Chapter 2. Country Reports: South and Central Asia Overview
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
South Asia remained a front line in the battle against terrorism. Although al-Qa’ida’s (AQ) core in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been seriously degraded, AQ’s global leadership continued to operate from remote locations in the region that the group has historically exploited for safe haven. AQ’s presence in the region continued to face pressure from international, Afghan, and Pakistani forces, and Pakistan’s ongoing offensive in North Waziristan Agency, launched in June 2014, further degraded the group’s freedom to operate. Pressure on AQ’s traditional safe haven has constrained the leadership’s capability to communicate effectively with affiliate groups outside of South Asia.
Afghanistan, in particular, continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network (HQN), and other insurgent and terrorist groups. A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan. Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) provided security throughout most of Afghanistan as the transition to full Afghan leadership on security continued and U.S. and Coalition Forces (CF) continued to draw down during 2014. The ANSF and CF, in partnership, took aggressive action against terrorist elements in Afghanistan, especially in Kabul, and in many of the eastern and northern provinces.
Pakistan continued to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks. The Pakistani military undertook operations against groups that conducted attacks within Pakistan such as TTP, but did not take action against other groups such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba, which continued to operate, train, rally, propagandize, and fundraise in Pakistan. Afghan Taliban and HQN leadership continued to find safe haven in Pakistan, and although Pakistan military operations disrupted the actions of these groups, it did not directly target them.
India remained a target of terrorist attacks, including operations launched by Maoist insurgents and domestic and transnational groups. The level of terrorist violence was substantially unchanged from 2013. Indian authorities continued to blame Pakistan for supporting terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir. On September 3, AQ announced the establishment of a new branch in the Indian subcontinent. The Government of India deepened counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, highlighted by a September 30 Summit between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi where both sides pledged greater cooperation in countering terrorist networks and in information sharing. Even though only a small number of Indian nationals are believed to have joined the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Indian government closely monitored the domestic threat it and other terrorist organizations posed.
Bangladesh made counterterrorism progress in 2014, with the government demonstrating a commitment to counter both domestic and transnational terrorist groups. No major terrorist incidents took place in 2014, and the government’s counterterrorism efforts have made it more difficult for transnational terrorists to operate in or use Bangladeshi territory.
Central Asian leaders have expressed concern about the potential terrorist threat posed by the return of foreign terrorist fighters to the region in the wake of ISIL’s growth in the Middle East and the drawdown of U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan.
Overview: Although responsibility for security in Afghanistan transitioned from U.S. and international forces to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) on January 1, 2015, the United States remains committed to sustained political, diplomatic, and economic engagement in Afghanistan. U.S. forces will continue to have the capacity to conduct counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, but the majority of these operations were being carried out in conjunction with, or solely by, Afghan units at year’s end. The United States supports Afghan efforts to professionalize and modernize their security forces. The military component of U.S. assistance to the ANSF transitioned to the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) on January 1, 2015. RSM primarily focuses on train, advise, and assist functions, but will retain some U.S. counterterrorism functions as outlined in the U.S.-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA).
Insider attacks and force protection challenges remained problematic throughout 2014. During the 2014 spring to fall fighting season, the Taliban sought unsuccessfully to disrupt the two rounds of national elections that occurred in April and June, and attempted to expand their territorial control in western Kandahar, northern Helmand, and Kunduz Province, among other areas. Insurgents increased attacks on government forces and installations during the three-month long stalemate that followed the elections as the two presidential candidates contested the results, placing greater pressure on the Afghan police and army as they closed out the fighting season. The Taliban and other insurgent groups focused on high-profile terrorist attacks as well as attacks on government officials, particularly in Kabul, to maintain their profile and undermine the central government.
The Government of Afghanistan takes the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seriously. There were some reports of ISIL engaging Afghan insurgent groups to obtain allegiance in exchange for resources. In the following instances of ISIL-affiliated activity, the Afghan government responded with police and intelligence services investigations:
- In September, an ISIL newspaper in Dari and Pashto was reportedly distributed in Kabul and Nangarhar provinces promoting extremist ideology.
- In late October, pro-ISIL graffiti was discovered at Kabul University, sparking fear that extremist youth groups may latch onto ISIL messaging.
- On November 15, a suspected ISIL agent who had allegedly posted pamphlets at the Blue Mosque in Herat City was detained in Herat.
ISIL ideology may resonate with fringe elements of insurgent/terrorist groups in Afghanistan, but for the most part Afghanistan-based militants were resistant to fully aligning themselves with the group. ISIL will likely continue to engage Afghan insurgent and terrorist groups. Small numbers of independent actors that are loosely-affiliated with ISIL may continue to use ISIL’s name to gain public and media attention in Afghanistan.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: In 2014, insurgents across Afghanistan used a variety of tactics against ANSF personnel and Coalition Forces (CF). They aimed to expand their territorial influence, disrupt civil governance, and create a public perception of instability, as CF transitioned to RSM and Afghan forces fully engaged in the security of their country. Attacks followed a seasonal pattern, shifting from more guerilla military-style engagements in the spring and summer to high profile and harassing attacks during the fall and winter. In Kabul, there was a significant increase in attacks against Western and U.S. interests over the same time period in 2013.
Insurgents continued to use large vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and complex attacks involving multiple attackers laden with suicide vests working in teams. These incidents increasingly targeted ANSF, Afghan government buildings, soft foreign civilian targets, and Western interests in Kabul, as the overall number of potential targets, particularly in the provinces, decreased due to a shrinking international military footprint. Terrorist activity expanded from historically high level areas in the south and east of Afghanistan to include some areas further north; Kabul was an insurgent focus at the end of the year. Helmand, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Ghazni, Herat, Kunar, and Kunduz were the most violent provinces for attacks against ANSF, CF, and civilians.
Afghanistan remained an area of armed hostilities in 2014 and a variety of insurgent groups used terrorist tactics to pursue their goals. A sampling of high-profile incidents include:
- On January 17, three Taliban insurgents launched a complex attack on a restaurant frequented by foreigners in Kabul. One wore a suicide vest and detonated at the restaurant’s gate, allowing the other two to enter the establishment. They killed 21 people, including 13 foreigners and high-level officials from the UN and the International Monetary Fund. The gunmen were later killed in a standoff with the Afghan police.
- On March 20, four terrorists smuggled pistols past the heavy security of the Serena Hotel in Kabul, opening fire on foreign and Afghan guests dining for the Persian New Year. They killed nine people, including two children, before being gunned down by the ANSF. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On July 15, a VBIED detonated in a public market in Paktika Province, killing 89 civilians and wounding 42 others. No group claimed responsibility and the Taliban issued a statement disavowing any connection with the attack.
- On August 5, in an insider attack, a lone gunman opened fire upon a high-level CF delegation visiting the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, killing U.S. Major General Harold Greene and wounding 15 others according to media accounts. Major General Greene was the highest level U.S. military official killed by hostile action since September 11, 2001.
- On September 4, Taliban attackers detonated two significant VBIEDs outside the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Headquarters in Ghazni Province. Following the explosion, an armed assault team engaged the compound. In the final assessment of the attack, 14 security personnel and 19 Taliban were killed, with 154 others wounded.
- On November 9, a lone suicide bomber infiltrated Kabul Police Headquarters in an attempt to kill the Chief of Police. Instead, the suicide vest explosion killed the Chief of Staff and wounded six others. The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On November 16, a suicide bomber in southern Kabul killed three civilians, and wounded approximately 10 others, included a pro-BSA Member of Parliament. The Parliamentary member was believed to be the target as a warning against voting to approve the agreement with the United States.
- On November 23, a suicide bomber exploded his vest in a crowd of spectators at a volleyball match in Paktika Province, leaving 45 civilians dead and 50 wounded. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On November 29, three attackers with suicide vests and automatic weapons attacked a Kabul guest house for South African NGO workers, killing three foreigners and one Afghan staff member. One insurgent died when he detonated his vest. The other two were killed by police during the rescue of six Afghan hostages. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On December 17, a teenager entered an auditorium at the French Cultural Center in Kabul where a play was taking place and detonated his suicide vest. He killed one German man and wounded 16 others. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Afghan Attorney General’s Office (AGO) investigates and prosecutes violations of the laws on Crimes against the Internal and External Security of the State (1976 and 1987), the Law on Combat Against Terrorist Offences (2008), and the Law of Firearms, Ammunition, and Explosives (2005), including laws that prohibit membership in terrorist or insurgent groups as well as laws that forbid violent acts committed against the state, hostage taking, murder, and the use of explosives against military forces and state infrastructure. The Law on the Structure and Jurisdiction of the Attorney General’s Office was enacted in October 2013. It codifies the structure and funding of the existing Anti-Terrorism Protection Directorate (ATPD) in the AGO and permits the investigation and prosecution of terrorist and national security cases using internationally accepted methods and evidentiary rules. The ATPD handled a total of 8,619 cases in 2014, an average of 2,500 cases per quarter on the primary and appellate levels.
