talks continued in 2014. The PKK called for a ceasefire in March of 2013, which both sides largely observed, apart from ongoing small-scale PKK attacks.
In 2014, Turkey continued to face significant internal terrorist threats and took strong action in response. Activity by the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a terrorist Marxist-Leninist group with anti-U.S. and anti-NATO views that seeks the violent overthrow of the Turkish state, threatened the security of both U.S. and Turkish interests.
Another terrorist group in Turkey is Turkish (Kurdish) Hizballah (unrelated to the similarly-named Hizballah that operates in Lebanon). The Government of Turkey also considers the Turkish Workers’ and Peasants’ Liberation Army (TKP-ML-TIKKO), and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), although largely inactive, to be threats. Because of their association with the PKK, the Turkish government considers the Syria-based Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing (People’s Protection Units – YPG) to be terrorist organizations. The appearance of Hamas leader Meshaal at a congress of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in December drew attention to the Turkish government’s relations with this group, which is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States.
Turkey is a long-standing counterterrorism partner of the United States. It co-chairs the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) with the United States. It received U.S. assistance to address the terrorist threat posed by the PKK in 2014. Although ongoing peace talks mitigated violence between the PKK and Turkish government forces, isolated incidents continued.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: Noteworthy attacks included:
On March 30, three individuals identified as members of ISIL killed a policeman, a Gendarmerie non-commissioned officer, and a truck driver at a checkpoint near Nigde. Five soldiers were also wounded. The assailants were subsequently captured and remained in custody at year’s end.
During the week of October 6, at least 40 civilians were killed during two days of protests and associated violence. According to Human Rights First, security forces killed 15 persons during clashes between various Kurdish groups, including PKK supporters and Huda-Par (a political party with links to Turkish Hizballah).
On October 25, masked gunmen shot dead three Turkish soldiers in the Kurdish-majority southeast of the country. The attack was attributed to the PKK.
- On October 29, a Turkish military officer wearing civilian clothes died after being shot in the head by two PKK militants while walking in a bazaar.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Counterterrorism law enforcement efforts in Turkey remained focused on the domestic threat posed by several terrorist groups, including the PKK. Turkey’s methodology and legislation are geared towards confronting this internal threat. Efforts to counter international terrorism are hampered by legislation that defines terrorism narrowly as a crime targeting the Turkish state or Turkish citizens. This definition of terrorism can be an impediment to operational and legal cooperation against global terrorist networks. No significant counterterrorism-related legislation was enacted during the year.
Due to amendments made in 2013, Turkey’s counterterrorism legislation conforms more closely to EU freedom of expression standards, has a narrower definition of terrorist propaganda, and criminalizes propagation of the declarations of an illegal organization only if the content legitimizes or encourages acts of violence, threats or force. Nevertheless, the legislation remains broad-reaching and is still being broadly applied. In 2014, Turkish authorities continued to use it to detain and prosecute thousands of politicians, reporters, and activists.
While Turkey’s law enforcement capacity is generally advanced, criminal procedure secrecy rules continued to prevent Turkish National Police (TNP) authorities from sharing investigative information once a prosecutor is assigned to the case, which occurs almost immediately.
The Government of Turkey compiles a “banned from entry list” with a view to prevent travel into Turkey by individuals identified by foreign governments and internal security units as potential foreign terrorist fighters. Although the Turkish government does not have an automated Advanced Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) system, it has approached the Department of Homeland Security for technical assistance in developing its own automated system. Risk Analysis Units were established at 11 major international and domestic airports, land border crossings, and border cities in an effort to identify and interdict potential foreign terrorist fighters. Border forces have increased their ability to patrol and interdict persons and contraband from crossing the border.
The TNP has highly developed counterterrorism capabilities in a number of areas and is planning to expand its law enforcement training for other countries in the region.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Turkey is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and an observer of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, a FATF-style regional group. In October, the FATF cited improvements in Turkey’s counterterrorist finance (CFT) regime and approved Turkey’s exit from the targeted follow-up process of the third round of mutual evaluations. No terrorist finance cases were prosecuted.
