Chapter 1. Country Reports: South and Central Asia

Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism
Report

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

OVERVIEW

Although al-Qa’ida (AQ) in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been seriously degraded, remnants of AQ’s global leadership, as well as its regional affiliate al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), continued to operate from remote locations in the region that historically have been exploited as safe havens. Afghan and Pakistani forces continued to contest AQ’s presence in the region, and Pakistan’s military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) further degraded the group’s freedom to operate. Pressure on AQ’s traditional safe havens has constrained its leadership’s ability to communicate effectively with affiliate groups outside of South Asia.

Afghanistan continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN) and other insurgent and terrorist groups. A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan. Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) retained full responsibility for security in Afghanistan. In partnership, the ANDSF and Coalition Forces took aggressive action against terrorist elements across Afghanistan, including against ISIS’s formal branch in the region, Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K).

While terrorist-related violence in Pakistan is down from levels prior to 2014, when Pakistan began its military operations in the FATA, the country continued to suffer significant terrorist attacks, particularly against vulnerable civilian and government targets. The Pakistani military and security forces undertook operations against groups that conducted attacks within Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. The Pakistani government pledged support to political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban but did not restrict the Afghan Taliban and HQN from operating in Pakistan-based safe havens and threatening U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan did not take sufficient action against other externally focused groups such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in 2017, which continued to operate, train, organize, and fundraise in Pakistan. Pakistan detained Hafiz Saeed, the leader of LeT and its front organization Jamaat ud-Dawa (JuD) in January 2017, but a Pakistani court ordered Hafiz Saeed released from house arrest in November 2017.

ISIS-K remained active in 2017, although counterterrorism pressure from Afghan and Coalition Forces, and battles with the Afghan Taliban, removed large numbers of fighters from the battlefield and restricted the group’s ability to control territory in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the group was able to conduct a number of high profile, mass-casualty attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and expanded its territory in provinces in eastern and northern Afghanistan.

India continued to experience attacks, including by Pakistan-based terrorist organizations as well as tribal and Maoist insurgents. Indian authorities blamed Pakistan for cross-border attacks in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Over the course of 2017, the Government of India sought to deepen counterterrorism cooperation and information sharing with the United States, including through the first-ever Designations Dialogue, held in Delhi in December. The Indian government closely monitored the domestic threat from transnational terrorist groups like ISIS and AQIS.

Bangladesh experienced three terrorist attacks in 2017 claimed by ISIS, a decrease from 2016. Transnational groups such as ISIS and AQIS remained a threat. The Government of Bangladesh may have disrupted dozens of ISIS plots but insisted all terrorists in Bangladesh were from local organizations.

Individuals from Central Asia have traveled to Iraq or Syria to fight with militant and terrorist groups, including ISIS. Central Asians, like Western Europeans, have been drawn to the fighting in Iraq and Syria for many reasons and have fought on several sides. Central Asian leaders remained concerned about their involvement and their return to their home countries, however, more Central Asian nationals were suspected of committing attacks in third countries than returning to attempt attacks in their countries of origin.

Ministers and high-level officials from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, accompanied by the heads of counterterrorism agencies structures and national security organs, participated in a High-Level UN-Central Asian Dialogue on Implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia held in Ashgabat on June 13. There they reviewed progress on the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action for the Strategy in Central Asia and defined future strategic counterterrorism priorities for the region.


AFGHANISTAN

Overview: Afghanistan cooperates with the United States in a bilateral counterterrorism effort as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS), the U.S. operation in Afghanistan. The U.S. military also works with Afghanistan to improve the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces’ (ANDSF) ability to combat insurgent groups through Resolute Support (RS), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “Train, Advise, and Assist” mission. The Taliban, the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN), and groups claiming affiliation with the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) increased high-profile terrorist attacks targeting Afghan government officials and members of the international community. Terrorist groups targeting Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, exploit ungoverned spaces in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, using them as safe havens to coordinate terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

President Ghani and the National Unity Government have strongly supported the new U.S. South Asia strategy, which was announced by President Trump in August 2017 and seeks to create conditions for a political settlement with the Taliban. The Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) effectively replaced the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program in 2017, agreeing with donor nations in July to a new UN Development Program-drafted action plan intended to promote reconciliation with insurgent groups. While the HPC action plan outlines a strategic approach to reintegration and implementation of peace agreements, the HPC’s focus was on building the capacity of its Provincial Peace Committees and their subsequent outreach to build a national consensus for the peace process.

The peace agreement signed between the Afghan government and Hizb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) in September 2016 hit some roadblocks, but it has led to party leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s return to Kabul, the removal of UN sanctions against him, and peaceful reintegration of HIG supporters. The parts of the agreement that have not been fully implemented include the release of some HIG detainees, the provision of land to HIG returnees, and the disarmament of all HIG members.

Afghanistan is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: Insurgents continued to use vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and complex attacks involving multiple attackers wearing suicide vests to target ANDSF, Afghan government buildings, foreign governments, and soft civilian targets to include international organizations. Kabul remained a focus of high-profile attacks. The following list details a fraction of the incidents that occurred:

  • On May 31, a VBIED on the perimeter of the international zone killed more than 150 and wounded at least 400 people. While there was no claim of responsibility, Afghanistan’s intelligence service blamed the attack on HQN.
  • On July 24, a VBIED detonated in a Kabul neighborhood whose residents were primarily of Hazara ethnicity. The explosion killed 28 and wounded 43. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which was reportedly targeting a bus carrying government employees.
  • On August 1, ISIS-K claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shia mosque in Herat City, which left 29 civilians dead and 64 injured.
  • On September 27, ISIS-K insurgents launched more than 30 rockets at the Hamid Karzai International Airport during Defense Secretary Mattis’s visit to Kabul. During the attack, ISIS insurgents also directly targeted Camp Sullivan, a U.S. Chief of Mission facility in Kabul, with mortars and heavy weapons fire.
  • On October 17, Taliban insurgents used VBIEDs to launch complex suicide attacks on police headquarters in Paktiya and Ghazni provinces. The attacks killed 21 police, including Provincial Chief of Police Toryalai Abdiani and 20 civilians, and wounded more than 150 police and civilians. In Ghazni, more than 30 ANDSF personnel were killed and 25 others injured. The Andar district police headquarters building was destroyed.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Afghan Attorney General’s Office investigates and prosecutes violations of the laws that prohibit membership in terrorist or insurgent groups, violent acts committed against the state, hostage taking, murder, and the use of explosives against military forces and state infrastructure. These laws include Crimes against the Internal and External Security of the State (1976 and 1987), Combat Against Terrorist Offences (2008), and Firearms, Ammunition, and Explosives (2005).

Notable cases in 2017 included:

Anas Haqqani: In 2016, the Primary and Appellate Courts sentenced him to death for terrorist acts (including recruiting and fundraising), terrorist membership, and forgery. In February, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the Appellate Court. Anas is the brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational leader of the Haqqani Network. Anas's co-accused is Hafiz Abdul Rasheed, whose case followed the same path.

Abdul Saboor: The Appellate Court affirmed a 20-year sentence and murder conviction after he shot and killed two U.S. advisors at the Ministry of Interior. The case is pending Supreme Court review.

Abdul Qahir Korasani: One of the earliest prominent Afghans to pledge allegiance to ISIS-K, he served as a mullah and judge for ISIS-K. Korasani used internet videos and publications to recruit and issue fatwas. He was convicted in the Primary and Appellate Courts for terrorist acts and membership. He received a sentence of 16 years in the Primary Court and 20 years in the Appellate Court. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the Supreme Court.

U.S. law enforcement assisted the Ministry of Interior, National Directorate of Security (NDS), and other Afghan authorities with disrupting and dismantling terrorist operations and prosecuting terrorist suspects.

Specialized police units known as Crisis Response Units (CRUs) for Afghanistan’s major cities continued to thwart attacks. For example, CRU-222 responded swiftly during the March 2017 Kabul hospital attack, clearing all eight floors of the hospital after entering from both the roof and ground. This same unit responded and killed the attackers during Secretary Mattis’ visit and President Ghani aims to double the number of these units.

