Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designations are an important element of our counterterrorism efforts. Designations of foreign terrorist groups expose and isolate these organizations, deny them access to the U.S. financial system, and create significant criminal and immigration consequences for their members and supporters. Moreover, designations can assist or complement the law enforcement actions of other U.S. agencies and other governments.
In 2016, the Department of State designated the following terrorist groups as FTOs: ISIS‑Khorasan, ISIL-Libya, and al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent. The Department of State also amended the FTO designations of al-Nusrah Front on November 10 to include the alias Jabhat Fath al-Sham and of Lashkar e-Tayyiba on December 28 to include the alias Al‑Muhammadia Students.
Legal Criteria for Designation under Section 219 of the INA as amended:
- It must be a foreign organization.
- The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)), or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)(2)), or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
- The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.
Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB)
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB)
Ansar al-Dine (AAD)
Ansar al-Islam (AAI)
Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi (AAS-B)
Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah (AAS-D)
Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia (AAS-T)
Army of Islam (AOI)
Asbat al-Ansar (AAA)
Aum Shinrikyo (AUM)
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
Boko Haram (BH)
Communist Party of Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA)
Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA)
Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG)
Haqqani Network (HQN)
Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI)
Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B)
Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM)
Indian Mujahedeen (IM)
Islamic Jihad Union (IJU)
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K)
ISIL Sinai Province (ISIL-SP)
Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan (Ansaru)
Jaysh Rijal Al-Tariq Al-Naqshabandi (JRTN)
Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT)
Jemaah Islamiya (JI)
Kata’ib Hizballah (KH)
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT)
Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC)
Al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB)
National Liberation Army (ELN)
Al-Nusrah Front (ANF)
Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
Palestine Liberation Front – Abu Abbas Faction (PLF)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)
Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
Al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS)
Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
Real IRA (RIRA)
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)
Revolutionary Struggle (RS)
Shining Path (SL)
Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
aka Abdullah Azzam Brigades; Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades; Yusuf al-’Uyayri Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 30, 2012, the Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB) formally announced its establishment in a July 2009 video statement claiming responsibility for a February 2009 rocket attack against Israel. The group is divided into two branches: the Arabian Peninsula-based Yusuf al-’Uyayri Battalions of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, named after the deceased founder of al-Qa’ida in Saudi Arabia, Yusef al‑‘Uyayri; and the Lebanon-based Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades, named after Lebanese citizen Ziad al Jarrah, one of the planners of the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Activities: After its initial formation, AAB relied primarily on rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. It is responsible for numerous rocket attacks fired into Israeli territory from Lebanon targeting – among other things – population centers, including Nahariya and Ashkelon.
In November 2013, AAB began targeting Hizballah. AAB claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 23 people and wounded more than 140. The group warned it would carry out more attacks if Hizballah did not stop sending fighters to Syria in support of Syrian government forces.
In February 2014, AAB again attacked Hizballah for its involvement in the Syrian conflict, claiming a twin suicide bomb attack against the Iranian cultural center in Beirut, which killed four people. AAB was also believed to be responsible for a series of bombings in Hizballah‑controlled areas around Beirut. In June 2014, AAB was believed to have targeted Lebanese General Security head Major General Abbas Ibrahim in a suicide bombing at a police checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway; Ibrahim narrowly escaped. AAB also was blamed for a suicide bombing in June 2014 in the Beirut neighborhood of Tayyouneh, which killed a security officer and wounded 25 people.
In February 2015, Lebanon’s military court charged four AAB suspects for their involvement in the June 2014 suicide bombings. During 2015 and 2016, AAB continued its involvement in the Syrian conflict. In June 2015, the group released photos of a training camp for its “Marwan Hadid Brigade” camp in Syria, likely located in Homs province.
Location/Area of Operation: AAB is based in Lebanon but operates in both Lebanon and Syria.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
Description: The Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The group was formed by Sabri al-Banna (aka Abu Nidal) in 1974 after splitting from the Palestine Liberation Organization. In August 2002, Nidal died in Baghdad. Leadership of the organization after Nidal’s death remains unclear. The ANO has advocated for the elimination of Israel and sought to derail diplomatic efforts in support of the Middle East peace process.
Activities: The ANO has carried out terrorist attacks in 20 countries, killing or injuring almost 900 people. It has not staged a major attack against Western targets since the late 1980s and was expelled from its safe haven in Libya in 1999. Major attacks include those on the Rome and Vienna airports in 1985, the 1986 attack on the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi in 1986, and the 1988 attack on the City of Poros day‑excursion ship in Greece. The ANO was suspected of assassinating PLO Deputy Chief Abu Iyad and PLO Security Chief Abu Hul in Tunis in 1991, and a senior Jordanian diplomat in Beirut in 1994. In 2008, a Jordanian official apprehended an ANO member planning to carry out attacks in Jordan. The ANO has been dormant since 2014.
Location/Area of Operation: ANO associates may still exist in Lebanon, although they are likely inactive.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka al Harakat al Islamiyya (the Islamic Movement)
Description: The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The ASG split from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the early 1990s and has since become the most violent terrorist group in the Philippines. The group claims to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.
Activities: The ASG has committed kidnappings-for-ransom, bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion. In April 2000, an ASG faction kidnapped 21 people, including 10 Western tourists, from a resort in Malaysia. In May 2001, the group kidnapped three U.S. citizens and 17 Philippine citizens from a tourist resort in Palawan, Philippines; several hostages were murdered, including U.S. citizen Guillermo Sobero. A hostage rescue operation in June 2002 freed U.S. hostage Gracia Burnham; her husband, U.S. national Martin Burnham was killed during the operation. In October 2002, Philippine and U.S. authorities blamed the ASG for a bombing near a military base in Zamboanga that killed a U.S. soldier, and in February 2004, the ASG bombed SuperFerry 14 in Manila Bay, killing 116 people. On July 28, 2014, ASG militants armed with assault rifles opened fire on civilians celebrating the end of Ramadan, killing at least 21 people – including six children and at least four members of a Talipao security force – and wounding 11 others.
In a July 2014 video, senior ASG leader and Federal Bureau of Investigation most-wanted terrorist Isnilon Hapilon swore allegiance to ISIS and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Since then, several ASG and other violent extremist factions have also pledged allegiance to ISIS. Hapilon is now thought to be the leader of all ISIS-affiliated groups in the Philippines.
Throughout 2015, the ASG was responsible for multiple attacks, including the February abduction of a 73-year-old Korean businessman (freed after 10 days in captivity) in Lanao del Sur and the May kidnappings of two civilians, two Philippine Coast Guard personnel, and a Philippine city official during various incidents; some of these hostages were later beheaded. In September, the ASG was blamed for the armed abduction of two Canadians, a Norwegian, and a Philippine woman from the Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort on Samal Island. The ASG set ransom at US $60 million. In 2016, the two Canadian citizens were beheaded when ransom deadlines were not met.
The group continued its kidnapping-for-ransom operations in 2016, collecting approximately US $7.3 million during the first six months of the year.
Strength: The ASG is estimated to have 400 members.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in the Philippine provinces of the Sulu Archipelago – namely Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi – and on the Zamboanga Peninsula. The group has also conducted cross-border operations into eastern Malaysia.
Funding and External Aid: The ASG is funded through kidnapping-for-ransom operations and extortion. It may receive funding from external sources, including remittances from supportive overseas Philippine workers and Middle East-based sympathizers. In the past, the ASG has also received assistance from regional terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiya, whose operatives have provided training to ASG members and have helped facilitate several ASG terrorist attacks.
aka al-Aqsa Martyrs Battalion
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB) is composed of small cells of Fatah-affiliated activists that emerged at the outset of the al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000. AAMB strives to drive the Israeli military and West Bank settlers from the West Bank to establish a Palestinian state loyal to Fatah.
Activities: During the 2000 Intifada, AAMB carried out primarily small-arms attacks against Israeli military personnel and settlers. By 2002, the group was striking Israeli civilians inside Israel. In January 2002, AAMB claimed responsibility for the first female suicide bombing in Israel. In 2010 and 2011, the group launched numerous rocket attacks on communities in Israel, including the city of Sederot and areas of the Negev desert. In November 2012, two men recruited by AAMB were arrested in connection with the stabbing of a student in Beersheba, Israel. That same year, AAMB claimed it had fired more than 500 rockets and missiles into Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense, the week-long Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza.
In February 2015, AAMB declared an open war against Israel. In a television broadcast in June 2015, AAMB asked Iran for funds to help the group in its fight against Israel. In the same broadcast, an AAMB fighter displayed a new two-mile tunnel crossing the border beneath Gaza and Israel, which the leader claimed would be used in the next rounds of battle. In October 2015, the group announced it had developed a new rocket, the K60, with a 40-mile firing range. Throughout 2015, AAMB continued attacking Israeli soldiers and civilians; the group was responsible for the October 2015 fatal shooting of husband and wife, Rabbi Eitam and Na’ama Henkin.
In March 2016, armed confrontation in Nablus between Palestinian youths and Palestinian security officials broke out following the arrest of an AAMB associate on charges of murder; seven youths and six Palestinian security officials were injured in the unrest.
Strength: Estimated at a few hundred members.
Location/Area of Operation: Most of AAMB’s operational activity is in Gaza but it has also planned and conducted attacks inside Israel and the West Bank. AAMB has members in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Funding and External Aid: Iran has provided AAMB with funds and guidance, mostly although Hizballah facilitators.
aka Ansar Dine; Ansar al-Din; Ancar Dine; Ansar ul-Din; Ansar Eddine; Defenders of the Faith
Description: The Mali-based group Ansar al-Dine (AAD) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 22, 2013. AAD was created in late 2011 after AAD’s leader Iyad ag Ghali failed in his attempt to take over another secular Tuareg organization. Following the March 2012 coup that toppled the Malian government, AAD was among the organizations (including al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa) to take over northern Mali, destroy UNESCO World Heritage sites, and enforce a severe interpretation of Sharia law upon the civilian population living in the areas under its control.
Beginning in January 2013, French and allied African forces conducted operations in northern Mali to counter AAD and other violent extremist groups, eventually forcing AAD and its allies out of the population centers they had seized. Ghali, however, remained free, and has appeared in AAD videos in 2015 and 2016 threatening France and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Activities: AAD received backing from AQIM in its fight against the Government of Mali, including for its capture of the Malian towns of Agulhok, Gao, Kidal, Tessalit, and Timbuktu, between January and April 2012. In March 2012, AAD members were reportedly among the Tuareg rebels responsible for killing 82 Malian soldiers and kidnapping 30 others in an attack against Agulhok. Before the French intervention in January 2013, Malian citizens in towns under AAD’s control who refused to comply with AAD’s laws allegedly faced harassment, torture, and death.
AAD was severely weakened by the 2013 French intervention, but increased its activities in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, AAD claimed attacks targeting the Malian army and MINUSMA. In February, AAD launched a suicide and rocket attack on a UN base in Kidal that killed six peacekeepers. In April, the group kidnapped three workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross. In July, AAD attacked an army base, leaving 17 soldiers dead and six missing. On August 16 alone, the group claimed three attacks: two improvised explosive device attacks on French forces and a rocket or mortar attack on a joint UN-French base near Tessalit. In October, AAD claimed credit for a series of attacks on UN forces near Agulhok, and in November, took responsibility for several attacks on French and UN forces. A November attack on a military convoy in the central region of Mopti killed a UN peacekeeper and two Malian civilians, and injured seven peacekeepers.
Strength: The group’s exact membership numbers were unknown at the end of 2016.
Location/Area of Operation: AAD is active in Mali, and has also threatened to attack Mauritania and the Ivory Coast.
Funding and External Aid: AAD cooperates closely with and has received support from AQIM since its inception. AAD is also said to receive funds from foreign donors and through smuggling.
aka Ansar al-Sunna; Ansar al-Sunna Army; Devotees of Islam; Followers of Islam in Kurdistan; Helpers of Islam; Jaish Ansar al-Sunna; Jund al-Islam; Kurdish Taliban; Kurdistan Supporters of Islam; Partisans of Islam; Soldiers of God; Soldiers of Islam; Supporters of Islam in Kurdistan
Description: Ansar al-Islam (AAI) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 22, 2004. AAI was established in 2001 in the Iraqi Kurdistan region with the merger of two Kurdish violent extremist factions that traced their roots to the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan. On May 4, 2010, AAI’s leader Abu Abdullah al-Shafi’i was captured by U.S. forces in Baghdad; he remained in prison at the end of 2016. On December 15, 2011, AAI announced a new leader: Abu Hashim Muhammad bin Abdul Rahman al Ibrahim. AAI seeks to expel western interests from Iraq and establish an independent Iraqi state based on its interpretation of Sharia law.
In March 2012, a Norwegian court convicted Iraqi citizen and AAI founder Mullah Krekar (aka Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad) of issuing threats and inciting terrorism, and sentenced him to six years in prison. Living in Norway on a long-term resident permit, Krekar appealed, and in December 2012, an appeals court affirmed his convictions for issuing threats and intimidating witnesses, but reversed his conviction for inciting terrorism. The appeals court reduced his prison sentence to two years and 10 months. He was released from prison in late January 2015, but was arrested again shortly after for praising the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in a television interview.
Activities: AAI has conducted attacks against a wide range of targets including Iraqi government and security forces, and U.S. and Coalition Forces. AAI has carried out numerous kidnappings, murders, and assassinations of Iraqi citizens and politicians. The group has either claimed responsibility, or is believed to be responsible, for attacks in 2011 that resulted in 24 deaths and wounded 147. In 2012, the group claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Sons of Martyrs School in Damascus, which was occupied by Syrian security forces and pro‑government militias; seven people were wounded in the attack. In 2014, AAI claimed responsibility for attacks near Kirkuk, Tikrit, and Mosul, Iraq, primarily directed against Iraqi police and security forces and, in one instance, an oil field.
During summer 2014, part of AAI issued a statement pledging allegiance to ISIS. In 2015, however, reports suggested that a faction of AAI in Syria continued to oppose ISIS. In June 2015, for example, AAI urged factions in Aleppo to confront ISIS “militarily and religiously.” In 2016, AAI continued to operate in Syria.
Strength: Precise numbers are unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: AAI is active primarily in northern Iraq, but also maintains a presence in western and central Iraq. AAI expanded its operations into Syria in 2011.
Funding and External Aid: AAI receives assistance from a loose network of associates in Europe and the Middle East.
aka Ansar al-Sharia in Libya; Ansar al-Shariah Brigade; Ansar al-Shari’a Brigade; Katibat Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi; Ansar al-Shariah-Benghazi; Al-Raya Establishment for Media Production; Ansar al-Sharia; Soldiers of the Sharia; Ansar al-Shariah; Supporters of Islamic Law
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 13, 2014, Ansar al‑Shari’a in Benghazi (AAS-B) was created after the 2011 fall of the Qadhafi regime in Libya. It has been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, and assassinations and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya.
Activities: Members of AAS-B were involved in the September 11, 2012, attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya. Four U.S. citizens were killed in the attack: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.
During 2016, AAS-B continued its fight against the “Libyan National Army” in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of both Libyan security forces and civilians. The group is believed to have cooperated with Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah in some of its attacks targeting Libyan security forces in Benghazi.
In addition to its attacks, AAS-B controlled several terrorist training camps in Libya, and has trained members of other terrorist organizations, some which operate in Syria, Iraq, and Mali.
Location/Area of Operation: Benghazi, Libya
Funding and External Aid: In the past, AAS-B has obtained funds from al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, charities, donations, and criminal activities.
aka Supporters of Islamic Law; Ansar al-Sharia in Derna; Ansar al-Sharia in Libya; Ansar al‑Sharia; Ansar al-Sharia Brigade in Darnah
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 13, 2014, Ansar al‑Shari’a in Darnah (AAS-D) was created after the 2011 fall of the Qadhafi regime in Libya. It has been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, and assassinations and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya.
Activities: Members of AAS-D were involved in the September 11, 2012, attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya. Four U.S. citizens were killed in the attack: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.
In 2013 and 2014, AAS-D is believed to have cooperated with Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi in multiple attacks and suicide bombings targeting Libyan security forces in Benghazi. In 2016, AAS-D continued its involvement in fighting in and around Darnah.
In addition to its attacks, AAS-D maintained several terrorist training camps in Darnah and Jebel Akhdar, Libya, and has trained members of other terrorist organizations operating in Syria and Iraq.
Location/Area of Operation: Darnah, Libya
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka Al-Qayrawan Media Foundation; Supporters of Islamic Law; Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia; Ansar al-Shari’ah; Ansar al-Shari’ah in Tunisia; Ansar al-Sharia
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 13, 2014, Ansar al‑Shari’a in Tunisia (AAS-T) was founded by Seif Allah Ben Hassine in early 2011. AAS-T has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations frequented by tourists. AAS-T has also recruited youth in Tunisia to fight in Syria.
Activities: AAS-T was involved in the September 14, 2012 attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis, which threatened the safety of more than 100 U.S. Embassy employees. In February and July 2013, AAS-T members were implicated in the assassination of Tunisian politicians, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi. In October 2013, a bomber associated with AAS-T blew himself up outside a hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, resulting in no other fatalities. On the same day, police prevented a suicide bombing in Monastir, Tunisia, when they arrested a would-be bomber at the Tomb of Habib Bourguiba.
Tunisian authorities continued to confront and arrest AAS-T members in 2016.
Location/Area of Operation: Tunisia and Libya
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka Jaysh al-Islam; Jaish al-Islam
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 19, 2011, the Army of Islam (AOI), founded in late 2015, is a Gaza-based terrorist organization responsible for numerous terrorist acts against the Israeli and Egyptian governments and British, New Zealand, and U.S. citizens. The group, led by Mumtaz Dughmush, subscribes to a violent extremist Salafist ideology.
