Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designations are an important element of our counterterrorism efforts. Designations of foreign terrorist groups expose and isolate these organizations, deny them access to the U.S. financial system, and create significant criminal and immigration consequences for their members and supporters. Moreover, designations can assist or complement the law enforcement actions of other U.S. agencies and other governments.
On September 30, 2015 the following FTO was designated by the Department of State: Jaysh Rijal Al-Tariq Al-Naqshabandi. In 2015, the Department of State also revoked the designations of the Revolutionary Organization 17 November on September 3 and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group on December 9.
Legal Criteria for Designation under Section 219 of the INA as amended:
- It must be a foreign organization.
- The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)), or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)(2)), or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
- The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.
U.S. Government Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB)
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB)
Ansar al-Dine (AAD)
Ansar al-Islam (AAI)
Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi (AAS-B)
Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah (AAS-D)
Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia (AAS-T)
Army of Islam (AOI)
Asbat al-Ansar (AAA)
Aum Shinrikyo (AUM)
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
Boko Haram (BH)
Communist Party of Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA)
Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA)
Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG)
Haqqani Network (HQN)
Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI)
Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B)
Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM)
Indian Mujahedeen (IM)
Islamic Jihad Union (IJU)
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
ISIL Sinai Province (ISIL-SP)
Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan (Ansaru)
Jaysh Rijal Al-Tariq Al-Naqshabandi (JRTN)
Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT)
Jemaah Islamiya (JI)
Kata’ib Hizballah (KH)
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT)
Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC)
Al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB)
National Liberation Army (ELN)
Al-Nusrah Front (ANF)
Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
Palestine Liberation Front – Abu Abbas Faction (PLF)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)
Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
Real IRA (RIRA)
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)
Revolutionary Struggle (RS)
Shining Path (SL)
Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
ABDALLAH AZZAM BRIGADES
aka Abdullah Azzam Brigades; Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades; Yusuf al-’Uyayri Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 30, 2012, the Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB) formally announced its establishment in a July 2009 video statement claiming responsibility for a February 2009 rocket attack against Israel. The group is divided into two branches: the Arabian Peninsula-based Yusuf al-’Uyayri Battalions of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades – named after Yusef al-‘Uyayri – and the Lebanon-based Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades, named after Lebanese citizen Ziad al Jarrah, one of the planners of the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Activities: After its initial formation, AAB relied primarily on rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. It is responsible for numerous rocket attacks fired into Israeli territory from Lebanon targeting – among other things – population centers, including Nahariya and Ashkelon.
In November 2013, AAB began targeting Hizballah. AAB claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 23 people and wounded more than 140, and warned it would carry out more attacks if Hizballah did not stop sending fighters to Syria in support of Syrian government forces.
In February 2014, AAB again attacked Hizballah for its involvement in the Syrian conflict, claiming a twin suicide bomb attack against the Iranian cultural center in Beirut, which killed four people. AAB was also believed to be responsible for a series of bombings in Hizballah-controlled areas around Beirut. In June 2014, AAB was believed to have targeted Lebanese General Security head Major General Abbas Ibrahim in a suicide bombing at a police checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway; Ibrahim narrowly escaped. AAB has also been blamed for a suicide bombing in June 2014 in the Beirut neighborhood of Tayyouneh, which killed a security officer and wounded 25 people.
In February 2015, Lebanon’s military court charged four AAB suspects for their involvement in the June 2014 suicide bombings. During 2015, AAB also continued its involvement in the Syrian conflict. In June 2015, the group released photos of a training camp for its “Marwan Hadid Brigade” camp in Syria, likely located in Homs province.
Location/Area of Operation: AAB is based in Lebanon but operates in both Lebanon and Syria.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
ABU NIDAL ORGANIZATION
aka ANO; Arab Revolutionary Brigades; Arab Revolutionary Council; Black September; Fatah Revolutionary Council; Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) was founded by Sabri al-Banna (aka Abu Nidal), after splitting from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1974. In August 2002, Abu Nidal died in Baghdad. Leadership of the organization after Nadal’s death remains unclear. ANO advocates the elimination of Israel and has sought to derail diplomatic efforts in support of the Middle East peace process.
Activities: The ANO has carried out terrorist attacks in 20 countries—killing or injuring almost 900 people. It has not staged a major attack against Western targets since the late 1980s and was expelled from its safe haven in Libya in 1999. Major attacks include those on the Rome and Vienna airports in 1985, the 1986 attack on the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi in 1986, and the 1988 attack on the City of Poros day-excursion ship in Greece. The ANO was suspected of assassinating PLO Deputy Chief Abu Iyad and PLO Security Chief Abu Hul in Tunis in 1991, and a senior Jordanian diplomat in Beirut in 1994. In 2008, a Jordanian official apprehended an ANO member planning to carry out attacks in Jordan. There were no known ANO attacks in 2014 or 2015.
Location/Area of Operation: ANO associates may still exist in Lebanon, though they are likely inactive.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
ABU SAYYAF GROUP
aka al Harakat al Islamiyya (the Islamic Movement)
Description: The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. ASG is the most violent terrorist group operating in the Philippines and claims to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. The group split from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the early 1990s.
Activities: ASG has committed kidnappings for ransom, bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion. In April 2000, an ASG faction kidnapped 21 people, including 10 Western tourists, from a resort in Malaysia. In May 2001, the group kidnapped three U.S. citizens and 17 Philippine citizens from a tourist resort in Palawan, Philippines; several hostages were murdered, including U.S. citizen Guillermo Sobero. A hostage rescue operation in June 2002 freed U.S. hostage Gracia Burnham; her husband, U.S. national Martin Burnham was killed. In October 2002, Philippine and U.S. authorities blamed ASG for a bombing near a military base in Zamboanga that killed an American soldier, and in February 2004, ASG bombed SuperFerry 14 in Manila Bay, killing 116 people. On July 28, 2014, ASG militants with assault rifles opened fire on civilians celebrating the end of Ramadan, killing at least 21 people – including six children and at least four members of a Talipao security force – and wounding 11 others. In a July 2014 video, senior ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon, also an FBI most-wanted terrorist, swore allegiance to ISIL and ISIL’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
ASG continued to remain active throughout 2015. On January 30, one soldier was killed and four were injured in a clash with ASG in Sulu. A day later, ASG ambushed a convoy of Philippine soldiers, wounding five. In February, a 73-year-old Korean businessman was freed by the ASG in Lanao del Sur after 10 days in captivity. On May 15, ASG abducted two civilians at a resort in Sandakan. One hostage was released after six months; a Malaysian hostage, however, was beheaded after ransom demands were not met. Also in May, ASG abducted two Philippine Coast Guard personnel and a city official in Aliguay Island, a tourist destination near Dapitan City; the city official was beheaded. On September 21, ASG was blamed for the armed abduction of two Canadians, a Norwegian, and a Philippine woman from the Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort on Samal Island. ASG set the ransom at $60 million. In December, a Philippine military clash against 100 ASG fighters in Patikul left one solider dead and four wounded, and killed eight ASG members.
Strength: ASG is estimated to have 400 members.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in the Philippine provinces of the Sulu Archipelago – namely Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi – and on the Zamboanga Peninsula. The group also conducted cross-border operations into eastern Malaysia.
Funding and External Aid: ASG is funded through kidnapping for ransom operations and extortion, and may receive funding from external sources including remittances from supportive overseas Philippine workers and Middle East-based sympathizers. In the past, ASG has also received assistance from regional terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiya (JI), whose operatives have provided training to ASG members and have helped facilitate several ASG terrorist attacks.
AL-AQSA MARTYRS BRIGADE
aka al-Aqsa Martyrs Battalion
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB) is composed of small cells of Fatah-affiliated activists that emerged at the outset of the al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000. AAMB strives to drive the Israeli military and West Bank settlers from the West Bank in order to establish a Palestinian state loyal to the Fatah.
Activities: AAMB employed primarily small-arms attacks against Israeli military personnel and settlers as the intifada spread in 2000, but by 2002 turned increasingly to attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel. In January 2002, the group claimed responsibility for the first female suicide bombing in Israel. In 2010 and 2011, AAMB launched numerous rocket attacks on communities in Israel, including the city of Sederot and areas of the Negev desert. In November 2012, two men recruited by AAMB were arrested in connection with the stabbing of a student in Beersheba, Israel. That same year, AAMB claimed it had fired more than 500 rockets and missiles into Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense, the week-long Israeli Defense Force operation in Gaza.
In February 2015, AAMB declared an open war against Israel. In a TV broadcast in June 2015, AAMB asked Iran for funds to help the group in its fight against Israel. In the same broadcast, an AAMB fighter displayed a new two-mile tunnel crossing the border beneath Gaza and Israel, which the leader claimed would be used in the next rounds of battle. In October 2015, the group announced it had developed a new rocket, the K60, with a 40-mile firing range.
In addition to threatening and preparing for future attacks, AAMB continued attacking Israeli soldiers and civilians. In November 2015, the group claimed responsibility for a series of shootings against Israeli soldiers and civilians, including the October fatal shooting of husband and wife, Rabbi Eitam and Na’ama Henkin, in front of their four children.
Strength: Estimated at a few hundred members.
Location/Area of Operation: Most of AAMB’s operational activity is in Gaza but it has also planned and conducted attacks inside Israel and the West Bank. AAMB also has members in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Funding and External Aid: Iran has exploited AAMB’s lack of resources and formal leadership by providing funds and guidance, mostly through Hizballah facilitators.
aka Ansar Dine; Ansar al-Din; Ancar Dine; Ansar ul-Din; Ansar Eddine; Defenders of the Faith
Description: Ansar al-Dine (AAD) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 22, 2013. Operating in Mali, AAD was created in late 2011 after AAD’s leader, Iyad ag Ghali, failed in an attempt to take over another secular Tuareg organization. Following the March 2012 coup that toppled the Malian government, AAD was among the organizations (including al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM] and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa) to take over northern Mali, destroy UNESCO World Heritage sites, and enforce a severe interpretation of Sharia law upon the civilian population living in the areas it controlled.
Beginning in January 2013, French and allied African forces conducted operations in northern Mali to counter AAD and other violent extremist groups, eventually forcing AAD and its allies out of the population centers they had seized. Ghali, however, remained free, and in October 2015 appeared in an AAD video threatening to attack France.
Activities: AAD received backing from AQIM in its fight against the Government of Mali – most notably in the capture of the Malian towns of Agulhok, Gao, Kidal, Tessalit, and Timbuktu, between January and April 2012. In March 2012, Tuareg rebels, reportedly including AAD, executed 82 Malian soldiers and kidnapped 30 others in an attack against the town of Aguelhok. Before the French intervention in January 2013, Malian citizens in towns under AAD’s control who did not comply with AAD’s laws, reportedly faced harassment, torture, and execution.
AAD was severely weakened by the 2013 French intervention in Mali, but increased the pace of its attacks in 2015. In June, AAD claimed responsibility for attacks in Nara, Misseni, and Fakola, Mali, which killed 12 people and damaged public buildings. In November, AAD was one of the terrorist groups to claim participation in an attack – likely planned by al-Mulathamun Battalion (aka al-Murabitoun) – against the Radisson Hotel in Bamako, Mali that killed 20 people. That same month, AAD claimed responsibility for an attack against a UN base in Kidal, which killed three people, including two Guinean UN peacekeepers. In December, AAD carried out a series of attacks against French and Malian interests, including an IED attack targeting Chadian and French military vehicles in Tessalit, Mali.
Strength: The group’s exact membership numbers were unknown at the end of 2015.
Location/Area of Operation: Mali. In 2015, AAD also threatened to attack Mauritania and the Ivory Coast.
Funding and External Aid: AAD cooperates closely with and has received support from AQIM since its inception. AAD is also said to receive funds from foreign donors and through smuggling.
aka Ansar al-Sunna; Ansar al-Sunna Army; Devotees of Islam; Followers of Islam in Kurdistan; Helpers of Islam; Jaish Ansar al-Sunna; Jund al-Islam; Kurdish Taliban; Kurdistan Supporters of Islam; Partisans of Islam; Soldiers of God; Soldiers of Islam; Supporters of Islam in Kurdistan
Description: Ansar al-Islam (AAI) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 22, 2004. AAI was established in 2001 in Iraqi Kurdistan with the merger of two Kurdish violent extremist factions that traced their roots to the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan. On May 4, 2010, AAI’s leader Abu Abdullah al-Shafi’i was captured by U.S. forces in Baghdad and remains in prison. On December 15, 2011, AAI announced a new leader: Abu Hashim Muhammad bin Abdul Rahman al Ibrahim. AAI seeks to expel western interests from Iraq and establish an independent Iraqi state based on its interpretation of Sharia law.
In March 2012, a Norwegian court convicted Iraqi citizen and AAI founder Mullah Krekar (aka Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad) of issuing threats and inciting terrorism, and sentenced him to six years in prison. Living in Norway on a long-term resident permit, Krekar appealed, and in December 2012, an appeals court affirmed his convictions for issuing threats and intimidating witnesses, but reversed his conviction for inciting terrorism. The appeals court reduced his prison sentence to two years and 10 months. He was released from prison in late January 2015, but was arrested again shortly after for praising the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in a TV interview.
Activities: AAI has conducted attacks against a wide range of targets including Iraqi government and security forces, as well as U.S. and Coalition Forces. AAI has conducted numerous kidnappings, executions, and assassinations of Iraqi citizens and politicians. The group has either claimed responsibility or is believed to be responsible for attacks in 2011 that resulted in 24 deaths and wounded 147. In 2012, the group claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Sons of Martyrs School in Damascus, which was occupied by Syrian security forces and pro-government militias; seven people were wounded in the attack. In 2014, AAI claimed responsibility for attacks near Kirkuk, Tikrit, and Mosul, Iraq; primarily directed against Iraqi police and security forces and, in one instance, an oil field.
During summer 2014, part of AAI issued a statement pledging allegiance to ISIL. In 2015, however, reports suggested that a faction of AAI in Syria continued to oppose ISIL. In June 2015, for example, AAI urged factions in Aleppo to confront ISIL militarily and religiously.
Strength: Precise numbers are unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily northern Iraq, but also maintains a presence in western and central Iraq. AAI expanded its operations into Syria in 2011.
Funding and External Aid: AAI receives assistance from a loose network of associates in Europe and the Middle East.
ANSAR AL-SHARI’A IN BENGHAZI
aka Ansar al-Sharia in Libya; Ansar al-Shariah Brigade; Ansar al-Shari’a Brigade; Katibat Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi; Ansar al-Shariah-Benghazi; Al-Raya Establishment for Media Production; Ansar al-Sharia; Soldiers of the Sharia; Ansar al-Shariah; Supporters of Islamic Law
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 13, 2014, Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi (AAS-B) was created after the 2011 fall of the Qadhafi regime in Libya. It has been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, and assassinations and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya.
Activities: Members of AAS-B were involved in the September 11, 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya. Four American citizens were killed in the attack: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.
In 2013 and 2014, AAS-B is believed to have cooperated with Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah in multiple attacks and suicide bombings targeting Libyan security forces in Benghazi. Throughout 2015, AAS-B was involved in clashes in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of both Libyan security forces and civilians.
In addition to its attacks, AAS-B controls several terrorist training camps in Libya, and has trained members of other terrorist organizations, some of which operate in Syria, Iraq, and Mali. At least 12 of the 28 individuals involved in the January 2013 al-Mulathamun Battalion (aka al-Murabitoun) attack led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar against the Tiguentourine gas facility near In Amenas, Algeria, were trained in AAS-B camps.
Location/Area of Operation: Benghazi, Libya
Funding and External Aid: In the past, AAS-B has obtained funds from AQIM, charities, donations, and criminal activities.
ANSAR AL-SHARI’A IN DARNAH
aka Supporters of Islamic Law; Ansar al-Sharia in Derna; Ansar al-Sharia in Libya; Ansar al-
Sharia; Ansar al-Sharia Brigade in Darnah
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 13, 2014, Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah (AAS-D) was created after the 2011 fall of the Qadhafi regime in Libya. It has been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, and assassinations and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya.
Activities: Members of AAS-D were involved in the September 11, 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya. Four American citizens were killed in the attack: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.
In 2013 and 2014, AAS-D is believed to have cooperated with Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi in multiple attacks and suicide bombings targeting Libyan security forces in Benghazi. In 2015, AAS-D continued its involvement in fighting in and around Darnah.
In addition to its attacks, AAS-D maintains several terrorist training camps in Darnah and Jebel Akhdar, Libya, and has trained members of other terrorist organizations operating in Syria and Iraq.