In early 2014, the Justice Center in Parwan (JCIP) at Bagram Air Field began adjudicating cases of individuals detained by Afghan security forces and never held in Coalition Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) detention. Originally established by the Supreme Court of Afghanistan to try the cases of former CF LOAC detainees and staffed with Afghan public security judges and ATPD prosecutors, the JCIP is the only counterterrorism court in Afghanistan that has, in effect, nationwide jurisdiction. Its docket regularly includes cases against those implicated in terrorist attacks on U.S. military personnel and U.S. military and civilian installations in Afghanistan. Through early December, the JCIP had adjudicated 533 primary court trials in 2014, and 1,153 appellate court trials (to include appellate trials of primary court cases that had been adjudicated in 2013). Among notable cases tried at the JCIP during 2014 were:
- Aynuddin, perpetrator of an August 2012 insider attack that killed three Marines and ultimately determined by the JCIP primary court to be a juvenile, was sentenced to seven- and-one-half years (the maximum sentence authorized under Afghan law for a juvenile convicted of any crime).
- Mohammad Nazeer, the lone surviving attacker from a September 2012 assault on Camp Bastion, was sentenced to death.
The Governments of Afghanistan and the United States investigated a variety of criminal acts, including kidnappings and conspiracies to commit terrorist acts. On several occasions, U.S. law enforcement bodies assisted the Ministry of Interior, the NDS, and other Afghan authorities to take action to disrupt and dismantle terrorist operations and prosecute terrorist suspects.
Afghanistan continued to process traveler arrivals and departures at major points of entry using the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES). In addition, Afghan security forces continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, receiving training and equipment in counterterrorism-related crisis response and dignitary and infrastructure protection. ATA assistance also included an intensive instructor development component to build Afghan security force capacity to institutionalize counterterrorism skill sets and regenerate training within Afghanistan’s law enforcement structure.
Despite advances in capability, the ANSF faces large challenges in successfully protecting the country’s land borders, particularly those with Pakistan and Iran. The ABP, which is part of the policing wing of the ANSF, has over 23,000 officers and has the lead on border security. Its leaders openly say their numbers and weaponry are insufficient to successfully execute their mission, particularly in the aforementioned border areas where they face difficult terrain, resupply, and coordination problems with the military, and a heavily-armed, determined insurgency that attacks them in force.
After decades of war and poor or fragmented governance in many rural areas, the ANSF is focused on working with international actors to rebuild its capacity. While the Afghan government has progressed substantially since 2001, complex organizational structures, weak inter-ministerial coordination, corruption, lack of full control over territory (particularly in the border regions with Pakistan), and safe havens for terrorist groups operating on its soil all remain ongoing challenges.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Afghanistan is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In 2014, the Afghan government took initial steps to address deficiencies in its anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime. In June, FATF strongly warned Afghanistan to comply with the government’s June 2012 commitment to implement an action plan agreed upon with FATF to address the deficiencies by October 2014, or run the risk of being placed on the list of “High-Risk and Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions” (the blacklist). The FATF action plan outlined a number of areas that the government needed to address to bring Afghanistan into compliance with international standards, including enactment of amended AML/CFT legislation. Afghanistan amended its AML and CFT laws in June. Terrorist financing is a criminal offense, and Afghanistan is now able to immediately freeze assets identified by UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 1267 and 1373. Under the updated process, the Afghan National Security Council, following notification of a UNSCR designation, immediately notifies the AGO, which in turn identifies and freezes related assets. As of the end of 2014, FATF was assessing whether the new regulations were fully FATF-compliant.
Terrorist finance investigations in Afghanistan continued to be hampered by a weak legal and regulatory regime, coupled with a lack of capacity. The new administration under President Ashraf Ghani expressed its intent to fulfill the FATF action plan milestones.
Afghan officials indicated that because al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and terrorist organizations from the Central Asian republics transfer their assets from person to person or through informal banking system mechanisms, it is very difficult to track, freeze, and confiscate their assets. However, on those occasions when transactions have come to the Afghan government’s attention, either via the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) or reports from the Afghan security agencies, it has acted promptly not to just freeze but also confiscate those assets. In 2014, officials reported some asset seizures, but said it is often difficult to quantify seizures in dollar terms because they confiscate vehicles or other equipment suspected of being used by terrorist organizations.
Money Service Providers in Afghanistan are required to register with and provide currency transaction reports to the FIU at the Central Bank. These reports include monthly data on volumes and numbers of transactions, detailing whether transactions are inbound or outbound, foreign or domestic, and in local or foreign currency. Supervision is weak but improving, with 2014 seeing an increase in the number of on-site inspections of money service providers.
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: Afghanistan consistently emphasized the need to strengthen joint cooperation to fight terrorism and violent extremism in a variety of bilateral and multilateral fora. Notable among such meetings were the Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process, the UN Regional Center for Preventative Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Afghanistan shares the lead on the Counterterrorism Confidence Building Measure (CBM) of the Istanbul Process, working closely with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Under the Counterterrorism CBM framework, Afghanistan hosted an international meeting on terrorist financing in Kabul in February, and also hosted an international workshop on countering improvised explosive devices in March.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Government of Afghanistan continued to support activities designed to prevent radicalization. Through increased engagement with religious communities, Afghan government officials promoted religious moderation, encouraged tolerance, and condemned violence. There are approximately 120,000 mosques in Afghanistan, of which 3,600 are registered with the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs (MoHRA) and the Ministry of Education. Registration is not compulsory, and unregistered mosques, many of which have associated madrassas, operate independent of government oversight. Some religious leaders at these unregistered mosques promote violent extremism. The National Ulema Council is a quasi-governmental body of religious scholars established by former President Karzai in 2002 to counter radicalization and violent extremism. Since taking office on September 29, President Ghani has engaged actively on countering violent extremism efforts, requesting that the Ulema Council both condemn insurgent attacks and issue a call for peace in mosques throughout the country.
President Ghani and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, purposefully reached out early in their tenure to civil society groups to understand the challenges they face and seek ways to address them. In an effort to stem discontent and prevent possible radicalization, Ghani also visited a number of prisons and detention facilities to address rising inmate complaints about poor prison conditions and inequitable clemency programs. Afghan religious leaders and government officials attended conferences at the Hedayah Center, an International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, where they received training on tolerance programming.
President Ghani has identified the peace process as the priority of his administration, and is actively pursuing engagement with the Taliban. The Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) pays for, and provides the institutional mechanism to implement, the full range of the Afghan government’s peace activities, which include the reintegration of foot soldiers in the provinces and provincial-level peace outreach, Ulema engagement on countering violent extremism, and national-level reconciliation initiatives with senior Taliban leadership. Individual fighters who join the program make the commitment to renounce violence and sever all ties with the insurgency, and to abide by the Constitution of Afghanistan. Many go on to become peace advocates, conducting outreach on behalf of the Afghan government through the APRP. Since its inception, the APRP has successfully reintegrated over 9,200 former combatants across Afghanistan.
Overview: The Government of Bangladesh has demonstrated political will and firm commitment to combating domestic and transnational terrorist groups, and its counterterrorism efforts made it harder for transnational terrorists to operate in or establish safe havens in its territory. Terrorist organizations used social media to spread their radical ideologies and solicit foreign fighters from Bangladesh. In a September 2014 audio message, al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri included Bangladesh as one of the countries in which the newly-established al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent would seek to operate. Expatriate Bangladeshis have been arrested for attempting to recruit Bangladeshis to join the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). While Bangladesh is not part of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, it is taking steps to address the threat. On September 29, police in Bangladesh arrested Samiun Rahman for allegedly recruiting militants for both ISIL and al-Nusrah Front.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Bangladesh’s criminal justice system is in the process of fully implementing the Antiterrorism Act of 2009 (ATA) as amended in 2012 and 2013. Although Bangladesh’s ATA does not outlaw recruitment and travel in furtherance of terrorism, the broad language of the ATA provides several mechanisms by which Bangladesh can implement UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2178, which requires nations to address the foreign terrorist fighter threat.
According to media reports, government forces arrested several members of domestic terrorist groups Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, Harkatul Jihad al Islami-Bangladesh, and Ansarullah Bangla Team. Bangladesh cooperated with the United States to further strengthen control of its borders and land, sea, and air ports of entry. Bangladesh continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program and received counterterrorism-focused training for law enforcement officers. Bangladesh also cooperated with the Department of Justice’s efforts to provide prosecutorial skills training, and to institute community policing in targeted areas of the country. U.S. Special Operations Command Pacific continued counterterrorism training with a number of Bangladesh security forces – including the Bangladesh Coast Guard, Bangladesh Navy Special Warfare and Diving Salvage unit, and the Bangladesh Army 1st Para Commando Battalion.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Bangladesh is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The Bangladesh Bank (the central bank) and its financial intelligence unit/anti-money laundering section lead the government’s effort to comply with the international sanctions regime. The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. In 2014, Bangladesh graduated out of the FATF’s grey list.
The terrorist finance provisions of the ATA outlaw the provision, receipt, and collection of money, service, and material support where “there are reasonable grounds to believe that … the same has been used or may be used for any purpose by a terrorist entity.” The Act prohibits membership and support of prohibited organizations, i.e., organizations engaged or involved in terrorist activities, including the terrorist organizations listed under UNSCRs 1267 and 1373. The ATA includes a broad provision providing mutual legal cooperation on terrorism matters with other nations and a comprehensive forfeiture provision for assets involved in terrorism activities. However, implementation of existing laws remains a significant issue as demonstrated by the absence of money laundering convictions.
