Chapter 2. Country Reports: Europe
Overview: Europe endured terrorist threats from a variety of sources in 2016, including foreign terrorist organizations operating out of Iraq and Syria, such as ISIS and al-Nusrah Front (al‑Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria), and from European foreign terrorist fighters who had returned to Europe to conduct attacks. In the face of increased military pressure in 2016, ISIS pursued mass‑casualty terrorist attacks against European symbolic targets and public spaces. Various European Union (EU) member states reported a marked increase in the rate of returning foreign terrorist fighters from Syria and Iraq. Indeed, approximately 30 percent of foreign terrorist fighters from EU member states are believed to have returned, although the overall number of departed foreign terrorist fighters originating from Western European and Balkan countries declined significantly in 2016 from the previous year. Concurrently, violent extremist groups espousing left-wing and nationalist ideologies, such as the Turkey-based Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), respectively, continued to operate within Europe.
By virtue of its location, the presence of international transport hubs on its territory, and its long border with Syria and Iraq, Turkey remained an important transit route for foreign terrorist fighters entering and departing the conflict areas. Turkey continued to deepen its cooperation with foreign terrorist fighter source countries to counter the threat, and expanded its “Banned from Entry List” to prevent travel into Turkey by nefarious actors. Risk Analysis Units continued to operate at major ports of entry and internal transit points to interdict potential foreign terrorist fighters. To maintain tighter physical control of its border with Syria, Turkey constructed 270 kilometers of concrete wall along the 911-kilometer Turkey-Syria border.
European countries contributed immensely to worldwide counterterrorism efforts in 2016. Thirty-nine European countries, the EU, and Lyon-based INTERPOL collaborated within the force-multiplying framework of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Thanks to such effort, the Coalition, which already had liberated Fallujah, Ramadi, and Tikrit, launched the military campaign to liberate Mosul and Raqqah. Correspondingly, European officials, along with civil society members, participated in counterterrorism and CVE policies and programs within multilateral and regional fora, such as the United Nations, the Global Counterterrorism Forum, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Council of Europe.
The 2015 attacks in Paris and elsewhere galvanized the EU to increase traveler information sharing and agree to an EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) system. The EU Parliament and Council presidents on April 27, 2016 signed the Directive regulating the use of EU Passenger Name Record for the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of terrorist offenses and serious crimes. EU member states will have until May 2018 to fully apply the Directive package. Also in April, the European Commission issued a Communication on “Stronger and Smarter Information Systems for Borders and Security,” and the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council endorsed in June a “Roadmap to Enhance Information Exchange and Information Management Including Interoperability Solutions in the Justice and Home Affairs Area.” The Commission’s Communication provides a thorough review of existing European information systems and recommendations to improve them, while the Roadmap provides a comprehensive plan that identifies short, medium, and long-term actions required of member states to improve the cross-border exchange of information. In July, the European Commission presented a comprehensive set of regulatory amendments, known as the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive to help counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism, which are due for ratification in mid-2017.
Overview: Albania was a strong supporter of counterterrorism efforts in 2016 and continued its participation in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, making significant donations of weapons and ammunition.
On November 4 and 5, a well-coordinated regional counterterrorism operation led to the arrests of four individuals in Albania. The operation disrupted a potential attack on the Albania-Israel World Cup qualifying soccer match, scheduled to take place in Shkoder on November 12. The individuals were charged with supporting ISIS financially and logistically, recruiting people on behalf of ISIS, and promoting hate speech.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Albania criminalizes terrorist acts; financing of terrorism; collection, transfer and concealment of funds that finance terrorism; conducting transactions with persons on the United Nations (UN) sanctions lists; recruiting and training people to commit terrorist acts; incitement of terrorist acts; and establishing, leading, and participating in terrorist organizations. In 2016, nine defendants were found guilty of charges related to these statutes and sentenced to seven to 18 years in prison. An appeals court in November decreased the sentences for five of the defendants, and prison terms now range from four-and-a-half to 18 years.
Albanian law enforcement has increased efforts to counter potential terrorist threats. The recently expanded Albanian State Police Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) to identify requirements for equipment and training. As a result, the ATU has developed its own plans and programs for improving equipment, training, and development, and is currently renovating a new ATU facility. Through the Department of State Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, the ATU participated in training on interviewing terrorism suspects. Despite the scarcity of resources, the ATU also participated in several successful interdictions of known or suspected terrorists.
In cooperation with the European Union and with funding from the Department of State, ICITAP provided equipment and training to the Albanian government to build capacity to collect fingerprint data at all border crossing points. The information can be checked against a national database for wanted individuals in real time. This initiative has improved Albania’s ability to collect biometric data on selected individuals at border crossings.
DOJ’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training Program (OPDAT), funded by the Department of State, continued to provide mentorship, assistance, and training to prosecutors, law enforcement officials, financial investigators, intelligence analysts, and judges from Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia, who work on foreign terrorist fighter and terrorism-related cases through its Balkan Regional Counterterrorism program located in Tirana.
Corruption combined with a poorly functioning judicial system continued to hinder Albania’s law enforcement efforts at all levels.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Albania is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The General Directorate for the Prevention on Money Laundering, Albania’s financial intelligence unit, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
Since June 2012, Albania has been working with the FATF and MONEYVAL to address identified weaknesses in its anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime. As a result, Albania has made major improvements to its legal framework for identifying, tracing, and freezing terrorist assets; enhanced international co-operation; extended customer due diligence; and required the filing of suspicious transaction reports and currency transaction reports.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Countering Violent Extremism: In 2015, the Government of Albania drafted and adopted a national strategy to counter violent extremism. In 2016, the Government of Albania appointed a National Coordinator for Countering Violent Extremism, who is charged with overseeing the implementation of the national strategy. The Government of Albania co-hosted a regional table top exercise in September 2016 with the Partnership for Peace Consortium Counter Terrorism Working Group and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The event brought together regional partners for two days of workshops and collaboration on addressing radicalization to violence and foreign terrorist fighter recruitment. The Government of Albania co-hosted an event in New York, “Countering Violent Extremism through Education,” to promote the role that education has in fostering tolerance and inclusion among youth. The Government of Albania developed a pilot program to train teachers to implement a curriculum on religious tolerance in schools.
International and Regional Cooperation: Albania is a member of the UN, the OSCE, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Regional Cooperation Council, the Council of Europe, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Albanian criminal justice actors participated regularly in various regional associations, conferences, and other counterterrorism information sharing exchanges.
Overview: Austria demonstrated continued commitment to countering terrorism, and U.S.‑Austria law enforcement cooperation remained strong. Austria’s Office for State Protection and Counterterrorism (BVT), the key counterterrorism agency within the Ministry of the Interior, reported ongoing radicalization to violence efforts by violent Islamist extremist groups. The country’s traditional public perception that Austria is safe from terrorist attacks continued to be challenged by a large number of foreign terrorist fighters from Austria headed to Syria and Iraq. This number tapered off in the course of the year due to a combination of factors, including effective counterterrorism measures. The BVT charged or monitored those returning from Syria. The international terrorist threat environment prompted the government to establish an ad-hoc security cabinet and to give the armed forces a greater complementary counterterrorism role than previously mandated. Continued concerns over data privacy protection, amplified by public debate about suspected U.S. intelligence activities in Austria, slowed the implementation of some bilateral counterterrorism agreements.
Austria identified the fight against radicalization to violence and violent extremism as a key priority for its 2017 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairmanship. Austria is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and a member of the Defeat-ISIS Working Groups on Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Stabilization. Throughout 2016, the Ministries of Interior, Justice, and Foreign Affairs increased efforts to counter incitement of terrorist acts motivated by violent extremism, and to counter the problem of foreign terrorist fighters. Law enforcement agencies focused on intelligence gathering and investigations, while integration officials engaged in public outreach to prevent radicalization to violence. In 2016, members of the Austrian parliament continued to meet with U.S. legislators within the Parliamentary Security Forum venue to discuss cooperation on counterterrorism and terrorist financing issues.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Austria has an extensive legal structure to counter terrorism. Relevant statutes criminalize training in terrorist camps abroad and allow wiretapping of individual suspects or small groups with the permission of an independent judge or ombudsman. Specific regulations prohibit the use and distribution of symbols attributable to ISIS or al-Qa’ida. Regulations further allow border authorities to prevent minors from leaving Austria upon suspicion minors will participate in fighting activities abroad. Authorities are allowed to withdraw citizenship from an Austrian dual national who voluntarily and actively participates in fighting in an armed conflict.
Having taken effect July 1, 2016, Austria’s State Protection Law provides the BVT enhanced legal tools to counter terrorism, espionage, cyber-attacks, and WMD proliferation. The new law authorizes the agency to request information from internet service providers and telephone carriers regarding connectivity data, IP addresses, location, as well as request information from transport authorities. The maximum time for data storage by police in terrorism cases was expanded from nine months to six years. Any intrusive action by the BVT requires prior approval by a tripartite panel including an experienced judge and two additional experts, such as prosecutors or privacy ombudspersons. This panel is required to report to Parliament. Additionally, targeted individuals must be informed about the actions against them. The law grants greater authority for the BVT to share intelligence with other domestic intelligence agencies and foreign intelligence organizations.
Austrian law enforcement and BVT officials routinely cooperated in investigative areas with U.S. law enforcement, from the informal sharing of preliminary investigative information to joint, multilateral investigative projects and enforcement operations. Border security forces made effective use of security measures, including biographic and biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry and information sharing internally and with other European Union countries. Border security officials at ports of entry have discretion when determining documents and passengers subject to screening on arrival.
Austria has taken a whole-of-government approach to implement UN Security Council resolutions 2178 (2014) to counter foreign terrorist fighters, and 2199 (2015) to counter ISIS, as well as Global Counterterrorism Forum good practices on foreign terrorist fighters.
The BVT estimated the number of Austrians fighting in Syria and Iraq, or wanting to travel to the conflict zone, at 300 during the period of 2014 through December 2016. Fifty persons were prevented from leaving the country for conflict zones, including 22 women. According to Interior Ministry information, 44 people presumably died in Syria and Iraq, all of them men. BVT monitored an estimated 80 others who had returned to Austria by year’s end.
More than two-fifths of Austrian foreign terrorist fighters are of North Caucasus origin, and around 40 percent were persons with refugee status in Austria. Chechens who entered Austria as asylum seekers over the past decades represented the largest group. Radicalized ethnic Bosnians with direct links to cells in Bosnia were the second largest.
Throughout 2016, law enforcement officials continued surveillance and arrests of suspected terrorists, and prosecuted and sentenced ISIS sympathizers and would-be foreign terrorist fighters. Crime statistics (available for the first half of 2016) showed a marked decline in new arrests related to radicalization, from 139 in 2014 and 59 in 2015, to seven during the first six months in 2016. In comparison to the previous year, justice authorities in 2016 saw a reduction in their processed terrorism-related caseloads.
In July, Austria extradited to France two terrorism suspects implicated in the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. In December, a trial against two other defendants believed to be connected to the two extradited suspects began in Salzburg.
In a series of high-profile trials during 2016, Austrian courts handed down long prison terms on terrorist suspects. Austria’s most notorious foreign terrorist fighter, Mohamad Masoud, who in 2015 was filmed executing two individuals, was rumored to have died in a drone attack in Syria the same year.
- In March, Turkish-born defendant Sevkret G. received a 10-year prison term for joining terrorists in Syria in 2012.
- In March, a court sentenced an imam to a six-year prison term for recruiting fighters for ISIS; two other individuals were given five-year terms for fighting with the group.
- In March, a woman received a 14-month prison sentence, with one month suspended, for plans to join ISIS in Syria with her three children.
- In July, Mirsad Omerovic (aka Abu Tejma) was sentenced to 20 years in prison for recruiting foreign terrorist fighters.
Counterterrorism experts monitored domestic militia-like groups, known locally as Reichsbuerger, who reject the primacy of the state. They are considered a serious threat, particularly if trying to infiltrate the armed forces. The number of participants in these groups was estimated at 800.
Austria has extensive, high-quality processes in place to register and screen individuals applying for asylum, lawful residence, and citizenship. Applicants are fingerprinted and checked against the European Dactyloscopy system (EURODAC), which is the European fingerprint database for identifying asylum seekers and irregular border-crossers, and on a case-by-case basis against criminal databases. Individuals are again screened against national and international law enforcement databases before citizenship is approved. Due to restrictive Austrian citizenship laws that require the renunciation of second nationalities, and language requirements, the application process takes at least six years.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Austria is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and Austria’s financial intelligence unit (FIU) is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Austria has a comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework for anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), which was further strengthened in 2016 in line with recommendations from FATF. Recent legislative amendments include higher AML penalties, limiting banks’ ability to block access to information on customer accounts, and reforms of the FIU’s operational procedures and supervisory framework.
Austria criminalizes the financing of terrorism in line with international standards and freezes terrorist assets in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions implemented through EU legislation. EU regulations targeting terrorist financing, once adopted, are directly applicable in Austria. Money or Value Transfer Services, dealers in precious stones and metals, real estate agents, and exchange houses are monitored and regulated in Austria. Austria has successfully investigated and prosecuted terrorist financing cases, although criminal penalties imposed may not be dissuasive.
Austria implements the collection of Know Your Customer data for wire transfers through EU Regulation 1781/2006/EC. This regulation does not include requirements regarding information on the beneficiary of a wire transfer, and there is no respective national law in place. The Austrian government plans to comply with the new EU Regulation on information accompanying transfers of funds (Regulation 2015/847), however, which was passed May 20, 2015, and enters into force on June 26, 2017. While Austria has taken measures to require closer monitoring of non-profit organizations, this sector is still not required to file suspicious transaction reports.
Austria routinely distributes UN sanctions lists to financial institutions immediately upon receipt of new UN listing decisions.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Countering Violent Extremism: Austria continued efforts to counter violent extremism, largely in response to the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon. In addition, the Austrian government undertook or continued several other initiatives. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Islamic Faith Community, continued its information campaign in mosques, Islamic organizations, and community centers. The initiative included education outreach to encourage Austrians to differentiate between Islam and what Austria describes as violent extremism. In an effort to counter radicalization to violence and improve integration in the newly arrived refugee population, the Integration Office within the Foreign Ministry developed an educational program focused on German language acquisition and education on Austrian ‘values’ such as gender equality and democratic principles. The Austrian government maintained a counseling center and a de-radicalization hotline aimed at friends and family members of potential violent extremists.
International and Regional Cooperation: Austria is a member of various international and regional security platforms, including the OSCE, the Salzburg Forum, and the Central European Initiative. Austria regularly leads law enforcement training programs with Salzburg Forum countries and the Balkan states.
Overview: Azerbaijan maintained its strong counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and actively opposed terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money, and materiel through the Caucasus region. The country remained focused on counterterrorism efforts that included prosecuting individuals under statutes related to terrorism, arresting foreign terrorist fighters returning to Azerbaijan from conflicts abroad, and conducting special operations against those the government said were planning terrorist attacks.
Azerbaijan indicated its continued strong willingness to counter ISIS by sharing information, working to disrupt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Iraq and Syria, and countering illicit funding of terrorist groups in those countries. Senior government leaders, including the heads of the Caucasus Muslim Board and the State Committee for Work with Religious Associations, took public steps to counter ISIS and al-Qa’ida ideology. They and other senior government representatives repeatedly condemned international terrorist attacks that occurred during 2016.
On September 17, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and other leaders attending the Commonwealth of Independent States Heads of State Council meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, jointly approved a program on cooperation in the fight against terrorism and other forms of violent extremism for 2017-2019. President Aliyev also participated in discussions at the NATO Warsaw Summit on July 8-9 on measures to counter violent extremism.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Azerbaijan continued to use counterterrorism legislation, first adopted in 1999, that governs the investigation and prosecution of individuals who have committed or plan to commit terrorist acts.
As the country’s primary law enforcement agency, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has responsibilities for fighting terrorism. Specific counterterrorism actions are taken through the Ministry’s Organized Crime Unit. The Prosecutor General’s Office maintains responsibility for prosecuting individuals for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, conspiracy to aid terrorism, and other terrorism-related crimes.
Azerbaijan’s State Security Service (SSS) cooperates closely with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office on counterterrorism. Following a 2015 presidential decree, the Azerbaijani government in 2016 abolished the Ministry of National Security and split it into two new organizations, the SSS and the Foreign Intelligence Service. Among other duties, the SSS is charged with identifying and preventing criminal activities by terrorist groups, and countering international terrorism and transnational crimes.
The Azerbaijani government has demonstrated the ability to detect and deter terrorist activities, as well as prosecute foreign terrorist fighters returning to Azerbaijan. Authorities effectively use terrorist and criminal watch lists and biographic/biometric information to screen travelers at ports of entry. Azerbaijani security services effectively share information within the government and with other countries. Collection of Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Records on commercial flights occurred on some flights.
Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies continued to investigate, prosecute, and sentence those the government accused of fighting with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, and conducted counterterrorism operations against suspected terrorists within Azerbaijan.
In 2016, the government terminated the citizenship of 58 individuals accused of involvement in terrorist activities outside the country.
The government has continued to prosecute 17 suspects arrested during a November 2015 law enforcement operation in the village of Nardaran, about 15 miles north of the capital, Baku. The government has charged former political prisoner and religious activist Taleh Bagirzade (also referred to in media reports as Taleh Bagirov) and others with plotting to overthrow the government. The government alleged that Bagirzade and his associates were storing ammunition and explosives in Nardaran, which officers seized during the raid. During the operation, five village residents were killed, along with two police officers. Government officials alleged that radical individuals and groups within Nardaran have long been advocating establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state and claim these groups have received support from governments and fundamentalist-backed entities outside the country. Many democracy and human rights advocates believe the arrests were arbitrary due to lack of evidence. Observers of the trial have noted frequent violations of due process, as well as numerous inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case. The trial was ongoing at the end of 2016.
Throughout the year, there were reports of terrorist acts being prevented in Azerbaijan; however, it is unclear whether some of these preventative actions were taken against bona fide terrorist threats or were designed to curb the activities of heretofore non-violent independent religious activists.
On February 12, the SSS arrested eight suspects in a counterterrorism operation. Several of those were convicted and sentenced to prison on terrorism-related charges.
On October 27, the SSS announced that its officers had conducted raids in which two men suspected of planning terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan were killed and a third was wounded. The SSS said in a statement that the men had created an armed group in Azerbaijan and pledged allegiance to terrorist groups involved in armed conflicts outside Azerbaijan.
On November 16, a court in Baku convicted seven Azerbaijani citizens on charges they fought in Iraq and Syria alongside militants from ISIS and other terrorist groups. The court sentenced the defendants to prison sentences ranging from two to 14 years.
On November 25, one terrorist suspect, Ramiq Rahimov, was killed during an SSS operation in Azerbaijan’s Khachmaz District. Rahimov was suspected of leading a terrorist organization involved in armed conflicts outside Azerbaijan and of recruiting Azerbaijani citizens to fight abroad. An SSS statement said Rahimov had illegally acquired firearms and explosives and planned to carry out terrorist attacks and kidnappings.
On December 3, SSS officers killed a man the government said was carrying an explosive device and planned to commit acts of terrorism on Azerbaijan's territory. The SSS said in a statement that officers tried to arrest Emin Jami near a shopping center in Baku, and killed him when he presented a threat to the SSS officers. Jami had, according to the government, sworn “allegiance to representatives of international terrorist organizations and illegal militias involved in conflicts abroad." Jami had previously served nine years in prison for membership in a terrorist group and, according to an SSS statement, had resumed contact with other Azerbaijani violent extremists fighting in conflict zones and preparing terrorist activities in Azerbaijan.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The government’s Financial Monitoring Service (FMS) is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
Azerbaijan has continued its efforts to increase its capability in anti-money laundering/ countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) since it was last assessed by MONEYVAL in 2014. Azerbaijan has established a framework for asset freezing and requires financial institutions to conduct customer due diligence and report suspicious transactions to the FMS. Its legal framework to criminalize terrorist financing does not cover all aspects of the offense, however, and not all non-financial institutions are required to report suspicious transactions, presenting a further vulnerability in its AML/CFT framework.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Countering Violent Extremism: The State Committee on Work with Religious Associations, together with the Azerbaijan-based Caucasus Muslims Office, took steps to encourage religious leaders to counter calls to violence in religious sermons in some mosques.
International and Regional Cooperation: Azerbaijan remained a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and other international organizations. Azerbaijan also continued to work with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on counterterrorism initiatives.
Overview: Since the terrorist attacks of March 22, the Belgian government has been working through a list of reforms to bolster its ability to investigate and prevent future terrorist attacks. Despite allocating an additional €400 million (US $ 415,740,000) for counterterrorism and CVE efforts in 2016, however, Belgium still faced resource and institutional constraints. Belgium’s complex, highly-decentralized government structure has hampered information sharing and cooperation among different levels of government. It has also contributed to uneven results in integrating migrant communities into mainstream Belgian society.
For several years, Belgium has taken an active approach to identify, disrupt, and decrease the flow of its relatively large foreign terrorist fighter problem. Several legislative changes helped fulfill many UN Security Council resolution 2178 obligations. In February, Belgium was the site of the inaugural U.S.-led Foreign Terrorist Fighter Surge Team designed to: identify new avenues of bilateral cooperation; assist in efforts to identify, disrupt, and decrease foreign terrorist fighter flows; and to promote greater domestic and international cooperation.
In 2016, the Belgian government created a centralized foreign terrorist fighters database to allow all Belgian law enforcement and intelligence agencies to share identities of known or suspected foreign terrorist fighters; the database contained approximately 800 names at the end of 2016. Belgian authorities reported approximately 450 Belgians have traveled to Iraq and Syria as foreign terrorist fighters, although the number of foreign terrorist fighter departures has been steadily decreasing.
The number of both departing and returning foreign terrorist fighters has slowed, raising concerns that radicalized individuals may have made the choice to remain in Belgium to commit violent acts. Since the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket attacks in Paris in January 2015, the standard operating procedure has been to detain returning fighters until their cases can be assessed on an individual basis. Those who have not been connected to criminal acts overseas and who are believed to pose no risk of radicalizing others are generally released, but remain subject to additional monitoring by police and social service professionals.