Location/Area of Operation: Darnah, Libya
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
ANSAR AL-SHARI’A IN TUNISIA
aka Al-Qayrawan Media Foundation; Supporters of Islamic Law; Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia; Ansar al-Shari’ah; Ansar al-Shari’ah in Tunisia; Ansar al-Sharia
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 13, 2014, Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia (AAS-T) was founded by Specially Designated Global Terrorist Seif Allah Ben Hassine in early 2011. AAS-T has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations frequented by tourists. AAS-T has also recruited youth in Tunisia for fighting in Syria.
Activities: AAS-T was involved in the September 14, 2012 attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis, which threatened the safety of more than 100 U.S. employees in the Embassy. In February and July 2013, AAS-T members were implicated in the assassination of Tunisian politicians, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi. In October 2013, a bomber associated with AAS-T blew himself up outside a hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, resulting in no other fatalities. On the same day, police prevented a suicide bombing in Monastir, Tunisia, when they arrested a would-be bomber at the Tomb of Habib Bourguiba.
In 2015, Tunisian authorities continued to confront and arrest AAS-T members. [For further information on Tunisia’s counterterrorism efforts, see Chapter 2, Country Reports.]
Location/Area of Operation: Tunisia and Libya
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
ARMY OF ISLAM
aka Jaysh al-Islam; Jaish al-Islam
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 19, 2011, the Army of Islam (AOI), founded in late 2015, is a Gaza-based terrorist organization that is responsible for numerous terrorist acts against the Governments of Israel and Egypt, as well as British, New Zealand, and U.S. citizens. Led by Mumtaz Dughmush, AOI primarily operates in Gaza. AOI subscribes to a violent extremist Salafist ideology.
Activities: AOI’s terrorist activity includes a number of rocket attacks on Israel, the 2006 kidnapping of two journalists in Gaza (an American and a New Zealander), and the 2007 kidnapping of a British citizen in Gaza. AOI is also responsible for early 2009 attacks on Egyptian civilians in Cairo and Heliopolis, Egypt, and for planning the January 1, 2011 attack on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria that killed 25 and wounded 100. On July 28, 2012, AOI released a statement that its member Nidal al ‘Ashi was killed fighting in Syria and in November 2012 announced that it had carried out rocket attacks on Israel in a joint operation with the Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC). In August 2013, an Israeli official reported that AOI leader Dughmush was running training camps in Gaza. In August 2014, Israeli forces reportedly intercepted and killed several AOI fighters allegedly planning to attack Israel. In September 2015, AOI reportedly released a statement pledging allegiance to ISIL. In the short post attributed to the group, AOI declared itself an inseparable part of the Sinai Province, the ISIL-branch in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Strength: Membership is estimated in the low hundreds.
Location/Area of Operation: Gaza, Egypt, and Israel.
Funding and External Aid: AOI receives much of its funding from a variety of criminal activities in Gaza.
aka AAA; Band of Helpers; Band of Partisans; League of Partisans; League of the Followers; God’s Partisans; Gathering of Supporters; Partisan’s League; Esbat al-Ansar; Isbat al-Ansar; Osbat al-Ansar; Usbat al-Ansar; Usbat ul-Ansar
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002, Asbat al-Ansar (AAA) is a Lebanon-based violent Sunni extremist group composed primarily of Palestinians with links to al-Qa’ida (AQ) and other Sunni violent extremist groups. The group’s stated goals include thwarting perceived anti-Islamic and pro-Western influences in the country. The group remains largely confined to Lebanon’s refugee camps.
Activities: AAA first emerged in the early 1990s. In the mid-1990s, the group assassinated Lebanese religious leaders and bombed nightclubs, theaters, and liquor stores. The group has also plotted against foreign diplomatic targets. In October 2004, AAA member Mahir al-Sa’di was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for his 2000 plot to assassinate then-U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Satterfield. Between 2005 and 2011, AAA members traveled to Iraq to fight Coalition Forces. AAA has been reluctant to involve itself in operations in Lebanon due in part to concerns of losing its safe haven in the Ain al-Hilwah refugee camp. AAA did not publicly claim any attacks in 2015.
Strength: The group has at least 650 members.
Location/Area of Operation: The group’s primary base of operations is the Ain al-Hilwah Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon in southern Lebanon.
Funding and External Aid: It is likely that the group receives money through international Sunni extremist networks.
aka A.I.C. Comprehensive Research Institute; A.I.C. Sogo Kenkyusho; Aleph; Aum Supreme Truth
Description: Aum Shinrikyo (AUM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Jailed leader Shoko Asahara established AUM in 1987, and the organization received legal status in Japan as a religious entity in 1989. The Japanese government revoked its recognition of AUM as a religious organization following AUM’s deadly 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo. Despite claims it has renounced violence and Asahara’s teachings, members of AUM continue to adhere to the violent and apocalyptic teachings of its founder.
Activities: In March 1995, AUM members simultaneously released the chemical nerve agent sarin on several Tokyo subway trains, killing 13 and causing up to 6,000 people to seek medical treatment. Subsequent investigations by the Japanese government revealed the group was responsible for other mysterious chemical incidents in Japan in 1994, including a sarin gas attack on a residential neighborhood in Matsumoto that killed seven and injured approximately 500. Japanese police arrested Asahara in May 1995; in February 2004, authorities sentenced him to death for his role in the 1995 attacks, but have yet to carry out the sentence. In 2010 and 2011, several death sentences for other AUM senior members were finalized or affirmed by Japanese courts. In 2012, the final three AUM fugitives were arrested after 17 years on the run. In April 2015, the Tokyo District Court sentenced former AUM sect leader Katsuya Takahashi to life in prison for his involvement in the 1995 Tokyo subway bombing and three other attacks carried out by the group in the 1990s.
Since 1997, the group has split into two factions, both of which have recruited new members, engaged in commercial enterprises, and acquired property. In July 2000, Russian authorities arrested a group of Russian AUM followers who planned to detonate bombs in Japan as part of an operation to free Asahara from jail and smuggle him to Russia. In August 2012, a Japan Airlines flight to the United States turned back after receiving a bomb threat demanding the release of Asahara.
Although AUM has not conducted a terrorist attack since 1995, concerns remain regarding its continued adherence to the violent teachings of Asahara. In October 2015, local Russian authorities uncovered an AUM cell operating in central Moscow.
Strength: As of December 2014, AUM membership in Japan was approximately 1,650 with another 160 in Russia. As of November 2015, the group’s numbers were unchanged in Japan. AUM continues to maintain at least 32 facilities in 15 prefectures in Japan and continues to possess several facilities in Russia.
Location/Area of Operation: AUM’s principal membership is located in Japan; a residual branch of followers live in Russia.
Funding and External Aid: Funding primarily comes from member contributions and group-run businesses.
BASQUE FATHERLAND AND LIBERTY
aka ETA; Askatasuna; Batasuna; Ekin; Euskal Herritarrok; Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna; Herri Batasuna; Jarrai-Haika-Segi; K.A.S.; XAKI
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) was founded in 1959 with the aim of establishing an independent homeland based on Marxist principles in the Spanish Basque provinces of Vizcaya, Guipuzcoa, and Alava; the autonomous region of Navarre; and the southwestern French territories of Labourd, Lower-Navarre, and Soule.
Activities: ETA has primarily conducted bombings and assassinations. Targets typically include Spanish government officials, businessmen, politicians, judicial figures, and security and military forces; however, the group has also targeted journalists and major tourist areas. ETA is responsible for killing 829 civilians and members of the armed forces and police, and injuring thousands since it formally began its campaign of violence in 1968.
ETA has committed numerous attacks in the last four decades, including the February 2005 car bombing in Madrid that wounded more than 20 people at a convention center where Spanish King Juan Carlos and then-Mexican President Vicente Fox were scheduled to appear. In December 2006, ETA exploded a massive car bomb destroying much of the covered parking garage at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport. ETA marked its fiftieth anniversary in 2009 with a series of high profile and deadly bombings, including the July 2009 attack on a Civil Guard Barracks that injured more than 60 men, women, and children.
ETA has not launched any attacks since it announced a “definitive cessation of armed activity” in October 2011. The group, however, had not formally disbanded or given up its weapons arsenal by the end of 2015.
Strength: Since 2004, more than 902 ETA militants have been arrested both in Spain and abroad. It is unknown how many ETA members are still free, but the number is likely to be approximately 10.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in the Basque autonomous regions of northern Spain southwestern France, and Madrid. The group has also attacked Spanish and French interests elsewhere.
Funding and External Aid: Between 2007 and 2011, ETA collected 60 million euros at the Herriko Tabernas (bars where members and supporters of ETA meet). ETA is probably experiencing financial shortages given that the group announced publicly in September 2011 that it had ceased collecting “revolutionary taxes” from Basque businesses. This extortion program was a major source of ETA’s income in the past. Sources of ETA funding are unknown today.
aka Nigerian Taliban; Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad; Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad; People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings for Propagation and Jihad; Sunni Group for Preaching and Jihad
Description: Boko Haram (BH) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 14, 2013. Led by Abubakar Shekau, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, BH is a Nigeria-based group responsible for numerous attacks in northern and northeastern Nigeria, and the Lake Chad Basin areas in Niger, Chad and Cameroon, that have killed thousands of people since its emergence in 2009.
Activities: BH was responsible for the August 26, 2011 bomb attack on the UN building in Abuja that killed at least 21 people and wounded dozens more. The group is also responsible for a series of bomb attacks in Kano, Nigeria, in 2012.
Boko Haram has increasingly crossed Nigerian borders to evade pressure and conduct operations. In February 2013, BH claimed responsibility for kidnapping seven French tourists in the Far North of Cameroon. Security forces from Chad and Niger also reportedly participated in skirmishes against suspected BH members along Nigeria’s borders. In 2013, the group also kidnapped eight French citizens in northern Cameroon and obtained ransom payments for their release.
In 2014, BH killed approximately 5,000 Nigerian civilians in various attacks. The kidnapping of 276 female students from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, brought global attention to Boko Haram’s activities and highlighted its deliberate targeting of non-combatants, including children. In 2015, the group continued to abduct women and girls in the northern region of Nigeria, some of whom it later subjected to domestic servitude, other forms of forced labor, and sexual servitude through forced marriages to its members. (For further information, refer to the Trafficking in Persons Report 2015, http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2015/index.htm.)
The group opened 2015 with the January 3 to January 7 massacre in the town of Baga, Borno state; reported casualties range from 150 to more than 2,000 killed, injured, or disappeared. The January 2015 attack and other BH operations in surrounding smaller villages displaced an estimated 35,000 people and resulted in BH control of Borno state. In February, BH expanded into Cameroon with an attack on the northern town of Fotokol, where it murdered residents inside their homes and in a mosque. On April 6, BH militants disguised as Islamic preachers killed at least 24 people and wounded several others in an attack near a mosque in Borno state; the attackers gathered people in the village of Kwajafa, offering to preach Islam, then opened fire. In mid-October, BH conducted a coordinated attack on the Baga Sola market and a refugee camp in N’Djamena, Chad; 33 people were killed and 51 others wounded. On November 18, two young female suicide bombers detonated explosives just before afternoon prayers in Kano, killing at least 15.
In March 2015, BH pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in an audiotape message. Later that month, ISIL accepted the group’s pledge.
Strength: Membership is estimated to be several thousand fighters.
Location/Area of Operation: Northern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, Lake Chad Basin, and southeast Niger.
Funding and External Aid: BH receives the bulk of its funding from criminal activities such as kidnapping for ransom, bank robberies, and extortion.
COMMUNIST PARTY OF PHILIPPINES/NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY
aka CPP/NPA; Communist Party of the Philippines; the CPP; New People’s Army; the NPA
Description: The Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on August 9, 2002. The military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA), is a Maoist group formed in March 1969 with the aim of overthrowing the government through protracted guerrilla warfare. NPA’s founder, Jose Maria Sison, reportedly directs CPP/NPA activity from the Netherlands, where he lives in self-imposed exile. Luis Jalandoni, a fellow Central Committee member and director of the CPP’s overt political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), also lives in the Netherlands. Although primarily a rural-based guerrilla group, CPP/NPA has an active urban infrastructure to support its terrorist activities and, at times, uses city-based assassination squads.
Senior CPP/NPA leaders Wilma and Benito Tiamzon were arrested in the Philippines in 2014. NPA second-in-command Adelberto Silva was arrested in 2015.
Activities: CPP/NPA primarily targets Philippine security forces, government officials, local infrastructure, and businesses that refuse to pay extortion, or “revolutionary taxes.” CPP/NPA also has a history of attacking U.S. interests in the Philippines. In 1987, for example, CPP/NPA conducted direct actions against U.S. personnel and facilities, killing three American soldiers in four separate attacks in Angeles City. In 1989, the group issued a press statement claiming responsibility for the ambush and murder of Colonel James Nicholas Rowe, chief of the Ground Forces Division of the Joint U.S.-Military Advisory Group.
Over the past few years, CPP/NPA has continued to carry out killings, raids, kidnappings, acts of extortion, and other forms of violence primarily directed against security forces. In May 2013, the Armed Forces of the Philippines reported that from 2011 through the first quarter of 2013, 383 people, including 158 civilians, were killed in encounters between CPP/NPA and government forces.
Despite a ceasefire with the Government of the Philippines in December 2014, CPP/NPA continued to carry out attacks, including setting fire to construction equipment and a vehicle, abducting a jail warden, and shooting and killing three unarmed military-affiliated individuals.
On January 24, 2015, the CPP/NPA attacked a Dole plantation, burned down a facility and chopped down more than 700 banana trees. On February 16, CPP/NPA attempted to seize a police station in Mati City; four AFP soldiers were killed and a policeman wounded. The group left behind landmines upon withdrawal, which killed another three soldiers. On February 28, two Philippine army soldiers were killed and three wounded in an ambush by CPP/NPA in Kalinga. In March, the CPP/NPA killed a soldier and wounded three others in an ambush in the Compostela Valley and executed two unarmed Philippine soldiers wearing civilian clothes in a separate attack. Senior CPP/NPA leaders Wilma and Benito Tiamzon were arrested in the Philippines in 2014, followed by CPP/NPA second-in-command Adelberto Silva in 2015.
Strength: The Philippine government estimates there are 4,000 CPP/NPA members.
Location/Area of Operation: The Philippines, including Rural Luzon, Visayas, and parts of northern and eastern Mindanao. There are also cells in Manila and other metropolitan centers.
Funding and External Aid: The CPP/NPA raises funds through extortion and theft.
CONTINUITY IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY
aka Continuity Army Council; Continuity IRA; Republican Sinn Fein
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on July 13, 2004, the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) is a terrorist splinter group formed in 1994 as the clandestine armed wing of Republican Sinn Fein; CIRA split from Sinn Fein in 1986. “Continuity” refers to the group’s belief that it is carrying on the original goal of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) – to force the British out of Northern Ireland. CIRA cooperates with the larger Real IRA (RIRA). In 2012, CIRA released a statement claiming new leadership, after the previous leadership was ousted over allegations it was acting to the detriment of the organization.
Activities: CIRA has been active in Belfast and the border areas of Northern Ireland, where it has carried out bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, extortion, and robberies. On occasion, it has provided advance warning to police of its attacks. Targets have included the British military, Northern Ireland security forces, and Loyalist paramilitary groups. CIRA did not join the Provisional IRA in the September 2005 decommissioning, and remains capable of effective – if sporadic – terrorist attacks.
The group has remained active over the past three years. In January 2013, the group claimed responsibility for firing shots at police officers in Drumbeg, Craigavon County, Northern Ireland. In March 2014, CIRA claimed an attempted bomb attack on the home and vehicle of a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer. In 2015, CIRA did not carry out any successful attacks on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), but in July, PSNI officers were called to Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland for reports of a bomb; officers found the concealed device and narrowly escaped harm when a second explosive detonated in what was later described as an “elaborate trap.”
Strength: Membership is small, with possibly fewer than 50. Police counterterrorism operations have reduced the group’s strength.
Location/Area of Operation: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
Funding and External Aid: CIRA supports its activities through criminal activities, including smuggling.
aka al-Gama’at; Egyptian al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya; GI; Islamic Gama’at; IG; Islamic Group
Description: Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Formed in the 1970s, IG was once Egypt’s largest terrorist group. In 2011, it formed the Building and Development political party that competed in the 2011 parliamentary elections and won 13 seats. Egypt-based members of IG released from prison prior to the 2011 revolution have renounced terrorism, although some members located overseas have worked with or joined al-Qa’ida (AQ). The external wing, composed mainly of exiled members in several countries, maintained that its primary goal was to replace the Egyptian government with an Islamist state. IG’s “spiritual” leader, the “blind Sheikh,” Omar Abd al-Rahman, is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Supporters of Abd al-Rahman have called for reprisal attacks in the event of his death in prison.