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: Bangladesh is active in the full range of international fora. Bangladesh is party to various counterterrorism protocols under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and is bringing the country’s counterterrorism efforts in line with the four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The current government has demonstrated its strong interest in cooperating with India on counterterrorism. It has signed memoranda of understanding with a number of countries to share evidence regarding criminal investigations, including investigations related to financial crimes and terrorist financing.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: In 2014, Bangladesh became a board member and pilot country for the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience, a public-private global fund to support local, grassroots efforts to counter violent extremism. Bangladesh uses strategic communication to counter violent extremism, especially among youth. The Ministry of Education provides oversight for madrassas and is developing a standard national curriculum that includes language, math, and science; and minimum standards of secular subjects to be taught in all primary schools, up to the eighth grade. The Ministry of Religious Affairs and the National Committee on Militancy Resistance and Prevention work with imams and religious scholars to build public awareness against terrorism.
Overview: According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, approximately 400 people were killed as a result of terrorist attacks in India in 2014. The number of fatalities from terrorist attacks did not change significantly from the previous year, demonstrating that India remains one of the most persistently targeted countries by insurgents and transnational and domestic terrorist groups. Included in the total number of fatalities were more than 160 deaths attributed to the Communist Party of India (Maoist) or other Maoist groups. To date, these groups have not specifically targeted U.S. or other international interests. In 2014, Indian sources continued to attribute attacks and fatalities in Jammu and Kashmir and against Indian facilities in Afghanistan, to transnational terrorist groups, such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), which continued to operate, train, rally, propagandize, and fundraise in Pakistan.
U.S.-India counterterrorism cooperation continued to increase in 2014. Prime Minister Modi’s government has stated that it intends to prioritize its response to terrorism as a serious national security threat. During the September 30 Summit meeting, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi pledged to enhance U.S.-India “law enforcement, security, and military information exchanges, and strengthen cooperation on extradition and mutual legal assistance.” The President and Prime Minister stressed the need for joint and concerted efforts against networks such as al-Qa’ida, LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Haqqani Network, and reiterated their call to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai to justice. The Prime Minister also joined President Obama in reaffirming “deep concern over the continued threat posed by terrorism, most recently highlighted by the dangers presented by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”
In May, four individuals from India traveled to Iraq to support ISIL. Only one of them returned to India and at year’s end was in custody. In September, four students from Hyderabad attempted to travel to Iraq to support ISIL but were detained in West Bengal and returned to their places of residence. In October, Anees Ansari was detained by Mumbai police for allegedly planning ISIL-inspired attacks on westerners and western schools in Mumbai. On December 13, Mehdi Biswas, a 24-year-old office executive from Bangalore, was arrested in connection with pro-ISIL messaging on Twitter. Biswas’ Twitter account had approximately 17,000 followers. India also remains deeply concerned about Indian nationals taken hostage by ISIL in Iraq.
Indian officials have emphasized the government takes threats posed by ISIL seriously, even though only a small number of Indians are believed to have been recruited into the organization. Given India’s large Muslim population, potential socio-religious marginalization, and active ISIL online propaganda efforts, there remains a risk of increased ISIL recruitment of Indian nationals. On December 16, India banned ISIL under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: Representative incidents included:
- On April 12, two bombs planted by suspected Maoist rebels killed approximately 12 people in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh while voting was underway in India’s general election. The first blast targeted a bus carrying election officials in Bijapur district, killing at least seven. The second attack, which took place half-an-hour later, killed five police officers in an ambulance in the Bastar district.
- On May 11, Maoist insurgents killed seven police commandos and injured two others in a landmine blast in the Gadricholi district of Chhattisgarh state.
- On May 26, LeT carried out an attack against the Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. Security forces killed the attackers.
- On October 2, an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion killed two men, alleged to be terrorist conspirators in the process of handling the device, in the town of Burdwan in West Bengal, about 70 miles northwest of Kolkata. Subsequent investigations by the Indian and Bangladeshi governments alleged the involvement in the blast of an interstate terrorist network believed to have been run by Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Police arrested two females and a male from the blast site who were found destroying evidence, and seized IED components and violent extremist literature.
- On November 27, 10 people were killed when terrorists wearing army uniforms attacked an Indian army base in Kashmir.
- On December 28, an IED exploded outside a busy restaurant in Bangalore on Sunday night, killing one woman and injuring one other in the central business district of Bengaluru.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: India continued to address terrorism-related activities through existing statutes, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) (1967), the SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism Act (1993), and various state-level laws. The UAPA presumes the accused to be guilty if the prosecution can produce certain incriminating evidence indicating the possession of arms or explosives or the presence of fingerprints at a crime scene, regardless of whether criminal intent is demonstrated. State governments held persons without bail for extended periods before filing formal charges under the UAPA. Other state-level counterterrorism laws reduce evidentiary standards for certain charges and increase police powers to detain a person and his or her associates without charges and without bail for extended periods.
Since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, India has attempted to enhance the counterterrorism capabilities of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Guard, and the National Investigation Agency. India’s efforts to counter terrorism were hampered by poor interagency coordination and information sharing, however. In addition, local police forces, led at the state level, have limited command and control capacity and suffer from poor training and equipment. India has launched initiatives to address some of these challenges, including through a Multi-Agency Centre for enhancing intelligence gathering and sharing. It also plans to implement the National Intelligence Grid, a system for linking databases in different government departments and ministries for use by intelligence agencies. The Indian government has proposed the creation of a National Counter Terrorism Centre, but state-level officials have opposed this initiative and it has not been implemented.
Indian officials participated in courses provided through the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program and through other regional capacity building programs. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security, through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Attaché office, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted training programs and exchanges with Indian law enforcement personnel.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: India is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and two FATF-style regional bodies, the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering. India’s Financial Intelligence Unit is also a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Indian officials monitor and regulate money transfers, require the collection of data for wire transfers, oblige non-profit organizations to file suspicious transaction reports, and regulate and monitor these entities to prevent misuse and terrorist financing.
In November 2012, the Government of India brought its domestic anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing (AML/CFT) laws into alignment with international standards by passing amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The Indian government has yet to implement the legislation effectively, however, especially with regard to criminal convictions. Law enforcement agencies typically open criminal investigations reactively and seldom initiate proactive analysis and long-term investigations. While the Indian government has taken action against certain hawala financing activities, prosecutions have generally focused on non-financial businesses that conduct hawala transactions as a secondary activity. Additionally, the government has not taken adequate steps to ensure all relevant industries are complying with AML/CFT regulations. The reporting of suspicious transactions relating specifically to terrorist financing is increasing significantly, however, especially with respect to transactions not involving sanctions lists.
The degree of training and expertise in financial investigations involving transnational crime or terrorist-affiliated groups varies widely among the federal, state, and local levels and depends on the financial resources and individual policies of differing jurisdictions. U.S. investigators have had limited success in coordinating the seizure of illicit proceeds with their Indian counterparts. While intelligence and investigative information supplied by U.S. law enforcement authorities have led to numerous seizures of terrorism-related funds, a lack of follow-through on investigational leads has prevented a more comprehensive approach.
The Government of India is taking steps to increase financial inclusion through expanding access to the banking sector and issuing biometric-enabled universal identification numbers.
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: India is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and participated in GCTF and other UN forums on counterterrorism in 2014. Events related to the October 2 blasts in the Burdwan district of West Bengal cast a spotlight on India’s counterterrorism cooperation with its neighbors. The blasts resulted in counterterrorism cooperation between India and Bangladesh, including visits by Indian officials to Dhaka, travel by a Bangladeshi intelligence team to West Bengal, and parallel raids along the Indo-Bangla border. During 2014, the Indian and Bangladeshi governments continued their cooperation under their bilateral Coordinated Border Management Plan to control illegal cross-border activities and announced the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the field of security and border management through additional cooperation agreements. Also during 2014, India and Nepal continued cooperation along their shared border. India is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
On August 18, the Border Security Force (BSF) provided Bangladeshi counterparts a list of 66 camps located in Bangladesh used by insurgents to launch militant activities into northeast India.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: India’s efforts to counter radicalization and violent extremism were generally directed by state and local authorities. While there was no comprehensive national policy for countering radicalization or violent extremism, the government has implemented some initiatives to counter violent extremism such as initiatives to provide “quality and modern education” in madrassas. In addition, the government operates programs to rehabilitate and reintegrate former militants and insurgents into mainstream society. These programs target disaffected sectors of Indian society that have been sources of separatism and violent insurgency.
Indian government officials have raised concerns over the use of social media and the internet to recruit, radicalize, and foment inter-religious tensions. In particular, officials expressed concern about the ability of ISIL to recruit online, following prominent incidents in which Indians were attracted to join or support the group. On December 16, India banned ISIL under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a step that may deter public declarations of support for ISIL and facilitate prosecutions of individuals who assist the group.
Overview: The Government of Kazakhstan continued to express its willingness to increase counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, particularly in the areas of information sharing and law enforcement, as well as in the development of its ability to conduct special counterterrorism operations. The Ministry of Defense has expressed interest in playing a greater role in counterterrorism operations in Kazakhstan, and has sought U.S. assistance to build its capacity. Kazakhstan is emphasizing improving the capability of its existing counterterrorism units rather than developing new ones.
The Government of Kazakhstan views the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as a dangerous terrorist organization and publicly condemned the group. Kazakhstani law enforcement officials have inquired about best practices to counter ISIL propaganda, and in December banned dissemination of ISIL propaganda in Kazakhstan. The head of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (KNB) said publicly in November that approximately 300 Kazakhstani citizens are members of ISIL, and that law enforcement officials are working to identify these individuals.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Kazakhstan has a comprehensive legal counterterrorism framework, which includes laws on countering extremism and terrorism, and relevant bylaws and chapters in the Criminal Code, Procedural Code, and the Law on National security. The new Criminal Code toughens penalties for crimes the government deems to be terrorist and extremist crimes. It also introduced a number of new offences related to terrorist/extremist crimes, such as “creation of bases for preparing mercenaries,” “participation in terrorist or extremist training,” and “participation in foreign conflicts.” It is illegal for Kazakhstani citizens to fight in foreign wars.
