Chapter 5: Terrorist Safe Havens (Update to 7120 Report)

Bureau of Counterterrorism
Report

Chapter 5

Terrorist Safe Havens (Update to 7120 Report)

Terrorist safe havens described in this report include ungoverned, under-governed, or ill-governed physical areas where terrorists are able to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, transit, and operate in relative security because of inadequate governance capacity, political will, or both.

As defined by section 2656f(d) of Title 22 of the U.S. Code, the term “terrorist sanctuary” or “sanctuary” excludes the territory of a country the government of which is subject to a determination under section 2405(j)(1)(A) of the Appendix to Title 50; section 2371(a) of Title 22; or section 2780(d) of Title 22– the state sponsors of terrorism. Accordingly, information regarding Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria can be found in Chapter 3, State Sponsors of Terrorism.


TERRORIST SAFE HAVENS


AFRICA

Somalia. In 2014, terrorists continued to use safe havens in Somalia to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate due to inadequate security, justice, and governance capacity at all levels. African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) operations in southern Somalia forced al-Shabaab operatives and fighters to flee former strongholds in the port city of Barawe, Buulo Mareer, and other towns in Lower Shabelle, often in advance of troop movements into these areas. These territorial losses limited al-Shabaab’s ability to raise funds from the illicit charcoal trade based out of the port cities in Lower Shabelle. Still, many sections of Somalia’s interior, particularly in rural areas of Middle and Lower Juba, Gedo, Bay, and Bakol regions, have remained safe havens for fleeing al-Shabaab fighters since 2012. These hard-to-reach areas provided the group both relative freedom of movement and concealment from AMISOM forces stretched thin by territorial gains. Permissive environments in southern Somalia, many devoid of adequate and consistent security, governance, and services, allowed al-Shabaab the time and space to regroup and launch attacks against harder targets and government facilities in Mogadishu and softer targets across the border in Kenya.

In northern Somalia, Puntland Security Forces continued to conduct raids against al-Shabaab camps in the Buraha Cal Madow Mountains to force the group out of longstanding strongholds near Galgala. These remote areas in Puntland offered al-Shabaab access to undeveloped ports located along miles of unguarded coastline abutting the Gulf of Aden, which is still frequently used by terrorists and smugglers to move weapons, materiel, and fighters back and forth from the Arabian Peninsula. Porous borders and ungoverned spaces remained a significant challenge for the Federal Government of Somalia and AMISOM, although both remained committed to countering terrorism in collaboration with international partners, including the United States. These efforts placed al-Shabaab in a significantly weaker financial and operational position as 2014 came to an end. Still, al-Shabaab continued to raise funds in areas still within its control by extorting local populations and raiding livestock and other livelihood commodities.

According to independent sources and NGOs engaged in demining activities on the ground, there was little cause for concern for the presence of WMD in Somalia.

The Trans Sahara: The terrorist safe haven in northern Mali has been reduced, and terrorists no longer control population centers in northern Mali, as they did in 2012. Ongoing peacekeeping operations, continued peace talks with rebel factions, and, active French and African partner counterterrorism operations have contained, degraded, disrupted, and marginalized the ability of violent extremist remnants still located there, although violent extremists, including al-Murabitoun and AQIM, continued to conduct attacks. The majority of violent extremist groups have retreated into remote areas of northern Mali or southwest Libya. Asymmetric attacks by remnant violent extremist groups are expected to take a toll on peacekeeping forces for the foreseeable future.

Mali. Ungoverned, under-governed, and ill-governed areas of northern Mali remain. The Malian government’s knowledge of violent extremist activities, particularly in the north, is limited and hampered by the lack of physical control of these areas, resources, and intelligence capabilities. The Malian military in conjunction with the French and UN forces are working to eliminate violent extremist remnants in Mali. The government has also reestablished its political presence in the cities of Timbuktu and Gao, with some local government officials returning to their posts in 2014.


SOUTHEAST ASIA

The Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral. The number of islands in the Sulawesi Sea and the Sulu Archipelago make it a difficult region to secure. Cooperation by all states bordering this region remained strong with U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Although Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have improved efforts to control their shared maritime boundaries – including through U.S.-funded efforts to enhance domain awareness in the waters south and southwest of Mindanao – the expanse remained difficult to control. Surveillance improved but remained partial at best, and traditional smuggling and piracy groups have provided an effective cover for terrorist activities, including the movement of personnel, equipment, and funds.

Southeast Asia is vulnerable to exploitation by illicit traffickers and proliferators given the high volume of global trade that ships through the region as well as the existence of smuggling and proliferation networks. Weak strategic trade controls, legal and regulatory frameworks, inadequate maritime law enforcement and security capabilities, as well as emerging and re-emerging infectious disease and burgeoning bioscience capacity, make Southeast Asia an area of concern for WMD proliferation and transit. Other than Singapore and Malaysia, strategic trade control laws that include controls over dual-use and end-use or “catch-all” controls are lacking in Southeast Asia. Assisting these countries to develop strong laws that meet international standards and effective targeting and risk management systems are major goals of the Export Control and Related Border Security program over the next few years.

The Southern Philippines. The geographical composition of the Philippines, spread out over 7,107 islands, make it difficult for the central government to maintain a presence in all areas. Counterterrorism operations over the past 13 years, however, have been successful at isolating the location and constraining the activities of transnational terrorists. U.S.-Philippines counterterrorism cooperation remained strong. Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members, numbering a few hundred, were known to be present in remote areas in Mindanao, especially the islands of Basilan and Sulu. Jemaah Islamiya members, of whom there are only a small number remaining, are in a few isolated pockets of Mindanao and the Sulu and Tawi-Tawi island groups. In these areas, local residents are either overtly supportive of the ASG or generally apathetic to its presence due to latent animosity toward the government, military, and police.

The United States began funding a law enforcement capacity building project for the Philippines through the Global Security Contingency Fund, which will increase the capacity of the Philippines to patrol its islands and coastline. Export Control and Related Border Security program efforts in recent years have been focused largely on working with the Philippines to pass a Strategic Trade Management Act. The emphasis on dual-use and end-use controls will help Philippine customs and other law enforcement interdict illicit items transiting and being trans-shipped through all ports in the Philippines.

The Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), if implemented successfully, may limit the size of safe havens within MILF-controlled areas in which terrorists could operate. The New People’s Army maintained a nearly national presence, with a focus on rural and mountainous areas. Continued pressure from Philippine security forces made it difficult, however, for terrorists to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate.


THE MIDDLE EAST

Egypt: Portions of Egypt’s Sinai region were a safe haven for terrorist organizations in 2014. The Egyptian government continued its extensive security campaign focused on the North Sinai region, which was launched in September 2013 with the aim of eliminating terrorists and securing the region. The North Sinai remained closed off to tourists, most journalists, and NGO workers, which limited independent means of verifying government-published information on the success of the military’s operations. In addition to reports in Egyptian press outlets, the Army spokesperson regularly published statements summarizing recent military operations and their results, including the number of terrorists killed, injured, or arrested, as well as the number of terrorist hideouts destroyed. In 2014, more than 500 militants were reportedly killed and at least 2,000 terrorist hideouts, shanties, and houses were destroyed, according to the Army spokesperson and Egyptian media reports. In addition, the military frequently seizes caches of weapons, explosives, drugs, and vehicles, and destroys tunnel openings along the border with Gaza.

Beginning in late October after coordinated attacks near El Arish that killed 30 Egyptian soldiers, the military evacuated more than 2,000 families living along the border with Gaza to create an up-to-five kilometer-wide buffer zone. The Egyptian military suspected that the attackers arrived in Egypt from Gaza via smuggling tunnels.

Through its Export Control and Related Border Security Program, the United States is working with the Government of Egypt to enhance Egypt’s border security capabilities through the provision of land and maritime border enforcement and targeting and risk management training for Egyptian Customs, Ministry of Defense, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials. In addition, since 2009, the State Department’s Nonproliferation & Disarmament Fund has assisted Egypt with the provision of backscatter x-ray portal monitors, with the capability to inspect vehicular and truck traffic at fixed transportation checkpoints for WMD-related materials, conventional weapons, and other illicit items.

Iraq. By late 2013 and early 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had a major presence in parts of majority Sunni Iraq, including Fallujah and Ramadi. In the summer of 2014, ISIL carried out a large-scale offensive in Iraq that included seizing the major city of Mosul and pushing south to threaten Baghdad. ISIL was able to support this offensive from its safe haven inside Syria, moving heavy equipment, arms, resources, and personnel across the Iraq/Syria border. On August 8, U.S. airstrikes against ISIL targets began in response to the group’s advance towards Erbil. In mid-September, the United States took the lead in forming an international Coalition to degrade and defeat ISIL, uniting over 60 countries in the effort. Coalition airstrikes stopped ISIL’s advance by late 2014 and supported Iraqi and Kurdish clearing operations in an effort to retake territory.

Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), in parallel with Iran-backed Shia militia groups, conducted air and ground operations to root out ISIL, but faced well-trained and heavily equipped ISIL fighters. The ISF continued to clash with ISIL by the end of 2014, but had not yet retaken Mosul and Anbar province. Along with Coalition partners, the United States is preparing to stand up multiple training sites across Iraq to focus on improving ISF capabilities in command and control, intelligence, logistics, fire support, and other combat-enabling roles.

Due to security conditions in Iraq, the Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program has had difficulty implementing outreach activities. EXBS priorities are to continue working with the Government of Iraq to develop and implement regulations and procedures related to The Act of the Iraqi National Monitoring Authority on WMD Non-Proliferation No. 48 of 2012 (INMA Act), including for licensing and compliance, to adopt and implement a control list, and to enhance Iraq’s border security capabilities related to the inspection and detection of WMD-related goods and technologies.

The United States and Iraq strengthened their bilateral partnership to prevent nuclear terrorism in September 2014 by concluding the “Joint Action Plan between the Government of the Republic of Iraq and the Government of the United States of America on Combating Nuclear and Radioactive Materials Smuggling.” The agreement expresses the intention of the two governments to work together to enhance Iraq’s capabilities to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear smuggling incidents, and ultimately to prevent terrorist groups from acquiring nuclear and radiological materials.

Stakeholders across the Government of Iraq – including INMA staff, the Ministry of Interior Civil Defense, Ministry of Science and Technology, and Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Resources – participated in various border and WMD-related security trainings, workshops, working groups, and discussions.