Twenty-five checkpoints have been established around the international zone, and the Afghan government is standing up a new unit with sole responsibility for security of an expanded perimeter. The new unit will replace a patchwork of police, military, and private security contractors that report to MoI or MoD through different chains of command in order to establish a unity of effort with IZ security.

Afghan civilian security forces continued to participate in the Department of State’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance program, receiving capacity-building training and mentorship in specialized counterterrorism-related skillsets such as crisis response, methods of entry, and response to active shooter.

Afghanistan continued to face significant challenges in protecting the country’s borders, particularly in the border regions with Pakistan. Afghan and Pakistani officials have agreed in principle to create a mechanism for communication between forces on each side of the border. The means for implementation was still under discussion at the end of 2017.

Afghanistan continued to process traveler arrivals and departures at major points of entry using a U.S.-provided border security system, the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES), which has been successfully integrated with INTERPOL’s I‑24/7 system.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Afghanistan is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In June, FATF removed Afghanistan from the list of “jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies” (the “grey list”). Despite technical compliance, insufficient cooperation and lack of capacity still hamper terrorist finance investigations.

Afghanistan’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Afghanistan (FinTRACA), distributes UN sanctions lists under the 1267 and 1988 sanctions regimes to financial institutions via a circular and a link on FinTRACA’s website. As of October 31, FinTRACA revoked 49 business licenses and imposed US $42,000 in fines on money service businesses for failure to comply with anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism laws.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Five thousand out of 160,000 mosques are registered with the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education. Many mosques and associated religious schools (madrassas) are unregistered and operate independently of the government. The government estimated 370,000 students attend independent madrassas.

Regional and International Cooperation: Other multilateral fora include an Afghanistan-Pakistan-China trilateral on border security and counterterrorism as well as a C5+Russia+Afghanistan forum, which includes the security chiefs of the five Central Asian states, Russia, and Afghanistan. Afghanistan is also an observer state within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which revived the long-dormant SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group to focus on enhanced security and counterterrorism.


BANGLADESH

Overview: Bangladesh experienced three terrorist attacks in March 2017. Since then, Bangladesh security forces have foiled dozens of plots by terrorist groups. The Government of Bangladesh continued to articulate a “zero-tolerance” policy towards terrorism and the use of its territory as a terrorist safe haven. While the Government of Bangladesh often attributed terrorist violence to local militants, al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and ISIS together have claimed responsibility for nearly 40 attacks in Bangladesh since 2015. Terrorist organizations used social media to spread their ideologies and solicit followers from Bangladesh. Bangladeshi militants have been featured in multiple publications, videos, and websites associated with ISIS and AQIS.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: ISIS claimed responsibility for three attacks in March.

  • On March 17, a suspected suicide bomber snuck into a temporary facility belonging to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a counterterrorism-focused Special Mission Unit, detonating a suicide vest, killing himself and injuring two RAB officers.
  • On March 24, an unidentified adult male self-detonated at a police checkpoint near Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, killing only himself.
  • On March 25, eight people were killed and more than 40 injured in two blasts during a raid on a suspected ISIS safehouse in Sylhet.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Bangladesh’s criminal justice system is in the process of fully implementing the Antiterrorism Act of 2009 as amended in 2012 and 2013. Although Bangladesh’s Antiterrorism Act does not outlaw recruitment and travel in the furtherance of terrorism, the broad language of the Act provides several mechanisms by which Bangladesh can implement UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2178 (2014) on addressing foreign terrorist fighters. Despite lacking laws specific to foreign terrorist fighters, Bangladesh arrested suspected foreign terrorist fighters or facilitators of such fighters on other charges under existing law.

Bangladesh cooperated with the United States to further strengthen control of its borders and ports of entry, as called for by UNSCR 2178 (2014). The international community remains concerned about security procedures at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, although the International Civil Aviation Organization certified this airport as 77.46 percent effective in “implementation of aviation safety standard compliance,” more than 26 percentage points higher than a previous audit in 2012. Bangladesh shared law enforcement information with INTERPOL but does not have a dedicated terrorist watchlist. Bangladesh also does not have an interactive Advanced Passenger Information system.

The Rapid Action Battalion and the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, as well as other elements of the Bangladesh Police, continued a campaign of arrests and raids against suspected militants. Many suspects died in these operations, oftentimes described as the result of a “cross-fire,” a euphemism for extrajudicial killings by the police. Observers also believe at least some of the raids were staged by law enforcement.

In early November, a pilot with Bangladesh’s Biman Airlines pled guilty to a conspiracy to crash a passenger jet into the Prime Minister’s residence. The suspect’s father was allegedly part of a group of terrorists that killed themselves by detonating explosives when confronted by Bangladesh security forces in early September. Throughout 2017, Bangladesh security forces claimed credit for foiling dozens of terrorist plots, many of which were reportedly in the final stages of planning.

Bangladesh continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program and received counterterrorism training on building unit capacity in crisis response, evidence collection, crime scene investigation, infrastructure protection, instructional development and sustainment, as well as enhancing cyber and digital investigation capabilities. Bangladesh also received Department of Justice prosecutorial skills training and community policing support. Bangladesh is receiving assistance from the United States in developing an Alert List of militants to better screen for persons of interests at its ports of entry.

The Department of Defense’s PACOM Augmentation Team worked to monitor and counter terrorist messaging through television and online media, as well as in workshops with students in various cities.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Bangladesh is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering. The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) is a member of the Egmont Group. The Bangladesh central bank and the BFIU lead the government’s efforts to comply with the international anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) standards and international sanctions regimes.

The terrorist finance provisions of Bangladesh’s Antiterrorism Act make illegal the receipt and collection of money, services, and material support where “there are reasonable grounds to believe that the same has been used or may be used for any purpose by a terrorist entity.” The Act prohibits membership in and support of prohibited organizations, i.e., organizations engaged or involved in terrorist activities, including the organizations listed in the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime. The Bangladesh Bank also publishes lists of domestically designated and UN-sanctioned individuals and groups on its website. The Act includes a broad provision providing for mutual legal cooperation on terrorism matters with other nations and a comprehensive forfeiture provision for assets involved in terrorism activities, although there was an absence of significant terrorist financing and money laundering cases.

The judicial sector is under-resourced for carrying out prosecutions and obtaining convictions in complex financial and material support cases. The Evidence and Criminal Procedure Codes date back to the nineteenth century and there is no provision for plea bargaining. Government of Bangladesh counterparts agree that the lack of a career civil service prosecution unit remains a serious problem. Civilian attorneys are appointed ad hoc to prosecute cases. There is little coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors. Consequently, the overall conviction rate is approximately 10 percent and a case can take as long as seven years from the filing of charges to sentencing.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Bangladesh organizations continued cooperative activities through the Country Support Mechanism under the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), a public-private global fund to support local, grassroots CVE efforts in at-risk communities. The Bangladeshi cities of Dhaka North, Dhaka South, and Narayanganj are members of the Strong Cities Network. The Ministry of Religious Affairs and the National Committee on Militancy, Resistance, and Prevention work with imams and religious scholars to build public awareness against terrorism. The police are engaging religious leaders to counter terrorist propaganda with appropriate scripture-based messages and engaging imams to speak to surrendered militants to explain that the Quran does not support terrorist violence.

The police also are continuing community policing efforts. Law enforcement authorities are working with local universities to identify missing students and curb radicalization to violence among university students. Local research institutions, including private think tanks and both public and private universities, continued to engage in CVE-related research. However, Bangladesh’s lack of a publicly available strategy to counter violent extremism hindered sustained engagement with the United States and the international community.


INDIA

Overview: The parts of India most seriously impacted by terrorism in 2017 included the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the northeast Indian states, and parts of central India in which Maoist terrorists remain active. India continued to apply sustained pressure to detect, disrupt, and degrade terrorist organizations’ operations within its borders. Indian leadership expressed resolve to prevent terrorist attacks domestically and to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism, in cooperation with the United States and other like-minded countries.