Activities: AOI is responsible for a number of rocket attacks on Israel, the 2006 kidnapping of a U.S. and a New Zealander journalist in Gaza, and the 2007 kidnapping of a British citizen in Gaza. AOI also carried out the early 2009 attacks on Egyptian civilians in Cairo and Heliopolis, Egypt, and planned the January 1, 2011, attack on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria that killed 25 and wounded 100. On July 28, 2012, AOI released a statement that its member Nidal al ‘Ashi was killed fighting in Syria, and in November 2012 announced that it had launched rocket attacks on Israel in a joint operation with the Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem. In August 2013, an Israeli official reported that AOI leader Dughmush was running training camps in Gaza. In August 2014, Israeli forces reportedly intercepted and killed several AOI fighters allegedly planning to attack Israel.
In September 2015, AOI reportedly released a statement pledging allegiance to ISIS. In the short post attributed to the group, AOI declared itself an inseparable part of ISIL-Sinai Province, the ISIS-branch in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
In 2016, AOI continued to express support for ISIS. The group released a video in October in an effort to encourage ISIS fighters defending Mosul.
Strength: Membership is estimated in the low hundreds.
Location/Area of Operation: Egypt, Gaza, and Israel.
Funding and External Aid: AOI receives much of its funding from a variety of criminal activities in Gaza.
aka AAA; Band of Helpers; Band of Partisans; League of Partisans; League of the Followers; God’s Partisans; Gathering of Supporters; Partisan’s League; Esbat al-Ansar; Isbat al-Ansar; Osbat al-Ansar; Usbat al-Ansar; Usbat ul-Ansar
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002, Asbat al‑Ansar (AAA) is a Lebanon-based violent Sunni terrorist group composed primarily of Palestinians. Linked to al-Qa’ida and other Sunni violent extremist groups, AAA aims to thwart perceived anti-Islamic and pro-Western influences in the country. AAA’s base is largely confined to Lebanon’s refugee camps.
Activities: AAA first emerged in the early 1990s. In the mid-1990s, the group assassinated Lebanese religious leaders and bombed nightclubs, theaters, and liquor stores. The group
has also plotted against foreign diplomatic targets. In October 2004, AAA member Mahir al‑Sa’di was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for his 2000 plot to assassinate then‑U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Satterfield. Between 2005 and 2011, AAA members traveled to Iraq to fight Coalition Forces. AAA has been reluctant to involve itself in operations in Lebanon due in part to concerns of losing its safe haven in the Ain al-Hilwah refugee camp. AAA did not publicly claim any attacks in 2016.
Strength: The group has at least 650 members.
Location/Area of Operation: The group’s primary base of operations is the Ain al-Hilwah Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon in southern Lebanon.
Funding and External Aid: It is likely the group receives money through international Sunni extremist networks.
aka A.I.C. Comprehensive Research Institute; A.I.C. Sogo Kenkyusho; Aleph; Aum Supreme Truth
Description: Aum Shinrikyo (AUM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. It was established in 1987 by now-jailed leader Shoko Asahara and gained legal status in Japan as a religious entity in 1989. The Japanese government revoked its recognition of AUM as a religious organization following AUM’s deadly 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo. Despite claims it has renounced violence and Asahara’s teachings, members of AUM continue to adhere to the violent and apocalyptic teachings of its founder.
Activities: In March 1995, AUM members simultaneously released the chemical nerve agent sarin on several Tokyo subway trains, killing 13 and causing up to 6,000 people to seek medical treatment. Subsequent investigations by the Japanese government revealed the group was responsible for other mysterious chemical incidents in Japan in 1994, including a sarin gas attack on a residential neighborhood in Matsumoto that killed seven and injured approximately 500. Japanese police arrested Asahara in May 1995; in February 2004, authorities sentenced him to death for his role in the 1995 attacks, but have yet to carry out the sentence. In 2010 and 2011, several death sentences for other AUM senior members were finalized or affirmed by Japanese courts. In 2012, the final three AUM fugitives were arrested after 17 years on the run. In April 2015, the Tokyo District Court sentenced former AUM sect leader Katsuya Takahashi to life in prison for his involvement in the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack and three other attacks carried out by the group in the 1990s.
Since 1997, the group has split into two factions, both of which have recruited new members, engaged in commercial enterprises, and acquired property. In July 2000, Russian authorities arrested a group of Russian AUM followers who planned to detonate bombs in Japan as part of an operation to free Asahara from jail and smuggle him to Russia. In August 2012, a Japan Airlines flight to the United States turned back after receiving a bomb threat demanding the release of Asahara.
Although AUM has not conducted a terrorist attack since 1995, concerns remain regarding its continued adherence to the violent teachings of Asahara. In March 2016, Montenegro expelled 58 people (43 from Russia, seven from Belarus, three from Ukraine, and one from Uzbekistan) associated with AUM found holding a conference at a hotel in Danilovgrad. One month later, Russian authorities carried out dozens of raids on 25 AUM properties and opened a criminal investigation into an AUM cell, stating the group’s activities involved violence and posed a danger to civilian health; 10 people were detained in the raids.
Strength: In 2016, the group was estimated to have 1,500 followers. AUM continues to maintain facilities in Japan and Russia.
Location/Area of Operation: Japan and Russia
aka ETA; Askatasuna; Batasuna; Ekin; Euskal Herritarrok; Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna; Herri Batasuna; Jarrai-Haika-Segi; K.A.S.; XAKI
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) was founded in 1959 with the aim of establishing an independent homeland based on Marxist principles in the Spanish Basque provinces of Alava, Guipuzcoa, and Viscaya; the autonomous region of Navarre; and the southwestern French territories of Labourd, Lower-Navarre, and Soule.
Activities: ETA has primarily conducted bombings and assassinations. Targets typically include Spanish government officials, businessmen, politicians, judicial figures, and security and military forces; however, the group has also targeted journalists and major tourist areas. ETA is responsible for killing 829 civilians and members of the armed forces and police, and injuring thousands since it formally began its campaign of violence in 1968.
ETA has committed numerous attacks in the last four decades, including the February 2005 car bombing in Madrid that wounded more than 20 people at a convention center where Spanish King Juan Carlos and then-Mexican President Vicente Fox were scheduled to appear. In December 2006, ETA exploded a massive car bomb destroying much of the covered parking garage at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport. ETA marked its fiftieth anniversary in 2009 with a series of high profile and deadly bombings, including the July 2009 attack on a Civil Guard Barracks that injured more than 60 men, women, and children.
ETA has not launched any attacks since it announced a “definitive cessation of armed activity” in October 2011.
At the end of 2016, the group had yet to formally disband or give up its weapons arsenal. Authorities seized ETA weapons in 2016, including a cache found in a forest north of Paris. In 2016, the presumed top ETA leader was also captured in a joint French and Spanish operation near the French border with Spain.
Strength: Since 2004, more than 900 ETA militants have been arrested both in Spain and abroad. It is unknown how many ETA members remain.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in the Basque autonomous regions of northern Spain and southwestern France, and Madrid.
Funding and External Aid: ETA is probably experiencing financial shortages given that the group announced publicly in September 2011 that it had ceased collecting “revolutionary taxes” from Basque businesses. Sources of ETA funding were unknown in 2016.
aka Nigerian Taliban; Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad; Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad; People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings for Propagation and Jihad; Sunni Group for Preaching and Jihad
Description: Nigeria-based Boko Haram (BH) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 14, 2013. The group is responsible for numerous attacks in northern and northeastern Nigeria, and the Lake Chad Basin in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger that have killed thousands of people since its reemergence in 2009.
In March 2015, BH pledged allegiance to ISIS in an audiotape message; ISIS accepted the group’s pledge and the group began calling itself ISIS-West Africa. In August 2016, ISIS announced that Abu Musab al-Barnawi was to replace Abubakar Shekau as the new leader of the group. Shekau continues to maintain a group of followers concentrated in the Sambisa Forest; in a recent video, Shekau referred to his faction as Jama’atu ahlus-sunnah lidda await wal jihad (Boko Haram). The Government of Nigeria routinely calls both Boko Haram.
Activities: BH was responsible for the August 26, 2011 bomb attack on the UN building in Abuja that killed at least 21 people and wounded dozens more. The group was also responsible for a series of bomb attacks in 2012 in Kano, Nigeria.
Boko Haram has increasingly crossed Nigerian borders to evade pressure and conduct operations. In February 2013, BH claimed responsibility for kidnapping seven French tourists in the Far North of Cameroon. Security forces from Chad and Niger also reportedly participated in skirmishes against suspected BH members along Nigeria’s borders. In 2013, the group also kidnapped eight French citizens in northern Cameroon and obtained ransom payments for their release.
In 2014, BH killed approximately 5,000 Nigerian civilians in various attacks. The kidnapping of 276 female students from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, brought global attention to Boko Haram’s activities and highlighted its deliberate targeting of non-combatants, including children. In 2015, the group continued to abduct women and girls in the northern region of Nigeria, some of whom it later subjected to domestic servitude, other forms of forced labor, and sexual servitude through forced marriages to its members. (For further information, refer to the Trafficking in Persons Report 2016, http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2016/index.htm.)
Between January 3 and 7, 2015, BH carried out a massacre in Baga, Borno State; reported casualties ranged from 150 to more than 2,000 killed, injured, or disappeared. The January 2015 attacks and other BH operations in surrounding smaller villages in 2015 displaced an estimated 35,000 people and allowed BH to gain control of Borno State. In February, BH expanded into Cameroon with an attack on the northern town of Fotokol, where it murdered residents inside their homes and in a mosque. On April 6, BH militants disguised as Islamic preachers killed at least 24 people and wounded several others in an attack near a mosque in Borno State; the attackers gathered people in the village of Kwajafa, offering to preach Islam, then opened fire. In mid-October, BH conducted a coordinated attack on the Baga Sola market and a refugee camp in N’Djamena, Chad; 33 people were killed and 51 others wounded. On November 18, two young female suicide bombers detonated explosives just before afternoon prayers in Kano, killing 15.
BH continued its operational tempo through 2015 and into early 2016 under the name ISIS-West Africa, with January operations in Cameroon that killed 16 people. In February, the group resumed attacks in Nigeria, killing 30 people on February 13 in a spate of attacks in Borno State that included forcing worshipers into a mosque and killing them. On April 14, the group released a video of select teenage girls abducted during the Chibok incident as a “proof of life.” BH released 21 Chibok schoolgirls to Nigerian authorities in exchange for the release of selected BH members in October; it was the first mass release of Chibok hostages since the 2014 abductions.
Strength: Membership is estimated to be several thousand fighters.
Location/Area of Operation: Northeastern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, southeast Niger, and areas of Chad along the border with Nigeria.
Funding and External Aid: BH largely self-finances through criminal activities such as looting, extortion, kidnapping-for-ransom, and bank robberies.
aka CPP/NPA; Communist Party of the Philippines; the CPP; New People’s Army; the NPA
Description: The Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on August 9, 2002. The military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – the New People’s Army (NPA) – is a Maoist group formed in March 1969 with the aim of overthrowing the government through protracted guerrilla warfare. NPA’s founder, Jose Maria Sison, reportedly directs CPP/NPA activity from the Netherlands, where he lives in self-imposed exile. Luis Jalandoni, a fellow Central Committee member and director of the CPP’s overt political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), also lives in the Netherlands. Although primarily a rural-based guerrilla group, CPP/NPA has an active urban infrastructure to support its terrorist activities and, at times, uses city-based assassination squads.
Senior CPP/NPA leaders Wilma and Benito Tiamzon were arrested in the Philippines in 2014. NPA second-in-command Adelberto Silva was arrested in 2015.
Activities: CPP/NPA primarily targets Philippine security forces, government officials, local infrastructure, and businesses that refuse to pay extortion, or “revolutionary taxes.” CPP/NPA also has a history of attacking U.S. interests in the Philippines. In 1987, for example, CPP/NPA conducted direct actions against U.S. personnel and facilities, killing three U.S. soldiers in four separate attacks in Angeles City. In 1989, the group issued a press statement claiming responsibility for the ambush and murder of Colonel James Nicholas Rowe, chief of the Ground Forces Division of the Joint U.S.-Military Advisory Group.
Over the past few years, CPP/NPA has continued to carry out killings, raids, kidnappings, acts of extortion, and other forms of violence primarily directed against Philippine security forces. In May 2013, the Armed Forces of the Philippines reported that from 2011 through the first quarter of 2013, 383 people – including 158 civilians – were killed in encounters between CPP/NPA and government forces.
Despite a ceasefire with the Government of the Philippines in December 2014, CPP/NPA continued to carry out attacks. During the first few months of 2015, the CPP/NPA attacked a Dole plantation, killed several soldiers and a policeman in an attempt to seize a police station in Mati City, and ambushed and killed several Philippine soldiers in Kalinga and Compostela Valley.
In 2016, the group was responsible for a number of clashes and attacks against government forces, police, and businesses. In August, multinational banana company Dole-Stanfilco closed its operation in Barobo due to escalating attacks by suspected CPP/NPA members.
Throughout 2016, several attempts were made to establish a ceasefire and peace deal between the CPP/NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Reported violations from both sides, however, including reports of CPP/NPA’s continued recruitment in the Philippines, have stalled any peace efforts. In November, CPP/NPA announced it would not sign a deal until the government formally broke ties with the United States and resisted foreign intervention from other nations, including China and Russia.
Strength: The Philippine government estimates the group has approximately 4,000 members. CPP/NPA also retains a significant amount of support from communities in rural areas of the Philippines.
Location/Area of Operation: The Philippines, including Rural Luzon, Visayas, and parts of northern and eastern Mindanao. There are also CPP/NPA cells in Manila and other metropolitan centers.
aka Continuity Army Council; Continuity IRA; Republican Sinn Fein
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on July 13, 2004, the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) is a terrorist splinter group that became operational in 1986 as the clandestine armed wing of Republican Sinn Fein following its split from Sinn Fein. “Continuity” refers to the group’s belief that it is carrying on the original goal of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), to force the British out of Northern Ireland. CIRA cooperates with the larger Real IRA (RIRA). In 2012, CIRA released a statement claiming new leadership, after the previous leadership was ousted over allegations it was acting to the detriment of the organization.
Activities: CIRA has been active in Belfast and the border areas of Northern Ireland, where it has carried out bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, extortion operations, and robberies. On occasion, it has provided advance warning to police of its attacks. Targets have included the British military, Northern Ireland security forces, and Loyalist paramilitary groups. CIRA did not join the Provisional IRA in the September 2005 decommissioning and remains capable of effective, if sporadic, terrorist attacks.
In January 2013, the group claimed responsibility for firing shots at police officers in Drumbeg, Craigavon County, Northern Ireland. In March 2014, CIRA claimed an attempted bomb attack on the home and vehicle of a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer. In July 2015, PSNI officers narrowly escaped harm when an explosive detonated as police were investigating another concealed device that they later described as an “elaborate trap.” In February 2016, CIRA claimed responsibility for a shooting at a boxing event at the Regency Hotel in Dublin that left one dead. Dublin police said the incident was related to a feud between criminal gangs.
Strength: Membership is small, with possibly fewer than 50. Police counterterrorism operations have reduced the group’s strength.
Location/Area of Operation: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
Funding and External Aid: CIRA supports its activities through criminal activities, including smuggling.
aka al-Gama’at; Egyptian al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya; GI; Islamic Gama’at; IG; Islamic Group
Description: Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Formed in the 1970s, IG was once Egypt’s largest terrorist group. In 2011, it formed the Building and Development political party that competed in the 2011 parliamentary elections and won 13 seats. Egypt-based members of IG released from prison prior to the 2011 revolution have renounced terrorism, although some members located overseas have worked with or joined al-Qa’ida (AQ). The external wing, composed mainly of exiled members in several countries, maintained that its primary goal was to replace the Egyptian government with an Islamist state. IG’s “spiritual” leader, the “blind Sheikh,” Omar Abd al-Rahman, is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Supporters of Abd al-Rahman have called for reprisal attacks in the event of his death in prison.
Activities: In the 1990s, IG conducted armed attacks against Egyptian security, other government officials, and Coptic Christians. IG claimed responsibility for the June 1995 attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The group also launched attacks on tourists in Egypt, most notably the 1997 Luxor attack. In 1999, part of the group publicly renounced violence. IG is not known to have committed a terrorist attack in recent years; the group remained dormant in 2016.
Strength: At its peak, IG likely commanded several thousand core members and a similar number of supporters. Security clampdowns following the 1997 attack in Luxor and the 1999 cease-fire, along with post-September 11 security measures and defections to AQ, have likely resulted in a substantial decrease in what is left of the group.
Location/Area of Operation: Unknown
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka the Islamic Resistance Movement; Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya; Izz al-Din al Qassam Battalions; Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades; Izz al-Din al Qassam Forces; Students of Ayyash; Student of the Engineer; Yahya Ayyash Units; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Brigades; Izz al-Din al‑Qassim Forces; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Battalions
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Hamas was established in 1987 at the onset of the first Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The armed element, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has conducted anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings against civilian targets inside Israel. Hamas also manages a broad, mostly Gaza-based, network of “Dawa” or ministry activities that include charities, schools, clinics, youth camps, fundraising, and political activities. After winning Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006, Hamas gained control of significant Palestinian Authority (PA) ministries in Gaza, including the Ministry of Interior. As of 2016, the group retained control of Gaza.
Activities: Prior to 2005, Hamas conducted numerous anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings, rocket launches, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, and shootings. U.S. citizens have died and been injured in the group’s attacks. In June 2007, after Hamas took control of Gaza from the PA and Fatah, the Gaza borders were closed and Hamas increased its use of tunnels to smuggle weapons into Gaza via the Sinai and maritime routes. Hamas has since focused on solidifying its control of Gaza, including hardening its defenses, building weapons caches, tightening security, and conducting limited operations against Israeli military forces.