Activities: In the 1990s, IG conducted armed attacks against Egyptian security, other government officials, and Coptic Christians. IG claimed responsibility for the June 1995 attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The group also launched attacks on tourists in Egypt, most notably the 1997 Luxor attack. In 1999, part of the group publicly renounced violence. IG is not known to have committed a terrorist attack in recent years.
Strength: At its peak, IG likely commanded several thousand core members and a similar number of supporters. Security crackdowns following the 1997 attack in Luxor and the 1999 ceasefire, along with post-September 11 security measures and defections to AQ, have likely resulted in a substantial decrease in what is left of the group.
Location/Area of Operation: Unknown
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka the Islamic Resistance Movement; Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya; Izz al-Din al Qassam Battalions; Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades; Izz al-Din al Qassam Forces; Students of Ayyash; Student of the Engineer; Yahya Ayyash Units; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Brigades; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Forces; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Battalions
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Hamas was established in 1987 at the onset of the first Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The armed element, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has conducted anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings against civilian targets inside Israel. Hamas also manages a broad, mostly Gaza-based, network of “Dawa” or ministry activities that include charities, schools, clinics, youth camps, fundraising, and political activities. After winning Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006, Hamas gained control of significant Palestinian Authority (PA) ministries in Gaza, including the Ministry of Interior. As of 2015, the group retained control of Gaza.
Activities: Prior to 2005, Hamas conducted numerous anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings, rocket launches, IED attacks, and shootings. Hamas has not directly targeted U.S. interests, although U.S. citizens have died and been injured in the group’s attacks against Israeli targets. In June 2007, after Hamas took control of Gaza from the PA and Fatah; the Gaza borders were closed and Hamas increased its use of tunnels to smuggle weapons into Gaza, using the Sinai and maritime routes. Hamas has since dedicated the majority of its activity in Gaza to solidifying its control, hardening its defenses, building its weapons caches, tightening security, and conducting limited operations against Israeli military forces.
Hamas fought a 23-day war with Israel from late December 2008 to January 2009. From November 14-21, 2012, Hamas fought another war with Israel during which it claims to have launched more than 1,400 rockets into Israel. Despite the Egypt-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in 2012, operatives from Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) coordinated and carried out a November bus bombing in Tel Aviv that wounded 29 people. On July 8, 2014, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in Gaza with the intent of preventing rocket fire into the country, which had increased following Israeli military operations after Hamas’ kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers. In March 2015, Amnesty International released a report in which it accused Hamas of committing war crimes for launching rockets and mortars into civilian areas in Israel during Operation Protective Edge. In May 2015, Amnesty International published another report declaring Hamas’ abduction, torture, and killing of Palestinians during the 2014 Gaza war was further evidence the group had committed war crimes.
Throughout 2015, Hamas continued preparing for attacks against Israel. In July, Hamas announced on Iranian television that it had built a new tunnel into Israel to carry out attacks. A month later, the group released a video showing members conducting training exercises while moving through its newly reconstructed tunnels. In October, Hamas ordered members to conduct suicide attacks in Israel. In November, Hamas fired two rockets into the Mediterranean Sea as part of its ongoing missile tests in preparation for any future war with Israel.
Strength: Several thousand Gaza-based operatives.
Location/Area of Operation: Since 2007, Hamas has controlled Gaza and also has a presence in the West Bank. The group retains leaders and facilitators that conduct political, fundraising, and arms-smuggling activities throughout the region. Hamas also has a presence in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Funding and External Aid: Historically, Hamas has received funding, weapons, and training from Iran. The group also raises funds in the Gulf countries and receives donations from Palestinian expatriates around the world. Hamas also receives donations from its charity organizations. Hamas’s supply lines have suffered since the crackdown on smuggling tunnels in the Sinai Peninsula by the Egyptian military.
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 19, 2012, the Haqqani Network (HQN) was formed in the late 1970s, around the time of the then-Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. HQN’s founder Jalaluddin Haqqani established a relationship with Usama bin Laden in the mid-1980s, and joined the Taliban in 1995. After the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, Jalaluddin retreated to Pakistan where, under the leadership of Jalaluddin’s son Sirajuddin Haqqani, the group continued to direct and conduct terrorist activity in Afghanistan. In July 2015, Sirajuddin Haqqani was appointed a Deputy leader of the Taliban.
Activities: HQN has planned and carried out a number of significant kidnappings and attacks against U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, the Afghan government, and civilian targets. HQN’s most notorious attacks in recent years include the June 2011 attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, which killed 11 civilians and two Afghan policemen; a September 2011 truck bombing in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, which wounded 77 U.S. soldiers; the September 2011 19-hour attack on the U.S. Embassy and ISAF headquarters in Kabul, which killed 16 Afghans, including six children; a June 2012 suicide bomb attack against Forward Operating Base Salerno, which killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded more than 100; and a 12-hour siege of the Spozhmai Hotel in Kabul in June 2012, which resulted in the death of at least 18 Afghans, including 14 civilians. HQN was also involved in holding U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was kidnapped in 2009 and remained in captivity until he was released in May 2014.
HQN’s attacks continued throughout 2015. In April, Afghan officials blamed HQN for a suicide attack in Khost Province, which killed at least 20 people and injured more than 60 others. In May, HQN was blamed for an attack on a Guesthouse in Kabul, which killed 14 people, including one U.S. citizen. In addition to these and other suspected HQN attacks, multiple HQN plots and many suicide operations in Kabul were disrupted by the Afghan police before they could be carried out.
Strength: HQN is believed to have several hundred core members, but it is estimated that the organization is also able to draw upon a pool of upwards of 10,000 fighters. HQN cooperates closely with the larger Afghan Taliban and draws strength through cooperation with other terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan, including al-Qa’ida and Jaish-e Mohammad.
Location/Area of Operation: HQN is active along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and across much of southeastern Afghanistan, particularly in Loya Paktia, and has repeatedly targeted Kabul in its attacks. The group’s leadership has historically maintained a power base around Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Funding and External Aid: In addition to the support it receives through its connections to other terrorist organizations, HQN receives much of its funds from donors in Pakistan and the Gulf, as well as through criminal activities such as kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, and other licit and illicit business ventures.
HARAKAT-UL JIHAD ISLAMI
aka HUJI; Movement of Islamic Holy War; Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami; Harkat-al-Jihad-ul Islami; Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami; Harakat ul Jihad-e-Islami; Harakat-ul Jihad Islami
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on August 6, 2010, Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) was founded in 1980 in Afghanistan to fight against the former Soviet Union. Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the organization redirected its efforts to India. HUJI seeks the annexation of Indian Kashmir and the expulsion of Coalition Forces from Afghanistan, and has supplied fighters to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Since 2001, HUJI has refocused its activities on the Afghanistan-Pakistan front and has established several camps in Pakistan. HUJI is mostly composed of Pakistani militants and veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war. In recent years HUJI has experienced a number of internal splits and a portion of the group has aligned with al-Qa’ida (AQ), including training its members in AQ training camps. Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, one of HUJI’s top leaders (who also served as an AQ military commander and strategist), died on June 3, 2011.
Activities: HUJI has been involved in a number of terrorist attacks. HUJI claimed responsibility for the September 7, 2011 bombing of the New Delhi High Court, which left at least 11 dead and an estimated 76 wounded. The group sent an email to the press stating that the bomb was intended to force India to repeal a death sentence of a HUJI member. In 2015, it was discovered that HUJI had set up bases at Silchar’s Assam University with the help of a group of professors and students.
Strength: HUJI has an estimated strength of several hundred members.
Location/Area of Operation: HUJI’s area of operation extends throughout South Asia, with its terrorist operations focused primarily in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka HUJI-B; Harakat ul Jihad e Islami Bangladesh; Harkatul Jihad al Islam; Harkatul Jihad; Harakat ul Jihad al Islami; Harkat ul Jihad al Islami; Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami; Harakat ul Jihad Islami Bangladesh; Islami Dawat-e-Kafela; IDEK
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 5, 2008, Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) was formed in April 1992 by a group of former Bangladeshi Afghan veterans wanting to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh. In October 2005, Bangladeshi authorities banned the group. HUJI-B has connections to Pakistani terrorist groups advocating similar objectives, including HUJI, al-Qa’ida, and Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT). The leaders of HUJI-B signed the February 1998 fatwa sponsored by Usama bin Laden that declared American civilians legitimate targets.
Activities: In December 2008, three HUJI-B members were convicted for the May 2004 grenade attack that wounded the British High Commissioner in Sylhet, Bangladesh. In 2011, Bangladeshi authorities formally charged multiple suspects, including HUJI-B leader Mufti Abdul Hannan, with the killing of former Finance Minister Shah AMS Kibria of the Awami League in a grenade attack on January 27, 2005. Though HUJI-B committed no known attacks in 2013, in March 2013, police in Dhaka arrested a group of militants which included HUJI-B members. The group was preparing attacks on public gatherings and prominent individuals; bombs, bomb-making material, and counterfeit currency were found at the time of arrest. In October 2014, a number of HUJI-B members were arrested, including a bomb expert. Some HUJI-B members may have traveled to Pakistan to receive military training from LeT. There were no known terrorist acts carried out by HUJI-B in 2015.
Strength: HUJI-B leaders claim that up to 400 of its members are Afghan war veterans, but its total membership is unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in Bangladesh and India. HUJI-B trains and has a network of madrassas in Bangladesh.
Funding and External Aid: HUJI-B funding comes from a variety of sources. Several international Muslim NGOs may have funneled money to HUJI-B and other Bangladeshi terrorist groups.
aka HUM; Harakat ul-Ansar; HUA; Jamiat ul-Ansar; JUA; al-Faran; al-Hadid; al-Hadith; Harakat ul-Mujahidin; Ansar ul Ummah
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM) seeks the annexation of Indian Kashmir and the expulsion of Coalition Forces from Afghanistan. In January 2005, HUM’s long-time leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil stepped down and was replaced by Dr. Badr Munir. HUM operated terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan until Coalition air strikes destroyed them in 2001. In 2003, HUM began using the name Jamiat ul-Ansar; Pakistan banned the group in November 2003.
Activities: HUM has conducted a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Kashmir. It is linked to the Kashmiri terrorist group al-Faran, which kidnapped – and later killed – five Western tourists in Kashmir in July 1995. HUM was also responsible for the hijacking of an Indian airliner in December 1999. The attack led to the release of Masood Azhar, an important leader of the former Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA), who was imprisoned by India in 1994; after his release, Azhar founded Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM). Another former member of HUA, Ahmed Omar Sheik, was also released by India as a result of the hijacking and was later convicted of the 2002 abduction and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.
HUM pursues Indian security and civilian targets in Kashmir. The group conducted numerous attacks on Indian interests from 2005 through 2013. There were no known HUM attacks during 2014 but in late December 2015 the group claimed responsibility for attacks in Handwor and Poonch. The attacks led to deaths of five Indian army personnel.
Strength: HUM has a few hundred armed supporters. After 2000, a significant portion of HUM’s membership defected to JEM.
Location/Area of Operation: Operates from Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, as well as several cities in Pakistan. HUM conducts operations primarily in Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Funding and External Aid: HUM collects donations from wealthy and grassroots donors in Pakistan.
aka the Party of God; Islamic Jihad; Islamic Jihad Organization; Revolutionary Justice Organization; Organization of the Oppressed on Earth; Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine; Organization of Right Against Wrong; Ansar Allah; Followers of the Prophet Muhammed
Description: Hizballah was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Formed in 1982 following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Lebanon-based radical Shia group takes its ideological inspiration from the Iranian revolution and the teachings of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. The group generally follows the religious guidance of the Iranian Supreme Leader (which in 2015 was Ali Khamenei). Hizballah is closely allied with Iran and the two often work together on shared initiatives, although Hizballah also acts independently. Hizballah shares a close relationship with Syria, and like Iran, provides assistance – including fighters – to Syrian regime forces in the Syrian conflict.
Activities: Hizballah’s terrorist attacks include the suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983; the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in 1984; and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem was murdered. Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping, detention, and murder of Americans and other Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s. Hizballah was implicated, along with Iran, in the 1992 attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina and in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires. In 2000, Hizballah operatives captured three Israeli soldiers in the Shebaa Farms area and, separately, kidnapped an Israeli non-combatant in Dubai. Although the non-combatant survived, on November 1, 2001, Israeli Army Rabbi Israel Weiss pronounced the soldiers dead. The surviving non-combatant and the bodies of the Israeli soldiers were returned to Israel in a prisoner exchange with Hizballah in 2004.
Hizballah is believed to have carried out two attacks against UN Interim Force in Lebanon peacekeepers: an attack in late July 2011 that wounded six French citizens and a second attack, days later, which injured three French soldiers. Also in 2011, four Hizballah members were indicted by the UN-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon, an international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A fifth Hizballah member, Hassan Habib Merhi, was indicted in October 2013.
In January 2012, Thai police detained Hizballah operative Hussein Atris on immigration charges as he was attempting to depart Thailand. Atris, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, was convicted of possessing bomb-making materials by a Thai court in September 2013 and sentenced to two years and eight months in prison. He was released in September 2014 and is believed to reside in Lebanon. In July 2012, a suspected Hizballah operative was detained by Cypriot authorities for allegedly helping plan an attack against Israeli tourists on the island. On March 21, 2013, a Cyprus court found the operative guilty of charges based on his surveillance activities of Israeli tourists
Hizballah was also responsible for the July 2012 attack on a passenger bus carrying 42 Israeli tourists at the Sarafovo Airport in Bulgaria, near the city of Burgas. The explosion killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian, and injured 32 others.
In May 2013, Hizballah publicly admitted to playing a significant role in the ongoing conflict in Syria, rallying support for Syrian President Bashar al-Asad. Hizballah’s support for the Asad regime continued in 2015.
In 2015, the group also continued its operations against Israel. In January, Hizballah fired rockets on an Israeli convoy, killing two Israeli soldiers. In a speech in Tehran in August, Hizballah Deputy Secretary General Shaykh Na’im Qasim declared Israel, the United States, and Takfiri groups as enemies of Islam and urged Muslims to fight against these enemies. In December, Hizballah leader Nasrallah threatened attacks in revenge for the death of senior Hizballah militant Samir Kuntar. Nasrallah claimed orders had already been given and fighters on the ground were preparing attacks.
In May 2015, Cypriot authorities arrested dual Lebanese-Canadian national Hussein Bassam Abdallah after finding 8.2 tons of liquid ammonium nitrate in the basement of a residence in Larnaca. Abdallah admitted to Cypriot authorities he was a member of Hizballah. He was charged on five offenses, including participation in a terrorist organization and providing support to a terrorist organization, by the Republic of Cyprus and sentenced to six years in prison on June 29, 2015.
Strength: Tens of thousands of supporters and members worldwide.
Location/Area of Operation: Hizballah is based in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon. As evidenced by Hizballah’s activities during the course of 2012 and 2013, the group is capable of operating around the globe. Since 2013, Hizballah fighters have assisted Asad regime forces in many areas across Syria.
Funding and External Aid: Iran continues to provide Hizballah with training, weapons, and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, monetary, and organizational aid; Syria has furnished training, weapons, and diplomatic and political support. Hizballah also receives funding from private donations and profits from legal and illegal businesses. Hizballah receives financial support from Lebanese Shia communities in Europe, Africa, South America, North America, and Asia. Hizballah supporters are often engaged in a range of licit and illicit activities that benefit the group financially. These have included smuggling contraband goods, passport falsification, trafficking in narcotics, money laundering, and credit card, immigration, and bank fraud.
aka Indian Mujahidin; Islamic Security Force-Indian Mujahideen (ISF-IM)
Description: The Indian Mujahedeen (IM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 19, 2011. The India-based terrorist group is responsible for dozens of bomb attacks throughout India since 2005, and has caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians. IM maintains ties to other U.S.-designated terrorist entities including Pakistan-based Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Harakat ul-Jihad Islami. IM’s stated goal is to carry out terrorist actions against Indians for their oppression of Muslims. IM has also expanded its area of operations into Nepal, which is now the biggest hub for IM operatives.
Activities: IM is known for carrying out multiple coordinated bombings in crowded areas against economic and civilian targets in order to maximize terror and casualties. In 2008, for example, IM was responsible for 16 synchronized bomb blasts in crowded urban centers. That same year, IM was also responsible for an attack in Delhi that killed 30 people and an attack at a local hospital in Ahmedabad that killed 38 and injured more than 100. In 2010, IM bombed a popular German bakery in Pune, India, frequented by tourists; 17 people were killed and more than 60 people injured in the attack.
IM continued engaging in terrorist activity in 2015. In January, for example, the arrest of three IM militants linked the group to the December 2014 low-intensity blast near a restaurant in Bangalore that killed one woman and injured three others. The arrest also uncovered IM plans to carry out attacks on Republic Day and that IM operatives had provided explosives to carry out attacks in other parts of the country. In May, IM fugitive commander Muhammad ‘Bada’ Sajid, one of the perpetrators of the 2008 bombings, died fighting with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces in Syria.
Location/Area of Operation: India, Nepal, and Pakistan
Funding and External Aid: Suspected to obtain funding and support from other terrorist organizations, as well as from sources in Pakistan and the Middle East.
ISLAMIC JIHAD UNION
aka Islamic Jihad Group; Islomiy Jihod Ittihodi; al-Djihad al-Islami; Dzhamaat Modzhakhedov; Islamic Jihad Group of Uzbekistan; Jamiat al-Jihad al-Islami; Jamiyat; The Jamaat Mojahedin; The Kazakh Jama’at; The Libyan Society
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on June 17, 2005, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) is a Sunni violent extremist organization. The group splintered from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in the early 2000s and has been based in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Najmiddin Jalolov founded the organization as the Islamic Jihad Group in March 2002, but the group was renamed IJU in May 2005. Although IJU remains committed to overthrowing the Government of Uzbekistan, it also has a global agenda, demonstrated by its attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.
Activities: The IJU primarily operates against international forces in Afghanistan and remains a threat to Central Asia. IJU claimed responsibility for attacks in March and April 2004 in Uzbekistan, which targeted police at several roadway checkpoints and at a popular bazaar, killing approximately 47 people, including 33 IJU members, some of whom were suicide bombers. In July 2004, the group carried out near-simultaneous suicide bombings of the Uzbek Prosecutor General’s office and the U.S. and Israeli Embassies in Tashkent. In September 2007, German authorities disrupted an IJU plot to attack U.S. military bases and personnel by detaining and prosecuting three IJU operatives, including two German citizens. Foreign terrorist fighters from Germany, Turkey, and elsewhere in Europe continued to travel to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area to join IJU to fight against U.S. and Coalition Forces. In 2013, two IJU videos showed attacks against an American military base in Afghanistan and an IJU sniper shooting an Afghan soldier at a base in Afghanistan.
According to statements and photos released by the group, IJU participated in the April-September 2015 Taliban siege of Kunduz city. At least 13 police were killed in the attacks and according to a UN report, some 848 civilians were killed or wounded. In June 2015, IJU claimed it carried out multiple attacks in eastern Afghanistan with al-Qa’ida (AQ) and the Taliban, including an attack on an Afghan military base that killed “many apostate soldiers.” On July 22, the IJU stated it had expanded its base of operations and was engaged in activity in southern Afghanistan (in the provinces of Paktika, Paktia, and Nangarhar) and in Badakhshan and Kunduz. On August 20, IJU followed AQ and pledged allegiance to Mullah Mansour, the newly appointed leader of the Taliban.
Strength: 100 to 200 members
Location/Area of Operation: Based in Pakistan and active in Afghanistan; IJU members are also scattered throughout Central Asia and Europe.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
ISLAMIC MOVEMENT OF UZBEKISTAN
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 25, 2000, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) seeks to overthrow the Uzbek government and establish an Islamist state. For most of the past decade, however, the group has recruited members from other Central Asian states and Europe and has focused its fighting against international forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The IMU has had a decade-long relationship with al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
In August 2015, IMU leader Usman Ghazi announced the group’s allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. IMU’s leadership is based in Pakistan’s tribal areas and operates primarily along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and in northern Afghanistan. Top IMU leaders have integrated themselves into the Taliban’s shadow government in Afghanistan’s northern provinces and have established training camps in the region. IMU members may have also traveled to Syria to fight with violent extremist groups.
Activities: Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, the IMU has predominantly been focused on attacks against international forces in Afghanistan. In late 2009, NATO forces reported an increase in IMU-affiliated foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan. In 2010, IMU claimed responsibility for the September 19 ambush that killed 25 Tajik troops in Tajikistan. On October 15, 2011, IMU claimed responsibility for a suicide assault on a U.S.-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Panjshir Province, Afghanistan, that killed two Afghan civilians and wounded two security guards. On June 8, 2014, IMU claimed responsibility for participating in an attack on Karachi’s international airport that resulted in the deaths of at least 39 people.
Throughout 2015, the IMU actively threatened the Afghan government, specifically in the northern part of the country. In April, the group released a video showing IMU members beheading an individual they claimed to be an Afghan soldier and threatened to behead Hazara (a historically persecuted ethnic group in Afghanistan that follows Shia Islam) hostages, in supposed retaliation for the Afghan security forces capture of several female members of IMU.
Also in 2015, Uzbek refugee Fazliddin Kurbanov was convicted and sentenced by a U.S. federal court to 25 years in prison for planning a bomb attack in Idaho. Kurbanov had been in contact with members of IMU online, seeking advice on how to make explosives and formulate attack plans. He discussed attacking U.S. military bases, including the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Strength: 200 to 300 members
Location/Area of Operation: Central Asia, Iran, and South Asia
Funding and External Aid: The IMU receives support from a large Uzbek diaspora, terrorist organizations, and donors from Europe, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East.
ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND THE LEVANT
aka al-Qa’ida in Iraq; al-Qa’ida Group of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qa’ida Group of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida in Mesopotamia; al-Qa’ida in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida of the Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Tawhid; Jam’at al-Tawhid Wa’al-Jihad; Tanzeem Qa’idat al Jihad/Bilad al Raafidaini; Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn; The Monotheism and Jihad Group; The Organization Base of Jihad/Country of the Two Rivers; The Organization Base of Jihad/Mesopotamia; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base of Operations in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base of Operations in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of Jihad’s Base in the Country of the Two Rivers; al-Zarqawi Network; Islamic State in Iraq; Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham; Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; ad-Dawla al-Islamiyya fi al-’Iraq wa-sh-Sham; Daesh; Dawla al Islamiya; Al-Furqan Establishment for Media Production; Islamic State; ISIL; ISIS
Description: Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 17, 2004. In the 1990s, Jordanian militant Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi organized a terrorist group called al-Tawhid wal-Jihad to oppose the presence of U.S. and Western military forces in the Middle East and the West’s support for, and the existence of, Israel. In late 2004, he joined al-Qa’ida (AQ) and pledged allegiance to Usama bin Laden, at which point al-Tawhid wal-Jihad became known as AQI. Zarqawi traveled to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and led his group against U.S. and Coalition Forces until his death in June 2006.
In October 2006, AQI publicly re-named itself the Islamic State in Iraq and in 2013 it adopted the moniker Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to express its regional ambitions as it expanded its operations to include the Syrian conflict. On May 15, 2014, the Department of State amended the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation of AQI to add several aliases, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and to make ISIL the organization’s primary name. ISIL is led by Specially Designated Global Terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri, aka Abu Du’a. In June 2014, ISIL leader al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate.
Activities: As AQI, ISIL conducted numerous high profile attacks, including IED attacks against U.S. military personnel and Iraqi infrastructure, videotaped beheadings of Americans, suicide bombings against both military and civilian targets, and rocket attacks. ISIL perpetrates the majority of its suicide and mass casualty bombings in Iraq using foreign and Iraqi operatives. In 2014, ISIL was responsible for the majority of deaths of the more than 12,000 Iraqi civilians killed that year. ISIL was heavily involved in the fighting in Syria during 2014, including against other militant opposition groups, and participated in a number of kidnapping incidents against civilians, including aid workers and reporters.
ISIL remained active throughout 2015, conducting several large scale attacks across the globe. In January alone, an ISIL sympathizer killed a policewoman and attacked a Jewish supermarket in Vincennes, France, leaving five dead, including the policewoman. In November, ISIL detonated two suicide bombs in Beirut, leaving 43 dead and an estimated 239 wounded. Also in November, ISIL carried out seven coordinated attacks in Paris – outside restaurants, at a major sporting event attended by French President Francois Hollande and at a rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall – killing at least 130 and injuring more than 350 others. In December 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 injured when two ISIL supporters opened fire on the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California in an act of domestic terrorism.
In Iraq, ISIL’s use of military equipment captured in the course of fighting gave ISIL greater capabilities in line with a more conventional military force, including the reported use of eastern bloc tanks, artillery, and self-developed unmanned aerial drones. According to estimates from the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), acts of terrorism and violence killed more than 7,500 civilians and injured more than 13,800 in 2015. (Please see the Iraq report in Chapter 2, Country Reports on Terrorism, for a list of representative attacks.)
ISIL also committed multiple brutal murders against hostages and other victims in 2015, including beheading Japanese citizens Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto in January in Syria; killing U.S. aid worker Kayla Mueller in February after holding her captive in Syria; burning downed-Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh while locked in a cage in Syria in February; and the execution-style shootings of Norwegian Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad and Chinese Fan Jinghui in Syria in November.
Secretary Kerry has asserted that, in his judgment, ISIL is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims; and was also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.
In 2015, ISIL abducted, systematically raped, and abused thousands of women and children, some as young as eight years of age. Women and children were sold and enslaved, distributed to ISIL fighters as spoils of war, forced into marriage and domestic servitude, or subjected to physical and sexual abuse. ISIL established “markets” where women and children were sold with price tags attached and has published a list of rules on how to treat female slaves once captured. (For further information, refer to the Trafficking in Persons Report 2015, http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2015/index.htm.)
Although ISIL has not claimed responsibility, ISIL was likely responsible for several attacks involving chemical-filled munitions in Iraq and Syria, including a sulfur mustard attack in Marea on August 21, 2015. The United States has been proactively working with our allies to dismantle this chemical weapons capability, as well as deny ISIL and other non-state actors access to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN)-useable materials and expertise through interdictions and strengthening the ability of regional governments to detect, disrupt, and respond effectively to suspected CBRN activity.
Strength: Estimates at year’s end suggested between 19,000 and 25,000.
Location/Area of Operation: ISIL’s operations are predominately in Iraq and Syria, but 2015 witnessed the continued creation of external ISIL branches based on preexisting governance boundaries. In 2015, ISIL claimed affiliates in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (Khorasan) region, northern Nigeria, and the North Caucasus region. In 2014, ISIL had claimed affiliates in Algeria, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. In addition, supporters and associates worldwide inspired by the group’s ideology may be operating without direction from ISIL central leadership.
Funding and External Aid: ISIL receives most of its funding from a variety of businesses and criminal activities within areas it controls in Iraq and Syria. Criminal activities include robbing banks, smuggling oil, looting and selling antiquities and other goods, as well as extortion, human trafficking, and kidnapping for ransom.
ISIL SINAI PROVINCE
aka Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis; Ansar Jerusalem; Supporters of Jerusalem; Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes; Ansar Beit al-Maqdis; ISIL Sinai Province; Islamic State-Sinai Province; Islamic State in the Sinai; Jamaat Ansar Beit al-Maqdis; Jamaat Ansar Beit al-Maqdis fi Sinaa; Sinai Province; Supporters of the Holy Place; The State of Sinai; Wilayat Sinai
Description: Originally designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on April 9, 2014, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) rose to prominence in 2011 following the uprisings in Egypt. It is responsible for attacks against Israeli and Egyptian government and security elements, and against tourists in Egypt. In November 2014, ABM officially declared allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In September 2015, the Department of State amended ABM’s designation to add the primary name ISIL Sinai Province (ISIL-SP).
Activities: ISIL-SP has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Israeli interests, including a July 2012 attack against a Sinai pipeline exporting gas to Israel and an August 2012 rocket attack on the southern Israeli city of Eilat. In September 2012, ISIL-SP militants attacked an Israeli border patrol, killing one soldier and injuring another.
In October 2013, ISIL-SP claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing targeting the South Sinai Security Directorate in el Tor, which killed three people and injured more than 45. In January 2014, ISIL-SP successfully downed an Egyptian military helicopter in a missile attack, killing five soldiers on board. In 2014 the group also claimed responsibility for four attacks involving car bombs and hand grenades in Cairo, which left six people dead and more than 70 wounded.
ISIL-SP has targeted government officials, including the September 2013 attempted assassination of the Egyptian Interior Minister, and the January 2014 assassination of the head of the Interior Minister’s technical office. In February 2014, ISIL-SP claimed responsibility for the bombing of a tour bus in the Sinai Peninsula, killing the Egyptian driver and three South Korean tourists; the attack was ISIL-SP’s first against foreign tourists.
In October 2014, ISIL-SP beheaded four individuals who it claimed spied for Israel. Also in October, ISIL-SP claimed an attack on a security checkpoint that killed 33 Egyptian soldiers and wounded 26 others, including civilians.
In April 2015, ISIL-Sinai claimed responsibility for three separate attacks on Egyptian security forces on the same day in Northern Sinai, which claimed the lives of 12 people, including one civilian. On November 4, ISIL-SP released an audio recording in which it claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian passenger plane carrying 224 people as it flew from the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, Russia on October 31. All 224 passengers and seven crew members were killed. ISIL-SP also claimed a suicide bombing that killed four Egyptian police officers and wounded at least five civilians in northern Sinai in November 2015.
On August 5, 2015, ISIL-SP claimed responsibility for the July 22 abduction of Croatian citizen Tomislav Salopek, who worked as a topographer for a French energy company. Salopek was kidnapped in the western desert, approximately 20 km west of the Cairo suburb of 6th of October City. ISIL-SP demanded the release of all female Muslims in Egyptian prisons within 48 hours in exchange for Salopek. Salopek was ultimately beheaded and ISIL-SP claimed responsibility for the killing.
Strength: ISIL-SP is estimated to have several hundred fighters in the Sinai Peninsula and affiliated cells in the Nile Valley.
Location/Area of Operation: ISIL-SP operations are based out of the Sinai Peninsula, but its reach extends to Cairo, the Egyptian Nile Valley, as well as possibly more than 200 militants in Gaza.
Funding and External Aid: Although the source of ISIL-SP’s funding is largely unknown, there are indications that it may receive funding from external actors.
JAMA’ATU ANSARUL MUSLIMINA FI BILADIS-SUDAN (ANSARU)
aka Ansaru; Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan; Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa; JAMBS; Jama’atu Ansaril Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 14, 2013, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina fi Biladis-Sudan (Ansaru) publicly splintered from Boko Haram in January 2012. Ansaru’s leadership structure remained unclear, though it is known that Khalid al-Barnawi, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, held one of the top leadership positions within the organization. Since its inception, Ansaru has targeted civilians, including westerners, and Nigerian government and security officials. Ansaru’s stated goals are to defend Muslims throughout all of Africa by fighting against the Nigerian government and international interests. While Ansaru claims to identify with Boko Haram’s objectives and struggle, it has criticized the group for killing fellow Muslims.
Activities: In November 2012, Ansaru raided a police station in Abuja, killing Nigerian police officers and freeing detained terrorists from prison. In January 2013, Ansaru attacked a convoy of Nigerian peacekeepers on their way to Mali.
Ansaru has also carried out multiple kidnapping operations targeting civilians. In late 2012, Ansaru kidnapped a French engineer claiming the action was justified due to French involvement in Mali. Similarly, in early 2013, Ansaru kidnapped and subsequently executed seven international construction workers.
Ansaru did not publicly claim any attacks in 2014 and 2015.
Strength: Total membership is unknown. Given its narrower scope of operations, it is estimated that Ansaru’s membership is much smaller than that of Boko Haram’s.
Location/Area of Operation: Northern Nigeria
Funding and External Aid: Ansaru maintained a working relationship with Boko Haram and during 2014 may have rejoined with the larger group.
aka the Army of Mohammed; Mohammed’s Army; Tehrik ul-Furqaan; Khuddam-ul-Islam; Khudamul Islam; Kuddam e Islami; Jaish-i-Mohammed
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 26, 2001, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) is based in Pakistan. JEM was founded in early 2000 by former senior leader of Harakat ul-Mujahideen, Masood Azhar, upon his release from prison in India in exchange for 155 hijacked Indian Airlines hostages. The group’s aim is to annex Indian-administered Kashmir to Pakistan and expel international forces from Afghanistan. JEM has openly declared war against the United States.