Counterterrorism cooperation between India and the United States increased in 2017. The two pledged to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including al-Qa’ida (AQ), ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), and D-Company. During a June 2017 summit, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi directed officials to establish a new mechanism for cooperation on terrorist designations. The first meeting of the bilateral Designations Dialogue was held in December. India welcomed the U.S. State Department’s June designation of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) senior leader Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as Syed Salahuddin, and the August designation of HM as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

2017 Terrorist Incidents:

  • On March 7, ISIS-inspired, self-radicalized terrorists attacked the Bhopal–Ujjain passenger train at Jabri railway station in Shajapur district in Madhya Pradesh state, injuring 10 passengers. Six persons were later arrested and a key suspect was killed when the police tried to arrest him.
  • On March 17, Maoists killed 25 security personnel in an ambush in Sukma, Chhattisgarh.
  • On July 10, alleged LeT terrorists killed seven Hindu pilgrims near Anantnag in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • On August 27, eight security personnel were killed when two JeM terrorists snuck into Pulwama town in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and targeted buildings used by the state Police Special Operation Group.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: India made no major changes to its counterterrorism laws in 2017. The Indian government continued to address terrorism-related activities through existing statutes, including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) (1967), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Convention on Suppression of Terrorism Act (1993), and various state-level laws. The UAPA presumes the accused to be guilty if the prosecution can produce incriminating evidence indicating the possession of arms or explosives or the presence of fingerprints at a crime scene, regardless of whether criminal intent is demonstrated. State governments held persons without bail for extended periods before filing formal charges under the UAPA.

India’s state-level law enforcement agencies play a significant role detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism. These state agencies have varying degrees of capability. After the Mumbai attacks of 2008, state Anti-Terrorism Squads (ATS) were created to handle rapid, first-responder duties. At the central government level, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is the lead law enforcement investigation agency. The National Security Guard (NSG) retains the mandate for nationwide response. Despite its rigorous training, NSG’s rapid response capability is somewhat limited, due in part to its small staff relative to India’s large size. Continued weaknesses in intelligence and information sharing negatively impacted state and central law enforcement agencies. In 2016, India and the United States signed an arrangement to exchange terrorism screening information, and the Indian Multi Agency Centre/Intelligence Bureau continued work on implementation.

In an example of a significant counterterrorism law enforcement action, police arrested Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) leader Mohammad Idris from a central Kolkata hideout on March 8. Police believe Idris was involved in the July 1, 2016, Holey Artisan Bakery attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh. On November 21, local police arrested two Bangladeshi terrorists belonging to Ansarullah Bangla Team in Kolkata. The police stated the two planned to murder bloggers in Bangladesh and had come to Kolkata to buy arms.

In April, an Indian court sentenced two Indian ISIS financiers to seven years in prison, in the country’s first ISIS-related convictions. The two pled guilty to a criminal conspiracy to propagate ISIS ideology, recruit persons, raise funds, and facilitate the travel of those recruited to join ISIS in Syria. India detained an alleged AQIS facilitator in September. The case was pending in court at the end of 2017.

India participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program and received training in internet, dark web, mobile device, and advanced digital forensics capabilities.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: India is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as well as two FATF-style regional bodies – the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering. India’s financial intelligence unit is a member of the Egmont Group. India has formed an interagency committee to conduct its National Risk Assessment in accordance with FATF guidance. Under the chairmanship of the Additional Secretary (Revenue), the committee will form several working groups to examine specific topics, e.g., financial institutions, financial inclusion, and anti-money laundering. Once complete, the committee will present the assessment to the Finance Minister for approval.

India took steps to pass legislation to allow for the confiscation of assets and prosecution of individuals involved in certain third-party transactions. India also took steps to amend its laws related to recovering confiscated property. At year’s end, India was in the final process of approving an amendment to bring dealers of precious metals, stones, and other high-value goods under the jurisdiction of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act from 2002.

Between August 2016 and May 2017, India initiated 117 anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism investigations, filed 83 prosecution complaints, arrested 19 individuals, and secured two convictions and two property/asset confiscations.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Indian CVE programs in 2017 targeted disaffected sectors of Indian society that were at the highest risk of vulnerability for terrorist recruitment. On October 23, the Ministry of Home Affairs appointed a Special Representative to begin dialogue with all stakeholders in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to discuss issues of street violence, cross-border terrorism, and pervasive alienation, particularly among youth.

Indian government officials raised concerns over the use of the internet – including social media – for terrorist recruiting, radicalization to violence, and fomenting inter-religious tensions. In particular, officials expressed concern about ISIS’s ability to recruit online, following incidents in which Indians were attracted to join or support the group.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad produced four short, high-quality films to counter terrorist recruitment, which were played before movies in theaters in the state.

The city of Mumbai is a founding member of the Strong Cities Network.

International and Regional Cooperation: India is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and participated in GCTF and other UN fora on counterterrorism in 2017. India also used multilateral fora and bilateral visits to highlight terrorism concerns and their impacts. During the 2017 BRICS Summit (with Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa) and the 2017 SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) Summit, India led efforts on declarations condemning terrorism and calling for joint efforts to counter it. At the 15th ASEAN-India Summit in November in Manila, India pledged to cooperate closely with ASEAN nations to stem terrorism.

India continued to increase bilateral cooperation on counterterrorism. India provided US $500,000 to the Philippines to aid the rehabilitation of inhabitants of Marawi who were affected by fighting between the Philippine military and ISIS-inspired militants.


KAZAKHSTAN

Overview: Kazakhstan continued to express interest in expanding counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, particularly in countering violent extremism. The government has long feared the potential return of foreign terrorist fighters from Iraq and Syria, but two domestic attacks in 2016 refocused government attention on homegrown terrorists. Despite concerns from some outside experts that the government’s “law enforcement-first” approach to countering radicalism could backfire absent increased attention to other factors driving “extremism.” Kazakhstan has increased restrictions on religious freedom for both minority religious groups and its Muslim-majority population, for the stated purpose of combating what it considers “extremism.”

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Kazakhstan has a comprehensive counterterrorism legal framework. It is illegal for citizens to fight in foreign wars. The government takes a two-pronged approach to the few returning ISIS fighters, pursuing rehabilitation for some while arresting and prosecuting others.

On July 11, the president signed a law that allows the government to deprive Kazakhstanis of citizenship if they are convicted of a range of “grave terrorism and extremism-related crimes,” and for other vague crimes like causing ‘grave harm to the vital interests of the state.’

Law enforcement units demonstrated a strong capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. The government’s counterterrorism plan allowed for enhanced interagency cooperation, coordination, and information sharing, but the extent to which this actually occurred remained unknown. There were four special counterterrorism detachments under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and one under the National Security Committee (KNB), the main security and intelligence agency. Before and during EXPO 2017 in Astana, security services bolstered resources and capacity to protect soft targets.

Kazakhstan’s Border Guard Service (BGS), part of the KNB, uses specialized passport control equipment, allowing officers to check for fraudulent documents. BGS officers receive risk-profiling training by the U.S. Department of State to identify traffickers and terrorists, as well as K9 unit training for counterterrorism operations. In recent years, Kazakhstan has strengthened security on its southern border by adding radar systems, inspection equipment and vehicles, and specialized mobile inspection groups. The government proactively worked to prevent Kazakhstanis from traveling to fight abroad in Syria and Iraq, in keeping with UN Security Council resolution 2178 (2014). The KNB announced in October that no Kazakhstanis had left for conflict zones in 2017.