Belgium is an active member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and participates in several of its working groups. Belgium currently deploys six F-16s in air operations in Syria and Iraq (in cooperation with the Netherlands), and its Special Forces are helping train Iraqi security forces as well as supporting, advising, and assisting them. Belgium also provided a frigate to escort the Charles de Gaulle carrier strike group in support of French Defeat-ISIS operations, and has contributed approximately 120 personnel in support of missions that include air-combat and air‑combat support.
2016 Terrorist Incidents:
- On March 22, suicide bomb attacks at Brussels National Airport (Zaventem) and at the Maelbeek metro station killed 32 and wounded more than 300.
- On August 6, two police officers in Charleroi were wounded in a machete attack at a police station; the attacker was shot and killed by a third officer.
- On October 5, two police officers were wounded in a knife attack in a park in Schaerbeek; the attacker was shot and wounded by a third officer.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Of the 30 counterterrorism measures proposed by the Government of Belgium since January 2015, 18 have been fully implemented, nine have been partially implemented, and three have yet to be implemented. Of the nine that are partially implemented, three are the subject of ongoing debate in Parliament (Passenger Name Record, pre-paid cards, revision of Article 12 of the Constitution), three have seen no legislative action but are already standard practice (detention of returnees, exclusion of hate preachers, and dismantling of unrecognized places of worship), two are moving through an administrative review to determine the exact parameters of a successful implementation (screening for sensitive jobs and extension of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, which uses optical character recognition on images to read vehicle registration plates), and one has been funded but is experiencing staffing and administrative problems (the Canal Plan, explained in the CVE section, below). Although implementation of these 30 measures has been slower than originally hoped, the Government of Belgium has steadily pushed forward to address what it deemed legislative and administrative vulnerabilities.
Belgium plays a significant role in international efforts to disrupt, prevent, detect, and punish acts of terrorism. The United States and Belgium maintained a close, cooperative counterterrorism partnership, collaborating on key bilateral homeland security initiatives. The primary actors in Belgian law enforcement are the Belgian Federal Police (BFP) and its multiple counterterrorism units, the Civilian and Military Intelligence Services, Office of the Federal Prosecutor, and the Crisis Unit. The interagency Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis plays an analytic threat assessment role, particularly with regard to foreign terrorist fighters, and advises the Government of Belgium on setting the national threat level. The Belgian National Security Council also plays a significant role in the intelligence and security structure. Belgian law enforcement and intelligence services disrupted several terrorist plots in 2016, including planned attacks targeting the EuroCup, a multi-national military installation, nightclubs in Brussels, and key international diplomatic personnel.
A Joint Investigative Team (JIT) between the Belgian Federal Police (BFP) and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation was formed on April 22, and a second JIT was formed in October. The purpose of these JITs is to speed up intelligence sharing between law enforcement and the United States to prevent future attacks and to better identify and disrupt terrorist networks. The cooperation has resulted in several arrests, the disruption of active terrorist plots, and the solidification of the criminal cases against the March 22 attackers.
Belgian law enforcement faces several impediments to more effective counterterrorism efforts including relatively light sentences after conviction, the inability to enter into plea agreements with defendants, the inability to task sources for active collection, the lack of empowerment for law enforcement officers (they can only do what the Investigative Judge directs them to do), and an overburdened court system that results from the lack of plea agreements.
Belgium was in the final stages of codifying the European Union (EU) Passenger Name Record (PNR) directive into Belgian law. Once Parliament approves, the legislation must be published in the official journal and then a royal decree drafted and signed. The Belgian PNR team was preparing two such decrees, one for PNR and one for Advanced Passenger Information. Belgium was in the process of negotiating with travel agencies, operators, and airlines on the implementation of the legislation.
This year has brought progress on information sharing under the Belgium-U.S. Preventing and Combating Serious Crimes (PCSC) Agreement. Belgium has a two-phase plan to implement the biometric information-sharing elements of the PCSC agreement that will make the PCSC tool available to the investigative process at both the federal and local levels. Belgium screens migrants against its own law enforcement and intelligence databases in addition to EU databases. Over the past year, Belgium has accelerated the pace of this screening and expanded the use of biometric screening, including fingerprints.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Belgium is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Belgium’s financial intelligence unit. The Cellule de Traitement des Informations Financieres (CTIF) is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Belgium has the core elements of a sound anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime and continued its efforts to address areas of weakness, which include the implementation of targeted financial sanctions and information sharing.
The CTIF is tasked with tracking and investigating reports of financial crimes, including money laundering and terrorist financing, and has broad authorities under Belgian legislation to conduct inquiries and refer criminal cases to federal prosecutors. Money transfer and other remittance services are monitored and regulated, and Know Your Customer data is collected per EU directives. Non-Profit Organizations are regulated and monitored by the Ministry of Justice. UN lists of sanctioned individuals and entities are routinely distributed via gazette notices, although implementation through the EU regulations can take anywhere from several days to weeks.
Countering Violent Extremism: Belgian authorities consider violent extremism as a complex phenomenon driven by political, social, and personal factors – polarization of ethnic and religious groups in society, terrorist propaganda, anti-Western religious ideology, the civil war in Syria, perceived or actual anti-Muslim discrimination, unequal distribution of educational or employment opportunity, criminality, and psychological disturbance. Many but not all Belgian‑national terrorists or foreign terrorist fighters have non-terrorist criminal histories, have spent time fighting in Syria, have close familial ties to other criminals or terrorists, and often come from or have connections to poorer, mostly ethnic-Moroccan neighborhoods in Brussels or Antwerp.
Belgium’s central counter-radicalization plan aims to identify people at the early stages of radicalization to violence to take appropriate measures. This strategy has been incorporated into the BFP Integral Security framework document designed to integrate policy at the federal and regional levels. The emphasis on the federal level is on pursuing and protecting while regional authorities focus on prevention and social measures. Belgium has undertaken efforts to reduce criminality, strengthen Muslim religious and community leaders, and reduce social polarization. The Ministry of Interior launched the “Canal Plan” in several Brussels-area neighborhoods with high rates of crime and links to terrorism. The plan includes an increase in police on the streets, a crackdown on drug-, arms-, and illicit-goods trafficking; promised reductions in petty crime; effective registration of all inhabitants in their official residences; and aggressive records checks of businesses and associations.
As part of its strategy to address foreign terrorist fighters, Belgium has created local security task forces focused on security measures, and local integral security cells focused on prevention and social service delivery for radicalized or potentially radicalizing individuals. Additionally, both public and private initiatives exist to attempt to reintegrate foreign terrorist fighters into Belgian society, as well as national programs and a federally supported network of de-radicalization specialists to work with foreign terrorist fighters. Belgium has increased police training under the joint Belgium-EU Community Policing and the Prevention of Radicalization program. The BFP has sponsored additional community policing initiatives, including one organized with Rutgers University’s Department of Homeland Security Studies.
Belgium generally sentences convicted terrorists or supporters of terrorist organizations to prison. Countering the foreign terrorist fighter threat through prison de-radicalization is a top priority, and the Ministry of Justice has increased funding for radicalization-related counseling in prisons. Belgium has begun training imams who work with prisoners to recognize signs of radicalization to violence, and to identify possible recruiters; efforts are underway at some prisons to isolate radicalized prisoners to prevent the spread of violent extremist views.
The Government of Belgium has provided additional resources to strengthen the official institutions of Islam in Belgium to enable imams to act more effectively against terrorist propaganda, while regional governments have strengthened religious education and provided new training opportunities for religious leaders.
International and Regional Cooperation: Belgium participates in EU, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Council of Europe counterterrorism efforts, and is a member of the advisory board of the UN Counterterrorism Center. Belgium has also been an active proponent of Europol databases and EU-wide information sharing. As an EU member state, Belgium has contributed trainers and capacity building expertise to EU counterterrorism assistance programs in Sahel countries, including the Collège Sahélien de Sécurité; and the BFP provided training to counterparts in the Maghreb. Belgium currently leads the EU training mission in Mali to build Malian Armed Forces capacity to reduce threats caused by terrorist groups.
Belgium participates in all EU efforts to prevent and interdict foreign terrorist fighter travel across land and maritime borders, encouraging efforts to strengthen Schengen zone external borders, actively engaging in the Syria Strategic Communications Advisory Team, promoting the implementation of EU and domestic Passenger Name Record systems, participating in EU naval operation against human smugglers in the Mediterranean under Operation Sofia, and supporting the EU-Turkey agreement aimed at discouraging illegal migration to Europe. Belgium is also an active participant in Global Counterterrorism Forum workshops.
Overview: Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) remained a cooperative counterterrorism partner and continued to make progress increasing its counterterrorism capacity. BiH law enforcement agencies generally kept close track of foreign terrorist fighter suspects, however, the Terrorism Task Force led by the State Prosecutor’s Office – tasked with improving coordination between BiH’s many security and police agencies – continued to falter. Violent Islamist extremist ideology and regional nationalist extremist groups both remained potential sources of violent extremism in BiH.
A number of BiH citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq to support ISIS and other terrorist groups, but legal and societal efforts to prevent violent extremism were credited with having reduced the flow of foreign terrorist fighters compared to previous years. BiH officials and open media sources estimated that approximately 300 BiH citizens have left for destinations in Iraq and Syria since 2013, of which approximately 50 have returned. BiH government officials reported that there was no discernible flow of foreign terrorist fighters in 2016. BiH is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The majority of BiH’s coordination and cooperation problems are the result of personal, political, and institutional rivalries that exist among law enforcement agencies and the State Prosecutor’s Office. BiH continued to lack the capacity to thoroughly investigate and prosecute cases of terrorism and foreign terrorist fighters, particularly when investigations involve complex financial dealings, cyber recruitment, and coordination. While most prosecutions resulted in convictions or plea bargains, sentences were inadequate.
The BiH Border Police (BP) uses a computerized database and software system to support immigration and passenger information collection. According to the Border Police, the system connects BiH’s border crossings, including four airport locations (Banja Luka, Mostar, Sarajevo, and Tuzla) via the State Police Information Network (SPIN), a network developed and donated by the Department of State via the U.S. Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP). The Foreigners Affairs Service (FAS) reports that they have connected all but two of their 16 field offices to the SPIN network. The Directorate for the Police Body Coordination (DCPB), the State Investigative and Protection Agency (SIPA), the Federation Ministry of Interior, and the BiH Ministry of Security can reportedly also access SPIN. The SPIN network provides the BP and FAS with access to other supporting databases (including INTERPOL) to run appropriate checks and cross-checks.
Through the data exchange system, which became operational with European Union support in 2013, participating police agencies in BiH have the capability to exchange data, and any derogatory information will come up as a “hit” when a subject’s passport or BiH identification card is passed through the scanner at the point of entry. The BP has both legal authority and physical facilities at most border crossings to detain individuals for up to 24 hours while they consult with SIPA and the BiH Prosecutor’s Office regarding next steps regarding questionable individuals. Observers report, however, that there continued to be significant gaps in border security and it was unclear whether screening had occurred at all official points of entry. There were also numerous non-official points of entry that were not monitored.
Separately, ICITAP, with Department of State funding, has set up a limited biometric system for the FAS that will permit more effective monitoring of individuals entering and leaving BiH, and has supported two mobile command posts that can respond anywhere in the country and coordinate emergency response. Additionally, ICITAP plans to upgrade the DCPB’s Emergency Operations Center’s communications system to facilitate coordination during emergency situations. Emergency response systems were still lacking throughout most of the country, however, and law enforcement agencies were not fully equipped or trained to respond to a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The lack of information sharing between law enforcement entities would likely further inhibit a coordinated response.
The Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program provided training courses and equipment donations to BiH Customs and Border Police, including a Docubox, a device used to identify fraudulent travel documents.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: BiH is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. BiH’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Intelligence Department, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
In spring 2015, BiH was referred to the FATF public identification process due to its lack of progress rectifying core anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies, including the criminalization of terrorist financing and failure to implement UN obligations for targeted financial sanctions. In June 2015 BiH made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and MONEYVAL and has been working to implement an action plan to address identified deficiencies since that time. In June 2016, the FATF recognized that BiH has taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including by finalizing a regulation for freezing terrorist assets under UN Security Council resolution 1373 and working to harmonize the federal criminal code with its equivalent in BiH jurisdictions. The EU noted in its November 2016 report on BiH that measures in the action plan need to be completed without delay, particularly on the registration and financial reporting of the non-governmental sector.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Countering Violent Extremism: The main religious communities in BiH (Catholic, Islamic, Jewish, and Orthodox) continued to work together through the Interreligious Council to promote tolerance and confront acts of bigotry or violent extremism directed at any of the communities. Among public figures, the Grand Mufti and leader of the Islamic Community in BiH, the Reis Kavazovic, continued to speak out against “misinterpretations of Islam” that lead to extremist violence. The Islamic Community made significant progress countering the spread of potentially extremist interpretations of Islam. In February 2016, the Reis Kavazovic officially called upon members of self-organized Salafist communities (parajamaats) to join the Islamic Community, or face legal consequences. According to officials, approximately 90 percent of the known parajamaats have since recognized the authority of the Islamic community, which now actively supervises the congregations and appoints their imams.
Regional and International Cooperation: BiH’s criminal code and related legal framework are generally harmonized with UN and EU counterterrorism standards. BiH is both a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and also the host of an OSCE field mission, which has assisted BiH in developing its counterterrorism strategy. It is also a member of the Council of Europe, and the Regional Cooperation Council (with Sarajevo hosting its headquarters), and a North Atlantic Treaty Organization-aspirant country.
BiH law enforcement agencies regularly interacted with their U.S. and European counterparts on counterterrorism investigations. INTERPOL has a Sarajevo branch office that has good cooperation with all law enforcement agencies throughout the country, all of which have direct access to INTERPOL’s databases. BiH participated in a range of counterterrorism and CVE programs sponsored by UN entities and regional organizations, including the OSCE.
Overview: The Government of Bulgaria continued to extradite suspected foreign terrorist fighters from Bulgaria and launched a trial against three alleged Syrian foreign terrorist fighters as well as two suspected accomplices in the 2012 Burgas bus bombing. The Bulgarian government has worked to enhance its terrorism prevention and enforcement tools by adopting new and comprehensive counterterrorism legislation, and releasing a counter-radicalization strategy and national plan.
The United States and Bulgaria continued to strengthen counterterrorism cooperation through the Bilateral Counterterrorism Working Group established in 2015. The group, comprising representatives of multiple U.S. and Bulgarian agencies, facilitated the signing of a memorandum for continuous training of Bulgarian counterterrorism special forces. In September, Bulgaria presented the United States with a comprehensive list of priorities and projects to enhance bilateral cooperation in the fight against violent extremism and foreign terrorist fighters, and in November both countries signed an Implementing Agreement to the Bulgaria-U.S. Preventing and Combating Serious Crime Agreement, which would make use of DHS’s Secured Real-Time Platform. As part of its bilateral counterterrorism cooperation proposal to the United States, Bulgaria proposed to create a regional research and analysis network on foreign terrorist fighters and radicalization to violence. Bulgaria envisions a network of NGOs, academics, and security services from throughout the Balkans taking part in this effort.
Bulgaria is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and has repeatedly responded to requests for assistance, including providing weapons and munitions to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Bulgaria prosecutes terrorism under several general provisions of the penal code, which has been amended multiple times since it was first enacted in 1968. In 2015, the National Assembly adopted amendments to the penal code that provide for the prosecution of individuals, including foreign terrorist fighters, who support, plan, and facilitate the commission of terrorist acts in Bulgaria and abroad.
In 2016, the Bulgarian National Assembly approved new counterterrorism legislation which provides a legal mechanism for a whole-of-government response to terrorist threats. The bill defines three levels of terrorist threat and four levels of response readiness. The Council of Ministers provides overall guidance on counterterrorism activities and adopted a counterterrorism strategy and a national plan. The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which is part of the State Agency for National Security (DANS), will serve as a data hub and will supply all competent agencies with information necessary to prevent and intercept terrorist threats on a 24-hour-a-day basis. The bill also regulates the role of the military forces in counterterrorism activities, and delineates the cooperation between the central and local governments. Amendments to the legislation were adopted providing the military with powers to search individuals, their vehicles, and possessions; to check IDs; to enter homes in the owners’ absence; and to arrest or use physical force and arms if needed, to prevent or deal with the consequences of a terrorist act.
The Ministry of the Interior has operational units responsible for deterring, detecting, and responding to terrorist incidents, including the Specialized Unit for Combating Terrorism, Security Police, and Special Police Forces, which receive support from a U.S. Special Operations Forces Liaison Element. DANS has intelligence-gathering units responsible for counterterrorism. DANS also houses the NCTC, which is designed and capable of being an interagency body during crisis incidents. Specialized law enforcement units are generally well‑equipped and supported with relevant training, but their focus has been primarily on Sofia, while other regional centers lack resources. In 2015, the specialized court for organized crime and its prosecutors’ office received jurisdiction to prosecute and try all terrorist cases in the country. The court is working to develop expertise in handling these types of cases.
After the terrorist attacks in Paris (2015) and Brussels (2016), Bulgaria tightened its border control rules and screened all travelers at the border crossings. Within the European Union (EU), Bulgaria shares Advanced Passenger Information appearing on the biographical data page of passports. Based on bilateral police cooperation agreements, Bulgaria also shares this type of information with non-EU countries for law enforcement purposes on an as-needed basis. In February, Parliament passed legislation that provided the legal basis for the establishment of a Passenger Information Unit (PIU). The PIU will collect and share the data an airline receives from a traveler to book and manage travel. The same legislation also obliges air carriers to provide data to the PIU. The government approved funding for the necessary equipment, and the PIU was in the process of staffing it with analysts from DANS and the Interior Ministry. Bulgaria also received €160 million (US $166 million) from the EU for border security enhancement.
U.S. government agencies continued to work closely with Bulgarian counterparts through a variety of counterterrorism programs aimed at enhancing Bulgaria’s capacity and capabilities. The Department of State partnered with Bulgaria to implement key programs in the areas of border security, aviation security, and interagency cooperation. In March, the United States provided planning assistance and participated in a city-wide crisis exercise that simulated attacks on public venues and transportation and the specific targeting of U.S. citizens, including U.S. embassy personnel. In May, the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program offered training on interviewing terrorist suspects and, in October, provided guidance to the NCTC on fulfilling its goal of becoming a true interagency counterterrorism fusion center. In May, the FBI provided terrorist screening training to Bulgarian NCTC personnel. Bulgaria has benefited from several Institute for Law Enforcement Administration training programs focused on airport interdiction, law enforcement leadership and development, and personnel and facility security. The United States also conducted a Passport and Visa Fraud training course.
As part of its bilateral cooperation agreements with the United States, Bulgaria sought to acquire facial recognition software, handheld explosives-detection devices, and other resources to expand its capacity to secure its border and detect transiting foreign terrorist fighters.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Bulgaria is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Bulgaria’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Intelligence Directorate (FID) of DANS, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and has primary responsibility for the supervision of reporting financial institutions and other entities. The Bulgarian National Bank also has a Special Supervision Directorate to investigate banks for compliance with money laundering and terrorist financing requirements.
Bulgaria criminalizes terrorist financing largely in accordance with international standards, although current legislation does not cover the full list of offenses. Although adequate legislation is in place, the procedures to implement UN Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1373 remain cumbersome, and border control and customs are not clearly authorized to retain assets upon suspicion of terrorist financing. Since there is no publicly available information on terrorism‑related assets frozen or seized, it is hard to assess the effectiveness of Bulgaria’s process. In April, the parliament passed amendments to the Measures against the Financing of Terrorism Act, introducing a direct application of United Nations (UN) sanctions made under UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al‑Qa’ida sanctions regime. Since April, Bulgaria has added five new persons (foreign nationals) to its national list of persons subject to counterterrorist financing measures.
Thirty-one reporting entities, including banks, real estate brokers, and financial and exchange houses, are required to file regularly with FID currency transaction reports for all transactions valued at more than US $17,000. In 2016, FID/DANS received 22 suspicious activity reports related to terrorist financing from domestic reporting entities and 23 reports from foreign entities. The information remained under review at the end of the year. There are penalties (administrative sanctions) for non-compliance and enforcement is generally good. Bulgaria requires the collection of Know Your Customer data for wire transfers. All non-governmental organizations are obliged to report suspicious transactions.
Countering Violent Extremism: At the end of 2015, a new government strategy and action plan on countering radicalization to violence and violent extremism was approved by the Council of Ministers. The strategy aims to strengthen existing government counterterrorism efforts by involving all possible agencies and by optimizing interagency coordination. The strategy spells out mechanisms for improved cooperation with civil society, business organizations, local communities, and religious leaders. According to Bulgaria’s draft action plan, the government will have a national program by 2020 for members of violent extremist groups to disengage, de‑radicalize, and be rehabilitated. Further, the National Assembly passed amendments criminalizing “radical Islam” at the bill’s first reading. The second reading had not taken place before the end of 2016. The Grand Mufti of Bulgaria has been a voice of tolerance and moderation, and has stressed that government efforts must complement community CVE efforts.
International and Regional Cooperation: Bulgaria is a member of and active contributor to counterterrorism initiatives at the UN, EU, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Organization for Black Sea Economic Cooperation.
Overview: The Republic of Cyprus collaborated closely with the United States, the European Union (EU), and other countries – bilaterally and multilaterally – in international counterterrorism efforts in 2016. Cyprus’ counterterrorism partnership with the United States included participation in a Department of State-funded Department of Justice regional program focused on countering Hizballah. The program strengthened the government’s understanding of Hizballah and stressed the importance of interagency cooperation in countering all types of terrorism.
Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into the Republic of Cyprus government‑controlled area, composed of the southern two-thirds of the island, and the northern third not under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, which is administered by the Turkish Cypriots. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared the northern part to be the independent “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”). The United States does not recognize the “TRNC,” nor does any country other than Turkey. The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) patrols the Buffer Zone, also called “the Green Line,” which separates the two sides, is largely open to civilian traffic, and remains a significant route for the illicit transit of people, narcotics, and other contraband.
The division of the island has impeded counterterrorism cooperation between the two communities and between the Republics of Cyprus and Turkey, which do not maintain diplomatic relations. Given the lack of international recognition, the Turkish Cypriots do not have the legal and institutional framework necessary to counter the financing of terrorism effectively. Within these current limitations, Turkish Cypriots have cooperated in pursuing specific counterterrorism objectives.