Hamas fought a 23-day war with Israel from late December 2008 to January 2009. From November 14-21, 2012, Hamas fought another war with Israel during which it claims to have launched more than 1,400 rockets into Israel. Despite the Egypt-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in 2012, operatives from Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) coordinated and carried out a November bus bombing in Tel Aviv that wounded 29 people. On July 8, 2014, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in Gaza with the intent of preventing rocket fire into the country; rocket fire had increased following Israeli military operations after Hamas kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in June 2014, including 16-year-old U.S.-Israeli citizen Naftali Fraenkel. In March 2015, Amnesty International released a report in which it accused Hamas of committing war crimes for launching rockets and mortars into civilian areas in Israel during Operation Protective Edge. In May 2015, Amnesty International published another report declaring Hamas’s abduction, torture, and killing of Palestinians during the 2014 Gaza war as further evidence the group had committed war crimes.
In 2016, Hamas continued striking Israel. In April, a Hamas member carried out a suicide attack on a bus in Jerusalem, killing 20. The attack came just two months after Hamas released a music video on its al-Aqsa TV and several social media sites encouraging suicide bombings of Israeli buses. In October, Israeli authorities arrested seven members of a Hamas cell based in the West Bank that was plotting shooting and kidnapping attacks. The group was also held responsible for several rocket attacks launched from Gaza, including a July strike in Sderot that hit a kindergarten and damaged several neighboring buildings.
Throughout 2016, Hamas cooperated with ISIL-Sinai Province, providing its members with funding, training, and organizational support.
Strength: Several thousand Gaza-based operatives.
Location/Area of Operation: Since 2007, Hamas has controlled Gaza and also has a presence in the West Bank. The group retains leaders and facilitators that conduct political, fundraising, and arms-smuggling activities throughout the region. Hamas also has a presence in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. The group’s current leader Khaled Meshaal ruled from exile in Qatar in 2016.
Funding and External Aid: Historically, Hamas has received funding, weapons, and training from Iran. The group also raises funds in the Gulf countries and receives donations from Palestinian expatriates around the world. Hamas also receives donations from its charity organizations. Hamas’ supply lines have suffered since the crackdown on smuggling tunnels in the Sinai Peninsula by the Egyptian military.
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 19, 2012, the Haqqani Network (HQN) was formed in the late 1970s, around the time of the then-Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. HQN’s founder Jalaluddin Haqqani established a relationship with Usama bin Laden in the mid-1980s, and joined the Taliban in 1995. After the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, Jalaluddin retreated to Pakistan where, under the leadership of Jalaluddin’s son Sirajuddin Haqqani, the group continued to direct and conduct terrorist activity in Afghanistan. In July 2015, Sirajuddin Haqqani was appointed a Deputy leader of the Taliban.
Activities: HQN has planned and carried out a number of significant kidnappings and attacks against U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, the Afghan government, and civilian targets. HQN’s most notorious attacks include the June 2011 attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, which killed 11 civilians and two Afghan policemen; a September 2011 truck bombing in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, which wounded 77 U.S. soldiers; the September 2011 19-hour attack on the U.S. Embassy and International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, which killed 16 Afghans, including six children; a June 2012 suicide bomb attack against Forward Operating Base Salerno, which killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded more than 100; and a 12-hour siege of the Spozhmai Hotel in Kabul in June 2012, which resulted in the death of at least 18 Afghans, including 14 civilians. HQN was also involved in holding U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was kidnapped in 2009 and remained in captivity until his May 2014 release.
HQN’s attacks continued throughout 2016. In January, Afghan officials blamed HQN for a suicide attack in Kabul, which killed seven journalists affiliated with a television station that had been critical of the Taliban. In April, HQN was blamed for an attack in Kabul against a government security agency tasked with providing protection to senior government officials, killing 64 people and injuring more than 300 others in what was the deadliest attack in Kabul in 15 years. Afghan officials also blamed HQN for being involved in a June double suicide attack outside of Kabul against Afghan police cadets and first responders; 30 people were killed. In addition to these and other suspected HQN attacks, Afghan police disrupted multiple HQN plots and many suicide operations in Kabul before they could be carried out.
Strength: HQN is believed to have several hundred core members, but it is estimated that the organization is able to draw upon a pool of upwards of 10,000 fighters. HQN is integrated
into – and cooperates closely with – the larger Afghan Taliban and draws strength through cooperation with other terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan, including al-Qa’ida and Jaish-e Mohammad.
Location/Area of Operation: HQN is active along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and across much of southeastern Afghanistan, particularly in Loya Paktia (which consists of Paktia, Paktika, and Khost provinces, and includes parts of Logar and Ghazni), and has repeatedly targeted Kabul in its attacks. The group’s leadership has historically maintained a power base around Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Funding and External Aid: In addition to the support it receives through its connections to other terrorist organizations, HQN receives much of its funds from donors in Pakistan and the Gulf, as well as through criminal activities such as kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, and other licit and illicit business ventures.
aka HUJI; Movement of Islamic Holy War; Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami; Harkat-al-Jihad-ul Islami; Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami; Harakat ul Jihad-e-Islami; Harakat-ul Jihad Islami
Description: Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on August 6, 2010. The group was formed in 1980 in Afghanistan to fight against the former Soviet Union. Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the organization redirected its efforts to India. HUJI seeks the annexation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the expulsion of Coalition Forces from Afghanistan, and has supplied fighters to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Since 2001, HUJI has refocused its activities on the Afghanistan-Pakistan front and has established several camps in Pakistan. HUJI is mostly composed of Pakistani militants and veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war. In recent years HUJI has experienced a number of internal splits and a portion of the group has aligned with al-Qa’ida (AQ), including training its members in AQ training camps. Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, one of HUJI’s top leaders (who also served as an AQ military commander and strategist), died on June 3, 2011.
Activities: HUJI has been involved in a number of terrorist attacks. HUJI claimed responsibility for the September 7, 2011 bombing of the New Delhi High Court, which left at least 11 dead and an estimated 76 wounded. The group sent an email to the press stating that the bomb was intended to force India to repeal a death sentence of a HUJI member. In 2015, it was discovered that HUJI had set up bases at Silchar’s Assam University with the help of a group of professors and students. HUJI did not publicly claim any attacks in 2016.
Strength: HUJI has an estimated strength of several hundred members.
Location/Area of Operation: HUJI’s area of operation extends throughout South Asia, with its terrorist operations focused primarily in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka HUJI-B; Harakat ul Jihad e Islami Bangladesh; Harkatul Jihad al Islam; Harkatul Jihad; Harakat ul Jihad al Islami; Harkat ul Jihad al Islami; Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami; Harakat ul Jihad Islami Bangladesh; Islami Dawat-e-Kafela; IDEK
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 5, 2008, Harakat ul‑Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) was formed in April 1992 by a group of former Bangladeshi Afghan veterans wanting to establish Islamist rule in Bangladesh. In October 2005, Bangladeshi authorities banned the group. The leaders of HUJI-B signed the February 1998 fatwa sponsored by Usama bin Laden that declared U.S. civilians legitimate targets.
HUJI-B has connections to Pakistani terrorist groups advocating similar objectives, including HUJI, al-Qa’ida, and Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT).
Activities: In December 2008, three HUJI-B members were convicted for the May 2004 grenade attack that wounded the British High Commissioner in Sylhet, Bangladesh. In 2011, Bangladeshi authorities formally charged multiple suspects, including HUJI-B leader Mufti Abdul Hannan, with the killing of former Finance Minister Shah AMS Kibria of the Awami League in a grenade attack on January 27, 2005. Although HUJI-B committed no known attacks in 2013, in March 2013, police in Dhaka arrested a group of militants which included HUJI-B members. The group was preparing attacks on public gatherings and prominent individuals; bombs, bomb-making material, and counterfeit currency were found at the time of arrest. In 2014, HUJI-B continued its operations; reports at the time suggested that some HUJI-B members may have traveled to Pakistan to receive military training from LeT. There were no known terrorist acts carried out by HUJI-B in 2015 or 2016.
In December 2016, an elite police force in Bangladesh raided a HUJI-B den, arresting four of the group’s members and foiling a HUJI-B plot to attack law enforcement officers to loot arms and ammunition. Law enforcement officials confiscated 18 bombs, electrical devices, and sharp weapons from the HUJI-B hideout.
Strength: HUJI-B leaders claim that up to 400 of its members are Afghan war veterans; its total membership is unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: HUJI-B operates primarily in Bangladesh and India; the group trains and has a network of madrassas in Bangladesh.
Funding and External Aid: HUJI-B funding comes from a variety of sources. Several international non-governmental organizations may have funneled money to HUJI-B and other Bangladeshi terrorist groups.
aka HUM; Harakat ul-Ansar; HUA; Jamiat ul-Ansar; JUA; al-Faran; al-Hadid; al-Hadith; Harakat ul-Mujahidin; Ansar ul Ummah
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Harakat ul‑Mujahideen (HUM) seeks the annexation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the expulsion of Coalition Forces from Afghanistan. In January 2005, HUM’s long-time leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil stepped down and was replaced by Dr. Badr Munir. HUM operated terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan until Coalition air strikes destroyed them in 2001. In 2003, HUM began using the name Jamiat ul-Ansar; Pakistan banned the group in November 2003.
Activities: HUM has conducted a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is linked to the Kashmiri terrorist group al-Faran, which kidnapped, and later killed, five Western tourists in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in July 1995. HUM was also responsible for the hijacking of an Indian airliner in December 1999. The attack led to the release of Masood Azhar, an important leader of the former Harakat ul‑Ansar (HUA), who was imprisoned by India in 1994; after his release, Azhar founded Jaish‑e‑Mohammed (JeM). India also released former HUA member Ahmed Omar Sheik as a result of the hijacking. Sheik was later convicted of the 2002 abduction and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.
The group has conducted numerous attacks targeting Indian interests including the late December 2015 strikes in Handwor and Poonch, which resulted in the deaths of five Indian army personnel. In January 2016, Indian security forces arrested five HUM militants planning assaults on VIPs and security forces. Four of the militants arrested were involved in grenade-throwing incidents in downtown Srinagar and all five were planning an attack on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway on Republic Day.
Strength: HUM has a few hundred armed supporters. After 2000, however, a significant portion of HUM’s membership defected to JeM and only a small number of cadres are reported to be active.
Location/Area of Operation: HUM conducts operations primarily in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan. It operates from Muzaffarabad in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, as well as several cities in Pakistan.
Funding and External Aid: HUM collects donations from wealthy and grassroots donors in Pakistan.
aka the Party of God; Islamic Jihad; Islamic Jihad Organization; Revolutionary Justice Organization; Organization of the Oppressed on Earth; Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine; Organization of Right Against Wrong; Ansar Allah; Followers of the Prophet Muhammed
Description: Hizballah was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Formed in 1982 following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Lebanon-based radical Shia group takes its ideological inspiration from the Iranian revolution and the teachings of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. The group generally follows the religious guidance of the Iranian Supreme Leader, which in 2016 was Ali Khamenei. Hizballah is closely allied with Iran and the two often work together on shared initiatives, although Hizballah also acts independently. Hizballah shares a close relationship with Syria, and like Iran, provides assistance – including fighters – to Syrian regime forces in the Syrian conflict.
Activities: Hizballah is responsible for multiple large scale terrorist attacks, including the 1983 suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut; the 1984 attack on the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut; and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem was murdered.
Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping, detention, and murder of U.S. citizens and other Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s. Hizballah was implicated, along with Iran, in the 1992 attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina and in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires. In 2000, Hizballah operatives captured three Israeli soldiers in the Shebaa Farms area and, separately, kidnapped an Israeli non‑combatant in Dubai. The non-combatant survived, but on November 1, 2001, Israeli Army Rabbi Israel Weiss pronounced the soldiers dead. The surviving non-combatant and the bodies of the Israeli soldiers were returned to Israel in a prisoner exchange with Hizballah in 2004.
Hizballah is believed to have carried out two attacks against UN Interim Force in Lebanon peacekeepers, an attack in late July 2011 that wounded six French citizens and a second attack, days later, which injured three French soldiers. Also in 2011, four Hizballah members were indicted by the UN-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon, an international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A fifth Hizballah member, Hassan Habib Merhi, was indicted in October 2013.
In January 2012, Thai police detained Hizballah operative Hussein Atris on immigration charges as he was attempting to depart Thailand. Atris was convicted of possessing bomb-making materials by a Thai court in September 2013 and sentenced to two years and eight months in prison. He was released in September 2014 and is believed to reside in Lebanon. In July 2012, a suspected Hizballah operative was detained by Cypriot authorities for allegedly helping plan an attack against Israeli tourists on the island. On March 21, 2013, a Cyprus court found the operative guilty of charges based on his surveillance activities of Israeli tourists
Hizballah was also responsible for the July 2012 attack on a passenger bus carrying 42 Israeli tourists at the Sarafovo Airport in Bulgaria, near the city of Burgas. The explosion killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian, and injured 32 others.
In May 2013, Hizballah publicly admitted to playing a significant role in the ongoing conflict in Syria, rallying support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In May 2015, Cypriot authorities arrested Hizballah member and Lebanese-Canadian national Hussein Bassam Abdallah after finding 8.2 tons of liquid ammonium nitrate in the basement of a residence in Larnaca. Abdallah was charged by the Republic of Cyprus on five offenses, including participation in a terrorist organization and providing support to a terrorist organization. On June 29, 2015, Abdallah was sentenced to six years in prison; he is currently serving his sentence in Larnaca, Cyprus.
Hizballah’s support for Syria’s al-Assad regime continued into 2016, when Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he planned to send extra Hizballah militants to fight alongside Syrian government forces in the besieged city of Aleppo. There are reportedly about 7,000 Hizballah fighters in Syria; several senior Hizballah military commanders and hundreds of fighters have died in the Syrian conflict.
Strength: Tens of thousands of supporters and members worldwide.
Location/Area of Operation: Hizballah is based in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon. As evidenced by Hizballah’s activities during the course of 2012 and 2013, the group is capable of operating around the world. Since 2013, Hizballah fighters have assisted Assad regime forces in many areas across Syria.
Funding and External Aid: Iran continues to provide Hizballah with training, weapons, and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, monetary, and organizational aid; Syria has furnished training, weapons, and diplomatic and political support. Hizballah also receives funding from private donations and profits from legal and illegal businesses. Hizballah receives financial support from Lebanese Shia communities in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Hizballah supporters are often engaged in a range of licit and illicit activities that benefit the group financially. These activities include smuggling contraband goods, passport falsification, trafficking in narcotics, money laundering, and credit card, immigration, and bank fraud.
aka Indian Mujahidin; Islamic Security Force-Indian Mujahideen (ISF-IM)
Description: The Indian Mujahedeen (IM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 19, 2011. The India-based terrorist group is responsible for dozens of bomb attacks throughout India since 2005, and has caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians. IM maintains ties to other terrorist entities including Pakistan-based Lashkar e-Tayyiba,
Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Harakat ul-Jihad Islami. In 2016, it was reported that the IM was also cooperating with ISIS. IM’s stated goal is to carry out terrorist actions against Indians for their oppression of Muslims. IM has also expanded its area of operations into Nepal, which is now the biggest hub for IM operatives.
Activities: IM is known for carrying out multiple coordinated bombings in crowded areas against economic and civilian targets to maximize terror and casualties. In 2008, for example, IM was responsible for 16 synchronized bomb blasts in crowded urban centers. That same year, IM was also responsible for an attack in Delhi that killed 30 people and an attack at a local hospital in Ahmedabad that killed 38 and injured more than 100. In 2010, IM bombed a popular German bakery in Pune, India, frequented by tourists; 17 people were killed and more than 60 people were injured in the attack.
In January 2015, the arrest of three IM militants linked the group to the December 2014 low‑intensity blast near a restaurant in Bangalore that killed one woman and injured three others. The arrest also uncovered that the group planned to carry out attacks on Republic Day and had provided explosives to carry out attacks in other parts of the country. In May 2015, IM fugitive commander Muhammad ‘Bada’ Sajid, one of the perpetrators of the 2008 bombings, died fighting with ISIS forces in Syria.
In 2016, IM was increasingly linked to ISIS. In May, for example, six IM operatives were identified in an ISIS propaganda video threatening attacks on India. A month later, it was reported that an IM cell linked to ISIS was plotting attacks on multiple targets in Hyderabad and had purchased chemicals to make high-grade explosives for the planned operations. In May, the Indian National Intelligence Agency arrested senior IM member Abdul Wahid Siddibapa, who was connected to several IM plots to attack India and known as a recruiter for the organization. He was linked to the 2006 Mumbai blasts, the 2008 attack in Delhi, and a 2010 attack in Bangalore.
Location/Area of Operation: India, Nepal, and Pakistan
Funding and External Aid: Suspected to obtain funding and support from other terrorist organizations, as well as from sources in Pakistan and the Middle East.
aka Islamic Jihad Group; Islomiy Jihod Ittihodi; al-Djihad al-Islami; Dzhamaat Modzhakhedov; Islamic Jihad Group of Uzbekistan; Jamiat al-Jihad al-Islami; Jamiyat; The Jamaat Mojahedin; The Kazakh Jama’at; The Libyan Society
Description: The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) is a Sunni violent extremist organization that was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on June 17, 2005. The group splintered from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in the early 2000s and has been based in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Najmiddin Jalolov founded the organization as the Islamic Jihad Group in March 2002, but the group was renamed Islamic Jihad Union in May 2005. Although IJU remains committed to overthrowing the Government of Uzbekistan, it also has a global agenda, demonstrated by its attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.
Activities: The IJU primarily operates against international forces in Afghanistan and remains a threat to Central Asia. IJU claimed responsibility for attacks in March and April 2004 in Uzbekistan, which targeted police at several roadway checkpoints and at a popular bazaar, killing approximately 47 people, including 33 IJU members, some of whom were suicide bombers. In July 2004, the group carried out near-simultaneous suicide bombings of the Uzbek Prosecutor General’s office and the U.S. and Israeli Embassies in Tashkent. In September 2007, German authorities disrupted an IJU plot to attack U.S. military bases and personnel by detaining and prosecuting three IJU operatives, including two German citizens. Foreign terrorist fighters from Germany, Turkey, and elsewhere in Europe continued to travel to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area to join IJU to fight against U.S. and Coalition Forces. In 2013, two IJU videos showed attacks against an American military base in Afghanistan and an IJU sniper shooting an Afghan soldier at a base in Afghanistan.