Courts delivered numerous sentences for promotion of “extremism” and terrorism, and recruitment and plotting terrorist acts, although few involved allegations or threats of violence. KNB Deputy Chairman Nurgali Bilisbekov announced December 12 that security services had prevented 11 “terrorist attacks” in 2017, although he later clarified this number included plots to travel to conflict zones. While the government does not release annual statistics of counterterrorism-related arrests, media sources routinely reported on the topic. For example, press reports indicated that in November, the KNB arrested four people, alleging they had amassed weapons and had ISIS-propaganda. However, some cases the government identified as “extremism” were unrelated to terrorism, such as the six-year prison sentence handed down to an Almaty man charged only with having Arabic-language songs praising Allah on his cell phone. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Report on International Religious Freedom for 2017 for further information.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Kazakhstan belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The government criminalizes terrorist financing in accordance with international standards and freezes and confiscates known terrorist assets without delay. The government monitors and regulates money/value transfer and other remittance services and requires the collection of data for wire transfers (i.e. requires originator and recipient name, address, and account number). Additionally, authorities routinely distributed the names of organizations listed in the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime to financial institutions. The Prosecutor General’s Office Crime Statistics Committee reported nine terrorist financing cases were transferred to the court system, but information is not available on convictions. Kazakhstan’s unregulated financial sector is relatively small. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Kazakhstan is still implementing a five-year state program on fighting religious extremism and terrorism that was adopted in 2013. This program is not the equivalent of a national CVE strategy, and the program relies heavily on the government-affiliated Spiritual Association of Muslims in Kazakhstan to promote what the government calls “traditional Islam.”

The Government of Kazakstan’s CVE initiatives focused on preventing “radicalization,” with efforts to educate and provide alternatives to youth through social programs and economic opportunities. Initiatives to build rule of law are lacking and the government has taken steps to restrict space for independent civil society groups while also funding several CVE-focused non-governmental organizations. Religious experts from the government-controlled Committee for Religious Affairs and regional offices reach out to at-risk youth directly. The government continued rehabilitation and reintegration work with individuals convicted of what the government considered “extremism”-related offenses, and their relatives, although the results of the nascent programs were still unclear. The government focused its prevention efforts on detention and prosecution of recruiters and proselytizers sharing what the government deemed “extremist” ideas. Most convicted recruiters were placed in general-regime penal colonies for three to six years.

The government censors online content in an effort to reduce “extremist” messaging. Religious leaders reached out to youth via official websites such as E-Islam. Government-controlled religious experts created groups on social networks such as Facebook and VKontakte, where they posted information and answered user questions about “religious extremism.” Committee for Religious Affairs officials provided training for local imams, non-governmental organizations, and the media.

Regional and International Cooperation: Kazakhstan participates in counterterrorism activities within the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which has established a joint task force for preventing the propagation of terrorist and “extremist” ideas online. Kazakhstan is a member of the Community of Independent States’ Anti-Terrorism Center, which hosts a data bank of banned terrorist and extremist organizations accessible to law enforcement and financial intelligence bodies of the member states. The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Committee for Religious Affairs cooperated with the OSCE on countering violent extremism and terrorism workshops. In December, Kazakhstan co-sponsored UN Security Council resolution 2396 on returning and relocating foreign terrorist ‎fighters.


KYRGYZ REPUBLIC

Overview: The Kyrgyz Republic’s counterterrorism efforts continue to focus on rooting out those it considered “extremists,” countering the spread of “extremism,” limiting the flow of Kyrgyz national foreign terrorist fighters, and preventing those returning from conflicts abroad from engaging in terrorist activities. Terrorist attacks in the country remain rare, but the August 2016 suicide bombing against the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek and a noticeable increase in reports of terrorism-related arrests in 2017 underscored the potential threat facing the country. The Kyrgyz government restricts public information on national security issues, making it very difficult to assess the efficacy of its counterterrorism operations and the true extent of the threat. The country remained vulnerable to transnational threats, especially in the remote south, where ill-defined and porous borders allowed for the relatively free movement of people and illicit goods in and out of the country. According to government statistics, approximately 800 Kyrgyz citizens have left the country to join ISIS or other terrorist groups. Most experts believe the true number is higher.

Legislation, Law Enforcement and Border Security: There were two notable legislative changes in 2017. In May, the president ratified amendments to the “Law on Countering Terroristic Acts” to require the government to publish its list of banned extremist and terrorist organizations. In June, a Bishkek district court ruled to ban the Yakyn Inkar Islamic sect, bringing the total number of banned groups to 21. There were no reports in 2017 of the government using counterterrorism laws to prosecute political opponents.

There have been no changes to the host country’s law enforcement capacity related to counterterrorism since 2016, other than that the Ministry of Interior (MVD) 10th Department, which is the lead law enforcement agency on countering “extremism,” has been renamed to the “Service for Countering Extremism and Illegal Migration.”

The government does not maintain a terrorist screening watch list or have biographic or biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry. Information sharing with other countries occurs rarely and usually only by request in the context of criminal investigations. The government has expressed interest in developing a program to collect and use Advance Passenger Information on commercial flights, but it is still only in the discussion phase. The State Border Service has limited capacity to adequately patrol and control the country’s land border due to vast distances, rough terrain, and extremely limited resources.

There was a steady stream of terrorism- and “extremism”-related arrests throughout the year, roughly on par with 2016. Beginning in April there was a noticeable shift in the pattern of reported arrests, with an increase in terrorism-related charges, involving returnees from foreign conflict zones, weapons seizures, and alleged planned attacks. This corresponded with a decrease in small-scale arrests of unarmed members of banned “religious extremist” groups, which were most prevalent in the past. In 2017, law enforcement agencies reported the successful disruption of at least seven planned terrorist attacks, and arrested almost three dozen people on terrorism-related charges, close to a third of whom were reported to be returnees from foreign conflict zones. During a particularly active period from August 29-September 22, Kyrgyz authorities reportedly broke up three separate alleged terrorist plots, during which time police killed two suspects and arrested another nine. Authorities claimed the perpetrators had links to international terrorist organizations and were planning to carry out attacks using improvised explosive devices during the October presidential elections and the August 31 Independence Day celebrations. Because of the opaque nature of the Kyrgyz government’s counterterrorism operations, it is impossible to verify information about these and other incidents.

Kyrgyz police units participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program. Courses included combating domestic and transnational terrorism and border security.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Kyrgyz Republic is a member of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. During 2017, the Kyrgyz Republic underwent its mutual evaluation by the FATF; however, the outcome report from that evaluation has not been finalized at year’s end. There were no significant changes to the Kyrgyz government’s efforts and capacity to counter the financing of terrorism in 2017, other than the signing of three new international agreements on exchanging information related to money laundering and terrorist financing. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): In 2017, the Kyrgyz government approved its first national program and action plan on combatting terrorism and “extremism.” The action plan lays out approximately three dozen tasks that relevant government agencies will implement over the next five years, in cooperation with civil society and the international community, in some cases. The bulk of the action plan is focused on a comprehensive approach to preventing “extremism.”

The Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the State Commission for Religious Affairs (SCRA), is in its second year of a program to develop a new curriculum for high school-aged students on moderate Islam and identifying terrorist recruitment tactics. This program was expanded to include 56 schools in 2017. The MVD and the SCRA, often in cooperation with local religious leaders, focused much of their engagement activities in 2017 on preventing radicalization amongst youth and women. Additionally, the SCRA and the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kyrgyzstan held CVE training and religious education seminars for officers from the military and the State Border Service to reduce their vulnerability to “extremist” recruitment. In 2017, the Kyrgyz government cooperated with the United Nations, the Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations and foreign governments, to facilitate CVE training and related assistance programs.

In 2017, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime launched a project with the Kyrgyz Prison Service to develop strategies to manage the spread of “extremism” among prisoners and prevent radicalization. This project will provide training for prison staff, develop a prisoner classification and risk assessment tool, and help design a pilot rehabilitation program for “extremist” convicts.

In 2017, the GKNB continued its public awareness campaign in the Kyrgyz press to discredit the efforts of ISIS recruiters. The SCRA also conducted activities through television and other forms of mass media to counter “extremist” narratives, with a particular focus on religious women. The Kyrgyz government organized a two-day international conference entitled “Islam in the Modern Secular State,” during which the president delivered remarks calling for the harmonious coexistence of the state and religion and tolerance towards all faiths.

Regional and International Cooperation: In 2017, the Kyrgyz Republic participated in counterterrorism activities and trainings organized by the OSCE, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The Kyrgyz Republic participated in five CSTO and two SCO counterterrorism exercises in 2017.