Cyprus is a partner in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and regularly participates in the Coalition’s Working Groups on Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Counter-ISIS Finance Group.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Republic of Cyprus enacted a National Law on Combating Terrorism in 2010 that incorporates EU Council Framework Decisions. Cypriot authorities continued to develop capabilities under the supervision of the National Counterterrorism Coordinator and a specialized counterterrorism squad in the Cypriot National Police’s (CNP) Emergency Response Unit.
In response to multiple terrorist attacks in Europe, Cyprus enhanced its security cooperation and law enforcement measures. These activities included increased patrols around critical infrastructure and soft targets including popular tourist resorts, cultural sites, and diplomatic facilities. They have also increased security measures and surveillance at border crossing points and along the “Green Line” and Cypriot coast. Cyprus has strengthened passport control at airports and seaports through improved information exchange with Europol and INTERPOL regarding lost and stolen passports and enhanced training for border security officers to identify potential foreign terrorist fighters.
Cyprus currently is reviewing its existing legislation to address the requirements set out in UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2178. Cyprus is also preparing to implement the 2016 EU Directive on the use of Passenger Name Records.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Cyprus’s financial intelligence unit, the Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS), is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
In April 2015, MOKAS started using “goAML,” a sophisticated IT system, designed to meet data collection, management, analytical, workflow, and statistical needs of FIUs. This new system enables supervised entities to submit suspicious transaction reports to MOKAS electronically, under the highest security standards. MOKAS has already reported a 25 percent increase in the number of reports filed since the inception of this system, crediting it with simplifying the submission process.
In 2016, Cypriot authorities continued conducting a national risk assessment on money laundering and terrorist financing, covering the entire anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) system, including charities. This document will build on a set of AML/CFT reforms, focusing on the financial sector transparency that Cyprus implemented in 2013-2016, in accordance with its IMF assistance program.
Cyprus has implemented the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime and informally tracked individuals and entities listed under U.S. executive orders (E.O.), including E.O. 13224. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs circulates updates of UN and EU sanctions lists to relevant authorities as well as the Cyprus Bar Association and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus. Cyprus does not have legal powers in place to apply targeted financial sanctions pursuant to UNSCR 1373, however.
Cyprus enacted legislation in 2016 to designate national competent authorities for implementing the EU and UN sanctions regimes and criminalizing infringements (“The Implementation of the Provisions of UNSCRs or Decisions (Sanctions) and Decisions and Regulations of the Council of the European Union (Restrictive Measures) Law of 2016, L.58(I)/2016”). This law also enables the supervisory authorities of the financial and non-financial sector to issue directives to their regulated entities and take administrative measures in case of non-compliance. Cyprus did not identify or freeze any assets pursuant to relevant UNSCRs in 2016.
The Central Bank of Cyprus is the supervisory authority for the banking sector, including cooperative societies, electronic money institutions, and payment institutions. Cyprus does not have a significant unregulated informal banking and money transfer system. Predominantly due to low capacity for supervision of financial institutions and company formation, Cyprus remains a major hub for shell company activity.
Countering Violent Extremism: Cyprus has established a network of first-line officers in the CNP, Social Welfare Services, and Ministries of Justice, Education, and Interior, to exchange information and best practices on identifying radicalized behavior. The government has also established relationships with civil society organizations and municipal authorities to prevent radicalization to violence. Cyprus has continued its participation in the European Commission’s Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN), and prison staff participates in the RAN Prison Network of the EU.
International and Regional Cooperation: Members of the CNP’s Counterterrorism Office participate in the Working Group on Terrorism at the Council of the EU. Cyprus regularly participates in the Police Working Group on Terrorism, the “Dumas” Working Group, the European Expert Network on Terrorism, and the Europol European Counter Terrorism Center, as well as other meetings convened under Europol and INTERPOL. Cyprus has contributed to the Council of Europe’s efforts to establish and adopt the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on Combating Terrorism, which addresses foreign terrorist fighters within the framework of UNSCR 2178 (2014).
Overview: The Kingdom of Denmark (which includes the self-governing areas of Greenland and the Faroe Islands) devoted significant assets to counterterrorism programs and initiatives to counter violent extremism, domestically and abroad. Denmark cooperates closely with the United States, the United Nations (UN), and the European Union (EU) on specific counterterrorism initiatives, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). Denmark is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and has contributed strike and support aircraft, including 7 F-16s deployed to Incirlik Air, support personnel at the Coalition regional headquarters, and military trainers to the Coalition.
According to the Danish Police Intelligence Service (PET), at least 135 Danish citizens and residents have voluntarily left Denmark to fight in Syria and Iraq since the summer of 2012. PET assessed that those who engage in combat in Syria and Iraq do so primarily as members of ISIS, and that nearly half of the individuals who traveled to Syria and Iraq for combat have returned to Denmark. Danish security services monitored individuals who have departed Denmark for combat and tracked returnees. PET remained concerned that Danish fighters returning to Denmark with terrorist training would seek to radicalize others.
Danish security agencies worked together to counter ISIS’s attempts to recruit foreign terrorist fighters and prevent terrorist attacks in the country.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Denmark continued to use its 2006 terrorism legislation that allows information sharing between Denmark’s two intelligence services, PET and the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (DDIS). The legislation also permits surveillance and wiretapping of terrorist suspects with a warrant. Danish security and law enforcement agencies share information via the PET-administered Center for Terror Analysis (CTA), which – as the Danish government’s intelligence fusion center – constitutes the focal point for reporting from the Danish National Police, PET, DDIS, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Danish Emergency Management Agency.
The Danish National Police and PET are responsible for the country’s counterterrorism mission. These two divisions under the Ministry of Justice coordinate their responses with the DDIS and the Danish Commission on Counterterrorism and Foreign Terrorist Fighters.
Denmark’s national police force is organized into 14 districts that also include the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Travel to ISIS-controlled areas of Syria or Iraq without permission from the Justice Ministry can result in loss of a traveler’s Danish passport, and under newly implemented legislation, individuals who participate in terrorist activities can lose their Danish citizenship if it does not render the individual stateless. Denmark possesses biographic and biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry and readily shares information within its own government and with other countries, as appropriate. Security forces patrol and control Denmark’s land and maritime borders. Denmark is a member of the Schengen Agreement. During 2016, Denmark instituted border checkpoints at land crossings and instituted tighter passport travel controls at air and sea ports. When Sweden introduced border controls in January 2016, in relation to the migrant and asylum seeker crisis in Europe, Denmark quickly implemented temporary border controls along its border with Germany to prevent migrants from being “trapped” in Denmark. These controls, which include checks for identification, are authorized through May 2017 and may be extended further. There were no passport controls at land borders or airport terminals servicing Schengen area flights in 2016. Copenhagen International Airport has installed automated passport control gates for travelers departing the Schengen area; travelers arriving from beyond the Schengen area must undergo standard passport control.
Other counterterrorism-related actions in the realms of law enforcement and legislation included:
- In January, a 16-year-old female and a 24-year-old male co-conspirator were arrested and charged for plotting to bomb two schools, one of which was a private Jewish school in Copenhagen. The female reportedly told police that she was inspired by a February 2015 terrorist attack in Copenhagen.
- In April, Copenhagen police arrested four individuals who had previously fought in Syria; police found weaponry and ammunition during the raid. The incident prompted legislation that limits travel to areas controlled by ISIS or other terrorist groups, and increased criminal penalties for individuals who join or promote terrorism in zones of armed conflict.
- In May, then Danish Minister of Justice Søren Pind signed the Additional Protocol to The Council of Europe Convention on Prevention of Terrorism, which criminalizes belonging to, organizing for, or traveling or training on behalf of a terrorist group. The agreement includes additional measures to facilitate information sharing between signatory states.
- In September, Danish courts acquitted four Danish citizens accused of materially supporting the 2015 Copenhagen terrorist attack; the four suspects were found guilty of lesser weapons charges related to the attack.
- In November, the Danish parliament committed an additional US $9 million to CVE efforts and an additional US $5 million for security infrastructure upgrades to buildings used by the Jewish community in Copenhagen.
- In December, Danish Parliament adopted legislation that institutes penalties for religious leaders who make verbal or written statements of approval of terrorism, murder, rape, and other acts that are against the Danish Criminal Code.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Denmark is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Its financial intelligence unit (FIU), the Money Laundering Secretariat, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and cooperates closely with other Nordic FIUs. Danish authorities can freeze assets within hours or days with a valid court order, although the confiscation process requires a full trial and is subject to an appeals process.
The Danish government continued an initiative focused on countering money laundering and terrorist financing in East Africa and Yemen. Denmark continued its efforts to build partnerships that teach anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance techniques to the governments of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Yemen.
In October, then Minister of Business and Growth Troels Lund Poulsen introduced legislation to implement the EU’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
Countering Violent Extremism: The Danish Parliament continued funding of the National Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) action plan, which focused on prevention efforts, a de‑radicalization exit program, mentoring for at-risk youth, and increased monitoring of internet‑based messages and propaganda by groups that advocate terrorism or violent extremism.
In October, the government authorized a package of measures that aim to counter radicalization to violence in Denmark. A key piece of the legislation authorizes PET to identify and block terrorist or radicalizing content on the internet. Additionally the legislation funds a dedicated, national-level internet content filter designed to block terrorist content.
International and Regional Cooperation: The Danish government is committed to working within the UN framework through the EU, and with other international and regional organizations. Denmark actively participates in the UN, the Global Counterterrorism Forum, the EU, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, INTERPOL, the Bern Club, and the EU Counterterrorism Group. In December 2015, Danish voters rejected a proposition to end the country’s opt-out from the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs area, which would have permitted Denmark to continue to cooperate with Europol after May 2017. The Danish government and the EU negotiated a separate agreement in December that provides Denmark access to Europol information and services through a liaison officer.
Overview: France remained a key counterterrorism partner of the United States in 2016. It is a longstanding member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, contributing early to the air campaigns in Iraq and Syria. President Hollande renewed his commitment to the fight against ISIS in the aftermath of the July 14 ISIS-claimed terrorist attack in Nice, redeploying the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to support intensified airstrikes against ISIS. France has also deployed approximately 3,500 troops to engage in Defeat-ISIS operations, as well as strike and refueling tanker aircraft. France continued its counterterrorism operations in Libya, Mali, and other parts of the Sahel region. Bilateral arrangements finalized in March and April enhanced already strong cooperation with the United States on exchanging information related to known or suspected terrorists.
France continued to face an elevated domestic terrorist threat level in 2016, most significantly from ISIS and ISIS-affiliated individuals. France is the largest European Union (EU) source of foreign terrorist fighters in Iraq and Syria. While the number of French citizens attempting to travel to Iraq and Syria decreased in 2016, officials worry this could increase the possibility of additional attacks on French soil as radicalized individuals choose to act at home, inspired by ISIS messaging.
Three significant attacks by terrorists affiliated with or inspired by ISIS claimed 89 lives and wounded more than 400 in 2016. In December 10 public remarks, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said authorities foiled 17 terrorist plots in 2016. While the January and November 2015 attacks exhibited organizational complexity, minimally-directed attacks requiring little operational overhead presented the greatest threat and caused the most damage in 2016.
2016 Terrorist Incidents:
- On January 7, the anniversary of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, a man wearing a fake explosive vest and wielding a butcher knife attempted to attack a police station in Paris. Police officers shot and killed the assailant – Tarek Belkacem, a 20-year-old born in Morocco – before he could injure anyone. Investigators later found on the attacker a handwritten note pledging allegiance to ISIS and justifying the act as a response to the attacks in Syria.
- On June 13, 25-year-old French citizen Larossi Abballa killed a police officer and his civil servant wife with a knife at their home in the Paris suburb of Magnanville. In a 12‑minute video streamed live on Facebook during a standoff with police, Abballa pledged allegiance to ISIS and called for more attacks on police, journalists, and other public figures. Police forces raided the house, killed Abballa, and rescued the couple’s three-year-old son, who was unharmed.
- On July 14, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian national with French residency, drove a 19-ton truck through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day on Nice’s promenade, killing 86 and wounding more than 400 during the mile-long rampage. After several attempts by bystanders and police to stop the truck, two police officers shot and killed the driver approximately five minutes after the attack began. Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was armed with a 7.65mm handgun; several replica weapons and an unarmed grenade were reportedly found in the otherwise almost entirely empty rental truck. ISIS’s propaganda outlet, Amaq, issued a statement on July 16 describing the attacker as “a soldier of the Islamic State.”
- On July 26, two teenagers wielding knives and a non-functioning pistol killed an 86‑year‑old priest and wounded a parishioner attending mass at a Catholic church in Normandy. Police shot and killed the two perpetrators – 19-year-old French citizen Abdelmalik Petitjean and 19-year-old Algerian-born French citizen Adel Kermiche – as they tried to flee the church using the remaining hostages as shields. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, describing Kermiche and Petitjean as “Islamic State soldiers,” and later released videos of the two attackers pledging allegiance to the terrorist organization.
- In early September, French authorities arrested three women suspected of planning an attack on a Paris train station after an earlier failed effort to detonate a car bomb near the Notre Dame cathedral. One of the women arrested reportedly had ties to both the Normandy and Magnanville attackers, and two men arrested in connection with the plot were reportedly linked to ISIS operative Rachid Kassim.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: France has a system of non-jury courts for terrorism trials and a broad definition of what is considered a terrorist offence – the so-called “association of wrongdoers” offense – which allows it to cast a wide net and imprison a broad range of suspects. Under French law, foreigners can be deported if they are believed to pose a serious threat to public order. France remains under a state of emergency enacted shortly after the November 2015 attacks in and around Paris. The state of emergency was renewed for the fifth time in mid-December and is currently scheduled to expire July 15, 2017.
Legislation extending the state of emergency expanded government authorities to monitor phone and online communications, perform warrantless searches, exploit digital media found during these searches, and detain suspects without charge for up to 96 hours, among other measures. Maximum sentences for the crime of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act increased from 10 years to 20 to 30 years. A June 3 law on terrorism and organized crime increased fines and jail time for not sharing encryption methods used in the furtherance of such activity. Visiting violent extremist websites with frequency can now result in a two-year prison term.
France has two national security forces: the General Directorate of National Police (DGPN) and the Directorate General of the National Gendarmerie (DGGN), both subordinate to the Interior Ministry. The DGGN is part of the Defense Ministry but the Interior Ministry manages its policing functions. The DGPN is responsible for civil law enforcement and criminal investigations in cities and large towns and is staffed with approximately 150,000 personnel. The General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI) combines law enforcement capabilities with domestic intelligence gathering. Since the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, between 7,000 and 10,000 regular French army forces have been deployed domestically to protect sensitive sites as part of Operation Sentinelle.
In late November, French authorities arrested five individuals – four French citizens in Strasbourg and a Moroccan citizen in Marseille – suspected of planning an attack in or around Paris in early December. The arrests were the culmination of a months-long operation by domestic security agency DGSI.
France finalized an information-sharing arrangement with the United States that has helped systemize the already strong working-level exchange of information related to known or suspected terrorists. Within the EU, France was instrumental in efforts to push through legislation in April requiring use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) information and a June 10 agreement on stricter arms trafficking controls. Currently only used for select flights originating from higher-threat countries, France aims to have full PNR information coverage by mid-2017.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: France is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has observer or cooperating status in the following FATF-style regional bodies: the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Task Force. France’s financial intelligence unit, Tracfin, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and the Anti-Money Laundering Liaison Committee of the Franc Zone.
The French government announced nine new measures in 2015 to counter terrorist financing, several of which went into effect in 2016. The measures aim to limit the size and availability of anonymous and cash transactions, improve tracking of suspicious transactions, enhance due diligence checks, and bolster the capacity to freeze assets (e.g., by extending covered assets to include vehicles). Details on these measures can be found in French Finance Ministry communiqués from 2015 and 2016.
As of January 1, deposits and withdrawals totaling more than €10,000 (US $10,460) per month are automatically reported to Tracfin. On November 1, Tracfin gained systematic access to France’s database of wanted persons, which includes lists of known and suspected terrorists. As of December 1, customs declaration requirements were extended to include any freight shipment of money or securities valued at more than €10,000 (US $10,460) within the EU. In November, Finance Minister Sapin issued a decree to go into effect January 1, 2017 on expanding government authorities to freeze more assets from a wider range of individuals, and constraining the use of anonymous pre-paid cards.
Countering Violent Extremism: In May 2016, then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls released a unified Plan of Action Against Terrorism and Radicalization. The report’s 80 recommendations to ministries and agencies across the French government address the broad scope of the problem, including improving research into the drivers of radicalization, developing reintegration and rehabilitation centers for radicalized individuals, better securing vulnerable sites, and building national resilience to terrorist attacks.
The Inter-ministerial Committee for the Prevention of Delinquency and Radicalization (CIPDR) is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the French government’s Plan of Action. CIPDR expanded access to prevention and reintegration counseling services through a network of government-supported civil society organizations, and aims to double the approximately 2,200 individuals receiving such services by the end of 2017. CIPDR opened the first residential Citizenship and Reintegration Center in late September, and is tasked with opening others in each of mainland France’s 13 regions. Separately, the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for oversight of religious communities, began an effort to reform the organization and financing of France’s Islamic institutions. The Foundation for the Islam of France, relaunched in December after more than a decade of dormancy, aims to encourage domestic financing of Islamic institutions and improve the secular-civic education and French language ability of imams working in France. While there is no consensus among government officials, academia, or civil society on a single set of drivers to violent extremism, many cite the lack of credible, influential voices within France’s Muslim population capable of directly contesting violent extremist discourse at a local and youth level as a critical gap.
The Ministry of Justice announced a reorganization of its approach to handling radicalization to violence in the French prison system in October. The government will use a two-stage approach. Prisoners suspected of radicalization to violence will undergo a four-month evaluation in one of six dedicated units. The most extreme cases will be sent to “violent prisoner units” where they will receive individualized attention and face stricter detention policies, including increased isolation, regular searches, frequent cell changes, and limited access to personal belongings. Lower-risk prisoners will be redistributed throughout the penitentiary system, but will continue to receive supplementary counseling.
The Prime Minister’s office continued a counter-messaging campaign through the website stop‑djihadisme.gouv.fr. The campaign deploys survivor’s stories, interactive videos, and information on a toll-free hotline so those who believe a friend or relative is at risk of radicalization to violence can call for guidance and support. Five thousand individuals have been flagged for support services or judicial attention since the hotline opened in 2014. France is a core contributor to counter-ISIS coalition messaging efforts.
International and Regional Cooperation: France is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. Sworn in in 2013, France’s Jean Paul Laborde remained the Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate. France played a strong role on the UN Security Council 1267/1989/2253 and 1988 Sanctions Committees. France supported the development and implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s January 2016 Plan of Action for Preventing Violent Extremism and the G-7 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism. The French government undertook joint counterterrorism operations with several EU partners and played an active role in counterterrorism capacity building in other countries, both bilaterally and through the EU. The MFA designated Patrick Maisonnave as its first counterterrorism ambassador-at-large, responsible for coordinating efforts both within the French interagency and with international partners.
Overview: Georgia, a longstanding member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, continued its strong engagement with the United States across a range of counterterrorism-related issues and remained a solid U.S. global security partner. In August, Tbilisi City Court convicted ISIS fighter Davit Borchashvili to 12 years in prison for being a member of a terrorist organization and participating in terrorist activities. Georgian authorities continued to work toward greater information sharing with U.S. and regional counterparts on security issues. Georgia also made progress implementing a domestic program to counter violent extremism. Press reports suggested that, as of late last year, approximately 50 to 100 Georgian nationals were foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq. Given Georgia’s geographic location, Islamist extremists have transited through the country between the Russian Federation’s North Caucasus, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Georgia continued to enhance its counterterrorism legislation in 2016 and now has a substantial legal framework for prosecuting terrorism-related offenses. In line with UN Security Council resolution 2178, the government in 2015 changed its Criminal Code and other relevant legislation to criminalize foreign terrorist fighters and the incitement of terrorist acts. These amendments built on changes to the Criminal Code in 2014 that criminalized participation in international terrorism, recruitment for membership in a terrorist organization, and failing to hinder a terrorist incident.
The State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) has the lead in handling terrorism-related incidents, and is generally well-equipped and well trained. Overall, the government is largely capable of detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorism incidents. While several ministries and offices share policy-oriented counterterrorism roles, SSSG has taken the lead on actionable facets of counterterrorism since splitting off from the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2015.
Georgia has improved its overall border security, in part due to its goal of attaining visa-free travel to the European Union. Nonetheless, Georgia’s lack of control over the Russian-occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, its lack of diplomatic relations with Russia, and the country’s harsh terrain limited its ability to secure its borders. Law enforcement uses cameras, terrorist watch‑lists, and advance passenger name records to help detect potential terrorist movement at ports of entry; however, more comprehensive biometric and biographic screening at ports of entry and the implementation of standard operating procedures for dealing with suspicious individuals would enhance this capability. With significant U.S. support, the Georgian Coast Guard is better equipped to patrol the country’s maritime borders, with the exception of Russian‑occupied Abkhazia’s coastline. The U.S. government continued to enhance the Georgian government’s ability to detect and interdict weapons of mass destruction. Georgia shares cross-border terrorism-related information with its southern neighbors – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey – through police attachés and working-level interaction at border crossings.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Georgia is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Georgia’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Monitoring Service of Georgia (FMS), is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
Georgia’s amendments to terrorist financing legislation to address shortcomings highlighted in MONEYVAL’s 2007 evaluation – such as gaps in the terrorist financing offense and poor financial sector supervision – came into force in 2014. The government is currently in the process of implementing an action plan for countering money laundering and terrorist financing to further improve regulations and build capacity. In response to recommendations from MONEYVAL and FATF, the government established the Interagency Commission on Implementation of UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) to coordinate the government’s immediate compliance with UNSCR 1373 and the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al‑Qa’ida sanctions regime.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Countering Violent Extremism: In 2016, Georgia’s continued efforts to prevent radicalization to violence in vulnerable populations remained in the nascent stage. The government continued to direct countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts towards youth in the Pankisi Gorge. The Ministry of Education, for example, worked with local schools in Pankisi to improve Georgian language instruction, civic education, and science classes. The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs has improved school gym facilities and set up after-school programs. This past year the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs also introduced national comprehensive youth programs that are partly aimed at CVE. For example, the Youth Politics Development Program offers participation in various cultural events and assistance in career services. The Ministry of Corrections introduced various programs nationwide seeking to rehabilitate inmates, who are continually evaluated during the course of their incarceration for signs of radicalization to violence, to prepare them for reentry into civil society. Programs offered included anger‑management, countering stress, continuing education, and career services.