Activities: JEM has continued to operate openly in parts of Pakistan despite the 2002 ban on its activities. Since its founding, JEM has conducted many fatal terrorist attacks in the region. JEM claimed responsibility for several suicide car bombings in Indian-administered Kashmir, including an October 2001 suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly building in Srinagar that killed more than 30 people. The Indian government has publicly implicated JEM, along with Lashkar e-Tayyiba, in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament that killed nine and injured 18. In 2002, Pakistani authorities arrested and convicted a JEM member for the abduction and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl. Pakistani authorities reportedly suspect that JEM members may have been involved in the 2002 anti-Christian attacks in Islamabad, Murree, and Taxila that killed two Americans. In December 2003, Pakistan implicated JEM members in two assassination attempts against then-President Pervez Musharraf. In 2006, JEM claimed responsibility for a number of attacks, including the killing of several Indian police officials in the Indian-administered Kashmir capital of Srinagar. In December 2013, JEM threatened to kill Indian politician Narendra Modi if he were elected Prime Minister. In 2015, JEM launched three small-scale attacks targeting Pakistani army camps; approximately five to 10 people were killed in the attacks.
Strength: JEM has at least several hundred armed supporters in Pakistan.
Location/Area of Operation: Kashmir in India; Afghanistan; and Pakistan, particularly southern Punjab.
Funding and External Aid: To avoid asset seizures by the Pakistani government, since 2007 JEM has withdrawn funds from bank accounts and invested in legal businesses, such as commodity trading, real estate, and the production of consumer goods. JEM also collects funds through donation requests in magazines and pamphlets, sometimes using charitable causes to solicit donations.
JAYSH RIJAL AL-TARIQ AL-NAQSHABANDI (JRTN)
aka Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi; Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order; Armed Men of the Naqshabandi Order; Naqshbandi Army; Naqshabandi Army; Men of the Army of al-Naqshbandia Way; Jaysh Rajal al-Tariqah al-Naqshbandia; JRTN; JRN; AMNO.
Description: Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi (JRTN) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in September 2015. The group first announced insurgency operations against international forces in Iraq in December 2006, in response to the execution of Saddam Hussein. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, former vice president of Saddam Hussein’s Revolutionary Council, leads the group, which consists of former Baath Party officials, military personnel, and Sunni nationalists. Al-Douri was once one of the most-wanted men in Iraq by Coalition Forces. JRTN’s goals are to overthrow the government of Iraq, install a new Ba’athist regime, and to end external influence in Baghdad. JRTN believes in Iraqi and Arab secular nationalism and Naqshabandi Sufi Islam ideals.
Activities: Since its founding in 2006, JRTN claimed and distributed numerous videos of attacks on U.S. bases and forces until the 2011 withdrawal of Coalition Forces from Iraq. JRTN is also known to have used vehicle IEDs against Iraqi government security forces. JRTN’s influence grew by exploiting the disintegration of other insurgent groups.
In 2014, JRTN joined military forces with ISIL in opposition to the Iraqi government. The group played a major role in the capture of Mosul from Iraqi security forces in 2014.
Strength: 1,500 to 5,000 as of 2011
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily Iraq
Funding and External Aid: JRTN receives funding from former regime members, major tribal figures in Iraq, and external contributions from the Gulf.
JEMAAH ANSHORUT TAUHID
aka JAT; Jemmah Ansharut Tauhid; Jem’mah Ansharut Tauhid; Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid; Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid; Laskar 99
Description: The Department of State designated Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 13, 2012. Formed in 2008, the Indonesia-based group seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia, and has carried out numerous attacks on Indonesian government personnel, police, military, and civilians. In 2011, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the founder and leader of JAT, was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in organizing a militant training camp in Aceh. Ba’asyir is also the co-founder and former leader of Jemaah Islamiya (JI). JAT maintains ties to JI and other terrorist groups in Southeast Asia.
Activities: JAT has conducted multiple attacks targeting civilians and Indonesian officials, resulting in the deaths of numerous Indonesian police and innocent civilians. In October 2012, authorities blamed JAT for torturing and killing two police officers investigating an alleged terrorist camp linked to JAT in Poso. In December 2012, four police officers were killed and two wounded in an attack by suspected local JAT members in Central Sulawesi.
JAT continued engaging in terrorist activity throughout 2015. Since Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014, many JAT members have joined Indonesia’s ISIL-affiliated groups, while others have joined al-Qa’ida-linked groups.
Strength: JAT is estimated to have several thousand supporters and members.
Location/Area of Operation: Based in Indonesia
Funding and External Aid: JAT raises funds through membership donations, cyber hacking, and legitimate business activities. JAT has also robbed banks and carried out other illicit activities to fund the purchase of assault weapons, ammunition, explosives, and bomb-making materials.
aka Jemaa Islamiyah; Jema’a Islamiyah; Jemaa Islamiyya; Jema’a Islamiyya; Jemaa
Islamiyyah; Jema’a Islamiyyah; Jemaah Islamiah; Jemaah Islamiyah; Jema’ah Islamiyah; Jemaah Islamiyyah; Jema’ah Islamiyyah; JI
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 23, 2002, Jemaah Islamiya (JI) is a Southeast Asia-based terrorist group co-founded by Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Ba’asyir. The group seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the southern Philippines. More than 400 JI operatives have been captured since 2002, including operations chief and al-Qa’ida associate Hambali. In 2006, several members connected to JI’s 2005 suicide attack in Bali were arrested. In 2007, Muhammad Naim (aka Zarkasih) and JI military commander Abu Dujana were arrested, and in 2008, two senior JI operatives were arrested in Malaysia and a JI-linked cell was broken up in Sumatra. In February 2010, the Indonesian National Police discovered and disbanded a violent extremist training base in Aceh in which former members of JI and other Indonesian violent extremist groups participated. The police raid resulted in the capture of more than 60 militants, including former JI operatives, and led authorities to former JI senior operative Dulmatin, one of the planners of the 2002 Bali bombings. In March 2010, Dulmatin was killed outside of Jakarta. In January 2011, JI member Umar Patek was captured in Abbottabad, Pakistan and put on trial in Indonesia, where he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison in June 2012 for his role in the Bali bombing. In January 2015, JI bomb-maker Zulfiki bin Hir (aka Marwan) was killed in the Philippines in a raid.
Activities: Significant JI attacks include the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed more than 200 people, including seven U.S. citizens; the August 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta; the September 2004 bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta; and the October 2005 suicide bombing in Bali, which left 26 dead, including three suicide bombers.
On July 17, 2009, a JI faction led by Noordin Mohamed Top claimed responsibility for suicide attacks at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta that killed seven people and injured more than 50, including seven Americans.
In November 2014, Indonesian authorities released former JI bomb-maker Taufik Abdul Halim from prison after he served a 12-year sentence for attempting to bomb a Jakarta shopping mall in 2001.
In January 2015 in the southern Philippines, 44 Philippines policemen and three civilians were killed when a police anti-terrorism squad was ambushed while conducting a raid in Mamasapano in the southern island of Mindanao. That same month, it was reported that JI-linked extremists had attempted to carry out attacks during a papal visit to Manila and Tacloban. In October, two senior JI leaders – Zarkashi and JI military leader Abu Dujana – were released from prison after serving seven years in Indonesian jails. In December, police in East Java arrested four individuals associated with JI involved in manufacturing firearms for terrorist activities.
Strength: Estimates vary from 500 to several thousand.
Location/Area of Operation: Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines
Funding and External Aid: JI fundraises through membership donations and criminal and business activities. It has received financial, ideological, and logistical support from Middle Eastern contacts and illegitimate charities and organizations.
aka People’s Resistance Movement of Iran (PMRI); Jonbesh-i Moqavemat-i-Mardom-i Iran; Popular Resistance Movement of Iran; Soldiers of God; Fedayeen-e-Islam; Former Jundallah of Iran; Jundullah; Jondullah; Jundollah; Jondollah; Jondallah; Army of God (God’s Army); Baloch Peoples Resistance Movement (BPRM)
Description: Jundallah was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 4, 2010. Since its inception in 2003, Jundallah, which operates primarily in the province of Sistan va Balochistan of Iran, and the Baloch areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, has engaged in numerous attacks, killing and maiming scores of Iranian civilians and government officials. Jundallah’s stated goals are to secure recognition of Balochi cultural, economic, and political rights from the Government of Iran, and to spread awareness of the plight of the Baloch situation.
Activities: In March 2006, Jundallah attacked a motorcade in eastern Iran, which included the deputy head of the Iranian Red Crescent Security Department, who was taken hostage. The Governor of Zahedan, his deputy, and five other officials were wounded, seven others were kidnapped, and more than 20 were killed in the attack. Jundallah claimed responsibility for an October 2009 suicide bomb attack in a marketplace in the city of Pishin in the Sistan va Balochistan province that killed more than 40 people and was reportedly the deadliest terrorist attack in Iran since the 1980s. In a statement on its website, Jundallah also claimed the December 15, 2010 suicide bomb attack inside the Iman Hussein Mosque in Chabahar, which killed an estimated 35 to 40 civilians and wounded 60 to 100. In July 2010, Jundallah attacked the Grand Mosque in Zahedan, killing approximately 30 and injuring an estimated 300. There were no known attacks attributed to Jundallah in 2014 or 2015.
Location/Area of Operation: Jundallah has traditionally operated throughout the Sistan va Balochistan province in southeastern Iran and the greater Balochistan area of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka American Friends of the United Yeshiva; American Friends of Yeshivat Rav Meir; Committee for the Safety of the Roads; Dikuy Bogdim; DOV; Forefront of the Idea; Friends of the Jewish Idea Yeshiva; Jewish Legion; Judea Police; Judean Congress; Kach; Kahane; Kahane Lives; Kahane Tzadak; Kahane.org; Kahanetzadak.com; Kfar Tapuah Fund; Koach; Meir’s Youth; New Kach Movement; Newkach.org; No’ar Meir; Repression of Traitors; State of Judea; Sword of David; The Committee Against Racism and Discrimination (CARD); The Hatikva Jewish Identity Center; The International Kahane Movement; The Jewish Idea Yeshiva; The Judean Legion; The Judean Voice; The Qomemiyut Movement; The Rabbi Meir David Kahane Memorial Fund; The Voice of Judea; The Way of the Torah; The Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea; Yeshivat Harav Meir
Description: Kach – the precursor to Kahane Chai – was founded by radical Israeli-American Rabbi Meir Kahane, with the aim of restoring Greater Israel, the term generally used to refer to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Its offshoot, Kahane Chai (translation: “Kahane Lives”), was founded by Meir Kahane’s son Binyamin, following his father’s 1990 assassination in the United States. Both organizations were designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations on October 8, 1997. The group has attempted to gain seats in the Israeli Knesset over the past several decades but has won just one seat in 1984.
Activities: Kahane Chai has harassed and threatened Arabs, Palestinians, and Israeli government officials, and has vowed revenge for the death of Binyamin Kahane and his wife. The group is suspected of involvement in a number of low-level attacks since the start of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000. Since 2003, Kahane Chai activists have physically intimidated Israeli and Palestinian government officials who favored the dismantlement of Israeli settlements. There were no known Kahane Chai attacks during 2015.
Strength: Kahane Chai’s core membership is believed to be fewer than 100. The group’s membership and support networks are overwhelmingly composed of Israeli citizens that live mostly in West Bank settlements.
Location/Area of Operation: Israel and West Bank settlements, particularly Qiryat Arba in Hebron
Funding and External Aid: Kajame Cjao receives support from sympathizers in the United States and Europe.
aka Hizballah Brigades; Hizballah Brigades in Iraq; Hizballah Brigades-Iraq; Kata’ib Hezbollah; Khata’ib Hezbollah; Khata’ib Hizballah; Khattab Hezballah; Hizballah Brigades-Iraq of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Kata’ib Hizballah Fi al-Iraq; Katibat Abu Fathel al-A’abas; Katibat Zayd Ebin Ali; Katibut Karbalah
Description: Formed in 2006 and Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on July 2, 2009, Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) is a radical Shia Islamist group with an anti-Western outlook and violent extremist ideology. Prior to the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011, the group conducted attacks against Iraqi, U.S., and Coalition targets in Iraq, and has threatened the lives of Iraqi politicians and civilians supporting the legitimate political process in Iraq. The group is notable for its extensive use of media operations and propaganda, including filming and releasing videos of attacks. KH has ideological ties to and receives support from Iran.
Activities: KH has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks since 2007, including IED bombings, rocket propelled grenade attacks, and sniper operations. In 2007, KH gained notoriety from attacks against U.S. and Coalition Forces in Iraq. In June 2011, five U.S. soldiers were killed in a rocket attack in Baghdad when KH assailants fired between three and five rockets at U.S. military base Camp Victory. The group remained active in 2015, participating in fighting in Iraq, and also in Syria in support of the Asad regime. In June and July 2015, the group broadcast its recruitment contact information and an appeal for donations on a pro-Iran channel and on YouTube in an effort to recruit fighters to Syria and Iraq.
Strength: Membership is estimated as at least 400 individuals.
Location/Area of Operation: Predominately Iraq-based, but also participated in fighting alongside pro-Asad regime forces in Syria. Traditionally, KH conducted the majority of its operations in Baghdad, but its operations have expanded across Iraq in response to ISIL’s territorial gains.
Funding and External Aid: KH is heavily dependent on support from Iran.
KURDISTAN WORKERS’ PARTY
aka the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress; the Freedom and Democracy Congress of Kurdistan; KADEK; Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan; the People’s Defense Force; Halu Mesru Savunma Kuvveti; Kurdistan People’s Congress; People’s Congress of Kurdistan; KONGRA-GEL
Description: Founded by Abdullah Ocalan in 1978 as a Marxist-Leninist separatist organization, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The group, composed primarily of Turkish Kurds, launched a campaign of violence in 1984. The PKK’s original goal was to establish an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey. In recent years, however, the PKK has spoken more about autonomy within a Turkish state that guarantees Kurdish cultural and linguistic rights.
Activities: In the early 1990s, the PKK moved beyond rural-based insurgent activities to include urban terrorism. Anatolia became the scene of significant violence, with some estimates suggesting at least 40,000 casualties. Following his capture in 1999, Ocalan announced a “peace initiative,” ordering members to refrain from violence and requesting dialogue with Ankara on Kurdish issues. Ocalan’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment; he remains the symbolic leader of the group. The PKK foreswore violence until June 2004, when its hardline militant wing took control and renounced the self-imposed ceasefire of the previous five years. Striking over the border from bases within Iraq, the PKK engaged in terrorist attacks in eastern and western Turkey. In 2009, the Turkish government and the PKK resumed peace negotiations, but talks broke down after the PKK carried out an attack in July 2011 that left 13 Turkish soldiers dead. In 2012, the PKK claimed responsibility for multiple car bombings resulting in the deaths of at least 10 people. Primary targets included Turkish government security forces, local Turkish officials, and villagers who oppose the organization in Turkey.
Between January and mid-July 2015, the PKK carried out small-scale armed attacks against Turkey’s security forces and military bases. A ceasefire, negotiated between 2012 and 2014, ended in July 2015 when the PKK killed two security personnel. Government reports indicate that since July 2015, more than 300 security personnel have died from PKK-attributed attacks.
Strength: Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 members; 3,000 to 3,500 are located in northern Iraq.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Europe.
Funding and External Aid: The PKK receives financial support from the large Kurdish diaspora in Europe and from criminal activity.
aka al Mansooreen; Al Mansoorian; Army of the Pure; Army of the Pure and Righteous; Army of the Righteous; Lashkar e-Toiba; Lashkar-i-Taiba; Paasban-e-Ahle-Hadis; Paasban-e-Kashmir; Paasban-i-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Kashmir; Jamaat-ud-Dawa; JUD; Jama’at al-Dawa; Jamaat ud-Daawa; Jamaat ul-Dawah; Jamaat-ul-Dawa; Jama’at-i-Dawat; Jamaiat-ud-Dawa; Jama’at-ud-Da’awah; Jama’at-ud-Da’awa; Jamaati-ud-Dawa; Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq; Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation; FiF; Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation; Falah-e-Insaniyat; Falah-i-Insaniyat; Falah Insania; Welfare of Humanity; Humanitarian Welfare Foundation; Human Welfare Foundation; Al-Anfal Trust; Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool; Tehrik-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awwal
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on December 26, 2001, Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) is one of the largest and most proficient of the anti-India-focused terrorist groups. LeT formed in the late 1980s as the terrorist wing of the Islamist extremist organization Markaz ud Dawa ul-Irshad, a Pakistan-based Islamic fundamentalist mission organization and charity originally formed to oppose the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. Led by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, LeT is not connected to any political party. Shortly after LeT was designated as an FTO, Saeed changed its name to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and began humanitarian projects to circumvent restrictions. LeT disseminates its message through JUD’s media outlets. In addition to the creation of JUD, LeT has repeatedly changed its name in an effort to avoid sanctions; other LeT aliases and front groups include Al-Anfal Trust, Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, and Tehrik-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awwal. Elements of LeT and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JEM) combined with other groups to mount such attacks as “The Save Kashmir Movement.” The Pakistani government banned LeT in January 2002 following the 2008 Mumbai attack. LeT and Saeed continue to spread terrorist ideology and virulent hate speech condemning the India, Israel, the United States, and other perceived enemies.