While the Government of Turkey has issued freezing orders without delay (three to five days), it remains unknown whether any assets have actually been frozen. Freezing orders are published in the official Gazette. The nonprofit sector is not audited on a regular basis for CFT vulnerabilities and does not receive adequate anti-money laundering/CFT outreach or guidance from the Turkish government. The General Director of Foundations issues licenses for charitable foundations and oversees them, but there are a limited number of auditors to cover the more than 70,000 institutions.
Regional and International Cooperation: Turkey is an active member of the UN, NATO, and the Committee of Experts on Terrorism. Turkey is a founding member of the GCTF and is co-chair with the United States; as co-chair, Turkey provides extensive secretariat support. Turkey also participated in OSCE expert meetings on the Prevention of Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism organized by the OSCE/Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE Secretariat.
The Government of Turkey is considering effective means to implement UN Security Council Resolutions 2170 and 2178. As GCTF co-chair, it is developing policies in line with the framework of The Hague – Marrakech Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the "Foreign Terrorist Fighters" Phenomenon.
Turkey increased its cooperation with European countries regarding the activities of members of the DHKP/C. It also worked with countries from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East to interdict the travel of potential foreign terrorist fighters planning to travel through Turkey to Syria.
In 2014, the TNP offered counterterrorism-related training programs at its Antiterrorism Academy that are designed primarily for law enforcement officers from Central Asian countries.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Turkish government has two significant programs to counter radicalization to violence and violent extremism. The first, administered by the TNP, is a broad-based outreach program to affected communities, similar to anti-gang activities in the United States. Police work to reach vulnerable populations (before terrorists do) to alter the prevailing group dynamics and to prevent recruitment. Police use social science research to undertake social projects, activities with parents, and in-service training for officers and teachers. Programs prepare trainers, psychologists, coaches, and religious leaders to intervene to undermine violent extremist messages and to prevent recruitment.
The second program, administered by the Turkish government’s Religious Affairs Office (Diyanet), works to undercut violent extremist messaging. In Turkey, all Sunni imams are employees of the Diyanet. In support of its message of traditional religious values, more than 140,000 Diyanet religious officials throughout Turkey conducted individualized outreach to their congregations. The Diyanet similarly worked with religious associations among the Turkish diaspora to provide them with access to instruction and to assist them in establishing umbrella organizations. The Diyanet supported in-service training for religious officials and lay-workers via a network of 20 centers throughout Turkey.
Overview: In 2014, the United Kingdom (UK) continued to play a leading role in countering international terrorism. On August 29, the UK raised its terrorist threat level from “substantial” to “severe,” indicating a terrorist attack is “highly likely,” due to the threat from Western foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq returning to the UK and potentially targeting the aviation sector. The UK had not raised its threat level to severe since the failed aviation attack in the United States in December 2009. Domestically, the UK government continued to implement its updated counterterrorism strategy, CONTEST, which was released in 2011 and updated in 2013. The threat from radicalized fighters returning to the UK from Syria and Iraq resulted in a significant shift of counterterrorism resources and became the UK’s number one counterterrorism priority. However, the UK remained concerned about threats from al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, Libya, East Africa, as well as from home-grown violent extremists.
Northern Ireland continued to face a terrorist threat from a small minority of violent dissident republican groups who oppose the peace process. Police and prison officers remained their principal targets. Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) senior officials reported that a number of attacks involved weaponry of growing sophistication with tactics similar to those used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although tactically proficient, the dissidents lacked strategic acumen. The two principal loyalist paramilitary organizations, the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) continued to exist. Tensions and in-fighting within both the UDA and UVF also persisted and remained a cause for concern.
The UK is an active member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). From the start of the U.S.-led air campaign in Iraq, the UK has contributed by providing surveillance and reconnaissance support, conducting airstrikes, and delivering humanitarian assistance and munitions. The UK has eight Tornado aircraft based in Akrotiri for use against ISIL. The UK government made clear that UK troops would not have a combat role on the ground although British trainers have deployed to Iraq to help build Iraqi security force capacity. UK government agencies and NGOs have increased efforts to counter ISIL messaging under the auspices of its Prevent program of community outreach.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: While terrorist groups were active throughout the UK, the majority of attacks occurred in Northern Ireland, with the notable exception of the parcel bombs sent to armed forces recruitment centers in England in February. Dissident republican groups, the Real IRA (RIRA), Continuity IRA (CIRA), and Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH), remained actively opposed to the peace settlement in Northern Ireland. As of October, the UK’s Northern Ireland Office recorded 18 national security attacks in Northern Ireland.
