Overview: Oman is an important regional CT partner that actively worked in 2019 to prevent terrorists from conducting attacks or using the country as a safe haven. The Omani government remains concerned about the conflict in Yemen and the potential for al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS-Yemen to threaten Oman’s land and maritime borders. Omani officials regularly engaged with U.S. officials on the need to counter terrorism, but rarely broadcast their CT efforts publicly. The Government of Oman sought training and equipment from the U.S. government, commercial entities, and other countries to support its efforts to control Omani land, air, and maritime borders. Oman also used U.S. security assistance to improve its crisis management capacity, as well as its CT tactics and procedures. Oman is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), and the Riyadh-based TFTC. The Government of Oman also issued several statements condemning terrorist attacks around the world in 2019.
2019 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist incidents reported in Oman in 2019.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Oman did not promulgate new laws related to penalties for terrorist activity in 2019 but continued to implement the penal code released by Royal Decree 7/2018 in January 2018. This code expands on previously established penalties and specifically stipulates imprisonment for a term of three to 15 years for any Omani citizen who joins or offers either material or “ideological” support to a foreign terrorist or “extremist” organization. Other provisions in the penal code are consistent with previous policies outlining penalties, including the death penalty and life imprisonment, for various terrorist acts, including establishment or leadership of a terrorist group, attempts to join a terrorist group, attempts to recruit for a terrorist group, development of an explosive or weapon, or takeover of any mode of transportation for purposes of terrorism.
CT investigations, crisis responses, and border security capabilities were limited by local capacity and an operating environment made challenging by Oman’s extensive coastline and long, remote borders with Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Nevertheless, Oman had adequate communication and coordination among its many agencies that have CT jurisdiction. The Sultan’s Special Forces and the Royal Oman Police Special Task Force are Oman’s primary CT response forces. The Royal Office Liaison and Coordination Service and the Internal Security Service also play key roles in securing Oman from terrorist threats. Omani authorities have developed specific plans to prevent or respond to terrorist attacks against soft targets.
The major impediments to more effective law enforcement and border security are limited resources, insufficient Omani interagency coordination, and the need for continued training to develop advanced law enforcement skills. The rugged, mountainous terrain along Oman’s border with Yemen is an additional challenge. To address these significant hurdles, Omani authorities continued construction of a fence along the border with Yemen to prevent illegal entry into Oman, and the Omani government continued to seek opportunities for additional U.S. border security training.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Oman is a member of MENAFATF. Its FIU, known as the Financial Information Processing Unit, is a member of the Egmont Group. Oman is also a member of the TFTC.
In collaboration with other TFTC member states, Oman in 2019 imposed one round of sanctions against individuals and entities affiliated with the Iranian regime’s terror-support networks in the region. In November, the Central Bank of Oman, the National Committee to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorism Finance, and the National Committee for Combating Terrorism met to strategize about enhancing protections against money laundering in Oman.
In December, Omani officials participated in a DOJ-led workshop focused on disrupting terrorist and criminal funding mechanisms through effective online undercover investigations.
Countering Violent Extremism: The full nature and scope of Oman’s CVE initiatives remained opaque in 2019, but it is believed Oman continued to counter terrorist recruitment through tightly controlled, private initiatives.
In 2019, Oman’s Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs continued to encourage religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue through a program titled “Tolerance, Understanding, Coexistence – Oman’s Message of Islam.” After facilitating several events in Europe in 2018, the ministry promoted the initiative in 2019 through exhibitions in the United States, Indonesia, and Nepal.
International and Regional Cooperation: In April, the IMCTC announced that 13 member countries, including Oman, sent delegates to the IMCTC headquarters in Riyadh. Oman regularly votes in favor of CT measures in the UN General Assembly, the Arab League, and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation.