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During 2020 the United States and its partners made significant major strides against terrorist organizations; however, the terrorism threat has become more geographically dispersed in regions around the world. Together with international partners, the United States has responded to the evolving threat, including by expanding the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, which now counts 83 members. The Defeat-ISIS Coalition worked to consolidate gains in Iraq and Syria, while broadening efforts to counter the growing ISIS threat in West Africa and the Sahel. In March the United States designated the new leader of ISIS, Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). U.S.-led military operations in 2020 resulted in the deaths of Qassim al-Rimi, the emir of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and of senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) leaders in Syria. The United States continued to address threats posed by state-sponsored terrorism, sanctioning Iran-supported groups such as Iraq-based Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Bahrain-based Saraya al-Mukhtar. Nine countries across the Western Hemisphere and Europe took significant steps in 2020 to designate, ban, or otherwise restrict Hizballah — following the lead of four other governments that took similar actions the previous year. Reflecting the growing threat from racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism (REMVE), the Department of State also designated a white supremacist terrorist organization for the first time in 2020, imposing sanctions against the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) and three of its leaders in April.

Despite important counterterrorism successes, terrorist groups remained a persistent and pervasive threat worldwide. Although ISIS lost all the territory it had seized in Iraq and Syria, the organization and its branches continued to mount a worldwide terrorism campaign, carrying out deadly attacks globally. Illustrating the evolving threat, ISIS affiliates outside Iraq and Syria caused more fatalities during 2020 than in any previous year. ISIS maintained an active presence and low-level insurgency in Iraq and Syria, with increased attacks in both countries during the first half of 2020. In South and Southeast Asia, ISIS radicalized individuals to violence, inspiring them to conduct attacks. In Africa, ISIS-affiliated groups increased the volume and lethality of their attacks across West Africa, the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin, and northern Mozambique. Deaths attributable to ISIS-affiliated attacks in West Africa alone almost doubled from around 2,700 in 2017 to nearly 5,000 in 2020. In Mozambique, an estimated 1,500 deaths were due to ISIS-Mozambique attacks.

In 2020 the United States and its partners continued to battle AQ and its affiliates around the world. The organization faced significant leadership losses with the elimination of Abdelmalek. Droukdel, the emir of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and AQ’s number two, Abu Muhammad al-Masri. Yet, AQ’s networks continued to exploit undergoverned spaces, conflict zones, and security gaps in the Middle East to acquire terrorist resources and conduct terrorist attacks. AQ further bolstered its presence abroad, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, where AQ affiliates AQAP, al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa, and Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin in the Sahel remain among the most active and dangerous terrorist groups in the world. In January 2020, al-Shabaab attacked a military base shared by U.S. and Kenyan military forces in Manda Bay, Kenya, killing one U.S. servicemember and two U.S. contractors. This incident marked the deadliest terrorist attack against U.S. military forces in Africa since 2017.

Iran continued to support acts of terrorism regionally and globally during 2020. Regionally, Iran supported proxies and partner groups in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, including Hizballah and Hamas. Senior AQ leaders continued to reside in Iran and facilitate terrorist operations from there. Globally, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force remained the primary Iranian actors involved in supporting terrorist recruitment, financing, and plots across Europe, Africa, and Asia, and both Americas.

The REMVE threat also continued to expand rapidly, including growing transnational links between REMVE actors around the world. The UN Security Council’s Counterterrorism Committee noted a 320 percent increase in “extreme right-wing terrorism” globally in the five years preceding 2020. White supremacist, anti-government, violent conspiracy theorist, and like-minded individuals and groups targeted perceived enemies and conducted deadly attacks around the world. U.S.-based REMVE actors have communicated with and traveled abroad to engage in person with foreign REMVE actors. In February, a racially motivated violent extremist in Hanau, Germany, shot nine patrons in two shisha bars and then returned home to shoot his mother and finally himself, underscoring the recent surge in violence by REMVE actors.

The global COVID-19 pandemic complicated the terrorist landscape, creating both challenges and opportunities for terrorist groups. While the pandemic disrupted terrorist travel, financing, and operations, terrorist groups adapted their approaches and appeals, using the internet to continue radicalizing others to violence and inspiring attacks worldwide. ISIS exploited the crisis to reinforce violent extremist narratives, proclaiming to followers that the virus was “God’s wrath upon the West.” AQ affiliate al-Shabaab demonstrated an ability to raise and manage substantial resources. Al-Shabaab also engaged in disinformation campaigns to exacerbate COVID-19-related grievances and undermine trust in the Government of Somalia. REMVE actors used the pandemic to incite violence, advocating for followers to actively spread the virus to members of religious or racial minority groups. The pandemic posed additional risks to some U.S. partners, who were less able to focus on counterterrorism efforts and other national security issues given the immediate need to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Amid this diverse and dynamic threat landscape, the United States played an important role in marshaling international efforts to counter global terrorism. In 2020 the United States led the UN Security Council’s 1267 Sanctions Committee’s efforts to designate ISIS affiliates in West Africa, the Greater Sahara, Libya, Yemen, and Indonesia and assign designations to Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, the new ISIS leader, and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan leader Noor Wali Mehsud. In November the United States and Nigeria co-hosted the first Defeat-ISIS Coalition meeting on combating ISIS threats across West Africa and the Sahel. At this meeting, Mauritania announced its membership in the Defeat-ISIS Coalition, becoming its 83rd member and the 13th from sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, the United States continued high-level diplomatic engagement to counter Hizballah across Central America, South America, and Europe. In January the United States participated in the third Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial in Bogota, Colombia — a high-level process launched by the United States in 2018 to confront terrorist threats in the region. This ministerial has been critical in advancing U.S. efforts against Hizballah, with five South and Central American countries recognizing the group as a unitary terrorist organization in the last several years. In 2020, Germany also banned Hizballah domestically with numerous other European governments, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia, following suit with steps of its own.

The United States continued to play a major role in the repatriation, rehabilitation, reintegration, and prosecution of ISIS foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and family members. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have detained about 2,000 non-Syrian and non-Iraqi fighters who remain in Syria. In addition, there are roughly 5,000 Syrian and 2,000 Iraqi fighters in SDF custody. Tens of thousands of FTF family members, primarily women and children, remain in displaced persons’ camps in Syria. To ensure that ISIS fighters and family members captured by the SDF never return to the battlefield, the United States continued to lead by example in bringing back its citizens and prosecuting them when appropriate. As of December, the United States had repatriated 28 U.S. citizens from Syria and Iraq — 12 adults and 16 children — and the Department of Justice charged 10 of the adults with a variety of terrorism-related crimes.

The United States also urged countries of origin to repatriate, rehabilitate, reintegrate, and, where appropriate, prosecute their fighters and associated family members. The U.S. government also assisted several countries in doing so with their citizens or nationals. Additionally, in October, the United States supported the United Kingdom in the transfer of Alexandra Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, two of the four ISIS militant fighters known as the “Beatles,” to the United States for prosecution. The two individuals were charged for their involvement in a hostage-taking scheme that caused the deaths of four U.S. citizens, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria.

Another major line of effort for 2020 was to strengthen partner capabilities to detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist networks. The United States supported governments on the front lines against terrorist threats in critical areas, including information sharing, aviation and border security, law enforcement capacity building, and countering the financing of terrorism. To restrict terrorist travel, the United States signed seven arrangements either with new partner countries or new agencies in existing partner countries, under Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-6, to share information on known and suspected terrorists, bringing the total number of partner countries to 78. The Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (known as PISCES) border security platform grew to include 227 ports of entry in 24 countries, with international partners using it to screen hundreds of thousands of travelers each day.

The United States continued to emphasize to its partners — both publicly and privately — the critical responsibility of governments engaged in counterterrorism operations to ensure that their security forces respect international human rights and humanitarian law and hold their security forces accountable for violations and abuses committed against civilians during these operations.

The United States also engaged with multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Hedayah, to advance U.S. counterterrorism priorities, bolster partner capacity to implement international obligations and commitments, and promote greater burden sharing among key partners. The United States partnered with the United Kingdom and the International Institute of Justice and Rule of Law to launch a new REMVE-focused initiative that gathered more than 40 practitioners and subject-matter experts from 15 countries and nine international organizations to share best practices and identify concrete steps to confront this threat more effectively. In September the 30-member Global Counterterrorism Forum adopted two important framework documents focused on strengthening coordination between national-level and local-level efforts to counter violent extremism and enhance criminal justice responses at the nexus of terrorism and organized crime.

The United States engaged a host of international partners — from governments to local religious leaders and tech companies — to prevent and counter violent extremism, both online and offline. The Department of State supported international initiatives, including the Strong Cities Network and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, and focused on building local resiliency to terrorist radicalization and recruitment misinformation and disinformation, most recently through funded programs in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, Somalia, the Philippines, the Sahel, and the Western Balkans. The United States also integrated countermessaging strategies with critical stakeholder partners, including the tech sector. For example, the Department of State engaged with U.S.-based technology companies in 2020, after designating RIM as an SDGT. In response, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google/YouTube subsequently decided to remove RIM accounts and content from their platforms. In addition, the United States enhanced efforts through the Global Internet Forum to Counterterrorism to support voluntary collaboration with technology companies to deter terrorist access to their platforms.

This brief overview of the United States’ ongoing work to protect our people and our allies from the ongoing threat of terrorism reflects the breadth and depth of our efforts. Country Reports on Terrorism 2020 provides a detailed review of last year’s successes and the ongoing challenges facing our country and our partners around the world, challenges that will require a continued commitment to and investment in global counterterrorism efforts going forward.

John T. Godfrey
Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism

Glossary of Abbreviations

AMISOM African Union Mission in Somalia
AML/CFT Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism
APEC Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
APG Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering
API Advance Passenger Information
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
ATA Anti-Terrorism Assistance
ATS-G Automated Targeting System-Global
AU African Union
BH Boko Haram
CBP U.S. Customs and Border Protection
CFT Countering the Financing of Terrorism
CICTE Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism
CPP/NPA Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army
CT Counterterrorism
CTED United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate
CVE Countering Violent Extremism
DHS U.S. Department of Homeland Security
DoD Department of Defense
DOJ U.S. Department of Justice
EAG Eurasian Group on Combatting Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing
EU European Union
EUROPOL European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation
EXBS Export Control and Related Border Security Program
FARC Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
FATF Financial Action Task Force
FIU Financial Intelligence Unit
FTF foreign terrorist fighter
FTO Foreign Terrorist Organization
GAFILAT Financial Action Task Force of Latin America
GCERF Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund
GCTF Global Counterterrorism Forum
GICNT Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
GTR Global Threat Reduction Program
IDP internally displaced person
IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency
ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization
IDP internally displaced persons
IED improvised explosive device
INTERPOL International Police Criminal Organization
ISIS Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
JNIM Jama-at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslim
MFT Measures and the Financing of Terrorism
MINUSMA UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali
MONEYVAL Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering
MOU memorandum of understanding
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NGO nongovernmental organization
OAS Organization of American States
ODNI Office of the Director of National Intelligence
OPCW Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
OSCE Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
PKK Kurdistan Workers’ Party
PNR Passenger Name Record
PISCES Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System
PREACT Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism
REMVE racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism
TSCTP Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership
UN United Nations
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNOCT United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism
UNODC United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
UNSC United Nations Security Council
UNSCR United Nations Security Council Resolution
USAID United States Agency for International Development
VBIED Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device
WIT white identity terrorism
WMD Weapons of Mass Destruction

For More Information

The Human Rights Report

In the countries listed below, significant human rights issues influenced the state of terrorist activity in the country and may have impeded effective counterterrorism policies and programs or supported causes and conditions for further violence.  Such human rights issues included, among others, unlawful and arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detention (all of the preceding by both government and nonstate actors); harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; violence against and unjustified arrests of journalists; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; widespread and pervasive corruption; repression of religious freedom and violence against religious minorities; and forced and bonded labor.

Please see the U.S. Department of State 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the 2020 Report on International Religious Freedom for more information:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen.

The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

For additional information on money laundering and financial crimes regarding the countries listed below, see the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Albania, Azerbaijan, Brazil, China, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Thailand, Turkey.

Members of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS

Country or Organization Continent or Region
Afghanistan South and Central Asia
Albania Europe
Australia East Asia and the Pacific
Austria Europe
Bahrain Middle East and North Africa
Belgium Europe
Bosnia and Herzegovina Europe
Bulgaria Europe
Cameroon Africa
Canada Western Hemisphere
Central African Republic Africa
Chad Africa
Croatia Europe
Cyprus Europe
Czech Republic Europe
Democratic Republic of the Congo Africa
Denmark Europe
Djibouti Africa
Egypt Middle East and North Africa
Estonia Europe
Ethiopia Africa
Fiji East Asia and the Pacific
Finland Europe
France Europe
Georgia Europe
Germany Europe
Greece Europe
Hungary Europe
Iceland Europe
Iraq Middle East and North Africa
Ireland Europe
Italy Europe
Japan East Asia and the Pacific
Jordan Middle East and North Africa
Kenya Africa
Kosovo Europe
Kuwait Middle East and North Africa
Latvia Europe
Lebanon Middle East and North Africa
Libya Middle East and North Africa
Lithuania Europe
Luxembourg Europe
Malaysia East Asia and the Pacific
Mauritania Africa
Moldova Europe
Montenegro Europe
Morocco Middle East and North Africa
Netherlands Europe
New Zealand East Asia and the Pacific
Niger Africa
Nigeria Africa
Norway Europe
Oman Middle East and North Africa
Panama Western Hemisphere
Philippines East Asia and the Pacific
Poland Europe
Portugal Europe
Qatar Middle East and North Africa
Republic of Guinea Africa
Republic of North Macedonia Europe
Romania Europe
Saudi Arabia Middle East and North Africa
Serbia Europe
Singapore East Asia and the Pacific
Slovakia Europe
Slovenia Europe
Somalia Africa
South Korea East Asia and the Pacific
Spain Europe
Sweden Europe
Taiwan East Asia and the Pacific
Tunisia Middle East and North Africa
Turkey Europe
Ukraine Europe
United Arab Emirates Middle East and North Africa
United Kingdom Europe
United States Western Hemisphere
Yemen Middle East and North Africa
Arab League Middle East and North Africa
Community of Sahel-Saharan States Africa
NATO Western Hemisphere Europe
The European Union Europe

Chapter 1 -- Country Reports on Terrorism



African countries and regional organizations sustained ongoing counterterrorism (CT) efforts against threats in East Africa, the Sahel, and the Lake Chad region while increasing emphasis on preventing the expansion of terrorist groups, their affiliates, and associated organizations into new operating areas in West, Central, and Southern Africa.

In East Africa, Al-Qaeda-affiliate al-Shabaab (AS) retained access to recruits, the ability to raise and manage substantial resources, and de facto control over large parts of Somalia through which it moved freely and launched external operations attacks in neighboring Kenya, including a January attack that killed three Americans in Manda Bay, Kenya.  The group conducts high-profile, sophisticated attacks on Somali civilian and government targets throughout southern Somalia, including in Mogadishu.  It frequently targets African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops and ambushes security forces along supply routes.  At times, AS also tried to contain the northern Somalia-based group of ISIS-linked fighters responsible for local suicide bombings and other attacks against Somali security forces in greater Mogadishu.

AMISOM and Somali security forces continued cooperation with the United States to exert pressure on AS, primarily through coordinated CT operations and small advances in governance in southern Somalia.  The United States continued to support East African partners across the Horn of Africa in their efforts to build CT capacity, including in aviation and border security, advisory assistance for regional security forces, countering terrorist finance, advancing criminal justice sector reforms, and training and mentoring of law enforcement to manage crisis response and conduct investigations.  East African partners undertook efforts to develop and expand regional cooperation mechanisms to detect and interdict terrorist travel and other terrorism-related activities.

In the Lake Chad region, ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA) and, to a lesser extent, Boko Haram (BH), continued to conduct attacks against civilians, government personnel and facilities, and security forces, which resulted in deaths, injuries, abductions, and the capture and destruction of property.  The United States continued to provide advisors, intelligence, training, logistical support, and equipment to Lake Chad region countries and supported a wide range of stabilization efforts, such as defection, demobilization, disengagement, deradicalization from violence, and reintegration programming.  Continued attacks by ISIS-WA and BH have taken a heavy toll on the civilian population, especially in northeast Nigeria, where attacks have displaced more than 2 million people and left roughly 10 million in need of humanitarian assistance.

In the broader Sahel region, terrorist groups expanded their operations in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.  These include affiliates of al-Qa’ida and ISIS, such as Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and ISIS-Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS), respectively.  Partner countries often lacked the means to contain or degrade the threat on a sustained basis.  The G-5 Sahel Joint Force (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger), launched in 2017 to coordinate CT operations among member countries, is not yet capable of disrupting the growing terrorist footprint across the Sahel.  France’s Operation Barkhane continued to play a crucial role in countering terrorist groups while MINUSMA promoted a level of basic security.

Terrorists routinely manipulate intercommunal conflicts by supporting longstanding claims against other groups to gain support for terrorist operations.  Terrorists continued to carry out attacks on military outposts; kidnap or attack western private citizens and humanitarian workers; attack churches, mosques, and schools teaching western curricula; and assassinate civil servants and politicians.  In Mali the government showed an inability to regain control of northern and central parts of the country.  In Burkina Faso, terrorists have increased their operations nationwide.  There was also a notable uptick in violence in the tri-border region shared by Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, marked by a surge in fighting between JNIM and ISIS-GS, which affected all three countries.

Terrorist activities increased in central and southern Africa in 2020.  In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the ISIS affiliate in the DRC (ISIS-DRC), also known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and Madina at Tauheed Wau Mujahedeen (MTM), attacked Congolese civilians, the FARDC, and UN peacekeepers.  According to the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC (UNJHRO), the deaths of at least 849 men, women, and children were attributed to the ADF in North Kivu and Ituri provinces during 2020.

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (or ACLED), since 2017 there have been a reported 697 violent events in Cabo Delgado Province in Mozambique and 2,393 fatalities associated with the ISIS branch in Mozambique (ISIS-Mozambique).  Sixty-three percent of all ISIS-Mozambique activity since 2017 occurred in 2020, while 66 percent of all ISIS-Mozambique-related fatalities occurred in 2020.  Attacks attributed to ISIS-Mozambique in 2020 were more than 130 percent higher than in 2019.  Similarly, fatalities attributed to ISIS-Mozambique in 2020 were 172 percent higher than in 2019 and ISIS-Mozambique-associated violence led to the internal displacement of more than 500,000 people.

ISIS facilitation networks and cells remain a threat in South Africa, after the South African government first publicly acknowledged the group’s existence in the country in 2016.  In July, ISIS threatened to expand its “fighting front” into South Africa if South Africa entered the ISIS conflict in Mozambique.


Burkina Faso
Democratic Republic of the Congo
South Africa

East Asia and the Pacific


During 2020, governments in East Asia and the Pacific strengthened legal frameworks, investigated and prosecuted terrorism cases, increased regional cooperation and information sharing, and addressed critical border and aviation security gaps.  COVID-19 posed significant challenges to domestic law enforcement and judicial authorities.  But governments continued to make arrests and use innovative virtual trial proceedings to ensure continuity of efforts.  In addition, regional cooperation among countries throughout Southeast Asia was moved to virtual environments and resulted in high numbers of terrorism-related arrests and, in many cases, successful prosecutions.

In the Philippines, terrorists used suicide bombings and IEDs and deployed small arms to target civilians and security forces, including the August 24 attack in Sulu province, where the Abu Sayyaf Group killed more than a dozen people and injured more than 70 others.  In Indonesia, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired groups and lone actors continued to target the police, other government actors, and civilians.  The Mujahidin Indonesia Timur carried out two of these attacks, which together killed six civilians.

Authorities in East Asia and the Pacific actively participated in regional and international efforts to counter terrorism.  Australia, Fiji, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan are partners in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.  Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, and New Zealand are members of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (the GCTF).

Civil society organizations accused some governments in the region of using terrorism as a pretext to target members of religious minority groups and human rights defenders.  A multitude of countries, along with civil society and the media, brought significant attention to the Chinese government’s repressive approach to counterterrorism that undermined respect for human rights and relied heavily on mass surveillance, censorship, and mass internment of members of religious and ethnic minorities.


China (Hong Kong and Macau)



Europe continued to face ongoing terrorist threats and concerns in 2020, including from U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (REMVE), and terrorists inspired by ISIS.  ISIS proved its ideological influence, even in the absence of controlling physical territory, and continued to project its power by recruiting from European countries and inspiring attacks against symbolic European targets and public spaces.  Most of these incidents involved simple plots with easily executable tactics, using knives, guns, or vehicles to injure or kill targets of opportunity in France, Germany, and the UK.  One of Europe’s highest-profile attacks was the decapitation of Samuel Paty, a French teacher who showed his class Charlie Hebdo caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.  Paty was murdered by a Russian refugee of Chechen origin, who had been in contact with Syrian violent extremists.

Many foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) from Europe remained in the custody of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria at the end of 2020.  The SDF lacks the resources to sustainably detain ISIS fighters and family members for the long term.  The United States urged countries of origin, including in Europe, to repatriate their citizens — including FTF family members — to rehabilitate, reintegrate, and, where appropriate, prosecute them.  However, most Western European governments were consistently reluctant to repatriate and prosecute adult citizen FTFs, citing concerns that domestic judicial proceedings would not yield convictions or long sentences for defendants and FTFs could pose a threat in their countries of origin.  Over the past few years, several Western European countries revoked the citizenship of citizens who traveled to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS.  Countries in southeast Europe — including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and North Macedonia — successfully repatriated numerous ISIS-affiliated citizens, including FTFs and family members.