The Government of Kazakhstan passed amendments to its counterterrorism legislation in 2014, aiming to bring the country’s laws in line with the State Program on Combating Extremism and Terrorism 2013-2017. The amendments allow for expediting cooperation and removing bureaucratic barriers among government bodies engaged in combating extremism and terrorism. The legislation permits the government to shut down any communication network used for spreading terrorism and extremism, the immediate closure of any organization after a court recognizes it as an extremist or terrorist group, and for law enforcement to preemptively issue warnings to persons or organizations engaged in activities that may lead to committing crimes involving terrorism or extremism. The new legislation also allows law enforcement to monitor people released from jail after serving sentences for crimes involving terrorism or extremism. Kazakhstani security services and law enforcement organizations may now deny foreign nationals, including missionaries, who may be involved in extremist or terrorist activities entry into the country; previously foreign nationals could only be denied entry if they had been convicted of such crimes.
Kazakhstan is rapidly increasing its counterterrorism capacity, and government officials actively pursued a program of training and professionalization that appeared to enjoy political support at the highest levels. Kazakhstan remained a partner nation in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program. The government’s counterterrorism plan provides for enhanced interagency cooperation, coordination, and information sharing, but the extent to which this is actually occurring remains unknown. In the past, law enforcement bodies were criticized for killing rather than capturing members of suspected terrorist groups, but over the past several years have shown a greater tendency to arrest, detain, and question suspects. Security forces, including military and law enforcement, are undergoing a process of professionalization and reform with the goal of more effectively discharging their duties. There are four special counterterrorism detachments under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and one under the KNB.
Kazakhstan’s Border Guard Service (BGS), which is part of the KNB, uses specialized passport control equipment at each passport control station, allowing officers to check for fraudulent documents. Every officer working at border crossing points must be a graduate of the BGS Academy’s four-year program, where they study passport control using passport samples from many different countries. BGS officers receive regular instructions and refresher training.
The BGS uses the Single Information System “Berkut” database, managed by the KNB. The United States has been unable to verify the database’s contents but it is likely persons on terrorist watch lists are included. Kazakhstan’s BGS officers photograph all foreign visitors arriving in Kazakhstan on international flights.
In recent years Kazakhstan has strengthened security on its southern border by adding radar systems, inspection equipment and vehicles, and specialized mobile inspection groups. Kazakhstani courts convicted 29 people for terrorist offenses in 2014. Law enforcement bodies interdicted nine terrorist plots and arrested several recruiters for attempting to persuade Kazakhstanis to join ISIL. The government registered 52 terrorism and extremism-related crimes.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Kazakhstan belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In 2014, Kazakhstan clarified the definitions for what constitutes terrorist financing in the Criminal Code to meet international standards. Engaging in any transfer or exchange of funds, barter, or gift giving conducted knowingly with a terrorist or terrorist group is criminal under Kazakhstani law. Kazakhstan’s unregulated financial sector is relatively small.
There was no specific requirement for NGOs to file suspicious transaction reports. The Financial Intelligence Unit under the Ministry of Finance requires banks and other covered institutions to report suspicious financial activity by NGOs, however.
Regional and International Cooperation: Kazakhstan participates in counterterrorism and countering violent extremism activities within the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which has established a joint task force for preventing the propagation of terrorist and extremist ideas via the internet. The Kazakhstani Procurator General’s Office cooperates with the OSCE on countering violent extremism and terrorism through joint workshops. Kazakhstan has pledged financial support to the Afghan National Security Forces, including US $2 million in 2014, and is discussing the potential provision of other types of support to the ANSF. Kazakhstan is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which has a limited counterterrorism role. Kazakhstan co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 2178 on preventing travel and support for foreign terrorist fighters.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Kazakhstan’s counterterrorism efforts focus heavily on preventing radicalization, with particular efforts to educate and provide positive alternatives to youth through social programs and economic opportunities, but the results of these nascent programs are unclear. Critics say Kazakhstan’s anti-radicalization efforts are unnecessarily heavy-handed, and could actually encourage radicalization of members of otherwise peaceful religious groups.
Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Culture and Sport conducts outreach to youth who left Kazakhstan to study abroad at religious schools suspected of indoctrinating youth in extremist ideology. According to the ministry, 41 students returned to Kazakhstan in 2014 due to outreach efforts. Religious experts from the Committee for Religious Affairs reach out to at-risk youth via websites such as E-Islam, which was created to increase religious literacy and to counter radical ideas. Religious experts create groups on social networks such as Facebook and VKontakte, where they post information and answer users’ questions about religious extremism. In 2014, the Republican Rehabilitation Center was opened for prisoners convicted of terrorism or extremism, where representatives from the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan regularly meet prisoners to discuss religious extremism. The government also set up 28 regional rehabilitation centers.
Overview: There were no reported terrorist attacks in Kyrgyzstan in 2014, however, security forces arrested several individuals suspected of affiliation with terrorist organizations and terrorist activities abroad. Security forces became more aware of increased recruitment of citizens for terrorist acts in Syria. The State Committee for National Security (GKNB) leads the country’s Counterterrorism Center, which is composed of representatives at the deputy minister level of relevant government ministries.
Government agencies reported varying numbers of Kyrgyzstanis fighting in Syria; numbers ranged from 200 to 500. Parliament proposed legislation that would assist the Prosecutor General’s office in its prosecution of recruiters and its ability to charge Kyrgyzstanis for terrorist acts committed abroad.
The government is committed to preventing terrorist attacks and reached out to international organizations and foreign governments that could provide training and technical assistance. The country remained vulnerable to transnational threats, especially in the south where border issues with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and weak government capacity to control borders could facilitate the establishment of terrorist safe havens. Media reported several cases of Kyrgyzstanis being drawn by promises of work in Turkey and then recruited into or trafficked into Syria. The government was also concerned about the potential for an influx of terrorist elements from Afghanistan.
Kyrgyzstan’s anti-Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) efforts were limited to domestic programs to prevent the flow of fighters to Syria and the prosecution of those who return. The Counterterrorism Center partnered with an international NGO to create community leadership groups in each region of Kyrgyzstan, led by local religious leaders trained in methods to prevent violent extremism, to deter potential fighters from traveling to Syria. Parliament worked with the OSCE to host public hearings in the southern provinces of Osh and Jalalabad (from where most fighters originate) to increase local awareness of ISIL recruitment methods. In November, the Counterterrorism Center agreed to a 2015 training plan developed and funded by the OSCE to increase its capacity to share information on terrorist threats between law enforcement agencies at all levels of government.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The GKNB remained the main government organization tasked with combating terrorism. It investigated and arrested several individuals based on their alleged connections to terrorist organizations, including those linked to Hizb-ut-Tahrir. The government designated Hizb-ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organization in 2003, although the group’s philosophy professes nonviolence and its members committed no violent acts. It also arrested several individuals charged with recruiting citizens to fight with ISIL.
The Prosecutor General’s office reported using existing counterterrorism laws enacted in 2005 (counter-extremism) and 2006 (counterterrorism and money laundering) to charge repatriated fighters. It explained that new legislation proposed by Parliament in 2014, if passed, will make it easier to prosecute crimes such as recruitment of fighters and participation in terrorist acts abroad.
Although the GKNB’s Counterterrorism Center has demonstrated the capacity to quickly react to bomb scares or other potential terrorist threat, it lacks both specialized training and equipment. Interagency cooperation and coordination is sporadic. For example, the Prosecutor General’s office receives results of GKNB and Ministry of Interior (MVD) investigations to use in its prosecutions, but has no mechanism to ask for more details or for follow-up information after the investigation is complete. In a meeting with U.S. officials, members of the Prosecutor General’s anti-terrorism division indicated that the GKNB does not provide specific information on the origin of the evidence that it collects or how it was obtained. Prosecutors are never consulted before the GKNB considers an investigation to be complete.
There is political will to increase capacity and obtain equipment, and all law enforcement entities demonstrate a desire for cooperation with international organizations. Kyrgyzstan continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program, and Kyrgyz security forces received training focused on improving law enforcement capacity to secure the country’s borders from terrorist transit. The border guards and customs service also cooperate closely with the U.S. Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) office. EXBS is funding construction of additional border towers and providing renovations and enhancements to existing border towers along the southern borders of Kyrgyzstan with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Following ethnic clashes in 2010 in the southern regions of Osh and Jalalabad between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, the OSCE, through its Community Security Initiative, embedded an international police advisor with law enforcement agencies in each region of Kyrgyzstan. Along with community policing, the advisors train local law enforcement officials on how to identify potential terrorist attacks.
The government does not maintain a terrorist screening watch list. It also does not have biographic or biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry. Internal information sharing needs improvement. Information sharing with other countries happens rarely and usually only by request in the context of human trafficking or organized crime investigations. Information sharing and cooperation with counterterrorism officials in Turkey is increasing. The MVD reported that Turkey provides information on the travel of Kyrgyzstanis to Turkey to assist in MVD investigations. The government does not collect advance passenger records on commercial flights.