Activities: LeT has conducted operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Jammu and Kashmir since 1993; several high profile attacks inside India; and operations against Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. The group uses assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, explosives, and rocket-propelled grenades.
LeT was responsible for the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai against luxury hotels, a Jewish center, a train station, and a popular café that killed 166 people – including six American citizens – and injured more than 300. India has charged 38 people in the case; most are at large and thought to be in Pakistan.
In March 2010, Pakistani-American businessman David Headley pled guilty in a U.S. court to charges related to his role in the November 2008 LeT attacks in Mumbai, as well as to charges related to a separate plot to bomb the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. In May 2011, Headley was a witness in the trial of Tahawwur Rana, who was charged and prosecuted successfully for providing material support to LeT; he was sentenced to 14 years in prison in January 2013. In December 2015, Headley agreed to testify on behalf of the prosecution via videoconference in the trial of Zabiuddin Ansari in India.
LeT was responsible for the May 23, 2014 attack on the Indian consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. Throughout the course of 2014-2015, LeT terrorists also engaged in repeated gun battles with Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
LeT was behind a July 2015 attack in Gurdaspur, Punjab, which killed seven people. In August 2015, operatives affiliated with LeT attacked Indian security forces in Udhampur, Jammu, and Kashmir. In December 2015, LeT carried out an attack on a paramilitary convoy after it left Srinagar, Kashmir when three militants opened fire on the convoy, injuring one civilian and seven Indian military personnel.
Strength: The precise size of LeT is unknown, but it has several thousand members in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Pakistani Punjab; Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Provinces in Pakistan; and in the southern Doda, Jammu, Kashmir regions in India.
Location/Area of Operation: LeT has global connections and a strong operational network throughout South Asia. LeT maintains a number of facilities, including training camps, schools, and medical clinics in Pakistan.
Funding and External Aid: LeT collects donations in Pakistan and the Gulf as well as from other donors in the Middle East and Europe – particularly the UK. In 2015, LeT front organizations continued to openly fundraise in Pakistan and solicited donations in the Pakistani press.
LASHKAR I JHANGVI
aka Army of Jhangvi; Lashkar e Jhangvi; Lashkar-i-Jhangvi
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 30, 2003, Lashkar I Jhangvi (LJ) is the terrorist offshoot of the Sunni Deobandi sectarian group Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan. LJ focuses primarily on anti-Shia attacks and other attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was banned by the Government of Pakistan in August 2001 as part of an effort to rein in sectarian violence. Many of its members then sought refuge in Afghanistan with the Taliban, with whom they had existing ties. After the collapse of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, LJ members became active in aiding other terrorists; they provided safe houses, false identities, and protection in Pakistani cities, including Karachi, Peshawar, and Rawalpindi. LJ works closely with the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan.
Activities: LJ specializes in armed attacks and bombings and has admitted to numerous killings of Shia religious and community leaders in Pakistan. In January 1999, the group attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab Province. Media reports linked LJ to attacks on Christian targets in Pakistan, including a March 2002 grenade assault on the Protestant International Church in Islamabad that killed two U.S. citizens.
In January 2014, at least 24 people were killed and 40 others wounded in a bombing that targeted a bus carrying Shia pilgrims. LJ claimed responsibility for the attack. In July 2015, LJ leader Malik Ishaq was killed in a shootout with police in Punjab, Pakistan. Ishaq had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in sectarian killings. LJ also claimed responsibility for a December 2015 suicide bombing targeting a market in the predominantly Shia town of Parachinar, Pakistan; at least 23 people were killed and 50 others wounded.
Strength: Membership is assessed in the low hundreds.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in Pakistan’s Punjab province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Karachi, and Baluchistan.
Funding and External Aid: Funding comes from wealthy donors in Pakistan, as well as the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia. The group engages in criminal activity to fund its activities, including extortion.
LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM
aka Ellalan Force; Tamil Tigers
Description: Founded in 1976 and designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a Tamil secessionist group in Sri Lanka. Despite its military defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan government in 2009, the LTTE’s international network of sympathizers and financial support persists.
Activities: Although the LTTE has been largely inactive since its military defeat in 2009, in the past it was responsible for an integrated battlefield insurgent strategy that targeted key installations and senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders. In early 2009, Sri Lankan forces recaptured the LTTE’s key strongholds, including their capital of Kilinochchi. In May 2009, government forces defeated the last LTTE fighting forces, killed LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and other members of the LTTE leadership and military command, and declared military victory.
There have been no known attacks in Sri Lanka that could verifiably be attributed to the LTTE since the end of the war, but a total of 13 LTTE supporters, several of whom had allegedly planned attacks against U.S. and Israeli diplomatic facilities in India, were arrested in Malaysia in 2014. Additional LTTE members were arrested in Malaysia and India in 2015, one of whom was accused of exhorting other Sri Lankans to fund and revive the LTTE.
Strength: Exact strength is unknown
Location/Area of Operation: Sri Lanka and India
Funding and External Aid: LTTE’s financial network of support continued operations in 2015; the group used its international contacts and the large Tamil diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funds, and other needed supplies. The group employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for its activities.
MUJAHIDIN SHURA COUNCIL IN THE ENVIRONS OF JERUSALEM
aka MSC; Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem; Mujahideen Shura Council; Shura al-Mujahedin Fi Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis; Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin; Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen; Magles Shoura al-Mujahddin
Description: The Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on August 19, 2014. The MSC is a consolidation of several Salafi terrorist groups based in Gaza that have claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Israel since the group’s founding in 2012.
Activities: On August 13, 2013, MSC claimed responsibility for a rocket attack targeting the southern Israeli city of Eilat. Previously, MSC claimed responsibility for the March 21, 2013 attack in which Gaza-based militants fired at least five rockets at Sderot, Israel; and the April 17, 2013 attack in which two rockets were fired at Eilat, Israel. There were no known MSC attacks in 2015.
Strength: MSC is estimated to have several hundred fighters.
Location/Area of Operation: MSC operates in Gaza.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka al-Mulathamun Brigade; al-Muwaqqi’un bil-Dima; Those Signed in Blood Battalion; Signatories in Blood; Those who Sign in Blood; Witnesses in Blood; Signed-in-Blood Battalion; Masked Men Brigade; Khaled Abu al-Abbas Brigade; al-Mulathamun Masked Ones Brigade; al-Murabitoun; The Sentinels
Description: The al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 19, 2013. Originally part of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), AMB became a separate organization in late 2012 after its leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, split from AQIM. In his first public statement after the split, Belmokhtar threatened to fight against Western interests and announced the creation of the sub-battalion, “Those Who Sign in Blood.” In August 2013, AMB and the Mali-based Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) announced that the two organizations would merge under the name “al-Murabitoun.” In late 2015, ABM announced a re-merger with AQIM.
Activities: AMB’s Those Who Sign in Blood sub-battalion claimed responsibility for the January 2013 attack against the Tiguentourine gas facility near In Amenas, in southeastern Algeria. More than 800 people were taken hostage during the four-day siege, resulting in the deaths of 39 civilians, including three U.S. citizens. Seven other Americans escaped.
Before their merger in August 2013, AMB cooperated with MUJAO in twin suicide bombings in northern Niger on a Nigerien military base in Agadez and a French uranium mine in Arlit in May 2013. The coordinated attacks killed at least 20 people, including all of the attackers. AMB’s attacks continued in 2014. In February, AMB claimed responsibility for attacking French forces with rockets near the Timbuktu airport.
In March 2015, AMB claimed responsibility for an attack at La Terrasse restaurant in Bamako, Mali. A French national, a Belgian security officer, and three Malians were killed when a masked gunman fired indiscriminately on the restaurant. Nine others were also wounded in the attack. In April, AMB claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside a UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) camp in Ansongo, killing three civilians and wounding nine Nigerian peacekeepers. AMB also claimed the August hotel siege in central Mali; 17 people were killed, including four Malian soldiers and nine civilians, five of whom worked for MINUSMA. In November, the group again targeted a hotel. Gunmen belonging to AMB invaded the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, taking more than 170 people hostage, some of whom were American. As many as 27 people were killed in the attack; one of those killed was an American international development worker.
Strength: Membership levels of AMB are unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: Algeria, Libya, Mali, and Niger
Funding and External Aid: In addition to the support it may receive through its connections to other terrorist organizations in the region, AMB is likely funded through kidnapping for ransoms and other criminal activities.
NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY
aka ELN; Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional
Description: The National Liberation Army (ELN) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The ELN is a Colombian Marxist-Leninist group formed in 1964. It is primarily rural-based, although it has several urban units. The ELN remains focused on attacking economic infrastructure – in particular oil and gas pipelines and electricity pylons – and on extorting foreign and local companies. In 2015, the Colombian government continued exploratory talks with the ELN, although formal peace negotiations had not started by year’s end.
Activities: The ELN has targeted Colombia’s infrastructure, particularly oil pipelines and equipment. The group was responsible for eighty percent of the country’s pipeline attacks in 2014. During 2015, the ELN continued kidnapping operations. In January, the ELN kidnapped a Dutch citizen and others in Norte de Santander; they were released in February 2015. On February 11, the group seized two hostages for ransom at a road checkpoint in Choco and on February 24, kidnapped four geologists in Norte de Santander. In October, the ELN attacked a military foot patrol escorting election workers and ballots in Boyaca, killing 11 soldiers and one police officer. Two soldiers were also kidnapped in the attack; they were released on November 16.
Strength: Approximately 2,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of active supporters.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in the rural and mountainous areas of northern, northeastern, and southwestern Colombia, as well as the border regions with Venezuela.
Funding and External Aid: The ELN draws its funding from the illicit narcotics trade and from extortion of oil and gas companies. Additional funds are derived from kidnapping ransoms. There is no known external aid.
aka Jabhat al-Nusrah; Jabhet al-Nusrah; The Victory Front; al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant; al-Nusrah Front in Lebanon; Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham min Mujahedi al-Sham fi Sahat al-Jihad; Support Front for the People of the Levant
Description: Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 15, 2014, and is led by Specially Designated Global Terrorist Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani aka al-Julani. It was formed in late 2011 when al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, sent al-Jawlani to Syria to organize terrorist cells in the region. In 2013, the group split from AQI and became an independent entity. ANF’s stated goal is to oust Syria’s Asad regime and replace it with a Sunni Islamic state. The group currently controls a portion of Syrian territory from which it participates in the Syrian conflict.
Activities: ANF has been active in a number of operations against other factions in the Syrian Civil War. The group claimed responsibility for the Aleppo bombings in 2012, the al-Midan bombing in January 2012, a series of Damascus bombings in 2012, and the murder of journalist Mohammed al-Saeed. In December 2013, ANF abducted 13 nuns from a Christian monastery in Maaloula and held them until March 9, 2014. In 2014, ANF also carried out multiple suicide bomb attacks and kidnappings, including the abduction of UN peacekeepers.
ANF continued fighting in Syria throughout 2015 – including participating in fighting against other opposition groups – and carried out a number of kidnappings against civilians. In March, ANF claimed an attack on the intelligence headquarters of Syria’s air force in Aleppo, killing an estimated 20 members of the security force. In April, ANF reportedly kidnapped, and later released, approximately 300 Kurdish civilians from a checkpoint in Syria. In June, ANF claimed responsibility for the massacre of the Druze village Qalb Lawzeh in Idlib province, Syria, which killed 20. In July, it claimed responsibility for a July suicide bombing of an army outpost in Aleppo, which killed at least 25 soldiers and allied militia.
In June, ANF released a propaganda video celebrating the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Location/Area of Operation: Syria.
Funding and External Aid: ANF receives funding from a variety of sources, such as kidnapping for ransom payments and donations from external Gulf-based donors.
PALESTINE ISLAMIC JIHAD
aka PIJ; PIJ-Shaqaqi Faction; PIJ-Shallah Faction; Islamic Jihad of Palestine; Islamic Jihad in Palestine; Abu Ghunaym Squad of the Hizballah Bayt al-Maqdis; Al-Quds Squads; Al-Quds Brigades; Saraya al-Quds; Al-Awdah Brigades
Description: Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Formed by militant Palestinians in Gaza during the 1970s, PIJ is committed to the destruction of Israel through attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets and to the creation of an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine, including present day Israel.
Activities: PIJ terrorists have conducted numerous attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings against Israeli civilian and military targets. Although U.S. citizens have died in PIJ attacks, the group has not directly targeted U.S. interests. Between 2008 and 2011, PIJ primarily conducted rocket attacks aimed at southern Israeli cities and attacked Israeli targets with explosive devices. In November 2012, PIJ operatives, working with Hamas, detonated a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv, wounding 29 civilians. In December 2013, four PIJ operatives were arrested by Israeli authorities for their role in a bus bombing near Tel Aviv. In March 2014, PIJ carried out a wave of rocket attacks into Israeli territory. While the group claimed it fired 130 rockets and mortars, 60 were believed to have reached Israel.
In early 2015, PIJ began re-arming and replenishing its ranks. In March, reports suggested that around 200 new recruits between the ages of 19 and 22 were undergoing various PIJ training programs lasting anywhere from 36 days to six months. Also in March, PIJ revealed its militants were smuggling weapons, including rockets and mortars made inside Gaza, through tunnels in Gaza, in preparation for future attacks against Israel. In May, Israeli forces blamed PIJ for firing a rocket that landed in Gan Yazne, a region close to the Gaza border. The rocket was the first mid-range rocket fired at Israel since the August 2014 ceasefire. In August, four militants, including one PIJ operative, were arrested in conjunction with what Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet described as a PIJ plot to attack Jewish worshippers at Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank. That same month, Israel’s Defense Force claimed PIJ operatives in Syria fired four rockets at the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee.
Strength: PIJ has fewer than 1,000 members.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily Gaza, with minimal operational presence in the West Bank and Israel. Other leadership elements reside in Lebanon and official representatives are scattered throughout the Middle East.
Funding and External Aid: PIJ receives financial assistance and training primarily from Iran. PIJ has partnered with Iranian- and Syrian-sponsored Hizballah to carry out joint operations.
PALESTINE LIBERATION FRONT – ABU ABBAS FACTION
aka PLF; PLF-Abu Abbas; Palestine Liberation Front
Description: The Palestinian Liberation Front – Abu Abbas Faction (PLF) – was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. In the late 1970s, the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) splintered from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC); it later split into pro-Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), pro-Syrian and pro-Libyan factions. The pro-PLO faction was led by Muhammad Zaydan (a.k.a. Abu Abbas) and based in Baghdad prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Activities: The PLF was responsible for the 1985 attack on the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer. The PLF was suspected of supporting terrorism against Israel by other Palestinian groups into the 1990s. In April 2004, Abu Abbas died of natural causes while in U.S. custody in Iraq. After not claiming an attack for 16 years, the PLF claimed responsibility for the March 14, 2008 assault against an Israeli military bus in Huwarah, Israel, and the shooting of an Israeli settler. Following the attacks, a PLF Central Committee member reaffirmed the PLF’s commitment to using “all possible means to restore” its previous glory and to adhering to its role in the Palestinian “struggle” and “resistance” through its military. On February 18, 2010, the PLF claimed responsibility for an IED attack against an Israeli Defense Forces patrol, which caused minor injuries to a soldier; another IED was discovered during a search of the area. The group did not publicly claim any attacks in 2015, but continued to maintain a strong presence in many refugee camps in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria.
Strength: Estimates have placed membership between 50 and 500.
Location/Area of Operation: PLF leadership and membership are based in Gaza, Lebanon, and the West Bank.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE
aka PFLP; Halhul Gang; Halhul Squad; Palestinian Popular Resistance Forces; PPRF; Red Eagle Gang; Red Eagle Group; Red Eagles; Martyr Abu-Ali Mustafa Battalion
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist-Leninist group founded by George Habash, broke away from the Arab Nationalist Movement in 1967. The group earned a reputation for large-scale international attacks in the 1960s and 1970s, including airline hijackings that killed at least 20 U.S. citizens.