Many European governments are increasingly concerned about the threat posed by REMVE actors.  In 2020, European countries saw a rise in REMVE activity and plotting, including against religious, ethnic, or other minority groups.  A right-wing violent extremist killed 10 people and himself in February in targeted attacks on two immigrant-frequented bars in Hanau, Germany.  Numerous European governments expanded law enforcement and other government efforts to combat the threat posed by REMVE individuals and groups.  In Turkey, terrorist groups espousing a range of violent extremist and ethnonationalist political ideologies, such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front, continued to plot against police and military targets in Turkey and raise funds throughout the rest of Europe.

In 2020, several European countries took concrete steps toward designating Hizballah a terrorist organization beyond the EU designations of Hizballah’s military wing.  In April, Germany banned all Hizballah activities and set an example for other European countries.  In June, Kosovo formally designated Hizballah in its entirety, both its political and military wings, as a terrorist organization.  In August, Lithuania publicly declared Hizballah a terrorist organization in its entirety and banned all Hizballah affiliates from entering the country. In October, Estonia recognized Hizballah as a terrorist organization in its entirety.  And in December, Slovenia designated Hizballah a terrorist organization.  Latvia automatically adopts all U.S. FTO designations, including for Hizballah, and also issued a formal statement on Hizballah in December.  In September a Bulgarian court sentenced in absentia two Hizballah operatives to life in prison for their role in the 2012 Burgas bus bombing.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland thwarted an attempted truck bombing on January 31 (“Brexit Day”) in County Armagh.  Allegedly, members of the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) attached an explosive device to the exterior of a truck and attempted to put it on a ferry bound for Scotland.  The CIRA is also suspected of conducting presence patrols in County Fermanagh.  Both incidents occurred before the UK-EU border agreement.  With a new “soft border” in the Irish Sea, instead of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, threats of an Irish Republican resurgence appear to be tamped down.

European countries were integral to worldwide counterterrorism efforts in 2020.  Seven European countries, plus the European Union, remain financial supporters of the Global Community Engagement & Resilience Fund (GCERF).  Thirty-seven European countries, the EU, INTERPOL, and NATO were active in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.  In December, NATO provided an update on implementation of the NATO Counterterrorism Action Plan, which includes efforts to increase resilience, expand cooperation with NATO partners and international organizations, and improve information sharing.  Key developments in 2020 included the approval of a NATO policy on battlefield evidence and a practical framework for technical exploitation, as well as the publication of NATO’s first-ever Counter-Terrorism Reference Curriculum, designed to support allies and partners in enhancing their capacities to develop national skills and improve counterterrorism strategies.  The Counterterrorism Action Plan also addresses NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, its Defeat-ISIS support, and NATO Mission Iraq.  Many of NATO’s 40 partner countries — spanning from Mongolia to Colombia, and in particular the 11 partner nations in the Middle East and North Africa — consistently seek increased engagement with NATO on counterterrorism.


Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Netherlands
North Macedonia
United Kingdom

The Middle East and North Africa


Significant terrorist activities and safe havens persisted in the Middle East and North Africa throughout 2020.  The 83-member U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS continued its comprehensive efforts to prevent a resurgence of ISIS’s so-called physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria and the activities of its branches and networks.  Al-Qa’ida and its affiliates, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), and Iran-backed terrorist groups like Hizballah also remained active throughout the region.

While ISIS remains unable to control territory and its leadership ranks have been significantly degraded, the group remains a serious threat to U.S. interests, security in the region, and beyond.  In Iraq and Syria, ISIS fighters continued to wage a low-level insurgency, seeking to destabilize the region, recruit new members, and regain territory.  More than 10,000 ISIS fighters, including some 2,000 foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) remained in Syrian Democratic Forces-controlled detention facilities in northeast Syria.  More than 70,000 associated foreign family members, most of them children, remain in humanitarian camps for displaced persons.  The COVID-19 pandemic presented logistical challenges to repatriations, but the United States continued to encourage allies to repatriate their citizens and to prosecute or to rehabilitate and reintegrate them, as appropriate.  Beyond Iraq and Syria, ISIS branches, networks, and supporters across the Middle East and North Africa remained active, including in the Arabian Peninsula, Libya, the Sinai Peninsula, Tunisia, and Yemen.

In Libya, local security forces conducted ground operations to neutralize threats posed by ISIS and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) fighters and facilitators, including a September operation by the self-styled Libyan National Army that eliminated the emir of ISIS in Libya.  ISIS-Sinai Province, one of the first ISIS branches to swear allegiance to the new ISIS self-proclaimed caliph following Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death, continued its terrorist campaign in North Sinai.  In the Maghreb, separate counterterrorism efforts and operations by Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia thwarted the activities of ISIS and other terrorist groups.  Algerian forces conducted a steady stream of operations to prevent terrorist groups, including AQ and ISIS affiliates, from planning or conducting attacks.

Al-Qa’ida’s leadership ranks in the Middle East and North Africa were significantly degraded, starting with the death of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) emir Qassim al-Rimi, killed in Yemen in January.  Abu Muhammad al-Masri, al-Qa’ida’s number two, was killed in Tehran in August.  Despite these setbacks, al-Qa’ida remained a resilient adversary and actively sought to reconstitute its capabilities and maintain safe havens in the region amid fragile political and security climates, particularly in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

In Yemen, AQAP and ISIS’s Yemen branch continue to linger in the seams between the various parties to Yemen’s civil war, despite pressure from the Houthi’s military campaign in al-Bayda governorate.  Both ISIS-Yemen and AQAP suffered leadership losses and claimed a smaller number of attacks inside Yemen in 2020.  Globally, AQAP sought to capitalize off the claim it supported the perpetrator of the 2019 shooting at U.S. Naval Air Station Pensacola as well as to exploit the controversy over a French schoolteacher’s depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.  The Houthis continue to receive material support and guidance from Iranian entities, including to enable attacks against Saudi Arabia.  These attacks have utilized armed drones and ballistic missiles, which damaged airports and critical infrastructure.

Iran continued to use the IRGC-QF to advance Iran’s interests abroad.  Iran also continued to acknowledge the active involvement of the IRGC-QF in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the latter in support of the Assad regime.  Through the IRGC-QF, Iran continued its support to several U.S.-designated terrorist groups, providing funding, training, weapons, and equipment.  Among the groups receiving support from Iran are Hizballah, Hamas, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, al-Ashtar Brigades and Saraya al-Mukhtar in Bahrain, and Kata’ib Hizballah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) in Iraq.  Iran also provided weapons and support to other militant groups in Iraq and Syria, to the Houthis in Yemen, and to the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Iran-backed militias escalated the pace of attacks on Embassy Baghdad and Iraqi bases hosting U.S. and other Defeat-ISIS forces.

Countries in the Gulf region continued to take important steps to combat terrorism.  Following the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue in September, the two governments committed to shared counterterrorism priorities for 2021, including security preparations for Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022, combating the financing of terrorism, and countering violent extremism.  Saudi Arabia and the United States continued to co-lead the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), an initiative founded in 2017 to increase U.S.-Gulf multilateral collaboration to counter terrorist financing.  In 2020, TFTC members imposed sanctions against six individuals and entities affiliated with ISIS.

In the Levant, several terrorist groups, most notably Hizballah, continued to operate in Lebanon and Syria.  Hizballah remained Iran’s most dangerous terrorist partner and the most capable terrorist organization in Lebanon, controlling areas across the country.  Iran’s annual financial backing to Hizballah — which in recent years has been estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars — accounts for most of the group’s annual budget.  Hizballah’s presence in Lebanon and Syria continued to pose a threat to Israel.  Israel continued to warn the international community about Hizballah’s efforts to produce precision-guided missiles (PGMs) within Lebanon, including through media presentations detailing potential production sites.  Hizballah has said that it possesses enough PGMs for a confrontation with Israel, but it has denied missiles are being developed in Lebanon.  Although Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza and the West Bank continued to threaten Israel, Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces continued their coordination in the West Bank in an effort to mitigate violence.


Israel, West Bank, and Gaza
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates

South and Central Asia


South Asia in 2020 saw, in addition to continued terrorist activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a volatile mix of insurgent attacks punctuated by incidents of terrorism in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as well as in Maldives and Bangladesh.  Although ISIS lost its territory in Syria, new branches that surfaced in 2019 in Pakistan and India continued to operate.  Other ISIS-affiliated groups claimed responsibility for attacks in the Maldives and Bangladesh in 2020.  Though al-Qa’ida has weakened, its regional affiliate in the Indian subcontinent (AQIS) continued to operate from remote locations that have served as safe havens.

Afghanistan continued to experience aggressive and coordinated terrorist attacks by ISIS’s branch in the region, the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K).  The Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN), continued a high pace of insurgent attacks against the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).  The Taliban also conducted attacks targeting government officials.  ANDSF retained full responsibility for security in Afghanistan and, in partnership with NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, took aggressive action against terrorist elements across Afghanistan.  In 2020 the ANDSF and the Taliban separately maintained pressure against ISIS-K and prevented the group from reclaiming lost territory.  ISIS-K continues to regroup and retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks against civilian and government targets.

Pakistan continued to experience terrorist attacks in 2020.  Pakistani military and security forces undertook CT operations against groups that conducted attacks within Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), ISIS-K, and the Balochistan Liberation Army.  Pakistan took steps in 2020 to counter terror financing and restrain India-focused militant groups from conducting attacks.  Pakistan convicted Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and four other senior LeT leaders in multiple terrorism financing cases.  The Sindh High Court overturned the 2002 convictions of Omar Sheikh and three co-conspirators for the 2002 kidnapping and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl on April 2 and ordered their release on December 24.  Sheikh remained detained while provincial and federal officials’ appeals continued through the end of the year.

Regionally, however, terrorist groups continued to operate from Pakistan.  Groups targeting Afghanistan — including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN, as well as groups targeting India, including LeT and its affiliated front organizations, and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) — continued to operate from Pakistani territory.  Pakistan did not take action against other known terrorists such as JeM founder and UN-designated terrorist Masood Azhar and 2008 Mumbai attack “project manager” Sajid Mir, both of whom are believed to remain free in Pakistan.  Pakistan did make positive contributions to the Afghanistan peace process, such as encouraging Taliban reductions in violence.  Pakistan made additional progress in 2020 toward completing its Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan, but did not complete all Action Plan items, and remained on the FATF “gray list.”

The United States continues to build its strategic partnership with the Government of India, including through bilateral engagements such as the 17th Counterterrorism Joint Working Group and Third Designations Dialogue in September, as well as the third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in October.  Indian counterterrorism forces, at the federal and state levels, actively detected and disrupted transnational and regional terror forces.  The National Investigation Agency examined 34 terrorism-related cases related to ISIS and arrested 160 persons, including 10 alleged Al Qaeda operatives from Kerala and West Bengal, in September.

In the wake of the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide attacks by ISIS-inspired terrorists, Sri Lanka continued efforts to enhance its counterterrorism capabilities and improve border security, including through engagement with the United States and other international partners, though progress on some cooperative initiatives stalled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Sri Lankan police continued to cooperate with the FBI on the ongoing investigation into the 2019 Easter attacks.  More than 100 suspects remain in custody.  Sri Lankan indictments remained pending at year’s end.  The U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against three individuals for their roles in the killing of five U.S. citizens during the 2019 attacks.

In Maldives, the government continued to make progress bolstering its CT efforts.  During 2020, the government focused its CT efforts on countering violent extremism and the arrest of Maldivians suspected of arson attacks, stabbings, and other terrorist activities.  In October the Government of Maldives placed the first returning FTF into the newly established National Reintegration Center to facilitate rehabilitation and reintegration.  However, the individual was later released owing to insufficient evidence.  The center is preparing to open officially in the fall of 2021.

Bangladesh experienced a decrease in terrorist activity in 2020, accompanied by an increase in terrorism-related investigations and arrests.  ISIS claimed responsibility for a February 28 IED blast near a police box in Chattogram and a July 31 attack at a Hindu temple in the Naogaon district.  On July 24, a third attack occurred involving a small IED planted on a police motorcycle in Dhaka.  Throughout 2020 the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTCU) and Rapid Action Battalion established deradicalization and rehabilitation programs, in addition to conducting investigations and arrests of suspected FTFs and community policing efforts.

Central Asian countries remained concerned about the potential spillover of terrorism from Afghanistan, because of instability in some Afghan provinces bordering Central Asian states, as well as the potential threat posed by the return of their citizens who traveled to Iraq or Syria to fight with terrorist groups, including ISIS.  Additionally, Central Asian governments expressed concerns over the risk of radicalization to violence and recruitment by terrorist use of the internet and transnational terrorist networks among migrant workers traveling to Russia and other countries for employment.  In December, Uzbekistan repatriated 98 family members of FTFs from Syria, providing them with rehabilitation and reintegration services.

Throughout  2020 some Central Asian governments engaged the United States on repatriation efforts of ISIS-associated family members, mostly women and children, from Iraq and Syria.  Through the C5+1 (the United States plus the Central Asian countries), officials from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan participated in the associated C5+1 Security Working Group focused on regional cooperation on counterterrorism issues.

International human rights organizations continued to express concern that some Central Asian governments used “extremism” laws to prosecute and convict political dissidents or religious activists with no ties to terrorism or violent extremism.


Kyrgyz Republic
Sri Lanka

Western Hemisphere


During 2020, terrorism presented challenges to the security of countries throughout the Western Hemisphere.  Global terrorist organizations — including ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and Hizballah — have a limited presence or small pockets of supporters in the region that include nationally or locally oriented groups, such as the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, or ELN) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), dissidents in Colombia and Shining Path/Sendero Luminoso in Peru.  Compounding the global COVID-19 pandemic, corruption, weak government institutions, insufficient interagency cooperation, weak or nonexistent legislation, and a general lack of resources remained obstacles to improving security in 2020.  Nevertheless, governments in the Western Hemisphere made significant progress in their counterterrorism efforts and strengthened regional cooperation against terrorism.

The Lebanon-based and Iran-backed terrorist group Hizballah continued its long history of activity in the Western Hemisphere, including fundraising by its supporters and financiers in the region, such as in the Tri-Border Area where the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet.  Hizballah supporters generate funding through licit and illicit activity and donate undetermined amounts to Hizballah in Lebanon, which uses the funds to advance its broader terrorist agenda.  In recent years, Hizballah supporters and members have been identified in Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Panama and in the United States.  In January, Colombian President Iván Duque declared Hizballah a terrorist organization.  In July, Argentina’s domestic terrorist registry effectively extended the listing of Hizballah, Hizballah’s External Security Organization, and senior Hizballah leaders for at least another year.

While most Western Hemisphere countries reported no terrorist incidents in 2020, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela all experienced significant terrorist activity.  Colombian FARC dissident groups and the ELN continued to commit acts of terror throughout Colombia, including bombings, violence against civilian populations and demobilized FARC members, kidnappings, attacks against utilities infrastructure, and violent attacks against military and police facilities.  Paraguay reported alleged elements of the Paraguayan People’s Army continued to conduct kidnappings and sabotage operations.  Peru’s overall numbers of terrorist attacks and deaths of security forces attributable to terrorism increased in 2020.  Security forces died in five terrorist incidents.  In September, Venezuelan press reported 19 persons died, including 4 military personnel, in a shootout between the Venezuelan Armed Forces and the FARC dissident 10th front, associated with dissident leader Gentil Duarte, in Apure state.

Foreign terrorist organizations remained actively engaged in illicit finance schemes in the Southern Cone.  On December 16 the Argentine federal police arrested a Russian woman in Mar del Plata with an outstanding INTERPOL Red Notice for financing ISIS.  Brazil reported progress mitigating the shortcomings identified in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) third-round mutual evaluation report from 2010 and worked to address the remaining deficiencies ahead of its mutual evaluation, scheduled for 2021.  Panama updated Chapter 5 of its National Risk Assessment, which relates to terrorism financing.  Since the beginning of 2020, the Panama Maritime Authority de-flagged more than 40 vessels for violating U.S. or UN sanctions relating to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela.  Paraguay continued to implement a 2019 package of 10 anti-money laundering laws and passed new legislation to improve the administration of seized assets in preparation for the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America mutual evaluation.  That evaluation began in 2019, but completion was delayed until 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Paraguay also passed two Presidential Decrees related to money laundering and terrorist financing investigations and National Country Risk Assessments.  The FIU of Peru published a guide for the implementation of the Asset Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention System in the foreign exchange trading sector.  Illegal gold mining is the number-one source of money laundering in Peru, at an estimated $927 million from January through September.  In February, FATF removed Trinidad and Tobago from countries listed as Jurisdictions Under Increased Monitoring (the FATF “gray list”).  Trinidad and Tobago had been subject to heightened oversight since 2017.  The Government of Trinidad and Tobago also listed nine individuals and entities under the Antiterrorism Act and froze their assets, including Emraan Ali, a U.S. citizen born in Trinidad and Tobago, who was charged in U.S. federal court for providing and attempting to provide material support to ISIS.

Many countries in the region are concerned with and took steps toward countering violent extremism (CVE).  The Government of Argentina systematically issued statements of condemnation against major acts of terrorism.  The Brazilian Congress and various government agencies, including the Brazilian Federal Police and the Ministry of Foreign Relations, organized or participated in conferences addressing international terrorism, with an emphasis on countering “online radicalization and preventing the use of the internet for terrorist purposes.”  Colombia continued to employ a modern, multi-agency approach to CVE.  President Iván Duque of Colombia signed decrees in April and July allowing individual demobilization for members of organized armed groups, including FARC dissidents.  Peru’s multisectoral Valleys of the Rivers Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM) 2021 Development Strategy, part of Peru’s bicentennial vision, fostered alternative development and social inclusion to complement aggressive action against Sendero Luminoso (SL) terrorism, propaganda, and recruitment.

Several Western Hemisphere governments took concrete steps to enhance legislation, law enforcement, and border security, while others faced challenges.  Canada reported eight legal activities affecting the investigation and prosecution of terrorism offenses and six new terrorism prosecutions.  In January, Colombian and U.S. agencies concluded a memorandum of understanding to exchange terrorism screening information to enhance border security in both countries.  Panama used an executive decree to control dual-use goods and adopted a national control list for dual-use goods in accordance with UNSCR 1540 obligations.  The country also established an executive decree to address chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incidents.  Panama continued to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement on CT cases involving individuals linked to Hizballah.  The Paraguayan government made use of a 2013 counterterrorism law that allows for the domestic deployment of the Paraguayan military to counter internal or external threats and collaborated with Argentina and Brazil on border security initiatives, regional exchanges, and law enforcement projects, although the closure of borders during the COVID-19 pandemic hindered in-person exchanges.  Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay coordinated law enforcement efforts in the Tri-Border Area through their Trilateral Tri-Border Area Command.  Peru highlighted four joint military and police counterterrorism operations.  Argentina’s plans to introduce changes to the criminal code to reform its legal framework for terrorism cases remained delayed in 2020.  Citing peace negotiation protocols, Cuba refused Colombia’s request to extradite 10 ELN leaders living in Havana after that group claimed responsibility for the 2019 bombing of the National Police Academy in Bogotá that killed 22 persons and injured 87 others.  Cuba harbored several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on charges related to political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades.  A December reform to Mexico’s National Security Law regulated the interaction between Mexican officials and foreign agents, which could potentially slow information exchanges on law enforcement and counterterrorism efforts.  Trinidad and Tobago’s counterterrorism institutions faced challenges related to staffing, funding, and coordination.

Authorities in the Western Hemisphere actively participated in multilateral and regional efforts to counter terrorism.  Colombia in January hosted the third Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial in Bogotá in January, where Colombian President Iván Duque declared Hizballah a terrorist organization.  Also in January, President Duque chose to declare every entity on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list a terrorist organization, except for the FARC, which signed the 2016 Peace Accord and which the Colombian government no longer considers a terrorist organization.  Peru offered to host the next ministerial conference in 2021.  The Organization of American States’ Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (OAS-CICTE) held its 20th regular session September 25.  The Dominican Republic was confirmed as 2020-21 chair and Guyana as co-chair.  Fourteen OAS member states, including the United States, participated in the OAS-CICTE Inter-American Network Against Terrorism.  This network helped partners to implement UNSCR 2396 information sharing obligations and increased communication among OAS member states on terrorist travel, terrorist designations, and efforts to address terrorism financing.

The OAS-CICTE hosted virtual workshops on cybersecurity in Panama.  The Governments of Panama and Paraguay partnered with and completed the OAS-CICTE’s three-year project, “Technical Assistance for Implementation of Financial Sanctions Against Terrorism.”  Trinidad and Tobago was scheduled to host a regional conference on counterterrorism and CVE in partnership with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the UN Office of Counterterrorism in March that was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Trinidad and Tobago

Chapter 2 -- State Sponsors of Terrorism

This report provides a snapshot of events during 2020 relevant to countries designated as State Sponsors of Terrorism.  It does not constitute a new announcement regarding such designations.