Lebanon: The Lebanese government does not control all regions in the country or its borders with Syria and Israel. Hizballah controlled access to parts of the country, limiting access by Lebanon’s security services, which allowed it to conduct security operations with relative impunity. The Government of Lebanon took no action in 2014 to disarm Hizballah, to eliminate its safe havens in Lebanese territory, or to prevent the flow of Hizballah members to Syria and Iraq. Ungoverned areas along the Lebanese-Syrian border and in Tripoli and Akkar also have served as safe havens for al-Nusrah Front, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and other Sunni extremist groups in 2014. Many of these violent extremist groups operate in mountainous, mostly uninhabited zones where the government has limited reach. However, the government has the political will to eradicate these safe havens and has launched a sustained security campaign to rid Lebanon of these violent extremist groups. Palestinian refugee camps were also used as safe havens by Palestinian and other armed groups to house weapons and shelter wanted criminals.

The United States works closely with the Lebanese Air Force (LAF) and Internal Security Forces to combat terrorist threats along the Syrian border by providing military equipment, weaponry, and training. Lebanon is not a source country for WMD components. Lebanon’s proliferation risk derives from its status as both a transit and transshipment hub as well as a recipient state for arms and military equipment. With a porous and largely un-demarcated border with Syria to the north and east, Hizballah control in sizable portions of Lebanese territory, and the ongoing smuggling of weapons to extremist militias operating in Lebanon, the current conflict in Syria has only heightened concerns for the potential flow of dual-use items and munitions to militant groups in the region. The LAF Engineer Regiment partners with U.S. government to detect and prevent proliferation of and trafficking in WMD along the Syrian border. Hizballah’s continued ability to receive sophisticated munitions via Iran and Syria requires aggressive regular monitoring of this issue. The Export Control and Related Border Security program (EXBS) has conducted various enforcement training and procured basic inspection/detection equipment for Lebanese officials, and will continue to work with Lebanon to strengthen border security and interdict illicit trafficking of items of proliferation concern.

Libya: Libya’s porous borders, fragmented security forces, and vast ungoverned territory have made it a permissive environment for terrorist groups such as Ansar al-Shari’a Benghazi, Ansar al-Shari’a Darnah, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitoun, and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The outbreak of widespread violence in July and subsequent collapse of central government authority created further opportunities for violent extremist groups to exploit Libya’s territory to plan, finance, and stage operations. In October, Darnah-based violent extremist groups pledged allegiance to ISIL. Terrorist training camps and facilitation networks exist throughout Libya; local tribes and minority groups frequently serve as facilitators, although this appears largely due to economic rather than ideological motivations. Libya serves as a major source and transit country for foreign fighters en route to Syria and Iraq. There are indications that foreign fighters are beginning to return to Libya or choosing to stay in Libya to fight there, increasing concerns that Libya has become a battlefield for extremist groups such as ISIL.

In 2013, the United States signed an agreement with the Libyan government to cooperate on destroying Libya’s stockpile of legacy chemical weapons in accordance with its obligations as an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) member state. Libya successfully completed operations for the disposal of its remaining mustard gas filled in artillery projectile and aerial bombs in January 2014. Libya also previously completed the disposal of its remaining bulk mustard in 2013. In addition, Libya retains a stockpile of natural uranium ore concentrate (yellowcake), stored in a former military facility near Sebha in Libya’s south. This material represents a limited risk of trafficking and proliferation due to the bulk and weight of the storage containers, and the need for extensive additional processing before the material would be suitable for weapons purposes.

Yemen. In 2014, the Yemeni government pursued two military offensives aimed at eradicating al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) safe havens in southern and eastern Yemen, but Houthi expansion limited the government’s ability to conduct counterterrorism operations in late 2014. In April/May, the Yemeni military, in conjunction with local Popular Committees, launched an offensive against AQAP strongholds in the al-Mahfid region of the southern governorates of Shabwah and Abyan. This offensive was generally successful, pushing AQAP forces to withdraw to the remote and ill-governed Hadramawt region. A second offensive focusing on Hadramawt was planned for July/August, but this effort was significantly hindered by the Houthi incursion into the capital, which monopolized government focus. Local troops and Popular Committees led a series of operations against AQAP in the Hadramawt, but with little contribution or coordination by the central government in Sana’a. Success was more limited than the al-Mahfid offensive due to the lack of involvement from the central government, which was consumed by the growing Houthi challenge, and the logistical difficulties inherent in sustaining operations in the remote eastern governorate. AQAP was extremely active in its efforts to counter the operations that took place, particularly in al-Qatn and Sayun in the Wadi Hadramawt valley. This is a shift from AQAP’s historical activities in Hadramawt, which previously focused on the more populated coastal area. Houthi expansion into Sana’a diverted the government’s attention and security resources in late 2014, stalling most counterterrorism efforts.

While the 2014 offensives temporarily pushed AQAP from some of its safe havens, the group maintained strongholds and freedom in movement in key ungoverned areas of southern and eastern Yemen and continued to exert influence even in the regions it no longer fully controlled. AQAP used the political instability and growing sectarian violence of 2014 to its benefit.

Yemen’s political instability continued to hinder efforts to enact or enforce strategic trade controls, leaving the country vulnerable as a transit point for WMD-related materials.


SOUTH ASIA

Afghanistan: The border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan is an under-governed area which hosts terrorist cells active in both countries. The Government of Afghanistan has struggled to assert control over this remote terrain where the population is largely detached from national institutions. Afghanistan generally cooperates with U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Since President Ghani’s election, he has actively pursued cross-border security cooperation with the Government of Pakistan, including the prospect of joint operations to reduce safe havens on both sides of the border.

Several terrorist networks active in Afghanistan, such as al-Qa’ida (AQ), the Haqqani Network, and others, operate largely out of Pakistan. AQ has some freedom of movement in Kunar and Nuristan provinces largely due to a lack of Afghan National Security Forces’ capacity to control certain border territories in north and east Afghanistan. During 2014, the Afghan government continued to counter the Afghan Taliban and Taliban-affiliated insurgent networks with AQ connections.

The potential for WMD trafficking and proliferation remained a concern in Afghanistan because of its porous borders and the presence of terrorist groups. The U.S. government worked with the Government of Afghanistan to implement comprehensive strategic trade controls and strengthen its border security system. The Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program contributed to strengthening Afghanistan’s enforcement capacity through participation in a technical exchange conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency. To increase the Government of Afghanistan’s strategic trade control capacity, EXBS sponsored training for an Afghan delegation. Representatives from the Afghan Atomic Energy High Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended a course at the University of Georgia, Center for International Trade Security, covering a wide variety of nonproliferation topics and allowed for regional nonproliferation dialogue. The U.S. Border Management Task Force also worked closely with Afghan officials to prevent the proliferation of and trafficking of WMD in and through Afghanistan.

The United States continued to assist the Afghan government to build capacity needed to secure potentially dangerous biological materials and infrastructure housed at Afghan facilities, promote surveillance capabilities to detect and identify possibly catastrophic biological events, and productively engage Afghan scientists and engineers that have WMD or WMD-applicable expertise.

Pakistan: Portions of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and Balochistan province remained a safe haven for terrorist groups seeking to conduct domestic, regional, and global attacks. Al-Qa’ida, the Haqqani Network (HQN), Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar i Jhangvi, and other terrorist groups, as well as the Afghan Taliban, took advantage of this safe haven to plan operations in Pakistan and throughout the region.

In 2014, Pakistan launched military operations in North Waziristan Agency and Khyber Agency to eliminate terrorist safe havens, destroy terrorist infrastructure, and disrupt terrorist communication networks. The military operations had a significant impact on TTP safe havens, but some terrorist organizations in the region continued to operate, primarily along the border with Afghanistan. Particularly since the start of comprehensive military operations in North Waziristan displaced militants into Afghanistan, Pakistan has sought improved coordination to address cross-border threats from TTP emanating from safe havens in Afghanistan.

The United States and Pakistan regularly discussed counterterrorism and border-control efforts to interdict terrorists. The 2013 trilateral border standard operating procedures between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and ISAF expired at the end of 2014. Pakistan and Afghanistan continued to negotiate a replacement bilateral agreement.

The potential for WMD trafficking, proliferation, and terrorism remained a concern in Pakistan. Pakistan is a constructive and active participant in the Nuclear Security Summit process and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and has worked to strengthen its strategic trade controls. The Export Control and Related Border Security Program increased the Government of Pakistan’s enforcement capacity by training Pakistani Customs officials on international border interdiction techniques. Trainings were implemented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Customs and Border Protection Agency; and the U.S. Department of Energy.


WESTERN HEMISPHERE

Colombia. Rough terrain and dense forest cover, coupled with low population densities and historically weak government presence have defined Colombia’s borders with Venezuela, Ecuador , Peru, and Brazil, and historically have allowed for safe havens for terrorist groups, particularly the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). The Government of Colombia has maintained pressure on these groups and has continued to conduct operations to combat the FARC’s ability to conduct terrorist attacks. Coupled with ongoing peace negotiations with the FARC and two FARC temporary unilateral cease fire declarations, Colombia experienced an overall decline in the total number of terrorist incidents in 2014. Despite these successes, illegal armed groups, primarily known as “Bandas Criminales,” continued to use the porous border, remote mountain areas, and jungles to maneuver, train, cultivate and transport narcotics, operate illegal mines, “tax” the local populace, and engage in other illegal activities. Improved relations with neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela have led to some increased cooperation from those countries on law enforcement issues. Colombia also continued to cooperate and share information with the Panamanian National Border Service. Additionally, Brazil began implementing its Integrated Border Monitoring System in an effort to monitor its entire border and along with continued cooperation with the Government of Colombia addressed potential safe haven areas along their shared borders.

Venezuela. Venezuela’s porous border with Colombia has made the country attractive to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army, who use it to cross in and out of its territory. Jose Ignacio De Juana Chaos, an ETA terrorist whom authorities lost track of in 2008 after he was sentenced to 3,000 years in prison in Spain for the murders of 25 people, reportedly resurfaced in Venezuela after being sighted in a Caracas shopping mall in May, according to media reports. In June, Maduro said the Venezuelan government did not have enough information to corroborate the reports.


COUNTERING TERRORISM ON THE ECONOMIC FRONT


In 2014, the Department of State designated five new Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) and amended three existing designations. In addition, the Department designated 37 organizations and individuals as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 and amended three existing designations. The Department also revoked the designations of one organization and five individuals. The Department of the Treasury also designated organizations and individuals under E.O. 13224. For a full list of all U.S. designations, see the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control website at http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/Pages/default.aspx.