Impediments to more effective host government law enforcement activity against terrorism include interagency rivalries, a lack of coordination between the GKNB and MVD, and budgetary constraints. Inefficient Soviet-era bureaucratic structures, corruption, low salaries, and frequent personnel turnover hampered law enforcement efforts. Counterterrorist units are still largely untested in real-life situations.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Kyrgyzstan belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Kyrgyzstan did not pursue any terrorist finance cases and did not identify or freeze any terrorist assets. Kyrgyzstan has made substantial progress in addressing concerns of the international community on money laundering and terrorist financing, and, in July, was removed from FATF’s grey list and, in November, from the EAG monitoring list. 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: In 2014, Kyrgyzstan participated in counterterrorism activities organized by the OSCE, the Commonwealth of Independent States Antiterrorism Center, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: In 2014, Kyrgyzstan worked in conjunction with the OSCE and other international organizations to facilitate countering violent extremism programs. The government, specifically the GKNB, launched a public awareness campaign in the Kyrgyz language press to discredit the efforts of ISIL recruiters. The campaign also warned potential labor migrants to Turkey of the risk of being trafficked, not being paid for their work, and the possibility of prosecution for their actions in Syria should they return to Kyrgyzstan.
Overview: Maldives, an archipelago consisting of nearly 1,200 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls with a population of just over 393,000, is strategically located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, close to international sea lanes. Press reports in 2014 indicated up to 200 Maldivians had traveled to Syria or Iraq and at least six had been killed in action.
Since 2010, concerns about the activities of a small number of local extremists who support violence and have involvement with transnational terrorist groups have been mounting. Young Maldivians, especially those within the penal system and otherwise marginalized members of society, are at risk of becoming radicalized and some have already joined violent extremist groups. According to reporting in the Maldivian media, radical Maldivians have made connections to violent extremist affiliates throughout the world and a small but steady stream of Maldivians leave the country to train and fight with these groups.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Maldivian Parliament (Majlis) passed a new penal code in April 2014, which, once implemented, should improve the government’s ability to prosecute individuals for recruiting, financing, or otherwise supporting terrorism. However, the government was still drafting criminal procedure codes and evidence bills needed to help enforce the new penal code at year’s end. Neither Maldivian law nor the new penal code permit restrictions on travel of would-be foreign terrorist fighters or detention of those who have been turned back on suspicion they were headed to a war zone.
Responsibility for Maldivian counterterrorism efforts is divided among the Maldivian Police Service (MPS) and National Defense Force (MNDF), the latter of which has Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard branches. The MPS has the greatest capacity among these entities; cooperation and information sharing among the agencies is very limited. The Maldivian government worked with the United States to install the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) at Maldives’ main international airport and at Malé seaport in August 2013.
The Maldivian government arrested several people possibly associated with violent extremism in 2014, but did not arrest Maldivians who were returned to the country on suspicion they intended to fight in Syria or Iraq. Existing law severely limits the ability of law enforcement agencies to prosecute such cases.
Maldives continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, which provided training to the MPS, Maldivian Coast Guard, prosecutors, and port and border control officers. In 2014, ATA provided training and assistance in such fields as vital infrastructure security, maritime port and harbor security management, countering domestic and transnational terrorism, first response to terrorist incidents, interdicting terrorist activities, soft target protection, and interviewing terrorist suspects.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Maldives is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Maldivian authorities believe funds are currently being raised in Maldives to support terrorism abroad; however, they do not have reliable information regarding the amounts involved. While no official studies have yet been conducted, the Maldivian Central Bank believes criminal proceeds mainly come from domestic sources; a large percentage of Suspicious Transaction Reports the Central Bank receives are related to Maldivians. The Maldives Monetary Authority reports informal money transfer networks (hawala) are used to transfer funds between the islands, although the extent to which these systems are employed to launder money is unclear.
The Maldivian government monitors banks, the insurance sector, money remittance institutions and finance companies, and requires the collection of data for wire transfers. Financial institutions other than banks and intermediaries in the securities sector, however, are not subject to current anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations. Insurance companies and intermediaries, finance companies, money remittance service providers, foreign exchange businesses, and credit card companies therefore operate outside the AML/CFT framework.
The Maldivian government implements UNSCRs 1267 (1999) and follow-on resolutions and 1373 (2001), and monitors and regulates alternative remittance services, despite the fact that they lie outside the AML/CFT framework. The Maldivian government did not report any efforts to seize terrorist assets in 2014.
According to the Maldivian government, capacity building of relevant supervisory and regulatory authorities such as the Maldives Monetary Authority and the Capital Market Development Authority, law enforcement authorities (the Anti-Corruption Commission, Department of Immigration and Emigration, Maldives Customs Service, and MPS), and the judiciary is needed to properly counter money laundering and terrorist financing. Government of Maldives officials attended the Department of State-sponsored “Good Giving” conference at Embassy Dhaka in December 2014 on Countering Terrorist Finance and Violent Extremism.
Regional and International Cooperation: The U.S. Special Operations Command encouraged MNDF participation as a member of the Global Special Operations Force network that collaborates on common security challenges and actively supports multilateral and regional security cooperation efforts, such as global programs that focus on de-radicalization and counterterrorism issues. Maldives is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Maldives participated, along with India and Sri Lanka, in the network’s third biannual security consultation in March 2014. Topics discussed included security force capacity building and increasing cooperation in maritime domain awareness. In accordance with Global Counterterrorism Forum Good Practices, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs convened a forum of Islamic scholars to examine the concept of jihad, with the objective of preventing Maldivian citizens from becoming foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Maldivian government continued to recognize that counter-radicalization efforts are a critical component to long-term success against violent extremism. Since 2011, the government has sought to counter the influence of extremist ideology by actively intervening in religious life. These interventions take the form of mandating persons wanting to serve as imams to undergo a six-month state-approved training, as well as disseminating approved sermons for Friday prayers. The government is also in the process of building an Islamic university in the capital city of Malé that will offer courses in comparative religion in addition to Islamic studies. The university’s key objective will be to expose Maldivian students to the academic study of religion as a counterweight to extremist discourses and messaging.
Overview: Nepal experienced no significant acts of international terrorism in 2014, although its open border with India and weak controls at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport raised concerns that international terrorist groups could use Nepal as a transit point.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Nepali law criminalizes activities related to terrorism, including the financing of terrorism. While Nepal has specialized units to respond to terrorist incidents, law enforcement units lack the capacity to effectively detect, deter, and identify terrorist suspects. An open border with India and relatively weak airport security hamper efforts to implement effective counterterrorism policing.
Nepali police officers continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. In 2014, the ATA program funded nine training courses to improve counterterrorism capabilities within Nepali law enforcement agencies. ATA training focused on building Nepali law enforcement capacity to secure the country’s borders from potential terrorist transiting and preventing terrorists from establishing safe havens within Nepal. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) trained the Nepal Police in Polygraph Examination to improve criminal investigations, including investigations of potential terrorist activities.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Nepal belongs to the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In 2014, Nepal enacted the appropriate implementing regulations to address key anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies, including the seizing, freezing, and confiscation of terrorist assets to comply with UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373 and other provisions established by FATF. Nepal is no longer subject to FATF’s monitoring process under its ongoing global AML/CFT compliance process.
Nepali law allows the government to freeze and confiscate terrorist assets; however, coordination among different institutions remained slow. There were no instances of assets being frozen in 2014. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is currently working to analyze a backlog of several hundred Suspicious Transaction Reports spanning several years, which delay investigations.
Transactions by unauthorized banks and financial institutions to transfer or receive money (such as hundi and hawala) are considered criminal money laundering offenses. However, it is difficult for the Nepali government to investigate informal money transfer systems.
Nepal’s central bank, the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), licenses and monitors business services that receive remittances. Only banks can legally transfer money out of Nepal. Money transfer services in Nepal may receive inbound remittances, but funds must be distributed to recipients through banks, which are required to collect data on the originator.
The NRB issues directives to banks and financial institutions. In 2014, the Parliament passed a statute that obligates banks and financial institutions, as well as individuals, to view the website of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The websites of the Ministries and NRB are linked to the UN website and auto-updated.
The NRB’s FIU directives do not cover non-profit organizations, unless there is specific information that they are involved in money laundering and terrorist financing.
Regional and International Cooperation: Nepal is a signatory of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism. Nepal reaffirmed its commitment to the Convention during the 2014 SAARC summit held in Kathmandu.
Overview: Pakistan remains a critical counterterrorism partner that is plagued with numerous violent extremist groups, many of which target Pakistani government or members of other religious sects. Counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan during 2014 was mixed, and Pakistan continued to deny visas for trainers focused on law enforcement and civilian counterterrorism assistance. In 2014, Pakistan launched a military operation in North Waziristan (later expanded to Khyber Agency) aimed at eliminating terrorist safe havens. The government’s counterterrorism efforts included providing support to the military operation and countering terrorist retaliation in urban areas. Pakistan also confronted terrorist groups that attacked Pakistani civilians, law enforcement agencies, and military and paramilitary troops. Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for a December 16 attack on an Army-run school in Peshawar, one of the country’s deadliest acts of terrorism, which it termed as retaliation for the North Waziristan military operation.
In 2014, terrorists used remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in bicycles, motorcycles, cars, and rickshaws; suicide bombers; targeted assassinations; rocket-propelled grenades; and other combat tactics to attack schools, markets, government institutions, mosques, and other places of worship. Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) and its alias organizations continued to operate freely in Pakistan, and there were no indications that Pakistan took significant enforcement actions against the group. Attacks by sectarian groups against minorities continued. However, the Shia commemoration of Ashura, which was a focal point of violence in 2013, passed without major attacks or rioting.