Activities: The PFLP increased its operational activity during the Second Intifada, illustrated by at least two suicide bombings since 2003, multiple joint operations with other Palestinian terrorist groups, and the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001. In 2008 and 2009, the PFLP launched several rockets, primarily from Gaza against Israel, and claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza. In 2010, the PLFP claimed responsibility for numerous mortar and rocket attacks fired from Gaza into Israel, as well as an attack on a group of Israeli citizens. In October 2011, the PFLP claimed responsibility for a rocket attack that killed one civilian in Ashqelon. In 2012, the Israeli Security Agency arrested several members of the PFLP for plotting to carry out attacks on Israeli Defense Forces checkpoints and planning to conduct kidnappings. On November 18, 2014, two Palestinians reportedly affiliated with the PFLP entered a synagogue and attacked Israelis with guns, knives, and axes, killing five people, including three American citizens, and injuring 12. In May, Jerusalem police arrested three suspects, one of whom was affiliated with the PFLP, on suspicion of plotting an attack in East Jerusalem, and in December the PFLP claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks along the Lebanese-Israeli border.
Location/Area of Operation: Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE-GENERAL COMMAND
Description: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The PFLP-GC split from the PFLP in 1968, claiming it wanted to focus more on resistance and less on politics. Originally, the group was violently opposed to the Arafat-led Palestinian Liberation Organization. Ahmad Jibril, a former captain in the Syrian Army, has led the PFLP-GC since its founding. The PFLP-GC is closely tied to both Syria and Iran.
Activities: The PFLP-GC carried out dozens of attacks in Europe and the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s. The organization was known for cross-border terrorist attacks into Israel using unusual means, such as hot-air balloons and motorized hang gliders. Since the early 1990s, the group has primarily focused on supporting Hizballah’s attacks against Israel, training members of other Palestinian terrorist groups, and smuggling weapons. The PFLP-GC maintained an armed presence in several Palestinian refugee camps, at its own military bases in Lebanon, and along the Lebanon-Syria border. In recent years, the PFLP-GC has been implicated by Lebanese security officials in several rocket attacks against Israel. In 2009, the group was responsible for wounding two civilians in an armed attack in Nahariyya, Northern District, Israel. In 2011, the PFLP-GC targeted Israeli communities in a March 20 rocket attack by its Jihad Jibril Brigades in the city of Eshkolot, Southern District, Israel. The attack caused no injuries or damage.
In November 2012, PFLP-GC claimed responsibility for a bus bombing in Tel Aviv that injured 29 people, although four Palestine Islamic Jihad and Hamas operatives were later arrested for being behind the attack. In 2015, the PFLP-GC reportedly began fighting alongside the Asad regime in Syria, while also receiving logistical and military aid from Hizballah and Iran. Separately, in December 2015, the PFLP-GC took responsibility for rocket fire aimed at Israeli territory. The attack, in which at least three rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, landed near Shlomi, a small town near the Lebanese border.
Strength: Several hundred
Location/Area of Operation: Political leadership is headquartered in Damascus, with bases in southern Lebanon and a presence in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria. The group also maintains a small presence in Gaza.
Funding and External Aid: The PFLP-GC received safe haven and logistical and military support from Syria and financial support from Iran.
aka al-Qa’eda; Qa’idat al-Jihad (The Base for Jihad); formerly Qa’idat Ansar Allah (The Base of the Supporters of God); the Islamic Army; Islamic Salvation Foundation; The Base; The Group for the Preservation of the Holy Sites; The Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places; the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders; the Usama Bin Laden Network; the Usama Bin Laden Organization; al-Jihad; the Jihad Group; Egyptian al-Jihad; Egyptian Islamic Jihad; New Jihad
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1999, al-Qa’ida (AQ) was established in 1988. The group helped finance, recruit, transport, and train Sunni Islamist extremists for the Afghan resistance against the Soviet Union. AQ’s strategic objectives are to eliminate Western influence and presence from the Muslim world, topple “apostate” governments of Muslim countries, and establish a pan-Islamic caliphate governed by its own interpretation of Sharia law that would ultimately be at the center of a new international order. These goals remain essentially unchanged since the group’s 1996 public declaration of war against the United States. AQ leaders issued a statement in February 1998 under the banner of “The World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders,” saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizens – civilian and military – and their allies everywhere. AQ merged with al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) in June 2001. Many AQ leaders have been killed in recent years, including Usama bin Laden in May 2011. AQ’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri remained at-large in 2015.
Activities: AQ and its supporters conducted three bombings targeting U.S. troops in Aden in December 1992, and claimed responsibility for shooting down U.S. helicopters and killing U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993. AQ also carried out the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, killing up to 300 individuals and injuring more than 5,000. In October 2000, AQ conducted a suicide attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen, with an explosive-laden boat, killing 17 U.S. Navy sailors and injuring 39 others.
On September 11, 2001, 19 AQ members hijacked and crashed four U.S. commercial jets – two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon, and the last into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 civilians, police, and first responders were killed. The dead included Americans and foreign citizens from at least 77 countries.
In a December 2011 video, al-Zawahiri claimed AQ was behind the kidnapping of American aid worker Warren Weinstein in Pakistan. Weinstein remained in captivity until his death in January 2015.
In February 2014, AQ removed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as an affiliate. In September 2014, al-Zawahiri and other AQ leaders announced the establishment of Pakistan-based al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Two days after the announcement, two Pakistani warships were attacked in Karachi; AQIS took responsibility for the plot, which included commandeering missile systems to attack nearby American warships. AQIS claims the orders came from al-Zawahiri.
In September 2015, five senior AQ leaders were released from Iranian custody in exchange for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen. Of the five, Saif al Adel and Abu Mohammed al Masri are wanted for the August 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; al Adel was a senior lieutenant to al-Qa’ida in Iraq founder Abu Musab al Zarqawi and Abu Mohammed al Masri was AQ’s most experienced operational planner.
In September 2015, with the announcement of Mullah Omar’s death, new Taliban emir Mullah Mansour described AQ’s leaders as the “heroes of the current jihadist era” and bin Laden as the “leader of mujahideen.”
Strength: In South Asia, AQ’s core has been seriously degraded. The death or arrest of dozens of mid- and senior-level AQ operatives, including bin Laden in May 2011, have disrupted communication, financial support, facilitation nodes, and a number of terrorist plots. AQ, however, serves as a focal point of “inspiration” for a worldwide network of affiliated groups – AQAP, AQIM, al-Nusrah Front, and al-Shabaab – and other violent Sunni Islamist extremist groups, including the IMU, IJU, Lashkar i Jhangvi, HUM, and JI. The TTP and the Haqqani Network also have ties to AQ. In addition, supporters and associates worldwide “inspired” by the group’s ideology may operate without direction from AQ central leadership.
Location/Area of Operation: AQ was based in Afghanistan until Coalition Forces removed the Afghan Taliban from power in late 2001. Since then, the group’s core leadership is largely based in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. AQ affiliates – al-Nusrah Front, AQAP, AQIM, and al-Shabaab – operate in Syria and Lebanon, Yemen, the Trans-Sahara, and Somalia, respectively.
Funding and External Aid: AQ primarily depends on donations from like-minded supporters, as well as from individuals who believe that their money is supporting a humanitarian cause. Some funds are diverted from Islamic charitable organizations.
AL-QA’IDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA
aka al-Qa’ida in the South Arabian Peninsula; al-Qa’ida in Yemen; al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organization in the Arabian Peninsula; al-Qa’ida Organization in the Arabian Peninsula; Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Jazirat al-Arab; AQAP; AQY; Ansar al-Shari’a
Description: Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 19, 2010. In January 2009, the now-deceased leader of al-Qa’ida in Yemen (AQY), Nasir al-Wahishi, publicly announced that Yemeni and Saudi al-Qa’ida (AQ) operatives were working together under the banner of AQAP. The announcement signaled the rebirth of an AQ franchise that previously carried out attacks in Saudi Arabia. AQAP’s self-stated goals: to establish a caliphate and Sharia law in the Arabian Peninsula and the wider Middle East.
Activities: AQAP has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts against both internal and foreign targets since its inception in January 2009, including: a March 2009 suicide bombing against South Korean tourists in Yemen, the August 2009 attempt to assassinate Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayif, and the December 25, 2009 attempted attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan. In October 2010, AQAP claimed responsibility for a foiled plot to send explosive-laden packages to the United States via cargo planes. The parcels were intercepted in the UK and in the United Arab Emirates.
AQAP, operating under the alias Ansar al-Shari’a (AAS), carried out a May 2012 suicide bombing in Sana’a that killed 96 people. Also in May 2012, press reported that AQAP allegedly planned to detonate a bomb aboard a U.S.-bound airliner using an IED. Although there was no imminent threat to U.S. jetliners, the device, acquired from another government, was similar to devices AQAP had used in previous attempted terrorist attacks.
In September 2014, AQAP launched a rocket attack against Yemeni security forces around the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a. The attack did not cause any casualties, but was followed two months later by an IED attack at the northern gate of the embassy that injured multiple embassy security guards. Also in November 2014, AQAP attempted to detonate explosives targeting the U.S. and British Ambassadors to Yemen. In December, AQAP claimed responsibility for an attack against the Iranian ambassador’s residence in Sana’a that killed one guard and two pedestrians.
In January 2015, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi carried out an attack in Paris, France, against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. One of the brothers, who had traveled to Yemen in 2011 and met with now-deceased Anwar al-Aulaqi, claimed the attack on behalf of AQAP. AQAP later formally claimed responsibility.
Also in 2015, AQAP took advantage of Yemen’s deteriorating political and economic environment after the Yemeni government was overthrown by Houthi rebels in January. The United States and several other countries closed their embassies in February amid the violence. In April, AQAP stormed the city of Al Mukalla, seizing control of government buildings, releasing terrorists from prison, and stealing millions from the central bank. AQAP has since consolidated its control over Al Mukalla and has expanded its reach through large portions of Yemen’s south.
Strength: AQAP is estimated to have up to four thousand members.
Location/Area of Operation: Yemen
Funding and External Aid: AQAP’s funding has historically come from theft, robberies, and kidnap for ransom operations; and donations from like-minded supporters. Since seizing Al Mukallah, it has had access to additional sources of revenue, including the millions it stole from the central bank.
AL-QA’IDA IN THE ISLAMIC MAGHREB
aka AQIM; GSPC; Le Groupe Salafiste Pour la Predication et le Combat; Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat; Salafist Group for Call and Combat; Tanzim al-Qa’ida fi Bilad al-Maghrib al-Islamiya
Description: The Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002. After the GSPC officially joined with al-Qa’ida (AQ) in September 2006 and became known as al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Department of State amended the GSPC designation on February 20, 2008 to reflect the change. Although AQIM remains largely a regionally-focused terrorist group, it has adopted a more anti-Western rhetoric and ideology, and has aspirations of overthrowing “apostate” African regimes and creating an Islamic state. Abdelmalek Droukdel, aka Abu Mus’ab Abd al-Wadoud, is the group’s leader.
Activities: Following AQIM’s 2007 bombing of the UN headquarters building and an Algerian government building in Algiers, which killed 60 people, AQIM’s northern leadership was largely contained to the mountainous region of northeastern Algeria; the group’s southern battalions focused mostly on its kidnapping for ransom efforts. In 2011 and 2012, however, AQIM took advantage of the deteriorating security situation across Tunisia, Libya, and Mali, to plan and conduct expanded operations. Militants with ties to AQIM were involved in the September 11, 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Embassy staff members. In 2013, AQIM attacked regional security forces, local government targets, and westerners in the Sahel, including a suicide bombing that killed two Malian civilians and injured six Malian soldiers. In April 2014, AQIM killed 14 Algerian soldiers in an ambush on a convoy in mountains to the east of Algiers, one of the deadliest attacks on the Algerian military in several years. AQIM also claimed responsibility for the May 27, 2014 attack on the house of Tunisia’s interior minister, Lotfi Ben Jeddou.
In January 2015, AQIM claimed responsibility for an attack on a UN vehicle in Kidal, which wounded seven peacekeepers. Also in 2015, AQIM twice attacked UN convoys near Timbuktu with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades; three peacekeepers were killed in a May attack and six in a July attack. In November 2015, AQIM, jointly with other terrorist groups, attacked the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako and took multiple hostages, 20 of whom died during the attack.
AQIM has also continued to conduct kidnapping for ransom operations. The targets were usually Western citizens from governments or third parties that have established a pattern of making concessions in the form of ransom payments for the release of individuals in custody. In November 2014, AQIM released a video of two Western hostages, a Dutch and a French national, who were later released in December 2014.
In June 2015, AQIM released a video featuring one Swedish and one South African hostage who continued to be held captive through the end of 2015. In November, the group was reportedly involved in the attack on the Bamako/Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, which was likely planned by al-Mulathamun Battalion (aka al-Murabitoun). More than 170 people were taken hostage in the attack, some of whom were American.
Strength: AQIM has several hundred fighters operating in Algeria and the Sahel. Since the French intervention in northern Mali, AQIM’s safe haven in northern Mali is less tenable for the organization and elements have moved to remote regions of northern Mali or to southwestern Libya. AQIM is attempting to reorganize in the wake of setbacks inflicted upon it by the combined French and African forces.
Location/Area of Operation: Northeastern Algeria (including but not limited to the Kabylie region), Libya, Tunisia, northern Mali, and Niger.
Funding and External Aid: AQIM members engage in kidnapping for ransom and criminal activities to finance their operations. AQIM also successfully fundraises globally, including limited financial and logistical assistance from supporters residing in Western Europe.
aka RIRA; Real Irish Republican Army; 32 County Sovereignty Committee; 32 County Sovereignty Movement; Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association; Real Oglaigh Na hEireann
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 16, 2001, the Real IRA (RIRA) was formed in 1997 as the clandestine armed wing of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, a “political pressure group” dedicated to removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland. The RIRA has historically sought to disrupt the Northern Ireland peace process and did not participate in the September 2005 weapons decommissioning. In September 1997, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement opposed Sinn Fein’s adoption of the Mitchell principles of democracy and non-violence. Despite internal rifts and calls by some jailed members, including the group’s founder Michael “Mickey” McKevitt, for a ceasefire and disbandment, the RIRA has pledged additional violence and continues to conduct attacks.
Activities: Many RIRA members are former Provisional Irish Republican Army members who left the organization after that group renewed its ceasefire in 1997. These members brought a wealth of experience in terrorist tactics and bomb-making to the group. Targets have included civilians (the most notorious example: the Omagh bombing in August 1998), British security forces, and police in Northern Ireland. The Independent Monitoring Commission, which was established to oversee the peace process, assessed that RIRA members were likely responsible for the majority of the shootings and assaults that occurred in Northern Ireland.
In 2013, two alleged RIRA members were arrested by Irish police while attempting to carry out the assassination of a local drug dealer. Police searched the van they were traveling in and found two loaded handguns and facemasks. In May 2015, Irish police carried out 20 searches aimed at known dissident republicans across Ireland. Six individuals with links to RIRA and Continuity IRA were arrested after police discovered explosive devices and components.
Strength: According to the Irish government, the RIRA has approximately 100 active members. The organization may receive limited support from IRA hardliners and Republican sympathizers who are dissatisfied with the IRA’s continuing ceasefire and with Sinn Fein’s involvement in the peace process.
Location/Area of Operation: Northern Ireland, Great Britain, and the Republic of Ireland.
Funding and External Aid: The RIRA is suspected of receiving funds from sympathizers in the United States and of attempting to buy weapons from U.S. gun dealers. The RIRA was also reported to have purchased sophisticated weapons from the Balkans and to have occasionally collaborated with the Continuity Irish Republican Army.
REVOLUTIONARY ARMED FORCES OF COLOMBIA
aka FARC; Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is Latin America’s oldest, largest, most violent, and best-equipped terrorist organization. The FARC, founded in the 1960s, is responsible for large numbers of kidnappings for ransom in Colombia and, in past years, has held as many as 700 hostages. The FARC’s capacity has been degraded by a continuing Colombian military offensive targeting key FARC units and leaders that has, by most estimates, halved the FARC’s numbers – estimated at approximately 7,000 in 2015 – and succeeded in capturing or killing a number of FARC senior and mid-level commanders. In August 2012, the Colombian President announced that exploratory peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC were underway. The formal talks began in Norway and moved to Cuba, where they continued through 2015. These talks are the first such peace negotiations in more than a decade, and the fourth effort in the last 30 years. Although the government and the FARC reached tentative, partial agreements on land reform, political participation, drug trafficking, and victims’ rights (including transitional justice), no overall bilateral peace agreement had been concluded by the end of 2015.