International and Regional Cooperation: Georgia is actively engaged on counterterrorism issues at the international, regional, and bilateral levels. Georgia cooperates closely with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and participates in the Defeat-ISIS Coalition and its Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group; the Council of Europe Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism and its amending protocol; the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation; and the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) Organization for Democracy and Economic Development. In 2016, Georgia also participated in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Counter-Terrorism conference in Berlin.
Georgia remains the largest troop contributor per capita, the largest non-NATO contributor, and the fourth-largest troop overall contributor, after only the United States, Germany, and Italy, to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan, with more than 870 troops deployed.
Overview: German law enforcement routinely investigated, arrested, and prosecuted numerous terrorist suspects in 2016. Residents of Germany becoming foreign terrorist fighters abroad remained a significant trend and officials estimated at least 880 residents of Germany have departed for Syria and Iraq since 2012 to participate in those conflicts. The majority are believed to have joined violent Islamist extremist groups. Officials believe that 140 of them died in Syria and Iraq, while roughly one-third returned to Germany. German officials actively investigated returnees for any terrorist threat resulting from their experience abroad and possible desire to continue to support violent extremist causes. Bilateral counterterrorism cooperation with the United States remained excellent.
Germany is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and although it does not conduct airstrikes, it provided arms, material support, and training to Iraqi Kurdish security forces; AWACs crews, reconnaissance aircraft, and refueling aircraft to support Coalition air operations over Syria and Iraq; and a frigate to defend a French aircraft carrier from which Coalition air operations are launched. Germany implemented UN Security Council resolutions 2178 and 2199, and upheld obligations under the UN Security Council (UNSC) ISIL (Da’esh) and al‑Qa’ida sanctions regime. Through legislation that criminalizes terrorist finance as well as foreign terrorist fighter travel, Germany sharpened its previous antiterrorism laws. Germany is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and supported the GCTF good practices on foreign terrorist fighters. Domestically, the German government has increased its enforcement efforts to prevent, interdict, and counter foreign terrorist fighter travel and voiced support for strengthening European Union (EU) and Schengen measures. In May, Germany and the United States signed an arrangement to exchange information on known or suspected terrorists. In November, the Bundestag (parliament) approved the 2016 budget with increased spending on law enforcement and domestic counterterrorism intelligence efforts.
2016 Terrorist Incidents:
- On February 26 in Hannover, a Moroccan-German teenage girl stabbed a police officer in the neck, inflicting grievous bodily harm. Prosecutors described her actions as inspired and ordered by ISIS. Upon conviction, authorities imposed a six-year prison sentence.
- On April 16, three German teenage boys bombed the Sikh Temple in Essen, North Rhine‑Westphalia, injuring three people attending a wedding party. Authorities charged the main perpetrator, along with his two accomplices, with attempted murder, causing grievous bodily harm, and detonating an explosive. Essen police later told media that the attackers had links with Islamist extremists in northwest Germany.
- On July 18, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee attacked passengers on a commuter train near Ochsenfurt, Bavaria with a knife and an axe, reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar,” and injuring five people before he was fatally shot by the police. Bavarian Minister Herrmann confirmed that the attacker traveled unaccompanied to Germany, sought asylum, and lived in Ochsenfurt with a foster family for two years. A hand-painted ISIS flag was found in the attacker’s room and ISIS claimed responsibility for this attack via social media.
- On July 24, a 27-year-old Syrian asylum seeker injured 12 people (three seriously) in an Ansbach (west-central Bavaria) suicide mission by reportedly detonating an explosive device in his backpack. The perpetrator had tried to enter an open-air music festival immediately before, but was denied entry. Bavarian Interior Minister Herrmann said the suspect (who had attempted suicide on two previous occasions) arrived in Germany in 2014, received permission to remain in Germany after his asylum claim was rejected in 2016, and had spent time in a psychiatric clinic. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On December 19, an attacker killed a truck driver, took control of his large truck, and then drove it into a Christmas market in Central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 people. On December 20, ISIS claimed the attack was perpetrated by “a soldier of the Islamic State” through its propaganda outlet, Amaq. Although the main perpetrator, Anis Amri, was shot and killed in Italy while fleeing Germany shortly after the attack, German authorities continue the investigation and have arrested several other individuals in connection with the attack.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The German government continued to apply its comprehensive counterterrorism legislation, which criminalizes membership in, or support for, domestic and foreign terrorist organizations. The Criminal Code prohibits a range of terrorism-related preparatory actions, including actual or attempted departure from Germany to participate in terrorist training, acquiring weapons or explosives with the intent to commit attacks, and terrorist finance.
On July 29, Germany adopted additional counterterrorism legislation (“Improving Information Exchange to Combat International Terrorism”), which authorizes the Federal Police to operate undercover agents for both law enforcement purposes and the protection of public safety; expands data exchanges with foreign intelligence services; authorizes the domestic intelligence service (BfV) to establish and operate joint databases with foreign partners; increases control and monitoring of communications using prepaid mobile phones; and lowers the of age of suspects which the BfV is allowed to track and collect data on from 16 years to 14 years.
Germany does not record all entries to or exits from the country; however, it systematically checks all non-EU citizens arriving at airports and is working to institute systematic Schengen border checks of EU citizens. Biometric data is not screened at entry, although Germany participates in the EU Smart Border pilot. Germany only collects fingerprints from Schengen visa holders, which are screened against the EU’s Visa Information System. All arriving and departing passengers’ passports are manually checked against the INTERPOL Stolen and Lost Travel Document Data Base.
Data on suspected terrorists is shared between federal and state law enforcement agencies. German passports and other identity documents incorporate strong security features, but data privacy concerns contribute to German reticence to expand travel analysis systems. Collection and retention of Advance Passenger Information for traveler screening is limited to high threat routes. Germany does not currently use Passenger Name Record (PNR) analysis, but following approval of a new EU-wide PNR Directive is drafting PNR legislation and developing a PNR system.
Numerous arrests, prosecutions, and trials in 2016 focused on terrorism, and the Federal Ministry of Justice estimated there were approximately 500 ongoing terrorist cases as of late September with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office. Prominent and legally significant cases (that were ongoing at the end of 2016, unless otherwise indicated) included:
- On July 5, the Federal Public Prosecutor General (GBA) [Generalbundesanwalt] attained an arrest warrant against a 20-year-old Algerian national and suspected ISIS member, suspected of supplying information to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who planned the November 2015 Paris attacks. He was allegedly trained by ISIS in late 2014, and tasked by Abaaoud in June 2015 to provide information regarding border controls, waiting times, and entry and exit points along the Balkan route during the migrant crisis. In June to August 2015, he allegedly traveled to Syria via Austria, Greece, Hungary, Serbia, and Turkey, where he informed Abaaoud about those borders before entering Germany. The suspect is also believed to have been in contact with Ayoub el Khazzani, who shot at passengers on a train between Amsterdam and Paris in August 2015.
- On September 13, more than 200 federal and state police (on behalf of the GBA) arrested and searched the homes of three Syrian nationals who allegedly entered Germany in November 2015 (via Greece and Turkey) with the intention of carrying out a previously determined order from ISIS. One is believed to have received training from ISIS in Raqqa, Syria. Prosecutors assert that ISIS provided passports, cash in U.S. dollars “in a high four-figure sum,” and mobile phones pre-loaded with a communications program.
- On October 10 in Leipzig, federal police arrested a Syrian asylum grantee for possession of a large amount of explosives, similar to those used in the 2015 Brussels and Paris attacks. Police alleged that he planned to attack a Berlin airport. Police arrested, as an accessory, another Syrian who had ordered bomb-making items online.
- In November, the Federal Ministry of Interior (MOI) banned the organization “The True Religion” and its Quran distribution activities as an extremist, anti-constitutional organization seeking to incite violence. In March, police and security services in several states carried out concurrent raids and investigations, and charged at least 140 activists who had traveled abroad to join terrorist groups.
- On December 7, Germany initiated a trial in Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia against three suspects allegedly responsible for a bomb attack on the Essen Sikh Temple in April. The main perpetrator and his accomplices, all minors, are charged with attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, and detonating an explosive.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Germany is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and is an observer to numerous FATF-style regional bodies. Germany’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Intelligence Service, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. German institutions filed 29,108 (compared to 25,054 in 2014) suspicious transaction reports in 2015 (the latest figures available), 615 thereof for suspected terrorist financing, up sharply from 2014 (323). The German government has submitted draft legislation to the Bundestag that would move the FIU from the Federal Police to the Ministry of Finance and expand its mandate to allow for better communication with the private sector and in‑depth analytical work on terrorist finance risks.
Countering Violent Extremism: Germany has numerous programs to counter violent extremism (CVE) at both the state and federal levels. On July 13, Federal Interior Minister de Maizière and Federal Family Minister Schwesig presented the federal government’s first comprehensive strategy against violent extremism which aims to better coordinate and evaluate the approximately 700 existing partner programs and organizations receiving federal funding. The MOI budget for CVE projects doubled from six to 12 million euros annually in 2016, and the Family Ministry’s “Live Democracy program” budget will double to 100 million euros for 2017, up from 50 million per year in 2015-2016. These two Federal Ministries, together with their state-level counterparts, formed a working group to ensure coordination and more effective support for CVE efforts. The working group meets regularly to compile and disseminate information and best practices.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior continued its counter-radicalization assistance center for concerned parents and friends of violent extremists, operated by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The center was established in January 2012 and has expanded to include a nationwide telephone hotline. Clients are referred to a region-specific advising partner.
The Federal States of Bavaria, Berlin, and Hesse operated state-level counseling and de‑radicalization programs implemented by the non-governmental organization, “Violence Prevention Network,” focused on counseling for families of radicalizing or radicalized individuals and for the individuals themselves. Violence Prevention Network also implemented CVE programs in prisons in these states.
Augsburg, Bavaria, and Dresden, Saxony, are members of the Strong Cities Network.
International and Regional Cooperation: As a founding member of the GCTF, Germany supported its capacity-building projects and continued to participate in various multilateral counterterrorism initiatives. German cooperation with regional and international organizations on counterterrorism includes the United Nations, EU, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Council of Europe, the G-7, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and INTERPOL. Germany is a founding member of the GCTF‑inspired International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law. Germany advocated strongly within the EU for improved counterterrorism and border security efforts.
Overview: In 2016, the Greek government remained a cooperative counterterrorism partner. Senior Greek government leaders have emphasized that counterterrorism is one of their top priorities. In 2016, Greece experienced intermittent small-scale attacks such as improvised explosive device detonations by domestic terrorist groups, although slightly fewer than in the past two years. Generally, these attacks did not appear aimed to inflict bodily harm, but rather sought to make a political statement. The MFA quickly condemned foreign acts of terrorism such as the Brussels attack in March 2016 and has strongly condemned the actions of ISIS. Greece is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and is implementing UN Security Council resolutions 2178, 2199, and the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime.
2016 Terrorist Incidents: Greece’s two largest cities, Athens and Thessaloniki, experienced a few small-scale attacks conducted primarily by domestic terrorist organizations, which targeted government officials as well as a European Embassy.
- On October 11, a bomb was planted on the car of a Korydallos Prison guard parked outside his home overnight. The explosion destroyed the car, although nobody was injured in the blast. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On October 12, a bomb exploded on the sidewalk near the apartment building where Appeals Court Prosecutor Georgia Tsatani resides. The terrorist group Conspiracy of Nuclei Fire claimed responsibility on October 13 and stated that the Prosecutor was the target. Advance warning was given and police evacuated the area; there were no injuries.
- On November 10, two individuals threw a grenade at the French Embassy, injuring a Hellenic Police officer guarding the embassy. A little-known group, the “Organization Revolutionary Self-Defense,” claimed responsibility for the attack four days later. Hellenic Police, however, are exploring whether various other domestic terrorist groups may have been involved.
- On December 12, an individual provided advance warning that a bomb had been placed at the Ministry of Labor in downtown Athens. Hellenic Police conducted a controlled detonation of the device in the early hours of the morning. Nobody has claimed responsibility for planting the bomb and no one was injured.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Article 187A of the Greek penal code codifies the terrorism statute. In addition, Article 28 (1) of the Greek Constitution subjects Greek citizens to applicable international laws, to include those related to terrorism. Article 28 (2) and (3) subjects Greek citizens to applicable European Union (EU) Laws, including the EU law against terrorism. The Police Directorate for Countering Special Violent Crimes (DAEEV) is responsible for counterterrorism in Greece. DAEEV attracts highly motivated and educated young police officers. This unit has demonstrated a high capacity to collect information, but it lacks capacity to use the volume of data it collects and to share with other services within the Greek police and Coast Guard.
Greece’s national ID card is extremely vulnerable to alteration and photo substitution, and it has not incorporated security features, such as a digitized photo and biometrics. To mitigate this vulnerability, police authorities instituted a system in 2015 for conducting electronic checks of civil registry databases to confirm documents submitted as part of the application for ID issuance and checks of national ID databases for passport issuance. The government has further committed to address this vulnerability through the introduction of a biometric national ID.
The porous nature of Greece’s borders remained of serious concern, particularly as Greece continued to be challenged by the refugee and migration crisis. Six of the attackers involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks were subsequently identified as having passed through Greece. Greece came under intense scrutiny from EU member states, with some Schengen members reinstating border controls until Greece corrects deficiencies in its external border management. To help address vulnerabilities, in May and June, DHS and its component agencies provided a series of trainings to bolster Greek border security efforts. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration provided Insider Threat awareness training and U.S. Customs Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provided traveler screening trainings to more than 100 airport employees, airline officials, and police. ICE also provided training on advanced Fraudulent Document Analysis for investigations to more than 25 Hellenic Police, Hellenic Coast Guard, and Customs officials.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Greece is a member of the Financial Action Task Force, and its financial intelligence unit – the Hellenic Anti-Money Laundering and Anti‑Terrorist financing Commission (HAMLC) – is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. The Foreign Ministry’s Sanctions Monitoring Unit is tasked with ensuring that Greece meets its commitments to enforce international sanctions, including terrorism-related sanctions. The HAMLC, which is essentially an autonomous institution, although nominally under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance, inspected more than 2,530 suspicious transactions through November 20, 2016, but did not report evidence of terrorist financing in Greece.
In Greece, terrorist assets remain frozen until the completion of judicial proceedings when a court decision is rendered. Non-profit organizations are not obliged to file suspicious transaction reports; however, all banks – through which these organizations conduct transactions – are legally obliged to report suspicious transactions of any kind, regardless of the type of entity (for‑ or not-for-profit), and the government may directly monitor such entities if necessary.
FBI trainers provided a terrorism finance training seminar in March 2016 for approximately 20 officers from the Hellenic Police, Hellenic Coast Guard, and Financial Intelligence Unit.
Countering Violent Extremism: Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias has steadily and publicly voiced support for countering ISIS and condemned its actions. Greece is sensitive to the dangers of radicalization to violence and engages regional partners on the matter. This summer the Hellenic Police through the Center for Security Studies, and with 75 percent EU funding support, organized training on radicalization to violence for police, prison wardens and guards, and customs officers and immigration officials. The training program involved a total of 130 officials from Alexandropoli, Athens, and Thessaloniki, and from the islands of Chios and Lesvos, which have seen the majority of arriving migrants and refugees over the last year.
International and Regional Cooperation: Greece engaged constructively on counterterrorism initiatives in international fora and regularly participated in regional information exchange and seminars through such bodies as the United Nations, the EU, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center for Combating Trans‑Border Crime, and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. Greece participated in international and regional trainings geared to bolster criminal justice efforts to prevent and respond to terrorism.
Overview: The United States and Ireland worked reasonably well in bilateral and regional counterterrorism, law enforcement, and information sharing efforts. An Garda Síochána (the local and national police service of Ireland, referred to as Garda in this report) has comprehensive law enforcement, immigration, investigative, intelligence, and counterterrorism responsibilities.
In 2016, dissident republican groups, sometimes referred to as criminal terrorist groups by the Irish Department of Justice, perpetrated acts of violence in neighboring Northern Ireland. Authorities traced some violent acts committed in Northern Ireland by members of dissident groups to support to persons living in Ireland. Attacks were often directed at Northern Ireland’s law enforcement personnel and security structures to disrupt ongoing post-peace process community rehabilitation efforts. Irish authorities worked to address these legacy issues stemming from “The Troubles” and were actively involved in dealing with transnational terrorism issues. Major Garda successes in disrupting the activities of such groups and infighting between dissident factions appeared to have diminished the threat of domestic terrorism.
Ireland is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Criminal Justice Act of 2015 created three offenses relating to preparatory terrorist activities: public provocation to commit a terrorist offense, recruitment, and training. The legislative bill transposed into Irish law a European Union (EU) Council Framework Decision on counterterrorism. The Act specifically recognizes that terrorist‑linked activities may be committed electronically. Upon conviction, such offenses would carry prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Law enforcement units have effectively demonstrated their capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. The Garda Special Branch provides specialized law enforcement capability and has primary responsibility for counterterrorism response, with the military performing specific functions when requested by the civil authorities. The Irish Defense Ministry’s 2015 “White Paper on Defense” outlines Ireland’s defense policy framework for the next decade, aimed at addressing increased security challenges. It featured a streamlined response to terrorism with the Government Taskforce on Emergency Planning reviewing terrorism threat assessments received from Garda.
Irish law provides for a non-jury Special Criminal Court (SCC) when the Director of Public Prosecutions certifies a case to be beyond the capabilities of an ordinary court.
No successful terrorist attacks occurred in 2016. Nevertheless, the bomb squad mobilized 86 times due to possible improvised explosive device (IED) incidents, 14 of which involved viable IEDs that Irish Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians rendered safe. Statistics for 2016 mark a 39 percent mobilization decrease and a 65 percent reduction in viable IEDs over the prior year.
Ireland worked closely with the United Kingdom (UK) on border security, including sharing biographic and biometric information. The Irish Naturalization and Immigration Services in conjunction with Dublin Airport Authority uses automated border control gates for some flights at Dublin Airport. These electronic gates allow certain categories of arriving passengers holding a passport with an electronic chip, which contains the holder’s facial image, to clear immigration controls through electronic self-service means. The Government of Ireland was active in highlighting the need to share Passenger Name Records (PNR) on EU flights. Ireland is working to implement the EU Directive on the processing of PNR data, which will require the establishment of relevant domestic legislation that outlines the measures to establish and operate a PNR processing system.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Ireland is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and its financial intelligence unit, the Bureau of Fraud Investigation, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Over the past five years, Ireland has made significant improvements to improve regulations on supervision of the financial sector and non‑financial service providers. Ireland has yet to transpose the fourth EU Money Laundering Directive into Irish law.
In 2016, law enforcement authorities continued to monitor non-profit organizations for the purpose of monitoring breaches of criminal law; however, Ireland had still not fully implemented the Charities Act of 2009, which regulates the activities of charities and non-profit organizations.
The July 2016 enactment of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2016 provides Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) officers with the power to seize property for 24 hours that they suspect to be the proceeds of crime. The Chief Bureau Officer can authorize its detention for a further 21 days. This allows CAB to prepare an application to the High Court for an interim restraining order and prevent the disposal or dissipation of the property in the meantime.
Countering Violent Extremism: The Government of Ireland’s efforts to counter violent extremism focused on integrating minority groups and new arrivals into Irish society. These measures included providing social benefits, language training, health care, and the proactive advocacy work of an Ombudsman’s Office in the affairs of immigrants. The Garda Racial Intercultural and Diversity Office (GRIDO) coordinates, monitors, and advises on all aspects of policing in the area of ethnic and cultural diversity with a view towards building long-term trust with communities. Through this office, police officers are provided with special training to assist at-risk populations. GRIDO delivered anti-radicalization training to national police members in the context of Community Policing/Preventing Radicalization.
The Irish government pursued its countering violent extremism (CVE) strategy primarily through the Ethnic Liaison Officer program of the Garda. These officers liaise with representatives of the various minority communities in an area, and establish communication links with each community. They support integration by involving members of ethnic minority communities in Garda and community social events.
Ireland supports the United Nations Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.
International and Regional Cooperation: Ireland works closely with the UK in securing the Common Travel Area, an open borders area comprising Ireland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. The introduction of the British-Irish visa required the sharing of biometric and other information, and resulted in a more integrated system for checking travelers. Ireland actively participated in a range of meetings and actions at the Council of the European Union and the United Nations to address counterterrorism. In addition to counterterrorism capacity building overseas, Ireland also cooperated on counterterrorism efforts with Northern Ireland.
Overview: Italy aggressively investigated and prosecuted terrorist suspects and dismantled suspected terrorist-related cells within its borders. It also implemented counterterrorism legislation adopted in 2015 aimed at identifying, decreasing, and disrupting the recruitment and flow of foreign terrorist fighters. Criminal and low-level terrorist acts (incendiary devices and small improvised explosive devices by domestic anarchist groups remained a threat. Italy maintained a high level of professional cooperation with the United States and international partners in all areas, including terrorist information sharing and Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS efforts.
Italy was an important Defeat-ISIS Coalition partner. Italy maintained the second-largest number of troops deployed to Iraq, leading the Coalition’s efforts to train Iraqi police and security forces. Approximately 500 Italian troops provided site security for workers with Italian engineering firm Trevi, engaged in critical repair work on the Mosul Dam. Italy also contributed aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and re-fueling capabilities from Kuwait in support of the Coalition. Italy continued to co-chair the Coalition’s Counter-ISIS Finance Group with the United States and Saudi Arabia to enhance information sharing and develop coordinated countermeasures to disrupt ISIS financing.
2016 Terrorist Incidents:
- On June 7, the European Food Safety Authority in Parma received a package with explosive material, which a local bomb squad destroyed. According to police, the package contained a small amount of a powdered explosive material that was enough to maim.