In February, the IRA claimed responsibility for parcel bombs sent to armed forces recruitment centers in England. Four suspected explosive devices were discovered at Army careers offices in Oxford, Brighton, Canterbury, and the Queensmere shopping center in Slough. Packages were sent to Aldershot, Hampshire, and another two armed forces careers offices in Reading, Berkshire; and Chatham, Kent. Downing Street said the small but potentially viable devices “bore the hallmarks of Northern Ireland-related terrorism.”
On October 7, dissident republicans threw a 60-centimeter long pipe bomb at a police patrol vehicle. Although the device did not detonate, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) labelled it "advanced" and "sophisticated."
On October 14, dissidents placed a pressure-activated device in the garden of an unoccupied home in Derry/Londonderry. Police arrived at the site after receiving a phone call, after which army experts disarmed a "complex and sophisticated device designed to maim and kill."
On November 2, a horizontal mortar, fired by command wire, hit a police vehicle in Derry/Londonderry and damaged one of the rear doors before it bounced into a garden where it exploded. Police suspect that dissident republicans were responsible for the attack.
- On November 16, suspected dissident republicans used a home-made rocket launcher to attack a police Land Rover in North Belfast. It struck the vehicle and caused some damage, but no one was injured.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: UK laws allow the government to investigate and prosecute terrorists using a variety of tools. In July, the UK enacted the Antisocial Behavior Crime and Policing Act 2014, which amended the port and border security powers in Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The new code of practice increased the protection of individual freedoms during counterterrorism-related border stops. In November, Parliament began review of the Serious Crime Bill, on track to be enacted in 2015. The bill includes a provision which would make extra-territorial terrorist acts prosecutable in the UK.
The UK has a highly capable network of agencies involved in counterterrorism efforts. The Metropolitan (Met) police lead the UK’s national counterterrorism law enforcement effort. The Met police work closely with local police, MI5, and other agencies in terrorism investigation, prevention, and prosecution. Using a regional policing model, the Kent Police, UK Border Force, and various counterterrorism units across the UK prioritized Syrian foreign terrorist fighters/returnees as part of their investigative remit. For example, the Kent Police and the UK Border Force played a central role in identifying and disrupting the foreign fighter flow across the UK border crossing at Dover Port.
The relationship between U.S. Department of Justice personnel assigned to the Embassy and the Metropolitan Police Extradition Unit is robust and has led to seamless information sharing and resource allocation. For example, on September 4, the UK ordered Haroon Aswat, a UK-based individual, to be extradited to the United States to face terrorism charges. Aswat faces charges of conspiring to provide and providing material support to al-Qa’ida and for attempting to establish a terrorist training camp in the United States.
UK experts estimate at least 500 Britons joined the conflict in Syria and Iraq and around 27 have allegedly died in those countries. According to the Met, about 50 people per week are referred to de-radicalization programs. Police prevention is at its highest since the aftermath of the July 7, 2005 attack on London’s transport system. Police made over 200 terrorism-related arrests in 2014, a significant increase, as a result of conducting high numbers of counterterrorism investigations. Police charged at least 16 people for terrorism-related offenses after returning from Syria and Iraq.
2014 law enforcement actions in Great Britain included:
On February 25, police arrested a former Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg, on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offences. Begg was one of four arrested in Birmingham in addition to a man aged 36 from Shirley, Solihull; and a 44-year-old woman and her son, aged 20, from Sparkhill, Birmingham.
On September 25, British police arrested nine men in London on suspicion of encouraging terrorism and being members of banned organizations. One of the men identified is Anjem Choudary, one of the most high-profile radical Muslim preachers in Britain. Choudary, 47, was previously the head of Islamist group al-Muhajiroun or Islam4UK, which was banned in 2010. Choudary is well-known for organizing demonstrations against Western military action in the Middle East and for publicly expressing support for the September 11 attacks on the United States and the July 7 bombings in London.
On October 14, 2014, counterterrorism police arrested six people in raids across southern England following other detentions in London and the English Midlands. Two men, ages 23 and 26; and two women, ages 23 and 29; were arrested on charges related to suspected terrorism, while a 57-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman were detained on suspicion of failing to disclose information about terrorism. The 57-year-old man was also held on suspicion of “engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and arranging availability of money and property for use in terrorism.”
On October 22, counterterrorism police arrested a 32-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman in two separate probes linked to violent extremism in Syria. The man was arrested on suspicion of having visited a terrorist training camp.
On November 7, authorities arrested four men for suspected terrorism. Police rounded up the men, ages 19 to 27, from four different southern England locations. Armed police, rarely deployed in the UK, took part in three of the arrests, though no shots were fired. The force’s Terrorism Command, working with the regional South East Counter Terrorism Unit and Britain’s intelligence agency MI5, made the arrests as "part of an ongoing investigation into Islamist-related terrorism."
- On November 26, two British brothers were sent to prison for conspiring to attend a terrorist training camp in Syria, becoming the first Britons jailed after returning from the war-torn country. Hamza and Mohommod Nawaz, from London, were arrested in September 2013 after arriving in England by ferry from France. Police say they were carrying AK-47 ammunition brought home as a trophy as well as photos and videos from their time in Syria. The brothers pleaded guilty, and 23-year-old Hamza Nawaz was sentenced to three years in prison. His 31-year-old brother, described as the instigator of the plan, received four-and-a-half years.
In Northern Ireland, the Crime Operations Department is responsible for conducting terrorism investigations and works closely with MI5 and Gardai (Ireland’s police force) on a range of issues. PSNI senior officials reported that cooperation was “better than ever.” As a direct result of their efforts, there were major disruptions, arrests, and convictions, as well as seizures of arms and improvised explosive device components that impeded violent dissident republican activity. Between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014 police seized 26.1 kilograms of explosives, almost three times the amount seized in the previous year. In an operation between October 8 and October 11, 2014, the PSNI Serious Crime Branch recovered 500kg of fertilizer, packs of homemade explosives, timer units, detonators, fuses, and six pipe bombs from a farmhouse in Kinawley, County Fermanagh.
2014 law enforcement actions in Northern Ireland included:
On November 8, in Derry/Londonderry, Eamon Bradley was charged with two extra territorial offenses: possessing explosives with intent to harm and receiving weapons and explosives training in Syria. In October, Bradley was arrested upon his return from Syria, following media reports that he had been fighting in the civil war there. Bradley spent two months attending a camp run by the Army of Islam group, learning to use various guns, mortars, and explosives.
- On November 10, PSNI, with the aid of MI5, raided a house in Newry and arrested 12 men, aged between 36 and 75. Six of the men were charged with directing terrorism and membership of a proscribed organization, conspiracy to possess explosives with intent to endanger life, conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life, and preparation for acts of terrorism. One man was charged with directing terrorism and membership of a proscribed organization. Five other men were released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service. The operation was part of a wider investigation that began in March into the Continuity IRA. Police reported they were acting on MI5 intelligence that the Continuity IRA’s top officials were meeting at the property to plot a major terrorist attack. Among those arrested was Patrick Joseph ‘Mooch’ Blair, who had previously been accused of building the 1998 Omagh bomb.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The UK is an active member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and has observer or cooperating status in five regional FATF bodies: Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL); Eastern and Southern Africa ‘Anti-Money’ Laundering Group; Caribbean Financial Action Task Force; Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering; and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force. Amendments to Schedule Four of the Terrorism Act 2000 came into force on December 3, 2014. These amendments were made by the Crime (International Cooperation) Act 2003 and implement the Freezing Order measure in relation to terrorism offences. These amendments require a UK court to consider executing an overseas (EU) asset-freezing request within a prescribed period. Additionally, two important pieces of legislation relating to terror finance – the Protection of Charities Bill and the CTS Bill – progressed through Parliament in 2014. The Charities Bill, which would enable the Charities Commission to more effectively counter terrorist financing in the non-profit sector was undergoing Parliamentary pre-legislative scrutiny at year’s end. The CTS Bill includes a provision to prevent kidnap and ransom insurance payments made to terrorists.