Karachi, in particular, continued to suffer from political and ethnic violence by different groups, including militant organizations, fundamentalist religious groups, and the militant wings of political parties. Some militant groups worked to assert control over political parties and criminal gangs operating in the city and surrounding areas of southern Sindh. The security situation in Karachi remained a priority concern for Pakistan’s leadership, which launched an operation against terrorists and criminals operating in the city.
In February, Pakistan promulgated a National Internal Security Plan (NISP) aimed at combating terrorism and addressing the drivers of violent extremism. By December, most of the policies laid out in the NISP had not been implemented. For example, the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), which was to be the centerpiece of the plan focused on coordinating counterterrorism efforts across the government, remained ineffectual due to lack of a budget and bureaucratic disputes over personnel and chain of command. After the Peshawar school attack, the government formed a committee of political party, military, and intelligence representatives to produce a national plan of action against terrorism.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: Representative terrorist attacks in Pakistan included:
- On January 21, a bomb attack on a bus of pilgrims killed at least 24 Hazara and injured 40 others in Mastung District, Balochistan.
- On February 13, a suicide bomber targeted a bus of police officers, killing at least 13 and injuring 58 others near Razzakabad Police Training Center in Shah Latif Town, Karachi.
- On March 3, two suicide bombers and armed terrorists killed 11 people and injured 25 at the district court in Islamabad’s F-8 sector.
- On April 9, a bomb at an Islamabad vegetable market killed 24 people and injured 116.
- On May 25, a bomb attack on a security convoy in the Pandiyali tehsil of Mohmand Agency killed six security personnel and injured three others.
- On May 25, armed men attacked a check-post along the Quetta-Karachi Highway in Wadh tehsil of Khuzdar District, Balochistan, killing at least eight Balochistan law enforcement officials and injuring three others.
- On June 8, armed men attacked Karachi airport, killing 13 people. An Army spokesman said security forces killed all 10 of the gunmen.
- On September 6, naval security thwarted a terrorist attack on Karachi Naval Dockyard. One sailor and two attackers died in a firefight, while security forces captured four attackers. The terrorists reportedly planned to hijack a naval frigate.
- On November 2, a suicide bomber killed at least 60 people at the Wagah border crossing with India. TTP splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahraar claimed responsibility.
- On December 16, armed militants wearing paramilitary uniforms and suicide vests attacked an Army-run school in Peshawar, killing at least 144, mostly children. TTP claimed responsibility for what local media termed the deadliest attack in Pakistan’s history.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Pakistan enacted additional amendments to supplement the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 1997, and promulgated the Protection of Pakistan Act (PPA), empowering the government to counter terrorism with enhanced law-enforcement and prosecutorial powers. The country is in various stages of implementing the National Counterterrorism Authority Act, the Fair Trial Act, amendments to the ATA, and the 2014 PPA, although some of these acts may be considered lower priorities in the upcoming year following the implementation of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, and the National Action Plan. The government continued to make use of reinforced counterterrorism legislation; however, the judiciary moved slowly in processing terrorism and other criminal cases.
Pakistan promulgated new legislation in 2014 that supported the investigation and prosecution of terrorism offenses. The PPA augmented the ATA and established a federally empowered infrastructure with special federal courts, prosecutors, police stations, and investigation teams for the enforcement of 20 specially delineated categories of offenses. The 2014 amendments to the ATA placed additional limitations on the use of lethal force, and attempted to increase the efficiency of terrorism courts and improve court security.
Pakistan’s law enforcement and national security structure needs improvement. Although the various security agencies attempt to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents, the government’s institutional framework is not conducive to interagency cooperation and coordination. There is only sporadic interagency information sharing, no comprehensive integrated database capability, and specialized law enforcement units lack the technical equipment and training needed to implement the enhanced investigative powers provided in the 2012 Fair Trial Act. Prosecutors have a limited or inadequate role during the investigation phases of terrorism cases. Jurisdictional divisions among and between military and civilian security agencies continued to hamper effective investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases. Intimidation by terrorists against witnesses, police, victims, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges contributed both to the slow progress of cases in Anti-Terrorism Courts, and a high acquittal rate.
Pakistan continued to work toward structural reforms on counterterrorism designed to centralize coordination and information sharing. Due to constitutional requirements on the devolution of law and order responsibilities to provincial levels, counterterrorism command and control at the national level had been ad hoc and limited until the 2012-2014 legislative changes to empower federal entities. NACTA has been incorporated into the Ministry of Interior and remains in the process of establishing its mission, staffing, and responsibilities. The Intelligence Bureau has nationwide jurisdiction as a civilian agency, is fully empowered under the PPA to coordinate with provincial and territorial counterterrorism units, and is taking more of an active role in counterterrorism. The Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate has broad intelligence powers and fulfills a de facto border security role along with tribal militias, provincial police, and the Frontier Corps. The Ministry of Interior has over 20 law enforcement-related entities under its control.
Pakistan is implementing biometric collection in national databases and screening at border land crossings with the International Border Management Security system. The National Automated Database Registration Authority maintains a national biometric database of citizens, residents, and overseas Pakistanis, and is continually subject to upgrades. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Pakistan’s customs and tax authority, continues to maintain currency-detection units at 12 international airports to counter bulk cash smuggling. The FBR has improved information-sharing protocols on arrests and seizures to overcome bureaucratic hurdles. Information on arrests and seizures is now sent to a central intelligence and investigations directorate, which then disseminates the information throughout the country so customs agents have current information on trends, patterns, methods of operation, entities, and individuals. Pakistan collects advance passenger name records on commercial flights. In November, Pakistan Customs launched the End Use Verification (EUV) project, which will facilitate the entry of dual-use chemicals for legitimate purposes, while also investigating and preventing the entry of chemicals intended for use in IEDs. The EUV project consists of 80 Pakistani teams that will conduct countrywide verification checks.
The military conducted significant counterterrorism operations in North Waziristan and Khyber agencies in the tribal areas, and civilian forces conducted operations in Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab. In Karachi, security forces continued an operation against organized crime and terrorist groups. Security forces intercepted large stockpiles of weapons and explosives, and discovered bomb-making facilities and sophisticated telecommunication networks. Pakistan continued to arrest terrorists and initiate prosecutions throughout 2014. However, the enhanced tools provided by the Fair Trial Act of 2012 and the NACTA law are still in the process of being implemented by the government. These laws are designed to equip intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors with the necessary legal tools to detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist activities and organizations. If fully activated, NACTA could facilitate increased coordination and collection of counterterrorism intelligence among security agencies and provincial police, and provide a vehicle for national policy and strategy formulation for all aspects of counterterrorism.
Anti-Terrorism Courts have limited procedures for the admission of foreign evidence. The trial of seven suspects accused in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack was ongoing at year’s end, with prosecution witnesses recording statements before the court. Security concerns and procedural issues resulted in a slow pace of trial proceedings. On December 18, the court granted bail to the lead defendant, alleged Mumbai attack planner and LeT operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. On December 19, the government detained Lakhvi for at least four months under the Maintenance of Public Order Act.
Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on information sharing and law enforcement continues, but needs improvement with respect to kidnapped U.S. citizens. Law enforcement cooperation continued with respect to terrorist attacks and plots against U.S. personnel, and the Embassy and Consulates General in Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar. Pakistani law-enforcement officials have pledged to assist in the apprehension of U.S. citizen fugitives in Pakistan. Practical implementation of this pledge has been lacking, however.
Delays in obtaining Pakistani visas for training personnel have been an obstacle to counterterrorism assistance for security forces and prosecutors, including assistance planned through the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program, most of which was redirected to other regional partners.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Pakistan is an active member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with FATF and the APG in 2010 to address its strategic anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies. In June, Pakistan approved and enacted amendments to the ATA to rectify deficiencies identified by the FATF in its authority for freezing terrorist assets in accordance with international standards and UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1373. Since then, the government has had the ability to freeze and confiscate terrorist assets. However, Pakistan had not yet implemented that legislation at year’s end.
UN-designated terrorist organizations continued to skirt sanctions by reconstituting themselves under different names, often with little effort to hide their connections to previously banned groups, and the government does not prosecute CFT cases. Although Pakistan added some named groups to its proscribed organizations list, implementation of UNSCRs 1267 and 1988 remained weak. Pakistan issued a UNSC Enforcement Order in 2012 setting out a range of sanctions for non-compliance in the implementation of UNSCR 1267, but has not used this authority. The FATF has determined that Pakistan needs to increase the administrative monetary penalty available or legislate for additional criminal sanctions.
Regional and International Cooperation: Pakistan participated in counterterrorism efforts in both regional and international forums. As a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Pakistan attended GCTF meetings and supported GCTF initiatives. Pakistan is a partner in the UK’s Counterterrorism Prosecution Reform Initiative, and provincial governments contributed to related rule-of-law programs in Malakand and Punjab. Pakistan participated in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation meetings on counterterrorism; is a member of Interpol; and participated in multilateral groups where counterterrorism cooperation was discussed, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (as an observer) and the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation. Pakistan participated in UNSC meetings on sanctions and counterterrorism, and in a UN Counterterrorism Committee’s Executive Directorate regional workshop for South Asian judges, prosecutors, and investigators in the Maldives in November.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States held high-level meetings to discuss regional security, including efforts to counter extremism and violence in the border region, and reconciliation efforts. Pakistan also held bilateral and multilateral meetings on security cooperation and counterterrorism with other countries, including Afghanistan, China, Germany, India, Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and the UK.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations employed strategic communications strategies to counter radicalism and build support for counterterrorism initiatives. However, overall policy coordination had yet to be implemented under NACTA. Integration of reformed militants into society remains a major priority for the government; to that end, the military joined civil-society leaders to operate the Sabaoon Rehabilitation Center, a de-radicalization program that attempts to rehabilitate youth exposed to militancy through education and counseling.