To designate a country as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the Secretary of State must determine that the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.  Once a country is designated, it remains a State Sponsor of Terrorism until the designation is rescinded in accordance with statutory criteria.  A wide range of sanctions is imposed as a result of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, including the following:

  • A ban on arms-related exports and sales.
  • Controls over exports of dual-use items, requiring 30-day Congressional notification for goods or services that could significantly enhance the terrorist-list country’s military capability or ability to support terrorism.
  • Restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance.
  • Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.


Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Chapter 3 -- The Global Challenge of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, or Nuclear Terrorism

The use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) materials and expertise remained a credible terrorist threat in 2020.  As a countermeasure to this threat, the United States published a National Strategy for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Terrorism in 2018 and continues to work proactively to disrupt and deny ISIS and other nonstate actors’ CBRN capabilities.

The international community has established numerous international partnerships to counter the CBRN threat from terrorists and other nonstate actors.  The United States routinely provides technical and financial assistance as well as training to international organizations and partner nations to help strengthen their abilities to protect and secure CBRN–applicable expertise, technologies, and material.  Efforts to address CBRN terrorist threats through UNSCR 1540 and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism are detailed in Chapter 4.

The Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (GP) was launched in 2002 to prevent terrorists — or states that support them — from acquiring or developing WMD.  Today, the GP has expanded its membership to 30 countries and the European Union, sustaining a vital forum for countries to exchange information on national priorities for CBRN programmatic efforts worldwide and coordinate assistance for these efforts.  The GP presidency is tied to the G-7 rotation; the United States presided over both bodies in 2020.

The United States continues to support the International Atomic Energy Agency Division of Nuclear Security, which helps member states develop the capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to threats of nuclear terrorism through the development of guidance as well as the provision of training, technical advice and assistance, peer reviews, and other advisory services.

Through the Global Threat Reduction Program (GTR), the Department of State continued its work to prevent states and terrorist groups from acquiring or proliferating WMD to attack the United States.  In 2020 the GTR’s chemical, biological, and nuclear security programs implemented dozens of capacity building projects to ensure that foreign partners could detect and counter WMD terrorism threats.  To ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS and to help prevent future WMD attacks, GTR leveraged virtual reality platforms to train Iraqi civil and security sectors from both the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to identify and neutralize potential clandestine chemical and biological weapons laboratories in Iraq.  In response to the threat of transnational terrorists conducting chemical weapons (CW) attacks using unrestricted, commercially available material, GTR collaborated with security forces around the world to train law enforcement in partner countries to detect and prevent CW attacks against vulnerable transportation hubs, such as railways and subways.

GTR’s biosecurity efforts support partner capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks of high-consequence pathogens — whether intentional, accidental, or natural — and have engaged human and animal health laboratories for safe and secure diagnostics and sample management.  GTR also worked with government, industry, and academic personnel in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Nigeria, the Philippines, and other countries to promote the adoption of security measures to prevent individuals or nonstate actors from acquiring weaponizable chemical, biological, and nuclear material and technology.

The Department of State’s Export Control and Border Security (EXBS) Program funds capacity building programs aimed at strengthening legal and regulatory systems, developing licensing tools, enhancing border security and trade enforcement, providing outreach to key industrial and business sectors, and encouraging information sharing within governments and across national borders.  As part of a core national security strategy to combat terrorist organizations, a key objective of EXBS is to provide stakeholders with substantive knowledge, skills, and tools to prevent state and nonstate actors from acquiring WMD, explosives, and conventional arms (including Man-portable Air Defense Systems and Antitank Guided Missiles), or using those materials against U.S. citizens and interests.  To achieve this objective, EXBS continued to train partner governments in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and Western Hemisphere regions to detect, interdict, and counter the materials, technologies, and tactics that terrorists could use to carry out low-technology attacks on public transportation.  Additionally, in 2020, EXBS developed curricula for partner nation security forces to address threats posed by improvised threats, including the use of drones as delivery mechanisms and insider threats focused on the commercial aviation sector.  EXBS also provided comprehensive training to Middle Eastern and North African border security officials on border security, cargo and passenger interdiction, and counter-IED training.  EXBS partnered with the CT Bureau and the interagency to engage with key partners on aviation security programming.  Finally, EXBS furnished equipment and training to strengthen aviation security and mitigate threats to civilian aviation, and provided land border security training for Egyptian, Iraqi, and Libyan security forces to stem the flow of illicit materials and maintain gains made against ISIS and other nonstate actors.

The U.S. government continues to work with the interagency and partners to take steps in response to the decision adopted at the 2018 special session of the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, titled “Addressing the Threat From Chemical Weapons Use.”  Such steps include measures aimed at facilitating the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW’s) Technical Secretariat (TS) access to additional response tools against chemical weapons use, including by nonstate actors, and appropriate funding, such as for the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team (IIT).  In April the IIT issued its first report that found reasonable grounds to believe that the Syrian Arab Republic was responsible for three chemical weapons attacks in 2017.  The IIT is responsible for identifying individuals or entities involved in the use of chemical weapons in certain cases, regardless of whether the perpetrators are state or nonstate actors.  Also related to the 2018 Conference of the States Parties decision, the OPCW is pursuing options to further assist States Parties with preventing the threat posed by nonstate actor interest in and use of chemical weapons.  Finally, the Department of State’s Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund has provided funding and personal protective equipment to support the OPCW’s TS special missions and contingency operations related specifically to Syria through the OPCW’s Trust Fund for Syria Missions.

Chapter 4 -- Terrorist Safe Havens (Update to 7120 Report)

Terrorist safe havens described in this report include ungoverned, undergoverned, and ill-governed physical areas where terrorists are able to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, transit, and operate in relative security because of inadequate governance capacity, political will, or both.

As defined by section 2656f(d) of Title 22 of the U.S. Code, the terms “terrorist sanctuary” and “sanctuary” exclude the territory of a country the government of which is subject to a determination under section 4605(j)(1)(A) of Title 50 [deemed under Section 1768(c)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA FY19) to refer to section 1754(c) of the NDAA FY19 as of August 13, 2018]; section 2371(a) of Title 22; or section 2780(d) of Title 22.  (For information regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, and Syria, see Chapter 2, State Sponsors of Terrorism.)

Terrorist Safe Havens

Somalia.  In 2020, terrorists continued to use undergoverned areas throughout Somalia as safe havens to plan, conduct, and facilitate operations within Somalia, including mass-casualty bombings in major urban areas, and attacks in neighboring countries.  The Federal Government of Somalia’s Comprehensive Approach to Security partnership with the international community includes military, law enforcement, and CVE-specific “strands” to ameliorate Somalia’s security challenges at the federal, state (federal member state), and local levels.  Somali law enforcement took several actions in 2020 that led to prosecutions of individuals suspected of terrorism-related activities.  Despite critical gaps in its counterterrorism strategy, the Somali government remained a committed partner and vocal advocate for U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

With the notable exception of targeted operations carried out by U.S.-trained and -equipped units of Somali military forces, the Somali National Army as a whole remained incapable of independently securing and retaking towns from al-Shabaab.  This critical gap allowed al-Shabaab to continue to extort local populations and forcibly recruit fighters, some of them children.

As has long been the case, al-Shabaab maintained its safe haven in the Jubba River Valley as a primary base of operations for plotting and launching attacks.

Al-Shabaab leveraged its influence in southern and central Somalia to extort millions of dollars in revenue from residents and businesses, according to the UN Panel of Experts on Somalia.  The group spent much of its money on operations, which this year included IED attacks, suicide bombings, complex attacks against government and civilian facilities, targeted assassinations, ambushes along supply routes, and indirect fire attacks.  Al-Shabaab maintained an ability to strike U.S. interests in the region and on January 5 attacked the U.S.-supported Kenya Defense Forces military base, Camp Simba, in eastern Kenya, killing three U.S. citizens and destroying aircraft and infrastructure.  Then, on January 8, attackers detonated a vehicle-borne IED (VBIED) near Parliament and other government buildings, killing at least 5 persons and wounding 10 others.  In August, al-Shabaab detonated a VBIED and conducted an armed assault on a beachside hotel in Mogadishu, killing 18 people and injuring 25 others, and in November a suicide bomber killed 8 people near Aden Adde International Airport.

The group retained control of several towns throughout the Jubaland region, including Jilib and Kunyo Barow, and maintained operations in the Gedo region to exploit the porous Kenya-Somalia border and attack targets in Kenya.  The Kenyan government maintains a strong presence throughout the border region.

In northern Somalia, ISIS-linked fighters continued to maintain a limited safe haven in Puntland.

Somalia remained heavily dependent on regional and international partners to support almost all major security functions throughout the country, making little progress on improving interagency coordination to limit terrorist transit through the country.

According to independent sources and non-governmental organizations engaged in demining activities on the ground, there was little cause for concern regarding the presence of WMD in Somalia. 

The Lake Chad Region.  In 2020, Boko Haram (BH) and ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA) maintained safe havens in parts of northeast Nigeria and on islands in Lake Chad, preventing the reestablishment of state administration, service delivery, and humanitarian relief in broader territory surrounding Lake Chad.  While those safe havens are reduced from the territory BH controlled in 2014-15, ISIS-WA in particular was able to take control of more territory in the course of the year, battling both government forces and those of BH.  Forces from Nigeria and other members of the Multinational Joint Task Force (Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger) continued to combat both terrorist groups, but still lack the capability to clear safe havens or to secure borders and hold and effectively administer territory regained from the militants.  Both BH and ISIS-WA continued to conduct asymmetric attacks against civilians, military, and government personnel, including through suicide bombers, VBIEDs, raids, ambushes, kidnappings, and other means.

In March, BH militants killed 98 Chadian soldiers near Boma in the Lake Chad region, the deadliest single terrorist attack in Chad’s history.  BH continued employing suicide bombers and IEDs, including the first documented maritime IED.  Then in December, BH members attacked the village of Toumour in eastern Diffa region, Niger, killing 30 villagers and destroying an estimated 800 homes.

No government in the Lake Chad Region was known to support or facilitate the proliferation or trafficking of WMD in or through its territory.     

The Trans-Sahara.  In 2020, al-Qa’ida affiliate Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), and other groups, including Ansural Islam and ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS), continued to stage asymmetric attacks in the Trans-Sahara region, to expand the areas under their control and to prevent effective government provision of services.  In addition to asymmetric attacks, these groups perpetrated a series of large-scale conventional attacks on both patrols and fixed positions of regional armed forces across the Sahel, while seeking to expand their operations to regions further south.  These terrorist groups have freedom of movement in northern and central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, along the Mali-Niger border, and along the Burkina Faso/Niger border — demonstrated by their ability to quickly mass forces during the large-scale attacks and massacres seen this year and last.  JNIM continued to insert itself into long-standing ethnic conflicts such as the Fulani herder versus Dogon farmer conflict over grazing land and water.

Niger faces a terrorist threat on each of its seven borders.  In January, suspected members of ISIS-GS attacked a Nigerien military base in Chinagodrar, killing 89 members of the Nigerien military.  In August, ISIS-GS murdered six French citizens and two Nigeriens at the Koure Giraffe Reserve, south of Niamey.  In Burkina Faso alone, BH and ISIS-WA carried out at least 400 attacks in 2020, compared with just over 200 in 2019.

In Mali, members of JNIM kidnapped political opposition leader, Soumaila Cisse.  They held Cisse until the transition government agreed to release over 200 prisoners, suspected jihadists and JNIM affiliates among them, in exchange for Cisse and three European citizens.  In October, suspected terrorists laid siege to Farabougou, a town about 260 miles northeast of Bamako.  They encircled the town, allowing no one to enter or leave.  The government sent forces to retake the town but was unsuccessful.  In November, terrorists launched rocket attacks on three separate military installations spread over 400 miles, demonstrating a new level of sophistication and coordination.  Believed to be orchestrated by JNIM, rockets landed simultaneously on Malian and international bases, causing damage to infrastructure.

The Malian government struggles to combat these terrorists, notwithstanding the presence of the UN peacekeeping mission, the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and a robust French presence in the region.  In Burkina Faso the government has failed to stem the tide of violence; attacks continued to increase in 2020 and areas dominated by terrorist groups expanded significantly.  Large-scale massacres and attacks on security forces took place regularly.  Western aid, as part of the effort to increase the capacity of the G-5 Sahel Joint Force, continued to increase.  Mauritania has not experienced a terrorist attack since 2011.

No government in the region was known to support or facilitate the proliferation or trafficking of WMD in or through its territory, although the region remained prone to arms and munitions smuggling.    

Mozambique:  The Islamic State in Mozambique (ISIS-M), a terrorist group affiliated with ISIS, greatly expanded its attacks and seized control of significant amounts of territory in Cabo Delgado Province (CDP) in northern Mozambique.  ISIS-M enjoyed considerable freedom of movement and was able several times to take and hold towns in the province, while threatening valuable natural gas facilities.  Both the Mozambican government and regional partners struggled to respond effectively to the threat and by year’s end, ISIS-M effectively enjoyed free rein in much of Cabo Delgado.  With limited exceptions, multiple attacks occurred every week in CDP.

On January, ISIS-M attacked the town of Mbau, killing 22 members of the security forces and injuring others.  In March they occupied the capital of Quissanga District, destroying administrative buildings, and in April in Xitaxi ISIS-M beheaded and killed between 50 and 70 civilians.  During August 9-11, ISIS-M attacked and occupied Mocimboa da Praia, and 60 to 90 security forces were killed, with more than 100 injured and up to 40 missing.  In late 2020 ISIS-M conducted a series of attacks on villages in Muidumbe District, reportedly beheading as many as 50 civilians over the course of the attacks.  ISIS-M remained in control of several towns in Mozambique at the end of 2020.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and external partners ranging from Portugal to France sought ways to provide support to the Mozambican government.  The United States assisted through provision of training activities to build capacity and initiatives aimed at increasing Government of the Republic of Mozambique’s ability to address human rights issues in CDP.  Despite positive developments within the security line of effort, the humanitarian situation remains grim as the number of IDPs in CDP continued to grow.

The government was not known to support or facilitate the proliferation or trafficking of WMD in or through its territory. 

Southeast Asia 

The Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral.  The Government of Indonesia conducts monitoring and surveillance of suspected terrorist cells in its territory but acknowledges that a lack of resources hinders its ability to monitor maritime and remote parts of Indonesia, including the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas.

The Government of Malaysia sustained efforts to counter terrorist use of the Sulu/Sulawesi Seas as a safe haven by working with Indonesia and the Philippines to prevent the flow of FTFs through its territory.  The Royal Malaysia Police special forces unit 69 Komando — which focuses on counterterrorism, search and rescue, and counterinsurgency — participated in a crisis response training exercise in August with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to build capacity on addressing extended hostage rescue scenarios.

The governments were not known to support or facilitate the proliferation or trafficking of WMD in or through their territories.

The Southern Philippines.  The Philippine government closely tracked terrorist groups that continued to operate in some areas, particularly in the southern Philippines.  The government sustained aggressive military and law enforcement operations to deny safe haven to such groups and prevent the flow of FTFs through its territory.  The government further deepened close counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, enhancing military and law enforcement efforts to address the full spectrum of terrorist threats, including from WMD.  During 2020 the government welcomed U.S. capacity building support and training for the Philippine forces to aid authorities’ maritime domain awareness and interdiction skills.

International reconstruction assistance focused on Marawi continued, but concerns remained that terrorist groups continue to have the ability to operate in the areas around Marawi in Central Mindanao.

Although the Philippine government possesses the political will to apply security measures against terrorist threats and has consistently partnered with the United States and other nations to build the capacity to do so, it struggles to apply a coordinated whole-of-government approach to prevent terrorism.  The continued ability of terrorist organizations to operate in the southern Philippines reflects the centuries-long challenge of governing effectively in the country’s more remote areas and of establishing consistent security in a region characterized by a strong separatist identity, endemic poverty, and religious differences.

The government was not known to support or facilitate the proliferation or trafficking of WMD in or through its territory. 

The Middle East and North Africa

North Sinai.  In 2020, ISIS-Sinai Province (ISIS-SP) continued to use portions of Egypt’s Sinai region as a base to conduct attacks against military and civilian targets in the Sinai, though they claimed no attacks in mainland Egypt during the year.  Nearly all of the estimated 212 terrorist attacks in Egypt in 2020 were in North Sinai, of which the great majority were claimed by ISIS-SP.  Between January and December, 428 significant conflict events occurred in North Sinai, including 134 IED-related attacks, 153 airstrikes, and near weekly complex assaults on government-fortified positions by ISIS-SP.  These events have exemplified ISIS-SP’s freedom to maneuver during daytime hours and the continued expansion of its attacks westward, toward the Suez Canal Zone, and southward.  In July, ISIS-SP overran and infiltrated several small villages south of Bir al-Abd, resulting in the displacement of thousands of civilians.  Egyptian Armed Forces were eventually able to retake the territory though more than a dozen civilians were subsequently killed by IEDs left behind by ISIS-SP.

Counterterrorism operations in Sinai continued in response to an increased tempo of ISIS-SP attacks.  Egypt continued to partner with U.S. counterterrorism efforts in this regard and continued its measures to prevent the proliferation and trafficking of WMD.  At the same time, the Government of Egypt, including the Egyptian Armed Forces, broadened its counterterrorism strategy in Sinai to encompass development and humanitarian projects on the peninsula.  ISIS-SP has continued to carry out attacks, and Egyptian security forces face frequent small arms and IED attacks.  These repeated attacks indicate that ISIS-SP remains intent on expanding its influence and operations in the Sinai.

The United States supported Egypt’s efforts to combat ISIS-SP and other terrorist groups in Egypt by providing AH-64 Apache helicopters, mine-resistant and ambush-protected vehicles, counter-IED training, mobile sensor towers, and border security training programs.  The United States routinely engages in military-to-military discussions on how it can help Egypt defeat ISIS-SP and other terrorist groups in Egypt.  The United States remains concerned about the security situation in Sinai and the potential effects on the Multinational Force and Observers’ peacekeeping mission located there.     

Iraq.  Iran-backed Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), and Harakat al-Nujaba — all U.S.-designated terrorist organizations — and other Iran-backed Iraqi militias continued to maintain an active presence in Iraq targeting U.S., Defeat-ISIS Coalition, and Iraqi forces and logistics convoys.  On March 11, KH launched dozens of rockets at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, killing two Americans and one British servicemember.  Camp Taji was attacked again on March 14.  Several purportedly “new” Iran-aligned militias emerged in 2020 announcing their intent to target U.S. and Defeat-ISIS Coalition interests, though these are likely front groups for more established Iran-backed groups in Iraq.  These groups claimed responsibility for multiple attacks on U.S. interests, including Embassy Baghdad, throughout the year.

While ISIS has been defeated territorially and its leadership ranks have been significantly degraded, the group remains a serious threat to the stability of Iraq and to U.S. and Defeat-ISIS Coalition interests in the region.  ISIS fighters continue to wage a low-level insurgency in northern and central Iraq, seeking to regain territory while also endorsing violence abroad through ISIS’s branches and networks and inspiring lone-actor attacks.  Supported by the 83-member Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the Government of Iraq maintained nominal control of the territory retaken from ISIS.  ISIS continued to carry out assassinations, as well as suicide, hit-and-run, and other asymmetric attacks throughout the country.  The United States continued to engage with the Government of Iraq to deny ISIS access to CBRN materials.  The United States worked to strengthen the expertise and ability of Iraq’s government, academic institutions, and private sector to secure weaponizable chemical and biological materials and to detect, disrupt, and respond effectively to suspected CBRN activity.  This included providing CBRN detection, analysis, and investigation training at internationally recognized training centers of excellence, such as the Defense CBRN Center in Vught, Netherlands, and the National Institute for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Protection in the Czech Republic.  The United States and Iraq also continued their bilateral partnership to counter nuclear smuggling under the framework of the 2014 Joint Action Plan on Combating Nuclear and Radioactive Materials Smuggling. 

Lebanon.  Lebanon remained a safe haven for terrorist groups in Hizballah-controlled areas.  Hizballah used these areas for terrorist training, fundraising, financing, and recruitment.  The Government of Lebanon did not take actions to disarm Hizballah, which continued to maintain its weapons without the consent of the Lebanese government, contrary to UNSCR 1701.  The Lebanese government did not have complete control of all regions of the country, nor did it fully control its borders with Syria and Israel.  Hizballah controlled access to parts of the country and had influence over some elements within Lebanon’s security services.

Al-Nusrah Front, ISIS, and other Sunni terrorist groups also continued to operate in ungoverned areas along the indeterminate Lebanese-Syrian border in 2020.  The Lebanese government continued to take action to curtail these groups’ activities.  Other terrorist groups — including Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, Asbat al-Ansar, Fatah al-Islam, Fatah al-Intifada, Jund al-Sham, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades — continued to operate in areas with limited government control within Lebanon primarily inside Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps.  These groups used the Palestinian refugee camps as safe havens to house weapons, shelter wanted criminals, and plan terrorist attacks.

The United States worked closely with the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces to counter terrorist threats within Lebanon and along its border with Syria by providing counterterrorism training, military equipment, and weaponry.

Lebanon was not a source country for WMD components, but its porous border with Syria posed risks for the spread of WMDs.    