The UK prosecutes those involved in the financing of terrorism. Since 2001, 48 individuals have been charged under sections 15-19 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (‘fundraising’); of these, 17 individuals were convicted. In the first half of 2014, one individual was convicted on charges of funding terrorism. Additionally, individuals suspected of funding terrorism were convicted of related offenses (fraud, money laundering, etc.), including at least one in 2014. The UK electronically distributes a consolidated list of all UK-designated terrorists and terrorist entities (to include UN targets, EU targets, and UK domestic targets under TAFA) to 15,000 financial institution subscribers, mainly in the UK and its overseas territories.
The UK actively met its obligations to restrict terrorist financing, including funding to extremist groups operating in Syria and Iraq, under UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 2170 and 2178. In the second half of 2014, the UK placed asset freezes on six ISIL-affiliated individuals: Hassan Nur, Nasser Muthana, Aseel Muthana, Ruhul Amin, Reyaad Khan and Abdul Rahman Benhammedi. The UK Charities Commission also worked to counter terrorist financing. Of the regulator’s 85 open compliance cases as of October, 37 are Syria-related investigations.
The UK seizes assets in accordance with UNSCRs 1267, 1988, and 1373. Asset freezes under UN obligations are made as soon as corresponding EU regulations come into force. If aware of assets held in the UK, the government proactively notifies financial institutions to compensate for any delay in legal effect of the UN decision. For domestic asset freezes under UNSCR 1373, action is taken immediately. As of June 2014, the UK held approximately US $275,400 in frozen assets: US $163,600 under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2010, US $17,800 under the EU terrorist asset freezing regime, and US $94,000 under UNSCRs 1267 and 1988. Her Majesty’s Treasury licenses funds to individuals subject to asset freezes for daily living expenses and legal costs; therefore the amount frozen reduces over time.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) regulates money transfer and remittance services. HMRC requires remitters to understand to whom they are sending money, and collects originator and recipient information. UK charities have a duty to report suspicious activities under section 19 of the Terrorism Act 2000; it is an offense to fail to report where there is a suspicion of terrorist finance. Such reports are filed directly with the police or with the National Crime Agency, and the Charities Commission (UK regulator) is informed. Charities with an annual income of US $40,500 per year are obliged to file serious incident reports (SIDs) of fraud, theft, or other criminal behavior to include support for proscribed organizations or individuals. Charities with annual income under US $40,500 per year “should” report such incidents, but failure to do so does not result in a criminal offense.
Charities are not a regulated sector for the purposes of SIDs, but a charity can file a SID directly with the UK regulator if it chooses to do so. From April 2013 through March 2014, UK charities filed 32 SIDs with the Charities Commission. Additionally, auditors and accountants of charitable organizations have a statutory whistleblowing requirement to report suspicious activities. From April 2013 through March 2014, auditors and accountants filed 85 such reports, of which only four related to suspected terrorism finance. Lastly, UK financial institutions file Suspicious Activity Reports with the National Crime Agency related to the financial accounts and transactions of UK non-profit organizations, a portion of which may be related to suspicion of terrorist finance.
Regional and International Cooperation: The UK is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and co-chairs its Countering Violent Extremism Working Group. The UK cooperates with other nations and international organizations on counterterrorism, including the UN and UN Security Council, EU, NATO, Council of Europe, G-7, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and Interpol. In January, the UK supported an UNSCR to counter kidnapping for ransom.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The UK has been following its Prevent strategy to counter radicalization since 2007. The Department of Communities and Local Government are responsible for integration work, designed to ensure that Muslim communities received all the government services to which they were entitled and that immigrants were given assistance to integrate into British society. The Home Office focuses on countering the ideology of violent extremism, including the identification of at-risk youth and their referral to counseling programs. The revised strategy calls for a much more focused effort to target those most at risk of radicalization. Finally, organizations that hold “extremist views,” even those that are non-violent, are not eligible to receive government funding or participate in Prevent programs.
The CTS Bill introduced in November includes measures to strengthen existing de-radicalization programs, including Channel, a voluntary counter-radicalization program targeted at people, usually youth, who have been identified as at risk of radicalization. The new bill will mandate all local government authorities to participate in the program. An additional provision obliges named organizations – such as universities, schools, prisons, probation providers, and local government councils – have a “duty to prevent” extremism/radical speakers. The Home Office will provide institutions with guidance, such as requiring universities to create policies to prevent extremist speakers, and prisons to provide evidence they are dealing with violent extremist prisoners.