According to statements and photos released by the group, IJU participated in the April-September 2015 Taliban siege of Kunduz city. At least 13 police were killed in the attacks and, according to the United Nations, some 848 civilians were killed or wounded. In June 2015, IJU claimed it carried out multiple attacks in eastern Afghanistan with al-Qa’ida and the Taliban, including an attack on an Afghan military base that killed “many apostate soldiers.” In July 2015, the IJU stated it had expanded its base of operations and was engaged in activity in southern Afghanistan (in the provinces of Paktia, Paktika, and Nangarhar) and in Badakhshan and Kunduz. On August 20, IJU pledged allegiance to the then newly-appointed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour.
IJU continued its activity in 2016. In February, the group released a video promoting terrorism that showed a group of fighters stationed in the Levara region of North Waziristan, Pakistan.
Strength: 100 to 200 members
Location/Area of Operation: Afghanistan and Pakistan; IJU members are also scattered throughout Central Asia and Europe.
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 25, 2000, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) seeks to overthrow the Uzbek government and establish an Islamic state. For most of the past decade, however, the group has recruited members from other Central Asian states and Europe. Despite its objective to set up an Islamic state in Uzbekistan, the group operates primarily along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and in northern Afghanistan, where it fights against international forces. Several IMU members are also suspected of having traveled to Syria to fight with violent extremist groups.
The IMU has had a decade-long relationship with al-Qa’ida (AQ), the Taliban, and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Top IMU leaders have integrated themselves into the Taliban’s shadow government in Afghanistan’s northern provinces.
In August 2015, IMU leader Usman Ghazi publicly announced the group’s shift of allegiance to ISIS. Numerous IMU members, including possibly Ghazi himself, were subsequently reported to have been killed as a result of hostilities between ISIS and its former Taliban allies.
Activities: Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, the IMU has predominantly been focused on attacks against international forces in Afghanistan. In late 2009, NATO forces reported an increase in IMU-affiliated foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan. In 2010, IMU claimed responsibility for the September 19 ambush that killed 25 Tajik troops in Tajikistan. On October 15, 2011, IMU claimed responsibility for a suicide assault on a U.S.-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Panjshir Province, Afghanistan, that killed two Afghan civilians and wounded two security guards. On June 8, 2014, IMU claimed responsibility for participating in an attack on Karachi’s international airport that resulted in the deaths of at least 39 people.
Throughout 2015, the IMU actively threatened the Afghan government, specifically in the northern part of the country. In April, the group released a video showing IMU members beheading an individual they claimed to be an Afghan soldier and threatened to behead Hazara (a historically persecuted ethnic group in Afghanistan that follows Shia Islam) hostages, in supposed retaliation for the Afghan security forces capture of several female members of IMU. Also in 2015, Uzbek refugee Fazliddin Kurbanov was convicted and sentenced by a U.S. federal court to 25 years in prison for planning a bomb attack in Idaho. Kurbanov had been in contact with members of IMU online, seeking advice on how to make explosives and formulate attack plans. He discussed attacking U.S. military bases and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In late 2016, a dual Dutch-Turkish citizen who served as an IMU fundraiser and facilitator was convicted and sentenced in the United States for providing material support to the IMU and acting on the group’s behalf in Afghanistan, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, Pakistan, and elsewhere, between 2006 and 2008.
In June 2016, a faction of IMU announced its continued commitment to the Taliban and AQ, marking a split with its leader Ghazi and the rest of the group, which announced its loyalty to ISIS in 2015 and has since cooperated with Islamic State’s Khorasan Province.
Strength: 200 to 300 members
Location/Area of Operation: Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan
Funding and External Aid: The IMU receives support from a large Uzbek diaspora, terrorist organizations, and donors from Europe, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East.
aka al-Qa’ida in Iraq; al-Qa’ida Group of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qa’ida Group of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida in Mesopotamia; al-Qa’ida in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida of the Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Tawhid; Jam’at al-Tawhid Wa’al-Jihad; Tanzeem Qa’idat al Jihad/Bilad al Raafidaini; Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn; The Monotheism and Jihad Group; The Organization Base of Jihad/Country of the Two Rivers; The Organization Base of Jihad/Mesopotamia; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base of Operations in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base of Operations in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of Jihad’s Base in the Country of the Two Rivers; al-Zarqawi Network; Islamic State in Iraq; Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham; Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; ad-Dawla al-Islamiyya fi al-’Iraq wa-sh-Sham; Daesh; Dawla al Islamiya; Al-Furqan Establishment for Media Production; Islamic State; ISIL; ISIS
Description: Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 17, 2004. In the 1990s, Jordanian militant Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi organized a terrorist group called al-Tawhid wal-Jihad to oppose the presence of U.S. and Western military forces in the Middle East and the West’s support for, and the existence of, Israel. In late 2004, he joined al-Qa’ida (AQ) and pledged allegiance to Usama bin Laden, at which point al-Tawhid wal-Jihad became known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI). Zarqawi traveled to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and led his group against U.S. and Coalition Forces until his death in June 2006.
In October 2006, AQI publicly re-named itself the Islamic State in Iraq and in 2013 it adopted the moniker ISIS to express its regional ambitions as it expanded its operations to include the Syrian conflict. On May 15, 2014, the Department of State amended the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation of AQI to add several aliases, including ISIS. ISIS is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri, aka Abu Du’a. In June 2014, ISIS leader al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate.
Activities: As AQI, ISIS conducted numerous high profile attacks, including improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. military personnel and Iraqi infrastructure, videotaped beheadings of U.S. citizens, suicide bombings against both military and civilian targets, and rocket attacks. ISIS perpetrates suicide and mass casualty bombings in Iraq using foreign and Iraqi operatives. In 2014, ISIS was responsible for the majority of deaths of the more than 12,000 Iraqi civilians killed that year. ISIS was heavily involved in the fighting in Syria during 2014, including against other militant opposition groups, and participated in a number of kidnapping incidents against civilians, including aid workers and reporters.
ISIS remained active throughout 2015 and 2016, conducting several large-scale attacks in Iraq and Syria and across the globe. In February 2016, a series of ISIS suicide and car bombs killed at least 129 people in Homs and Damascus, Syria. In March, ISIS carried out a suicide attack at a crowded park in Iskandariya, Iraq at the end of a football match, killing approximately 29 and wounding more than 60 others. Also in March, at least 60 people were killed in an attack claimed by ISIS in Hilla, Iraq when an explosives-laden fuel tanker ran into an Iraqi security checkpoint.
In early May 2016, two suicide car bombs claimed by ISIS killed 32 and wounded another 75 in Samawa, in southern Iraq. In mid-May, ISIS conducted a series of attacks in and around Baghdad, including suicide bombings and a car bombing at a crowded market in Sadr City that killed at least 88 people – most of them women and children. In late May, ISIS killed 12 people when the group attacked a Real Madrid Supporters’ Club in Iraq where people had gathered to watch the Champions League final match. In July, ISIS claimed a car bombing at a popular shopping center in Baghdad that killed nearly 300 people, making it the single deadliest bombing in Iraq’s capital city since 2003. In October, it was revealed that ISIS was using hundreds to thousands of Iraqi civilians as human shields. The group reportedly rounded up and massacred 284 men and boys before dumping their bodies in a mass grave in northern Mosul, Iraq.
The group since at least 2015 has also been responsible for integrating local children and ones brought by foreign terrorist fighters into its forces and using them as executioners and suicide attackers. ISIS has systematically prepared child soldiers in Iraq and Syria using its education and religious infrastructure as part of its training and recruitment of members.
In Iraq and Syria, ISIS’s use of military equipment captured in the course of fighting gave the group greater capabilities in line with a more conventional military force, including the reported use of eastern bloc tanks, artillery, and self-developed unmanned aerial drones. According to estimates from the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, acts of terrorism, violence, and armed conflict killed more than 6,000 civilians and injured more than 11,300 in 2016.
ISIS continued to commit atrocities against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other groups. In 2015 and 2016, ISIS abducted, systematically raped, and abused thousands of women and children, some as young as eight years of age. Women and children were sold and enslaved, distributed to ISIS fighters as spoils of war, forced into marriage and domestic servitude, or subjected to physical and sexual abuse. ISIS established “markets” where women and children were sold with price tags attached and has published a list of rules on how to treat female slaves once captured. (For further information, refer to the Trafficking in Persons Report 2016, http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2015/index.htm.)
ISIS also directs, enables, and inspires individuals to conduct attacks and act on behalf of the group around the world, including in the United States and Europe. In November 2015, ISIS carried out a series of coordinated attacks in Paris, France, including at a rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall, killing approximately 130 people and injuring more than 350 others; 23‑year-old U.S. citizen Nohemi Gonzalez was among the dead. In March 2016, ISIS directed two simultaneous attacks in Brussels, Belgium – one at the Zaventem Airport and the other at a metro station. The attacks killed 32 people, including four U.S. citizens, and injured more than 250 people. In June 2016, a gunman who pledged allegiance to ISIS killed 49 individuals and injured 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In July 2016, ISIS claimed an attack in which a cargo truck drove into a crowd in Nice, France, during Bastille Day celebrations, resulting in 86 deaths, including three U.S. citizens. In December 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for a truck attack on a crowded Christmas market in Berlin, Germany that killed 12 people and injured 48 others.
Although ISIS has not claimed responsibility, it was likely responsible for several attacks involving chemical-filled munitions in Iraq and Syria during 2016. The United States has been proactively working with our allies to dismantle this chemical weapons capability, as well as deny ISIS and other non-state actors access to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN)-useable materials and expertise through interdictions and strengthening the ability of regional governments to detect, disrupt, and respond effectively to suspected CBRN activity.
Strength: Estimates suggest between 12,000 and 15,000 members.
Location/Area of Operation: ISIS’s operations are predominately in Iraq and Syria, but 2015 and 2016 witnessed the continued creation of external ISIS branches and networks. In 2016, several branches of ISIS were designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) and Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs): ISIL-Libya as an FTO and SDGT in 2016; ISIS in Yemen as an SDGT in 2016; and ISIS in Saudi Arabia as an SDGT in 2016. Islamic State’s Khorasan Province was designated as an FTO and SDGT in 2015. ISIS branches in the Caucasus Province and Algeria were also designated as SDGTs in 2015. In addition, supporters and associates worldwide inspired by the group’s ideology may be operating without direction from ISIS central leadership.
Funding and External Aid: ISIS receives most of its funding from a variety of businesses and criminal activities within areas it controls in Iraq and Syria. Criminal activities include robbing banks, smuggling oil, looting and selling antiquities and other goods, as well as extortion, human trafficking, and kidnapping-for-ransom.
aka ISIL Khorasan; Islamic State's Khorasan Province; ISIS Wilayat Khorasan; ISIL’s South Asia Branch; South Asian chapter of ISIL
Description: Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 14, 2016. The group is based in Afghanistan, conducts operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is composed primarily of former members of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban. ISIS-K’s senior leadership has pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Since Baghdadi accepted the pledge in late January 2015, ISIS-K has carried out suicide bombings, small arms attacks, and kidnappings in Afghanistan against civilians and Afghan National Security and Defense Forces. The group has also claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians in Pakistan.
It was reported that ISIS-K leader Hafiz Saeed Khan was killed in July 2016. Khan’s former deputy and the former Taliban Commander from Logar Province, Abdul Hasib, took over leadership responsibilities for ISIS-K.
Activities: ISIS-K was responsible for several attacks on civilians in Karachi, Pakistan in May 2015. In January 2016, the group claimed it carried out a strike on the Pakistani consulate in Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths of seven Afghan security personnel. In July, the group conducted a bomb attack at a peaceful protest in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed approximately 80 people and wounded another 230. In August, ISIS-K claimed it carried out a shooting and suicide bombing at a hospital in Quetta targeting lawyers, which killed 94. In October, ISIS-K killed 18 worshippers at a shrine in Kabul, and in November, carried out a suicide bombing at a mosque in Kabul, killing at least 30. It also claimed responsibility in November 2016 for a suicide bombing at the Shah Noorani Shrine in Baluchistan province, Pakistan, killing more than 50 people.
Strength: Approximately 1,500 to 2,000
Location/Area of Operation: Afghanistan and Pakistan
Funding and External Aid: ISIS-K receives some funding from ISIS. Other funding sources are unknown.
aka Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Libya; Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya; Wilayat Barqa; Wilayat Fezzan; Wilayat Tripolitania; Wilayat Tarablus; Wilayat al-Tarabulus
Description: ISIL-Libya was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 20, 2016. In 2014, ISIS leader and SDGT Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dispatched a group of ISIS operatives from Syria to Libya to establish a branch of the terrorist group. The ISIS operatives set up a base in Darnah and in late November 2014, Baghdadi formally established the ISIL-Libya branch after announcing he had accepted oaths of allegiance from fighters in the country.
Activities: ISIL-Libya poses a significant security threat in the region. Since being established in November 2014, the group has carried out multiple attacks in the country and has threatened to expand ISIS’s presence into other countries in Africa. In October 2014, several hundred ISIL‑Libya fighters established a presence in the eastern Libya city of Darnah. In January 2015, ISIL-Libya claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli that killed eight people, including a U.S. contractor. That same month, ISIL-Libya also killed 16 people in an attack on a Libyan army checkpoint.
In February 2015, ISIL-Libya released a propaganda video showing the murder of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who had been kidnapped in Sirte, Libya, in two separate incidents in December 2014 and January 2015. Also in February, ISIL-Libya claimed responsibility for bomb attacks against a petrol station, a police station, and the home of parliamentary speaker Agila Salah in the town of al-Qubbah. The attacks killed at least 40 people and wounded dozens of others.
ISIL-Libya claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing targeting an army checkpoint in Benghazi in March 2015, which killed five soldiers and two civilians, and it attacked a Tripoli prison in an attempt to free detainees in September 2015, killing three security personnel.
Between 2015 and 2016, ISIL-Libya doubled its presence in the country; in early 2016, reports suggested the group counted as many as 6,000 fighters in its ranks. In 2016, ISIL-Libya expanded operations into Libya’s oil crescent, launching attacks on some of the country’s largest oil installations; ISIL-Libya burned oil tanks, killing dozens and forcing oil fields to shut down operations. The group also conducted attacks on Libya’s medical facilities. In March, the group attacked a Sirte hospital and kidnapped 20 medical workers. The group also attacked medical facilities and carried out other attacks in Benghazi and Tripoli. In November, the group was responsible for a car bomb that exploded in Benghazi, killing three.
In December 2016, Libyan forces drove ISIL-Libya from its stronghold and main base in Sirte into the desert areas and neighboring cities.
Strength: In early 2016, ISIL-Libya was reported to have 6,000 members.
Location/Area of Operation: At the end of 2016, ISIL-Libya was no longer in control of any towns in Libya, but its members continued to operate throughout the eastern, southern, and western regions of the country. The group has also carried out attacks in Tripoli and Benghazi.
Funding and External Aid: ISIL-Libya’s funding comes from a variety of sources, including criminal activity, such as smuggling and extortion, and external funding. The group also receives support from ISIS.
aka Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis; Ansar Jerusalem; Supporters of Jerusalem; Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes; Ansar Beit al-Maqdis; ISIL Sinai Province; Islamic State-Sinai Province; Islamic State in the Sinai; Jamaat Ansar Beit al-Maqdis; Jamaat Ansar Beit al-Maqdis fi Sinaa; Sinai Province; Supporters of the Holy Place; The State of Sinai; Wilayat Sinai
Description: Originally designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on April 9, 2014, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) rose to prominence in 2011 following the uprisings in Egypt. It is responsible for attacks against Israeli and Egyptian government and security elements, and against tourists in Egypt. In November 2014, ABM officially declared allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In September 2015, the Department of State amended ABM’s designation to add the primary name ISIL Sinai Province (ISIL-SP).
Activities: ISIL-SP has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Israeli interests, including a July 2012 attack against a Sinai pipeline exporting gas to Israel, an August 2012 rocket strike on the southern Israeli city of Eilat, and a September 2012 attack targeting an Israeli border patrol, which killed one soldier and injured another.
In October 2013, ISIL-SP claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing targeting the South Sinai Security Directorate in el Tor, which killed three people and injured more than 45. In January 2014, ISIL-SP successfully downed an Egyptian military helicopter in a missile attack, killing five soldiers on board. In 2014, the group also claimed responsibility for four attacks involving car bombs and hand grenades in Cairo, which left six people dead and more than 70 wounded.
ISIL-SP has targeted government officials, including the September 2013 attempted assassination of the Egyptian Interior Minister, and the January 2014 assassination of the head of the Interior Minister’s technical office. In February 2014, ISIL-SP claimed responsibility for the bombing of a tour bus in the Sinai Peninsula, killing the Egyptian driver and three South Korean tourists; the attack was ISIL-SP’s first against foreign tourists.
In October 2014, ISIL-SP claimed a strike on a security checkpoint that killed 33 Egyptian soldiers and wounded 26 others, including civilians. In April 2015, ISIL-SP claimed responsibility for three separate attacks on Egyptian security forces on the same day in Northern Sinai; the strikes killed 12 people, including one civilian. On November 4, ISIL-SP released an audio recording in which it claimed responsibility for the October 31 bombing of a Russian passenger plane carrying 224 people from the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, Russia. All 224 passengers and seven crew members were killed. ISIL-SP also claimed a suicide bombing that killed four Egyptian police officers and wounded at least five civilians in northern Sinai in November 2015.