Libya.  Libya remained politically divided during the year between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and groups aligned with it and groups aligned with the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).  Terrorist groups attempted to exploit a security vacuum in the southern region of the country but were limited in their ability to do so because of tactical gains by the LNA against these groups.  Throughout most of 2020, GNA-aligned groups repulsed an LNA attempt to take control of Greater Tripoli, and the two sides signed a nationwide ceasefire on October 23.  The GNA and aligned groups maintained control of the Western Mountains and the northwest coastal areas stretching from the Tunisian border to Sirte.  LNA-aligned groups controlled the remainder of Libya, including Cyrenaica, and the central and southern districts of Jufra, Kufra, Sabha, and Murzuq.  Libya’s vast, sparsely populated desert areas, particularly in central and southern Libya, remain safe havens for al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Libya (ISIL-Libya).  The GNA, although the internationally recognized government, lacked the capacity and reach to exercise control in most of Libya and relied on militias and other armed groups for security in areas it did not have the ability to effectively control, including the capital Tripoli.  The GNA had limited ability to eliminate terrorist safe havens, prevent the flow of FTFs, or ensure effective counter-proliferation efforts.  Because of the difficulties of controlling the southern and desert borders and a lack of respect for security procedures at air and seaports of entry by foreign state or Libyan substate groups, the GNA remained unable to effectively track flows of FTFs in and out of its territory.  During the year, significant numbers of foreign mercenaries deployed to the country, including Turkey-backed Syrian opposition groups with ties to terrorist groups operating in Syria.  Rival factions and political stakeholders outside of the GNA, including in the LNA-aligned forces, also were unable to stem the flow of FTFs.    

Yemen.  Iran-backed Houthi militants continued to control large portions of northern Yemen, where the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps continued to maintain a presence.  The Saudi-led coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), provided support to the Republic of Yemen government (ROYG) which continued to fight to reclaim territory held by Iran-backed Houthi militants.  The ROYG, with the support of the Saudis and Emiratis, continued counterterrorism operations to degrade al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS-Yemen operations in the country.  However, owing to the ongoing conflict, the ROYG was severely constrained in its ability to prevent terrorist training, funding, recruitment, and transit.  Although AQAP and ISIS-Yemen have been degraded in recent years, the two groups continued to benefit from the ongoing conflict with the Houthis, successfully instilling themselves among elements of the anti-Houthi coalition and exploiting the security vacuum in large parts of the country.  Further, AQAP continued to harbor external operations ambitions.  Under President Hadi’s leadership, the ROYG has been as cooperative with U.S., Saudi, and UAE counterterrorism operations as its limited capacity will allow.

Yemen’s political instability continued to hinder efforts to enact or enforce comprehensive strategic trade controls to counter the flow of weapons and munitions in the region.  This left Yemen vulnerable as a transit point for destabilizing weapons, including weapons emanating from Iran.      

South Asia 

Afghanistan.  Terrorist and insurgent groups, including ISIS-K and elements of al-Qa’ida, exploited Afghanistan’s ungoverned spaces, including the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, throughout 2020.  Despite making progress against ISIS-K, the Afghan government struggled to assert control over this remote terrain, where the population is largely detached from national institutions.  The Afghan government cooperated with U.S. counterterrorism efforts through Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and executed its own counterterrorism operations.  Separately, the Taliban also conducted operations against ISIS-K in Kunar during this reporting period, claiming the group there had been defeated in March.

The potential for WMD trafficking and proliferation remained a concern.  In 2020 the United States helped Afghanistan enhance its capabilities to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear and other radioactive material smuggling incidents.  The Afghanistan and U.S. governments also continued to work to implement comprehensive strategic trade controls and to strengthen Afghanistan’s border security.    

Pakistan.  The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other designated terrorist groups continue to conduct attacks against Pakistani military and civilian targets.  Although Pakistan’s national action plan calls to “ensure that no armed militias are allowed to function in the country,” several UN- and U.S.-designated terrorist groups that focus on attacks outside the country continued to operate from Pakistani soil in 2020, including the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammed.  The government and military acted inconsistently with respect to terrorist safe havens throughout the country.  Authorities did not take sufficient action to dismantle certain terrorist groups.

Pakistan is committed to combating the trafficking of items that could contribute to the development of WMDs and their delivery systems.  Pakistan was a constructive and active participant in International Atomic Energy Agency-hosted meetings and in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. 

Western Hemisphere

Colombia.  Rough terrain and dense forest cover, coupled with low population densities and historically weak government presence, define Colombia’s borders with Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.  Historically, these conditions have allowed terrorist groups — particularly Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents and the National Liberation Army (ELN) — to operate.  The peace accord between the Government of Colombia and FARC in 2016 led to the demobilization of the majority of FARC combatants and the FARC’s conversion into a political party.  However, ongoing challenges to peace accord implementation and continued security vacuums have created risk for terrorist activity and attacks on civilians, security forces, and infrastructure in some areas in 2020.  A troubling number of FARC dissidents, estimated at around 2,600 individuals who chose not to participate in the peace process or who have subsequently joined the dissident ranks, continued engaging in terrorist and other criminal activities, particularly in border regions and areas previously controlled by the FARC.

The ELN perpetrated armed attacks across the country in 2020.  The government was not known to support or facilitate the proliferation or trafficking of WMD in or through its territory. 

Cuba.  Cuba, citing peace negotiation protocols, refused Colombia’s request to extradite 10 ELN leaders living in Havana after that group claimed responsibility for the 2019 bombing of the national police academy in Bogotá, killing 22 persons and injuring 87 others.  During 2019, Colombia filed extradition requests for ELN leaders Victor Orlando Cubides, aka Pablo Tejada, and Israel Ramírez Pineda, aka Pablo Beltrán, with the Cuban government, to which Cuba has not acceded.

Cuba also harbors several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on charges of political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades.  For example, the Cuban government has refused to return Joanne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, a fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List, who was convicted of executing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster.  Cuba also has refused to return William “Guillermo” Morales, a fugitive bomb maker for the Armed Forces for National Liberation (or FALN), who is wanted by the FBI and escaped detention after being convicted of charges related to domestic terrorism; Ishmael LaBeet, aka Ishmael Muslim Ali, who received eight life sentences after being convicted of killing eight people in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1972 and hijacking a plane to flee to Cuba in 1984; Charles Lee Hill, who has been charged with killing New Mexico State Policeman Robert Rosenbloom in 1971.  The Cuban government provides housing, food ration books, and medical care for fugitives residing there.

The government was not known to support or facilitate the proliferation or trafficking of WMD in or through its territory. 

Venezuela.  The illegitimate Maduro regime allows and tolerates the use of its territory by terrorist organizations.  Much of Venezuela is ungoverned, undergoverned, or ill governed.  At times, the regime has openly welcomed terrorist presence in its territory.  In May, Seuxis Pausías Hernández, alias Jesús Santrich, appeared in photos in Caracas, with a security detail reportedly provided by the Maduro regime.  Also in May, the regime expressed its solidarity for former official Adel El Zabayar, following the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement of his indictment on narco-terrorism charges for working with FARC guerrillas, Hizballah, and Hamas.  However, Venezuelan security services have also clashed with FARC dissident groups, including killing a major front commander in November.

The government was not known to support or facilitate the proliferation or trafficking of WMD in or through its territory.

White-Identity Terrorism

Pursuant to the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, Section 1299F(h), the Department of State was directed to incorporate in the annual Country Reports on Terrorism all credible information about “white-identity terrorism” (WIT), including relevant attacks, the identification of perpetrators and victims of such attacks, the size and identification of organizations and networks, and the identification of notable ideologues.

In 2021, the CT Bureau instructed all Department diplomatic and consular posts to engage with their host governments regarding individuals or groups affiliated with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism (or REMVE), with a particular focus on advocates for WIT who perceive that their idealized ethnically white identity is under attack from those who represent and support multiculturism and globalization.

In response, European governments reported that REMVE, including WIT, was a growing counterterrorism priority but noted that many governments have decades of experience addressing these types of threats.  Several European governments observed that groups engaged in REMVE, including WIT, lack hierarchical structures and typically do not have a central command.  They assessed that lone actors pose a greater threat than formalized organizations, with these individuals communicating and influencing each other on social media, including closed chat groups and messaging platforms.  Such groups also organize both virtually and in person in unofficial settings, such as employment groups, sports clubs, and concerts.

In April 2020 the U.S. government designated the Russian Imperial Movement, or RIM, and members of its leadership as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.  This was the first time that the State Department designated a WIT group.  RIM has provided paramilitary-style training to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Europe and actively works to rally these types of groups into a common front against their perceived enemies.  In 2016, two Swedish individuals attended RIM’s training course; thereafter, they committed a series of bombings in Gothenburg, Sweden, targeting a refugee shelter, a shelter for asylum seekers, and a café — crimes for which they were convicted in Sweden.

With regard to relevant WIT attacks during the reporting period, in February Tobias Rathjen attacked two shisha bars in Hanau, Germany.  Rathjen killed nine people and injured several others in the attacks before killing himself and his mother.  German prosecutors ascribed the attacks to “far-right extremism with xenophobic motives.”

In addition, foreign partners designated, proscribed, banned, or subjected to similar actions and/or authorities the groups below in 2020.  Statutory criteria and domestic legal authorities to take such action differ greatly across governments.  For example, other governments may rely solely on speech-related activity as the basis of the designation, proscription, or banning actions, which raises freedom of expression concerns and is not permissible in the United States under First Amendment protections.

International actions taken in 2020 included the following:

  • Brenton Tarrant (designated by New Zealand) perpetrated the 2019 attack on two mosques in Christchurch, murdering 51 people.  New Zealand authorities announcing his terrorist designation noted “the attacks were carried out for the purpose of advancing Tarrant’s ideological cause through acts of violence and terror, and with the intention of both inducing terror in the civilian population and inciting conflict and disorder with the ultimate goal of undermining and destabilizing democratic government.”
  • Combat 18 Deutschland (banned by Germany), or “Combat 18 Germany,” is a German-based neo-Nazi organization promoting white supremacy, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and National Socialism.  The group’s goals and activities are contrary to German criminal laws against the propagation of Nazi ideology.  According to media reports, as of 2020, there are thought to be approximately 20 members in the German organization.  German authorities said the ban sent a clear message that “right-wing extremism” and anti-Semitism are serious threats to free society.
  • Feuerkrieg Division (proscribed by United Kingdom) is a primarily internet-based white supremacist group, founded in 2018, and has an international footprint, with members across North America and Europe.  In 2020 the United Kingdom proscribed Feuerkrieg for “promoting and inciting violence.”  On February 8, Feuerkrieg Division announced on its Telegram channel that it would be dissolving.  However, the group and its members appear to remain active and post messages to other public channels.
  • Golden Dawn ruled a criminal organization by Greece) was a Greek “ultra-nationalist political party” that Greek courts determined in 2020 had been operating as a criminal organization, finding 18 former members of Parliament guilty of participating in a criminal enterprise, and named 16 of its members guilty of the 2013 murder of anti-fascist activist Pavlos Fysass.
  • Nordadler (banned by Germany) is a German-based neo-Nazi group whose 30 members professed allegiance to Adolf Hitler and aimed to revive the National Socialist ideology.  The group uses open and closed digital platforms to spread its views, with its leaders seeking to recruit and indoctrinate mainly young internet users.  In banning the group, German authorities noted that it features strong anti-Semitism and a militant aggressive general attitude.  German prosecutors allege that members of Nordadler had attempted to obtain weapons, ammunition, and explosive material and were found to have a list with the names of politicians they were planning to target.
  • Nordic Resistance Movement (banned by Finland) is a Pan-Nordic neo-Nazi movement.  It was established in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway, and also has members in Iceland.  Finland’s Supreme Court found that “NRM’s activities are not protected under Finland’s right to freedom of speech because the purpose of the organization is to limit the constitutional freedoms of others, and that they have thereby abused the right to freedom of expression.”  A Norwegian report issued by the Center for Research on Extremism estimated that the movement comprised an estimated 400 to 500 individuals in Sweden, 30 to 40 individuals in Norway, and just over 100 individuals in Denmark and Finland combined, the majority of whom are adult men between the ages of 20 and 50.  Although the group was banned, the organization continues to operate under the name “Toward Freedom!”
  • Sonnenkrieg Division (proscribed by United Kingdom) is a UK-based white supremacist group established in 2018 as a splinter group of System Resistance Network (an alias of the proscribed group National Action).  Members of the group were convicted of “encouraging terrorism and possession of documents useful to a terrorist” in 2019.  The group encouraged and glorified acts of terrorism through its posts and images.
  • Sturmbrigade/Wolfsbrigade 44 (banned by Germany) is a German-based neo-Nazi organization, founded in 2016, which authorities allege was “sowing hatred” in Germany and “advocating for the reestablishment of a National Socialist state.”  The ban notes that members strove to reestablish a Nazi state by abolishing the democratic constitutional state through a martial demeanor promoting racism and anti-Semitism.
  • System Resistance Network (proscribed by United Kingdom) is an alias of National Action, a neo-Nazi group that was established in 2013 and proscribed by the UK in 2016.  United Kingdom authorities note the group is virulently racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic.  Its ideology promotes the idea that Britain will inevitably see a violent race war, in which the group claims it will be an active part.  According to UK authorities, the group “rejects democracy, is hostile to the British state and seeks to divide society by implicitly endorsing violence against ethnic minorities and perceived ‘race traitors.’”
Countering Terrorism on the Economic Front

In 2020 the Department of State designated one new group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).  In addition, 13 entities and individuals were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under the Department’s authorities in Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.

The Department of the Treasury also designated entities and individuals under E.O. 13224, as amended.  For a list of all U.S. designations, see the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List .

2020 Foreign Terrorist Organization/Executive Order 13224 Group Designations

On January 3 the Department of State designated Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) under E.O. 13224.  The FTO designation of AAH became effective on January 10.  (See Chapter 5, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on AAH.)

2020 Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 Designations

Also on January 3 the Department of State designated Qays al-Khazali and Laith al-Khazali.  The Khazali brothers lead AAH, an Iran-backed militant organization that has claimed responsibility for more than 6,000 attacks against U.S. and Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces since its creation in 2006.

On February 26, the Department of State designated Ahmad al-Hamidawi.  Al-Hamidawi is the Secretary General of Kata’ib Hizballah.

On March 18 the Department of State designated Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, also known as Hajji Abdallah.  Following the death of former ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, al-Mawla succeeded him as the leader of ISIS.

On April 6 the Department of State designated the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM).  RIM has provided paramilitary-style training to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Europe and actively works to rally these types of groups into a common front against their perceived enemies.

Also on April 6 the Department of State designated three leaders of RIM:  Stanislav Anatolyevich Vorobyev, Denis Valiullovich Gariyev, and Nikolay Nikolayevich Trushchalov.  RIM is led by Vorobyev, its founder and overall leader.  Gariyev is the head of RIM’s paramilitary arm, the Imperial Legion.  Trushchalov is RIM’s coordinator for external relations.

On November 17 the Department of State designated Abdullahi Osman Mohamed and Maalim Ayman.  Both individuals are senior leaders in the al-Qa’ida affiliate, al-Shabaab.  Mohamed is al-Shabaab’s senior explosives expert responsible for the overall management of al-Shabaab’s explosives operations and the leader of al-Shabaab’s media wing, al-Kataib.  Ayman is the leader of Jaysh Ayman, an al-Shabaab unit conducting terrorist attacks and operations in Kenya and Somalia.

On December 11 the Department of State designated Ashraf al-Qizani.  Al-Qizani is the emir of Jund al-Khilafah in Tunisia, an ISIS affiliate in Tunisia.

On December 15 the Department of State designated Saraya al-Mukhtar (SaM).  SaM’s self-described goal is to depose the Bahraini government with the intention of paving the way for Iran to exert greater influence in Bahrain.  The group has plotted attacks against U.S. personnel in Bahrain and has offered cash rewards for the assassination of Bahraini officials.

Multilateral Efforts to Counter Terrorism

In 2020 the United States continued to work through multilateral organizations to promote U.S. approaches to countering terrorism, and to strengthen regional and international counterterrorism efforts, including by developing and promoting global norms and building the capacities of states to implement them.  Examples of U.S. multilateral engagement are described below.

The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF).   Founded in 2011 by the United States and Turkey, the GCTF aims to diminish terrorist recruitment and increase countries’ capacity to deal with terrorist threats within their borders and regions by strengthening civilian institutions to counter terrorism.  The GCTF comprises three thematic and two regional working groups:  Countering Violent Extremism, Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law, Foreign Terrorist Fighters, Capacity Building in the East Africa Region, and Capacity Building in the West Africa Region.  In 2017 the United States and Jordan became co-chairs of the Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group for an initial two-year term.  The United States and Jordan renewed their co-chairmanship of the FTF Working Group in 2019 for another two-year term, now extended through September 2022 because of the global pandemic.  Canada and Morocco will co-chair the GCTF until that date.

The United Nations is a close partner of the GCTF and a participant in its activities.  The GCTF continued to increase cooperation and partnership as outlined in the 2018 joint GCTF-UN statement marking enhanced cooperation between the two bodies.  The GCTF serves as a mechanism to further the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and more broadly to complement and reinforce existing multilateral counterterrorism efforts, starting with those of the United Nations.  The GCTF also partners with a wide range of regional multilateral organizations, including the Council of Europe, the OSCE, NATO, the AU, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and ASEAN.

In September, GCTF ministers formally endorsed two new framework documents (found at

  • Memorandum on Good Practices on Strengthening National-Local Cooperation in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism
  • Addendum to The Hague Good Practices on the Nexus between Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism: Focus on Criminal Justice 

Moreover in 2020 the GCTF continued the work of the Forum by migrating initiatives to webinar formats, including two co-led by the United States:

  • The Watchlisting Guidance Manual initiative, which is assembling a “toolkit” for countries to implement a whole-of-government approach to managing the watchlisting and screening of known and suspected terrorists (KSTs).  This toolkit will be a useful resource for policymakers, law enforcement officials, immigration and consular officers, and agencies that manage and operate watchlists.  As states adopt the practices put forth in the toolkit, it should not only increase border security but also, through the standardized management of watchlist information, increase trust in global information-sharing initiatives to stop terrorists.  These practices also will help countries further implement recommendations in the New York Memorandum on Good Practices for Interdicting Terrorist Travel and UNSCR 2396.  The United States and the United Nations co-chaired four global webinars in 2020 and planned to co-chair two in 2021 that will help inform the content in the toolkit.
  • ‘The Initiative on Maritime Security and Terrorist Travel’ addresses potential vulnerabilities in the maritime sector that could be exploited by terrorists.  Closely examining tools and best practices deployed in the aviation domain, this initiative looks at how best to replicate them in this specific sector and improve information sharing between and among governments on topics such as KSTs transitioning through official ports, the use of ships and small vessels as weapons, and the smuggling or trafficking of narcotics or arms.  This includes subregional workshops focused on West Africa, East Africa, and East Asia Pacific’s tri-maritime border (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines) in 2020, continuing with the Caribbean, the Gulf, and the Mediterranean, and public-private partnerships workshops planned for 2021.
  • ‘Initiative on Criminal Justice Responses to the Linkages Between Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crimes, and International Crimes.’  Co-chairs Nigeria and Switzerland launched the second phase of their initiative.  In 2020 the Working Group held virtual workshops to examine the links between terrorism and what it is referring to as “international crimes,” a category that may include acts described as war crimes, genocide, torture, and “sexual and gender-based crimes.”
  • ‘Initiative on National-Local Cooperation in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Policy Toolkit Initiative’ and ‘Gender and Identity Factors Platform for Countering Violent Extremism and Counterterrorism Initiative’ (co-chaired by Canada and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism [UNOCT]):  Australia and Indonesia, as co-chairs of the CVE Working Group, are co-leading these two initiatives, holding workshops in 2020 and into 2021.
  • ‘Strategic Vision Initiative’ launched by GCTF co-chairs Canada and Morocco.  GCTF members reaffirmed the GCTF founding principles as reflected in the 2011 Political Declaration and emphasized the importance of the ongoing consultations on the “GCTF Strategic Vision for the Next Decade,” to be finalized and adopted in 2021.  This Strategic Vision seeks to provide new momentum to the Forum’s work, to build on its achievements, and to strengthen its impact and relevance, including considering proposals on ways to support the implementation of GCTF Framework Documents.