- On November 27, an explosion of two gas canisters in front of a Carabinieri police station in Bologna led to the December 10 arrest of a French anarchist, Cedric René Michel Tatoueix. Investigators suspect the attack was perpetrated by three anarchist groups active in the Bologna area.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Italian government made use of reinforced counterterrorism legislation enacted in 2015 that improved the existing legislative and regulatory instruments available to the Italian police and armed forces for anticipating, preventing, and countering acts of terrorism. Italy also continued to make use of 2005 legislation that facilitated the detention of terrorist suspects and expedited procedures for expelling non‑citizens suspected of endangering national security. In 2016, Italy appointed a Coordinator of the Office of Anti-Terrorism Investigation, a new coordination position created inside the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) National Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Directorate, which was established under the 2015 counterterrorism law.
Italian law enforcement remained advanced in its capacity to detect and deter terrorist activity, links, and associations within Italy. Italy’s long history of countering both organized crime and radical ideological movements has given it a strong legacy in fighting internal threats to security. Authorities are leveraging those capabilities to counter terrorist recruitment, radicalization to violence, and networking. The police (specifically the Central Directorate of the Prevention Police, or DCPP), ROS Carabinieri (the investigative unit of the gendarmerie), Guardia di Finanza (financial police), other specialized law enforcement agencies, and the intelligence services coordinate their counterterrorism efforts and meet on a regular and systematic basis to review terrorist threats and share information. The Minister of Interior has the authority to swiftly expel non-citizens for “seriously disturbing public order, endangering national security, or religious discrimination,” even if insufficient evidence exists to prosecute the individual. Italy used this authority to expel more than 60 individuals in 2016.
Among other provisions, Italy’s 2015 counterterrorism law criminalized the organization, financing, or promotion of travel for the purpose of performing acts of terrorism and made it a crime to take part in a conflict in a foreign territory in support of a terrorist organization, implementing UN Security Council resolution 2178. Italy maintained its readiness to enhance measures quickly to counter threats against civil aviation. The MOI worked with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to enhance local implementing procedures covering the Federal Air Marshal (FAM) program.
Italy strongly supported the passage of a European Union (EU) Passenger Name Records (PNR) Directive. Parliament in November 2016 adopted a “delegated law” on the PNR directive; the government is drafting the implementing decree laws. Italy also consulted U.S. Customs and Border Protection regarding development of a Passenger Information Unit and the use of the U.S. Automated Targeting System-Global (ATS-G) for screening passengers using API and PNR data under the EU PNR Directive.
Italy received approximately 180,000 asylum-seekers and economic migrants in 2016, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. According to MOI and international organization contacts, Italian authorities successfully screened more than 90 percent of new arrivals against the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) and the Italian Investigation System (SDI), which feed into the Schengen Information System and the Italian Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) databank. These databases, in turn, feed into the European Dactyloscopy (EURODAC) database.
Significant law enforcement actions included:
- On August 13, the Interior Minister expelled Hosni Hachemi Ben Hassen, a Tunisian imam of the Andria mosque, arrested in April 2013 together with four other Tunisians suspected of being members of an Islamist terrorist cell. The expulsion occurred after the Court of Cassation cleared Ben Hassen of international terrorism charges (while upholding his hate crimes conviction). According to Italian authorities, between 2008 and 2010, Ben Hassen’s group had collected instructions on how to construct explosive devices, received training on the use of firearms, and tried to recruit and indoctrinate foreign terrorist fighters to send abroad.
- On December 19, a Milan court convicted in absentia Maria Giulia ‘Fatima’ Sergio, an Italian who left for Syria to fight for ISIS in 2014, to nine years in prison for international terrorism. Authorities believe Sergio is still in Syria with her Albanian husband, Aldo Kobuzi, who was sentenced to 10 years as part of the same ruling. The court also sentenced Canadian national Bushra Haik – who grew up in Bologna – to nine years in prison for recruiting and indoctrinating Sergio, and sentenced Sergio’s father, Sergio Sergio – arrested in Italy in July 2015 as he and his wife Assunta (who died three months later) attempted to leave Italy for Syria – to four years in prison for the crime of organizing terrorist travel. The court’s in-absentia conviction of Haik, Kobuzi, and Sergio was the first by an Italian court under Italy’s 2015 counterterrorism law of foreign terrorist fighters in an overseas combat zone.
- On December 23 around 3:00 a.m. local time during a spot check outside of Milan’s Sesto San Giovanni train station, Milan police shot dead Tunisian terrorist suspect Anis Amri, allegedly responsible for the December 19 attack on a Berlin Christmas market. When asked for his documents, Amri reportedly pulled out a gun and shot at an officer, hitting him in the shoulder (the officer survived). Agents then fired back, killing the suspect.
In 2016, Italy did not have the infrastructure to screen all international seaport arrivals, although it heightened security on maritime routes. Italy has the infrastructure to screen all international airport arrivals, including against the INTERPOL Lost and Stolen Travel Document Database, but authorities do not always do so in practice.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Italy is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and is an observer in the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), a FATF-style regional body. The Financial Intelligence Unit for Italy is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Italy co-chairs, with the United States and Saudi Arabia, the Coalition’s Counter-ISIS Finance Group, a group of 36 states and multilateral bodies created in 2015 to enhance information sharing and coordinate countermeasures to disrupt ISIS financing.
Italy’s 2016 FATF evaluation assesses the legal framework to counter the financing of terrorism to be mature and sophisticated, noting some shortcomings in financial sector oversight. Italy’s government criminalizes terrorist financing in accordance with international standards, monitors and regulates money/value transfer and other remittance services, and requires the collection of Know Your Customer data for wire transfers. Italy does not require non-profit organizations to submit suspicious transaction reports. Nonetheless, reporting entities are required to consider the specific money laundering and terrorist financing risks when entering into a relationship or carrying out transactions that involve non-profit organizations.
Italy’s 2015 counterterrorism law provides for a sentence of five to eight years for those found guilty of organizing, financing, or advocating travel abroad for the purposes of carrying out terrorist acts. It also seeks to ensure greater communication on such cases between financial institutions, law enforcement, and the judicial system. The Italian judiciary and Guardia di Finanza continued to identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned individuals and organizations and to prosecute terrorist financing cases. Pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1267, Italy has frozen to date approximately US $110,000 in assets in relation to 53 transactions/accounts and 38 persons/entities, through counterterrorist financing sanctions. In addition, Italy carried out several counterterrorist finance operations and prevented international money transfers to terrorist groups.
Countering Violent Extremism: Italy has a long history of countering organized crime and radical ideological movements. The Ministry of Justice’s Prison Police continued counter‑radicalization programs initiated in 2015 that included places of worship and providing cultural mediators within prisons. In August 2016, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) announced that 345 inmates were under active monitoring, of which only 39 had been convicted or charged with terrorist crimes. According to the MOJ, in addition to the inmates already convicted of or charged with terrorist crimes, 114 monitored inmates were considered at “high risk” of radicalization to violence and 99 had demonstrated “appreciation” for the 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels, Dhaka, and Paris. The government has not published a formal Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Action Plan, but established a commission in September 2016 to study radicalization to violence and extremism, with the objective of recommending preventative measures in 2017.
To counter terrorist propaganda quickly, Italy has the capacity to swiftly expel non-citizen residents espousing extremist sentiments. While radicalization to violence and recruitment to terrorist violence has not been widespread in Italy, some religious groups promote a radical interpretation of their faith, which, along with deteriorated economic conditions in the peripheral neighborhoods of Italy’s largest cities, limits integration and potentially could contribute to future radicalization to violence.
Regional and International Cooperation: Italy is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and actively participates in its work, including the Hedayah Center. Italy also supported counterterrorism efforts through the G-7 Roma-Lyon Group, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the United Nations, and the EU. Italy leads the Iraqi police training mission within the Defeat‑ISIS Coalition and co-leads, with Saudi Arabia and the United States, the Coalition’s Counter-ISIS Finance Group. Italy was an active participant in White House CVE Summit‑related activities, and the city of Palermo serves on the Strong Cities Network steering committee and participates in two of the network’s working groups: Group 1 on Counter‑Narratives and Local Communications, and Group 2 on Refugees and Internal Displacement.
Overview: The threat of violent Islamist extremism has been growing in Kosovo, assisted in part by funding from foreign organizations that preach extremist ideologies and violent extremist groups actively using social media to spread propaganda and recruit followers. Approximately 315 foreign terrorist fighters from Kosovo have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS or al‑Nusrah Front (al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria), of which approximately 58 have been killed. The Government of Kosovo is implementing a comprehensive strategy and action plan for countering violent extremism (CVE). The Kosovo Police (KP) Counterterrorism Directorate is enhancing its investigative capacities by increasing personnel and developing a cyber-counterterrorism unit.
The Kosovo government continued counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. The United States assisted law enforcement and judicial institutions on active counterterrorism cases.
Because the security and political situation in northern Kosovo continued to limit the government’s ability to exercise full authority in that region, the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) and European Union (EU) Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) worked with the KP to maintain a safe and secure environment and strengthen the rule of law, including at the borders. Although Kosovo and neighboring Serbia do not usually cooperate on counterterrorism issues, the governments have had an Integrated Border Management plan since 2013 and have participated in joint U.S.‑sponsored training.
Kosovo is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and has taken steps to support the various lines of effort within the limits of its capabilities. It has primarily focused on stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and tracking and restricting financing for terrorist groups. Kosovo is not a member of the United Nations (UN); however, the Government of Kosovo has pledged to implement UN Security Council resolution 2178 unilaterally.
2016 Terrorist Incidents: On August 4, unknown assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the parliament building. There were no casualties, but the explosion caused some material damage.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Kosovo has a comprehensive legal framework that covers all criminal aspects related to terrorism. The Criminal Code of Kosovo criminalizes all forms of terrorism, including commission, assistance, facilitation, recruitment, training, and incitement to commit terrorism. It also criminalizes concealment or failure to report terrorists or terrorist groups, organization and participation in terrorist groups, and preparation of terrorist offenses against the constitutional order and the security of the state of Kosovo. It defines a terrorist group as a structured group of more than two persons, established over a period of time and acting in concert to commit terrorism. In addition, the Criminal Procedure Code provides authorities with all the necessary powers to investigate and prosecute such cases, including sanctioning the use of covert measures. It further gives authorities flexibility to investigate criminal activity during the planning stage to prevent terrorist acts. The Procedural Code also allows Kosovo courts to admit evidence from other countries, thus allowing prosecution of international terrorism in Kosovo. This framework provides authorities with the tools necessary to fight any form of terrorism. Kosovo law also criminalizes joining a foreign army, police, or paramilitary formation in armed conflicts outside the territory of Kosovo. A conviction on these charges carries a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment.
Law enforcement authorities increased their capacity to handle terrorism cases and share information across agencies, although challenges remain. The KP Counterterrorism Directorate, which is responsible for counterterrorism investigations, has resource constraints that inhibit its ability to track suspects. The law provides the Special Prosecution Office, which is composed of local and international staff, with exclusive jurisdiction over terrorism cases. Prosecutors have made considerable improvements in the past year in dealing with terrorism-related cases. The Department of State supported programs with the Department of Justice to mentor Kosovo law enforcement and prosecutors. Kosovo is a member of the Regional Arms Control Verification and Implementation Assistance Centre, a southeastern European organization that focuses on security-related issues, including terrorism. Representatives from Kosovo attended EU and U.S.‑sponsored training activities and conferences on counterterrorism-related topics.
Kosovo has issued biometric travel and identity documents since 2013. All major border crossing points, including Pristina International Airport, are equipped with computerized fraudulent/altered document identification equipment, for which a database is updated regularly with information from other countries. The Kosovo Border Police’s (KBP) regularly updated STOP/WATCH list of persons suspected of connections to terrorism or criminal activities had more than 1,700 hits in 2015; however, the electronic Border Management System does not interface with INTERPOL and does not always function properly. Kosovo is not a member of the United Nations, INTERPOL, or Europol; the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and EULEX serve as Kosovo’s intermediaries with these organizations, slowing down cooperation and preventing Kosovo from having direct access to their watchlists. Kosovo applied for INTERPOL membership, but INTERPOL as of November has suspended all pending applications indefinitely. The KBP and Directorate against Terrorism use biometric equipment to enroll suspicious individuals who may be affiliated with terrorism. The Law on Border Control obliges airlines to submit Advance Passenger Information/Airline Passenger Name Record data to Kosovo; the KBP has been using this information. In 2016, the KBP, in cooperation with regional countries and Turkey, identified and blocked at least five persons from traveling to Syria and one citizen was arrested upon his return from a conflict zone; however, at least five individuals successfully transited to Syria. With U.S. assistance, KBP is revising its curricula used to train border officers to focus more on early identification of persons affiliated with terrorism. The Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program supported Kosovo participation in a series of border security-related courses aimed at addressing foreign terrorist fighter travel.
In addition to the ATA program, the United States provided training opportunities on various aspects of counterterrorism and CVE, through the Export Control and Related Border Security program (EXBS), the DOJ’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), the DOJ’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT), and the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC).
Trials are ongoing for several of the 59 suspects arrested in August 2014 during the government of Kosovo’s largest counterterrorism operation to date. Investigations are ongoing against a dozen other individuals, including several imams. During 2016, Kosovo authorities arrested 32 individuals on terrorism-related charges, including 18 in November. Authorities also secured several high-profile convictions, including the sentencing of seven citizens to 42 years imprisonment on terrorism charges in May, and five individuals to 49 years imprisonment for ISIS involvement in July. Additionally, the Ministry of Public Administration suspended the activities of 21 NGOs suspected of supporting violent extremism.
Kosovo demonstrated political will to address threats related to terrorism, and the state possesses the legal framework to do so. National institutions also strengthened the capacity of their investigative and prosecutorial elements, but limited capacity, resources, and experience continued to limit their ability to handle terrorism cases more effectively.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Kosovo is not a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) or any FATF-style regional bodies. In 2016, the Kosovo financial intelligence unit worked towards becoming a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Kosovo has a Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist financing, modeled after international anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance standards. This law also established enforcement mechanisms for the examination of reporting entities and narrowly defines terrorist financing. Kosovo has not yet successfully prosecuted a terrorist financing case or identified any frozen assets of sanctioned individuals and organizations.
Kosovo has not consistently frozen and confiscated assets without delay. A prosecutor may only freeze bank accounts for 72 hours, during which time the pre-trial judge is obliged to approve or reject the freezing order. Under a judge’s temporary order, assets may be frozen for 30 days, but owners may dispute asset freezes. Kosovo monitors and regulates money/value transfer and other remittance services. Kosovo requires the collection of Know Your Customer data for wire transfers. Because Kosovo is not a member of the FATF network, we are unable to assess how well this framework is implemented or meets the international standard.
Kosovo’s FIU distributes the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions list to financial institutions and publishes the direct link to the UN list on its web page.
Countering Violent Extremism: One of the main objectives in the government’s CVE strategy is the prevention of violent extremism and radicalization to violence. This includes raising awareness of radicalization among community stakeholders and building their capacity to fight it. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is piloting a referral mechanism in the municipality of Gjilan that will bring together local officials, religious leaders, and civil society to address community concerns of radicalization to violence. Kosovo’s CVE strategy includes the preparation and promotion of counter-narratives to weaken the legitimacy of violent extremist messages. The strategy also includes a section on de-radicalization and the reintegration of radicalized persons. The goals include helping radicalized individuals abandon violent extremist ideology, assessing risks posed by individuals returning from foreign conflicts, and raising awareness within the correctional system on the risks posed by imprisoned terrorists.
The 2015 CVE Strategy and Action Plan provide a five-year roadmap for stemming the growing threat of violent extremism through a whole-of-government approach, emphasizing the critical role of local stakeholders and civil society. Thus far, implementation has been uneven across government ministries; a lack of capacity and an insufficient budget remained challenges. The Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund designated US $2.5 million in funding for Kosovo that could significantly bolster the government’s capacity to implement its CVE Action Plan.
Overview: Macedonia conducted three significant counterterrorism operations in 2016, one of which was in coordination with authorities in Albania and Kosovo, leading to the arrest of 23 people in Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Macedonia cooperated with U.S. counterterrorism efforts, demonstrating its strong commitment to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
The government approved a National Counterterrorism Strategy in March. The strategy has a section dedicated to the prevention of violent extremism (PVE), but there is no separate National Strategy to Counter/Prevent Violent Extremism. The government drafted a National Counterterrorism Action Plan and submitted it to the European Commission in November for review. The Action Plan lacks implementation designations, funding estimates, and monitoring and evaluation controls.
Macedonian authorities assess that ISIS members and sympathizers maintained a presence in Macedonia.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Macedonia’s laws contain comprehensive counterterrorism provisions that prohibit domestic and international acts of terrorism. The country’s counterterrorism law includes a provision criminalizing civilian participation in foreign conflicts. Specifically, Article 322-a of the Criminal Code requires a five-year minimum prison sentence for participation in a foreign military or paramilitary force, or recruiting, training, or transporting fighters.
Macedonia’s capacity to detect and deter acts of terrorism without international support needs to be strengthened. Specifically, police need training in command and control, tactical planning and execution, casualty care, and messaging. Notwithstanding, Macedonia successfully executed arrest and search warrants against foreign terrorist fighters and would-be foreign terrorist fighters; it also coordinated with regional partners to disrupt terrorist attack plans and to arrest Macedonian citizens attempting to join ISIS. Prosecutors secured prison sentences against foreign terrorist fighters primarily through plea agreements. Macedonian prosecutors have yet to bring a case to trial against a foreign terrorist fighter or supporter.
Within the Ministry of Interior (MOI), the Administration for Security and Counter-Intelligence takes the lead on counterterrorism detection and intelligence gathering, and works with the Bureau of Public Security’s Department of Organized and Serious Crime to detain suspects. The Prosecutor’s Office at the Ministry of Justice manages questioning and prosecuting of the arrested terrorist suspect.
A Joint Combined Exchange Training with U.S. Special Forces took place in March to improve Macedonia’s ability to protect soft targets. Macedonian authorities at the MOI reported that they developed operational plans to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks on soft targets including stadiums, hotels, etc. Additionally, an international counterterrorism exercise in September brought together multiple agencies from the United States and Macedonia to review Macedonia’s preparedness and response capacities.
Macedonia Border Police use INTERPOL and Europol watch lists that are regularly updated and they have biometric screening capability. The Border Police also share and receive information through alerts via the Joint Contact Centers with neighboring countries (Albania, Bulgaria, and Kosovo) and INTERPOL. In response to the influx of migrants, the European Union (EU) and Balkan countries regularly send border police detachments to assist in securing Macedonia’s southern border.
Border authorities worked with European and U.S. partners to develop information-sharing protocols and upgrade the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) border management system, improving its capacity to respond to the migration crisis and stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters returning from conflict zones.
Macedonia engaged in three law enforcement actions against terrorists:
- On July 9, Macedonian authorities carried out simultaneous search warrants at seven locations and arrested four individuals (a fifth individual turned himself in later on July 25), charging them under counterterrorism laws, in an operation called Operation Cell 2.
- In August, authorities worked with regional partners in Turkey to arrest and extradite five citizens of Macedonia who were seeking to join ISIS in Syria.
- In November, Macedonia coordinated with regional partners in Albania and Kosovo to arrest 23 suspected terrorists who were planning a terrorist attack on a large stadium in Albania during a World Cup qualifying soccer match between Albania and Israel.
In February, the trial began for 29 individuals charged with terrorism and planning to form a terrorist group, and eight others for providing logistical support in the May 2015 armed clash with police in Kumanovo. The trial continued through 2016.
A months-long political crisis in Macedonia inhibited decisive action by the government to address deficiencies in law enforcement and border security, including shortages in personnel and equipment. The Bureau of Public Security worked with U.S. authorities to address corruption among border officials, resource constraints, training gaps for border police officers, and issues related to the border management system, Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES).
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Macedonia is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Macedonia’s financial intelligence unit (FIU), the Money Laundering Prevention Directorate (MLPD), is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. In 2016, the MLPD received three suspicious transaction reports for terrorist financing, but no criminal charges were filed.
Major deficiencies in Macedonia’s anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism legal framework remain, including insufficient criminalization of terrorist financing and no clear mechanisms to implement UN measures. In addition, an overly complicated confiscation regime that remains conviction-based hindered effective freezing and confiscation of terrorist assets. Macedonia has an agency for the management of seized and forfeited assets, but the agency has limited capacity and activity, and needs additional training.
Countering Violent Extremism: Macedonia has a national inter-ministerial Working Group on Counterterrorism (CTWG), which also oversees efforts to counter violent extremism, headed by a coordinator. The coordinator departed the post in the spring of 2016, and consequently, the CTWG has not effectively advanced government action and cooperation to counter or prevent violent extremism, in line with the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General’s Preventing Violent Extremism Plan of Action.
The government has no official study on the drivers of violent extremism in Macedonia. Analytica, a local think tank, published a report in October funded by the United States titled, “Assessment of Macedonia’s Efforts in Countering Violent Extremism.” Based on initial studies, the drivers of extremism in Macedonia encompass similar factors as those driving global extremism, although somewhat compounded by the real and perceived marginalization of the ethnic Albanian population in Macedonia.
The Islamic Community of Macedonia launched countering violent extremism (CVE) training for imams in November, but thus far has only trained 20 imams. The international community held one meeting in November to discuss planned CVE assessments and programs.
International and Regional Cooperation: Macedonia is a willing partner both regionally and internationally on counterterrorism. Macedonia increasingly took advantage of the established framework of cooperation on counter terrorism with its neighbors, especially Albania and Kosovo. In June, former Minister of Interior Mitko Chavkov attended a conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina on regional cooperation in border security with representatives from Frontex, Europol, and Interior Ministers from Southeastern Europe. In July, Macedonia attended a regional conference in Montenegro to discuss counterterrorism and foreign terrorist fighter issues; the following month, Macedonia hosted a working-level conference with the same regional partners. Representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs from Greece and Macedonia met in Skopje in November, with experts from relevant national institutions to discuss topics including police cooperation, response to security threats, and collaboration on EU programs. Also in November, Macedonia participated in an international counterterrorism tabletop exercise designed to illustrate whole-of-government coordination, collaboration, information sharing, and integrated counterterrorism planning.
Macedonia is also a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and hosted an OSCE-implemented workshop in September for criminal justice that brought together judges, prosecutors, and investigators from across the region to strengthen national capabilities and sustain inter-regional counterterrorism responses.