On August 5, 2015, ISIL-SP claimed responsibility for the July 22 abduction of Croatian citizen Tomislav Salopek, who worked as a topographer for a French energy company. Salopek was kidnapped on October 6 in the western desert, approximately 20 km west of the suburbs of Cairo. ISIL-SP demanded the release of all female Muslims in Egyptian prisons within 48 hours in exchange for Salopek. Salopek was ultimately beheaded and ISIL-SP claimed responsibility for the killing.
Throughout the course of 2016, ISIL-SP carried out numerous attacks in the Sinai, including a January double bombing that killed two Egyptian policemen and two military officers. The group was also responsible for a July wide-scale coordinated attack on several military checkpoints that reportedly killed more than 50 people and a separate July mortar attack on a military checkpoint near the town of Skeikh Zuweid that killed five members of the Egyptian security forces. In November, ISIL-SP assassinated two Egyptian generals in North Sinai, and carried out a car bomb attack on a checkpoint in North Sinai that killed at least 12 Egyptian soldiers.
Strength: ISIL-SP is estimated to have several hundred fighters in the Sinai Peninsula and affiliated cells in the Nile Valley.
Location/Area of Operation: ISIL-SP operations are based out of the Sinai Peninsula, but its reach extends to Cairo, the Egyptian Nile Valley, as well as possibly more than 200 militants in Gaza.
Funding and External Aid: Although the source of ISIL-SP’s funding is largely unknown, there are indications that it may receive funding from external actors.
aka Ansaru; Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan; Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa; JAMBS; Jama’atu Ansaril Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 14, 2013, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina fi Biladis-Sudan (Ansaru) publicly splintered from Boko Haram in January 2012. Ansaru’s leadership structure is unclear, although it is known Khalid al-Barnawi held a top leadership position within the group until his alleged capture by the Nigerian army in April 2016. Since its inception, Ansaru has targeted civilians, including Westerners, and Nigerian government and security officials. Ansaru purportedly aims to defend Muslims throughout all of Africa by fighting against the Nigerian government and international interests. While Ansaru claims to identify with Boko Haram’s objectives and struggle, it has criticized the group for killing fellow Muslims.
Activities: In November 2012, Ansaru raided a police station in Abuja, killing Nigerian police officers and freeing detained terrorists from prison. In January 2013, Ansaru attacked a convoy of Nigerian peacekeepers on their way to Mali.
Ansaru has also carried out multiple kidnapping operations targeting civilians. In late 2012, Ansaru kidnapped a French engineer claiming the action was justified due to French involvement in Mali. In early 2013, Ansaru kidnapped and subsequently killed seven international construction workers.
Ansaru did not publicly claim any attacks between 2014 and 2016. On April 4, 2016, the Nigerian army announced the capture of Ansaru leader Terrorist Khalid al-Barnawi.
Strength: Total membership is unknown. Given its narrower scope of operations, it is estimated that Ansaru’s membership is much smaller than that of Boko Haram.
Location/Area of Operation: Northern Nigeria
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka the Army of Mohammed; Mohammed’s Army; Tehrik ul-Furqaan; Khuddam-ul-Islam; Khudamul Islam; Kuddam e Islami; Jaish-i-Mohammed
Description: Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 26, 2001. JeM was founded in early 2000 by former senior Harakat ul-Mujahideen leader Masood Azhar upon his release from prison in India in exchange for 155 hijacked Indian Airlines hostages. The group aims to annex the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan and expel international forces from Afghanistan. JeM has openly declared war against the United States.
Activities: JeM has continued to operate openly in parts of Pakistan despite the country’s 2002 ban on its activities. Since its founding, JeM has conducted many fatal terrorist attacks in the region. JeM claimed responsibility for several suicide car bombings in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including an October 2001 suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly building in Srinagar that killed more than 30 people. The Indian government has publicly implicated JeM, along with Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament that killed nine people and injured 18 others.
In 2002, Pakistani authorities arrested and convicted a JeM member for the abduction and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl. Pakistani authorities reportedly suspect that JeM members may have been involved in the 2002 anti-Christian attacks in Islamabad, Murree, and Taxila that killed two U.S. citizens. In December 2003, Pakistan implicated JeM members in two assassination attempts against then-President Pervez Musharraf. In December 2013, JeM threatened to kill Indian politician Narendra Modi if he were elected Prime Minister. In 2015, JeM launched three small-scale attacks targeting Indian army camps; approximately five to 10 people were killed in the attacks.
In 2016, Indian officials blamed JeM for a January attack on an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot. One civilian and seven Indian security force personnel were killed, and an additional 20 security force personnel were wounded in the strike. Also in January, JeM was suspected of conducting an attack on the Indian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. From February through May 2016, both LeT and JEM were suspected of engaging in at least three firefights with Indian security forces in Kupwara district, Jammu and Kashmir, injuring approximately two Indian personnel. In June 2016, it is unclear whether LeT or JEM were responsible for an ambush on an Indian security force convoy in Pulwama district, Jammu and Kashmir, killing eight and injuring 20. In December 2016, the Indian National Intelligence Agency announced that JeM leader Azhar and his brother, Rauf Asghar, were directly implicated in the attack.
Strength: JeM has at least several hundred armed supporters.
Location/Area of Operation: India, including the state of Jammu and Kashmir; Afghanistan; and Pakistan, particularly southern Punjab.
aka Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi; Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order; Armed Men of the Naqshabandi Order; Naqshbandi Army; Naqshabandi Army; Men of the Army of al-Naqshbandia Way; Jaysh Rajal al-Tariqah al-Naqshbandia; JRTN; JRN; AMNO
Description: Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi (JRTN) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in September 2015. The group first announced insurgency operations against international forces in Iraq in December 2006 in response to the execution of Saddam Hussein. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, former vice president of Saddam Hussein’s Revolutionary Council, leads the group, which consists of former Baath Party officials, military personnel, and Sunni nationalists. Al-Douri was once one of the most-wanted men in Iraq by Coalition Forces. JRTN aims to overthrow the government of Iraq, install a new Ba’athist regime, and to end external influence in Baghdad. JRTN believes in Iraqi and Arab secular nationalism and Naqshabandi Sufi Islam ideals.
Activities: Between its founding in 2006 and the 2011 withdrawal of Coalition Forces from Iraq, JRTN claimed, and distributed numerous videos of, attacks on U.S. bases and forces. JRTN is also known to have used vehicle-borne improvised explosive devicess against Iraqi government security forces. JRTN’s influence has grown by exploiting the disintegration of other insurgent groups.
In 2014, elements of JRTN joined military forces with ISIS in opposition to the Iraqi government. The group played a major role in the capture of Mosul from Iraqi security forces in 2014. Elements of JRTN continued cooperating with ISIS in 2016, but did not publicly claim any specific attacks.
Strength: The most recent membership numbers available are 1,500 to 5,000, as of 2011. Membership is almost certainly much lower today.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily Iraq
Funding and External Aid: JRTN historically received funding from former regime members, major tribal figures in Iraq, and external contributions from the Gulf.
aka JAT; Jemmah Ansharut Tauhid; Jem’mah Ansharut Tauhid; Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid; Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid; Laskar 99
Description: The Department of State designated Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 13, 2012. Formed in 2008, the Indonesia-based group seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia, and has carried out numerous attacks on Indonesian government personnel, police, military, and civilians. In 2011, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the founder and leader of JAT, was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in organizing a militant training camp in Aceh. Ba’asyir is also the co-founder and former leader of Jemaah Islamiya (JI). JAT maintains ties to JI and other terrorist groups in Southeast Asia.
Activities: JAT has conducted multiple attacks targeting civilians and Indonesian officials, resulting in the deaths of numerous Indonesian police and innocent civilians. In October 2012, authorities blamed JAT for torturing and killing two police officers investigating an alleged terrorist camp linked to JAT in Poso. In December 2012, four police officers were killed and two wounded in an attack by suspected local JAT members in Central Sulawesi.
Since Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS in 2014, many JAT members have joined Indonesia’s ISIS-affiliated groups; others have joined al-Qa’ida-affiliated groups.
Although JAT did not publicly claim any attacks in 2016, JAT members are believed to have been involved in ISIS operations in Southeast Asia.
Strength: JAT is estimated to have several thousand supporters and members, although internal disagreements over aligning with ISIS have likely reduced its membership.
Location/Area of Operation: Indonesia
Funding and External Aid: JAT raises funds through membership donations and legitimate business activities. JAT has also conducted cyber hacking, robbed banks, and carried out other illicit activities to fund the purchase of assault weapons, ammunition, explosives, and bomb-making materials.
aka Jemaa Islamiyah; Jema’a Islamiyah; Jemaa Islamiyya; Jema’a Islamiyya; Jemaa
Islamiyyah; Jema’a Islamiyyah; Jemaah Islamiah; Jemaah Islamiyah; Jema’ah Islamiyah; Jemaah Islamiyyah; Jema’ah Islamiyyah; JI
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 23, 2002, Jemaah Islamiya (JI) is a Southeast Asia-based terrorist group co-founded by Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Ba’asyir. The group seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate spanning Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines, and southern Thailand. More than 400 JI operatives have been captured or killed since 2002, including operations chief and al-Qa’ida (AQ) associate Hambali and, in January 2015, bomb-maker Zulfiki bin Hir (aka Marwan). The group has been linked to AQ in the past.
Activities: JI has carried out many attacks in the region. Significant JI attacks include the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed more than 200 people, among them seven U.S. citizens; the August 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta; the September 2004 bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta; and the October 2005 suicide bombing in Bali, which left 26 dead, including the three suicide bombers.
On July 17, 2009, a JI faction led by Noordin Mohamed Top claimed responsibility for suicide attacks at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta that killed seven people and injured more than 50, including seven U.S. citizens.
In November 2014, Indonesian authorities released former JI bomb-maker Taufik Abdul Halim from prison after he served a 12-year sentence for attempting to bomb a Jakarta shopping mall in 2001.
In January 2015, 44 Philippines policemen and three civilians were killed when a police counterterrorism squad was ambushed while conducting a raid in Mamasapano in the southern island of Mindanao. That same month, it was reported that JI-linked violent extremists had attempted to carry out attacks during a papal visit to Manila and Tacloban. In October 2015, two senior JI leaders – Zarkashi and JI military leader Abu Dujana – were released from prison after serving seven years each in Indonesian jails. In December 2015, police in East Java arrested four individuals associated with JI involved in manufacturing firearms for terrorist activities.
There were no reported attacks by JI in 2016. JI is believed to be recruiting and strengthening its network and finances, however. In early 2016, it was also reported that the group was sending members to Syria to train.
Strength: Estimates vary from 500 to several thousand members.
Location/Area of Operation: JI has been focusing on its operations and increasing its presence in Indonesia. The group has also carried out attacks in Malaysia and the Philippines in the past.
Funding and External Aid: JI fundraises through membership donations and criminal and business activities. It has received financial, ideological, and logistical support from Middle Eastern contacts and illegitimate charities and organizations.
aka People’s Resistance Movement of Iran (PMRI); Jonbesh-i Moqavemat-i-Mardom-i Iran; Popular Resistance Movement of Iran; Soldiers of God; Fedayeen-e-Islam; Former Jundallah of Iran; Jundullah; Jondullah; Jundollah; Jondollah; Jondallah; Army of God (God’s Army); Baloch Peoples Resistance Movement (BPRM)
Description: Jundallah was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 4, 2010. Since its inception in 2003, Jundallah, which operates primarily in the province of Sistan va Balochistan of Iran, and the Baloch areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, has engaged in numerous attacks, killing and maiming scores of Iranian civilians and government officials. Jundallah’s stated goals are to secure recognition of Balochi cultural, economic, and political rights from the Government of Iran, and to spread awareness of the plight of the Baloch people. The 2010 execution of Jundallah’s leader by Iran and the killing and arrest of many Jundallah fighters seriously diminished Jundallah’s capacity to operate.
Activities: Jundallah claimed responsibility for an October 2009 suicide bomb attack in the Sistan va Balochistan province that killed more than 40 people and was reportedly the deadliest terrorist attack in Iran since the 1980s. In a statement on its website, Jundallah also claimed the December 15, 2010 suicide bomb attack inside the Iman Hussein Mosque in Chabahar, which killed an estimated 35 to 40 civilians and wounded 60 to 100. In July 2010, Jundallah attacked the Grand Mosque in Zahedan, killing approximately 30 and injuring an estimated 300. Jundallah did not publicly claim any attacks in 2016.
Location/Area of Operation: Jundallah has traditionally operated throughout the Sistan va Balochistan province in southeastern Iran and the greater Balochistan area of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka American Friends of the United Yeshiva; American Friends of Yeshivat Rav Meir; Committee for the Safety of the Roads; Dikuy Bogdim; DOV; Forefront of the Idea; Friends of the Jewish Idea Yeshiva; Jewish Legion; Judea Police; Judean Congress; Kach; Kahane; Kahane Lives; Kahane Tzadak; Kahane.org; Kahanetzadak.com; Kfar Tapuah Fund; Koach; Meir’s Youth; New Kach Movement; Newkach.org; No’ar Meir; Repression of Traitors; State of Judea; Sword of David; The Committee Against Racism and Discrimination (CARD); The Hatikva Jewish Identity Center; The International Kahane Movement; The Jewish Idea Yeshiva; The Judean Legion; The Judean Voice; The Qomemiyut Movement; The Rabbi Meir David Kahane Memorial Fund; The Voice of Judea; The Way of the Torah; The Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea; Yeshivat Harav Meir
Description: Radical Israeli-American Rabbi Meir Kahane founded Kach – the precursor to Kahane Chai – with the aim of restoring Greater Israel (Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza). Its offshoot, Kahane Chai (translation: “Kahane Lives”), was founded by Meir Kahane’s son Binyamin, following his father’s 1990 assassination. Both organizations were designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations on October 8, 1997. The group has attempted to gain seats in the Israeli Knesset over the past several decades but has not won a seat since 1984.
Activities: Kahane Chai has harassed and threatened Arabs, Palestinians, and Israeli government officials, and vowed revenge for the December 2000 death of Binyamin Kahane and his wife. The group is suspected of involvement in a number of low-level attacks since the start of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000. Since 2003, Kahane Chai activists have physically intimidated Israeli and Palestinian government officials who favored the dismantlement of Israeli settlements. Kahane Chai was last linked to an attack in 2005, when a member of the terrorist group shot dead four people on a bus in Shfaram, Israel. The group was dormant in 2016.
Strength: Since 2005, Kahane Chai’s core membership has been estimated to be fewer than 100. The group’s membership and support networks were overwhelmingly composed of Israeli citizens that lived mostly in West Bank settlements.
Location/Area of Operation: Israel and West Bank settlements, particularly Qiryat Arba in Hebron
Funding and External Aid: Has received support from sympathizers in the United States and Europe.
aka Hizballah Brigades; Hizballah Brigades in Iraq; Hizballah Brigades-Iraq; Kata’ib Hezbollah; Khata’ib Hezbollah; Khata’ib Hizballah; Khattab Hezballah; Hizballah Brigades-Iraq of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Kata’ib Hizballah Fi al-Iraq; Katibat Abu Fathel al-A’abas; Katibat Zayd Ebin Ali; Katibut Karbalah
Description: Formed in 2006 and designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on July 2, 2009, Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) is a radical Shia Islamist group with an anti-Western outlook and violent extremist ideology. Prior to the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011, the group conducted attacks against Iraqi, U.S., and Coalition targets in Iraq, and threatened the lives of Iraqi politicians and civilians supporting the legitimate political process in Iraq. The group is notable for its extensive use of media operations and propaganda, including filming and releasing videos of attacks. KH has ideological ties to and receives support from Iran.
Activities: KH has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks since 2007, including improvised explosive device bombings, rocket-propelled grenade attacks, and sniper operations. In 2007, KH gained notoriety for its attacks against U.S. and Coalition Forces in Iraq. In June 2011, five U.S. soldiers were killed in a rocket attack in Baghdad when KH assailants fired between three and five rockets at U.S. military base Camp Victory. The group remained active in 2015, participating in fighting in Syria in support of the Assad regime, and in Iraq against ISIS. In June and July 2015, the group broadcast its recruitment contact information and an appeal for donations on a pro-Iran channel and on YouTube in an effort to recruit fighters to Syria and Iraq.
In 2016, the group continued to fight ISIS by joining the Iraqi Army in the Battle of Mosul. KH ultimately advanced farther west of Mosul to clear the Syria/Iraq border, while other Iranian‑backed Shia militias continued fighting closer to the city.
Strength: Membership is estimated as at least 400 individuals.
Location/Area of Operation: Predominately Iraq-based, but also participates in fighting alongside pro-Assad regime forces in Syria. Traditionally, KH conducted the majority of its operations in Baghdad, but its operations have since expanded into other parts of Iraq.
Funding and External Aid: KH is heavily dependent on support from Iran.
aka the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress; the Freedom and Democracy Congress of Kurdistan; KADEK; Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan; the People’s Defense Force; Halu Mesru Savunma Kuvveti; Kurdistan People’s Congress; People’s Congress of Kurdistan; KONGRA‑GEL
Description: Founded by Abdullah Ocalan in 1978 as a Marxist-Leninist separatist organization, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The group, composed primarily of Turkish Kurds, launched a campaign of violence in 1984. The PKK’s original goal was to establish an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey. In recent years, however, the PKK has spoken more about autonomy within a Turkish state that guarantees Kurdish cultural and linguistic rights.
Activities: In the early 1990s, the PKK moved beyond rural-based insurgent activities to include urban terrorism. Anatolia became the scene of significant violence, with some estimates suggesting at least 40,000 casualties. Following his capture in 1999, Ocalan announced a “peace initiative,” ordering members to refrain from violence and requesting dialogue with Ankara on Kurdish issues. Ocalan’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment; he remains the symbolic leader of the group. The PKK foreswore violence until June 2004, when its hardline militant wing took control and renounced the self-imposed ceasefire of the previous five years. Striking over the border from bases within Iraq, the PKK engaged in terrorist attacks in eastern and western Turkey. In 2009, the Turkish government and the PKK resumed peace negotiations, but talks broke down after the PKK carried out an attack in July 2011 that left 13 Turkish soldiers dead. In 2012, the PKK claimed responsibility for multiple car bombings resulting in the deaths of at least 10 people. Primary targets included Turkish government security forces, local Turkish officials, and villagers who oppose the organization in Turkey.