GCTF-Inspired Institutions.  The following three institutions were developed to operationalize GCTF good practices and to serve as mechanisms for strengthening civilian criminal justice responses to terrorism:

  • The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ).  Since its establishment in 2014 the IIJ has become a widely respected training institution for sustainable rule-of-law capacity building activities to criminal justice sector practitioners, including lawmakers, police, prosecutors, judges, corrections officials, policymakers, and other justice sector stakeholders on how to address terrorism and related transnational criminal activities.  In the last five years, the IIJ has trained more than 5,500 criminal justice practitioners from 123 participating countries.  In 2020 the IIJ continued its steady increase in investment from donors, including from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the EU and welcomed Kuwait to join the 14-member Governing Board of Administrators.  In addition to its continued collaboration with other related multilateral institutions, the IIJ continued to expand its formal institutional relationships, finalizing memoranda of understanding with UNOCT and Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund.  Through funding from the United States, the IIJ trained more than 500 practitioners in 2020 on issues related to battlefield evidence, addressing homegrown terrorism, combating prison radicalization, successfully prosecuting terrorism, increasing international cooperation in terrorism investigations and prosecutions, using intelligence to generate evidence for terrorism prosecutions and investigations, and juvenile justice.  Despite the COVID-19 global pandemic, the IIJ has successfully conducted 16 trainings since April with more than 400 participants by leveraging virtual training platforms and a multiphased approach, and launched a new academic unit to develop baseline counterterrorism knowledge for midlevel practitioners from partner countries and further scholarship on practical criminal justice approaches to counterterrorism.  In direct response to the COVID-related challenges facing criminal justice practitioners, the IIJ and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime collaboratively launched an initiative, with support from the United States, to identify practical approaches to managing remote access for judicial proceedings in terrorism cases.  Finally, the IIJ, in partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom, launched a one-year initiative to develop a guide for criminal justice practitioners to address the threat posed by racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism.
  • HedayahInaugurated in 2012 by key GCTF member countries, Hedayah is the first-ever international center of excellence for CVE, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Hedayah focuses on capacity building, dialogue and CVE communications, and research and analysis.  Hedayah continued to organize capacity building workshops on CVE communications, education-based approaches to CVE, and CVE national action plans.  For example, Hedayah developed and launched three new CVE training tools in 2020.  These included “The Blueprint for Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center”; a CVE program monitoring and evaluation mobile application called MASAR 2.0, which means “path” or “trajectory” in Arabic; and an online animated game aimed as an alternative to online terrorist gaming.  Hedayah trained local CVE NGOs and other relevant stakeholders on how to use MASAR 2.0.  In 2020, Hedayah raised almost $12 million for programs and operating expenses.  Donors include the United States, the EU, Japan, Spain, the UAE, and the United Kingdom.
  • Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).  In 2013 the GCTF called for the establishment of GCERF to serve as the first global fund to strengthen community resilience to terrorism.  Based in Geneva, Switzerland, GCERF focuses on preventing and countering terrorism by building the capacity of small, local, community-based organizations.  GCERF has raised more than $100 million from 18 governments.  As of June, there were 32 active grants in Bangladesh, Kenya, Kosovo, Mali, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Tunisia, and grant making will soon commence in Somalia and Sri Lanka.  During 2020, GCERF grants directly empowered an estimated 1.7 million people at risk of terrorist recruitment and radicalization, and indirectly engaged a further estimated 7.8 million individuals.  The proportion of girls and women reached has increased to almost 50 percent since 2016.  Since 2014, 14 countries, plus the EU, have contributed more than $85 million to GCERF.  In 2020, GCERF brought on two new donor countries.

Strong Cities Network (SCN).  In 2015 the SCN launched at the UN General Assembly with support from the United States.  With 25 founding members, SCN now includes more than 150 local governments across six continents.  SCN provides local governments with a forum to exchange best practices and lessons learned on CVE, including through global summits, regional workshops, exchanges, and an online portal.  The London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue serves as the SCN secretariat and conducts in-depth capacity building training and mentorship to members in Central Asia, East and West Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and the Western Balkans.  With support from the United States, SCN members in Bangladesh, Kenya, and North Macedonia have developed local action plans.

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).  Through its I-24/7 secure global police communications system, INTERPOL connects member states’ law enforcement officials to its investigative and analytical databases, and to its system for sending messages and notices.  The United States funds programs through INTERPOL’s General Secretariat and INTERPOL Washington, U.S. National Central Bureau (USNCB), to help countries affected by the FTF phenomenon provide access to I-24/7 to frontline officials.  By extending these connections beyond a country’s national central bureau to strategic, high-volume airports, seaports, and land ports of entry, as well as other government agencies with investigative responsibilities, national authorities are better enabled to identify, deter, and interdict FTFs and other transnational criminals.  Acknowledging the value of this initiative and the importance of addressing connectivity gaps in countries at risk of FTF travel, in 2016 the G-7 pledged to extending I-24/7 connectivity to 41 priority countries by the end of 2021.  Since that time, the United States has engaged INTERPOL and the USNCB to help fulfill the G-7 commitment by providing funding for projects aimed at extending connectivity in 15 countries.

Additionally, the United States has provided resources directly to INTERPOL to enhance its analytic capacity to receive, assess, analyze, and disseminate information regarding the identities and movements of FTFs.  Developing the organization’s capacity to process and disseminate this critical information supports the provision to member country law enforcement and border control authorities of actionable information to support screening procedures and investigations into terrorism-related crimes.  To further support this initiative, the United States also has provided funding to support the development of an analytical platform that will enhance INTERPOL’s analytical capability by allowing its disparate datasets to be easily filtered, queried, and cross-referenced to efficiently process associations, such as an FTF identity profile with a reported lost or stolen travel document.  The United States recognizes the great value in its long partnership with INTERPOL and the role of the USNCB and will continue investing to ensure critical FTF data are shared and accessible throughout the global law enforcement community.

European Union (EU).  In December the EU adopted a new “Counter-Terrorism Agenda: Anticipate, Prevent, Protect, Respond.”  Even during COVID, the U.S. government continued to encourage EU member states to take responsibility for their FTFs and FTF family members by repatriating, prosecuting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating them as appropriate.  Although the EU institutions maintain that decisions related to repatriating FTFs and their family members from the battlefield in Syria are reserved for the member states, the EU has stated that rehabilitating and reintegrating returning citizens is a priority both at the EU and the national level.  However, few repatriations took place during the last year, and human rights and humanitarian groups continue to criticize the inaction of EU member states to repatriate their citizens.  In the Western Balkans, the EU initiated a project during the fall in partnership with host countries and local communities.  Efforts by both the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Justice to share battlefield evidence with the EU and its members states continued, and it was emphasized that counterterrorism cooperation, including battlefield evidence, is an important area for NATO-EU cooperation.

In updating its Memorandum on Battlefield Evidence in September, Eurojust reported an increase among EU member states in cases where battlefield evidence was used in criminal proceedings against foreign terrorist fighters and individuals suspected of criminal offenses during armed conflicts.  In May the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) announced its first joint operation outside of the EU, deploying 50 officers to Albania in support of border security and managing migratory flows from Greece.  In July and October, Frontex announced two additional operations in Montenegro to bolster the country’s sea borders, with a particular focus on anti-smuggling for drugs and weapons, human trafficking, and terrorism.  The European Commission also signed two nonbinding counterterrorism arrangements with Albania and North Macedonia in October, and in December proposed revising EUROPOL’s mandate to improve the agency’s ability to collect and analyze data relevant to cross-border crimes and terrorist offenses.  The revised mandate would also allow EUROPOL to create its own special category of “information alerts” in the Schengen Information System, using information sourced from third countries or international organizations and subject to certain restrictions.  EUROPOL has officers and personnel in Italy and Greece who work alongside border security and immigration officers to assist in screening incoming migrants against EUROPOL databases.

The European Commission continued work on its Action Plan to Support the Protection of Public Spaces, which aims to enhance the capacity of member states to protect and reduce the vulnerability of soft targets, such as malls, restaurants, hotels, and other public spaces, against terrorist attacks.  The EU’s evolving data privacy framework also continues to make law enforcement and border security cooperation between EU member states and non-EU countries, including the United States, more challenging.  In its December “Counter-Terrorism Agenda,” the European Commission outlined its intention to propose revisions and updates to the Prüm Decisions that would help facilitate criminal and terrorist investigations by member states in light of the EU’s evolving data privacy regulatory framework.  The EU also continued six military and law enforcement capacity building missions in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, working closely with U.S. elements in counterterrorism, border security, and stabilization efforts.  To date, the EU has pledged almost $270 million for the G-5 Sahel Joint Force, a coalition of five West African nations providing border security and counterterrorism operations in the Sahel.  The EU has also initiated the Partnership for Stability and Security in the Sahel to assess the security sector in West African countries and coordinate donor funding to fulfill their needs.  The U.S.-EU Agreement on the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program continued to enable the EU and the United States to share information related to financial messaging data for the purpose of identifying, tracking, and pursuing terrorists and their networks.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  Under Albania as the 2020 Chair in Office, the OSCE approach to counterterrorism focused on working with civil society to address terrorism’s root causes; establishing public-private partnerships to protect critical infrastructure and promote resilience; countering terrorist financing; building international solidarity; promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders; and ensuring the protection of human rights.  UNOCT and the OSCE co-hosted a conference, “Foreign Terrorist Fighters:  Addressing Current Challenges,” in Vienna.  Officials from across the OSCE region discussed a whole-of-society approach to address FTF challenges, particularly the needs of children.  Under the Albanian chairmanship, the OSCE held its annual OSCE-wide Counterterrorism Conference as a virtual/in-person hybrid in September.  With a focus on building partnerships to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism and Radicalization That Lead to Terrorism, common themes highlighted by the participating states included the importance of developing strong public-private partnerships, working closely with civil society and other actors, and incorporating gender-based approaches to countering terrorism.  The United States also participated in the fourth OSCE-wide Seminar on Passenger Data Exchange in October, urging OSCE participating states to establish Passenger Name Record systems based on International Civil Aviation Organization standards and practices.  OSCE staff actively participated in global and regional efforts supported by the United States through the GCTF, the IIJ, and NATO.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  NATO is a member of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition and in 2020 continued its missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Furthering efforts to expand NATO’s role in counterterrorism and the United States’ Global Battlefield Evidence Initiative, NATO adopted a Battlefield Evidence Policy and Practical Framework for Technical Exploitation.  These initiatives help Allies have more information available in the fight against terrorism and can play a key role in helping bring foreign terrorist fighters to justice.  In June, NATO formally launched a Counterterrorism Reference Curriculum to enhance countries’ capacities to develop national skills.  More than 100 experts from nations across five continents, including the United States, as well as multiple international organizations, contributed to the writing, drafting, and editing of the final product.  After years of detailed discussions, INTERPOL and NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (or SHAPE) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to formalize collaboration.  The MoU proposes sharing information to increase situational awareness and mitigate risks on certain nonmilitary-related activities, including FTF and other terrorist-related threats.  It further calls for joint training on, among other topics, battlefield evidence preservation, collection, and dissemination.  NATO international staff regularly collaborate with the African Union, the EU, the IIJ, the OSCE, the United Nations, and other international and regional organizations.

Council of Europe (CoE).  The CoE, as Europe’s regional organization advancing human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, has developed and reinforced legal standards to prevent and suppress acts of terrorism.  It works to help member states fight terrorism more effectively by strengthening and improving their national legislation, as well as by facilitating international cooperation while respecting human rights and in full respect of the rule of law.  The United State participates in the CoE as an observer.  The CoE’s counterterrorism priorities, as established in its current 2018-22 Strategy, include preventing terrorism through criminal law and law enforcement measures, ensuring terrorist offenses are investigated in the most efficient and quickest manner possible, and protecting persons against terrorism.  The CoE’s counterterrorism committee (CDCT) convened its inaugural meeting of the Network of Contact Points for the exchange of procedural information regarding the legal standing of victims of terrorism.  The United States is also a member of the CoE’s 24/7 Network of Contact Points on Foreign Terrorist Fighters.  Two new CDCT working groups, on emerging terrorist threats and risk assessment of convicted terrorists, will increase awareness, understanding, and coordination among member states.  The biennial CDCT plenary addressed topics including battlefield evidence, addressing radicalization, increasing information sharing, and bioterrorism.  CoE staff regularly coordinate with countries and other multilateral organizations and entities such as the EU, the Organization of American States (OAS), the OSCE, and the United Nations.

Group of Seven (G-7) Roma-Lyon Group on Counterterrorism and Counter-Crime (RLG):  The United States served as the RLG secretariat during the U.S. Presidency of the G-7 in 2020, facilitating and advancing implementation of an average of 20 ongoing projects aimed at sharing experiences and developing good practices on counterterrorism, transportation security, high-tech crime, migration, criminal legal affairs, and law enforcement.  Because of the back-to-basics approach of the U.S. G-7 Presidency, the United States did not hold any formal RLG meetings.  However, informal sessions of nearly 200 policymakers and practitioners of the RLG met virtually during October 6-8 to discuss crime- and counterterrorism-related challenges associated with COVID-19, including measures G-7 countries are taking to address the impact of the global pandemic on existing G-7 security efforts at the national, state, and local levels, and how countries are combating the spread of COVID-related disinformation by terrorists and violent extremists.  Heads of delegation also discussed security challenges in the Sahel, the evolving threat of racially or ethnically motived terrorism, and challenges associated with foreign terrorist fighters and their accompanying family members detained in Iraq and Syria.

Organization of American States’ Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (OAS/CICTE).  OAS/CICTE, which has 34 member states and 70 observers, made strides in 2020 across its focus areas:  cybersecurity, border management, preventing the financing of terrorism, preventing the proliferation of WMD, preventing violent extremism, and addressing the FTF phenomenon.  OAS/CICTE led the commemoration of June 3 as Inter-American Day Against Terrorism, encouraging member states to counter terrorism in the hemisphere and around the world.  OAS/CICTE held its 20th regular session in a virtual format in September.  In 2020, 13 member states including the United States formally joined the Inter-American Network on Counterterrorism.  The network operates on a 24/7 basis to facilitate communication among points of contact designated by each member state, so they can respond more effectively to terrorist threats.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the East Asia Summit (EAS).  Counterterrorism activities with the 10-member ASEAN and 27-member ARF countries in 2020 included annual meetings on counterterrorism and transnational crime and capacity building through ASEAN-related institutions.  The United States is leading a three-part ARF workshop series on information sharing and aviation security, designed to raise awareness of countries’ obligations under UNSCR 2396 and explain helpful tools for implementation.  The first workshop was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2019, with the second to occur virtually in 2021.  Building off the ARF workshops, the United States expects to co-host, along with Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency, a two-part workshop on aviation security in the time of COVID with the 10 ASEAN countries.  This workshop was postponed from 2020 and is currently scheduled to occur in 2021.

The EAS — which includes the 10 ASEAN members plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States — issued several statements in 2020, including one on Women, Peace, and Security, noting the importance of women’s roles to addressing root causes of terrorism.  In 2020 the United States and ASEAN negotiated a new five-year “Plan of Action,” which outlined continued and increased engagement on counterterrorism and countering violent extremism efforts.  ASEAN in 2019 adopted the Bali Work Plan to Prevent and Counter the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism 2019-25.  The objective of this workplan is to provide an implementation framework to guide relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, organs, and entities in carrying out the necessary activities and monitor effectiveness in preventing and countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment.  The United States supported the process of developing the workplan through workshops and technical assistance and consulted with various stakeholders, such as ASEAN sectoral bodies and civil society organizations, to provide input on the workplan.  Owing to COVID-19 conditions in the region, a planned meeting to further the Bali Work Plan was postponed.  The United States also works on counterterrorism issues, including in the maritime space, through the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).  APEC continued to work under the Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy adopted in 2019 and updated its annual workplan in 2020.  The strategy, adopted in 2011, endorses the principles of security, efficiency, and resilience, and it advocates for risk-based approaches to security challenges across supply chains, travel, finance, and infrastructure.  Members also concentrated on furthering the APEC Counter-Terrorism Working Group Strategic Plan 2018-22, which set priorities in areas such as the evolving threat of FTFs, terrorist financing, border and critical infrastructure security, and information sharing.

The African Union (AU).  There are two main bodies within the AU that lead its counterterrorism efforts — the Peace and Security Department’s Defense and Security Division, located at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, and the African Center for the Study and Research of Terrorism (CAERT) in Algiers.  CAERT is the lead for all the AU’s CVE activity.  CAERT priorities include 1) building capacity of member states on CT/CVE; 2) developing and/or implementing member-state CVE action plans; and 3) enhancing international cooperation to ensure relevant regional approaches are taken fully into account.  In October the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) established the Special Unit on Counter-Terrorism within the framework of the African Standby Force, which has yet to be operationalized.  Once in operation, the Special Unit will aim to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the PSC and the Regional Economic Communities.  It also will share experiences and best practices, as well as lessons arising from continental and regional mechanisms deployed against terrorism and violent extremism, such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (or AMISOM), the Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin, the G-5 Sahel, and the Nouakchott and Djibouti Processes.  In 2020 the United States continued its engagement on shared counterterrorism priorities as part of the United States-African Union Peace and Security Technical Working Group.

Other U.S. engagements with the AU’s Peace Support Operations include the following:

G-5 Sahel.  Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger formed the G-5 Sahel in 2014 to focus on the four pillars of security, resilience, infrastructure, and governance.  In 2020 the G-5 Sahel Joint Force conducted military operations to disrupt the activities of terrorist operations in transborder regions of the five member states.  Multiple countries, including the United States and France, and the EU, have provided or pledged donor support to the G-5 Sahel Joint Force.

The League of Arab States (LAS):  A member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, LAS is a regional organization consisting of 22 member states that promotes the interests of the Arab world.  LAS serves as a forum for member states to coordinate policy on matters of concern, including countering violent extremism and other threats.

The United Nations.  Sustained and strategic engagement at the United Nations on counterterrorism issues is a priority for the United States.  Throughout 2020 the United Nations remained actively engaged in addressing the evolving threat of terrorism to international peace and security, including through the adoption of the U.S.- and Indonesia-led UNSCR 2560, adopted unanimously on December 29, that encouraged member states to engage more actively in submitting listing requests of individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with ISIS and al-Qa’ida to keep the ISIL/Da’esh and al-Qa’ida Sanctions List reliable and up to date.

Other U.S. engagement with UN actors on counterterrorism included the following:

  • The UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED).  The United States supported CTC and CTED efforts to assess evolving terrorist trends and to analyze capacity gaps of member states to implement UNSCRs 1373, 1624, 2178, 2396, and other relevant counterterrorism resolutions, and to facilitate training and other technical assistance to UN member states.  In 2020, CTED held six open briefings on issues including terrorist threats to civil aviation and the role of the criminal justice sector in bringing terrorists to justice through effective use of battlefield- or military-collected evidence.  CTED also completed 67 Overview of Implementation Assessments and Detailed Implementation Surveys and shared 18 assessment visit reports with the Global Counterterrorism Coordination Platform, which was launched in March.  To support UN capacity building activities, CTED shared its prioritized technical assistance needs from 2016 through 2020 with the UN Office of Counterterrorism.
  • The UNSC 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida Sanctions Committee.  The United States worked closely with the UN Sanctions Committee and its monitoring team in 2020 by proposing listings, providing amendments, engaging the committee’s ombudsperson regarding petitions for de-listings, and providing input to the committee to enhance its procedures and implementation of sanctions measures.  The United States also assisted the monitoring team with information for its research and reports.  In 2020, five groups and three individuals were added to the 1267 Sanctions List, including five more ISIS affiliates and the new leader of ISIS, Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla.  Three individuals were de-listed, and 17 entities and 69 individuals had their existing entries amended during the year.  The total figures on the list are 264 individuals and 89 entities, as of December 31.  The committee also worked to ensure the integrity of the list by conducting regular reviews and by endeavoring to remove those individuals and entities that no longer meet the criteria for listing.
  • The UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT).  UNOCT continued to work closely with the 40 UN entities plus INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union through the Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact, to ensure balanced implementation of the four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy:  1) strengthen the delivery of UN counterterrorism capacity building assistance to member states; 2) promote and improve visibility; 3) advocacy; and, 4) resource mobilization for UN counterterrorism efforts.  In July, UNOCT held a virtual Counter-Terrorism Week under the overarching theme of “Strategic and Practical Challenges of Countering Terrorism in a Global Pandemic Environment.”  The U.S. coordinator for counterterrorism participated in the closing panel and provided remarks that focused on Iran-sponsored terrorism, Chinese human rights abuses, and the role of the United States as a primary provider of global counterterrorism technical assistance and capacity building.  The United States also participated in the development and implementation of several global initiatives being led by UNOCT that are aimed at helping member states implement the UN Global CT Strategy by creating global norms and providing necessary capacity building and training in areas such as the protection of soft targets from terrorist attack, challenges associated with foreign terrorist fighters and their accompanying family members, and countering terrorist travel.  UNOCT launched the International Hub on Behavioral Insights to Counter Terrorism in Doha, Qatar, on December 7.
  • The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  UNODC’s Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB) continued to assist countries seeking to ratify and implement the universal legal instruments against terrorism, and it provided assistance for countering the financing of terrorism in conjunction with UNODC’s Global Program Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism.  The United States supported UNODC/TPB as a counterterrorism assistance implementer, particularly for programming focused on strengthening the criminal justice system’s response to terrorism by member states.  In 2020 the United States continued to support UNODC/TPB programs designed to strengthen legal regimes to combat terrorism within a rule-of-law framework globally and to support implementation of UNSCR 2396 obligations in North Africa and South and Central Asia.  Activities in 2020 included both live and virtual training workshops in Algeria, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan.
  • The UN Security Council (UNSC) 1540 Committee.  The 1540 Committee monitors and facilitates efforts to implement UNSCR 1540 (2004) requirements, which address the nexus of proliferation concerns surrounding chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and their means of delivery on the one hand, and activities by nonstate actors, who wittingly or unwittingly provide WMD-related assistance to terrorist organizations, on the other.  The 1540 Committee’s Group of Experts (GoE) participates in a wide range of multilateral and regional activities designed to facilitate technical assistance to member states when they request it.  Using Office for Disarmament Affairs Trust Fund resources to cover travel expenses, the GoE also has interacted with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the World Customs Organization, INTERPOL, UNODC, FATF, and other multilateral counterterrorism bodies, as well as with individual countries to this end.  The United States is one of eight countries, plus the EU, that have contributed to the 1540 Trust Fund, which is used to support these activities and to financially support 1540 regional coordinator positions in the OAS and the OSCE.  The United States is working with the EU to co-fund AU 1540 coordinators and likewise is in discussions with Northeast Asian partners to support an ASEAN 1540 coordinator position.  U.S. funds also continued to be used to conduct projects that assist African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries in strengthening national 1540 implementation by developing voluntary national action plans (NAPs).  Given the key role played by current 1540 coordinators in GoE-supported peer-to-peer reviews, the United States will continue to promote the idea of establishing additional 1540 regional coordinators, to increase the number and quality of NAPs in the lead-up to a UNSCR 1540 Comprehensive Review, which is currently expected to be held in 2021.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  In June the Council of ICAO approved amendments to Annex 9 of the Chicago Convention to establish new Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) regarding states’ development and use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) systems.  This action came in direct response to UNSCR 2396 of 2017, which requires states to develop the capability to collect, process, and analyze PNR data, in furtherance of ICAO SARPs.  UNSCR 2396 also requires states to ensure PNR data are used by and shared with all their competent national authorities, with full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for the purpose of preventing, detecting, and investigating terrorist offenses and related travel.  Finally, it urged ICAO to set standards for the collection, use, processing, and protection of PNR data.  Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu supported the work to develop these standards by promoting awareness of states’ obligations and the importance of ICAO responding expeditiously to help implement UNSCR 2396.