Overview: The Netherlands continued to respond effectively to the global terrorist threat in the areas of border and transportation security, counterterrorist financing, countering violent extremism (CVE), and bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism cooperation. In its March 2013 quarterly terrorism threat assessment, the Office of the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) raised the national threat level from “limited” to “substantial” (the second highest rank), where it has remained throughout 2016. In 2014, the Dutch government released a Comprehensive Action Program to Combat Jihadism (Action Program) with measures to halt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Syria and elsewhere. The plan focused on risk reduction, travel intervention, disruption of recruiters, countering radicalization to violence, addressing the use of social media, and information exchange and cooperation. In September 2016, the government announced an additional increase of US $10.5 million in structural counterterrorism spending in 2017, which will grow to US $23 million by 2019.
The Netherlands is implementing UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2178 to prevent potential foreign terrorist fighters from leaving the country. The government has pursued criminal cases against prospective and returned foreign terrorist fighters and against foreign terrorist fighter recruiters. The government has a multi-agency strategy to counter radicalization to violence, which focuses on community involvement at the local level.
The Netherlands is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and has liaisons embedded in U.S. Central Command, at various operational command centers, and at the Strategic Communications Cell. In 2016, the Netherlands conducted air strikes in Iraq and Syria, provided force protection of coalition partners, and contributed military personnel and trainers in Iraq. The Netherlands and Turkey co-chair the Coalition’s Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group.
2016 Terrorist Incidents: On February 27, five men in Enschede threw Molotov cocktails at a local mosque while people were inside; a passerby was able to extinguish the fire before anyone was hurt. The court convicted the men of arson with terrorist intent. Each suspect was sentenced to four years in prison. This case was the first instance in which prosecutors used terrorism statutes to charge perpetrators for a right-wing terrorism attack.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Netherlands continued to use counterterrorism legislation and legislative supplements to the criminal code to address terrorism. On April 1, legislation entered into force that allows the government to strip Dutch nationality from dual nationals convicted on the charge of “preparing to commit a terrorist act.” On June 1, legislation entered into force to limit the availability of chemical precursors for explosives. Under this law, private individuals can no longer purchase precursors without a license and companies have to report suspicious transactions, disappearances, and thefts. Government agencies working on counterterrorism include: NCTV; the national police; the prosecutor’s office; local governments; the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD); and the Ministries of Security and Justice, Interior and Kingdom Relations, Foreign Affairs, Social Affairs and Employment, and Defense.
A reorganization of the national police to improve operational capacity and effectiveness has been underway since 2013 and is scheduled to be completed in 2018. The government prioritizes community policing and the first-line role of local police officers. Within the national police organization, the Central Criminal Investigations Service is the specialized counterterrorism unit. The National Prosecutor’s Office also has dedicated counterterrorism prosecutors.
The Netherlands has continued to strengthen its border security. Dutch ports of entry have biographic and biometric screening capabilities. The government coordinates and freely shares information related to foreign terrorist fighters with INTERPOL and Europol. Authorities share information about individual travelers through the Schengen Information System 2, the Visa Information System, and the system for fingerprints of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants (EURODAC). The Netherlands collects Advance Passenger Information data for flights coming from selected points of embarkation outside the European Union (EU). The Netherlands is also working towards implementation of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive.
The Netherlands remains committed to effective cooperation with the United States on border security. The Port of Rotterdam was the first European port to participate in the Container Security Initiative.
Significant law enforcement actions related to counterterrorism included:
- On March 27, authorities in Rotterdam arrested a French suspect identified as Anis B. Police found 45 kilos of ammunition in the suspect’s apartment. French authorities had a warrant for his arrest for participation in a terrorist organization. The Dutch government extradited Anis B. to France on August 4.
- On July 13, a Dutch woman appeared on Kurdish television, saying she had escaped from ISIS with the help of the Peshmerga. She claimed her Palestinian-German husband had forced her and her children to depart for the Middle East. Shortly after her appearance on television, however, doubts emerged about her story. Upon her return to the Netherlands, the Dutch police interviewed her and placed her under arrest. At year’s end, she remained under detention pending further investigation.
- On December 9, Dutch authorities announced they had arrested a 30-year-old Rotterdam resident, Jaouad A., on suspicion of preparing to commit an act of terrorism. Authorities found an AK-47 and two ammunition magazines, along with highly explosive fireworks, an ISIS flag, several cell phones, and €1,600 (US $1,680) in cash in his residence.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Netherlands is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and is one of the Cooperating and Supporting Nations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, an FATF-style regional body. The Financial Intelligence Unit – Nederland (FIU-Netherland) is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. At the end of 2016, the Netherlands was working to implement the Fourth EU Money Laundering Directive. The Netherlands has worked to designate terrorist organizations and individuals, as well as to interdict and freeze assets. The Netherlands also participated in the counterterrorist financing working group of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition.
Dutch authorities monitor financial transactions and freeze the assets of persons on terrorist watchlists. While the Dutch implement UN Security Council 1267 listings under EU regulations, they also do so under their own national laws, which immediately freeze assets when an individual or entity is listed at the United Nations (UN). The government publishes the list of individuals or entities in its official journal, but keeps private the information on the amount of assets frozen or seized. As of December 2016, the government had frozen the assets of 89 individuals and three organizations. On March 16, a district court convicted a man for sending nearly US $17,750 to his brother who was fighting in Syria. The suspect used money transfer services to transfer the funds overseas.
Non-profit organizations are not required to file reports about suspicious transactions but may choose to apply to a private entity for a “seal of approval” certification for their financial transactions. Law enforcement can access this entity’s data bases with a court order. The FATF concluded that the requirements to obtain this “seal of approval” are stringent. These requirements include knowing donors and beneficiaries and having safeguards to make sure directors and employees do not have a conflict of interests.
Countering Violent Extremism: The national government’s Comprehensive Action Program to Combat Jihadism, released in August 2014, contains measures to strengthen communities, build resilience to radicalization, and prevent persons from becoming foreign terrorist fighters.
According to Dutch government-funded research projects on the drivers of violent extremism in the Netherlands, feelings of economic or social isolation can create a breeding ground that leaves people vulnerable to radicalization to violence. When these factors are combined with a “trigger,” such as the death of a loved one or an altercation with authorities, a person can become radicalized to violence.
The Dutch government uses a multi-disciplinary approach to countering violent extremism (CVE) and develops individually tailored plans of action to provide intervention for individuals suspected of adhering to (or being susceptible to) violent extremism. Local governments, with the support of NCTV, work in close cooperation with the police, public prosecutor, social workers, child protective services, educators, and community leaders to develop and implement their plans. This approach prioritizes the use of preventive measures, including mentoring, counseling, and access to job training programs and other social services to steer individuals away from becoming radicalized to violence. Similar programs also rehabilitate former violent extremists. Under this model, the government generally views repressive measures, including arrest and prosecution, as steps to take only when preventive measures have failed. Returned foreign terrorist fighters undergo a threat assessment by the government; some returnees are prosecuted.
Dutch authorities and communities have shared their experiences with U.S. counterparts, including through a CVE city exchange program between Arnhem and Phoenix. On December 22, the national government announced its intent to invest more than US $6.5 million in 18 local governments for tailor-made programs to prevent and counter radicalization to violence.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment also has a Social Stability Expertise Unit, which is a team of experts who provide advice to local governments and communities on problems related to violent extremism. The government also runs a Family Support Unit, which assists parents and family members of radicalized individuals, and an Exit Facility, which offers a “way out” for extremists who want to reintegrate into society.
International and Regional Cooperation: The Netherlands participates in the United Nations, Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), EU, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As holder of the EU Presidency in the first half of 2016, the Netherlands pushed for the adoption of the Road Map to enhance information exchange between EU member states. As co-chair of GCTF, the Netherlands hosts the GCTF Administrative Unit. With Morocco, the Netherlands chairs the GCTF Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters. The Netherlands has dedicated GCTF officers at four embassies. The Netherlands is on the governing board of the three GCTF‑inspired institutions: the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (Hedayah) in Abu Dhabi, the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law in Malta, and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund in Switzerland. The Netherlands also participates in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
In international cooperation, the Netherlands prioritized CVE, stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and countering terrorist financing. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed regional security coordinators at six embassies, who are dedicated to CVE. The Netherlands continued to finance a wide variety of capacity building projects, such as Free Press Unlimited and the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation’s program on rule of law and criminal justice capacity and cooperation in North Africa. The Dutch government continued to work with the International Centre for Counterterrorism, based in The Hague. On September 21, the Netherlands announced an additional US $2.6 million for international projects to counter terrorism and radicalization to violence in local communities where radicalization to violence is a major problem, such as in Mali.
Overview: Norway’s internal security service continued to assess that Islamist terrorism remains the primary threat to the security of Norway, although they note that concerns of right‑wing extremism are growing. A small but outspoken group of violent Islamist extremists in and around Oslo remained active in online fora, although they did not conduct any attacks. In 2016, authorities convicted several Norwegians for supporting or aiding ISIS. The flow of Norwegian citizens or residents who traveled to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS decreased in 2016 to less than a handful of known cases, and Police Security Service (PST) officials continued to assess publicly that approximately 100 individuals have traveled as foreign terrorist fighters in total. Norway and the United States maintained good collaboration on counterterrorism.
Norway is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The government co-sponsored UN Security Council resolution 2178 on foreign terrorist fighters, and is contributing to the Coalition’s five lines of effort. Norway contributes to two military missions in the Coalition: approximately 60 military personnel are deployed to Jordan as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, and approximately 50 military trainers are in a capacity-building mission for Iraqi security forces in Erbil. Norway provided approximately US $332 million in 2016 to address the humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Terrorism is a criminal offense in Norway. In 2013, Norway changed its laws to make it easier to prosecute cases of material support for terrorism. In addition to increasing maximum prison sentences to 30 years for serious terrorism offenses, the 2013 laws make it illegal to conduct or plan to conduct a terrorist attack, receive terrorism-related training, or provide material support to a terrorist organization. In June 2016, Norway passed new legislation criminalizing traveling, as well as the intent to travel, to fight on behalf of a non-state actor.
The PST is responsible for domestic security, including counterterrorism activities. A joint analysis cell, the Joint Counter Terrorism Center, with participants from the PST and the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS), which is the external security service, became fully operational in 2014. Both the PST and the NIS have devoted significant resources to identifying, tracking, and taking action against Norwegian citizens intending to travel to and from Syria and Iraq to engage in fighting. The PST and NIS maintain an evolving list of those who have traveled to Syria and Iraq, those who have returned, and those who have expressed an interest in traveling to the two countries.
Parliament approved an agreement on the sharing of fingerprint information in criminal investigations with the European Union (EU), the parties to the Pruem Convention, as well as with the United States under the Preventing and Combating Serious Crimes (PCSC) data-sharing agreement, in May 2016. In September 2016, Norway hosted an FBI Criminal Justice Information Systems technical team to agree on steps for the implementation of the PCSC agreement. Norway continued to explore an agreement on sharing passenger name recognition (PNR) data with the EU, and is simultaneously developing a national PNR system. In November 2016, Norwegian police piloted an automated biometric identification system (ABIS), which officials aim to implement nationally in the first quarter of 2017. Immigration to Norway is facilitated and regulated by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), which processes all applications for asylum, visas, family immigration, work and study permits, permanent residence, and travel documents. In 2016, citizenship issues were regulated by the newly created Minister of Immigration and Integration. The Norwegian police and the MFA issue passports.
Norway previously faced legal and technical barriers in stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, including that Norway cannot revoke or permanently hold a citizen’s passport for expressing support for a terrorist group (or expressing an interest to travel to Syria and Iraq), or return an asylum-seeker who expresses support for a terrorist group to an area with ongoing conflict. The legislation criminalizing fighting on behalf of non-state groups, which was passed in June 2016, should rectify the situation.
Since enacting the 2013 counterterrorism laws, the Norwegian authorities have convicted several individuals of support for terrorist groups and causes.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Norway is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Norway’s financial intelligence unit (FIU), The National Authority for the Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime – The Money Laundering Unit, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
Norwegian law aims to incorporate FATF standards and recommendations, but faces challenges in effective implementation, particularly regarding implementing UN-targeted financial sanctions without delay. Norway continues to increase its efforts to counter terrorist financing and in 2016, Norway joined the Defeat-ISIS Coalition working group to counter terrorist financing. The government also continued to operate a domestic interagency group, which included the Ministries of Justice, Finance, and Foreign Affairs, to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Countering Violent Extremism: Norwegian Prime Minister Solberg hosted an event on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September 2016 that focused on the gender dimensions of preventing and countering violent extremism. At the event, the prime minister formally launched the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership. Norway continued to support the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and Strong Cities Network (SCN). Two Norwegian cities, Oslo and Kristiansand, are members of the SCN.
Norway continued to implement its national Action Plan against Radicalization and Violent Extremism, published in June 2014, which is a whole-of-government approach to countering violent extremism (CVE). Priorities include strengthening research on CVE, improving national and local cooperation on counter-radicalization efforts, helping to promote reintegration of former violent extremists, and preventing recruitment and radicalization to violence online. The prime minister encouraged municipal authorities to implement CVE efforts at the local level. Several municipalities around Oslo fjord, which PST assesses are the most vulnerable to radicalization to violence, have increased their CVE efforts, including passing CVE action plans and increasing budgets for CVE and counter-radicalization activities.
Regional and International Cooperation: Norway is active in multilateral fora in efforts to counter terrorism, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the EU’s Radicalization Awareness Network. Although not a member, Norway has been an active participant in the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). Through the GCTF, Norway has implemented several new projects in the areas of counterterrorism and CVE. In 2016, Norway worked actively to garner UN member state support for the UN Preventing Violent Extremism Plan of Action. Norway continued its support to the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force. The Norwegian government provided support to The Prevention Project, which focuses on localized interventions that address the underlying drivers of violent extremism.
Overview: The Russian Federation continued to prioritize counterterrorism efforts in 2016, and Russia remained a target of international terrorist groups, particularly ISIS. The majority of counterterrorism activities conducted in 2016 targeted armed groups in the Russian North Caucasus, but government officials noted Russia has encountered increased ISIS-related activity in their law enforcement activities throughout the country following ISIS’s August call to jihad within Russia.
In 2016, Moscow cited the threat posed by terrorists to justify its ongoing military intervention in Syria and the passage of far-reaching, “anti-extremism” legislation. As of June, the Russian government estimated 3,500 Russian citizens were fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Russia also continued to pursue counterterrorism cooperation with foreign partners, and expressed a desire to work with the United States to address terrorist threats. Despite rhetorical emphasis on operations against ISIS and al-Nusrah Front (al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria), the great majority of Russian airstrikes in Syria targeted the moderate opposition.
Russia’s counterterrorism focus also included the activities of the Imarat Kavkaz (Caucasus Emirate), Hizb ut-Tahrir – which Russia considers a terrorist organization, but the United States does not – and Aum Shinrikyo, which Russia’s Supreme Court banned in September.
ISIL-Caucasus Province (ISIL-CP) has remained largely inactive, except for two claimed attacks in 2015. In December 2016, Russian security forces announced they killed ISIL-CP leader Rustam Aselderov and four other militants in Dagestan; a successor had not been named at the end of 2016.
2016 Terrorist Incidents: Few high-profile terrorist attacks were conducted within Russia in 2016, although the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey in December underscored the threat to Russian personnel and interests overseas. Domestic attacks did not display a high degree of planning or sophistication and typically involved a provoked encounter with law enforcement. Attacks included:
- In an August 17 attack later claimed by ISIS, two men attacked policemen with guns and axes at a traffic checkpoint in a Moscow suburb. Both of the attackers were killed by police and one policeman was seriously injured.
- On October 23, Russian authorities in Nizhny Novgorod killed two suspected terrorists who resisted inspection of their vehicle; a third suspect was reportedly arrested. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the would-be attackers and claimed the two men were “soldiers of the Islamic State.”
- On December 17, alleged ISIS-affiliated militants in Grozny, Chechnya stabbed a police officer and used his weapon and a stolen car to kill three policemen. The attackers were allegedly recruited and commanded by a Syria-based ISIS commander and online videos showed several of the attackers pledging allegiance to ISIS. In counterterrorism raids on December 18, Chechen forces claimed to have killed seven of the suspects and captured four others.
- On December 19, Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, attending the opening of an art exhibit in Ankara, was assassinated by an off-duty police officer who denounced Moscow’s military activity in Syria. Russian and Turkish authorities announced a joint commission to investigate the assassination.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Russia has a comprehensive counterterrorism legal framework that includes the provisions of the Criminal Code and various federal laws including, “On Countering Terrorism,” “On Money Laundering and Terrorist financing,” “On Countering Extremist Activity,” “On Security on Transport,” and “On Security in the Fuel and Energy Complex.” Throughout 2016, however, the Russian government continued to use its “anti-extremism” legislation to prosecute peaceful individuals and organizations, including the political opposition, independent media, and certain religious minorities. In July 2016, Russia adopted the so-called “Yarovaya Package” of amendments, which grants authorities broad additional powers, ostensibly to counter terrorism and extremism. It criminalizes acts such as failing to report terrorist-related crimes and justifying terrorism on social media and requires telecommunications companies to retain data to aid future law enforcement investigations. While the law’s stated purpose is to help counter extremism, almost all of the applications observed in 2016 targeted the unsanctioned religious activities of minority Christian denominations.
A law in the Chechen Republic requires relatives of terrorists to pay the cost of damages caused by an attack, which human rights advocates criticized as collective punishment. The Memorial Human Rights Center reported that Chechen Republic authorities upheld the principle of collective responsibility in punishing the relatives of alleged members of illegal armed groups. The Memorial Human Rights Center and Caucasian Knot reported that, following an armed attack by two militants on a checkpoint in the village of Alkhan-Kala in Grozny’s rural district in May, the homes of the attackers’ families were set on fire.
Russia maintains several large, professional, and relatively well-funded security services that are focused on countering terrorism. The FSB is the primary agency responsible for domestic counterterrorism activities, but the Ministry of Interior (MVD) and newly created National Guard also play a role. The National Guard force was formed with troops from MVD and other armed personnel in April, and is officially charged with combating terrorism, extremism, and helping to secure Russia’s borders. Some political commentators, however, have speculated it is intended to protect against domestic unrest. In October, a presidential decree stipulated that the National Guard will maintain the national fingerprint database. The FSB International Cooperation Directorate, through a joint relationship with the National Antiterrorism Committee (NAC), has developed the “International Counterterrorism Database,” which holds both an unclassified and a restricted section. The FSB exclusively maintains and controls this database – which it promotes as the only international database that adheres to UN Security Council resolution 2178 – but it has invited international intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contribute information on events, subjects, organizations, and methods.
Despite an intense focus on counterterrorism, Russia’s security services are challenged by the task of securing Russia’s 12,000 miles of land border and more than 23,000 miles of coastline. Border crossings, particularly on the frontiers between Russia and some former Soviet republics, may not be registered. Given that Russia maintains a robust operational pace in North Caucasus (against ISIL-CP), many of Russia’s 2016 counterterrorism operations targeted Central Asian migrant workers. While border guards have the capability of collecting biometrics at ports of entry and there are standard operating procedures for information sharing, it is unclear how often these procedures are followed. A traveler to Russia must receive a visa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, be permitted entry by the FSB through the Border Guard Service, and then be registered with the Directorate for Migration Affairs, which in April was converted from an autonomous organization to a division of the MVD. Citizens of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries may enter Russia for up to 90 days without registration with the MVD.
During 2016, Russian officials announced steps to improve border security. In November, Russia’s Deputy Interior Minister announced that all foreigners arriving in Russia will be fingerprinted as of January 2017. In June, President Putin announced that Russia would create a federal information system for registering biometric data and effective operational intelligence, although it is unclear if and when the project will come into effect.
Terrorism-related law enforcement activities continued in 2016. The majority of operations occurred in the North Caucasus regions of Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetia, but several high‑profile cases took place in major Russian cities. Significant events included:
- On February 7, the FSB arrested seven alleged ISIS members in Yekaterinburg. Officials commented the suspects were both Russian and Central Asian and were arrested before they could carry out planned attacks in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the Sverdlovsk region of Russia.
- On October 7, the FSB killed six militants during an operation in the Nazran district of Ingushetia. Authorities said they had been tipped off that the militants were plotting to stage terrorist attacks and announced that Zabairi Sautiyev, an ISIS emissary who arrived from Syria “to resume terrorist activity in the republic,” was among those killed.
- On November 12, the FSB, working in collaboration with Tajik and Kyrgyz authorities, arrested 10 Central Asian migrants for plotting terrorist attacks in Moscow and St. Petersburg. All suspects reportedly confessed to having had contact with ISIS.
- On December 3, the FSB killed Rustam Aselderov, aka Abu Muhamad al-Kadari, in an operation in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. Aselderov was the leader of ISIS’s Caucasus branch and had been linked to several terrorist attacks within Russia over the past several years.
Russia also continued to prosecute alleged terrorists and those accused of supporting terrorism. On November 11, a court in Kazan, the capital of the Muslim-majority Republic of Tatarstan, added 77 individuals to a wanted list for pursuing jihad in Syria. In July, authorities placed Imam Makhmud Velitov of Moscow’s Yardyam mosque under house arrest after he was charged with “public calls for terrorist activities or public justification of terrorism” after giving a sermon in support of Hizb ut-Tahrir in September 2013. If convicted, Velitov faces a sentence between two to five years.
Despite the tensions in the overall bilateral relationship with the United States, Russian security services have engaged in a limited amount of cooperation on counterterrorism matters. Russia continued to disseminate threat information and occasionally responded to requests for information, although its responses were often not substantive or timely. The Russian government continued to cooperate with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) investigation of subjects associated with the Boston Marathon bombing. Both the FSB and Investigative Committee requested information from the FBI pertaining to the downing of the Russian charter plane in Egypt in October 2015. The FSB requested the FBI’s assistance regarding security preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
There were no known legal constraints to effective Russian law enforcement and border security related to counterterrorism, although ethnic or clan ties in certain regions can make policing and prosecutions difficult. Important cases are often moved to Moscow or other regions to ensure a judge is not influenced by a clan.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Russia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and two FATF-style regional bodies: the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, and the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), in which it is a leading member and primary funding source. Through the EAG, Russia provides technical assistance and other resources towards improving legislative and regulatory frameworks and operational capabilities. Russia’s financial intelligence unit (FIU), the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring (Rosfinmonitoring), is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Rosfinmonitoring is overseen by the President of Russia.