Between January and mid-July 2015, the PKK carried out small-scale armed attacks against Turkey’s security forces and military bases. A ceasefire, negotiated between 2012 and 2014, ended in July 2015 when the PKK killed two security personnel. During 2016, the PKK continued its terrorist activity in Turkey. Turkish officials blamed the PKK for the August 17 vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack at a police station in the province of Van, which killed four and wounded 72. The PKK also claimed an August 26 VBIED strike against Sirnak police headquarters, which killed 11 and wounded more than 70.
Strength: Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 members; 3,000 to 3,500 of which are located in northern Iraq.
Location/Area of Operation: The group is located primarily in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria.
aka al Mansooreen; Al Mansoorian; Army of the Pure; Army of the Pure and Righteous; Army of the Righteous; Lashkar e-Toiba; Lashkar-i-Taiba; Paasban-e-Ahle-Hadis; Paasban-e-Kashmir; Paasban-i-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Kashmir; Jamaat-ud-Dawa; JUD; Jama’at al-Dawa; Jamaat ud-Daawa; Jamaat ul-Dawah; Jamaat-ul-Dawa; Jama’at-i-Dawat; Jamaiat-ud-Dawa; Jama’at-ud-Da’awah; Jama’at-ud-Da’awa; Jamaati-ud-Dawa; Idara Khidmat‑e-Khalq; Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation; FiF; Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation; Falah‑e‑Insaniyat; Falah-i-Insaniyat; Falah Insania; Welfare of Humanity; Humanitarian Welfare Foundation; Human Welfare Foundation; Al-Anfal Trust; Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool; Tehrik‑e‑Tahafuz Qibla Awwal; Al-Muhammadia Students; Al-Muhammadia Students Pakistan; AMS
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on December 26, 2001, Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) is one of the largest and most proficient of the anti-India-focused terrorist groups. LeT formed in the late 1980s as the terrorist wing of the Islamist extremist organization Markaz ud Dawa ul-Irshad, a Pakistan-based Islamic fundamentalist mission organization and charity originally formed to oppose the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. LeT is led by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and is not connected to any political party. Shortly after LeT was designated as an FTO, Saeed changed the group’s name to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and launched humanitarian projects to circumvent restrictions. LeT disseminates its message through JUD’s media outlets. In addition to the creation of JUD, LeT has repeatedly changed its name in an effort to avoid sanctions; other LeT aliases and front groups include Al-Anfal Trust, Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, and Tehrik-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awwal. In December 2016, the Department of State also amended the LeT FTO designation to add the alias Al Muhammadia Students.
Elements of LeT and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) combine with other groups to mount attacks. The Pakistani government banned LeT in January 2002 and temporarily arrested LeT’s leader Hafiz Saeed following the 2008 Mumbai attack. LeT and Saeed continued to spread terrorist rhetoric and virulent hate speech condemning India, Israel, the United States, and other perceived enemies in 2016.
Activities: LeT has conducted operations, including several high profile attacks, against Indian troops and civilian targets in the state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1993. The group has also attacked Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. LeT uses assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, explosives, and rocket-propelled grenades.
LeT was responsible for the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai against luxury hotels, a Jewish center, a train station, and a popular café that killed 166 people – including six U.S. citizens – and injured more than 300. India has charged 38 people in the case; most are at large, however, and thought to be in Pakistan.
In March 2010, Pakistani-American businessman David Headley pled guilty in a U.S. court to charges related to his role in the November 2008 LeT attacks in Mumbai, as well as to charges related to a separate plot to bomb the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. In May 2011, Headley was a witness in the trial of Tahawwur Rana, who was charged and prosecuted successfully for providing material support to LeT; he was sentenced to 14 years in prison in January 2013. In December 2015, Headley agreed to testify on behalf of the prosecution via videoconference in the trial of Zabiuddin Ansari in India.
LeT was responsible for the May 23, 2014 attack on the Indian consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. Throughout the course of 2014-2015, LeT terrorists also engaged in repeated gun battles with Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
LeT was behind a July 2015 attack in Gurdaspur, Punjab, which killed seven people. In August 2015, operatives affiliated with LeT attacked Indian security forces in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir. In December 2015, LeT carried out an attack on a paramilitary convoy after it left Srinagar, Kashmir; three militants opened fire on the convoy, injuring one civilian and seven Indian military personnel.
From February through May, 2016, LeT was suspected of engaging in at least three firefights with Indian security forces in Kupwara district, Jammu and Kashmir, injuring two Indian personnel. In June 2016, LeT was suspected of conducting an ambush on an Indian security force convoy in Pulwama district, Jammu and Kashmir, killing eight and injuring 20. Some media reports also alleged the group’s involvement in the September 2016 attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir; 20 soldiers were killed in the attack.
Strength: The precise size of LeT is unknown, but it has several thousand members in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistani Punjab; Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Provinces in Pakistan; and in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India.
Location/Area of Operation: LeT has global connections and a strong operational network throughout South Asia. LeT maintains a number of facilities, including training camps, schools, and medical clinics in Pakistan. LeT is also active in Afghanistan.
Funding and External Aid: LeT collects donations in Pakistan and the Gulf as well as from other donors in the Middle East and Europe – particularly the United Kingdom, where it is a designated terrorist organization. In 2016, LeT front organizations continued to openly fundraise in Pakistan and solicited donations in the Pakistani press.
aka Army of Jhangvi; Lashkar e Jhangvi; Lashkar-i-Jhangvi
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 30, 2003, Lashkar I Jhangvi (LJ) is the terrorist offshoot of the Sunni Deobandi sectarian group Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan. LJ carries out attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, focusing primarily on anti-Shia operations. The Government of Pakistan banned the group in August 2001 as part of an effort to rein in sectarian violence, causing many LJ members to seek refuge in Afghanistan with the Taliban, with whom the group had existing ties. After the collapse of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, LJ members became active in aiding other terrorists; they provided safe houses, false identities, and protection in Pakistani cities, including Karachi, Peshawar, and Rawalpindi. LJ works closely with the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan.
Activities: LJ specializes in armed attacks and bombings and has admitted to numerous killings of Shia religious and community leaders in Pakistan. In January 1999, the group attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab Province. Media reports linked LJ to attacks on Christian targets in Pakistan, including a March 2002 grenade assault on the Protestant International Church in Islamabad that killed two U.S. citizens.
In January 2014, at least 24 people were killed and 40 others wounded in a bus bombing targeting Shia pilgrims; LJ claimed responsibility for the attack. LJ also claimed responsibility for the December 2015 suicide bombing that targeted a market in the predominantly Shia town of Parachinar, Pakistan that killed at least 23 people and wounded 50.
In November 2016, two individuals suspected of belonging to LJ were arrested by police in Pakistan for their alleged involvement in 25 cases of targeted killings which included the murder of Pakistani singer Amjad Sabri, as well as army and police personnel. In December, Naeem Bukhari was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for his involvement in several attacks as the head of a faction of LJ. Several attacks claimed by Islamic State’s Khorasan Province in Pakistan in 2016 were suspected of being conducted in collaboration with LJ affiliates.
Strength: Membership is assessed to be in the low hundreds.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in Pakistan’s Punjab province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Karachi, and Balochistan.
Funding and External Aid: Funding comes from wealthy donors in Pakistan, as well as the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia. The group engages in criminal activity, including extortion, to fund its activities.
aka Ellalan Force; Tamil Tigers
Description: Founded in 1976 and designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a Tamil secessionist group in Sri Lanka. Despite its military defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan government in 2009, the LTTE’s international network of sympathizers and financial support has persisted.
Activities: Although the LTTE has been largely inactive since its military defeat in 2009, in the past it was responsible for an integrated battlefield insurgent strategy that targeted key installations and senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders. In early 2009, Sri Lankan forces recaptured the LTTE’s key strongholds, including their capital of Kilinochchi. In May 2009, government forces defeated the last LTTE fighting forces, killed LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and other members of the LTTE leadership and military command, and declared military victory.
There have been no known attacks in Sri Lanka that could verifiably be attributed to the LTTE since the end of the war in 2009, but a total of 13 LTTE supporters, several of whom had allegedly planned attacks against U.S. and Israeli diplomatic facilities in India, were arrested in Malaysia in 2014. Additional LTTE members were arrested in Malaysia and India in 2015, one of whom was accused of exhorting other Sri Lankans to fund and revive the LTTE.
Strength: Exact strength is unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: Sri Lanka and India
Funding and External Aid: LTTE’s financial network of support continued after the LTTE’s military defeat in 2009; the group used its international contacts and the large Tamil diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funds, and other needed supplies. The group employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for its activities.
aka MSC; Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem; Mujahideen Shura Council; Shura al-Mujahedin Fi Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis; Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin; Majlis Shura al‑Mujahideen; Magles Shoura al-Mujahddin
Description: The Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on August 19, 2014. The MSC is a consolidation of several Salafi terrorist groups based in Gaza that have claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Israel since the group’s founding in 2012.
Activities: On August 13, 2013, MSC claimed responsibility for a rocket attack targeting the southern Israeli city of Eilat. Previously, MSC claimed responsibility for the March 21, 2013, attack in which Gaza-based militants fired at least five rockets at Sderot, Israel; and the April 17, 2013, attack in which two rockets were fired at Eilat, Israel. There were no known MSC attacks in 2016.
Strength: MSC is estimated to have several hundred fighters.
Location/Area of Operation: MSC operates in Gaza.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka al-Mulathamun Brigade; al-Muwaqqi’un bil-Dima; Those Signed in Blood Battalion; Signatories in Blood; Those who Sign in Blood; Witnesses in Blood; Signed-in-Blood Battalion; Masked Men Brigade; Khaled Abu al-Abbas Brigade; al-Mulathamun Masked Ones Brigade; al‑Murabitoun; The Sentinels
Description: The al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 19, 2013. AMB was originally part of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), but became a separate organization in late 2012 after its leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, split from AQIM. In his first public statement after the split, Belmokhtar threatened to fight against Western interests and announced the creation of the sub-battalion, “Those Who Sign in Blood.” In August 2013, AMB and the Mali-based Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) announced that the two organizations would merge under the name “al‑Murabitoun.” In late 2015, AMB announced a re-merger with AQIM.
Activities: AMB’s “Those Who Sign in Blood” sub-battalion claimed responsibility for the January 2013 attack against the Tiguentourine gas facility near In Amenas, in southeastern Algeria. More than 800 people were taken hostage during the four-day siege, resulting in the deaths of 39 civilians, including three U.S. citizens. Seven other U.S. citizens escaped.
Before their merger in August 2013, AMB cooperated with MUJAO in twin suicide bombings on a northern Nigerien military base and a French uranium mine in Arlit in May 2013. The coordinated attacks killed at least 20 people, including all of the attackers. AMB’s attacks continued in 2014. In February, AMB claimed responsibility for attacking French forces with rockets near the Timbuktu airport.
In March 2015, AMB claimed responsibility for an attack at La Terrasse restaurant in Bamako, Mali. A French national, a Belgian national, and three Malians were killed when a masked gunman fired indiscriminately on the restaurant, and nine others were also wounded in the attack. In April, AMB claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside a UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) camp in Ansongo, killing three civilians and wounding nine Nigerian peacekeepers. AMB also claimed the August hotel siege in central Mali; 17 people were killed, including four Malian soldiers and nine civilians, five of whom worked for MINUSMA. In November, AMB operatives participated in the strike on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, taking more than 170 people hostage – including U.S. citizens. As many as 27 people were killed in the attack; one of those killed was an U.S. international development worker.
AMB also was reportedly involved in the AQIM January 2016 attack on a popular tourist hotel in Burkina Faso that killed nearly 30, including one U.S. citizen.
Strength: Membership levels of AMB are unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, and Niger
Funding and External Aid: In addition to the support it may receive through its connections to other terrorist organizations in the region, AMB is likely funded through kidnapping-for-ransoms and other criminal activities.
aka ELN; Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional
Description: The National Liberation Army (ELN) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The ELN is a Colombian Marxist-Leninist group formed in 1964. It is primarily rural-based, although it has several urban units. The ELN remains focused on attacking economic infrastructure – in particular oil and gas pipelines and electricity pylons ‑ and on extorting foreign and local companies. ELN attacks in 2016 appeared to focus on improving the group’s negotiation position in advance of peace talks with the Colombian government.
Activities: In 2016, the ELN continued to target Colombia’s infrastructure, particularly oil pipelines. The ELN also launched mortars at police stations and the military, placed explosive devices near roads, and engaged in sniper attacks, roadblocks, and ambushes. In February, the ELN initiated a wave of violent attacks to force a 72-hour economic shutdown in several parts of the country. On May 22, the ELN kidnapped three journalists in Norte de Santander, who were released six days later to a Catholic Church delegation. On October 27, the ELN killed two civilian truck drivers in Arauca.
Strength: Approximately 1,500 armed combatants and an unknown number of active supporters.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in the rural and mountainous areas of northern, northeastern, and southwestern Colombia, as well as the border regions with Venezuela.
Funding and External Aid: The ELN draws its funding from the illicit narcotics trade and from extortion of oil and gas companies. Additional funds are derived from kidnapping ransoms. There is no known external aid.
aka Jabhat al-Nusrah; Jabhet al-Nusrah; The Victory Front; al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant; al-Nusrah Front in Lebanon; Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham min Mujahedi al-Sham fi Sahat al-Jihad; Support Front for the People of the Levant; Jabhat Fath al-Sham; Jabhat Fath al Sham; Jabhat Fatah al-Sham; Jabhat Fateh al-Sham; Front for the Conquest of Syria; The Front for liberation of al Sham; Front for the Conquest of Syria/the Levant; Front for the Liberation of the Levant; Conquest of the Levant Front; Fatah al-Sham Front; Fateh Al-Sham Front
Description: Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) is al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria and was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 15, 2014. It is led by Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani aka al‑Julani. The group was formed in late 2011 when then-al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) – now ISIS – leader and SDGT Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sent al-Jawlani to Syria to organize terrorist cells. In 2013, the group split from AQI and became an independent entity. ANF’s stated goal is to oust Syria’s Assad regime and replace it with a Sunni Islamic state. The group currently controls a portion of territory in northwest Syria from which it participates in the Syrian conflict. It also operates in the mountainous, mostly uninhabited zones of the un-demarcated Lebanese-Syrian border, and maintains a small presence in southern Syria.
Activities: ANF has been active in a number of operations against other factions in the Syrian conflict. In December 2013, ANF abducted 13 nuns from a Christian monastery in Maaloula and held them until March 9, 2014. In 2014, ANF also carried out multiple suicide bomb attacks and kidnappings, including the abduction of UN peacekeepers.
ANF continued fighting in Syria throughout 2015; it participated in fighting against other opposition groups and carried out a number of kidnappings against civilians. In March 2015, ANF claimed an attack on the intelligence headquarters of Syria’s air force in Aleppo, killing an estimated 20 members of the security force. In April 2015, ANF reportedly kidnapped, and later released, approximately 300 Kurdish civilians from a checkpoint in Syria. In June 2015, ANF claimed responsibility for the massacre of the Druze village Qalb Lawzeh in Idlib province, Syria, which killed 20. In July 2015, the group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing of an army outpost in Aleppo, which killed at least 25 soldiers and allied militia.
In 2016, the group carried out attacks in Aleppo and in other parts of Syria controlled by the Syrian army, killing both military officials and civilians. ANF also attacked various Syrian opposition groups.
In July, ANF leader Jawlani announced the group had adopted a new name, Jabhat Fath al-Sham, and would no longer be known as ANF. The Department of State amended the designation of al‑Nusrah Front in November 2016 to add additional aliases, including Jabhat Fath al-Sham. The group remains al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria.
Strength: Five to 10 thousand members
Location/Area of Operation: Syria and Lebanon
Funding and External Aid: ANF receives funding from a variety of sources, including kidnapping-for-ransom payments and donations from external Gulf-based donors.
aka PIJ; PIJ-Shaqaqi Faction; PIJ-Shallah Faction; Islamic Jihad of Palestine; Islamic Jihad in Palestine; Abu Ghunaym Squad of the Hizballah Bayt al-Maqdis; Al-Quds Squads; Al-Quds Brigades; Saraya al-Quds; Al-Awdah Brigades
Description: Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Formed by militant Palestinians in Gaza during the 1970s, PIJ is committed to the destruction of Israel through attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets and to the creation of an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine, including present day Israel.
Activities: PIJ terrorists have conducted numerous attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings, against Israeli civilian and military targets. Although U.S. citizens have died in PIJ attacks, the group has not directly targeted U.S. interests. Between 2008 and 2011, PIJ primarily conducted rocket attacks aimed at southern Israeli cities and attacked Israeli targets with explosive devices. In 2012 and 2014, PIJ operatives carried out attacks on Israeli buses in Tel Aviv. In March 2014, PIJ carried out a wave of rocket attacks into Israeli territory; 60 rockets are believed to have reached Israel.
In early 2015, PIJ began re-arming and replenishing its ranks. In March of that year, reports suggested that approximately 200 new recruits between the ages of 19 and 22 were undergoing various PIJ training programs lasting anywhere from 36 days to six months. That same month, PIJ revealed its militants were smuggling weapons, including rockets and mortars made inside Gaza, through tunnels in Gaza, in preparation for future attacks against Israel. In May, Israeli forces blamed PIJ for firing a rocket that landed in Gan Yazne, a region close to the Gaza border. The rocket was the first mid-range rocket fired at Israel since the August 2014 ceasefire. In August 2015, four militants, including one PIJ operative, were arrested in conjunction with what Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet described as a PIJ plot to attack Jewish worshippers at Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank. Later that month, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed PIJ operatives in Syria fired four rockets at the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee.