The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT).  The United States serves as co-chair of the GICNT, a voluntary partnership of 89 nations and 6 international organizations committed to strengthening global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism.  In 2020, the GICNT held two in-person activities and then effectively pivoted programming to ​virtual engagements, hosting two multilateral workshops and a leadership meeting.  The virtual workshops provided an interactive forum to share and discuss best practices around plans, policies, and procedures to detect and respond to terrorism incidents.  The GICNT also updated its 2021-23 workplan and continued planning and finalizing additional exercises scheduled for 2021.  In addition​ to serving as co-chair, the United States provides both financial and human resources to support the initiative’s multilateral undertakings.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF).  FATF is an intergovernmental body that sets standards and promotes effective implementation of legal, regulatory, and operational measures to combat money laundering, terrorism financing, and proliferation financing.  FATF’s efforts to improve understanding and compliance with global FATF standards are supported by FATF-style regional bodies around the world.  In 2020, FATF continued to address terrorist financing through ongoing work.  This included regular nonpublic updates to the FATF global network on ISIS and AQ financing, and the drafting of a best practices paper on investigating and prosecuting terrorist financing.  Under the German FATF Presidency (which started in July ), FATF also is conducting an assessment on financing associated with racially or ethnically motivated terrorism (sometimes referred to as right-wing terrorism in FATF).

Long-Term Programs and Initiatives Designed to  Counter Terrorist Safe Havens and Recruitment

Countering Violent Extremism

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) refers to proactive assistance and engagements designed to reduce the ability of terrorist groups and their affiliates and adherents to radicalize, recruit, and mobilize individuals and communities to terrorism.  Countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment is an essential counterterrorism tool.  Our strategy to defeat terrorism includes efforts to build the capacity of local actors to defeat terrorism at its source.  CVE requires a comprehensive rule-of-law-based and human-rights-respecting approach involving national and local governments, religious leaders, civil society, educators, women, youth, the private sector, and affected communities.  In 2020, through bilateral and multilateral engagement, the Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT Bureau) emphasized four key areas in strategy formulation, diplomatic engagement, and foreign assistance programming:  1) countering all forms of terrorist ideologies, 2) countering use of the internet for terrorist purposes, 3) rehabilitation and reintegration, and 4) countermessaging.  The CT Bureau partnered with government officials, community leaders, mental health professionals and social workers, religious figures, and others to build a prevention architecture to counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment.

Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremism

The CT Bureau increased its efforts to combat racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism (REMVE).  REMVE — in particular white supremacist terrorism — continues to be a threat to the global community, with violence both on the rise and spreading geographically, as white supremacist and nativist movements and individuals increasingly target immigrants; Jewish, Muslim, and other religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTI) individuals; governments; and other perceived enemies.  The CT Bureau is working with our law enforcement and foreign partners to take concrete actions to address this growing threat.

Countering Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes

The CT Bureau continued promoting U.S. policy on this issue in bilateral and multilateral engagements.  As global attention on how terrorists exploit internet-based platforms continues to grow, the CT Bureau worked to ensure the U.S. response was measured, and in line with U.S. policy and legal frameworks for internet freedom and freedom of expression.  The United States believes that protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, is an important part of our counterterrorism strategy because increased censorship and other restrictions on human rights can lead to greater instances of terrorist radicalization.  The CT Bureau played a leading role in coordinating and negotiating language that promoted U.S. policy consistent with our long-standing ideals.

While the United States did not endorse the Christchurch Call to Action in 2020, the CT Bureau worked to ensure the U.S. position and general support on the issue was reflected in the G-20 Osaka Leaders’ Statement on Preventing Exploitation of the Internet for Terrorism and Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism and in the G-7 Biarritz Strategy for an Open, Free, and Secure Digital Transformation.  The CT Bureau engaged regularly with technology companies to improve voluntary information sharing, particularly on the presence of designated terrorist organizations and their members who operate online.  The CT Bureau also engaged regularly with the industry-led Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) and UN-affiliated Tech Against Terrorism, demonstrating the U.S. approach in working collaboratively with the private sector to counter the use of the internet for terrorist purposes.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration

Rehabilitation and reintegration of former terrorist fighters and their family members has become a pressing concern for the global community.  The CT Bureau coordinated global engagement on the rehabilitation and reintegration of FTF families repatriated from Syria and Iraq, though pandemic restrictions complicated these efforts.  The CT Bureau supported the travel of U.S. and international subject-matter experts to Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyz Republic, Maldives, North Macedonia, and Trinidad and Tobago to share best practices on rehabilitation and reintegration.  These engagements, which emphasized the importance of providing returnees with psychosocial services and involving community-level stakeholders in the reintegration process, led multiple countries to agree to repatriate their citizens and update their approaches to rehabilitation and reintegration, which, in turn, could encourage other nations to agree to repatriate their citizens from Syria and Iraq.


The CT Bureau continues to work with the Global Engagement Center’s Resiliency Campaign focused on Iraq, Syria, and Jordan as part of the Defeat-ISIS effort.  This campaign focused on four areas:  1) creating a local environment inhospitable to ISIS; 2) sustaining global support to defeat ISIS; 3) portraying ISIS as another failed movement; and 4) reducing ISIS’s ability to disseminate propaganda used to recruit, radicalize, or mobilize supporters.  This campaign brought together elements within the DoD to coordinate messaging efforts within specified countries.

CT Bureau in coordination with Hedayah, the Abu Dhabi-based CVE Center of Excellence, trained and supported government and civil society officials from Kosovo and Kyrgyzstan ‎in developing communication strategies to complement CVE national action plans, building positive messaging campaigns, and developing interventions and understandings around  use of the internet for terrorist purposes.

International Platforms to Advance CVE

In 2020 the CT Bureau maintained robust support for key international platforms that serve to push global CVE initiatives, while sharing the burden of CVE programs with global partners.  In the past year, the CT Bureau has helped multilateral institutions raise millions of dollars for local CVE programming in targeted localities.

  • Strong Cities Network (SCN):  In 2015, the SCN launched at the UN General Assembly with support from the United States.  With 25 founding members, SCN now includes more than 150 local governments across six continents.  SCN provides local governments with a forum to exchange best practices and lessons learned on CVE, including through global summits, regional workshops, exchanges, and an online portal.  The London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue serves as the SCN secretariat and conducts in-depth capacity building training and mentorship to members in Central Asia, East and West Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and the Western Balkans.  With support from the United States, SCN members in Bangladesh, Kenya, and North Macedonia have developed local action plans.
  • Global Community Engagement Resilience Fund (GCERF):  Since its inception in 2004 as the global CVE fund, GCERF has raised more than $100 million from 18 governments.  In 2020, GCERF was able to bring on Germany as a new donor.  GCERF now actively partners with nine beneficiary countries.  As of June, there are 32 active grants in Bangladesh, Kenya, Kosovo, Mali, Nigeria, Tunisia, and the Philippines, and grant making will soon commence in Somalia and Sri Lanka.  GCERF estimates that its grants have empowered 1.7 million people at risk of recruitment to radicalization directly, and a further 7.8 million indirectly.  The proportion of girls and women reached has increased to almost 50 percent.
  • Hedayah:  Hedayah continued advising and assisting governments and training civil society in CVE strategies and approaches, and providing them new tools.  Hedayah recently launched MASAR 2.0, a mobile application that will help CVE practitioners and policymakers effectively monitor and evaluate CVE programs.  In direct response to the global need to address returning FTFs, Hedayah developed the Blueprint of a Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center: Guiding Principles for Rehabilitating and Reintegrating Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Their Family Members.  In 2020, Hedayah launched a CT Bureau-supported CVE program focused on Tunisia and Tajikistan to develop and disseminate countermessaging content for vulnerable communities, build resiliency to counter the use of the internet for terrorist purposes, and assist governments in implementing their CVE national action plans.

More broadly, the CT Bureau leveraged other U.S. and donor government support for Hedayah programming — including USAID support for CVE ‎communications work in Kenya.‎

Civilian Counterterrorism Capacity Building Programs

As the terrorist threat has evolved and significantly expanded geographically in recent years, it has become clear that mitigating this threat depends on the political will and enhanced capabilities of our partners to counter terrorism.  To succeed over the long term, the United States must have partners who not only prevent, disrupt, and degrade networks militarily or through law enforcement, while comporting with international laws and norms, but also leverage robust civilian capabilities.  The United States needs partners in law enforcement, the justice sector, and corrections that can prevent and disrupt attacks and investigate, arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate terrorists and their facilitation networks.

The United States supports various programs to build the capacity of law enforcement to counter terrorism, including by strengthening the ability of justice and corrections officials to counter terrorism.  The CT Bureau funds, plans, and oversees the following capacity building programs:

  • The Antiterrorism Assistance program
  • The Countering Terrorism Finance program
  • Counterterrorism Engagement with Allies
  • The Terrorist Interdiction Program
  • The Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund

In FY 2020, CTPF resources allowed the Department of State to significantly expand civilian law enforcement counterterrorism capacity building activities with key partner nations in the Middle East, North Africa, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, South and Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and other regions to mitigate the threat posed by FTFs, prevent and counter terrorist safe havens and recruitment, and counter Iran-sponsored terrorism.  For further information on these programs, we refer you to the Annual Report on Assistance Related to International Terrorism.

Rewards for Justice

The Department of State’s national security rewards program, Rewards for Justice (RFJ), was established by the 1984 Act to Combat International Terrorism, Public Law 98-533 (codified at 22 U.S.C. § 2708).  RFJ’s goal is to generate information that helps protect U.S. national security.

Under this program, the Secretary of State may authorize rewards for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of anyone who plans, commits, aids, or attempts international terrorist acts against U.S. persons or property; that prevents such acts from occurring in the first place; that leads to the identification or location of a key terrorist leader; or that disrupts terrorism financing.  Pursuant to a 2017 amendment, RFJ also provides rewards for certain information that leads to the disruption of financial mechanisms of persons supporting the North Korean regime or for information that leads to the identification or location of any individual who, acting at the direction or under the control of a foreign government, aids or abets a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Since RFJ’s inception in 1984, the United States has paid more than $200 million to more than 100 people who provided actionable information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide.

In 2020 the RFJ program announced the following new reward offers for information:

  • April 10.  Reward of up to $10 million for information on the activities, networks, and associates of Muhammad Kawtharani, a senior Hizballah military commander.  This announcement was part of the Department’s standing reward offer for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of the terrorist organization Hizballah.
  • May 8.  Reward of up to $3 million for information leading to the location or identification of Muhammad Khadir Musa Ramadan, a senior leader of and key propagandist for ISIS.
  • June 24.  Increased reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of ISIS’s new leader Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla.
  • August 5.  Reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of any person who works with or for a foreign government for the purpose of interfering with U.S. elections through certain illegal cyber activities.
  • August 26.  Rewards of up to $5 million each for information concerning the kidnappings of Mark Randall Frerichs and Paul Edwin Overby Jr., who both disappeared in Afghanistan.
  • October 23.  Reward of up to $10 million for information on the activities, networks, and associates of Hizballah financiers and facilitators Muhammad Qasir, Muhammad Qasim al-Bazzal, and Ali Qasir.  This announcement was part of the Department’s standing reward offer for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of the terrorist organization Hizballah.
  • November 26.  Reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of Sajid Mir for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.  This announcement was part of the Department’s standing reward offer for information about the individuals responsible for these attacks.
  • December 9.  Reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of Junzō Okudaira for his involvement in the 1988 United Service Organizations Naples bombing.  This announcement was part of the Department’s standing reward offer for information that brings to justice those responsible for this attack.
  • December 11.  Reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of ISIS-Greater Sahara terrorists Abu Houzeifa, Illiasou Djibo, Issa Barre, Poula N’Gordie, Issa Jimarou, Ibrahim Ousmane, and Al Mahmoud ag Baye for their involvement the 2017 attack in Tongo Tongo, Niger, which killed four U.S. and four Nigerien soldiers.  This announcement was part of the Department’s standing reward offer for information that brings to justice those responsible for this attack.

Throughout 2020, RFJ also launched special campaigns to amplify awareness of existing reward offers, including the following:

  • Syria:  Rewards of up to $10 million for information on terrorists operating in or around Syria.
  • Hizballah:  Reward of up to $5 million for information that brings to justice various Hizballah operatives and up to $7 million for information on certain Hizballah leaders.  Reward of up to $10 million for information that disrupts Hizballah financial networks.
  • North Korea:  Rewards of up to $5 million each for information leading to the disruption of financial mechanisms of any person or entity that supports the illicit activities of the North Korean government and that leads to the identification or location of any person who aids or abets a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) at the direction or control of the North Korean regime.
  • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC):  Reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of Iran’s IRGC and its branches, including the IRGC-Qods Force.
Support for Pakistan

The U.S. government recognizes Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and broader regional security, and urges Pakistan to dismantle terrorist groups within its territory.  The United States cooperates with Pakistan on counterterrorism operations, which has helped Pakistan reclaim parts of the country previously held by militant groups.  The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other designated terrorist groups continue to conduct attacks against Pakistani military and civilian targets.  While Pakistan has taken some action against these designated terrorist organizations, some externally focused terrorist groups continue to find safe haven in Pakistan.

As such, the U.S. government continues to suspend most of its security assistance to Pakistan.  That suspension remained in effect throughout 2020.

Separately, the U.S. government maintained a civilian assistance portfolio on a focused set of priorities.  Civilian assistance continued to prioritize civil society; people-to-people exchanges; stabilization and development on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border; trade and economic growth, including partnering with U.S. businesses; law enforcement, counterterrorism — including countering terrorist financing and related anti-money laundering — and nonproliferation cooperation; and polio and other infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

The emphasis on sustainable development and capacity-building, and on leveraging trade and private sector investment where possible, encourages partnership and a long-term positive impact for the Pakistani people.  People-to-people exchanges, which largely shifted to virtual exchanges during COVID-19, help promote mutual understanding and bilateral ties.  The United States supported civilian law enforcement and the rule of law to help Pakistan disrupt transnational organized crime and terrorist networks and provide security and justice for Pakistani citizens.

Account FY 2018 FY 2019 FY2020
Total Bilateral Foreign Assistance* 73.8 76.4 72.8
Economic Support Fund 48.0 44.0 46.0
Global Health Programs 3.0
Int’l Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement 21.0 26.0 21.0
Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining 1.8 0.8 0.8
International Military Education and Training 0.5 3.5
Food for Peace Title II 2.5 2.1 2.0

*Figures in millions, US $

Counterterrorism Coordination With Saudi Arabia

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).  In 2020, Saudi Arabia continued to be a valuable counterterrorism partner of the United States.  Saudi authorities worked closely with the United States to implement counterterrorism commitments and to develop capabilities to counter violent extremist messaging.  Saudi officials remain eager to enhance defense and security cooperation and expand engagement with the United States, including on CVE issues.  Regular high-level consultations and cooperation with the United States — including, notably, at the October U.S.-Saudi Strategic Dialogue — played a crucial role in the Saudi Arabian government’s (SAG’s) ability to address domestic and regional terrorism threats.  Saudi Arabia maintained adequate legal frameworks, security forces, and institutional preparedness to combat “extremist threats.”  Attacks by Iran and groups it sponsors or supports on Saudi Arabia and against international shipping targets along the Saudi coast increased the urgency of Saudi efforts to defend its territory against Iranian-backed terrorism.  Saudi Arabia remained a regional leader in countering terrorist financing, hosting the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center that brings together the United States and Gulf partners to confront new and evolving networks and lead efforts on anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing measures.

On the multilateral front, Saudi Arabia worked closely on capacity building efforts to increase regional cooperation, minimize duplication of efforts, enhance information sharing, and address border security gaps.  SAG leadership worked to advance counterterrorism cooperation with Muslim-majority states, including through the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition.  Saudi Arabia participated actively in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and provided significant support in facilitating U.S. military operations in the region.

To promote a more comprehensive, collaborative, and proactive approach to CVE, Saudi activities concentrated on identifying pathways to terrorist radicalization and recruitment.  SAG also focused on countering these through messaging that emphasized nationalism, by rejecting intolerant ideologies — including those based on religious interpretations —and by cultivating appreciation for Saudi culture and heritage as the basis for national identity.  Saudi Arabia’s ideological approach to countering terrorist propaganda also included family outreach initiatives; integration of gender considerations in CVE work; and public messaging campaigns to amplify moderate voices in mainstream media, mosques, Islamic organizations, community centers, and prisons, to curb the appeal of “radical ideology” and to counter “extremist messages.”  Security authorities continued to employ the Mohammed bin Naif Center for Care and Rehabilitation (the MbN Center) to deprogram, monitor, and rehabilitate former Saudi terrorists or foreign fighters.

The government also encouraged interreligious and interethnic dialogue through religious conferences and visits that brought Saudi religious scholars together with their counterparts from other faiths to promote dialogue and tolerance across world faiths.  Saudi Arabia continued removing hateful or inflammatory content from public school textbooks and is encouraging public school teachers to integrate CVE considerations in their instruction.  However, social, legal, economic, and political discrimination against the country’s Shia minority continued.  The U.S. government continues to work with Saudi authorities to eliminate language that promotes discrimination, intolerance, or violence from textbooks and other government publications.

U.S. Agency for Global Media Initiatives: Outreach to Foreign Muslim Audiences

This section is provided by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

We refer you to  for information on USAGM’s outreach to foreign Muslim audiences.

Visas for Participants in United States Programs

The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ visa policies and procedures have two fundamental missions:  1) protecting national security by helping secure U.S. borders against actual or potential threats, while 2) facilitating legitimate travel and international exchange.  Focusing on these two missions both safeguards our nation’s borders and ensures timely adjudications of visa applications for individuals seeking to participate in visitor exchange programs.

Visa applicants are subject to a robust interagency screening process that draws on biographic and biometric data.  Applications may be refused because they require further interagency screening and vetting after the interview.  Because of this, program sponsors and applicants should coordinate to initiate visa applications well in advance of their planned travel.  We advise applicants to obtain passports immediately and visit for instructions on applying for U.S. visas.

USAID Basic Education in Muslim-Majority Countries

USAID provided the following information about its basic education programs in Muslimmajority countries.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, USAID allocated $337.6 million for basic education in countries with large Muslim populations.  Estimated amounts for each region were

  • Asia:  $52.5 million was allocated to Bangladesh, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Philippines (Mindanao), Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.  An additional $33 million was allocated to Afghanistan, and $5.2 million was allocated to Pakistan.
  • Europe and Eurasia:  $2.9 million was allocated to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Middle East and North Africa:  $173.8 million was allocated to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Yemen, and USAID’s Middle East Regional Operating Unit.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa:  $85.9 million was allocated to Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Somalia.


Afghanistan:  USAID’s Capacity Building Activity (CBA) supported the Ministry of Education (MOE) to increase transparency and accountability of its national and subnational systems, policies, and procedures.  During FY 2020, CBA increased capacity and performance of 1,693 MOE staff at central and provincial levels on the educational management information system, or EMIS, specifically in teacher recruitment, payroll systems, internal audits, budget and finance, and civil society oversight.  The Strengthening Education in Afghanistan II activity also developed institutional capacities, policies, and guidelines at MOE to establish a simplified regulatory environment for private schools and an Online Private School Licensing System.

USAID’s Afghan Children Read activity built the capacity of MOE to provide evidence-based early grade reading programs in Dari and Pashto for grades 1 through 3 in pilot provinces.  In FY 2020 the project reached 985,063 early grade reading students and 9,621 teachers.  USAID also contributed to the Education Quality Reform in Afghanistan pledge as part of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, through which 362 rehabilitation and new school projects were completed in FY 2020.  In addition, USAID promoted girls’ education through a pledge to the United Kingdom’s Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC).  The partnership improves learning opportunities and outcomes for girls in grades 1 through 12 by providing access to quality education through a range of interventions.  In FY 2020, GEC provided education to 16,241 girls and 6,148 boys, as well as professional development opportunities to female and male primary and secondary educators.