MALDIVES

Overview: The Government of Maldives’ counterterrorism efforts concentrate on countering violent extremism and limiting the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. Marginalized Maldivians, especially those within the penal system or involved in criminal gangs, are at heightened risk of radicalization to violence, with some joining terrorist groups. On April 23, assailants stabbed to death blogger Yameed Rasheed, whom some in Maldives perceived to espouse anti-Islamic views. Maldives Police Service (MPS) arrested two Maldivians accused of conspiring with ISIS in a suicide attack plot. MPS investigated 12 cases of Maldivians intending to participate in foreign wars and charged four in two separate cases for leaving to fight in Syria. The government claims 49 radicalized Maldivians were fighting with terrorist organizations, whereas the UN and media estimated approximately 200. These incidents illustrate a pattern of Maldivians transiting through third countries to become foreign terrorist fighters.

MPS reported no confirmed cases of returning foreign terrorist fighters, but it was developing strategies and procedures to monitor, assess, and take actions against any returning fighters.

Social media users continued to spread radical ideologies and target moderate and secular individuals and organizations characterized as “insulting Islam.” Maldives participated in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program training on interview techniques and aviation security.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: On April 23, blogger Yameen Rasheed, a critic of the political establishment who had received repeated death threats for his allegedly anti-Islamic views, was found murdered with multiple stab wounds in the stairwell of his apartment building in Malé. Some suggested Rasheed may have been killed for his criticism of the government, but police asserted that perpetrators believed that Rasheed had “mocked” Islam. Police arrested eight suspects and filed charges against seven. Legal proceedings, which were closed to the public, had not concluded at year’s end.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) is the primary legislation for preventing and prosecuting terrorism. Maldives also continued to use the PTA to suppress criticism by detaining and prosecuting journalists, political opposition figures, and other activists. It released some, but also made new arrests during the year, including of an individual who wrote social media posts critical of President Yameen. The PTA criminalizes joining or fighting in a conflict abroad. MPS reported investigating 17 cases involving 40 Maldivians under the PTA during 2017: five with intent to commit violence in Maldives and 12 with intent to participate in a foreign war. In November, the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) charged two Maldivians for allegedly conspiring with IS to launch a suicide attack in Malé. In August, the PGO charged four others with possessing improvised explosive device (IED)-related items and conspiring to commit an act threatening national security. Media reported a separate incident in November in which authorities arrested two other men for making bombs. Authorities refused to comment publicly on these reports.

Maldives enacted a new Criminal Procedures Act (CPA), which introduced, codified, and harmonized the practices of the criminal justice system. The Attorney General’s Office reported the CPA does not apply in terrorism cases and that the PTA outlines procedures for arrest, detention, search, and seizure in terrorism cases. MPS is responsible for counterterrorism investigations and transfers cases to the PGO for the duration of the trial. The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has the mandate to coordinate interagency policy on counterterrorism and countering violent extremism and to liaise with international security partners. The NCTC falls under the MNDF, with participation from MPS, customs, immigration, and other agencies. Responsibility for counterterrorism operations, including investigations, primarily rests with MPS. MNDF, including the marines and coast guard, is responsible for counterterrorism response. Information sharing between agencies remains limited. Resort security managers and diplomats were unaware of specific government plans to prevent or respond to terrorist attacks.

The appointment of partisan personnel to independent institutions impedes interagency cooperation and creates distrust. Similarly, an inadequately trained judiciary unfamiliar with counterterrorism legislation impairs adequate prosecution of terrorism cases. In October, the courts acquitted three men detained in 2016 at the Turkey-Syria border and charged with attempting to travel to Syria to fight with terrorist groups. MPS did not arrest two returned Maldivians charged on suspicion of planning to travel to Syria from Kuala Lumpur. Corruption, lack of political will, and misuse of counterterrorism laws against political opponents obstruct cooperation.

Maldives uses a U.S.-provided border security system, the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES), to process passengers at Maldives’ main international airport and at Malé seaport.

The Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program provided Maldivian law enforcement units with training on interview techniques and aviation security best practices.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Maldives is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body.

Maldives has authority to criminalize money laundering and terrorist financing under the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act, although authorities have not investigated or prosecuted any cases since it became law in 2016. Authorities previously reported that individuals transferred funds through informal money transfer networks (hawala) between islands, but they did not report the extent to which these systems were employed to transfer illicit funds. Maldives introduced a new Remittance Business Regulation that prohibits conducting domestic and international money transfer activities without a Central Bank-issued license. The Central Bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit was unaware of any hawala-type remittance activities in 2017, but it increased terrorist financing-related information sharing with MPS and the NCTC. MPS established an internal financial intelligence unit to collect intelligence on terrorist financing. Maldives implemented the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime, but it did not seize any terrorist assets in 2017. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): In November, the NCTC launched a National Strategy on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. The NCTC identified islands prone to radicalization through a nationwide study. It intends to launch community-based programs and awareness campaigns throughout the country.

The government launched national campaigns to raise awareness about religious extremism and promote moderation. The campaign targeted schools, Friday sermons, and public fora held at the Islamic Centre in Malé, which is a member of the Strong Cities Network.

Government actions at times led to threats of violence against secularists and activists. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Report on International Religious Freedom for 2017 for further information.

International and Regional Cooperation: The NCTC, with UN support, held a regional counterterrorism conference in Maldives for 46 experts from 16 countries. In December, Maldives co-sponsored UN Security Council resolution 2396 on returning and relocating foreign terrorist ‎fighters.

The Ministry of Tourism, with MPS and British counterterrorism experts, held a conference for more than 100 resort security managers to discuss challenges to security planning. MNDF was a member of the Global Special Operations Force network, which collaborates on common security challenges and actively supports multilateral and regional security cooperation efforts, such as global programs focused on counterterrorism and de‑radicalization.


NEPAL

Overview: Nepal experienced no acts of terrorism directed against U.S. or Western targets in 2017. However, Nepal did see an increase in incidents of terrorism against domestic targets, largely surrounding elections held in late 2017. The Government of Nepal attributed the majority of the attacks to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), a Maoist faction also known as the “Netra Bikram Chand Group” or “Biplav Group” that split from the mainstream Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) several years ago. In response to these incidents, Nepal’s security organs largely directed their counterterrorism efforts against the Biplav Group, forming special teams to identify and arrest its leaders.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: Nepal experienced an increase in terrorist attacks during the year, primarily in connection with local, provincial, and national elections held around the country in April, June, September, November, and December. None of these attacks were directed against U.S. or Western targets. It was generally believed that these attacks, which resulted in one death and multiple injuries, were intended to intimidate political candidates, convince voters to stay home, and undermine the elections. The incidents initially resulted only in property damage and minor injuries, but they increased in frequency and severity later in the year. By the time elections ended in early December, more than 100 such attacks had occurred throughout Nepal, resulting in one death and numerous injuries. In the lead-up to the various phases of elections, security forces found and defused IEDs before they could explode. For example, the Nepalese Army defused an IED discovered near a voting center in Dhading district on November 25. The attacks increased in sophistication toward the end of the year, with one IED that detonated at an early December election rally held for Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba that resulted in injuries to nine people, four of them critically. On December 7, the Biplav Group publicly claimed responsibility for all of the elections-related IED attacks, but the group later retracted this statement. The Nepal Police announced on December 6 that around 600 Biplav Group cadres had been detained for anti-election activities. The attacks largely ceased as campaigning stopped in the days before the last set of polls opened on December 7.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no significant legislative changes since 2016.

The law enforcement organ directly responsible for counterterrorism activities is the Special Bureau of the Nepal Police. This unit consists of approximately 120 officers. The Special Bureau is supplemented by Nepal Police and Armed Police Force officers when necessary. The Nepalese Army Special Forces units are tasked with incident counterterrorism response and received training in hostage rescue, response to hijackings, and similar terrorism incidents. The Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program in courses that included Explosive Detection Canine Handlers Course (EDCHC), Combatting Domestic and Transnational Terrorism, Fraudulent Document Recognition – Behavioral Analysis, and Post Blast Investigation. The EDCHC also included the granting of five explosive detection trained canines. In addition, between 300 and 500 Nepali Police, immigration, and airline personnel received a three-day training on travel document security features that included imposter recognition.

Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport – Nepal’s only international airport – does not pre-screen passengers, and landing data are not entered into any database. Physical security checks of passengers are rudimentary. There is no travel document security and the airport lacks ultraviolet lights to examine documents. The Special Bureau of the Nepal Police assigns approximately 10 personnel to the airport and approximately 15 officers to its INTERPOL office, which is located at Nepal Police headquarters. The INTERPOL office, however, has no designated personnel at Tribhuvan International Airport. INTERPOL notices are maintained in a database, but passengers are not routinely screened through this database. Security and immigration officials are generally responsive to U.S. requests for information, but often have little information to provide.

Nepal shares an open border with India. The 1,000-mile border has a few checkpoints, but they lack sufficient security controls and are sometimes manned by as few as one immigration official. Most people crossing the border are neither stopped nor checked, and the crossing points can easily be circumvented to avoid scrutiny. The primary constraint preventing more robust border-control capability is a lack of resources. The security services lack the personnel, technology, databases, basic equipment, and often even electrical power to provide effective border control. Additional constraints include lack of training and widespread corruption.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Nepal belongs to the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. While the Government of Nepal has made progress in constructing an anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, additional work is required to develop expertise in financial crimes investigations, case management, interagency and departmental coordination, and border control. In February, the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate facilitated a workshop in Nepal attended by judges, prosecutors, and investigators and focused on terrorist financing and anti-money laundering. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): There were no significant changes since 2016.

International and Regional Cooperation: The Nepal police sent three officers to the annual regional counterterrorism seminar hosted by INTERPOL. In April, Nepal engaged in a joint exercise with China focused on anti-hijacking. Nepal also engaged in a two-week joint exercise with India focused on counter-insurgency.


PAKISTAN

Overview: Pakistan continued to experience significant terrorist threats in 2017, although the number of attacks and casualties has decreased from previous years. Major terrorist groups focused on conducting attacks in Pakistan included the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jamaat‑ul‑Ahrar, and the sectarian group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Alami (LJA). Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) claimed several major attacks against Pakistani targets, some of which may have been conducted in collaboration with other terrorist groups. Groups located in Pakistan, but focused on conducting attacks outside the country, included the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network (HQN), Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Terrorists used a range of tactics – stationary and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), suicide bombings, targeted assassinations, and rocket-propelled grenades – to attack individuals, schools, markets, government institutions, and places of worship.

The Pakistani government and military continued high-profile efforts to disrupt terrorist attacks and eliminate anti-state militants. Progress, however, remained slow on the government’s efforts to implement UN sanctions related to designated entities and enforce anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) controls.

The Pakistani government pledged support to political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban but did not restrict the Afghan Taliban and HQN from operating in Pakistan-based safe havens and threatening U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. The government failed to significantly limit LeT and JeM from openly raising money, recruiting, and training in Pakistan – although Pakistan’s Elections Commission refused to allow a LeT‑affiliated group register as a political party.

In November, a Pakistani court ordered the release of Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: Pakistan suffered numerous terrorist attacks throughout 2017. The following examples include some of the more destructive and high-profile attacks and show a variety of methods, targets, and perpetrators.

  • On February 16, a suicide bomber killed at least 88 people at the Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh Province and injured more than 300. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • One June 24, twin explosions in Parachinar in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) killed at least 67. LJA claimed responsibility for the attacks. The heavily Shia area suffered several other large attacks in 2017, including a January 21 bombing and a March 31 suicide attack. Each of these two attacks killed at least 25 people and injured many others.
  • On July 24, a suicide bomber killed at least 26, including nine policemen, in downtown Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Government of Pakistan continued to implement the Antiterrorism Act (ATA) of 1997, the National Counterterrorism Authority Act (NACTA), the 2014 Investigation for Fair Trial Act, and 2014 amendments to the ATA, all of which allow enhanced law enforcement and prosecutorial powers for terrorism cases. The law allows for preventive detention, permits the death penalty for terrorism offenses, and creates special Anti-Terrorism Courts. On March 31, however, the government renewed for two more years a constitutional amendment allowing military courts to try civilians on terrorism charges. Critics argued the military courts were not transparent and were being used to silence civil society activists.

Military, paramilitary, and civilian security forces conducted counterterrorism operations throughout Pakistan. The Intelligence Bureau has nationwide jurisdiction and is empowered to coordinate with provincial counterterrorism departments. The Ministry of Interior has more than 10 law enforcement‑related entities under its administration. The National Counter Terrorism Authority acts as a coordinating body.

Pakistan collects biometric information at land crossings with its International Border Management Security System. Authorities had limited ability to detect smuggling via air travel. The Customs Service attempted to enforce anti-money laundering laws and foreign exchange regulations at all major airports, in coordination with other agencies. Customs’ end-use verification managed the entry of dual-use chemicals for legitimate purposes, while attempting to prevent their diversion for use in improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In keeping with UNSCR 2178 (2014), returning foreign terrorist fighters may be prosecuted under Pakistani law. NACTA compiles and verifies data on returning fighters.

In February, Pakistan’s military announced the nationwide Radd-ul-Fasaad or “Elimination of Strife” operation to prevent cross-border terrorist attacks and limit militants’ access to explosives and weapons. Government and military sources reported scores of military and police operations to disrupt, kill, and apprehend terrorists. Military courts sentenced at least 15 convicted terrorists to death in 2017.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Pakistan is a member of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Pakistan criminalizes terrorist financing through the ATA, but implementation remains uneven.

FATF continued to note concern that Pakistan’s outstanding gaps in the implementation of the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime have not been resolved, and that UN-listed entities – including LeT and its affiliates – were not effectively prohibited from raising funds in Pakistan, nor being denied financial services. Although Pakistan’s laws technically comply with international anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism standards, authorities failed to uniformly implement UN sanctions related to designated entities and individuals such as LeT and its affiliates, which continued to make use of economic resources and raise funds. In November, the Lahore High Court refused to extend the detention of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed as it judged the government had not provided sufficient evidence against him nor had it charged Saeed with a crime.

Pakistan’s National Action Plan to combat terrorism includes efforts to prevent and counter terrorist financing, including by enhancing interagency coordination on CFT. The law designates the use of unlicensed hundi and hawala systems as predicate offences to terrorism and also requires banks to report suspicious transactions to Pakistan’s financial intelligence unit, the State Bank’s Financial Monitoring Unit. These unlicensed money transfer systems persisted throughout the country and were open to abuse by terrorist financiers operating in the cross-border area.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): In November, NACTA finalized a National Narrative to Counter Violent Extremism, which will serve as the basis of the government’s future efforts in this area. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the military’s public relations wing shaped media messages to build support for the military’s counterterrorism initiatives. The government operated some de‑radicalization camps offering “corrective religious education,” vocational training, counseling, and therapy. A Pakistani non-governmental organization administered the widely praised Sabaoon Rehabilitation Center in Swat Valley, which was founded in partnership with the Pakistani military and focused on juvenile terrorists. The Pakistani cities of Nowshera, Peshawar, and Quetta are members of the Strong Cities Network.

There were continued reports that some madrassahs taught extremist doctrine. Increasing government supervision of madrassahs is a component of the National Action Plan, and there was evidence of continued government efforts to increase regulation of the sector. Security analysts and madrassah reform proponents observed, however, that many madrassahs failed to register with the government, to provide to the government documentation of their sources of funding, or to only accept foreign students with valid visas, a background check, and the consent of their governments, as required by law.

International and Regional Cooperation: Pakistan participated in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation meetings on counterterrorism and in other multilateral fora where counterterrorism cooperation was discussed, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (as an observer), the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, and the Global Counterterrorism Forum, of which it is a founding member.


SRI LANKA

Overview: There were no terrorist attacks in 2017. In January, police claimed they disrupted a plot by former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) members to assassinate a Tamil politician. The government maintained a large military presence in post-conflict areas and continued to voice concern about the possible reemergence of LTTE sympathizers, but it has also begun to shift its focus to emerging threats, amid reports of Sri Lankans joining ISIS and other terrorist groups.