2014 Foreign Terrorism Organization/Executive Order 13224 group designations:

  • On January 10, the Department of State designated Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi, Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah, and Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia under E.O. 13224, and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 13. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on the three groups.)
  • On April 9, the Department of State designated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) under E.O. 13224 and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on April 10. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on ABM.)
  • On May 14, the Department of State amended the E.O. 13224 designation of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) to add additional aliases, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and to make ISIL the organization’s primary name. On the same day, the Department of State further amended AQI/ISIL’s E.O. 13224 designation to revoke the aliases associated with the al-Nusrah Front (ANF) and separately designate ANF as an independent entity under E.O. 13224. On May 15, these amendments were made to AQI’s FTO designation and ANF was designated as an FTO. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on ISIL and ANF.)
  • On June 25, the Department of State amended the E.O. 13224 designation of Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LET) to add the following aliases: Jama’at-ud-Dawa, Al-Anfal Trust, Tehrik-e Hurmat-e-Rasool, and Tehrik-e Tahafuz Qibla Awwal; and amended the FTO designation on June 26. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on LET.)
  • On July 15, the Department of State revoked the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
  • On August 7, the Department of State amended the E.O. 13224 designation of Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) to include the alias Ansar ul-Ummah, and amended the FTO designation on August 8. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on HUM.)
  • On August 19, the Department of State designated the Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC) under E.O. 13224 and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on August 20. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on MSC.)

2014 Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 designations:

  • On January 7, the Department of State designated Qari Saifullah, the Taliban shadow deputy governor and an operational commander in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. Saifullah has used Taliban fighters to conduct terrorist activities, including improvised explosive device attacks, small arms fire attacks, and rocket attacks against the Government of Afghanistan and Coalition Forces.
  • On January 10, the Department of State designated Abu Khattalah, Sufian bin Qumu, and Seifallah Ben Hassine. Before his capture in July, Khattalah was a senior leader of Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi and Sufian bin Qumu is the founder of Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah. Seifallah Ben Hassine, also known as Abu Iyadh, is the founder of Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia.
  • On January 23, the Department of State designated Ziyad al-Nakhalah, who is the Deputy Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Ziyad has repeatedly taken credit for attacks against Israel, including PIJ’s indiscriminate missile attacks into Israel in 2008, 2009, and 2011.
  • On February 6, the Department of State designated Malik Ishaq. Ishaq is a founding member and the current leader of Lashkar I Jhangvi. In February 2013, Pakistani police arrested Ishaq in connection with attacks on January 10 and February 16, 2013 in the northwestern city of Quetta, Pakistan that killed nearly 200 Pakistani civilians.
  • On June 17, the State Department designated Shawki Ali Ahmed al-Badani, who is a leader and operative for al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Badani was connected to a suicide bomber who killed over 100 Yemeni soldiers in a May 2012 attack, and played a key role in a plan for a major attack in summer 2013 that led the United States to close 19 diplomatic posts across the Middle East and Africa.
  • On July 15, the Department of State designated Anders Cameroon Ostensvig Dale, a Norwegian citizen who traveled to Yemen to join AQAP. As part of AQAP, Dale has received terrorist training and was taught to make bomb-belts, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and larger explosives used in car bombs.
  • On August 18, the Department of State designated Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, who is the official spokesman for and a senior leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
  • On August 18, the Department of State designated Said Arif. In 2003, Arif was prosecuted in France with 25 others as part of the “Chechen Network” accused of plotting both to blow up the Eiffel Tower and to conduct chemical attacks and attacks on malls and police stations in France. Arif is connected to al-Qa’ida (AQ) and al-Nusrah Front (ANF).
  • On September 24, the Department of State designated ten individuals and two groups connected to foreign terrorist fighters in Syria, Iraq, and Somalia:

o Harakat Sham al-Islam is a Moroccan-led organization operating in Syria that has carried out terrorist attacks and engaged in kidnappings against civilians with other violent extremist organizations in Syria, including ANF.

o Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar is a Chechen-led organization based in Syria that has cooperated with other violent extremist organizations in Syria, including ANF and ISIL, to launch deadly assaults against civilian communities, and has kidnapped civilians and other foreigners in Syria.

o Muhannad al-Najdi is a Syria-based AQ facilitator of Saudi nationality. Prior to traveling to Syria in 2013, al-Najdi was involved in facilitation and operational planning in support of attacks in Afghanistan. Since at least 2010, al-Najdi has also been involved in the development of IEDs for use in Afghanistan and Syria.

o Murad Margoshvili is a Chechen leader in Syria who built a terrorist combat training base in Syria near the Turkish border for newly arrived foreign terrorist fighters.

o Lavdrim Muhaxheri is a Kosovar Albanian foreign fighter for ISIL who operates in both Syria and Iraq. In July 2014, Muhaxheri posted graphic photos of himself online beheading a young man.

o Nusret Imamovic is a Bosnian terrorist leader in Syria believed to be fighting with ANF.

o Mohammed Abdel-Halim Hemaida Saleh was arrested in Egypt in 2013 for plotting to attack Western embassies in Cairo. As of mid-2013, Saleh had been recruiting suicide bombers to send to Syria and had been planning terrorist activities against unspecified targets in Europe.

o Salim Benghalem is a Syria-based French violent extremist and ISIL member who has carried out executions on behalf of the group.

o Amru al-Absi was selected in July 2014 as ISIL’s provincial leader for Homs, Syria. As a principal leader of ISIL in Syria, al-Absi has been in charge of kidnappings.

o Abdessamad Fateh, also known as Abu Hamza, is a member of a Scandinavia-based network of violent extremists linked to AQ, and has traveled to Syria.

o Abd al-Baset Azzouz is a senior member of AQ who was sent by AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to Libya in 2011 to mobilize fighters there.

o Maalim Salman is the head of African foreign fighters for al-Shabaab. He has trained foreign nationals who were seeking to join al-Shabaab, and has been involved in operations in Africa targeting tourists, western-oriented businesses, and churches.

  • On October 21, the Department of State designated Khan Said, former deputy leader of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who has maintained his commitment to terrorist activity despite officially splitting from TTP in May.
  • On October 21, the Department of State designated Ramzi Mawafi, an Egyptian national and long-time AQ member best known as the former doctor to Usama bin Laden. Mawafi is believed to be in the Sinai Peninsula coordinating among militant groups and helping to arrange money and weapons to support violent extremist activity.
  • On December 18, the Department of State designated Ajnad Misr, a splinter group of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which announced its formation in January 2014. Ajnad Misr has claimed numerous attacks on Egyptian security forces at government buildings, public spaces and universities, often injuring or killing innocent bystanders.
  • On December 18, the Department of State designated Ibrahim al-Rubaysh. Al-Rubaysh is a senior leader of AQAP and a senior advisor for AQAP operational planning, who provides the justification for its attacks.

MULTILATERAL EFFORTS TO COUNTER TERRORISM


In 2014, the United States continued to work with key partners and allies to strengthen its diplomatic engagement through multilateral organizations. Deepening and broadening the international multilateral counterterrorism frameworks and capacities enhances the role of multilateral institutions at the international, regional, and sub-regional levels to counter the threat of violent extremists and also increases the counterterrorism capacities of countries around the world.

The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). Since its launch in September 2011, the GCTF has mobilized over US $300 million to support national and regional efforts to strengthen civilian institutions and counter violent extremism. This includes support for the implementation of GCTF framework documents at both the regional and country levels. The GCTF is working with partners around the globe to change how states – particularly those emerging from authoritarian rule – respond to the challenges of terrorism and the violent extremist ideologies that underpin it. The GCTF, with its 30 founding members (29 countries and the EU), regularly convenes counterterrorism policymakers and practitioners, as well as experts from the UN and other multilateral bodies, to identify urgent needs, devise solutions, and mobilize resources for addressing key counterterrorism challenges facing civilian institutions. With its primary focus on countering violent extremism (CVE) and strengthening criminal justice and other rule of law institutions that deal with terrorism, the GCTF aims to diminish terrorist recruitment and increase countries’ capacity for dealing with terrorist threats within their borders and regions.

In the past year, the GCTF developed a number of new good practices documents that are intended to both provide practical guidance for countries as they seek to enhance their counterterrorism capacity and to bring greater strategic coherence to global counterterrorism capacity building efforts:

  • The Hague—Marrakech Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the “Foreign Terrorist Fighters” (FTF) Phenomenon is intended to inform and guide governments as they develop comprehensive policies, programs, and approaches to address the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon;
  • The Abu Dhabi Memorandum on Good Practices for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) and Education focuses on the ways education can be used to prevent and counter violent extremism by policymakers, teachers and educators, community-based organizations, NGOs, and families;
  • The Hague Memorandum on Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses articulates a set of good practices on the role of the judiciary in handling counterterrorism cases within a rule of law framework, with a particular focus on effective case and trial management; and
  • The Recommendations for Using and Protecting Intelligence Information in Rule of Law-Based, Criminal Justice Sector-Led Investigations and Prosecutions focuses on the protection of sources and collection methods of intelligence information in terrorism cases.

In addition, the GCTF has inspired the establishment of three independent institutions that provide platforms for delivering sustainable training and resources in support of CVE and strengthening rule of law.

  • Based in Abu Dhabi, Hedayah, the first international center of excellence on CVE, hosted a number of training and capacity building courses focusing on community policing and community engagement, CVE and education, and CVE and communications. In December, it hosted a CVE Communications Expo that brought together approximately 200 CVE practitioners and communications professionals to develop innovative CVE communications activities.
  • The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), based in Malta, was inaugurated in June as a center dedicated to providing police, prosecutors, judges, corrections officials, lawmakers, and others with the training and tools required to address terrorism and related transnational criminal activity. It will initially focus on countries in the Middle East and North, West, and East Africa, with a particular emphasis on countries in transition. The Institute is governed by a geographically diverse group of a dozen countries and is developing and delivering a series of core courses on what it means to counter terrorism within a rule of law framework; how to use intelligence as evidence in terrorism trials while protecting human rights; the role of parliamentarians in counterterrorism; a comprehensive program to counter foreign terrorists fighters; and how to interrogate suspected terrorists while upholding their human rights.
  • In September 2013, Secretary Kerry announced that a core group of government and non-governmental partners from different regions will establish the first-ever public-private global fund to support local grass-roots efforts to counter violent extremism. In June 2014, the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) became fully operational in Geneva as a foundation under Swiss law, with its first Board meeting held in November. Pilot countries include Bangladesh, Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria. Grants will be focused on programs that strengthen resilience against violent extremism. In addition, GCERF created an accelerated funding mechanism (AFM) that will make funds available within 90 days from receipt of program application. The AFM is targeted towards supporting local initiatives that stem radicalization and address the violent extremist agenda of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and other groups. NGOs from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Balkans will be eligible to receive grants via this mechanism, once it is funded.