Bangladesh:  In Bangladesh, USAID supports improved learning outcomes for marginalized youths and children with disabilities.  USAID’s activity Shobai Miley Shikhi (Everyone Learns Together) partners with the Government of Bangladesh’s Primary Education Development Program-Phase 4 to build the capacity of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education to strengthen the service delivery of disability-inclusive education, creating inclusive school environments and instruction for children with disabilities, especially girls.  In addition, USAID’s Esho Shikhi (Come and Learn) activity is designed to improve learning outcomes for Bangladeshi children in host communities affected by the Rohingya crisis in Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, and the surrounding areas.

Kyrgyz Republic:  Through the Time to Read (TTR) program, USAID employed an evidence-based approach grounded in establishing a reading curriculum for preservice institutions and strengthening teachers’ instructional practices through in-service and preservice training.  During FY 2020, TTR completed pre-service piloting of this curriculum and, as a result, six preservice institutions incorporated USAID’s model curriculum in their reading instruction.  As TTR ended, USAID launched its new basic education activity, Okuu Keremet (Learning Is Awesome), to continue to improve early grade learning outcomes in reading and math.  In FY 2020, Okuu Keremet completed the development of three advanced reading modules and five math modules for teacher training in English, Kyrgyz, and Russian.  Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, Okuu Keremet also prioritized the production of digital books that could be accessed online and over social media.  More than 250 titles of books for grades 1-4 were produced online in Russian and Kyrgyz and illustrated by local authors.

In addition, USAID continued to support the Inclusive Education Activity implemented by UNICEF.  In FY 2020, the activity worked in 48 primary schools with more than 4,200 underserved children, specifically those with special education needs and those with disabilities.

Pakistan:  In Pakistan, USAID activities expanded access to quality basic education for all, particularly for marginalized and vulnerable populations.  In FY 2020 the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Reconstruction Program completed construction and rehabilitation of 28 schools, benefiting 6,700 students.  The Sindh Basic Education Program (SBEP) also made strong progress in school construction as well as in community involvement in schools.  In FY 2020, SBEP completed the construction of three schools, bringing the total number of newly constructed schools to 73.  To address challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sindh Community Mobilization Program (CMP) component of SBEP developed innovative ways to continue its outreach and community mobilization efforts.  With the Care for Community (C4C) initiative, CMP designed a campaign to promote use of digital platforms for the broader school community to stay connected and maintain community spirit.  Through C4C, CMP reached 3,000 community leaders, headteachers, and local government officials in 400 schools and sites spread over 10 districts of Sindh.

In addition, the Pakistan Reading Project (PRP) provided institutional support in the form of workbooks, training materials, and classroom-based trainings to more than 38,700 classrooms for early grade reading instruction and 110 colleges and universities to deliver associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in teaching, resulting in more than 6,600 graduates this fiscal year.  PRP created and distributed more than 367,900 student learning materials and teacher instructional materials in local languages, trained 174 new administrators and education officials and 261 new teachers in reading instructional techniques, and enrolled 15,990 children in schools.  Of these results, 83 percent were in conflict-affected regions.  Additionally, PRP supported 428 Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) or community-based school governance structures engaged for the purpose of promoting reading in primary or secondary schools.

The Philippines:  In FY 2020, USAID helped the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd) improve education service delivery and foster early grade reading.  Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines project (known as ABC+) successfully delivered training on language learning and transitions to 530 regional trainers and 4,960 teachers through online modalities.  The All Children Reading (ACR)-Philippines activity also supported DepEd to improve reading outcomes for primary learners, with a focus on strengthening DepEd systems, increasing impact, scale, and sustainability.  ACR-Philippines was able to provide training for 130 administrative, technical, and management staff and 99 educators.

Further, USAID’s Education Governance Effectiveness (EdGE) activity worked with DepEd and local government units on fiscal management, using local education funds and grooming local education reform champions.  EdGE reached 199,630 primary-level learners, and a total of 11,729 primary school educators completed professional development activities on implementing evidence-based reading instruction.  More than 5,755 school administrators also completed professional development activities, and 749 PTAs or community-based school governance structures benefited from the activity.  Finally, USAID’s Gabay (Guide): Strengthening Inclusive Education for Deaf, Blind, and Deafblind Children activity completed the first Early Grade Reading Assessment for Deaf Learners (known as EGRA-Deaf) in the country and the Asia-Pacific region.  Evidence from this assessment helped Gabay develop and pilot a Filipino Sign Language curriculum with DepEd at the project sites.

Tajikistan:  USAID education programs in Tajikistan support the revision of obsolete, outdated teacher-centered Soviet practices with modernized guidelines, methods, and training.  In FY 2020 the Read With Me program reached 193,312 students in 941 schools, representing almost 40 percent of primary schools nationwide.  USAID programming places a high priority and emphasis on teacher professional development and in FY 2020 distributed 40,210 training modules to teachers, directors, and librarians; 19,206 parental engagement guides; and 1,809 DVDs containing teaching and learning materials (TLMs).  In addition, USAID developed around 200 supplementary reading instructional materials to more closely support effective teaching of reading in the classroom.  Moreover, USAID collaborated with Tajikistan’s national children’s television station to promote literacy skills across the country through a television show called Burro Burro Mehonam (I Can Read Fluently).  This show, aired for free by the Government of Tajikistan, allowed children to continue their education during COVID-19 school closures and continued to build a culture of reading between parents and children.

Uzbekistan:  During FY 2020, USAID used scientific, technological, and innovative approaches to strengthen the Government of Uzbekistan’s technical capacity to deliver basic education services.  USAID is helping the Ministry of Public Education (MPE) prepare national assessments of early grade reading and math using the early grade reading assessment (EGRA) and early grade math assessment (EGMA).  The instruments to be used for this survey were adapted collaboratively with the MPE during an in-country adaptation workshop in 2019.  That year, USAID trained 21 MPE staff on EGRA/EGMA administration.  Following the training, teams deployed to administer the pilot survey in 70 pilot schools in six provinces.  USAID submitted the Pilot Study Report to MPE in January and identified recommendations for the government to improve the instruments and training in preparation for the national survey.

In April, USAID also deployed a global education advisor to MPE to provide advisory services relating to strategic planning and management of large-scale reform initiatives, resource allocation, and mobilizing external and internal resources to support MPE’s ambitious reform program.  Through the education advisor, USAID supported the MPE in managing the response to nationwide school closures caused by COVID-19 and in providing COVID-19 recovery support.  In response to the MPE’s request for immediate assistance in delivering important messages about COVID-19 to children, families, and school systems, USAID launched Phase 1 of the Sesame Workshop COVID-19 Response Activity in June.  Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, developed the COVID-19 media content package to address the challenges faced by young children and their families during the pandemic, and combined existing water, sanitation, and hygiene (known as WASH) content as well as new Healthy Behavior content.

Europe and Eurasia

Bosnia and Herzegovina:  USAID worked to improve basic education in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) through two projects:  Enhancing and Advancing Basic Learning and Education (ENABLE) and General Education Activity (TABLA).  In FY 2020 the ENABLE activity improved STEM education by implementing the new operational teaching curriculum in model schools.  The program first rolled out new standards and guidelines for improved STEM/PPDM (Pedagogy, Psychology, Didactics, and Methodology) teaching methods in preservice teaching programs in universities.  Implementation in FY 2020 was achieved in 7 of the 12 model schools in the Federation of BiH and in Brčko District, benefiting 1,304 boys and 1,252 girls.  The ENABLE activity also held a series of technical and consultative meetings with ministries/departments of education and the leaders and STEM/PPDM mentors and teachers from the pilot schools to promote the integration of STEM into the learning process and the educational system overall.

In FY 2020, USAID’s TABLA continued to improve the learning context and the delivery of lessons and curricula in BiH and engaged students in shaping education policies and teaching approaches that form their learning ecosystems.  Through this activity, USAID improved standards for preservice and in-service teacher training, improved the learning environment in the schools, and stimulated dialogue on education reform.  In cooperation with two cantonal ministries of education, TABLA drafted a framework for education training with certification/accreditation for in-service teacher training programs in Sarajevo Canton and Herzegovina-Neretva Canton.  In February, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, the TABLA team and participating educational institutions shifted operations from face-to-face to virtual platforms.

The Middle East and North Africa

Egypt:  USAID partners with the Ministry of Education and Technical Education (MOETE) to implement Egypt’s education sector reform agenda, which includes shifting teaching methodology away from rote memorization and toward higher-order critical thinking skills.  In addition, the STEM Teacher Education and School Strengthening Activity and MOETE counterparts developed plans for four new STEM schools in FY 2020 and designed a school-based STEM teacher coaching and mentoring program.  Meanwhile, the intergenerational  Literate Village activity, which works in underserved community schools to improve the reading and life skills of children and their illiterate mothers, reached 41,405 children in FY 2020 in three governorates.  Moreover, 13,507 women enrolled in Literate Village’s intergenerational literacy classes, and 7,056 of them graduated from the program and attended postliteracy classes to learn how to apply literacy skills to secure more economic opportunities.  At the secondary level, the Workforce Improvement and Skills Enhancement Activity enhanced students’ market-relevant skills by providing on-the-job-training at a local company to 2,428 youths in FY 2020.  The activity provided entrepreneurship training to 34,498 students and enrolled 1,148 students in newly developed technical education specializations in fields demanded by the private sector.

Jordan:  During FY 2020, USAID continued its partnership with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Public Works and Housing to construct and repair 308 classrooms, benefiting 8,111 students nationwide, while integrating best practices for disabilities inclusion and accessibility.  In partnership with the MOE, USAID also strengthened literacy and numeracy for 387,117 kindergarten through grade 3 students through the provision of 967,804 TLMs, human resource development of 11,537 teachers and 1,841 administrators, and systems strengthening at the central and decentralized levels of the MOE.  In addition, USAID supported the MOE in procuring equipment to film lessons, develop online content, and update the teacher training digital platform Edraak, allowing for a combination of in-person and online training.  With USAID support, the MOE also addressed the needs of vulnerable first-grade students who had not attended kindergarten by distributing 3,600 early grade reading and math workbooks for the School Readiness program, including in refugee camps.

USAID continued to support the Jordan Compact Education Fund, a multidonor-funded mechanism that allowed Syrian children access to the formal education system.  In FY 2020, USAID’s Nonformal Education activity also provided a second chance to 484 students of all nationalities who had dropped out to reenroll in school or attend vocational training.

Lebanon:  Under the Quality Instruction Towards Access and Basic Education Improvement 2 activity, USAID achieved significant results in FY 2020 despite all the contextual changes and challenges faced throughout the academic year.  The activity completed the curriculum mapping for Arabic, English, French, and math by analyzing the national 1997 curriculum for grades 1 through 6 along with the accompanying teacher guides and student textbooks and identified gaps in the curriculum that warrant improvement.  The activity also developed grades 2, 3, and 6 reading and math assessment tools for the national literacy and numeracy baseline to be implemented in the next academic year.  In addition, around 125 trainers, curriculum specialists, and teacher coaches received training on the pedagogical strategies needed to create an effective distance learning environment.  In response to the COVID-19 situation, and to keep children engaged in learning at home while schools are still closed, the activity distributed educational boxes to 148,201 students in all of Lebanon’s 887 primary public schools.  More than 280 e-lessons in English, Arabic, French, and math have been developed and posted online for teachers and students to access.  Meanwhile, through the Community Support Program, USAID completed vital equipment provision and rehabilitation to five public schools, benefiting more than 2,700 students once schools are in session and pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Middle East Regional:  In FY 2020, the Middle East Education Research, Training and Support II (or MEERS II) mechanism supported research, training, and other analytical activities that address pressing education issues in the Middle East and North Africa, focusing on the various crises, including COVID-19, and their effect on learners, teachers, education systems, and education outcomes.  The research created new data and analysis to inform key partners’ education plans for increasing access to higher-quality education for all children in the region, with an emphasis on vulnerable children and youth.  This analysis contributed to U.S. policy interests by improving social stability and workforce readiness through enhanced education programming.

Morocco:  In FY 2020, USAID’s education activities continued enhancing educational attainment for Moroccan children at the primary level, supporting the Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education, and Scientific Research in its reform initiative to improve access to quality education for all children.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, USAID sustained its support to the MOE to continue building the capacity of educators, education inspectors, and teacher trainers under the National Program for Reading.  This support was implemented through a series of online workshops focused on operationalizing new and improved reading instructional strategies and Arabic language instructional methods.  As part of the COVID-19 response, USAID/Morocco also supported the MOE in adapting key courses into digital sign language courses.  This was the first time such an effort had been made to extend the educational services to students who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Yemen:  In FY 2020, USAID’s school feeding project, implemented by the World Food Program, reached 702,739 children with a daily nutritious snack, helping keep children in school.  A byproduct of the activity was its positive impact on the local economy:  60 percent of the commodities used for the school-feeding program were sourced locally.  Additionally, USAID’s education projects provided access to safe and quality education for out-of-school children ages 6 to 14 in Aden, al-Hudaydah, ’Amran, Dhale, Lahij, and Sana’a Governorates.  In the second year of implementation, 7,807 learners were reached with alternative education methods.  The projects also ensured family and community participation in the education of the learners, with 36 community governance structures reached in FY 2020.  During the reporting period, USAID also supported UNICEF in providing equitable access to safe, inclusive, and equipped learning spaces.  A total of 178,479 children (of which 45 percent are girls) were reached with activities to facilitate access to schools through the rehabilitation of WASH facilities in schools and hygiene promotion, provision of school desks and school bag kits, psychosocial support, and child-centered teaching methods.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Burkina Faso:  To mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the Burkinabe education system, educators, and children during FY 2020, USAID funded the Education Cannot Wait First Emergency Response Phase 2 Program.  A portion of this program directly supported the Government of Burkina Faso’s COVID response efforts in the education sector.  In particular, USAID funded awareness-raising campaigns on school-based infection prevention and response measures and implemented six months of radio-based instruction in reading, writing, and math for children in communities already affected by displacement and insecurity.

Djibouti:  During FY 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges, the Djibouti Early Grade Reading Activity (DEGRA) developed and distributed 81,700 teaching and learning materials (TLMs).  Moreover, 24,000 primary school students benefited from the training received by 258 second-grade teachers on the use of the new materials, while 211 first grade teachers received refresher training.  DEGRA also trained 22 Ministry of National Education and Professional Training (MENFOP) staff to develop reading standards and benchmarks for grades 1 through 5 and increased the capacity of MENFOP’s evaluation team on data processing and analysis, using a dashboard designed by DEGRA to inform the decisionmaking processes.  In addition, DEGRA worked with MENFOP’s training institution to establish a document database including literature and articles on reading.  Finally, in partnership with USAID’s civil society activity, DEGRA trained 46 PTA representatives to increase awareness of the importance of gender and social inclusion in primary education.

Mali:  In FY 2020, USAID, through the Selective Integrated Reading Activity (SIRA), continued to implement a bilingual balanced literacy approach to reading instruction in Bamako, Ségou, Koulikoro, and Sikasso regions, ensuring improved reading outcomes for 264,169 first and second grade students.  SIRA trained and coached 323 pedagogical counselors and supported School Management Committees, PTAs, education commissions, and Mothers’ Associations.  Monitoring student attendance and performance to increase reading outcomes was also a part of FY 2020 activities.  SIRA trained 359 community development agents and facilitators to mobilize communities and parents who then encouraged their children to read, and distributed home reading kits to 264,169 parents, further promoting a culture of reading outside the classroom.  SIRA established 295 community libraries through private-public partnership and supported a local radio campaign with messages on reading, promotion of mother tongue instruction, and the importance of girls’ access to education.

The Education Recovery Support Activity (ERSA) closed on July 31, having conducted 299 accelerated program classes through the Adapted Program for Resilience and School Entry (PARIS) initiative.  ERSA constructed 149 classrooms and 149 latrines blocks with separate space for males and females.  Classrooms were equipped with furniture and a handwashing station, serving about 11,000 participants (4,990 females) who were enrolled in the 70 centers opened throughout the life of the activity.  A total of 347 facilitators (66 women) were selected from the communities where the centers are located, and then trained and supported to teach, using the specialized PARIS curriculum.

Through the Girls Leadership and Empowerment through Education activity, 5,564 out-of-school adolescent girls were enrolled and 5,448 successfully transitioned to formal public schools.  Two hundred and thirty-three facilitators, 192 grandmothers and aunts, 40 teachers, 3 educational advisors, and 36 health workers helped beneficiaries attain knowledge about reproductive health, gender equality, and leadership, while their communities were made aware of how to overcome barriers to education and the negative impacts of sexual violence, early marriage, and pregnancy.

USAID also continued efforts to support children with disabilities by training 59 educators (30 females, 29 males) in inclusive education and preparatory training for 44 children (32 deaf children, of whom 14 were girls; 14 blind children, of whom 4 were girls).  USAID purchased school kits for the hearing and visually impaired and referred eight children (six blind and two deaf) to health facilities for screening purposes.  Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic generated the redirection of some planned activities to alternative methods such as monitoring children within their household, the provision of 52 households with handwashing kits, and the provision of 15 radios and 39 tablets to ensure the continuity of learning for beneficiaries.

Niger:  In FY 2020, USAID focused on expanding literacy and numeracy classes to target participants (youth and adults) to improve the overall literacy levels in the intervention areas, and to improve the quality of implementation of its different interventions and ensure sustainability.  The Girma activity started literacy and numeracy training for women, youths, and persons with disabilities in January, earlier than most other project activities.  The beneficiaries learned basic math and themes (such as health, nutrition, the environment, agriculture, livestock, water and sanitation, and governance) in their native language.  During the reporting period, 6,547 persons participated in the training.  Two thirds of the participants were women, one third were youths, and 2 percent were persons with disabilities.

The Participatory Responsive Governance Principal Activity (PRG-PA) concentrated on institutionalizing participatory approaches to support priority reforms in the education sector.  In addition, PRG-PA supported the Ministry of Basic Education in conducting a rapid impact study on the closure of schools at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and a needs assessment of municipal-level education services.

Nigeria:  USAID continued to pursue its goal of improving education for children affected by conflict.  In FY 2020, 45,000 previously out-of-school children benefited from nonformal education in places where formal schools do not exist, or where schools are too crowded to accommodate the influx of children fleeing insurgency in Borno and Yobe States.  When learning was disrupted by COVID-19, the Addressing Education in Northeast Nigeria (AENN) activity shifted to radio instruction, reaching 25,000 more listeners than the original target of those attending nonformal learning centers (NFLCs).  For 11,550 children in insurgent-affected remote areas that are beyond the reach of radio signals, AENN provided home learning kits for children and their caregivers to continue learning and reinforcing basic concepts.  Overall, the activity reached 55,040 male and 57,460 female students in FY 2020.

During FY 2020, USAID also continued multiple activities and support to state governments in Bauchi and Sokoto States to increase access to quality learning and improve the reading skills of school-aged children.  The Northern Education Initiative Plus activity produced and distributed 1.4 million textbooks and teachers’ manuals to formal schools and NFLCs in 10 local government areas of each state.  USAID also trained 50,000 out-of-school children and adolescent girls in 1,000 NFLCs before state-ordered closures caused by COVID-19.  To that point, more than 672,223 children in formal schools were learning to read, 20 percent more than anticipated for this period.  That accomplishment would have been impossible without the 10,730 teachers and learning facilitators whom USAID trained on best practices for reading instruction.

To address the postconflict educational needs of internally displaced children in Borno State, USAID’s grant to the University of Maiduguri to design and implement activities to counter violent extremism in Borno State continued in FY 2020.  And in Adamawa and Gombe States, the USAID-funded Strengthening Education in Northeast Nigeria States activity pivoted to a specific focus from English for grades 2 through 6 to early grade reading in a local language of the environment, Hausa, in grades 1 through 3, as part of efforts to improve the quality of learning for 200,000 pupils.  Finally, in FY 2020, USAID celebrated the successful conclusion of a partnership with Florida State University and Nigeria’s Bayero University in Kano (BUK) to promote early grade reading research and practice.  The activity led to the establishment of the Nigeria Center for Reading Research and Development at BUK, which in March hosted 900 participants at its second conference on early grade textbooks and children’s literature.

Senegal:  In FY 2020, USAID’s activities in the education sector redirected funding to support Senegal’s Ministry of Education (MOE) efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and adapt programming toward alternative learning methods.  The Lecture Pour Tous (LPT) activity swiftly developed and implemented an SMS-based COVID-19 prevention communication campaign.  More than 170,000 individual prevention messages were sent to more than 7,500 stakeholders not only to raise their awareness but also to guide them on how to support their children at home to mitigate learning loss.  In addition, the program reconfigured its approach to teacher continuous professional development and coaching, benefiting 340,563 students from 3,572 schools as well as more than 18,500 parents and caregivers from 764 communities across its six regions of intervention.  LPT also distributed a total of 767,352 teaching and learning materials for the 2019-20 school year to reinforce early grade reading and support both in-class and at-home instruction.

The Nos Enfants Lisent (Our Children Read) activity worked with 29 municipalities and six community radio stations to broadcast COVID-19 prevention messages and instruct parents and caregivers on how to best continue supporting their children’s education at home.  In addition, USAID’s government-to-government direct financing activity to improve reading outcomes, implemented in the Saint-Louis region, reached 778 schools, 47 inspectors, 778 principals, and close to 1,800 teachers and 66,000 students.