Over the course of 2016, PIJ continued to strike Israel, primarily through light arms fire at IDF patrols. In September, Israeli authorities arrested PIJ operative Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha upon his entry into Israel from Gaza, interrupting a PIJ plot to abduct and kill an IDF soldier, and carry out a mass-casualty attack on a reception hall in Beersheba. PIJ also boycotted the Palestinian municipal elections in October, arguing in favor of resistance, rather than elections, as a means to achieve Palestinian goals.
Strength: PIJ has close to 1,000 members.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily Gaza, with minimal operational presence in the West Bank and Israel. Other leadership elements reside in Lebanon and official representatives are scattered throughout the Middle East.
Funding and External Aid: PIJ receives financial assistance and training primarily from Iran. PIJ has partnered with Iranian- and Syrian-sponsored Hizballah to carry out joint operations.
aka PLF; PLF-Abu Abbas; Palestine Liberation Front
Description: The Palestinian Liberation Front – Abu Abbas Faction (PLF) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. In the late 1970s, the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) splintered from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). It later split into pro-Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), pro-Syrian and pro-Libyan factions. The pro-PLO faction was led by Muhammad Zaydan (a.k.a. Abu Abbas) and based in Baghdad prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Activities: The PLF was responsible for the 1985 attack on the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer. The PLF was suspected of supporting terrorism against Israel by other Palestinian groups into the 1990s. In April 2004, Abu Abbas died of natural causes while in U.S. custody in Iraq. After not claiming an attack for 16 years, the PLF claimed responsibility for the March 14, 2008, assault against an Israeli military bus in Huwarah, Israel, and the shooting of an Israeli settler. Following the attacks, a PLF Central Committee member reaffirmed the group’s commitment to using “all possible means to restore” its previous glory and to adhering to its role in the Palestinian “struggle” and “resistance” through its military. On February 18, 2010, the PLF claimed responsibility for an improvised explosive device (IED) attack against an Israel Defense Forces patrol, which caused minor injuries to a soldier; another IED was discovered during a search of the area. The group did not publicly claim any attacks in 2016, but continued to maintain a strong presence in many refugee camps in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria.
Strength: Estimates have placed membership between 50 and 500.
Location/Area of Operation: PLF leadership and members are based in Gaza, Lebanon, and the West Bank.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
aka PFLP; Halhul Gang; Halhul Squad; Palestinian Popular Resistance Forces; PPRF; Red Eagle Gang; Red Eagle Group; Red Eagles; Martyr Abu-Ali Mustafa Battalion
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is a Marxist-Leninist group that was formed in 1967 by George Habash after splitting from the Arab Nationalist Movement. The group earned a reputation for large-scale international attacks in the 1960s and 1970s, including airline hijackings that killed at least 20 U.S. citizens.
Activities: The PFLP increased its operational activity during the Second Intifada. During that time, the group assassinated Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001, carried out at least two suicide operations, and launched multiple joint operations with other Palestinian terrorist groups. In 2008 and 2009, the PFLP claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza.
Between 2008 and 2011, the PLFP claimed responsibility for multiple mortar and rocket attacks fired from Gaza into Israel. In 2011, the group carried out an attack on a group of Israeli citizens. In 2012, the Israeli Security Agency arrested several members of the PFLP for plotting to carry out attacks on IDF checkpoints and planning to conduct kidnappings.
On November 18, 2014, two Palestinians reportedly affiliated with the PFLP entered a Jerusalem synagogue and attacked Israelis with guns, knives, and axes, killing five people – including three U.S. citizens – and injuring 12. In May 2014, Jerusalem police arrested three suspects, one of whom was affiliated with the PFLP, on suspicion of plotting an attack in East Jerusalem; and in December 2014, the PFLP claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks along the Lebanese‑Israeli border.
In August 2016, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades – the military wing of PFLP – fired a rocket at the Israeli town of Sderot. No casualties or damages were reported.
Location/Area of Operation: Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
Description: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The PFLP-GC split from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1968, claiming it wanted to focus more on resistance and less on politics. Originally, the group was violently opposed to the Arafat-led Palestinian Liberation Organization. Ahmad Jibril, a former captain in the Syrian Army, has led the PFLP-GC since its founding. The PFLP-GC is closely tied to both Syria and Iran.
Activities: The PFLP-GC carried out dozens of attacks in Europe and the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s. The organization was known for cross-border terrorist attacks into Israel using unusual means, such as hot-air balloons and motorized hang gliders. Since the early 1990s, the group has primarily focused on supporting Hizballah’s attacks against Israel, training members of other Palestinian terrorist groups, and smuggling weapons. The PFLP-GC maintained an armed presence in several Palestinian refugee camps, at its own military bases in Lebanon, and along the Lebanon-Syria border. In recent years, the PFLP-GC has been implicated by Lebanese security officials in several rocket attacks against Israel. In 2009, the group was responsible for wounding two civilians in an armed attack in Nahariyya, Northern District, Israel. In 2011, the PFLP-GC Jihad Jibril Brigades targeted Israeli communities in Eshkolot, Southern District, Israel, in a March 20 rocket attack. The attack caused no injuries or damage.
In November 2012, PFLP-GC claimed responsibility for a bus bombing in Tel Aviv that injured 29 people, although four Palestine Islamic Jihad and Hamas operatives were later arrested for being behind the attack. In 2015, the PFLP-GC reportedly began fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria, while also receiving logistical and military aid from Hizballah and Iran.
Separately, in December 2015, the PFLP-GC took responsibility for rocket fire aimed at Israeli territory. The attack, in which at least three rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, landed near Shlomi, a small town near the Lebanese border. Although the PFLP-GC did not carry out any attacks in 2016, the group remained an active participant in the Syrian conflict and took part in the battle against ISIS for control of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.
Strength: Several hundred members
Location/Area of Operation: Political leadership is headquartered in Damascus, with bases in southern Lebanon and a presence in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria. The group also maintains a small presence in Gaza.
Funding and External Aid: The PFLP-GC receives safe haven and logistical and military support from Syria and financial support from Iran.
aka al-Qa’eda; Qa’idat al-Jihad (The Base for Jihad); formerly Qa’idat Ansar Allah (The Base of the Supporters of God); the Islamic Army; Islamic Salvation Foundation; The Base; The Group for the Preservation of the Holy Sites; The Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places; the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders; the Usama Bin Laden Network; the Usama Bin Laden Organization; al-Jihad; the Jihad Group; Egyptian al-Jihad; Egyptian Islamic Jihad; New Jihad
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1999, al-Qa’ida (AQ) was established in 1988. The group helped finance, recruit, transport, and train violent Sunni Islamist extremists for the Afghan resistance against the former Soviet Union. AQ strives to eliminate Western influence and presence from the Muslim world, topple “apostate” governments of Muslim countries, and establish a pan-Islamic caliphate governed by its own interpretation of Sharia law that would ultimately be at the center of a new international order. These goals remain essentially unchanged since the group’s 1996 public declaration of war against the United States. AQ leaders issued a statement in February 1998 under the banner of “The World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders,” saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizens – civilian and military – and their allies everywhere. AQ merged with al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) in June 2001. Many AQ leaders have been killed in recent years, including Usama bin Laden in May 2011. AQ’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri remained at-large in 2016.
Activities: AQ and its supporters conducted three bombings targeting U.S. troops in Aden in December 1992, and claimed responsibility for shooting down U.S. helicopters and killing U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993. AQ also carried out the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, killing up to 300 individuals and injuring more than 5,000. In October 2000, AQ conducted a suicide attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen, with an explosive-laden boat, killing 17 U.S. Navy sailors and injuring 39 others.
On September 11, 2001, 19 AQ members hijacked and crashed four U.S. commercial jets – two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon, and the last into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 civilians, police, and first responders were killed. The dead included U.S. and foreign citizens from at least 77 countries.
In a December 2011 video, al-Zawahiri claimed AQ was behind the kidnapping of U.S. aid worker Warren Weinstein in Pakistan. Weinstein was held captive until his death in January 2015.
In February 2014, AQ removed ISIS as an AQ-affiliate. In September 2014, al-Zawahiri and other AQ leaders announced the establishment of Pakistan-based al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Two days after the announcement, two Pakistani warships were attacked in Karachi; AQIS claimed responsibility for the plot, which included commandeering missile systems to attack nearby U.S. warships. AQIS claimed the orders came from al-Zawahiri.
In September 2015, five senior AQ leaders were released from Iranian custody in exchange for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen. Of the five, Saif al Adel and Abu Mohammed al Masri are wanted for the August 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; al Adel and Abu Mohammed al Masri were experienced operational planners.
In January 2016, AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri publicly released two audio messages and one seven-page statement, condemning the Government of Saudi Arabia and its role in the Syria conflict, encouraging AQ activity in Southeast Asia – especially Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and acknowledging support for its affiliate in Syria, al-Nusrah Front. On October 3, Abu al-Faraj al-Masri, one of AQ’s most senior leaders, involved in planning AQ external attacks, was killed in Syria. As of September, AQ leaders and members were active in at least seven provinces in Afghanistan.
Strength: In South Asia, AQ’s core has been seriously degraded. The death or arrest of dozens of mid- and senior-level AQ operatives, including bin Laden in May 2011, have disrupted communication, financial support, facilitation nodes, and a number of terrorist plots. AQ, however, remains a focal point of “inspiration” for a worldwide network of affiliated groups – al‑Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Nusrah Front, al-Shabaab, and AQIS – and other violent Sunni Islamist extremist groups, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad Union, Lashkar i Jhangvi, Harakat ul-Mujahideen, and Jemaah Islamiya. The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Haqqani Network also have ties to AQ. In addition, supporters and associates worldwide “inspired” by the group’s ideology may operate without direction from AQ central leadership.
Location/Area of Operation: AQ was based in Afghanistan until Coalition Forces removed the Afghan Taliban from power in late 2001. Subsequently, the group’s core leadership was largely based in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. AQ affiliates – al-Nusrah Front, AQAP, AQIM, al-Shabaab, and AQIS – operate in Syria and Lebanon, Yemen, the Trans‑Sahara, Somalia, and the Indian subcontinent, respectively.
Funding and External Aid: AQ primarily depends on donations from like-minded supporters, as well as from individuals who believe that their money is supporting a humanitarian cause. Some funds are diverted from Islamic charitable organizations.
aka al-Qa’ida in the South Arabian Peninsula; al-Qa’ida in Yemen; al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organization in the Arabian Peninsula; al-Qa’ida Organization in the Arabian Peninsula; Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Jazirat al-Arab; AQAP; AQY; Ansar al-Shari’a
Description: Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 19, 2010. In January 2009, the now-deceased leader of al-Qa’ida in Yemen (AQY), Nasir al-Wahishi, publicly announced that Yemeni and Saudi al-Qa’ida (AQ) operatives were working together under the banner of AQAP. The announcement signaled the rebirth of an AQ franchise that previously carried out attacks in Saudi Arabia. AQAP’s self‑stated goals are to establish a caliphate and Sharia law in the Arabian Peninsula and the wider Middle East.
Activities: AQAP has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts against both internal and foreign targets since its inception in January 2009, including a March 2009 suicide bombing against South Korean tourists in Yemen and the December 25, 2009, attempted attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan. In October 2010, AQAP claimed responsibility for a foiled plot to send explosive-laden packages to the United States via cargo planes. The parcels were intercepted in the United Kingdom and in the United Arab Emirates.
AQAP, operating under the alias Ansar al-Shari’a (AAS), carried out a May 2012 suicide bombing in Sana’a that killed 96 people. Also in May 2012, press reported that AQAP allegedly planned to detonate a bomb aboard a U.S.-bound airliner using an improvised explosive device.
In September 2014, AQAP launched two rocket attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a. The second attack injured multiple embassy security guards. Also in 2014, AQAP attempted attacks against the U.S. and British Ambassadors to Yemen, and carried out a strike on the Iranian ambassador’s residence in Sana’a that killed one guard and two pedestrians.
In January 2015, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France, killing 12 people. One of the brothers, who had traveled to Yemen in 2011 and met with now-deceased Anwar al-Aulaqi, claimed the attack on behalf of AQAP. AQAP later formally claimed responsibility.
Also in 2015, AQAP took advantage of Yemen’s deteriorating political and economic environment after the Yemeni government was overthrown by Houthi rebels in January. The United States and several other countries closed their embassies in February amid the violence. In April, AQAP stormed the city of Mukalla, seizing control of government buildings, releasing terrorists from prison, and stealing millions from the central bank. From 2015 into 2016, AQAP consolidated its control over Mukalla and expanded its reach through large portions of Yemen’s south.
In early 2016, AQAP swept through southern Yemen, gaining control of al-Hawta, Azzan, and Habban in Lahij Governorate, and Mahfad and Ahwar in Abyan Governorate. By February 2016, AQAP controlled most of Yemen's southeastern coast. Although the group lost control of Mukalla in April, when the port city was retaken by forces backed by the Saudi-led Coalition, these territorial losses are not believed to have significantly degraded AQAP’s capabilities, although they did deprive the group of an important source of income.
AQAP also attempted to carry out multiple attacks targeting Yemeni government and security forces. In June 2016, Yemeni authorities foiled an attack targeting the local administrative headquarters in Mukalla after discovering a car laden with explosives before the operative could carry out the attack. In July, two car bombs targeting security checkpoints outside Mukalla killed at least nine Yemeni soldiers and wounded many others.
Strength: AQAP is estimated to have up to four thousand members.
Location/Area of Operation: Yemen
Funding and External Aid: AQAP’s funding has historically come from theft, robberies, and kidnap-for-ransom operations; and donations from like-minded supporters. After seizing Mukallah in April 2015, the group had access to additional sources of revenue, including the millions it stole from the central bank. This access continued until Mukallah was retaken by government forces in April 2016.
aka al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent; Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent
Description: On July 1, 2016, the Department of State designated al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). AQIS is an affiliate of al‑Qa’ida that focuses on terrorist activity in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. Its leader is Asim Umar, a former member of the FTO Harakat ul-Mujahidin.
Activities: AQIS claimed responsibility for the September 6, 2014, attack on a naval dockyard in Karachi, in which militants attempted to hijack a Pakistani Navy frigate. AQIS has also claimed attacks against activists and writers in Bangladesh, including U.S. citizen Avijit Roy, U.S. Embassy local employee Xulhaz Mannan, and Bangladeshi nationals Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, Ahmed Rajib Haideer, and A.K.M. Shafiul Islam.
Strength: Total membership is unknown.
Location/Area of Operations: Primarily Afghanistan and Pakistan, with elements operating in Bangladesh and India.
Funding and External Aid: AQIS likely receives funding from al-Qa’ida senior leadership and engages in general criminal activity, kidnapping, and extortion.
aka AQIM; GSPC; Le Groupe Salafiste Pour la Predication et le Combat; Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat; Salafist Group for Call and Combat; Tanzim al-Qa’ida fi Bilad al‑Maghrib al-Islamiya
Description: The Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002. The Department of State amended the GSPC designation on February 20, 2008, after the GSPC officially joined with al-Qa’ida (AQ) in September 2006 and became al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Although AQIM remains largely a regionally-focused terrorist group, it has adopted a more anti-Western rhetoric and ideology, and has aspirations of overthrowing “apostate” African regimes and creating an Islamic state. Abdelmalek Droukdel, aka Abu Mus’ab Abd al-Wadoud, is the group’s leader.
Activities: Following AQIM’s 2007 bombing of the UN headquarters building and an Algerian government building in Algiers, which killed 60 people, AQIM’s northern leadership was largely contained to the mountainous region of northeastern Algeria, while the group’s southern battalions focused mostly on its kidnapping-for-ransom efforts. In 2011 and 2012, however, AQIM took advantage of the deteriorating security situation across Libya, Mali, and Tunisia to plan and conduct expanded operations. Militants with ties to AQIM were involved in the September 11, 2012, attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi that killed then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Embassy staff members. In April 2014, AQIM killed 14 Algerian soldiers in an ambush on a convoy in mountains to the east of Algiers, one of the deadliest attacks on the Algerian military in several years. AQIM also claimed responsibility for the May 27, 2014, attack on the house of Tunisia’s interior minister, Lotfi Ben Jeddou.
In January 2015, AQIM claimed responsibility for an attack on a UN vehicle in Kidal, which wounded seven peacekeepers. Also in 2015, AQIM twice attacked UN convoys near Timbuktu with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades; three peacekeepers were killed in a May attack and six in a July attack. In November 2015, AQIM, in cooperation with other terrorist groups, attacked the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, taking more than 170 people hostage, including U.S. citizens. As many as 27 people were killed in the attack; one of those killed was an U.S. international development worker.
In January 2016, AQIM carried out an attack on a hotel in Burkina Faso, resulting in 28 deaths and another 56 injuries. In March, AQIM claimed responsibility for a strike on a popular tourist beach resort in Cote d’Ivoire; at least 16 people were killed and another 33 were injured.
AQIM has also continued to conduct kidnapping-for-ransom operations. Its targets have historically been Western citizens from governments or third parties that have established a pattern of making concessions in the form of ransom payments for the release of individuals in custody. In November 2014, AQIM released a video of two Western hostages, a Dutch and a French national, who were later released in December 2014.
In June 2015, AQIM published a video featuring one Swedish and one South African hostage who continued to be held captive since they were kidnapped in Timbuktu in 2011. In 2016, there was no news of their release.
Strength: AQIM has several hundred fighters operating in Algeria and the Sahel, including remote regions of northern Mali and southwest Libya. Since the French intervention in northern Mali, AQIM’s safe haven in northern Mali is less tenable for the organization and elements have moved to remote regions of northern Mali or to southwestern Libya. AQIM is attempting to reorganize in the wake of setbacks inflicted upon it by the combined French and African forces.