Overview: The 2009 military defeat of the terrorist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) marked the beginning of what many hoped was a new era for the country. The Sri Lankan government maintained a strong military presence in post-conflict areas and continued to voice concern about the possible reemergence of pro-LTTE sympathizers. Although the Sri Lankan government maintains a comprehensive counterterrorism stance, counterterrorism cooperation and training with the United States in 2014 was limited.
Sri Lankan police apprehended a small number of Maldivian nationals attempting to transit through Sri Lanka to Syria allegedly to become foreign terrorist fighters.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Counterterrorism legislation in Sri Lanka has historically focused on eliminating the LTTE. In 2014, the Government of Sri Lanka continued to implement the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), enacted in 1982 as a wartime measure, which gives security forces sweeping powers to search, arrest, and detain individuals. Embassy Colombo had significant concerns regarding use of the PTA by the previous government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to harass and detain public actors under the guise of seeking to revive the LTTE. The new government has pledged to end the broad application of the PTA, and has also taken steps to reduce the military’s role in civil society and its control of land in security zones in the north.
Although U.S. counterterrorism assistance to Sri Lanka has generally been limited, the Sri Lankan government maintained its partnership with the U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense, and Energy on securing its maritime border. The U.S. Coast Guard, under the Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security program, continued to train Sri Lankan Coast Guard and Navy personnel on border and export control matters, and the Government of Sri Lanka continued to cooperate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection through the Container Security Initiative.
Border security remained a significant issue for the Sri Lankan government. In 2014, the International Organization for Migration trained 54 newly-recruited Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration officers in techniques to improve border surveillance and combat human trafficking.
The government continued to collaborate with the EU Immigration Department on an Advanced Passenger Information system, which transmits passenger information to Sri Lankan immigration officials upon arrival. Collaboration with the Australian government continued on the development of a passport fingerprinting program that was originally scheduled to go online in 2014. The data generated from these collection systems will be significant assets to the Sri Lankan government in its efforts to control and combat illegal migration.
In March 2014, the government announced it had designated 16 organizations and 422 individuals as terrorist entities and/or facilitating terrorist financing designed to help revive the LTTE. The Sri Lankan government did not provide information regarding criteria for designation or any supporting evidence. A team from the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Director’s office, which visited Sri Lanka in October 2014, expressed concerns the designation process may not have met UN standards.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Sri Lanka belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. While neither an important regional financial center nor a preferred center for money laundering, several factors make the country vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist finance. These include a lack of transparent tender mechanisms in government projects, past experience with terrorism, tax evasion, and a large informal economy. Legal remittance flows through the formal banking system have increased sharply in recent years, and will surpass US $7 billion in 2014. Remittances originate from Sri Lanka’s substantial overseas workforce, primarily in the Middle East. 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: Sri Lanka continued to cooperate with a number of donor countries, including the United States, to improve its land and maritime border security. These efforts also enhanced the government’s capacity to interdict potential foreign terrorist fighters attempting to transit through the country. Sri Lanka is one of 85 partner nations in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and in 2014 served as GICNT co-chair.
In November, representatives from Sri Lankan law enforcement and judicial personnel attended the three-day Ninth Regional Workshop for Judges, Prosecutors, and Police Officers on effectively Countering Terrorism in South Asia in the Maldives. In December, the Sri Lankan government held the Galle Dialogue, which featured multilateral discussion by international security force representatives on issues of regional security in South Asia, including maritime terrorism.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Sri Lanka continued to operate a rehabilitation program for former alleged LTTE combatants, although limited access by independent bodies to known rehabilitation camps precluded reliable evaluations of the government’s efforts.
Overview: In 2014, Tajikistan continued to address weaknesses in its counterterrorism strategy. Marginalizing violent Islamist extremist groups in Tajik society was the main focus of the Tajik government’s counterterrorism policies. Tajikistan sought to increase military and law enforcement capacity to conduct tactical operations through bilateral and multilateral assistance programs, including with the United States. The United States, Russia, Japan, and the EU provided funding for border security programs.
The biggest change in Tajikistan’s security environment has been the acknowledgment that roughly 300 Tajik citizens are allegedly fighting against government forces in Syria and Iraq, and of the threat they could pose if and when they return. The Tajik government reported the threat of militants returning from foreign conflict zones increased in 2014, due to the drawdown of international troops in Afghanistan and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s success in attracting recruits from Tajikistan’s Sughd and Khatlon regions, as well as among the migrant laborer population in Russia. Tajik government reporting indicated many Tajik militants brought their families with them to Syria.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Tajik government prosecutes terrorists under the Laws on Combating Terrorism, Anti-Money Laundering, Currency Regulation, and Notary; and the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan. Resource constraints, corruption, lack of training for law enforcement and border security officials, and general capacity issues continued to plague the Tajik government’s ability to interdict possible terrorists. Tajik law enforcement bodies lacked sufficient interagency cooperation and information sharing capabilities.
Tajikistan continued to make progress in improving border security with bilateral and multilateral assistance, although effectively policing the Tajikistan/Afghanistan border was a difficult task requiring more resources and capabilities than were available to the Tajik government. The interagency Secretariat, established by the Tajik government in 2013, met regularly throughout the year to coordinate implementation of Tajikistan’s 2010 National Border Management Strategy. The International Organization for Migration and the OSCE worked to improve travel document security. The OSCE also provided funding to link Tajikistan’s existing passport data scanners at airports and land ports of entry to the Interpol database. Tajikistan continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, and Tajik security forces received training related to border security practices and counterterrorism investigations. In addition, the Border Management Program in Central Asia and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime worked to improve border infrastructure, promote inter-agency cooperation, provide direct training, and expand training capacity in Tajikistan.
In the first 11 months of 2014, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported opening 12 cases against individuals charged with terrorism, 181 cases against individuals charged with supporting or promoting terrorism, 109 cases against individuals supporting or promoting extremism, and 46 cases against individuals charged with extremism. The Ministry of Internal Affairs also reported the successful prosecution of six Jamaat Ansarullah members for participating in a 2010 police station bombing. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported having disrupted seven planned attacks in 2014. In July, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported the arrest of a group which allegedly planned to bomb the Tajik Aluminum Company’s refinery, as well as the city hall, prosecutor’s office, and police headquarters in the nearby city of Tursunzoda. On October 18, the Ministry of Internal Affairs told media outlets it had arrested 20 militants in the northern Spitamen region planning to attack a police station, seize weapons, and blow up the Shahriston and Istiqlol tunnels connecting Dushanbe and Khujand.
Corruption in the judicial system and misuse of counterterrorism statutes to suppress political opposition hampered the effectiveness of the government’s counterterrorism efforts.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Tajikistan is a member of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In May, FATF reported Tajikistan had amended portions of its legislation pertaining to money laundering and financial crimes, bringing its laws closer to compliance with international recommendations. At its June plenary session in Moscow, the EAG removed Tajikistan from the enhanced follow-up process and placed it under regular follow-up, meaning the group saw sufficient progress in the country’s amendments to its criminal code regarding anti-money laundering. The EAG took an additional step at its November meeting to further upgrade Tajikistan’s status by placing it on the common monitoring list.
Similarly, the FATF recognized Tajikistan, along with several other nations, during its October meeting in Paris “...for the significant progress made in addressing the strategic anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance (AML/CFT) deficiencies earlier identified by the FATF…” Due to this progress, FATF removed Tajikistan from its monitoring process, although Tajikistan will continue to work with the organization to further strengthen its AML/CFT structures.
In 2014, Tajik courts sentenced seven people on charges of money laundering and sentenced one person on charges of terrorist financing. Law enforcement officials seized US $20,400 in a money laundering case.
There is no publicly available information with regard to length of time to freeze or any estimates of the amount of assets frozen or seized, but FATF has declared Tajikistan is in compliance with its definition of “Ability to Freeze Terrorist Assets without Delay.”
Regional and International Cooperation: Tajikistan is an active member of the OSCE, where it focuses on border security issues, and is also a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In August, Tajikistan participated with SCO partner nations in the Peace Mission 2014 counterterrorism-focused military exercises held in China.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Stemming violent extremism and radicalization in Tajikistan is a top priority for the Tajik government. The Tajik government seeks primarily to control radical messaging by selectively blocking social media sites, rather than issuing a counter-narrative. Many of the government’s measures, however, have had a negative impact on religious freedoms, including prohibiting children under 18 from attending mosque or other public religious services and banning women from worshiping in mosques. We refer you to the Department of State’s Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/index.htm) for further information.
Overview: The Government of Turkmenistan continued efforts to improve the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism, ensure border security, and detect terrorist financing. Turkmenistan cooperated with international organizations and participated in trainings on preventing terrorist financing and strengthening border security. The government did not report any terrorist incidents, and authorities continued to maintain close surveillance of the population.