The UN is a close partner of, and participant in, the GCTF and its activities. The GCTF serves as a mechanism for furthering the implementation of the universally-agreed UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and, more broadly, to complement and reinforce existing multilateral counterterrorism efforts, starting with those of the UN. The GCTF also partners with a wide range of regional multilateral organizations, including the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the AU, and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.

The United Nations (UN). Sustained and strategic engagement at the UN on counterterrorism issues is a priority for the United States. In September, President Obama presided over a UN Security Council (UNSC) session that approved UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2178, a binding resolution that requires all States to “prevent and suppress the recruiting, organizing, transporting, or equipping” of foreign terrorist fighters as well as the financing of their travel and activities. This resolution was also the first time the UNSC called for action to prevent radicalization to violence. The UNSC also adopted other important counterterrorism UNSCRs during 2014, including UNSCR 2133 to counter terrorists benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or political concessions, and to secure the safe release of hostages; UNSCR 2170 to combat the gross, systematic, and widespread abuse of human rights by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and al-Nusrah Front; and 2195 to further address the link between transnational organized crime and terrorism and build States’ and UN capacities to address the challenge. The United States engaged with a wide range of UN actors on counterterrorism, which included:

  • The Counter-Terrorism Committee Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED). The United States supported CTED efforts to analyze capacity gaps and facilitate training and other technical assistance to UN member states, including on foreign terrorist fighters. This included participating in Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) thematic debates on a range of issues including kidnapping for ransom; counterterrorism financing; securing borders; and investigating, prosecuting, and adjudicating terrorism cases within a rule of law framework.
  • The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF). The United States supported CTITF efforts to improve member states’ implementation of the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy, including by serving on the Advisory Board of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre, which delivers training and other capacity building to help address identified needs. In 2014, the United States provided funding to support a range of CTITF activities including: capacity building for Mali’s security and justice sectors; a training initiative to secure open borders; capacity building for civil society in Nigeria to counter violent extremism; implementing good practices on addressing and preventing terrorist kidnapping for ransom; and supporting community engagement through human rights-led policing.
  • The UNSC 1267/1989 Committee. The United States worked closely with the UN 1267/1989 (al-Qa’ida) Sanctions Committee and its Monitoring Team by proposing listings and de-listings, providing amendments, engaging the Committee’s Ombudsperson in de-listings, and providing input to the Committee to enhance its procedures and implementation of sanctions measures. The United States also assisted the Monitoring Team with information for its research and reports. There are 231 individuals and 70 entities listed on the al-Qa’ida Sanctions List. In 2014, 23 individuals and seven entities were listed. The Committee also worked to ensure the integrity of the list by conducting regular reviews and by endeavoring to remove those individuals and entities that no longer meet the criteria for listing. In 2014, 11 individuals and three entities were de-listed, of which five individuals and three entities were de-listed following the submission of a petition through the Office of the Ombudsperson.
  • The UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Terrorism Prevention Branch (UNODC/TPB). The Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB), in conjunction with the UNODC’s Global Program against Money Laundering, continued to provide assistance to countries seeking to ratify and implement the universal legal instruments against terrorism. In 2014, the United States supported a range of TPB programs aimed at strengthening the capacity of criminal justice officials to prevent and respond to terrorism within a rule of law framework, including in the Horn of Africa and Cameroon.
  • The UN Inter-Regional Crime Research Institute (UNICRI). The United States has provided financial support to a UNICRI-led global effort to strengthen the capacity of countries to implement the good practices contained in the GCTF’s Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for the Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders.
  • The UNSC 1540 Committee. The Committee monitors and facilitates efforts to implement the obligations and recommendations of UNSCR 1540, addressing the nexus of proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and their means of delivery and illicit activities by non-state actors, including terrorists. A May 2014 UNSC Presidential Statement marking the tenth anniversary of the resolution urged States to implement the resolution fully by 2021. The 1540 Committee’s program of work focuses on five main areas: monitoring and national implementation; assistance; cooperation with international organizations, including the UNSC committees established pursuant to UNSCRs 1267 and 1373; transparency and media outreach; and administration and resources. The Committee’s Group of Experts also participates as part of the CTITF.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ICAO’s Universal Security Audit Program (USAP) continued to contribute directly to U.S. homeland security by ensuring that each of ICAO’s 191 member states conducts regular security audits that comply to aviation security standards. In 2014, ICAO continued to transition to the USAP-Continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) which will enable greater focus of resources on states requiring more assistance in meeting the Standards. ICAO has begun to pilot the process and certify auditors accordingly. USAP conducted assistance missions to help states correct security problems revealed by surveys and audits. ICAO, in partnership with the UN’s CTED, has assisted member states in the implementation of UNSCRs on counterterrorism, including border control. The two entities have conducted assessment visits and organized workshops focused on countering terrorism and the use of fraudulent travel documents, and promoting good practices on border control and aviation security. Together with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, ICAO and CTED have encouraged member states to ratify and implement international counterterrorism treaties.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA continued to implement its Nuclear Security Plan (2010-2013) for countering the threat of terrorism involving nuclear and other radioactive material. The United States was actively involved in IAEA efforts to enhance security for vulnerable nuclear and other radioactive materials and associated facilities, and to reduce the risk that terrorists could gain access to or use such materials or expertise.

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). INTERPOL’s secure, global communications system, criminal investigative tools, analytical databases, and framework for international police cooperation have been brought to bear in a coordinated effort to identify, locate, and apprehend individuals involved in terrorist activities. Following the example of INTERPOL Washington, the U.S. National Central Bureau, a number of member countries are now integrating INTERPOL’s information-sharing resources and capabilities into their border security and law enforcement lookout systems to help monitor and interdict the international transit of foreign terrorist fighters. In addition, and with funding and staffing from U.S. law enforcement agencies, INTERPOL’s Foreign Terrorist Fighter Working Group is supporting a multinational fusion cell and analytical database containing identity particulars that can be used by law enforcement and border control authorities to help determine the terrorist threat posed by subjects located in, or attempting to enter, their respective jurisdictions.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the FATF-Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs). The United States supported the FATF plenary activities on a number of combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) issues including guidance on, and vulnerabilities of, new payment methods, preventing terrorist financing abuse of the non-profit sector, and countering the financing of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant; and participated in the working groups on implementation and on strengthening the FATF network through the FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs). The United States continued to stress the importance of targeted sanctions and Recommendation 6, a provision to freeze and confiscate assets.

African Union (AU). The United States supported the efforts of the AU to bolster the counterterrorism capacity of its members to implement the UN Strategy, particularly via the AU’s efforts to implement GCTF framework documents. For example, the United States provided assistance for AU-led workshops on implementing the GCTF’s Algiers Memorandum on Good Practices for Preventing and Denying the Benefits of Kidnapping for Ransom to Terrorists.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Under the leadership of the Swiss Chairman-in-Office, the OSCE addressed foreign terrorist fighter and kidnapping for ransom issues, culminating in the adoption of two timely and relevant declarations at the OSCE Basel Ministerial Council meeting in December 2014. U.S.-funded border security training in Central Asia, particularly through the OSCE’s Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe, also contributed to the capabilities of border and customs officials to counter transnational threats. Through the OSCE’s Action against Terrorism Unit, the United States supported initiatives aimed at countering violent extremism (CVE); protecting critical energy infrastructure; addressing effective criminal justice system responses to terrorism, travel document security, cyber security, and nonproliferation; and promoting the vital CVE role women can play. In a joint effort with the GCTF, the OSCE helped develop a set of good practices for women fighting terrorism-related challenges to families, communities, and international security. The OSCE also published a comprehensive guidebook on community-policing CVE measures.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). At the Wales NATO Summit in September, allies decided to “enhance their cooperation in exchanging information on returning foreign fighters.” To complement counter-Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant coalition efforts, NATO also committed to help Iraq build more effective security forces. On December 31, NATO transitioned from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to RESOLUTE SUPPORT Mission, a non-combat train, advise, and assist mission in Afghanistan. In 2014, NATO adopted an Action Plan to accompany its Counterterrorism Policy Guidelines to identify initiatives to enhance the prevention of, and resilience to, acts of terrorism with a focus on improved threat awareness, adequate capabilities, and enhanced engagement with partner countries and other international actors in countering terrorism. NATO was also exploring opportunities for enhanced cooperation with the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.

European Union (EU). In 2014, the EU’s work with the United States included efforts to curb terrorist financing, strengthen cooperation on countering violent extremism, shut down foreign terrorist fighter networks, and build counterterrorism capacity in third countries. Much of this work is completed through regular senior-level and working-level consultation and collaboration including the U.S.-EU Consultation on Terrorism and the U.S.-EU Political Dialogue on Counterterrorist Financing.

Group of Seven (G-7). Within the context of the G-7 Roma-Lyon Group (RLG) meetings on counterterrorism and counter-crime, the United States worked to bolster cooperation on confronting the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon, and on addressing border security capacity gaps in North and West Africa. The United States also sought to advance projects through the RLG’s expert groups on counterterrorism, transportation security, high-tech crime, migration, criminal legal affairs, and law enforcement.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Counterterrorism activities of the 27-member ARF countries included the annual meeting on counterterrorism and transnational crime (CTTC) and supported capacity building through ARF institutions. The United States supported ARF efforts to address cybersecurity issues, including confidence-building measures in cyberspace, and promoted efforts that respect human rights such as freedom of expression and open access. The United States encouraged information sharing and supported the CTTC work plan, which focused on illicit drugs; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear terrorism; cybersecurity; counter-radicalization; the sponsorship of a regional transnational crime information sharing center; and a workshop on migration.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). In 2014, APEC continued to implement its comprehensive Consolidated Counterterrorism and Secure Trade Strategy. The Strategy, adopted in 2011, endorsed the principles of security, efficiency, and resilience, and advocated for risk-based approaches to security challenges across its four cross-cutting areas of supply chains, travel, finance, and infrastructure. The United States co-sponsored a workshop on Secure Infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific Region, which highlighted how APEC economies face varied challenges to building secure, efficient, and resilient infrastructure for regional commerce and transportation, and also demonstrated the importance of identifying gaps, sharing best practices, and developing a regional approach to critical infrastructure protection and resilience. The United States also sponsored APEC capacity building workshops on canine screening in aviation security and low cost/no cost checkpoint optimization, which helped further implement the APEC Counterterrorism and Secure Trade Strategy.

Organization of American States’ Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (OAS/CICTE). In 2014, the CICTE Secretariat conducted 59 activities, training courses, and technical assistance missions that benefited more than 2,704 participants in five thematic areas: border control; critical infrastructure protection; counterterrorism legislative assistance and terrorist financing; strengthening strategies on emerging terrorist threats (crisis management); and international cooperation and partnerships. The United States is a major contributor to CICTE’s training programs and has provided funding and expert trainers for capacity building programs focused on maritime security, aviation security, travel document security and fraud prevention, cybersecurity, counterterrorism legislation, and efforts to counter terrorist financing.


INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND PROTOCOLS

A matrix of the ratification status of 18 of the international conventions and protocols related to terrorism can be found here: https://www.unodc.org/tldb/universal_instruments_NEW.html


 


LONG-TERM PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES DESIGNED TO COUNTER TERRORIST SAFE HAVENS

COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM (CVE). CVE is part of the strategic approach to counterterrorism that aims to deny terrorism new recruits by reducing sympathy and support for violent extremism. Our CVE objectives are to (1) build resilience among communities most at risk of recruitment and radicalization to violence; (2) counter violent extremist narratives and messaging; and (3) build the capacity of partner nations and civil society to counter violent extremism. Our counter-recruitment and counter-messaging efforts are focused on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qa’ida (AQ), its affiliates, adherents, and like-minded groups.

Diplomatically, we meet these objectives via bilateral and multilateral dialogue, emphasizing the need for countries to address the drivers of violent extremism. Programmatically, we meet these objectives by identifying drivers of recruitment and radicalization to violence, and ways to counter the phenomena. We identify key nodes and locales where radicalization is taking place, and focus our programming and activities in these areas.

The State Department emphasizes supporting local CVE efforts and building local CVE capacity. The growing international focus on CVE has allowed the United States to develop a broader range of international partners to support our efforts, including other governments, multilateral organizations, and non-governmental actors. Through these broad-based partnerships, we have been able to develop good practices, leverage others’ resources, and multiply results.

The State Department works with foreign partners and other U.S. government agencies, such as USAID and DoD to identify hotspots of radicalization and to design programming focused on those areas. Key areas of programming include:

  • Community Engagement and Community-Oriented Policing. The Department of State has implemented projects that link marginalized groups in a community, such as at-risk youth or women, with responsible community leaders to build their resilience to violent extremism and improve their capacity to counter it. These activities include: providing skills training to youth, their families, and their communities; leadership development; and promoting problem solving and conflict resolution skills. Projects also include training law enforcement personnel in community engagement, facilitation, and relationship building; counter-messaging and narratives; and supporting law enforcement partnerships with non-law enforcement government and non-government actors. Through increased cooperation among community leaders, law enforcement, and local government, community-oriented policing builds community resilience to violent extremism by addressing factors of local instability, disenfranchisement, and marginalization.
  • CVE Advocacy: Women and Victims/Survivors of Terrorism. Women can act as gatekeepers to their communities, and thus can provide a first line of defense against recruitment and radicalization to violence in their families and communities. Through CVE efforts in the East Africa and West Africa region, women are trained to recognize signs of radicalization, deploy prevention techniques, and are responsible for the local promotion of security and radicalization prevention. In partnership with local women’s networks, the Department of State supports training for women civil society leaders and law enforcement personnel to devise CVE-prevention strategies and pilot activities. In addition to women, victims and survivors of terrorism, by sharing their stories, offer a resonant counter-narrative that highlights the destruction and devastation of terrorist attacks. Workshops train victims to interact with conventional and social media, create public relations campaigns that amplify their messages, and seek out platforms that help them disseminate their message most broadly to at-risk audiences.
  • CVE Counter-messaging and Counter-narratives. The Department of State supports country-based and regional trainings for local partners to develop and disseminate their own counter-narratives and build their capacity to do this work on their own. In South and Southeast Asia, for example, CVE projects – via training and regional and national media production competitions – support youth to create and show CVE films, and provide training on designing CVE counter-messaging campaigns with a particular focus on social media.
  • Diaspora Engagement. The Department of State supports efforts to conduct outreach and training tours among diaspora communities who may be targeted for recruitment or susceptible to radicalization to violence. Efforts involve community roundtables to raise awareness and discuss ways to prevent recruitment and radicalization. These projects are especially effective in engaging Somali diaspora communities.
  • Prison Disengagement, Rehabilitation and Reintegration. One area of potential radicalization to violence is prisons. If improperly managed, a prison can serve as both a safe haven for violent extremism and an incubator for new recruits. Recognizing that many such inmates will eventually be reintegrated back into society, the Department of State is working – primarily through partner organizations – to strengthen the capabilities of key countries to rehabilitate and reintegrate such offenders. Such partners include the UN’s Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the International Center for Counterterrorism, and DOJ’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF)’s Rome Memorandum – a series of good practices in this area – is used to shape their efforts. More than 40 countries, multilateral organizations, and leading independent experts have participated in these efforts, providing policymakers, practitioners, and experts a chance to further develop these good practices. In late 2014, the GCTF and UNICRI jointly launched an effort that attempts to address the challenge of returning foreign terrorist fighters with a focus on the knowledge learned through prison de-radicalization efforts.
  • The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC). CSCC, based at the Department of State, collaborates with U.S. embassies and consulates, interagency partners, and outside experts to counter terrorist narratives and misinformation. CSCC programs draw on a full range of intelligence information and analysis for context and feedback. CSCC counters terrorist propaganda on social media on a daily basis, contesting space where extremists and their supporters formerly had free reign. In 2014, CSCC produced over 13,000 postings and 645 banners and videos online. CSCC also engaged in a variety of projects directly supporting U.S. government communicators working with overseas audiences, as well as amplifying credible CVE voices and supporting local initiatives, primarily in the Middle East and Africa. The Information Coordination Cell, housed in the CSCC, was established in 2014 to coordinate the U.S. government’s counter-Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant messaging as part of the Global Coalition strategy.

CVE Engagement through Multilateral Institutions:

  • Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) CVE Working Group. The GCTF’s CVE Working Group, one of five expert-driven groups, focuses on the following work streams: (a) the role institutions to counter violent extremism; (b) countering the violent extremist narrative; and c) measuring the impact of CVE programs. During 2014, the CVE Working Group led the successful development of good practices on the role of education in CVE, which GCTF member states approved in September 2014. The working group also supported the endorsement of an action plan on community-oriented policing and engagement, which builds on the 2013 good practices in these CVE areas.
  • Hedayah, the International CVE Center of Excellence: With support from GCTF members and international partners, the United Arab Emirates launched the first international CVE Center of Excellence, Hedayah, in December 2012. As in 2013, the Department of State in 2014 continued to support Hedayah through funding for training for governmental and non-governmental CVE practitioners on such topics as community-oriented policing, education, community-based approaches and CVE communications and media. Major Hedayah activities in 2014 included an international education and CVE workshop in May, and a December CVE Communications Expo that brought together hundreds of government, civil society, and media practitioners.
  • Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF): The objective of GCERF is to leverage public and private sector support for community-based projects aimed at addressing local drivers of radicalization by focusing on education, vocational training, civic engagement, media, youth, and women’s advocacy. Participating pilot countries include Bangladesh, Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria. Switzerland hosts the GCERF office in Geneva. In September, Secretary Kerry called for the establishment of a global funding window through GCERF for projects to counter ISIL recruitment and radicalization to violence.
  • USAID Approach to CVE. USAID’s approaches to CVE run parallel to and are undertaken in coordination with Department of State CVE efforts. Unlike traditional development programming, USAID’s CVE programming addresses specific populations – particularly young men – and regions that are most at risk of radicalization and recruitment. Robust analysis, evidence-based programming, and partnership with host national and local governments, civil society, and the private sector are critical elements of USAID’s CVE approach.
  • Empowering Youth: vocational and entrepreneurial skills training, civic education, sports and cultural activity, capacity building for youth associations, and leadership training to increase young men and women’s participation in local decision-making. In East Africa, for example, programming aims to promote a positive sense of identity for vulnerable youth through youth association activity, community participation, and vocational training.
  • Increasing Mainstream Voices: integrated radio, social media, and civic education activities, enhanced quality and credible information, and positive dialogue. In the Sahel, for example, USAID is providing technical and financial support for local radio stations and their production of mainstream, community-based content. Religious leaders are being engaged with training and dialogue to promote mainstream messaging, conflict prevention and resolution, and constructive community initiatives.
  • Increasing Civil Society Capacity: formal and informal training, strengthened advocacy skills, citizen-led accountability initiatives and issue-based campaigns integrated with radio and social media and enhanced through civil society coalitions and networks. For example, USAID is providing capacity building grants to civil society organizations (CSOs) in Pakistan for rehabilitation projects and community initiatives.
  • Strengthening Local Government: organized and enhanced community entities and CSO capacity, greater citizen participation, particularly youth and women, and training in public administration, transparency, advocacy, and government outreach. For example, in the Sahel, USAID is supporting the establishment of local community advisory councils composed of women, youth, religious, and other representatives to ensure local governance and activities are more responsive to community needs.

CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAMS. As the terrorist threat has evolved and grown more geographically diverse in recent years, it has become clear that our success depends in large part on the effectiveness and ability of our partners. To succeed over the long term, we must increase the number of countries capable of and willing to take on this challenge. Our counterterrorism capacity building programs – Antiterrorism Assistance Program, Counterterrorist Finance, Counterterrorism Engagement, the Terrorist Interdiction Program/Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System, and transnational activities under the Regional Strategic Initiatives – are all critically important and work on a daily basis to build capacity and improve political will. For further information on these programs, we refer you to the Annual Report on Assistance Related to International Terrorism, Fiscal Year 2014: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/rpt/221544.htm.

REGIONAL STRATEGIC INITIATIVE (RSI). Terrorist groups often take advantage of porous borders and ungoverned areas between countries. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism created RSI to enable flexible civilian responses to rapidly evolving threats, and to build the regional capacity, partnerships, and cooperation necessary to counter the most serious threats facing the United States. Current RSI efforts focus on stemming the flow of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, countering terrorist safe havens, counter-ISIL messaging, and countering Hizballah’s activities. In 2014, RSI, supported a wide variety of projects focused on regional law enforcement cooperation and effectiveness against transnational threats. Examples include establishing interagency counterterrorism centers for partner countries in Europe and North Africa, and associated training for center personnel; support to develop partner ability to manage sophisticated terrorism and transnational crime cases in Southeast Asia; and trainings that engaged key governments in multiple sectors (finance, security, rule of law) to ensure that al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb does not benefit from kidnapping-for-ransom. The State Department seeks to strengthen efforts by partner governments to address and mitigate threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters, including addressing critical gaps in the partner countries to prevent, interdict, prosecute, and rehabilitate foreign terrorist fighters traveling to Iraq and Syria. To that end, RSI supported DOJ advisors and other expert travel to key partner nations to provide critical and timely assistance in various technical areas, such as the investigation and prosecution of foreign terrorist fighter cases.