Counterterrorism cooperation and training is a growing part of the U.S. relationship with Sri Lanka. For example, two Sri Lankan naval officers attended an anti-terrorism training in Florida in November and December. Additionally, the Sri Lankan government regularly sends officers to U.S.-sponsored regional counterterrorism workshops and courses such as the Comprehensive Security Response to Terrorism at the Daniel K. Inouye - Asia Pacific Center Security Studies (APCSS).

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Government of Sri Lanka continued to use the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), enacted in 1982 as a wartime measure, which gives security forces broad powers to search, arrest, and detain individuals. The National Police claimed there were no arrests made under the PTA during the year. On February 8, the government announced it had indefinitely suspended making arrests under the PTA, pending the release of a new counterterrorism act, a draft of which remained under consideration at the end of 2017. Significant flaws with that draft remain, according to international and domestic legal experts.

The Special Task Force is a unit of the Sri Lanka Police Service specializing in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations and a major security arm of the state charged with ensuring security of top government and foreign government officials, protecting sensitive terrorist targets, and suppressing activities that pose a threat to national security. There is also a Terrorism Investigation Division within the regular police structure.

Border security remained a significant issue for the Sri Lankan government. The Sri Lankan Immigration and Emigration Department is implementing a new information system to process immigration activity. The new system will connect several relevant departments with INTERPOL databases for criminal investigation and intelligence collection purposes, and it is expected to be fully operational in early 2018. The Sri Lankan government expanded its partnership with the U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense, and Energy on securing its maritime border. The U.S. Coast Guard, under the Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security program, continued to train Sri Lankan Coast Guard and Navy personnel on border and export control matters, and the Government of Sri Lanka continued to cooperate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Department of Energy through the container security initiative, megaports, and related initiatives. The Government of Sri Lanka continued to collaborate with the European Union Immigration Department on an Advanced Passenger Information system, which transmits passenger information to Sri Lankan immigration officials upon arrival.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Sri Lanka belongs to the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Sri Lanka’s financial intelligence unit is a member of the Egmont Group. Although it is neither an important regional financial center nor a preferred center for money laundering, Sri Lanka remained vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing. On November 3, FATF added Sri Lanka to its Public Statement entitled “Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: On-going process,” also known as the “grey list.” Sri Lanka agreed to an action plan to address several vulnerabilities, including improving mutual legal assistance, issuing customer due diligence rules for designated non-financial businesses and persons, and enhancing risk-based supervision. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Sri Lanka continued to operate a rehabilitation program for persons allegedly linked to the LTTE, participation in which was mandatory for a majority of the prisoners formerly held under the PTA who were released on bail. The number of persons participating in this program has dropped dramatically in recent years, however. Limited access by independent bodies to known rehabilitation camps precluded reliable evaluations of the government’s efforts. At the provincial level, Sri Lanka is implementing educational outreach programs to address issues of religious tolerance and non-violent conflict resolution. These programs focus on post-conflict areas of Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, and Vavuniya where the local populations are considered vulnerable to re-radicalization.

International and Regional Cooperation: Sri Lanka continued to cooperate with a number of donor countries to improve its land and maritime border security. Sri Lanka is a partner nation in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. In September, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense signed an MOU with Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection on enhanced information sharing on methods for investigating, tracking, and intercepting people smugglers. The agreement also furthers cooperation between the two nations on countering human trafficking, stopping the movement of illicit goods, and targeting money laundering and proceeds of crime. In December, Sri Lanka co-sponsored UN Security Council resolution 2396 on returning and relocating foreign terrorist ‎fighters.


TAJIKISTAN

Overview: Tajikistan continued to prioritize counterterrorism efforts in 2017. The majority of Tajik domestic counterterrorism activities conducted in 2017 targeted organizations and individuals allegedly linked to violent Islamist extremism in Tajikistan, but the government also arrested terrorist suspects returning from Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, and Syria. According to public sources, approximately 1,300 Tajik citizens have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS since 2015. The government viewed northern Afghanistan as the primary potential source of terrorist activity, and continued to take steps to strengthen its border defense capabilities. Tajikistan has been willing to engage with the United States on counterterrorism issues.

Terrorist Incidents:

  • On January 30, an explosive device detonated on the outskirts of the city of Qurghon‑teppa (now called Bokhtar). The blast damaged a vehicle but the vehicle’s owner was not hurt. No one claimed responsibility for the explosion.
  • On March 12, four men in the southern city of Bokhtar planted an explosive device near the military prosecutor’s office. A 67-year-old man who worked as a guard at the technological lyceum located next door to the military prosecutor’s office picked up the device which exploded in his hands, killing him. The perpetrators of this attack were involved in prior terrorism-related incidents including attempted recruiting for ISIS.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Tajikistan adopted the Law on Combating Terrorism in 1999, and has since made a series of amendments, including one in 2017. The government has used this counterterrorism legislation to suppress independent voices, including journalists, opposition figures, and representatives of peaceful religious groups.

In late 2016, Tajikistan published its “National Strategy on Countering Extremism and Terrorism of the Republic of Tajikistan for 2016-2020.” The State Committee for National Security (GKNB) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) have primary responsibility for counterterrorism in the country and also have the greatest resources. These two organizations are tasked with detection, prevention, and deterrence of terrorist acts, but do not always work well together. Cooperation and information sharing were sometimes hampered by interagency competition to curry favor with the country’s leadership, but the published national strategy seeks to improve this situation. The GKNB and MVD both have dedicated special tactical units that handle active counterterrorism actions; both units have received training and equipment from the United States, the Russian Federation, and China.

Tajikistan has developed specific plans for the protection of soft targets, and the U.S. embassy sees frequent evidence of city- and nation-wide drills to exercise these plans. These plans appear to cover critical national infrastructure, foreign diplomatic missions, and state agencies, but may not be comprehensive enough to cover major hotels, stadiums, or cultural sites.

Travel document security and biographic and biometric screening capabilities are lacking at ports of entry, particularly land crossings. Major entry points have access to INTERPOL data and other lists, but connectivity at smaller border posts is lacking. Although Dushanbe International Airport does have some biometric capability, this is not in full use. A recent Department of State Antiterrorism Assistance program capabilities assessment noted aging equipment in need of repair or replacement, and simple visual matching of face to passport photo by Border Guards officers is the primary method of identity confirmation. The Border Guards database was not linked to databases of other law enforcement agencies, and only in Dushanbe International Airport are photos taken of visitors; such capability does not yet exist at land border crossings. Tajikistan does maintain an extensive “wanted” list of citizens believed to have joined ISIS and other terrorist organizations, and this list is readily available online. Tajikistan regularly updates its Red Notice requests with INTERPOL.

On July 21, the Minister of Internal Affairs stated that Tajik law enforcement authorities prevented 12 terrorist acts in the country in the first six months of 2017 and detained 228 Tajik citizens for involvement in terrorist organizations.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Tajikistan is a member of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The laws of Tajikistan provide for criminal penalties for crimes associated with money laundering and terrorist financing. Tajikistan’s Financial Monitoring Department, is a member of the Egmont Group. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): At the end of 2016 Tajikistan completed its national strategy for CVE. The government’s strategy, designed for implementation from 2016 to 2020, is a whole of government approach to combat radicalization to violence in Tajik society. The Tajik government worked closely with the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe to craft the strategy and called a public meeting in September 2017 to ask for the support of the international community in its funding and implementation. The government has supported the implementation of U.S.-sponsored community-policing programs. Additionally, representatives of Tajikistan’s Ulema Council, including the chairman of the council, took part in religious meetings in Russia with Tajik labor migrants to allay fears expressed by the head of the Muslim Spiritual Board (MSB) of Russia, mufti Albir Krganov of Moscow, about the danger of radicalization among Tajik migrants.

Tajikistan amended its criminal laws in 2015, allowing authorities to pardon Tajik fighters who voluntarily return home from Iraq or Syria and renounce foreign militant groups. This is not a blanket amnesty and applies only to those who have not taken part in violence. Some 100 Tajik nationals have since returned from Syria and Iraq. Those pardoned remained on government watch lists but were not legally prevented from applying for jobs, enrolling in universities, or traveling abroad.