The highest levels of the Russian government support counterterrorist finance initiatives, and in November 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order to establish an interagency commission on preventing the financing of terrorism. Since then, its organization, activities, and reporting appear to be focused at the municipal level. At the end of 2016, Rosfinmonitoring continued its efforts to move forward a draft bill to ratify the 2005 Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (aka the “Warsaw Convention”).
The most current data on investigations and convictions of terrorist financing is from 2015. In that year, the Russian government conducted more than 7,700 financial investigations, which included more than 3,500 persons suspected of involvement in international terrorist organizations, including ISIS. In 2015, the list maintained by Rosfinmonitoring of natural and legal persons tied to extremist activities or terrorism expanded, resulting in the freezing of 3,019 accounts totaling approximately US $610,000. As of November 9, 2016, this list included 7,245 individuals and legal entities: 6,659 individuals and 79 legal entities within Russia, and 413 foreign individuals and 94 foreign legal entities.
Russia has oversight of the financial sector to reduce persistently high capital outflows and fictitious transactions which puts pressure on smaller financial institutions most likely to engage in money laundering and terrorist financing. The primary regulator is the Central Bank of Russia, which has revoked a large number of banking licenses over the past few years, often citing the presence of dubious transactions.
Countering Violent Extremism: Despite adopting a countering violent extremism strategy in November 2014, the Russian government continued to take a predominantly militarized approach to the terrorist threat. In November, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov criticized the UN Secretary-General’s plan to counter violent extremism for ostensibly promoting domestic unrest and eroding focus on counterterrorism. To the extent the Russian government works to counter violent extremism, it focuses on enforcement mechanisms and program administration through governmental agencies or organizations controlled by the government. The Russian government is reluctant to work with independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Russian-based NGOs, in this area.
International and Regional Cooperation: Russia significantly increased counterterrorism outreach in 2016. In addition to continuing work in regional and multilateral groups, Russia expanded its bilateral efforts. In 2016, Russia held consultations or signed formal counterterrorism agreements with: Afghanistan, Australia, China, India, The Kyrgyz Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Serbia, Turkey, and the European Union. Russia is a member of and participated in UN and Global Counterterrorism Forum activities and advanced counterterrorism agendas in several other groups of which it is a member, including the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa group, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum.
Overview: The Government of Serbia continued its efforts to counter international terrorism in 2016, and political leaders engaged with the U.S. and international community to develop stronger counterterrorism measures and strategies. Serbia regularly participated in regional counterterrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE) conferences and in training exercises throughout Europe. Serbia’s law enforcement and security agencies, in particular the Ministry of Interior’s (MOI) Directorate of Police, and the Security Information Agency (BIA), continued bilateral counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, with a focus on tracking and vetting the ongoing refugee and migrant flows. Improvements were made in 2016, as some 110,000 of the approximate 135,000 migrants who moved through the country were registered. There were still significant gaps in vetting and processing, however, which was highlighted by media reports that at least one perpetrator of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris flowed through Serbia under the guise of being a Syrian refugee. The U.S. government is working in partnership with the Serbian government and its law enforcement and security agencies to remedy these gaps.
In 2016, Serbia made significant progress in adopting the “National Strategy for the Prevention and Countering of Terrorism for the Period 2016-2021.” The document also incorporates a small CVE platform, marking the first time that Serbia will have a unified counterterrorism and CVE plan in place. The strategy is expected to be adopted formally by the government in early 2017.
In 2016, Serbian officials continued public condemnation of ISIS activities, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Interior, among others, have publicly stressed the importance of the country’s participation in the global effort to defeat ISIS. Serbia is a partner in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and the Coalition’s Foreign Terrorist Fighter Working Group and donated approximately 10 tons of ammunition to the fight against ISIS in 2016. The difficult economic situation in Serbia continued to limit the likelihood of substantial additional financial or material contributions to the Coalition.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Serbia made some strides on the counterterrorism front in 2016, following the development of counterterrorism programs and passage of foreign terrorist fighter legislation in late 2014. Article 386a of Serbia’s criminal code outlaws unauthorized participation in a war or armed conflict in a foreign country, and designates punishments from six months to five years for those participating as individuals; from one to eight years for those participating as a group; and, from two to 10 years for organizers. In July 2016, criminal proceedings began against seven individuals accused of financing, organizing, and recruiting Serbian citizens to fight in Syria for ISIS. As of December 2016, the case remained ongoing.
Serbia’s strategic, interagency approach to handling terrorism-related matters continued to make progress in 2016. Efforts to create a national counterterrorism strategy began in July 2015 and are expected to conclude in 2017. The working group in charge of developing the strategy has finalized the language and currently awaits the appointment of a new chair before sending the document for adoption by the government. This national strategy also includes, for the first time, language addressing violent extremism and strategic goals for countering radicalization to violence. The MOI continued to improve its three-year-old Service for Combating Terrorism and Extremism, which serves as a central agency for handling both counterterrorism and CVE concerns. Representatives of the Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training and International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) frequently interacted with Serbia’s security sector, including MOI’s Special Anti-Terrorist Unit and the Counter-Terrorist Unit, to provide best practices and training courses. In 2016, a joint project by ICITAP and the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) partnered with Serbia’s Ministry of Interior to set up an Operational Analysis Service. ODC also implemented a program to deliver information technology equipment worth approximately US $400,000 to the MOI’s Terrorism and Extremism Service to help develop further Serbia’s counterterrorism capacities.
Transnational terrorism concerns within Serbia were similar to those facing other Western Balkan states located along the historical transit route between the Middle East and Western Europe – the so-called “Balkans Route” that moves weapons, narcotics, and people. Serbian authorities are alert to efforts by international terrorists to establish a presence in, or transit, Serbian territory. The government continued to cooperate with neighboring countries to improve border security and information sharing, and in 2016, established a Migrant Smuggling Task Force, a prosecution-led multi-agency team within the MOI that joins 20 representatives from various departments. The migrant crisis exposed numerous vulnerabilities in Serbia’s border security, which largely matched vulnerabilities facing neighboring countries. In response to the migrant crisis, Serbia has been updating its screening tools and border security with help from international partners. The Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program continued to conduct training courses for and to donate equipment to Serbian Customs and Border Police. In 2016, EXBS donated a Secure Video Link network to the Customs and Border Police of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia to provide immediate and secure video communications among the countries’ operations centers in the event of a terrorist incident. Long sections of Serbia’s borders, however, remained porous, particularly those borders shared with Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Serbia is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, and has observer status in the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. The Serbian Anti-Money Laundering Directorate (AMLD) is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
In 2014, the Serbian government adopted the National Strategy for the Fight Against Money Laundering and Terrorism Funding, which covers strategic planning, coordination, and cooperation of all concerned government agencies and departments, and covers the period until 2018. The National Strategy envisages the formation of expert teams to coordinate government actions to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The AMLD published an amended list of indicators for recognizing suspicious transactions and a set of indicators for recognizing money laundering and terrorist financing for banks, brokers, insurance companies, and real estate agents.
Several significant deficiencies remain in Serbia’s anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) legal framework, including gaps in the terrorist financing offense and targeted financial sanctions, such as obligations under the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime. There are also shortcomings in Serbia’s financial supervisory and border control regimes.
Consistent with the new law on foreign terrorist fighters, the government issued a list of designated persons and entities in 2015, with updates in February and May 2016.
Countering Violent Extremism: As part of the National Strategy for the Prevention and Countering of Terrorism for 2016-2021, Serbia for the first time incorporated a CVE aspect into the strategy. There were no concrete national programs in place to counter radicalization to violence or violent extremism in 2016.
Regional and International Cooperation: Serbia was engaged in limited regional and international cooperation on counterterrorism issues. Elements of the government, including the MOI and BIA, cooperate with INTERPOL and Europol on counterterrorism activities, including watchlists.
On issues of border security, Serbia has well-developed cooperation programs with Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. In addition, EXBS works extensively with a Tri-Border Initiative that brings Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian agencies together for regular training and quarterly meetings. In 2016, regular training activities between the Border Police and Customs Agencies of Serbia and Kosovo, which began in 2014, continued, marking an improvement in cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo in this area in recent years.
Overview: Spain partnered actively with the United States to disrupt transnational terrorism in 2016. Spanish authorities maintained robust information sharing with U.S. counterparts on terrorist threats and worked closely with regional partners, including Morocco and Algeria, to dismantle foreign terrorist fighter recruitment and facilitation networks. Spain also made initial progress implementing a domestic program to counter violent extremism.
Spain has been a significant contributor to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS since its inception. Spain has a military-training mission in Iraq, co-located with the United States at Bismayah, near Baghdad, with more than 300 Spanish personnel deployed during 2016. In December, Spain’s Council of Ministers approved the deployment of 150 additional military and police personnel to support the Coalition’s training efforts.
The domestic terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) has not launched any attacks since it announced a “definitive cessation of armed activity” in October 2011. Although ETA had not formally disbanded or given up its weapons arsenal, its coherence was further eroded this year by the arrest of members of its vestigial leadership, including the November arrest of accused leader Mikel Irastorza in France.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Spain has a mature legal framework for counterterrorism as a result of its long fight against the domestic terrorist group ETA. The Spanish Criminal Code specifically punishes any act of collaboration with the activities or purposes of a terrorist organization. Spain revised its penal code in 2015, empowering law enforcement agencies to prosecute individuals who glorify terrorism on social media, train remotely, operate without clear affiliation, or travel in support of non-state actors.
Spain’s counterterrorism capabilities, coordinated by the national Intelligence Center for Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO), have proven effective. The National Police and Civil Guard share responsibility for counterterrorism. Spain continued to implement its cybersecurity strategy to safeguard its critical information systems under the direction of the Cyber Defense Committee, charged with coordinating cybersecurity across government agencies.
Spain continued to focus on improved security and the detection of false documents at its borders. Spain participates in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Immigration Advisory Program, which maintains staff at Madrid-Barajas International Airport, and allows for coordination between Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, Embassy Madrid Consular staff, airline security personnel, and police regarding high risk passengers traveling to the United States. Spain continued to use a network of radar stations, known as the Integrated External Surveillance System, along its maritime borders.
Spanish authorities arrested 177 suspected terrorists between June 2015, when the national terrorism alert was raised to “4” (high) on a five-point scale, and December 2016. Arrests have occurred across Spain, from Madrid and Barcelona to the North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and the Balearic islands of Ibiza and Mallorca. Charges against these suspects have included glorification of terrorism and promulgation of ISIS propaganda; recruiting foreign terrorist fighters and facilitating travel to conflict zones; and obtaining or delivering training to commit terror attacks. According to Spanish authorities, 204 individuals have traveled from Spain to Iraq and Syria as foreign terrorist fighters as of December. This includes both Spanish nationals and foreign nationals with links to Spain. Several dozen are believed to be deceased, and most of Spain’s returned foreign terrorist fighters (roughly 25) remained in prison.
In March, Spanish authorities seized approximately 20,000 military uniforms that reportedly were being shipped from Spanish ports in Valencia and Algeciras to affiliates of ISIS or al‑Nusrah Front (al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria) in Syria and Iraq. Ministry of Interior officials said they had uncovered a “very active and effective business network” seeking to provide military supplies to the terrorist organizations. The uniforms were declared as “secondhand clothes” to pass through customs inspections.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Spain is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has observer or cooperating status in the following FATF-style regional bodies: the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force. Its financial intelligence unit, the Executive Service for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Monetary Infractions (SEPBLAC), is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. The Director and CEO of SEPBLAC assumed the position of FATF president on July 1, 2016.
In 2016, Spain continued to demonstrate leadership in the area of anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT). Spain effectively investigates and prosecutes terrorist financing and uses criminal forfeiture provisions to freeze terrorist assets, but has had more limited success in implementing and using UN terrorism‑related targeted financial sanctions.
Spain enacted its current law on Preventing Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism in 2010. The related regulations greatly enhance authorities' capacity to counter terrorist financing by placing greater requirements, with stiffer penalties for non-compliance, on financial institutions and other businesses, and by strengthening monitoring and oversight. The government has diligently implemented relevant UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCR) and has the legal authority to impose autonomous designations.
Countering Violent Extremism: Spain has begun to implement the National Counter Radicalization Plan announced in 2015. CITCO is the lead agency for implementing the plan. The southern city of Málaga, which joined the Strong Cities Network in May, has served as a pilot for countering violent extremism (CVE) initiatives, including interdisciplinary intervention in potential youth radicalization cases and networking with interfaith non‑governmental organizations to improve communication between government and vulnerable communities. A national counter-radicalization hotline has received more than 900 communications deemed “of interest” by Spanish law enforcement since December 2015. Andalusia, Catalonia, and Madrid accounted for nearly half of these communications. Spanish authorities are seeking European Union and national funding to continue and expand their CVE efforts.
International and Regional Cooperation: Since 2004, Spain has been part of the informal working group on violent Islamist extremism known as the 5 + 5. The group brings together defense leaders from five European countries (France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain) and five Maghreb countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia). Its mission is to exchange information and discuss the operational implications of the threat from violent Islamist extremists in the European theater, including that posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters. In October, Spain participated in a meeting of the 5 + 5 Chiefs of Staff in Algiers to strengthen regional military cooperation against terrorism.
Spain is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and is also a member of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. During its presidency of the UN Security Council in December, Spain sponsored UNSCR 2322 to improve judicial cooperation to fight terrorism, and also worked to improve the implementation of UNSCR 1540, a cornerstone multilateral tool in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups and other non‑state actors. In September, Spanish authorities conducted a joint operation with Belgian and German law enforcement to dismantle an international ISIS recruitment network. The European Counterterrorism Center, established in January, is led by a senior Civil Guard official, Manuel Navarrete Paniguata.
Overview: The United States and Sweden maintained good cooperation on counterterrorism and law enforcement issues. U.S. agencies worked with their Swedish counterparts in 2016 to improve information sharing and the evaluation of terrorist-related information. The Swedish Security Services (SÄPO) is concerned with the number of foreign terrorist fighters who have left Sweden to join terrorist groups mainly in Syria and Iraq. Of the estimated 300 individuals who traveled, some 44 were killed in action and 146 have returned to Sweden.
Foreign terrorist fighters in Sweden have been recruited mainly through word of mouth or online by friends or family members. Foreign terrorist fighters traveling to Syria and Iraq from Sweden were usually young males of immigrant background, but generally not of Syrian descent. Women also traveled to Iraq and Syria from Sweden, in some cases traveling with children or adult male companions.
SÄPO views the returnees with specific concern as they could potentially plan an attack in Sweden or could radicalize and recruit others for travel. In October, SÄPO reported to Swedish media that they saw a decrease in the number of travelers due to recent developments in Syria and Iraq.
The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency reached out to various agencies and communities to develop awareness of the foreign terrorist fighter threat. The Counterterrorism Cooperative Council, consisting of 13 government agencies, coordinated Sweden’s interagency counterterrorism cooperation. The National Center for Terrorism Threat Assessment produced long- and short-term strategic assessments of the terrorist threat against Sweden and Swedish interests. SÄPO monitored returned foreign terrorist fighters to evaluate their condition.
At the end of 2016, the national alert level was a three (elevated threat, no evidence of planning) on a scale of five (evidence of planning, attack imminent). The national alert level has been graded a three since 2010, except for when it was, for the first time, raised to a four (high threat, evidence of planning) following the November 2015 attacks in Paris. SÄPO stated the reason for raising the alert level was not due to specific evidence of planning, but for a need to raise the citizenry’s vigilance following the Paris attacks. In March 2016, the national alert level was lowered back to a three.
Sweden is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, has made generous humanitarian contributions to ISIS-impacted populations in Iraq, and has sent 35 military trainers to northern Iraq in support of Coalition efforts. Johan Gustafsson, a Swedish citizen who was kidnapped by al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) when visiting Mali in November 2011, remained in AQIM’s detention at the end of 2016. Gustafsson was last seen in an AQIM-released video allegedly made in July 2016.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Sweden’s legislation criminalizes inciting terrorist acts, recruiting on behalf of terrorist organizations, travel to support terrorist organizations, and providing terrorism training.
To implement UN Security Council resolutions 2178 and 2199 and the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al‑Qa’ida sanctions regime, new legislation with counterterrorism provisions came into effect April 1. This legislation included measures to criminalize travel to support terrorist organizations and the financing of terrorism, and measures to increase information exchange within Swedish intelligence channels and with partner countries. In June, Aydin Sevigin was sentenced to five years in prison for preparation of terrorism crimes under this legislation. Evidence included surveillance photos and receipts showing that Sevigin visited several large department stores, purchasing various items that can be used to make homemade bombs. Within the European Union (EU) Commission, Sweden continued to advocate strongly for a targeted revision of the Schengen Borders Code to provide for more thorough checks of EU nationals on entry into Schengen, including mandatory verification of biometric information.
In July, the Swedish government proposed introducing new legislation to clearly criminalize participation in combat-related activities in armed conflict abroad to support a terrorist organization. The government’s proposal would more clearly criminalize the act of traveling abroad to undertake terrorist activity, financing of such travel, and recruitment for participation in combat-related activities.
During the year, the Swedish government increased the Security Service’s budget for counterterrorism efforts by SEK 65 million (US $7 million) for 2016 and 2017 and SEK 95 million (US $10.3 million) for 2018. The Government of Sweden has also tasked the Security Service with developing its efforts to address the threat posed by returned foreign terrorist fighters.
Sweden participated in the EU Schengen working group and used the Schengen Information System II for information sharing, port of entry screening, lost and stolen passport information, and watchlisting. Under the auspices of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement between the EU and the United States, Sweden collects and shares PNR information from commercial flights.
To improve its border security, Sweden has introduced provisions that allow the Swedish Police Authority to request passenger information to perform identity checks via Advance Passenger Information from any carrier that transports passengers to Sweden by air from a state outside the Schengen zone. This information provides greater opportunities to identify travelers with links to terrorism at an early stage.
Since November 12, 2015, the Government of Sweden has held temporary border controls due to the massive influx of asylum seekers into the country. The border controls, consisting of spot checks at the Öresund Bridge connecting Sweden and Denmark and at ports connecting Sweden to Germany via ferries, have been extended every three months. Such temporary border controls are permitted under the Schengen Border Code if a “serious threat to public policy or internal security” exists. The Swedish government determined these conditions had been met following consultations with the police and the Migration Agency.
On March 30, the Court of Appeal upheld the Gothenburg District Court sentence of Hassan Al‑Mandlawi (32-year-old from Iraq) and Al Amin Sultan (30-year-old from Ethiopia) to life in prison for “the crime of terrorism through murder” after it ruled that graphic video evidence showed the pair taking part in the beheadings of two people in Syria. The verdicts marked the first time foreign terrorist fighters were convicted in Sweden of crimes committed in Syria, and the first time individuals were convicted specifically for the crime of terrorism as opposed to the secondary charges of crimes against humanity and murder. In June, the Supreme Court announced its decision not to grant the two an appeal.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Sweden is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has observer or cooperating status in the following FATF-style regional bodies: the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force. Sweden’s financial intelligence unit, the National Financial Intelligence Service, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
A new penal provision for terrorist financing came into effect April 1. The new provision penalizes those who collect, provide, or receive funds or other property in the knowledge that it is intended for a person or group of people who commit, attempt to commit, prepare, or participate in a particularly serious crime, including acts of terrorism. Criminal liability in these cases does not require that the funds or property be intended to be used for a particularly serious crime, but instead focus on the recipient of the financing and the individual’s intent to prepare or commit serious crimes. The proposed scale of penalties for ordinary offenses is imprisonment for a maximum of two years. Sweden has not yet secured convictions under this statute.
Since April, the Swedish Tax Agency has conducted approximately 100 audits on 65 people handling large amounts of money without explanation, and collected nine million SEK (US $1 million) from people with terrorism connections.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Countering Violent Extremism: The Swedish government appointed its first-ever National Coordinator for Safeguarding Democracy from Violent Extremism in 2014. The Swedish government has described its approach to countering violent extremism (CVE) as attempting to address underlying factors behind radicalization to violence. The government seeks to depolarize Swedish society as a necessary step to counter violent extremism, believing that people who do not feel welcome and integrated in Swedish society might turn to violent extremism. The coordinator’s main mission is to engage and involve stakeholders at the local level, providing assistance to municipalities, schools, social services, police, and civil society organizations. The coordinator is also responsible for raising awareness of violent extremism and for the development of prevention methods. The national coordinator’s work has resulted in all municipalities appointing a CVE contact person, and a majority of the Swedish municipalities are also developing prevention strategies.
The Government has extended the coordinator’s mandate until January 2018.
The city of Stockholm is a member the Strong Cities Network that was launched in 2015. In 2016, the Nordic Council of Ministers launched Nordic Safe Cities, a network including many Swedish cities that is connected to the Strong Cities Network and aims to foster an exchange of best practices from the local level.
International and Regional Cooperation: Sweden is a member of the EU and has been active on CVE and foreign terrorist fighter issues within the organization. Sweden belongs to the EU‑9, a group within the EU that focuses on foreign terrorist fighters. Sweden also participates in the European Commission’s Radicalization Awareness Network.
Sweden continued to contribute to counterterrorism capacity-building projects through its development assistance work carried out by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and also via funding to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime-Terrorism Prevention Branch and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Sweden supported the EU’s work with capacity-building projects in prioritized countries and regions, such as Pakistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, the Maghreb, and the Sahel. Sweden provided trainers to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
Sweden is a member of a number of multinational forums and collaborative groups, including the Counter-Terrorism Group. The group comprises security and intelligence services from all the EU member states, Norway, and Switzerland. Europol is tasked with helping its member states to prevent and counter serious cross-border crime and terrorism in Europe. Europol has started work to combine its various areas of expertise in counterterrorism into one department (the European Counterterrorism Centre) to further support member states.
Overview: Turkey continued its efforts to defeat terrorist organizations, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and ISIS. On August 24, the Government of Turkey launched a cross‑border military operation, “Operation Euphrates Shield,” in northern Syria, which Ankara described as an effort to remove ISIS threats along the Turkey-Syria border. Turkey remained an active contributor in international counterterrorism fora, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF).