Location/Area of Operation: Southern and Eastern Algeria (including isolated parts of the Kabylie region), Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Libya, northern Mali, Niger, and Tunisia.
Funding and External Aid: AQIM members engage in kidnapping-for-ransom and criminal activities to finance their operations. AQIM also successfully fundraises globally, and received limited financial and logistical assistance from supporters residing in Western Europe.
aka RIRA; Real Irish Republican Army; 32 County Sovereignty Committee; 32 County Sovereignty Movement; Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association; Real Oglaigh Na hEireann
Description: The Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 16, 2001. The group was formed in 1997 as the clandestine armed wing of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, a “political pressure group” dedicated to removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland. The RIRA has historically sought to disrupt the Northern Ireland peace process and did not participate in the September 2005 weapons decommissioning. In September 1997, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement opposed Sinn Fein’s adoption of the Mitchell principles of democracy and non-violence. Despite internal rifts and calls by some jailed members, including the group’s founder Michael “Mickey” McKevitt, for a cease-fire and disbandment, the RIRA has pledged additional violence and continues to conduct attacks.
Activities: Many RIRA members are former Provisional Irish Republican Army members who left the organization after that group renewed its ceasefire in 1997. These members brought an extensive experience in terrorist tactics and bomb-making to the group. Targets have included civilians (the most notorious example is the Omagh bombing in August 1998), British security forces, and police officers in Northern Ireland. The Independent Monitoring Commission, which oversees the peace process, assessed that RIRA members were likely responsible for the majority of the shootings and assaults that occurred post-Irish Republican Army (IRA)-decommissioning in Northern Ireland.
In May 2015, Irish police carried out 20 searches aimed at known dissident republicans across Ireland. Six individuals with links to RIRA and Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) were arrested after police discovered explosive devices and components. In spring 2016, the RIRA bombed the van of an Irish prison officer in East Belfast; the officer died from complications following the attack. Dublin police also linked the RIRA to an explosives cache they found in Dublin in April.
Strength: According to the Irish government, the RIRA has approximately 100 active members. The organization may receive limited support from IRA hardliners and Republican sympathizers who are dissatisfied with the IRA’s continuing ceasefire and with Sinn Fein’s involvement in the peace process.
Location/Area of Operation: Great Britain including Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
Funding and External Aid: The RIRA is suspected of receiving funds from sympathizers in the United States and of attempting to buy weapons from U.S. gun dealers. The RIRA reportedly purchased sophisticated weapons from the Balkans and occasionally collaborated with the CIRA.
aka FARC; Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is Latin America’s oldest, largest, and best‑equipped terrorist organization. The FARC, founded in the 1960s, is responsible for large numbers of kidnappings-for-ransom in Colombia and, in past years, has held as many as 700 hostages. A Colombian military offensive targeting key FARC units and leaders degraded its capacity and halved the FARC’s numbers to approximately 7,000. After four years of negotiation in Havana, Cuba, a peace agreement was crafted which, after an unsuccessful plebiscite and further negotiation, was approved by Colombia’s Congress on November 30, 2016, which put in motion a six-month disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process. In accordance with the peace agreement, the FARC began to demobilize in early December under UN supervision.
Activities: Over the years, the FARC has perpetrated a large number of high profile terrorist acts, including the 1999 murder of three U.S. missionaries working in Colombia, and multiple kidnappings and assassinations of Colombian government officials and civilians. In July 2008, the Colombian military conducted a dramatic rescue of 15 high-value FARC hostages including U.S. Department of Defense contractors Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howe, who were held captive for more than five years, along with former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
In 2016, there were no significant attacks by the FARC, but there have been reports of continued extortion and threats against local officials.
Strength: Approximately 7,000 members, with several thousand additional supporters.
Location/Area of Operation: FARC leaders and combatants are located in Colombia and have been known to use neighboring countries for weapons sourcing and logistical planning.
Funding and External Aid: In 2016, the FARC was primarily funded by extortion and the international drug trade.
aka DHKP/C; Dev Sol; Dev Sol Armed Revolutionary Units; Dev Sol Silahli Devrimci Birlikleri; Dev Sol SDB; Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi; Devrimci Sol; Revolutionary Left
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) was originally formed in 1978 as Devrimci Sol, or Dev Sol, a splinter faction of Dev Genc (Revolutionary Youth). It was renamed in 1994 after factional infighting. “Party” refers to the group’s political activities, while “Front” is a reference to the group’s militant operations. The group advocates a Marxist-Leninist ideology and opposes the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and Turkish establishments. It strives to establish a socialist state and to abolish Turkish prisons.
Activities: Since the late 1980s, the group has primarily targeted current and retired Turkish security and military officials. In 1990, the group began to conduct attacks against foreign interests, including against U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities. The DHKP/C assassinated two U.S. military contractors and wounded a U.S. Air Force officer in the 1990s, and bombed more than 20 U.S. and NATO military, diplomatic, commercial, and cultural facilities. DHKP/C added suicide bombings to its repertoire in 2001, with attacks against Turkish police in January and September of that year. Since the end of 2001, DHKP/C has typically used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against official Turkish and U.S. targets of opportunity.
The DHKP/C was dealt a major ideological blow when its leader, Dursun Karatas died in August 2008. After the loss of its leader, the DHKP/C reorganized in 2009 and was reportedly in competition with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party for influence in Turkey and with the Turkish diaspora in Europe.
The group was responsible for a number of high profile attacks in 2012 that included a suicide bombing of a police station in Istanbul. This tactic continued in 2013 when, on February 1, a DHKP/C operative exploded a suicide vest inside the employee entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. The explosion killed a Turkish guard and seriously wounded a visiting Turkish journalist. In March 2013, three members of the group attacked the Ministry of Justice and the Ankara headquarters of the Turkish Justice and Development political party using grenades and rocket launchers. The DHKP/C claimed a similar attack in September 2013, when two members of the group fired rockets at the Turkish National Police headquarters and a police guesthouse. In March 2014, the DHKP/C also claimed a shooting at a protest that left one man dead.
In 2015, the DHKP/C claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed a police officer and wounded another. In March, Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz was taken hostage and killed from multiple gunshot wounds by the DHKP/C after police attempted to rescue him. In August, two women opened fire on the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul; one woman was identified as a member of the DHKP/C. On March 3, 2016, two DHKP/C militants attacked a police vehicle in Istanbul, wounding two officers.
Strength: Membership includes an estimated several dozen members inside Turkey, with a support network throughout Europe.
Location/Area of Operation: Turkey, primarily in Adana, Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir. Other members live and plan operations in European countries.
Funding and External Aid: The DHKP/C finances its activities chiefly through donations and extortion. The group raises funds primarily in Europe.
aka RS; Epanastatikos Aghonas; EA
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 18, 2009, Revolutionary Struggle (RS) is a radical leftist group with Marxist ideology that has conducted attacks against both Greek and U.S. targets in Greece. RS emerged in 2003 following the arrests of members of the Greek leftist groups 17 November and Revolutionary People’s Struggle.
Activities: RS first gained notoriety when it claimed responsibility for the September 5, 2003, bombings at the Athens Courthouse during the trials of 17 November members. From 2004 to 2006, RS carried out a number of improvised explosive device attacks, including a March 2004 attack outside of a Citibank office in Athens. RS claimed responsibility for the January 12, 2007, rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack on the U.S. Embassy in Athens, which damaged the building; and the March 2009 bombing of a Citibank branch in Athens. In September 2009, RS also claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on the Athens Stock Exchange, which caused widespread damage and injured a passerby.
The Greek government has made significant strides in curtailing RS’ terrorist activity. On April 10, 2010, Greek police arrested six suspected RS members, including purported leader Nikos Maziotis, who later escaped. In addition to the arrests, the Greek raid resulted in the seizure of a RPG launcher, possibly the one used against the U.S. Embassy in Athens in the 2007 attack. On April 3, 2013, five members of RS were convicted by an Athens appeals court, three of them receiving maximum prison sentences. Maziotis and another accused RS conspirator, Paula Roupa, were convicted in absentia. Prior to Maziotis’s recapture (following a gunfight with police on July 16, 2014), RS conducted a bomb attack outside a Bank of Greece office in Athens in April 2014; the blast caused extensive damage to surrounding structures but no casualties.
In March 2016, a Greek court sentenced Maziotis to life in prison plus 129 years and a fine of 20,000 Euros (US $21,750). Roupa was sentenced in absentia to 11 years in prison on misdemeanor charges; she will stand trial on felony charges upon capture. Greek authorities suspect she was involved in a September 2016 bank robbery in Malesina, Greece.
Location/Area of Operation: Athens, Greece
Funding and External Aid: Unknown, but the group most likely supports itself through criminal activities, including bank robbery.
aka The Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin; al-Shabab; Shabaab; the Youth; Mujahidin al-Shabaab Movement; Mujahideen Youth Movement; Mujahidin Youth Movement
Description: Al-Shabaab was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 18, 2008. Al-Shabaab was the militant wing of the former Somali Islamic Courts Council that took over parts of southern Somalia during the second half of 2006. Since the end of 2006, al‑Shabaab and associated militias have undertaken a violent insurgency using guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics against the transitional governments of Somalia. In 2016, the group continued to fight to discredit and destabilize the Federal Government of Somalia.
Al-Shabaab is an official al-Qa’ida (AQ) affiliate and has ties to other AQ affiliates, including al‑Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb. The group’s leader is Ahmed Diriye aka Ahmed Umar aka Abu Ubaidah.
Al-Shabaab is composed of a mixture of Somali recruits and foreign terrorist fighters. Since 2011, al-Shabaab has seen its military capacity reduced due to the efforts of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali forces, and clashes – some violent – within the group itself. Despite al-Shabaab’s loss of urban centers since 2012, the group was able to maintain its hold on large sections of rural areas in south-central Somalia in 2016 and conducted multiple attacks in Somalia and Kenya.
Activities: Al-Shabaab has used intimidation and violence to exploit divisions in Somalia and undermine the country’s Federal Government, recruit new fighters, and kill activists working to bring about peace through political dialogue and reconciliation. The group has claimed responsibility for several high profile bombings and shootings throughout Somalia targeting AMISOM troops and Somali officials. Al-Shabaab fighters and others claiming allegiance to the group have assassinated numerous civil society figures, government officials, journalists, international aid workers, and members of non-governmental organizations.
Al-Shabaab was responsible for the July 11, 2010, suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda – its first attack outside of Somalia. The attack, which took place during the World Cup, killed nearly 76 people, including one U.S. citizen. In September 2013, al-Shabaab again expanded its area of operations when it staged a significant attack against the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The siege resulted in the deaths of at least 65 civilians, including foreign nationals from 13 countries and six soldiers and police officers; hundreds of others were injured. In April 2015, al-Shabaab carried out a raid with small arms and grenades on Kenya’s Garissa University College that left nearly 150 people dead.
In February 2016, al-Shabaab attempted to down Daallo Airlines Flight 321 with 74 passengers on board. Only the suicide bomber was killed and the plane made an emergency landing in Mogadishu shortly after take-off due to an explosion that created a large hole in the fuselage near the wing. Al-Shabaab killed 10 people in May when members of the group set off a car bomb outside a hotel in Mogadishu. In August, al-Shabaab claimed a double suicide bombing in Galkayo, Somalia, that killed at least 20 people. Al-Shabaab carried out a series of raids in northeast Kenya in October, including one attack that killed at least 12 people at a guesthouse in Mandera, and in November, the group claimed responsibility for a car bombing targeting an army convoy near Parliament in Mogadishu that killed at least two soldiers and injured another five.
Strength: Al-Shabaab is estimated to have several thousand members.
Location/Area of Operation: Al-Shabaab has lost full control of significant areas of territory. In September 2012, the group lost control of Kismayo, a vital port it used to obtain supplies and funding through taxes. In October 2014, al-Shabaab lost another strategic port in Baraawe to AMISOM and Somali troops. In 2015, an AMISOM offensive forced the group out of two of its strongholds of Dinsoor and Bardaheere and killed up to 100 personnel. Despite these losses, throughout 2016, al-Shabaab continued to control large swaths of rural areas in the middle and lower Juba regions, as well as the Bakol, Bay, and Shabelle regions. The group also maintained its presence in northern Somalia along the Golis Mountains and within Puntland’s larger urban areas, and launched several attacks against targets in the border regions of Kenya.
Funding and External Aid: While al-Shabaab has seen its income diminish due to the loss of the strategic port cities of Baraawe, Kismayo, and Merka, it has received enough income to launch multiple attacks per week in Mogadishu, launch complex attacks against AMISOM bases, and expand operations against civilian aviation targets. Al-Shabaab obtained funds through illegal charcoal production and exports, and taxation of local populations and businesses.
Because al-Shabaab is a multi-clan entity, it reportedly receives donations from individuals in the Somali diaspora; the donations are not always intended to support terrorism, however, but also to support family members.
aka SL; Sendero Luminoso; Ejercito Guerrillero Popular (People’s Guerrilla Army); EGP; Ejercito Popular de Liberacion (People’s Liberation Army); EPL; Partido Comunista del Peru (Communist Party of Peru); PCP; Partido Comunista del Peru en el Sendero Luminoso de Jose Carlos Mariategui (Communist Party of Peru on the Shining Path of Jose Carlos Mariategui); Socorro Popular del Peru (People’s Aid of Peru); SPP
Description: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The Peru-based terrorist organization was formed in the late 1960s by former university professor Abimael Guzman, whose teachings created the foundation of SL’s militant Maoist doctrine. In the 1980s, SL was one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the Western Hemisphere. In 1992, the Peruvian government captured Guzman who remains, along with key accomplices, in prison serving a life sentence. The group is now led by brothers Victor and Jorge Quispe Palomino along with SL leader Tarcela Loya Vilchez. Under their direction, the group aims to overthrow the Peruvian government and names the United States a principal enemy.
SL’s area of activity and influence is mostly confined to the remote special military emergency zone known as the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM). SL is involved in all logistical aspects of drug trafficking in the VRAEM area.
Activities: SL committed 13 terrorist attacks in 2015, in comparison to 20 terrorist acts in 2014 and 49 in 2013. In 2016, SL terrorist attacks declined. On April 9, the group struck a six-vehicle military caravan transporting election materials ahead of the country’s April 10 election; eight soldiers and two civilian contractors were killed when SL members armed with long-range rifles and grenades attacked the caravan.
Strength: Estimates of SL’s strength vary, but experts assess SL to number between 250 and 300 combatants.
Location/Area of Operation: Peru, with most activity taking place in rural areas, specifically the Apurimac, Ene, and Montaro River Valley of central Peru.
Funding and External Aid: SL is primarily funded by the illicit narcotics trade.
aka Pakistani Taliban; Tehreek-e-Taliban; Tehrik-e-Taliban; Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan; TTP
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 1, 2010, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a Pakistan-based terrorist organization formed in 2007 to oppose Pakistani military efforts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Previously disparate tribal militants agreed to cooperate and eventually coalesced into TTP under the leadership of now deceased leader Baitullah Mehsud. TTP was led by Hakimullah Mehsud from August 2009 until his death in November 2013. Since Hakimullah Mehsud’s death, TTP has been led by Mullah Fazlullah, former leader of TTP’s chapter in the Swat area of Pakistan. Since Fazlullah became leader, TTP has been fraught with violent infighting. A rival faction led by Khan Said, a former TTP commander who previously clashed with Hakimullah, publicly split from TTP in May 2014, but has since rejoined. Separately, TTP entered into peace talks with the Pakistani government in early 2014, but the talks collapsed in June of that year. In October 2014, the chief spokesman and five regional commanders defected from TTP and publicly pledged allegiance to ISIS.
TTP aims to overthrow the Government of Pakistan by waging a terrorist campaign against the Pakistani military and state, as well as North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan. TTP uses the tribal belt along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to train and deploy its operatives, and has ties to al-Qa’ida (AQ). TTP draws ideological guidance from AQ, while AQ relies on TTP for safe haven in the Pashtun areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistani border. This arrangement gives TTP access to both AQ’s global terrorist network and the operational expertise of its members.
Activities: TTP has carried out and claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts against Pakistani and U.S. interests, including a December 2009 suicide attack on a U.S. military base in Khowst, Afghanistan, which killed seven U.S. citizens; and an April 2010 suicide bombing against the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, which killed six Pakistani citizens. TTP is suspected of being involved in the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. TTP directed and facilitated the failed attempt by Faisal Shahzad to detonate an explosive device in New York City’s Times Square on May 1, 2010.
Between 2011 and 2015, TTP continued to carry out attacks against the Government of Pakistan and civilian targets, as well as against U.S. targets in Pakistan. A series of suicide bombings and strikes in 2011 targeted civilians, Pakistani government and military targets, and an American consulate convoy. In 2012, TTP carried out attacks against a mosque, a police checkpoint, a Pakistani Air Force base, and a bus carrying Shia Muslims. In 2013, TTP attacked churches, the home of a government minister in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, and a Shia neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan. TTP’s attacks in 2013 killed and wounded hundreds of civilians and Pakistani government and law enforcement officials. In 2014, TTP targeted military and police convoys, bazaars, buses, and schools including two consecutive attacks against Karachi’s international airport and a siege on a primary school in Peshawar, Pakistan that killed 145 people, 132 of whom were children. Throughout 2015, TTP focused many of its small-scale attacks on Pakistani government and law enforcement officials by targeting convoys, government buildings, motorcades, and police checkpoints. The group also bombed a Shia mosque near Peshawar and carried out suicide bombings at two churches in Lahore.
In 2016, the group continued carrying out attacks, claiming responsibility for a December attack that left the Deputy Superintendent of the police counterterrorism department dead and his son injured in an attack on their vehicle in Peshawar.
Strength: Several thousand
Location/Area of Operation: Pakistan and Afghanistan
Funding and External Aid: TTP is believed to raise most of its funds through kidnapping ransoms, criminal activity, and extortion.