In an effort to counter what it considers “extremism,” the government has placed multiple restrictions on forms of political and religious expression and groups it classifies as “extremist.” In 2016, Tajikistan was designated a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

International and Regional Cooperation: Tajikistan is an active participant in regional security arrangements like the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Tajikistan held military exercises in May with Commonwealth of Independent States Anti-Terrorism Center as part of an event named Dushanbe-Anti-Terror 2017. In October 2017, Russia’s 201st Motorized Rifle Division military base (which has garrisons in the cities of Dushanbe and Bokhtar) conducted counterterrorism exercises in Tajikistan that included repelling a simulated terrorists attack on the base’s facilities.


TURKMENISTAN

Overview: The Government of Turkmenistan continued its efforts to improve the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism, ensure border security, and detect terrorist financing. The government continued to cooperate with international organizations and participated in the C5+1 regional framework to counter violent extremism. Government officials participated in training sessions on combating money laundering, preventing terrorist financing, and strengthening border security. Turkmen authorities continued to maintain close surveillance on its population and borders.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: On November 25, President Berdimuhamedov approved, and the Turkmen Parliament adopted, a new Law on Combating Terrorism. The law defines which crimes are considered terrorist acts by nature. This law is supplemented by Articles 271-273 of the Criminal Code, which pertain to terrorist acts and terrorist financing and are used to prosecute terrorism-related offenses.

The Ministries of National Security, Internal Affairs, and Defense, along with the State Border, Customs, and Migration Services perform counterterrorism functions and share information through an interagency commission. The country’s law enforcement capacity still needs further improvement, since law enforcement units do not proactively conduct investigations and have a dismal record of accountability and respect for basic human rights. Prosecutors, however, play a significant role in the investigation phase of a case, and specialized law enforcement units exist to conduct investigations.

The Government of Turkmenistan participated in training programs sponsored by international organizations. These included responding to counterterrorism threats at large public events and passenger screening and baggage x-ray at aviation checkpoints. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) organized training for trainers on aviation checkpoints and x-ray image interpretation for instructors.

Turkmenistan’s State Border Service (SBS) operated frontier garrisons on the border with Iran and Afghanistan. SBS managed eight radiation portal monitors donated by the Department of Energy through its Second Line of Defense program. The monitors help to detect, deter, and prevent the dissemination of explosives and radioactive materials. The SBS possesses biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Turkmenistan is a member of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, and the government continued to express interest in gaining admission to the Egmont Group.

On July 28, the Governments of Turkmenistan and the United States signed an intergovernmental agreement to implement the provisions of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

The government continued to monitor and regulate alternative remittance services, collected data on wire transfers, and monitored non-profit organizations to prevent misuse of financing to sponsor terrorist activities.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): In 2017, the Government of Turkmenistan cooperated with international organizations and participated in the C5+1 regional CVE framework.

International and Regional Cooperation: Turkmenistan supports some regional and international efforts to fight terrorism. In 2017, law enforcement officials participated in OSCE and UN Office on Drugs and Crime training on border security. Government officials also participated in regional CVE training provided by the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia. Turkmenistan continued to participate in the Central Asia Regional Information and Coordination Center.


UZBEKISTAN

Overview: The Government of Uzbekistan remained concerned about the potential spillover of terrorism from Afghanistan and its Central Asian neighbors and about radicalization of Uzbeks abroad. President Mirziyoyev sought to improve relations with Uzbekistan’s neighbors in many areas, including security cooperation. Uzbekistan has actively participated in the C5+1 regional framework with the United States and the Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), which includes a program related to countering violent extremism. Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOI) stepped up its law enforcement cooperation with the United States following the October 31 New York City terrorist attack in which an ethnic Uzbek who was a U.S. permanent resident was charged. While Uzbekistan remains concerned about ISIS recruitment of Uzbeks and shares U.S. interests in combating ISIS, it did not formally join the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The government restricts information on internal matters, making it difficult to analyze the extent of the terrorist threat and the effectiveness of Uzbek law enforcement efforts.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: All of the 2017 terrorist attacks suspected of being committed by Uzbeks or ethnic Uzbeks happened outside of Uzbekistan. A U.S. permanent resident from Uzbekistan is under investigation for driving a rented van into a crowd in New York City on October 31, killing eight people and injuring 12 others. An ethnic Uzbek was arrested in Sweden in April for running a truck into a crowd in Stockholm and killing four people. Another ethnic Uzbek is on trial for committing the Istanbul nightclub attack that killed 39 people and injured 65 others on New Year’s Eve. Dozens of Uzbeks were arrested in Russia throughout 2017 in various anti-terrorism investigations.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The “Law on Combating Terrorism” governs terrorism-related investigations and prosecutions and identifies the National Security Service (NSS) as the lead counterterrorism law enforcement agency. Uzbekistan also criminalizes terrorism under Article 155 of the criminal code. In 2017, President Mirziyoyev announced the National Development Strategy for 2017-2021, Article 2.4 of which targets corruption, extremism, and terrorism.

In September 2017, President Mirizyoyev announced the careful screening and subsequent removal of approximately 16,000 people from a 17,000-person security watch list of suspected Muslim extremists. Despite this positive development, security concerns related to terrorism were commonly used as grounds for detaining people.

Uzbekistan’s officials committed to enhanced police and other information sharing and cooperation in specific cases, such as the October 31 New York City attack, when the Ministry of Interior helped arrange witness interviews and shared information on the interviews and record checks conducted by the MOI. However, Uzbekistan does not publicly share operational counterterrorism information. Both the NSS and the MOI have dedicated counterterrorism units. Uzbek law enforcement maintains its own terrorist watchlist and contributed to INTERPOL databases. Most border posts and airports are equipped with biometric data scanners, and Uzbekistan is working to convert all passports to a new biometric version by July 1, 2018, and to introduce international biometric passports for travel abroad starting January 2019.

Uzbekistan has not reported specific actions to implement UN Security Council resolution 2178 (2014). Frequent document checks and resident-list checks seek to identify potential foreign terrorist fighters. In 2017, human rights activists noted an increase in the number of arrests of returning migrant workers on suspicion of involvement in ISIS or religious extremism. In May, Tashkent City Criminal Court sentenced a group of 11 Muslims to prison terms of up to six years for religious extremism. In August, the same court sentenced two Uzbek nationals to 15 years each for trying to join terrorist groups in Syria.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Uzbekistan belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Article 155 of the criminal code criminalizes the financing of terrorism and includes a prison sentence of eight to 10 years. The anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism law provides for freezing of assets and mandates that all financial entities check parties to a transaction against lists of persons involved or suspected of involvement in terrorist activities. An additional regulation establishes a procedure for the creation of such lists and delisting requests. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Uzbekistan remains concerned about ISIS recruitment of Uzbeks. Ethnic Uzbeks formerly associated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan continued to fight in Afghanistan. Local government organizations strived to educate citizens about the dangers of “religious extremism.” President Mirziyoyev requested the creation of an Islamic Cultural Center in Tashkent to “promote Islam’s true values.” Uzbekistan is developing a draft law “On combating extremism,” which should define violent extremism for purposes of Uzbek law. The law bans a number of religious groups as “extremist.” We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Report on International Religious Freedom for 2017 for further information.

There were few reintegration efforts underway in Uzbekistan. When the President announced the removal of 16,000 people from the blacklist of alleged religious extremists, he said that 9,500 of these individuals had been given jobs and urged Muslim clerics and officials to ensure that the rest of the delisted individuals have employment. Official media and Tashkent Islamic University produced public messages about the dangers of “extremism” and posted them on social media platforms and messaging apps.

International and Regional Cooperation: Uzbekistan is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In 2017, Tashkent hosted the 30th meeting of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) and the fifth SCO RATS Conference on Fighting Terrorism, as well as signed the SCO Convention on Countering Extremism. Uzbekistan has also worked with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime on security issues. In October 2017, Uzbekistan held the first joint Russian-Uzbek military exercise since 2005, which included a simulated counterterrorism operation.

Although Uzbekistan welcomed closer cooperation in fighting terrorism and “extremism” during high level and working meetings with officials from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, and at the Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Sochi, the government does not release detailed information about such efforts.