Turkey is a source and transit country for foreign terrorist fighters wishing to join ISIS and other terrorist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq. The Government of Turkey continued efforts to interdict suspected foreign terrorist fighters including: expanding its “Banned from Entry List;” deploying Ministry of Interior “Risk Analysis Units” to detect suspected foreign terrorist fighters at airports, seaports, bus terminals, and border crossings; sending additional personnel to reinforce military and civilian border units; deploying combat and surveillance equipment; and enhancing physical security measures along the Turkey-Syria border. In some instances, Turkey cooperated with source countries on information sharing and building investigative, prosecutorial, and administrative capacity to interdict the travel of suspected foreign terrorist fighters.
Turkey is an active member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. It opened Incirlik Air Base and other sites to Coalition aircraft in support of counter-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria. Turkey is a founding member of the GCTF, and served as its co-chair from September 2011 to April 2016. As the co-chair of the Coalition’s Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters with the Netherlands, Turkey hosted an international meeting of the working group in Antalya on October 26-27. Turkey also co-chairs the GCTF’s Horn of Africa Capacity Building Working Group with the European Union (EU) and is a member of the Coalition’s Working Group on Counter-ISIS Finance.
The PKK continued to conduct terrorist attacks in Turkey during 2016. Turkish National Police and military forces continued counterterrorism operations against the PKK in Turkey’s southeastern provinces. According to Turkey’s semi-official news agency, the Anadolu Agency, the government killed, wounded, or captured more than 8,000 PKK terrorists in operations since July 2015. More than 750 government security personnel died in PKK-attributed attacks during this timeframe.
The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons/Hawks (TAK), a PKK splinter group, increased terrorist attacks targeting security personnel, infrastructure, and tourism facilities. Attacks by the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group with anti-U.S. and anti-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) views that seeks the violent overthrow of the Turkish government, continued.
The Government of Turkey has domestically identified several organizations as terrorist groups, including Turkish Hizballah (no connection to Hizballah), the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist–Leninist (TKP/ML), and its armed wing, the Liberation Army of the Workers and Peasants of Turkey (TIKKO), as well as the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). Turkey also considers the Syria-based Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), to be terrorist organizations closely linked to the PKK. The Government of Turkey continued to engage diplomatically with Hamas political bureau chief, Khaled Meshaal.
Turkey’s National Security Council designated the religious movement of self-exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen a terrorist organization on May 26, referring to it as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization” (“FETO”). The government asserts that the Gulen movement planned and led the July 15 coup attempt, which killed more than 240 people and injured more than 2,100 people, and included attacks on the Parliament. The government instituted a three-month state of emergency on July 21, subsequently extending it another three months on October 19. According to government sources, as of November 22, more than 86,000 civil servants were dismissed from public service via government-issued state of emergency decrees following the coup attempt for their alleged affiliation with, or support of, “FETO.” As of October 8, authorities had arrested nearly 35,000 suspects on charges related to Gulen affiliation. The Gulf Cooperation Council designated “FETO” a terrorist organization on October 13. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation did the same on October 19.
2016 Terrorist Incidents: Notable attacks included:
- On January 12, 13 individuals, mostly foreign tourists, were killed and 14 individuals were injured in a suicide bombing in Istanbul’s central Sultanahmet district. Authorities attributed the attack to ISIS.
- On February 17, TAK conducted a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack near the General Staff Headquarters in Ankara, killing 29 people and wounding 61 people.
- On March 3, two DHKP-C militants attacked a police vehicle in Istanbul, wounding two officers.
- On March 13, TAK executed a suicide VBIED attack in Ankara’s central Kizilay district, killing 36 people and injuring 125 people.
- On March 19, four foreign tourists, including two U.S. citizens, were killed and 45 were injured, including 24 foreign nationals, in an ISIS suicide bombing in Istanbul.
- On June 28, 44 people were killed and 239 were wounded in an attack by ISIS suicide bombers at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport.
- On August 17, a PKK VBIED attack at a police station in Van province killed four people and wounded 72 people.
- On August 26, a PKK VBIED attack against a district police headquarters in Sirnak killed 11 people and wounded at least 70 people.
- On December 10, TAK claimed responsibility for a coordinated suicide VBIED and suicide bomber attack in Istanbul against police that killed 44 people and wounded more than 150 people.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Turkey has a broad definition of terrorism, to include crimes against constitutional order and internal and external security of the state, which is sometimes used to criminalize what the United States would consider the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and assembly. Under Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law and penal code, a person can be punished as a member of a criminal or terrorist organization, even if the person is not a member of that organization, if the person commits an offense on behalf of that organization. The legislation considers a member of an organization with terrorist aims as a terrorist offender, even if the person does not commit a crime. It imposes more severe sentences to terrorism offenses and terrorist propaganda involving mass media. Despite a 2013 amendment that narrowed the definition of terrorist propaganda to declarations that legitimize and laud the violent, coercive, and threatening methods of terrorist organizations and incite their use, authorities broadly interpreted counterterrorism laws to target political opponents, journalists, and activists. The government, for example, arrested Sebnem Korur Fincanci, President of the Human Rights Foundation, in June after she had served as a temporary guest editor of the pro-Kurdish newspaper Ozgur Gundem, on the charge of spreading terrorist propaganda. Her trial continued at year’s end.
Following the July 15 coup attempt, the government on July 20 declared a three-month state of emergency, renewed in October, which allowed suspension of some due process protections for those accused of ties to terrorist groups. Courts imprisoned tens of thousands of persons accused of supporting the attempted coup or terrorist groups, in many cases with little clarity on the charges and evidence against them.
Turkey has advanced law enforcement capacity to counter terrorism and efforts continue to streamline interagency information sharing. Turkey devoted additional investigative and preventive capabilities to disrupt the activities of terrorist organizations and foreign terrorist fighters, and dismantle their facilitation networks. Turkish counterterrorism raids led to the death or capture of key ISIS operatives, including the head of an ISIS cell in Gaziantep province, who directed the Suruc (Sanliurfa) and Ankara train station attacks in 2015. According to Interior Ministry data, from January to November 23, 2016, authorities detained 3,089 individuals for links to ISIS, including 1,381 foreign nationals. It subsequently arrested 1,204 individuals, including 618 foreign nationals, of those detained.
Following the attempted coup in July, the government issued 12 decrees under the state of emergency to expedite investigations into offenses against constitutional order, which could include offenses committed during the coup attempt or beyond. The executive orders, among other measures, increased the period of custody for these offenses to 30 days from 48 hours, and also imposed procedural restraints that removed attorney-client privilege in terrorism-related cases.
The Ministry of Interior continued to regularly update its list of wanted terrorists. The list is posted publicly on its website as part of a government program launched in August 2015 that provides monetary rewards up to 4 million Turkish lira (approximately US $1.3 million) to individuals who volunteer information leading to the capture of terrorist suspects.
To reduce instances of improvised explosive device use by terrorist organizations, the government on June 8 issued a temporary ban on the sale of ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilizers, a key component in these devices. On November 7, Prime Minister Yildirim announced that Turkey would gradually stop producing chemical fertilizers high in ammonium nitrate content. The Prime Ministry ordered additional point‑of-sale measures to monitor and manage the sale and distribution of propane, camp, and industrial gas cylinders. These measures include the mandatory inscription of serial numbers and bar codes on cylinders, online tracking of the consumption process, mandatory registration of the end-user identity information, after-use recycling of gas cylinders, and tracking the entry and exit of liquefied petroleum gas cylinders.
As part of efforts to establish an integrated border management system, the government continued to centralize border management under the Ministry of Interior. On March 17, the government established three interagency structures: an Integrated Border Management Coordination Council led by the prime minister or a designated minister; a Border Management Implementation Council led by the undersecretary of the Interior Ministry; and a National Coordination and Joint Risk Analysis Center under the Interior Ministry’s Directorate General of Provincial Administration.
The Government of Turkey continued to expand its “Banned from Entry List” to prevent travel into Turkey by foreign terrorist fighters. Risk Analysis Units continued to operate at major ports of entry and internal transit points to interdict potential foreign terrorist fighters. Security forces increased their ability to keep persons and contraband from crossing Turkey’s borders. Turkey completed the construction of 270 kilometers of concrete wall along the key sections of the 911‑kilometer Turkey-Syria border, and announced government tenders to complete the installation of a modular security wall along the balance of that border in the first half of 2017. According to Turkish General Staff data, during the January 1 to October 4 timeframe, Turkish Land Forces registered more than 33,300 border incidents, including the apprehension of approximately 300,000 individuals, mostly irregular migrants (who do not have the necessary paperwork/travel documents/authorizations to enter and work in Turkey), attempting to illegally cross Turkey’s borders.
On August 24, Turkey launched a successful military campaign with Defeat-ISIS Coalition support around the northern Syrian city of Jarablus to secure its border against terrorist threats emanating from ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. The operation successfully pushed ISIS away from the last segment of the Syria-Turkey border it occupied and continued to extend further into ISIS-controlled territory at the end of 2016.
The U.S. government continued to provide bilateral and regional training programs in the areas of border, aviation, and sea-based security, and investigations, in partnership with Turkish law enforcement authorities and counterparts.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Turkey is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and an observer of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, a FATF-style regional body. Turkey’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) under the Ministry of Finance, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. No terrorist finance cases were prosecuted in 2016.
Turkey’s Council of Ministers responsively issues freezing orders regarding persons, institutions, and organizations listed by the UN Security Council (UNSC) ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions committee. Freezing orders are published in the Official Gazette, but it remains unclear whether the assets of any UNSC-designated entities were frozen in 2016. The non-profit sector is not reviewed on a regular basis for counterterrorist financing (CFT) vulnerabilities and does not receive adequate anti-money laundering/CFT outreach or guidance from the Turkish government. The General Director of Foundations issues licenses for charitable foundations and oversees them, but there are a limited number of auditors to cover the more than 5,500 foundations and 100,000 associations.
Turkey’s CFT efforts, especially after the July 15 coup attempt, focused on disrupting the finances of the PKK and the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization,” and included, among other measures, closing or appointing trustees to companies and seizing properties affiliated with the Gulen movement, and freezing assets of businessmen suspected of Gulen links. A cash repatriation law enacted on August 3, which allows Turkish citizens and corporations to freely transfer and use currency, gold and other capital market instruments without undergoing investigation and prosecution as part of an economic stimulus package, raised concerns over its potential impact to create CFT vulnerabilities. Turkey identified and seized a significant amount of contraband goods, particularly along the Syria border, including oil, tobacco, illicit narcotics, and cultural artifacts, denying revenue to terrorist organizations.
The Department of State supported a Resident Legal Advisor (RLA) from the Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Assistance Training, based in‑country. The RLA partnered with Turkish counterparts on programs to enhance legal frameworks and the investigative skillsets of law enforcement officials to effectively counter the financing of terrorism.
Countering Violent Extremism: The Turkish National Police plays a significant role in preventing radicalization to violence by administering a community outreach program to vulnerable populations. Police undertake social projects, activities with parents, and in-service training for officers and teachers. Programs prepare medical, community, and religious officials to intervene to undermine violent extremist messages and to prevent terrorist recruitment. The Ministry of Justice implements rehabilitation and reintegration programs for convicts and former criminals.
Turkey’s Religious Affairs Presidency (Diyanet), tied to the Prime Ministry, works to undermine violent extremist messaging by promoting a moderate and inclusive version of Islam. All Sunni imams in Turkey are employees of the Diyanet. On October 17, the Diyanet released a report entitled “Religious Exploitation and Terrorist Organization ISIS,” which explores the causes of radicalization to violence, counters ISIS’s ideology with theological concepts and religious references, and offers recommendations to counter violent extremism.
On May 11-12, Turkey hosted the inaugural Strong Cities Network Global Summit in Antalya, which brought together more than 200 delegations to share best practices as to how subnational municipal actors prevent violent extremism.
International and Regional Cooperation: Turkey is an active member of the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the Committee of Experts on Terrorism of the Council of Europe. Turkey is a founding member of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law and provides expert support to assist training for judges and prosecutors who are handling terrorism cases. Turkey participates in Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) expert meetings on the Prevention of Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism organized by the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE Secretariat.
Turkey has bilateral security cooperation agreements with more than 70 countries. The Turkish National Police contributes to counterterrorism capacity-building programs of partner countries and offers specialized international law enforcement training. During the 1997-2016 timeframe, TNP provided training to approximately 26,000 law enforcement officials from more than 60 countries. Turkey’s military has trained more than 30,000 foreign military personnel from 57 countries in a range of subjects, including counterterrorism operations.
As a GCTF member, Turkey partnered with the United States on two initiatives: (1) The Initiative to Address the Lifecycle of Radicalization to Violence, which aims to address the full life cycle of radicalization to violence: from prevention, to intervention, to rehabilitation and reintegration; and (2) The Protection of Soft Targets in a Counterterrorism Context Initiative, which aims to raise awareness, identify needs, and leverage experiences to better protect civilian infrastructure. Turkey hosted the inaugural Soft Target Initiative Summit in Antalya in December.
Overview: In 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) continued to increase resources to fight terrorism at home and abroad. The UK continued its military efforts against ISIS as a partner in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, which included strike and surveillance operations in Syria and Iraq, as well as a full range of participation in counterterrorism-related working groups of the coalition. The UK is also taking the lead in designing a country-wide program for the coalition to provide training and equipment to counter the threat from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The UK also expanded counter-ISIS efforts to Libya. Following ISIS attacks in France and Belgium, the UK increased efforts to enhance the counterterrorism capabilities of partner nations, including working more closely with European Union (EU) countries on shared foreign terrorist fighter concerns. Domestically, Prime Minister May worked toward the introduction of an updated Counterterrorism Strategy, and the parliament passed legislation revamping the government’s electronic surveillance collection. The UK also took steps to expand the government’s ability to counter terrorist financing and to prevent abuse of the charitable sector for terrorism purposes. UK law enforcement agencies have not announced the number of terrorist attacks disrupted in 2016, saying only that 12 attacks were disrupted in the past three years.
The UK separately assesses the Northern Ireland-related terrorism threat level for Northern Ireland and for Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales). While the threat level in Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland-related terrorism remained severe, the UK raised the threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Great Britain to substantial (from moderate). According to a 2015 assessment of paramilitary groups, the most serious terrorist threat was posed by dissident republican groups who oppose the peace process. Dissident republicans continued to target police officers primarily, but prison officers and members of the armed forces have also been targeted. The November 2015 Fresh Start Agreement established a three-member panel on the disbandment of paramilitary groups, which released a strategy in May to help eliminate paramilitary activities and organized crime in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Executive incorporated the report’s recommendations into an action plan in July. A new four-member Independent Reporting Commission appointed in December will oversee implementation of the action plan and provide annual reports noting progress. Tension and in-fighting within republican and loyalist organizations persisted.
2016 Terrorist Incidents: UK law enforcement agencies have not announced the number of terrorist attacks disrupted in 2016, saying only that 12 attacks were disrupted in the past three years. The majority of domestic terrorist attacks occurred in Northern Ireland. As of December, the UK’s Northern Ireland Office recorded four national security attacks by dissident republicans. They included:
- In March, a Northern Ireland prison officer Adrian Ismay was injured by an IED that detonated under his vehicle, an attack later claimed by the New IRA. He later died as a result of his injuries.
- In August, UK police detained Ciaran Maxwell, a 30-year-old Royal Marine, in connection with dissident republican paramilitaries. His arrest led to the recovery of a significant amount of terrorist material in England linked to Northern Ireland-related terrorism. Maxwell pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges, including bomb-making and storing stolen military weapons, and awaits sentencing. In October, London police arrested 19-year-old Damon Smith under the UK Terrorism Act 2000 for allegedly planting a viable IED on the London subway.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: UK law enforcement officials continued to make use of reinforced counterterrorism legislation permitting the government to surveil, interdict, and control the movements of suspected terrorists. In November, Parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, the most significant update of British surveillance laws in 15 years.
The Metropolitan Police Service (Met) led the UK’s national counterterrorism law enforcement effort. The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command operates against the threat of terrorism at a local, national, and international level and supports the national Counter Terrorism Network and the Senior National Coordinator of Counter Terrorism. The Met works closely with other UK police constabularies, MI5, and other agencies in all matters related to terrorism, to include investigation, prosecution, prevention, and protection. UK counterterrorism agencies conducted advanced international investigations, managed crisis response, and provided border security.
The UK is committed to implementing fully UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCR) 2178 and 2199, and is an important partner in urging other nations to do the same, especially within the EU. The UK issues machine-readable passports with an imbedded electronic chip. The UK continued to issue some non-electronic passports through 2008. As of April 2016, the UK required persons with unexpired non-electronic passports to obtain new electronic passports for travel to the United States. UK travel documents and visas contain a number of security features to prevent tampering and fraud. The UK has advanced biometric screening capabilities at some points of entry, but at others, such as ferry ports, there is no screening at all. The UK requires international airlines to collect Advance Passenger Information and demonstrated strong leadership in successfully encouraging the Council of the EU to approve a directive regulating the use of Passenger Name Records (PNR) data in April.
The U.S. and UK law enforcement communities have excellent information sharing and collaboration in counterterrorism. Several UK and U.S. law enforcement agencies embed personnel in each other’s organizations to improve communication, information sharing, and joint response. U.S. law enforcement agencies routinely coordinate their investigations with their UK counterparts, resulting in numerous arrests and convictions.
In Northern Ireland, the Crime Operations Department is responsible for conducting terrorism investigations and works closely with MI5 and An Garda Síochána (Ireland’s police force) on a range of issues. The Police Service of Northern Ireland reported an increase in security-related deaths, casualties of paramilitary style assaults, confiscation of firearms and ammunition, and charges for terrorist-related offenses in 2016. There was a decrease in shooting and bombing incidents, casualties of paramilitary style shootings, explosives confiscated, and terrorism-related arrests. Law enforcement actions in Northern Ireland during 2016 led to the recovery of firearms, high explosives, chemicals, and a range of IEDs.
In July, the UK convicted Anjem Choudary, along with co-defendant Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, of inviting support for a proscribed terrorist organization (ISIS) under the UK Terrorism Act 2000, which makes it a criminal offence to belong, or profess to belong, to a proscribed terrorist organization in the UK or overseas, or to invite support for such an organization.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The UK is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has observer or cooperating status in the following FATF-style regional bodies: the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group; the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force; Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering; and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force. The UK’s financial intelligence unit, part of the National Crime Agency, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. The UK is also an active participant of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition’s Counterterrorism Finance Working Group.
In October, new counterterrorist finance legislation came into force through the Charities and Social Investment Bill to enable the Charity Commission to more effectively deal with abuse of the charitable sector, including for terrorist purposes. The UK’s Criminal Finances Bill, which will implement the EU’s 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, is currently with Parliament.
The UK actively prosecutes those involved in terrorist finance. Since 2001, 62 individuals have been charged under sections 15-19 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (‘fundraising’); of those, 22 individuals were convicted. Additionally, individuals suspected of funding terrorism were convicted of related offenses (fraud, money laundering, etc.).
The UK freezes assets in accordance with UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1373 and 2178 and the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime. Like other members of the EU, the UK currently implements UN listings by way of EU regulation, which involves a delay between UN adoption and listings taking legal effect. Asset freezes under UN obligations are made as soon as corresponding EU regulations come into force. If aware of assets held in the UK, the government proactively notifies financial institutions, to compensate for any delay in legal effect of the UN decision. Parliament was reviewing at year’s end the Policing and Crime Bill, which, if adopted, would allow the UK to immediately implement UN sanctions decisions on a temporary basis until the EU regulations come into force. For domestic asset freezes under UNSCR 1373, action is taken immediately. As of March, the UK held approximately US $107,000 in frozen assets: US $19,000 under the Terrorist Asset‑Freezing Act 2010 (TAFA), US $13,800 under the EU terrorist asset freezing regime, and US $74,200 related to the UNSC ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime. Her Majesty’s Treasury licenses funds to individuals subject to asset freezes for daily living expenses and legal costs; therefore, the amount frozen fluctuates over time.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) regulates money transfer and remittance services. HMRC requires remitters to understand to whom they are sending money and collect originator and recipient information. UK charities have a duty to report suspicions of terrorist financing offenses under section 19 of the Terrorism Act 2000. It is an offense to fail to make such a report. Such reports are filed directly with the police or with the National Crime Agency. Charities with an annual income of US $31,500 per year or more are obliged to file with the Charity Commission serious incident reports of fraud, theft, or other criminal behavior to include support for proscribed organizations or individuals. Charities with an annual income under US $31,500 per year “should” report such incidents to the commission, but failure to do so does not result in a criminal offense.
The UK electronically distributes a consolidated list of all UK designated terrorists and terrorist entities (to include UN targets, EU targets, and UK domestic targets under the TAFA) to 16,000 subscribers, mainly in the UK and its overseas territories.
Countering Violent Extremism: The UK remained an important partner in the effort to counter violent extremism both internationally and domestically. The UK’s premiere countering violent extremism (CVE) programs, Prevent and Channel, identified and worked to de-radicalize at-risk individuals in a pre-law enforcement space, focusing increasingly on deterring would-be travelers to Syria. In addition, the UK funded an array of domestic and international counter‑messaging campaigns via its Research, Information, and Communications Unit. The UK broadened its counter-messaging approach to include extremist speech and announced US $80 million in new funding to provide direct and in‑kind practical support designed to expand the reach and scale of British counter-messaging efforts over the next three years.
International and Regional Cooperation: The UK continued to support counterterrorism efforts in regional and multilateral organizations. Early in the year, the UK established a counter-extremism hub in Brussels and sought to expand its bilateral working relationships on counter-extremist messaging. The UK remained one of the primary populators of key EU counterterrorism records systems and continued to advocate for consistent and accurate information gathering and sharing across the EU. The UK is a Global Counterterrorism Forum member and co-chaired the CVE Working Group with the UAE. It launched its Strategic Communications Cell, a cooperative effort as part of a government-wide Counter-ISIS task force, in conjunction with the CVE Working Group. The UK advocated for UN-based counterterrorism and CVE initiatives and introduced the aviation security-related resolution at the UN Security Council that was adopted as UNSCR 2309 in September.