SUPPORT FOR PAKISTAN


In 2014, the United States continued to build a long-term partnership with Pakistan, as we believe that a stable, secure, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan is in the long-term U.S. national security interest. To support this partnership, the United States has allocated civilian and security assistance totaling more than $9 billion since 2009. U.S. security assistance to Pakistan is designed to build Pakistan’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency capacity. In addition, since 2001, the Department of Defense has reimbursed over $13 billion in Coalition Support Funds for Pakistani expenditures in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Account

FY 2012 Actuals

FY 2013
Actuals

FY 2014
653(a)

 
 
 

Total Foreign Assistance

1,820.844

1,146.4

890.4

 

Economic Support Fund (ESF)

904.7

826.3

477.0

 

Intl. Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE)

75.0

57.4

57.4

 

Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining (NADR)

20.8

10.6

10.0

 

Foreign Military Financing (FMF)

295.4

280.2

280.0

 

International Military Education and Training (IMET)

4.9

5.0

4.9

 

Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF)

452.0

-

-

 

Food for Peace Title II (FFP)

68.1

69.9

61.1

 

Since the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (commonly referred to as Kerry-Lugar-

Berman, or “KLB”) was enacted in October 2009, and with funding made available in annual appropriations legislation, the United States has committed over US $5 billion in civilian assistance to Pakistan, in addition to over US $1 billion for humanitarian assistance in that timeframe, addressing floods and conflict. We continue to focus on five sectors determined in consultation with the Pakistani government in 2011: energy; economic growth including agriculture, stabilization of areas vulnerable to violent extremism; education; and health. Emphasis on improving democracy, governance, and gender equity are integrated into programming across the five sectors.

Since the passage of this major authorization and annual appropriations legislation, U.S. assistance has added over 1,400 megawatts to Pakistan’s electricity grid and helped Pakistan take steps to reform the troubled sector; funded the refurbishment or construction of nearly 1,000 kilometers of roads, enabling trade, security, and mobility; trained over 5,600 police and 1,000 prosecutors across Pakistan; provided scholarships to approximately 12,000 Pakistanis to attend Pakistani universities; and supplied better access to comprehensive family planning services to over 100,000 women.

Energy: Chronic energy shortages severely limit Pakistan’s economic development. As such, energy is our top assistance priority, supporting the goal of job creation, security, and political stability in Pakistan. We continued to fund infrastructure rehabilitation projects, especially in clean energy, and provided technical assistance to Pakistani energy institutions, including distribution companies, to increase power generation and improve performance.

Economic Growth: Through a range of programs and public-private partnerships in agriculture and other sectors of Pakistan’s economy, U.S. assistance helped Pakistan create jobs and foster economic growth. In 2014, the United States made awards for the Pakistan Private Investment Initiative, a public-private program in which U.S. capital, matched equally by private sector funding, was committed as equity to small- and medium-sized Pakistani enterprises to provide much needed liquidity.

Stabilization: The United States supported Pakistan’s efforts to make its territory inhospitable to violent extremists by strengthening governance and civilian law enforcement capacity and promoting socioeconomic development, particularly in areas bordering Afghanistan and other targeted locations vulnerable to violent extremism. Our efforts included road construction, small community-based grants, police and governance training, and providing equipment to civilian law enforcement.

Education: Pakistan’s ability to educate its youth is critical to its economic growth and future trajectory. U.S. education programs focused on increasing the number of students who enroll in and complete courses in primary and tertiary educational institutions; and improving the quality of that education – with a specific focus on reading – to prepare Pakistani students for the workforce. We are also committed to building bridges between Pakistani and American students and professionals through exchange programs.

Health: The provision of basic health services in Pakistan is inadequate for much of the population, particularly for rural populations. U.S. health programs supported the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to deliver healthcare, particularly in the areas of maternal and child health. U.S. assistance was also used to support Government of Pakistan initiatives to construct health clinics and hospitals, fund the acquisition of medical materials, and provide critical family planning and reproductive health care.

Humanitarian Assistance: Since October 2009, over US $1.3 billion of emergency humanitarian assistance has been provided to Pakistan in response to floods and conflict, above and beyond bilateral assistance. During the historic 2010 floods, funding from the American people helped ten million flood-affected citizens, who received rescue services, food, emergency shelter, cash grants, and even seeds to replant crops.

International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement: Pakistan took important steps to counter violent extremists operating in the areas bordering Afghanistan during 2014. These steps included intensifying support to civilian law enforcement and border security agencies. The United States directly supported Pakistan’s efforts to build the capacity of its civilian law enforcement and border security agencies by providing training, equipment, infrastructure, and aviation assistance. U.S. assistance helped build capacity in law enforcement agencies responsible for holding areas cleared by Pakistan’s military, protecting local populations from militant attacks, and maintaining law and order. Collectively, these efforts enhanced the counterinsurgency, law enforcement, and counternarcotics capacities of Pakistan’s civilian law enforcement and border security agencies. Improved security will, in turn, facilitate economic development, which is necessary for long-term Pakistani stability and progress.

Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR): The United States provided assistance to strengthen Pakistan’s export control system to prevent transfer of WMD and related technology. NADR/Export Control and Related Border Security funds were used for nonproliferation export control training addressing legal/regulatory reform, export licensing systems, customs enforcement, general inspection, WMD detection training for border control personnel, and procuring specialized radiation/chemical detection equipment. The United States also provided targeted assistance to build Pakistani law enforcement capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist threats. NADR/Global Threat Reduction Programs (GTR) provided assistance to Pakistan to prevent terrorist access to biological expertise, materials, and technology. GTR engaged scientists to reduce bio-security threats against the United States by supporting pathogen security, safe and secure laboratory conduct, and disease detection and control.

Foreign Military Financing (FMF): FMF promotes the development of Pakistan’s long-term counterinsurgency (COIN) and counterterrorism capabilities to enable security and stability throughout the country, particularly in the conflict-affected areas bordering Afghanistan, and to improve Pakistan’s ability to lead and/or participate in maritime security operations that support counterterrorism aims. We continue to focus FMF towards seven core capabilities: precision strike; air mobility/combat search and rescue; battlefield communications; night operations; survivability and countering improvised explosive devices; border security; and maritime security/counter-narcotics. To support this, the United States obligated nearly US $270 million in FMF in 2014.

International Military Education and Training (IMET): Pakistan’s IMET program supported professional military education for Pakistan’s military leaders, emphasizing respect for the rule of law, human rights, and democratic values, including civilian control of the military. IMET also supported effective management of Pakistan’s defense establishment through training in logistics, defense acquisition, and resource management. A significant portion of this funding supports training related to counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations in Pakistan. To build capacity and cooperation between our security forces, Pakistan receives the largest amount of IMET of any of our global partners, at nearly US $5 million annually.

Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF): PCCF builds the capability of Pakistan’s Army, Air Force, and Frontier Corps to clear and hold terrain in contested areas throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas by providing targeted equipment and training for COIN/counterterrorism operations. In FY 2013, we provided US $425 million in FY 2012 PCCF funding for execution. FY 2012 is the final fiscal year that funding was requested for this program.

Measures to ensure that assistance has the greatest long-term positive impact on the welfare of the Pakistani people and their ability to counter terrorism: Over a quarter of U.S. civilian assistance is implemented via Pakistani partners, including the Government of Pakistan and private sector actors, when practicable. This is done to strengthen local capacity and increase sustainability, providing the greatest possible long-term impact of U.S. assistance. Increasingly, the Administration is also implementing public-private partnerships to engage the private sector as a long-term partner in Pakistan’s development.


COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATION WITH SAUDI ARABIA


The United States and Saudi Arabia have a strong bilateral relationship. Multiple high-level visits in 2014 deepened this relationship at the personal and institutional level and provided senior officials from both countries the chance to discuss means of improving coordination. In 2014, high-level visits from President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and anti-ISIL Coalition Special Envoy General John Allen, among others, reaffirmed the importance of bilateral counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

During 2014, the Government of Saudi Arabia, working in coordination with the United States, continued to build and augment its capacity to counter terrorism and violent extremist ideologies, including al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Saudi Arabia continued to maintain a robust counterterrorism relationship with the United States and supported enhanced bilateral cooperation to ensure the safety of U.S. and Saudi citizens in both countries, and to enhance the security of infrastructure in Saudi Arabia critical to the global economy. Saudi Arabia continued its long-term counterterrorism strategy to track and halt the activities of terrorists and terror financiers, dismantle the presence or reconstitution of al-Qa’ida–affiliates, impede the ability of militants to operate from or within Saudi Arabia, and to implement laws against supporting terrorist groups and travel to conflict zones. Saudi Arabia welcomed UN Security Council Resolutions 2170 and 2178, expanding existing counterterrorism programs and rhetoric to address the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters and leveraged terrorist finance provisions of its Law for Crimes of Terrorism and Terrorist-Financing (CT Law) to combat funding of violent extremist groups in Iraq and Syria. Saudi Arabia’s robust legal counterterrorism apparatus was bolstered in 2014 by the introduction in February 2014 of a new counterterrorism law that further strengthened existing counterterrorism laws.

Saudi Arabia sought to expand economic and civic opportunities for its people. Nearly 60 percent of the Saudi populace is under 25 years of age. The late King Abdullah promoted an economic development agenda, and Saudi Arabia has sought to address economic sources of social discontent, such as housing scarcity and the need to create jobs for millions of Saudis.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs continued to reeducate and regulate imams, prohibiting them from inciting violence, and continued to monitor mosques and religious education. The King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue continued to promote tolerance and respect for diversity through its dialogue and awareness-raising programs. Some religious figures not directly associated with the establishment, however, reportedly made statements that promoted intolerant views.

The United States continued to support Saudi Arabia in reforms it is undertaking by facilitating Saudi nationals studying in the United States and promoting educational exchanges; encouraging increased bilateral trade and investment, urging Saudi Arabia to take actions necessary to attract job-creating partnerships with U.S. companies; and supporting programming in such areas as judicial reform and women’s entrepreneurship, as well as the Ministry of Interior’s extensive prison rehabilitation program, the Mohamed bin Naif Counseling and Care Center, to reduce recidivism among former inmates charged with crimes related to terrorism.

Throughout 2014, Saudi Arabia continued its efforts to disrupt terrorist activities in its territory by tracking, arresting, and prosecuting terrorist suspects. Neighborhood police units engaged and worked directly with community members in Saudi Arabia, encouraging citizens to provide tips and information about terrorist activity. The government offered rewards for information on terrorists, and Saudi security services made several announcements throughout the year pertaining to the arrest of hundreds of AQAP and ISIL members and supporters. As a result, the Saudi Arabian government successfully disrupted a 98-member ISIL cell active in Saudi Arabia.