Although the government did not report any terrorist incidents in 2014, there were two incidents along the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan border on February 25 and May 24. In each incident, unknown persons from Afghanistan killed three Turkmen border guards on the Turkmen side of the border. The Government of Turkmenistan has blamed the incidents on misunderstandings over the use of common resources such as grazing land, but other reports attribute the incidents to narcotics-related activities or other criminal or insurgent activity.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The country’s legal system as it pertains to counterterrorism centers on the 2003 counterterrorism law that defines which crimes are considered terrorist in nature. This law is supplemented by articles 271-273 of the criminal code, which pertain to terrorist acts and terrorist financing and are used to prosecute terrorism-related offenses.
The Ministries of National Security, Internal Affairs, and Defense, and the State Border, Customs, and Migration Services perform counterterrorism functions and share information through an interagency commission. The country’s law enforcement capacity needs improvement, as law enforcement units do not proactively conduct investigations and have a poor record of accountability and respect for human rights. Prosecutors, however, do play a significant role in the investigation phase of a case, and specialized law enforcement units exist to conduct investigations. These units possess specialized equipment but usually only use the equipment for official ceremonies and demonstrations as opposed to daily operations.
Turkmenistan participated in training programs sponsored by the United States and international organizations, including a program on border security organized by the OSCE, a program on strategic export control regimes organized by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and U.S. government-provided training on combating transnational threats.
The State Border Service continued to operate frontier garrisons on Turkmenistan’s borders with Iran and Afghanistan and managed eight radiation portal monitors along its borders provided by the Department of Energy through its Second Line of Defense program. The monitors can be used to help detect, deter, and prevent the dissemination of explosives and radioactive materials. The State Migration Service maintains a terrorist screening watchlist and possesses biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry.
There is significant political will in Turkmenistan to combat terrorism and ensure border security. Corruption, however, sometimes hampered effective law enforcement. Additionally, international cooperation with the government is often hampered by a bureaucracy that operates according to opaque rules and that frequently deems public information to be “state secrets.”
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Turkmenistan is a member of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Government officials participated in OSCE trainings on anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT). Turkmenistan continued to express interest in gaining admission to the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, and reiterated this interest at a September workshop organized by the UNODC. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) has a December 2011 bilateral agreement with the Ministry of Finance pertaining to AML/CFT. However, the OTA did not provide technical assistance to Turkmenistan in 2014. There were no reported prosecutions of terrorist financing cases during the year. 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: Turkmenistan supports regional and international efforts to fight terrorism. Law enforcement officials participated in OSCE and UN Office of Drugs and Crime trainings on border security. Turkmenistan continued to participate in the Central Asia Regional Information and Coordination Center.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Turkmenistan’s law enforcement and security agencies exercise strict control over the population. The Turkmen government reportedly views conservative Islam with suspicion. Since the country’s independence, mosques and Muslim clergy have been state-sponsored and financed. This level of government surveillance suggests that any violent extremist groups existing in Turkmenistan would be small, underground, and disparate. The severe curtailment of basic freedoms, growing economic inequality, an ideological void among young people, and the perception of corruption could cause people to be attracted to violent extremist ideologies, however. We refer you to the Department of State’s Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/index.htm) for further information
Overview: In 2014, the Government of Uzbekistan continued to rank counterterrorism within its borders as one of its top three security priorities, together with counternarcotics and countering extremism. There were no reported significant terrorist incidents on Uzbek soil in 2014, which the government attributes to its success in ongoing efforts to counter terrorism and extremism. The government restricts information on internal matters, making it difficult to analyze the extent of the terrorist threat and the effectiveness of Uzbek law enforcement’s efforts to combat it.
The government continued to express concern about the potential for a spillover effect of terrorism across Uzbekistan’s land borders with Afghanistan and other Central Asian states, especially with the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan’s government remained confident that it can control its border with Afghanistan but was less sure about its neighbors’ ability to do so and was particularly concerned with the infiltration of extremists through Uzbekistan’s long borders with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
The government remained concerned about the recruitment of ethnic Uzbek fighters to fight in the Middle East and the threat from returning foreign terrorist fighters and possible collaboration between Central Asian extremists operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). On October 31, the Committee on Religious Affairs under the Cabinet of Ministers issued a public statement condemning ISIL as un-Islamic and urging citizens to resist its virulent propaganda. Uzbekistan President Karimov has also spoken out publicly against ISIL.
Uzbekistani law enforcement authorities frequently use the terms “terrorism” or “extremism” interchangeably and view alleged ties to what the government considers extremist organizations as grounds for the arrest, prosecution, and convictions of many people who would not be considered terrorists outside of Uzbekistan. “Religious extremism” is the primary justification for Uzbekistan’s seemingly indiscriminate police actions against religious adherents, especially Muslims. The security sector in Uzbekistan, under the control of the National Security Service (NSS), prioritizes regime stability over domestic freedom of expression, including political dissent, and uses law enforcement to maintain internal security at the expense of some fundamental freedoms. The government brands some Islamic groups it broadly determines to deviate from the state-sponsored version of Islam as “extremist” and criminalizes membership in such groups, even when the groups clearly espouse non-violent ideology, such as the followers of Turkish cleric Said Nursi.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The government investigated and prosecuted terrorist-related acts under its Law on Combating Terrorism, which was passed in 2000 and revised in 2004. The Law on Combating Terrorism identifies the National Security Service (NSS), the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Border Guards Committee (operating within the NSS command structure), the State Customs Committee, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Emergency Situations as the government entities responsible for countering and responding to terrorism. The NSS is the lead counterterrorist law enforcement agency, with primary responsibility for the coordination and supervision of interagency efforts.
Law enforcement agencies in Uzbekistan continued to arrest, prosecute, and convict an unreported number of people under extremism-related charges in 2014. It is possible that the Uzbek security forces have neutralized legitimate threats in the course of conducting indiscriminate and broadly targeted anti-extremist or politically motivated operations. A lack of reliable information, however, makes it difficult to differentiate between legitimate counterterrorist law enforcement actions and politically-motivated arrests aimed at religious dissidents or opponents of the government.
In 2013, the government began issuing biometric passports for travel outside of Uzbekistan. The biometric data includes a digital photo, fingerprints, and biographical data.
Below are reported examples from 2014 in which Uzbekistan’s law enforcement authorities arrested and prosecuted suspects under charges of extremism or terrorism. As with many cases like this, it is difficult to determine if the arrests and convictions were terrorist- or extremist-related or if those charges were used to suppress expressions of political or religious beliefs.
- In March, the nongovernmental organization “Forum 18” reported that the government sentenced Tajik citizen Zuboyd Mirzorakhimov to five years imprisonment for sermons found on his mobile phone.
- On May 8, six women from the Yangiyul district of the Tashkent region were sentenced under a law prohibiting materials deemed to threaten security and order.
- Lawyers for Mirsobir Hamidkariev, who left Uzbekistan to escape accusations of association with banned religious organizations, reported to independent press that on June 9, three days before a Russian court decision granting him asylum took effect, he was kidnapped from a taxi in Moscow and forcibly returned to Uzbekistan by its security services, reportedly with the acquiescence of Russian authorities. The government stated that Hamidkariev voluntarily turned himself in to the police on June 17, following an in absentia charge of participation in an extremist organization. On November 18, according to Uzbekistani press reports, the Tashkent City Criminal Court sentenced Hamidkariev to eight years in prison upon conviction of organizing and participating in the banned religious extremist organization “Islom Jihochilari.” According to the government, as of December 29, his case was still with the Tashkent City Criminal Court.
- In July, the human rights organization “Ezgulik” reported that three men, Otabek Ochilov, Zafar Pulatov, and Bakhtiyor Bozorov, and three women, Lolakhon Qudratova, Nigora Ernazarova, and Aziza Mukhitdinova, were sentenced to terms ranging from nine to 15 years, for being members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Their cases were part of a larger trial that involved 66 suspects accused of terrorism in Kashkadaryo region.
In September 2014, the State Department Anti-Terrorism Assistance program re-launched in Uzbekistan after an eight year hiatus with two courses aimed at improving civil aviation security.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Uzbekistan belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The Department on Fighting Tax, Currency Crimes, and Legalization of Criminal Income under the Prosecutor-General’s Office is the government agency responsible for implementation of EAG agreements. In August 2014, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Government of Uzbekistan’s Prosecutor-General’s Office signed a memorandum of understanding that establishes a legal foundation for training activities, joint counternarcotic and terrorist-related financial investigations, and for the exchange of intelligence. The government did not report any efforts to seize terrorist assets in 2014. 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: Although the government prefers bilateral engagement in its security-related cooperation, it is currently a member of several regional organizations that address terrorism, including the EAG and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) headquartered in Tashkent. In November, SCO RATS member states agreed to exchange information on citizens who have participated in armed conflicts in the Middle East. The government also continued to work with the OSCE, the EU, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on general security issues, including border control. In 2014, within the framework of an UNODC project and funded by the Government of Norway, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan opened joint border liaison offices at two Uzbekistani-Tajik border crossings to allow for direct communication between the law enforcement agencies involved in border control.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Official government media continued to produce documentaries, news articles, and full-length books about the dangers of Islamist religious extremism and joining terrorist organizations. The message is generally targeted to the 15 to 40 year old male demographic, which the government considers the most susceptible to recruitment by Islamic extremist groups. In December, a monthly magazine of the government-controlled Uzbekistan Muslim Board printed an article emphasizing the un-Islamic nature of ISIL. However, some non-governmental religious experts continued to suggest that greater freedom to circulate mainstream, non-extremist Islamic and other religious materials could be more effective in countering extremism than government-produced material.