Activities: Over the years, the FARC has perpetrated a large number of high profile terrorist acts, including the 1999 murder of three U.S. missionaries working in Colombia, and multiple kidnappings and assassinations of Colombian government officials and civilians. In July 2008, the Colombian military conducted a dramatic rescue of 15 high-value FARC hostages including U.S. Department of Defense contractors Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howe—held captive for more than five years, along with former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
While peace negotiations were ongoing, the FARC remained active in carrying out acts of terrorism in 2015. On April 15, the FARC attacked a Colombian Army brigade in Cauca; 11 soldiers were killed and 20 wounded. Throughout May and June, FARC bombings of electricity towers in Norte de Santander, Valle del Cauca, and Nariño left almost a million people without power for days. A June 1 FARC attack on electrical infrastructure in the city of Buenaventura left approximately 400,000 without power, while the group’s June 2 attack on electrical pylons in the southwestern city of Tumaco left approximately 200,000 people without electricity. Another June attack on Tumaco affected an additional 260,000 people.
On June 7, the FARC forced 19 oil tankers to dump their contents, estimated at 222,000 gallons of crude oil, on a roadway near Puerto Asis, Putumayo, which caused a significant environmental hazard. Throughout June and July, the FARC attacked oil pipelines, hitting the Transandino Pipeline five times and bombing the Cano Limon-Covenas Pipeline. The Colombian Environment Minister announced the damage caused by the Transandino attacks as “the worst oil spill in Colombia in the last decade.”
In November, FARC member Diego Alfonso Navarrete Baltran was sentenced to 27 years in prison by a U.S. District Court for his role in the 2003 kidnapping of the three U.S. defense contractors held hostage by the FARC for five years.
Strength: Approximately 7000 members, with several thousand additional supporters.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily Colombia; FARC leaders and combatants have however been known to use neighboring countries for weapons sourcing and logistical planning. The FARC often uses Colombia’s border areas with Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador for incursions into Colombia; and has used Venezuelan and Ecuadorian territory for safe haven.
Funding and External Aid: The FARC is primarily funded by extortion, ransoms from kidnapping, and the international drug trade.
REVOLUTIONARY PEOPLE’S LIBERATION PARTY/FRONT
aka DHKP/C; Dev Sol; Dev Sol Armed Revolutionary Units; Dev Sol Silahli Devrimci Birlikleri; Dev Sol SDB; Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi; Devrimci Sol; Revolutionary Left
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) was originally formed in 1978 as Devrimci Sol, or Dev Sol, a splinter faction of Dev Genc (Revolutionary Youth). It was renamed in 1994 after factional infighting. “Party” refers to the group’s political activities, while “Front” is a reference to the group’s militant operations. The group advocates a Marxist-Leninist ideology and opposes the United States, NATO, and Turkish establishments. It strives to establish a socialist state and to abolish Turkish prisons.
Activities: Since the late 1980s, the group has primarily targeted current and retired Turkish security and military officials, although since 1990 it has conducted attacks against foreign interests, including U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities. The DHKP/C assassinated two U.S. military contractors and wounded a U.S. Air Force officer in the 1990s, and bombed more than 20 U.S. and NATO military, diplomatic, commercial, and cultural facilities. DHKP/C added suicide bombings to its repertoire in 2001, with attacks against Turkish police in January and September of that year. Since the end of 2001, DHKP/C has typically used IEDs against official Turkish targets and U.S. targets of opportunity.
The DHKP/C was dealt a major ideological blow when its leader, Dursun Karatas died in August 2008. After the loss of its leader, the DHKP/C reorganized in 2009 and was reportedly in competition with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for influence in Turkey and with the Turkish diaspora in Europe.
The group was responsible for a number of high profile attacks in 2012 that included a suicide bombing of a police station in Istanbul. This tactic continued in 2013 when, on February 1, a DHKP/C operative exploded a suicide vest inside the employee entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. The explosion killed a Turkish guard and seriously wounded a visiting Turkish journalist. In March 2013, three members of the group attacked the Ministry of Justice and the Ankara headquarters of the Turkish Justice and Development political party using grenades and rocket launchers. The DHKP/C claimed a similar attack in September 2013, when two members of the group fired rockets at the Turkish National Police headquarters and a police guesthouse. In March 2014, the DHKP/C also claimed a shooting at a protest that left one man dead.
In 2015, DHKP/C claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed a police officer and wounded another. In March, Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, was taken hostage and killed from multiple gunshot wounds by the DHKP/C after police attempted to rescue him. In August, two women opened fire on the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul; one woman was identified as a member of the DHKP/C.
Strength: Membership includes an estimated several dozen members inside Turkey, with a support network throughout Europe.
Location/Area of Operation: Turkey, primarily in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Adana. Other members live and plan operations in European countries.
Funding and External Aid: The DHKP/C finances its activities chiefly through donations and extortion. It raises funds primarily in Europe.
aka RS; Epanastatikos Aghonas; EA
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 18, 2009, Revolutionary Struggle (RS) is a radical leftist group with Marxist ideology that has conducted attacks against both Greek and U.S. targets in Greece. RS emerged in 2003 following the arrests of members of the Greek leftist groups 17 November and Revolutionary People’s Struggle.
Activities: RS first gained notoriety when it claimed responsibility for the September 5, 2003 bombings at the Athens Courthouse during the trials of 17 November members. From 2004 to 2006, RS claimed responsibility for a number of IED attacks, including a March 2004 attack outside of a Citibank office in Athens. RS claimed responsibility for the January 12, 2007 rocket propelled grenade (RPG) attack on the U.S. Embassy in Athens, which damaged the building; and the March 2009 bombing of a Citibank branch in Athens. In September 2009, RS also claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on the Athens Stock Exchange, which caused widespread damage and injured a passerby.
The Greek government has made significant strides in curtailing RS’ terrorist activity. On April 10, 2010, Greek police arrested six suspected RS members, including purported leader Nikos Maziotis. In addition to the arrests, the Greek raid resulted in the seizure of a RPG launcher, possibly the one used against the U.S. Embassy in Athens in the 2007 attack. On April 3, 2013, five members of RS were convicted by an Athens appeals court, three of them receiving maximum prison sentences. Maziotis and another accused RS conspirator, Paula Roupa, were convicted in absentia. Prior to Maziotis’ recapture (following a gunfight with police on July 16, 2014), RS conducted a bomb attack outside a Bank of Greece office in Athens in April 2014; the blast caused extensive damage to surrounding structures but no casualties. There were no known RS attacks in 2015.
Location/Area of Operation: Athens, Greece
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka The Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin; al-Shabab; Shabaab; the Youth; Mujahidin al-Shabaab Movement; Mujahideen Youth Movement; Mujahidin Youth Movement
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 18, 2008, al-Shabaab was the militant wing of the former Somali Islamic Courts Council that took over parts of southern Somalia during the second half of 2006. Since the end of 2006, al-Shabaab and associated militias have undertaken a violent insurgency using guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics against the transitional governments of Somalia. In 2015, the group continued to fight to discredit and destabilize the Federal Government of Somalia.
Al-Shabaab is an official al-Qa’ida (AQ) affiliate and has ties to other AQ affiliates, including al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb. The group’s leader is Ahmed Diriye aka Ahmed Umar aka Abu Ubaidah, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
Al-Shabaab is composed of a mixture of Somali recruits and foreign fighters. Since 2011, al-Shabaab has seen its military capacity reduced due to the efforts of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali forces, and clashes – some violent – within the group itself. Despite al-Shabaab’s loss of urban centers since 2012, the group was able to maintain its hold on large sections of rural areas in south-central Somalia in 2015 and conducted multiple attacks in Somalia and Kenya.
Activities: Al-Shabaab has used intimidation and violence to exploit divisions in Somalia and undermine the Federal Government of Somalia, recruit new fighters, and kill activists working to bring about peace through political dialogue and reconciliation. The group has claimed responsibility for several high profile bombings and shootings throughout Somalia targeting AMISOM troops and Somali officials. Al-Shabaab fighters and others claiming allegiance to the group have claimed responsibility for the assassination of numerous civil society figures, government officials, journalists, international aid workers, and members of NGOs.
Al-Shabaab was responsible for the July 11, 2010 suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda – its first attack outside of Somalia. The attack, which took place during the World Cup, killed nearly 76 people, including one American citizen. In 2013, al-Shabaab again expanded its area of operations when it staged a significant attack in September against the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The siege resulted in the death of at least 65 civilians, including foreign nationals from 13 countries outside of Kenya and six soldiers and police officers; hundreds of others were injured.
In February 2015, al-Shabaab conducted a suicide attack at the Central Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing 25 people, including the city’s deputy mayor and two legislators. During 2015, the group also claimed responsibility for a March siege at the Maka Al-Mukarramah Hotel in Mogadishu, which killed at least 24 people, including six militants, and an April raid with small arms and suicide vests on Kenya’s Garissa University College that left nearly 150 people dead. In June, al-Shabaab carried out a suicide attack against a military intelligence base in Mogadishu and a suicide attack on a diplomatic convoy departing the United Arab Emirates embassy in Mogadishu, in which at least six people were killed. In July, the group assaulted an Ethiopian convoy and base predominantly held by Burundian soldiers in Leego, Somalia, killing dozens of AMISOM troops and in September, conducted an attack on a remote AMISOM base in Janaale, Somalia, which killed 37 AMISOM soldiers. Al-Shabaab also claimed responsibility for the November attack on Mogadishu’s Sahafi hotel, where government officials and lawmakers stay. The attack left 13 dead.
Strength: Al-Shabaab is estimated to have several thousand members, including a small cadre of foreign fighters.
Location/Area of Operation: Al-Shabaab has lost full control of significant areas of territory. In September 2012, al-Shabaab lost control of Kismayo, a vital port it used to obtain supplies and funding through taxes. In October 2014, al-Shabaab lost another strategic port in Baraawe to AMISOM and Somali troops. In 2015, an AMISOM offensive forced the group out of two of its strongholds and killed up to 100 personnel. Despite these losses, al-Shabaab continued to control large sections of rural areas in the middle and lower Juba regions, as well as the Bay, Shabelle, and Bakol regions. The group also maintained its presence in northern Somalia along the Golis Mountains and within Puntland’s larger urban areas, and launched several attacks against targets in Kenya.
Funding and External Aid: While al-Shabaab has seen its income diminish due to the loss of the strategic port cities of Kismayo, Merka, and Baraawe, it has received enough income to launch multiple attacks per week in Mogadishu, launch complex attacks against AMISOM bases, and expand operations against civilian aviation targets. Al-Shabaab obtained funds through illegal charcoal production and exports, and taxation of local populations and businesses.
Because al-Shabaab is a multi-clan entity, it reportedly receives donations from individuals in the Somali diaspora; the donations are not always intended to support terrorism, however, but also to support family members.
aka SL; Sendero Luminoso; Ejercito Guerrillero Popular (People’s Guerrilla Army); EGP; Ejercito Popular de Liberacion (People’s Liberation Army); EPL; Partido Comunista del Peru (Communist Party of Peru); PCP; Partido Comunista del Peru en el Sendero Luminoso de Jose Carlos Mariategui (Communist Party of Peru on the Shining Path of Jose Carlos Mariategui); Socorro Popular del Peru (People’s Aid of Peru); SPP
Description: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The SL was formed by former university professor Abimael Guzman in Peru in the late 1960s; Guzman’s teachings created the foundation of SL’s militant Maoist doctrine. The SL strives to destroy existing Peruvian institutions and replace them with a communist peasant revolutionary regime; the group also opposes any influence by foreign governments. In the 1980s, SL was one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the Western Hemisphere. In 1992, the Peruvian government captured Guzman who remains, along with key accomplices, in prison serving a life sentence.
In 2015, SL constituted a localized and declining threat and maintained a low profile with dwindling membership. SL’s area of activity and influence was confined to the special military emergency zone known as the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM). SL is involved in all logistical aspects of drug trafficking in this area.
Activities: SL committed 13 terrorist attacks in 2015, in comparison to 20 terrorist acts in 2014 and 49 in 2013. In 2015, SL attacks and operations resulted in the deaths of two soldiers and three civilians; seven members of the security forces were also wounded in action. In two separate operations, security forces rescued 54 people, including 37 children, held by SL.
Strength: Estimates of SL’s strength vary, but most experts and the Peruvian military assess SL to number 250 to 300 combatants, of which 60-100 are hardcore fighters.
Location/Area of Operation: Peru, with most activity taking place in rural areas, specifically the Huallaga Valley and the Apurimac, Ene, and Montaro River Valley of central Peru.
Funding and External Aid: SL is primarily funded by the illicit narcotics trade.
TEHRIK-E TALIBAN PAKISTAN
aka Pakistani Taliban; Tehreek-e-Taliban; Tehrik-e-Taliban; Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan; Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan; TTP
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 1, 2010, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a Pakistan-based terrorist organization formed in 2007 to oppose Pakistani military efforts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Previously disparate tribal militants agreed to cooperate and eventually coalesced into TTP under the leadership of now deceased leader Baitullah Mehsud. TTP was led by Hakimullah Mehsud from August 2009 until his death in November 2013. Since Hakimullah Mehsud’s death, TTP has been led by Mullah Fazlullah, former leader of TTP’s chapter in the Swat area of Pakistan, and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Since Fazlullah became TTP’s leader, the group has been engaged in violent infighting. A rival faction led by Khan Said – a former TTP commander who previously clashed with Hakimullah – publicly split from TTP in May 2014. Separately, TTP entered into peace talks with the Pakistani government in early 2014, but the talks collapsed in June 2014. In October 2014, the chief spokesman and five regional commanders defected from TTP and publicly pledged allegiance to ISIL.
TTP’s goals include waging a terrorist campaign against the Pakistani military and state, against NATO forces in Afghanistan, and overthrowing the Government of Pakistan. TTP uses the tribal belt along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to train and deploy its operatives, and has ties to al-Qa’ida (AQ). TTP draws ideological guidance from AQ, while AQ relies on TTP for safe haven in the Pashtun areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistani border. This arrangement gives TTP access to both AQ’s global terrorist network and the operational experience of its members.
Activities: TTP has carried out and claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts against Pakistani and U.S. interests, including a December 2009 suicide attack on a U.S. military base in Khowst, Afghanistan, which killed seven U.S. citizens; and an April 2010 suicide bombing against the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, which killed six Pakistani citizens. TTP is suspected of involvement in the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. TTP directed and facilitated the failed attempt by Faisal Shahzad to detonate an explosive device in New York City’s Times Square on May 1, 2010.
Between 2011 and 2013, TTP carried out attacks against the Government of Pakistan and civilian targets, as well as against U.S. targets in Pakistan. Attacks in 2011 targeted civilians, Pakistani government and military targets, and an American consulate convoy in a series of suicide bombings and attacks. In 2012, TTP carried out attacks targeting a mosque, police checkpoint, a Pakistani Air Force base, and a bus carrying Shia Muslims. In 2013, TTP attacked churches, the home of a government minister in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, and a Shia neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan. TTP’s attacks in 2013 killed and wounded hundreds of civilians and Pakistani government and law enforcement officials.
In 2014, TTP carried out attacks targeting military and police convoys, bazaars, buses, and schools. In June 2014, TTP launched two consecutive attacks against Karachi’s international airport, one on June 8 and the second followed two days later. In the June 8 attack, carried out in conjunction with Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a squad of commandos – disguised as government security forces – stormed the airport. The ensuing fight between security forces and the TTP, which lasted through the night, killed at least 36 people. The second attack, in which at least two gunmen opened fire on a guard post at the airport perimeter, caused no casualties. In December, TTP laid siege to a primary school in Peshawar, Pakistan. The eight-hour assault on the school killed 145 people, 132 of whom were children.
Throughout 2015, TTP continued attacking government targets. TTP focused many of its small-scale attacks on Pakistani government and law enforcement officials by targeting convoys, government buildings, motorcades, and police checkpoints. In September, TTP stormed an air force station near Peshawar, resulting in a firefight with officials that killed at least 29 people, including security officers and civilians. In December, TTP claimed responsibility for three separate, coordinated attacks across Pakistan that killed a Frontier Corps official in Quetta and a retired major of the Pakistani Army in Karachi, and wounded a deputy superintendent of police in Peshawar.
TTP also attacked civilian targets during the course of 2015. In February, more than 20 people were killed in a bombing targeting a Shia mosque near Peshawar, and at least 15 were killed when suicide bombers struck two churches in Lahore in March. An anti-polio worker was also killed and a second injured in a March shooting in Bajaur Agency, Pakistan. In May, one person was killed and five injured when TTP attacked a group of civilians celebrating their victory in a cricket match.
Strength: Several thousand
Location/Area of Operation: Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan
Funding and External Aid: TTP is believed to raise most of its funds through kidnapping ransoms, criminal activity, and extortion.