Throughout the year, Saudi security professionals regularly participated in joint programs and information exchange agreements around the world, including in the United States and Europe. The Saudi Arabian government has continued to provide specialized training programs for bankers, prosecutors, judges, customs officers, and other officials from government departments and agencies to combat terrorist financing. In 2008, the two governments concluded a Technical Cooperation Agreement and a year later established the joint Office of Program Management-Ministry of Interior (OPM-MOI) to implement it, institutionalizing a Saudi-funded bilateral program of technical assistance focused on the protection of critical infrastructure and the Saudi public. Through the OPM-MOI program, U.S. agencies are helping Saudi Arabia improve its ability to thwart terrorists before they act and to defend against terrorist attacks if they occur. On August 8, 2013, Saudi Arabia pledged US $100 million to the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre, which was transferred in August 2014. In April 2014, the Saudi Arabian government participated in the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Strategic Cooperation Forum Task Force on counterterrorism and border security. Saudi officials have issued statements encouraging enhanced cooperation among GCC and Arab League states on counterterrorism issues, and the Saudi Arabian government has hosted international counterterrorism conferences on combating extremist ideology and countering terrorist financing. On September 11, 2014, Saudi Arabia hosted a counterterrorism conference in Jeddah, which was attended by ministers from the GCC, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United States, at which all parties declared their shared commitment against terrorism and ISIL. The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior also hosted the 17th Annual International Conference and Exhibition for Industrial Security, Fire, and Occupational Safety, and Health in November 2014, which focused on strengthening industrial security practices and coordination between the government and private sectors to protect key infrastructure from terrorist attack.

U.S.-Saudi collaboration was not confined to bilateral issues. With political upheaval across the region throughout the year, the United States consulted closely with the Saudi government on regional stability, including in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt. Working both bilaterally and multilaterally through the GCC and the Arab League, the Saudi government provided leadership in promoting peaceful transitions. Saudi Arabia has cooperated regionally and internationally on counterterrorism issues as demonstrated by its participation in the Global Counterterrorism Forum. Saudi Arabia is a member of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), and the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force. As part of its strategy to support these transitions and promote stability throughout the region, the Saudi government increased the scope of its economic and development assistance. On the humanitarian front, Saudi Arabia pledged a US $500 million grant to the UN for Iraq humanitarian assistance in July 2014, US $60 million in Syria humanitarian assistance at the International Pledging Conference in Kuwait, and US $104 million in humanitarian assistance to the World Food Program for refugees in Syria, Ethiopia, and in Kenya.

Saudi Arabia has been a leading partner in the international Coalition against ISIL, participating in Coalition airstrikes against ISIL in Syria, and offering to host a train and equip program for the moderate Syrian opposition. In addition, Saudi Arabia has enacted tough criminal penalties for those traveling to fight in foreign conflicts and has enforced those penalties. The Saudi Arabian government and religious leaders have issued many statements against ISIL which the government considers a serious threat to its national security.


BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS INITIATIVES:

OUTREACH TO FOREIGN MUSLIM AUDIENCES

This section is provided by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)


Four of the five broadcast entities under the supervision of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) provided programming for countries with large Muslim populations in 2014: the Voice of America (VOA), the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV, Radio Sawa, and Afia Darfur), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), and Radio Free Asia.

  • Eighteen of RFE/RL’s broadcast languages – almost two-thirds of the total – were directed to regions with majority-Muslim populations, including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Additional broadcasting regions in the Russian Federation included the majority Muslim populations of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and the North Caucasus.
  • VOA has been particularly successful in reaching non-Arabic-speaking Muslim audiences, with strong performances in Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tanzania, among other places.
  • The Middle East Broadcasting Networks broadcast throughout the region to more than 340 million people, 93 percent of who are Muslim.
  • VOA and RFE/RL provided news and information to Afghanistan and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region in Dari and Pashto. Together, RFE/RL and VOA reached nearly 53 percent of Afghan adults each week.
  • Radio Free Asia broadcast to the more than 16 million mainly ethnic Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of northwestern China and Central Eurasia.

The BBG used the latest communications technologies to avoid jamming of its signals and to reach audiences through digital and other communications tools, such as web chats and blogs.


THE MIDDLE EAST

Arabic: Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) has five bureaus/production centers in the region, in addition to its main studios in Virginia, and a network of regional correspondents. MBN broadcasts to a population that includes an estimated 317 million Muslims or about 23 percent of the world’s Muslim population. MBN takes a diverse approach to reaching the largest potential audience, using three platforms: television (Alhurra TV), radio (Radio Sawa), and digital (Alhurra.com and RadioSawa.com). The networks provide a unique, local perspective of breaking news, current events, and balanced coverage on topics such as freedom of speech, religion, and the role of women in society and politics. Alhurra also produces programs encouraging freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and non-violence.

Radio Sawa’s network of stations, broadcasting 24/7, is designed to reach the Arabic-speaking population under the age of 35. It broadcasts 325 newscasts per week about the Middle East, the United States, and the world.

Radio Sawa broadcasts on FM in Morocco, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, Kuwait, Bahrain, Libya, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Lebanon, and Djibouti. Radio Sawa broadcasts on medium wave to Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan; and was available on the Arabsat, Nilesat, and Eutelsat satellite systems.

Iraq: Every week, 36 percent of Iraqi adults – some 6.3 million people – listened to or watched one of the four BBG broadcasters serving the country: Alhurra TV, Radio Sawa, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq, and VOA Kurdish. Alhurra and Radio Sawa continued to be very successful given their localized dedicated streams to Iraqi news and information. One in three Iraqis say Alhurra is their most important source of information. Radio Sawa is one of the top radio stations among adults. Radio Free Iraq, with five percent weekly reach on radio and internet, and VOA Kurdish reached 3 percent of Kurdish-speaking Iraqis weekly.

Kurdish: In 2014, the Kurdistan region in particular faced heavy attack from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The VOA Kurdish Service has covered the crisis on a daily basis by conducting interviews with regional analysts and through stringer reports from the region. The Sinjar region was a primary target when thousands of Yezidis had to flee to the Kurdistan region and women and children were taken hostage. VOA Kurdish conducted many interviews with people on the ground.

Persian: VOA’s Persian Service provided relevant global and regional news relating to Iran and crucial information about U.S. policy toward Iran and the region. VOA Persian delivered original television programming for six hours per day. In addition, VOA and Radio Farda each produced one hour of Radio-on-TV (ROT), starting with VOA Persian’s ROT Tamasha and followed by Radio Farda’s ROT “Sobhane Ba Khabar.”

VOA’s Persian Service did exceedingly well in bringing worldwide coverage on timely issues to the people of Iran. For example, it attracted a wide television and online audience during its coverage of the Iranian National Team during the World Cup in June. VOA Persian also had extensive live coverage in August of the Iranian national volleyball team’s first visit to the United States. VOA Persian was on the ground during the Iran nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries, and had live coverage of the Iran nuclear talks in November where the P5+1 countries agreed to extend the deadline to implement the commitments described in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) through June 30, 2015.

RFE/RL’s Radio Farda broadcast newscasts at the top of each hour, followed by reports, features, interviews, and regular segments on youth, women, culture, economics, and politics.

  • Radio Farda sent a correspondent to Vienna in February, May, and November to provide exclusive, around-the-clock Persian-language coverage for its audience in Iran of the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries. Radio Farda also secured interviews with U.S. chief negotiator and Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, and former State Department special advisor on nonproliferation and arms control, Robert Einhorn.
  • Radio Farda’s comprehensive human rights monitoring is unique inside Iran. It is listened to by prison inmates who rely on it for accurate reporting on their cases.
  • Radio Farda’s online community continued to grow. Its main Facebook page has a fan base of 1,335,000.
  • Radio Farda’s circumvention strategies to fight internet blockage by the Iranian regime remained successful, with nearly 168 million page views logged in 2014.

SOUTH ASIA

Afghan: VOA’s Afghan Service covered all aspects of the conflict in Afghanistan and the border region on call-in shows as well as in reports and interviews. In addition, the Service covered Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, which included visits of officials and dialogues and agreements between the two countries, and progress made in their joint counterterrorism efforts.

In addition, the Service provided coverage of the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in the Middle East, U.S. and world efforts against the organization, its reach in the region, and reports of cells/existence of the terrorist organization in Afghanistan.

Moreover, the Service also covered an unprecedented gathering of religious scholars from across Afghanistan who convened to praise the Afghan security forces’ fight against violent extremists. Maulawi Abdul Basir Haqani, a representative of the Ulema (the body of scholars who are authorities on Muslim religion and law), joined the program live from the Kabul studio and spoke in unanimity with the new government’s efforts to support the Afghan military.

In the past year, the Service expanded its social media outreach by providing a platform for free expression of ideas that run counter to the violent extremist narrative.

The Service also joined forces with internationally recognized pop star/UN Goodwill Ambassador Farhad Darya in a successful campaign to encourage Afghan citizens to get out and vote in two rounds of presidential elections in the face of Taliban threats and intimidation.

Urdu: VOA Urdu reporters in Washington and stringers in five major Pakistani cities were reported on terrorism-related activities as they unfolded.

The Pakistan/Afghanistan Border Region: VOA Deewa broadcasts go directly to Pakistan’s most terrorism-prone regions and neighboring Afghanistan, where the Taliban, al-Qa’ida, and the Haqqani Network are known to operate.

The Service regularly engages Muslim scholars, analysts from U.S.-based think tanks, and Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders on violent extremism. Deewa guests participate in discussions with question and answer sessions on violent extremist ideology.

Bangla: The VOA Bangla Service continuously prepares interview-based reports, features, roundtable discussions, and call-in shows on terrorism themes.


CENTRAL ASIA

Kazakhstan: RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service content was delivered via its internet website, mobile site, and social media platforms. The web strategy attracted a younger audience to this bilingual (Kazakh and Russian) site, providing opportunities for interactivity and exploring new genres such as video reporting. The Service’s reporting on Kazakh terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq was widely quoted in local Kazakh media and sparked many discussions on Kazakh language web forums.

Kyrgyzstan: RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service is the most trusted radio news source in Kyrgyzstan, according to an October 2014 survey conducted by the International Republican Institute, Baltic Surveys Ltd./The Gallup Organization, SIAR Research and Consulting, and USAID. The Service’s daily TV news show and weekly talk show were broadcast during prime time hours on the largest national channel, which is the news source of choice for 34 percent of the population.

Tajikistan: RFE/RL’s Tajik Service served as one of the most reliable sources of news and information in Tajikistan. As early as 2013, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service was covering the participation of Tajik terrorists in the Syrian conflict. The Service reported on the personal details of Tajik youth fighting in Syria and interviews with relatives, politicians, and religious leaders.

Uzbekistan: RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service’s weekly 30-minute TV program and daily 30-minute radio broadcast featured interviews with U.S. and international sources on topics including religious extremism, terrorism, and U.S.-Uzbekistan and U.S.-Central Asian relations. VOA Uzbek regularly covers the Fergana valley. The Service distributed original stories to mobile phone subscribers. Reports were also accessible on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook; and Russia based MoiMir, VKontakte, and Yandex. VOA Uzbek has FM radio affiliates in Northern Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, and a TV affiliate in Southern Kyrgyzstan.

Turkmenistan: RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service provides a vital, unmatched service to its audience, despite the fact that it is not allowed to have a bureau or accredited journalists within the country. It is the only international media company providing regular multi-media reporting from inside the country, with original video reporting and photojournalism. The Service provided a unique and important voice covering social issues such as homelessness, housing conditions, and travel restrictions on Turkmen citizens, while its reporting on human rights cases has brought critical attention to cases of activists and journalists imprisoned or detained.


EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

China: VOA China’s Branch delivers news, including religious and local issues affecting more than 22 million Chinese Muslims, to China via satellite television, radio, internet, social media, and mobile channels in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tibetan. One report in 2014 on Beijing’s crackdown on Uighur culture and religion in Xinjiang entitled “Beards, Veils, and the Uighur-Han Tensions” was reposted by the Uighur American Association’s website and by Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti’s China-based Uighur Online. Mr. Tohti was sentenced to life in prison for several charges and part of the state evidence used against him in the trial was his use of the above mentioned VOA three-part series of articles on his website.

Indonesia: VOA’s Indonesian Service’s 2014 weekly audience grew to more than 33 million people or 18.9% of the adult population. About 85% of Indonesians are Muslim making it the country with the single largest Muslim population. VOA Indonesian TV news and information products were regularly seen on eight of Indonesia’s 11 national stations, and more than 30 local and regional TV stations. VOA Indonesian radio is heard on over 400 FM affiliates across the archipelago. Overall, the Service produced nearly four hours of TV per week and more than eight hours daily of original radio programming throughout the year. During the month of Ramadan in 2014, the Indonesian Service produced eight special 30-minute episodes of “Muslim di Rantau” (Muslims Abroad) for the national public broadcaster, TVRI.

Thailand: VOA’s Thai Service has 11 affiliate radio stations in southern Thailand. VOA Thai broadcasts news and information eight hours and 30 minutes per week to all its affiliates; it also produces a weekly video report for placement with TV networks in Thailand. The programs emphasize the U.S.-Thailand relationship, religious and cultural diversity, and education.

Myanmar: VOA’s Burmese Service closely monitored relations between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in Myanmar while reporting on events and ways to promote mutual trust, tolerance, and understanding. VOA weekly call-in discussion programs have provided effective fora to discuss sensitive issues and stimulate further dialogue. VOA Burmese broadcasts daily radio and television programs with a popular web site. The VOA Burmese Bureau in Yangon also participated in local media seminars to discuss professional journalism standards and to identify and counter hate messages.


EUROPE AND EURASIA

The Russian Federation and Ukraine: VOA’s Russian and Ukrainian Services regularly address terrorism-related issues and threats in the United States and other key areas of interest to the target audience. Journalist Fatima Tlisova provided VOA Russian with enterprise reporting related to the first anniversary of the Boston bombings and the beginning of the trial of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. VOA Russian’s reports related to the Boston terrorist attacks generated a significant social media response and numerous shares on social media.

RFE/RL’s Russian Service provides accurate, independent, and wide-ranging news and analysis of a wide range of issues affecting its Russian audience.

Tatarstan/Bashkortostan: The Tatar and Bashkir communities are the two largest Muslim communities in Russia. RFE/RL’s Tatar/Bashkir Service was the only major international media producing content in the Tatar and Bashkir languages and provided listeners with objective news and analysis on issues such as Russia’s policy toward ethnic and religious minorities, centralization, corruption, the role of Islam in predominantly Muslim regions, and gender issues. The Service’s webpage, the most technologically advanced state-of-the-art web source in Tatar, continued to be a virtual meeting place for people to discuss these and other issues.

North Caucasus: Broadcasting in the Avar, Chechen, and Circassian languages, RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service reported the news in a region where media freedom and journalists remained under severe threat.

Turkey: VOA’s Turkish Service has been reporting on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and global terrorism extensively.

The Balkans: VOA’s Balkan Services provided extensive coverage of the rise of violent extremism in the region’s countries with sizeable Muslim populations – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Kosovo, and Serbia. More than 4.7 million adults weekly consumed VOA content across broadcast and digital platforms in Albania, Kosovo, BiH, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. VOA coverage highlighted the threats posed by international terrorist networks that recruit foreign fighters for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and for al-Qa’ida and its affiliates. Balkan media outlets cited and widely republished VOA’s coverage of the September 2014 UN meeting chaired by President Obama.

RFE/RL’s Balkan Service is the only inclusive source of news in a region where genuine media freedom remains elusive and many outlets reflect ethnic divisions. Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga spoke to the Service in August 2014 about the arrest of over 40 men accused of fighting with violent extremists in Syria and Iraq; on September 3, the Service was among the first to report on a police operation in BiH that broke up a network that recruited fighters for Syria and Iraq. The Service interviewed the wife of one man who took his eight-year-old son with him to fight in Syria.

Azerbaijan: VOA’s Azerbaijani Service delivered daily TV and web programming focused on the country’s political dynamics as the authorities increased pressure on political activists and civil society groups. VOA Azerbaijani commenced cooperation with RFE/RL’s regularly programmed reports and interviews targeting the large Azeri population in northern Iran, with an emphasis on the Azeri minority’s demands for cultural rights, human rights, and the regime’s attempts to suppress dissent and the rights of Iran’s minorities.

When it was banned from FM airwaves, RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service lost more than half of its reach in Baku. It subsequently turned to both the internet and satellite television to reconnect with listeners. The Service’s “Korrupsiometr” web portal features the latest laws and regulations, along with Azerbaijani lawyers responding to audience questions.

On December 26, Azerbaijani authorities raided and closed RFE/RL’s Baku Bureau in connection with a law on “foreign agents,” subsequently questioning 26 journalists and staff members. Limited Azerbaijani Service programming continued from Prague.


AFRICA

Hausa: VOA’s Hausa Service has provided comprehensive, multimedia coverage of Boko Haram’s terrorist activities in Northern Nigeria through its daily news programming, interactive call-in shows, and audio streaming and postings on its website. The Service also launched a new, dynamic 24/7 mobile stream that enables VOA to go live at any time to cover breaking news. In an effort to reach young audiences, VOA Hausa recently launched a new half-hour daily radio program called “Today and Tomorrow.” Throughout the year, the Service has given special attention to the efforts by Nigeria’s military Special Task Forces to rout Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, especially in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States. As a result of its expansive coverage, VOA has been threatened by Boko Haram. However, the Service increased its coverage of the violent tactics being used against Nigerian civilians, military, and government. In May 2014, VOA Hausa sent a reporter to Northern Nigeria, who spent more than a month covering Boko Haram’s terrorist attacks and the resulting devastation of towns and villages. He was able to interview some of the Chibok girls who had been taken hostage and escaped, their mothers and teachers, as well as religious and community leaders.

Somali: VOA’s Somali Service airs a weekly radio program called “Islamic Affairs,” which focuses on issues of interest to Muslims. Topics include terrorism, violence, and the role of Islam in conflict resolution. For example, a recent segment of “Islamic Affairs” included an interview with a Somali-American cartoonist known as “Average Mohamed,” who focuses on violent extremism and its effects. Another segment was devoted to the coexistence of people of different faiths, following reports in Iraq that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was targeting Yazidis. Throughout the year, VOA’s Somali Service provided blanket coverage of violent extremist activities, including a series of radio and television reports about the recruitment of Somali-Americans in Minneapolis by terrorist groups such as ISIL and al-Shabaab. The Service also secured an exclusive one-on-one interview with Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who talked about his country’s efforts to combat al-Shabaab.

Swahili: VOA’s Swahili Service broadcast to large Muslim populations in Tanzania and Kenya, and smaller Muslim communities in Uganda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2014, the Service increased its efforts to reach the Muslim communities in Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastline, where the city of Mombasa was rocked by several terrorist attacks. To improve its coverage in the area, VOA Swahili is opening a reporting center in Mombasa and is hiring additional local reporters to provide comprehensive coverage of religious politics in Mombasa and the nearby Lamu area, which has been beset by al-Shabaab activities. Following the raid and closure of the most popular mosque in Mombasa by the Kenyan government, VOA Swahili aired two live call-in shows in November 2014, which received praise from the city’s Muslim community for providing space and equal time to opposing sides – those who support government measures and those who oppose them. Both sides called on the government to reopen the mosque, which occurred three days after the second call-in show.

French to Africa: VOA’s French to Africa Service provided extensive coverage of the conflict in Mali and its impact on the sub-region. In 2014, VOA continued to broadcast its daily news and information program in Bambara, the most widely spoken local language, as well as a weekly newscast in Songhai, the most prevalent language in the north of the country. The Service also reaches Muslims through “Sahel Plus,” a 25-minute weekly French language program with news and features about issues of common concern in the Sahel region. In addition, VOA French to Africa aired a weekly program called “Dialogue des Religion,” which offers discussions with Muslim scholars and experts on various aspects of Islam. Throughout the year, the Service also provided full coverage of the Boko Haram insurgency through reports and interviews with French-speaking residents in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger.


ENGLISH

On September 10, VOA English joined with VOA Central News to produce a 90-minute Radio/TV/Web simulcast around President Obama’s speech on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), complete with analysis and Congressional reaction. VOA set the scene with the White House Correspondent, State Department Correspondent from Jordan, Pentagon Correspondent, and senior correspondents/analysts. Coverage included a live interview with Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY). The Service used social media to solicit questions from around the world during the President’s speech and updated the speech live as the President spoke. Throughout the speech, the White House correspondent tweeted quotes and other highlights.

On June 12, the English Division interviewed the Governor of Kirkuk in Iraq, Dr. Najmaldin Karim, regarding the security situation and the moving of more than 15,000 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters into Kirkuk Province to protect it against ISIL. A number of terrorism experts were interviewed, including Katherine Zimmerman of the American Enterprise Institute.