Following school closures, the Passerelles activity also supported the MOE’s communication efforts by disseminating close to 40,000 prevention messages over SMS to school personnel and education officials in targeted regions.  Close to 1,500 posters were distributed in schools, health centers, and households, and messages from influential leaders were broadcast on 15 community radio broadcasts over a three-month period.  In nonformal education structures such as Koranic schools and community-based classes, Passerelles distributed 10,000 cloth masks, 1,700 handwashing and soap kits, and thermometers.  In formal schools, Passerelles reached 83,200 children (40,450 girls) in 349 primary and middle schools.  Close to 2,000 teachers and school personnel (378 women) were trained in crosscutting themes such as positive learning environment, school-related gender-based violence, and inclusive education.

Somalia:  In its last year of implementation, USAID’s Alternative Basic Education (ABE) activity, implemented by UNICEF, enrolled 623 students, for a cumulative, life-of-project total of 20,248 students (11,582 boys and 8,666 girls).  USAID supported 96 schools in agro-pastoralist and pastoralist communities in Jubaland and South West States, focusing in areas that were acutely affected by droughts and floods and where children are particularly vulnerable to Al-Shabab recruitment efforts.  USAID also distributed 21,147 TLMs and trained 447 community teachers over the life of the activity, including dedicated leadership training for 96 headteachers in FY 2020.  USAID also equipped community education committees for the 21 predominantly pastoralist communities with materials and supplies to establish and operate mobile schools, using donkeys, and maintaining pastoral students’ ability to learn while on the move.  Based on third-party monitoring data that indicated overcrowded classrooms in specific centers, ABE created eight additional classrooms to accommodate the additional demand.

To help Somali-led efforts to cultivate a culture of literacy, USAID supported Somali NGO New Horizons in hosting the Mogadishu Book Fair and associated book forums in Baidoa, as well as writers’ and artists’ workshops in ABE-supported schools.  ABE also partnered with local organization Media Ink to create a pilot radio program to reinforce its classroom-based instruction.  ABE’s radio program reached more than 2.7 million people, 75 percent of the total population in its targeted districts.  A feedback mechanism collected more than 18,137 unique SMS messages by the stations from March to July, traced to 5,983 unique listeners.  Some radio listeners outside of ABE-targeted districts also tuned in.

USAID also helped Somali youths develop the skills they need to lead productive lives, gain employment, and contribute positively to society.  Through the Growth, Enterprise, Employment, and Livelihoods activity, the mission supported more than 30 private sector entities to train youth in the agriculture and agribusiness food processing value chains, as well as in the energy, construction, hospitality, and garment making sectors.  USAID leveraged new investments from private sector entities to the benefit of more than 2,000 youths.  In response to COVID-19, USAID worked with local training institutes to train young textile workers to produce nonmedical face masks, delivering more than 500,000 of them to the federal Ministry of Health and creating 304 full-time, permanent jobs at a time when the economy was contracting.

Economic Reform in Muslim-Majority Countries

We refer you to  and  for information on USAID’s economic reform programs.

Chapter 5 -- Foreign Terrorist Organizations

Designations of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) expose and isolate the designated terrorist organizations, deny them access to the U.S. financial system, and create significant criminal and immigration consequences for their members and supporters. Moreover, designations can assist or complement the law enforcement actions of other U.S. agencies and governments.

In 2020 the Department of State designated Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq as an FTO.

Legal Criteria for Designation Under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as Amended 

  1. It must be a foreign organization.
  2. The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C.  § 1182(a)(3)(B)), or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C.  § 2656f(d)(2)), or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
  3. The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.
U.S. Government Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations 

Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB)
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB)
al-Ashtar Brigades (AAB)
Ansar al-Dine (AAD)
Ansar al-Islam (AAI)
Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi (AAS-B)
Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah (AAS-D)
Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia (AAS-T)
Army of Islam (AOI)
Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH)
Asbat al-Ansar (AAA)
Aum Shinrikyo (AUM)
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
Boko Haram (BH)
Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA)
Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA)
Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG)
Haqqani Network (HQN)
Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI)
Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B)
Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM)
Hizbul Mujahadeen (HM)
Indian Mujahedeen (IM)
Islamic Jihad Union (IJU)
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
ISIS-Greater Sahara
Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K)
ISIS Sinai Province (ISIS-SP)
ISIS-West Africa
Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM)
Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan (Ansaru)
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)
Jaysh al-Adl
Jaysh Rijal Al-Tariq Al-Naqshabandi (JRTN)
Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT)
Jemaah Islamiya (JI)
Kahane Chai
Kata’ib Hizballah (KH)
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT)
Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC)
National Liberation Army (ELN)
al-Nusrah Front (ANF)
Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
Palestine Liberation Front-Abu Abbas Faction (PLF)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)
al-Qa’ida (AQ)
al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS)
al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)
Revolutionary Struggle (RS)
al-Shabaab (AS)
Shining Path (SL)
Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

Abdallah Azzam Brigades

Also known as (aka) Abdullah Azzam Brigades; Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades; Yusuf al- ’Uyayri Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades; Marwan Hadid Brigades; Marwan Hadid Brigade

Description:  Designated as an FTO on May 30, 2012, the Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB) formally announced its establishment in a 2009 video statement claiming responsibility for a rocket attack against Israel earlier that year.  The Lebanon-based group’s full name is Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades, named after Lebanese citizen Ziad al-Jarrah, one of the planners of and participants in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Activities:  After its initial formation, AAB relied primarily on rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.  It is responsible for numerous rockets fired into Israeli territory from Lebanon, often targeting population centers.

In 2013, AAB began targeting Hizballah for the organization’s involvement in the Syrian conflict and support for Syrian regime forces.  That year, AAB claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 23 people and wounded more than 140.  In 2014, AAB claimed twin suicide bomb attacks against the Iranian cultural center in Beirut that killed four persons.  Also that year, AAB was blamed for a suicide bombing in the Beirut neighborhood of Tayyouneh that killed a security officer and wounded 25 people.

In 2015, the group released photos of a training camp for its “Marwan Hadid Brigade” camp in Syria, likely located in Homs province.  From 2016 through 2018, AAB continued its involvement in the Syrian conflict and was active in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp.

In 2017, AAB called for violent jihad by Muslims against the United States and Israel after the U.S. announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  AAB announced its dissolution in Syria in 2019 and did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Lebanon

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.

Abu Sayyaf Group

Aka al Harakat al Islamiyya (the Islamic Movement)

Description:  The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  ASG split from the Moro National Liberation Front in the early 1990s and is one of the most violent terrorist groups in the Philippines.  The group claims to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, and elements of the group have ties to ISIS’s regional affiliate ISIS-Philippines.

Activities:  ASG has committed kidnappings-for-ransom, bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion.

Throughout 2015, ASG was responsible for multiple attacks, kidnappings, and the killing of hostages.  In 2016 and 2017, the group conducted kidnapping-for-ransom operations targeting Canadian, Filipino, German, and Norwegian citizens.  In 2017, ASG members killed nine people and injured others in an attack on Basilan Island.  In 2018, ASG detonated a car bomb at a military checkpoint on Basilan Island, killing 10 people, including a Philippine soldier and pro-government militiamen.

ASG continued conducting terrorist attacks and kidnappings in 2019.  That year, ASG militants attacked Philippine soldiers on Jolo, resulting in the deaths of two children.  That same year, ASG kidnapped two British nationals from a beach resort in the Zamboanga Peninsula region, but they were recovered on Jolo during the following month.

In August, ASG killed more than a dozen persons and injured over 70 in twin suicide bomb attacks in Sulu province.

Strength:  ASG is estimated to have hundreds of members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Malaysia and the Philippines

Funding and External Aid:  ASG is funded primarily through its kidnapping-for-ransom operations and extortion.  The group may also receive funding from external sources, including remittances from overseas Filipino workers and Middle East-based sympathizers.  In the past, ASG also has received training and other assistance from regional terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiya.

al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade

Aka al-Aqsa Martyrs Battalion

Description:  Designated as an FTO on March 27, 2002, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB) is composed of small cells of Fatah-affiliated activists that emerged at the outset of the al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000.  AAMB strives to expel the Israeli military and settlers from the West Bank and establish a Palestinian state loyal to Fatah.

Activities:  During the 2000 Intifada, AAMB primarily carried out small-arms attacks against Israeli military personnel and settlers.  By 2002 the group was striking at Israeli civilians inside Israel and claimed responsibility for the first female suicide bombing in the country.  In 2010 and 2011, the group launched numerous rocket attacks on Israeli communities.  In 2012, AAMB claimed that it had fired more than 500 rockets and missiles into Israel during an Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza.

In 2015, AAMB declared open war against Israel and asked Iran to help fund its efforts in a televised broadcast.  Throughout 2015, AAMB continued attacking Israeli soldiers and civilians.

In 2016, armed confrontation broke out in Nablus between Palestinian youths and Palestinian security officials following the arrest of an AAMB associate on murder charges; seven youths and six Palestinian security officials were injured in the unrest.  AAMB claimed responsibility for two rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip in 2017 and six rockets in 2018, although these did not cause any casualties.  AAMB did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  AAMB is estimated to have a few hundred members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank

Funding and External Aid:  Iran has provided AAMB with funds and guidance, primarily through Hizballah facilitators.

al-Ashtar Brigades

Aka Saraya al-Ashtar; AAB

Description:  Al-Ashtar Brigades (AAB) was designated as an FTO on July 11, 2018.  AAB is an Iran-backed terrorist organization established in 2013 with the goal of violently overthrowing the ruling family in Bahrain.  In 2018, AAB formally adopted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps branding and reaffirmed its loyalty to Tehran to reflect its role in an Iranian network of state and nonstate actors that operates against the United States and its allies in the region.

Activities:  Since 2013, AAB has claimed responsibility for more than 20 terrorist attacks against police and security targets in Bahrain.  In 2014, AAB conducted a bomb attack that killed two police officers and an officer from the United Arab Emirates.  In 2017, AAB shot and killed another local Bahrain officer.  AAB also has promoted violent activity against the British, Saudi Arabian, and U.S. governments over social media.  In 2019, AAB released a video statement promising more attacks in Bahrain to mark the anniversary of Bahrain’s Arab Spring-inspired political uprising; however, the group did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2019 or 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq

Funding and External Aid:  AAB receives funding and support from the Government of Iran.

Ansar al-Dine

Aka Ansar Dine; Ansar al-Din; Ancar Dine; Ansar ul-Din; Ansar Eddine; Defenders of the Faith

Description:  The Mali-based group Ansar al-Dine (AAD) was designated as an FTO on March 22, 2013.  AAD was created in 2011 after its leader Iyad ag Ghali failed in his attempt to take over another secular Tuareg organization.  Following the 2012 coup that toppled the Malian government, AAD was among the organizations (which also included al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM] and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa) to take over northern Mali, destroy UNESCO World Heritage sites, and enforce a severe interpretation of Sharia law upon the civilian population living in the areas under its control.

Beginning in 2013, French and allied African forces conducted operations in northern Mali to counter AAD and other terrorist groups, eventually forcing AAD and its allies out of the population centers it had seized.  Ghali, however, remained free and appeared in AAD videos in 2015 and 2016 threatening France and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

In 2017 the Sahara Branch of AQIM, AAD, al-Murabitoun, and the Macina Liberation Front came together to form Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM).

Activities:  In 2012, AAD received backing from AQIM in its fight against the Government of Mali, including for its capture of the Malian towns of Agulhok, Gao, Kidal, Tessalit, and Timbuktu.  In 2013, AAD members were reportedly among the Tuareg rebels responsible for killing 82 Malian soldiers and kidnapping 30 others in an attack against Agulhok.  Before the French intervention in 2013, Malian citizens in towns under AAD’s control allegedly faced harassment, torture, and death if they refused to comply with the group’s laws.

AAD was severely weakened by the 2013 French intervention, but it increased its activities in 2015 and 2016.  In 2016, AAD claimed responsibility for attacks targeting the Malian Army and MINUSMA.  Also in 2016, AAD attacked an army base, leaving 17 soldiers dead and six missing.  The following month, the group claimed three attacks:  two IED attacks on French forces and a rocket or mortar attack on a joint UN-French base near Tessalit.  Still later in 2016, AAD claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on UN and French forces.  In 2017, AAD claimed responsibility for an attack on the Malian Gendarmerie in Tenenkou, Mali.  AAD did not claim responsibility for any attacks from 2018 through 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Mali

Funding and External Aid:  AAD cooperates closely with and has received support from AQIM since its inception.  AAD is also said to receive funds from foreign donors and through smuggling operations.

Ansar al-Islam

Aka Ansar al-Sunna; Ansar al-Sunna Army; Devotees of Islam; Followers of Islam in Kurdistan; Helpers of Islam; Jaish Ansar al-Sunna; Jund al-Islam; Kurdish Taliban; Kurdistan Supporters of Islam; Partisans of Islam; Soldiers of God; Soldiers of Islam; Supporters of Islam in Kurdistan

Description:  Ansar al-Islam (AAI) was designated as an FTO on March 22, 2004.  AAI was established in 2001 in the Iraqi Kurdistan region through the merger of two Kurdish terrorist factions that traced their roots to the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan.  AAI seeks to expel western interests from Iraq and establish an independent Iraqi state based on its interpretation of Sharia law.

Activities:  From 2003 to 2011, AAI conducted attacks against a wide range of targets including Iraqi government and security forces, and U.S. and Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces.  The group also carried out numerous kidnappings, murders, and assassinations of Iraqi citizens and politicians.  In 2012, AAI claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Sons of Martyrs School in Damascus, which was occupied by Syrian security forces and pro-government militias; seven people were wounded in the attack.

During 2014, part of AAI issued a statement pledging allegiance to ISIS, although later reports suggest that a faction of AAI opposed joining ISIS.  In 2019, AAI claimed its first attack in Iraq in five years, placing two IEDs in Iraq’s Diyala province.  AAI did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Iraq and Syria

Funding and External Aid:  AAI receives assistance from a loose network of associates in Europe and the Middle East.

Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi

Aka Ansar al-Sharia in Libya; Ansar al-Shariah Brigade; Ansar al-Shari’a Brigade; Katibat Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi; Ansar al-Shariah-Benghazi; Al-Raya Establishment for Media Production; Ansar al-Sharia; Soldiers of the Sharia; Ansar al-Shariah; Supporters of Islamic Law

Description:  Designated as an FTO on January 13, 2014, Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi (AASB) was created after the 2011 fall of the Qadhafi regime in Libya.  The group has been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets as well as the assassination and attempted assassination of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya.

Activities:  Members of AAS-B were involved in the 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya.  Four U.S. citizens were killed in the attack:  Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.

Throughout 2016, AAS-B continued its fight against the “Libyan National Army” in Benghazi, resulting in the deaths of numerous Libyan security personnel and civilians.  Additionally, AAS-B controlled several terrorist training camps in Libya and trained members of other terrorist organizations operating in Iraq, Mali, and Syria.

In 2017, AAS-B announced its formal dissolution owing to suffering heavy losses, including the group’s senior leadership and defections to ISIS in Libya.  AAS-B has not claimed responsibility for any attacks since 2016.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Benghazi, Libya

Funding and External Aid:  AAS-B obtained funds from al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb as well as through charities, donations, and criminal activities.

Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah

Aka Supporters of Islamic Law; Ansar al-Sharia in Derna; Ansar al-Sharia in Libya; Ansar al-Sharia; Ansar al-Sharia Brigade in Darnah

Description:  Designated as an FTO on January 13, 2014, Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah (AAS-D) was created after the 2011 fall of the Qadhafi regime in Libya.  The group has been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets as well as the assassination and attempted assassination of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya.

Activities:  Members of AAS-D were involved in the 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya.  Four U.S. citizens were killed in the attack:  Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.

Throughout 2013 and 2014, AAS-D was believed to have cooperated with Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi in multiple attacks and suicide bombings targeting Libyan security forces in that city.  In 2016, AAS-D continued fighting in and around Darnah.  Additionally, AAS-D maintained several terrorist training camps in Darnah and Jebel Akhdar, Libya, and trained members of other terrorist organizations operating in Iraq and Syria .

In 2018, there were unconfirmed reports that AAS-D was involved in clashes with the “Libyan National Army.”  AAS-D did not claim any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Darnah, Libya

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.

Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia

Aka Al-Qayrawan Media Foundation; Supporters of Islamic Law; Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia; Ansar al-Shari’ah; Ansar al-Shari’ah in Tunisia; Ansar al-Sharia

Description:  Designated as an FTO on January 13, 2014, Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia (AAS-T) was founded in 2011 by Seif Allah Ben Hassine.  AAS-T has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of popular tourist locations.  AAS-T has also recruited Tunisians to fight in Syria.

Activities:  AAS-T was involved in the 2012 attack against Embassy Tunis and the American school in Tunis, which threatened the safety of more than 100 U.S. embassy employees.  In 2013, AAS-T members were implicated in the assassination of Tunisian politicians Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi.

Since 2016, Tunisian authorities have continued to confront and arrest AAS-T members.  AAS-T did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Libya and Tunisia

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.

Army of Islam

Aka Jaysh al-Islam; Jaish al-Islam

Description:  Designated as an FTO on May 19, 2011, the Army of Islam (AOI), founded in late 2005, is a Gaza-based terrorist organization responsible for numerous terrorist acts against the Israeli and Egyptian governments and British, New Zealand, and U.S. citizens.  The group, led by Mumtaz Dughmush, subscribes to a violent Salafist ideology.

Note:  AOI is a separate and distinct group from the Syria-based Jaysh al-Islam, which is not a designated FTO.

Activities:  AOI is responsible for the 2006 and 2007 kidnappings of civilians, including a U.S. journalist.  AOI also carried out the 2009 attacks on Egyptian civilians in Cairo and Heliopolis, Egypt, and planned the 2011 attack on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria that killed 25 persons and wounded 100.  In 2012, AOI announced that it had launched rocket attacks on Israel in a joint operation with the Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem.  In 2013, an Israeli official reported that AOI leader Dughmush was running training camps in Gaza.

In 2015, AOI reportedly released a statement pledging allegiance to ISIS.  In a short post attributed to the group, AOI declared itself an inseparable part of ISIS-Sinai Province.  Since then, AOI has continued to express support for ISIS.  In 2017, the group released a video meant to encourage ISIS fighters defending Mosul.  In 2019, AOI shared another video praising ISIS that included training information for individuals to conduct suicide attacks.  And in April, AOI published more than two dozen images of fighters conducting military training, but it did not claim any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Egypt, Gaza, and Israel

Funding and External Aid:  AOI receives much of its funding from a variety of criminal activities in Gaza.

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq

Aka: AAH; Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq min Al-Iraq; Asaib al Haq; Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haqq; League of the Righteous; Khazali Network; Khazali Special Group; Qazali Network; The People of the Cave; Khazali Special Groups Network; Al-Tayar al-Risali; The Missionary Current

Description:  Designated as an FTO on January 10, 2020, AAH — led by Qays and Laith al-Khazali — is an Iran-backed, militant organization.  AAH remains ideologically aligned with Iran and loyal to its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  The group seeks to promote Iran’s political and religious influence in Iraq, maintain Shia control over Iraq, and expel any remaining western military forces from the country.

Activities:  AAH has claimed responsibility for more than 6,000 attacks against U.S. and Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces since its creation in 2006.  The group has carried out highly sophisticated operations, including mortar attacks on an American base, the downing of a British helicopter, and an attack on the Karbala Provincial Headquarters that resulted in the capture and murder of five U.S. soldiers.

In 2019, two 107-mm rockets were fired at the Taji military training complex, where U.S. personnel provide divisional training.  Iraqi security forces arrested two individuals assessed to be members of AAH in connection with the attack.

Also in 2019, AAH members opened fire on a group of protestors trying to set fire to the group’s office in the city of Nasiriya, killing at least six.

Strength:  AAH membership is estimated at 10,000.

Location/Area of Operation:  Iraq, Syria

Funding and External Aid: AAH is extensively funded and trained by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).  AAH also receives funding through illicit activities such as smuggling.

Asbat al-Ansar

Aka AAA; Band of Helpers; Band of Partisans; League of Partisans; League of the Followers; God’s Partisans; Gathering of Supporters; Partisan’s League; Esbat al-Ansar; Isbat al-Ansar; Osbat al-Ansar; Usbat al-Ansar; Usbat ul-Ansar

Description:  Designated as an FTO on March 27, 2002, Asbat al-Ansar (AAA) is a Lebanon-based Sunni terrorist group composed primarily of Palestinians that first emerged in the early 1990s.  Linked to al-Qa’ida and other Sunni terrorist groups, AAA aims to thwart perceived anti-Islamic and pro-western influences in the country.  AAA’s base is largely confined to Lebanon’s refugee camps.

Activities:  Throughout the mid-1990s, AAA assassinated Lebanese religious leaders and bombed nightclubs, theaters, and liquor stores.  The group also plotted against foreign diplomatic targets.  Between 2005 and 2011, AAA members traveled to Iraq to fight Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces.  AAA has been reluctant to involve itself in operations in Lebanon, in part because of concerns of losing its safe haven in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp.  The group remained active in Lebanon but has not claimed responsibility for any attacks since 2018.

Strength:  AAA membership is estimated in the low hundreds.

Location/Area of Operation:  AAA’s primary base of operations is the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon.

Funding and External Aid:  AAA likely receives money through international Sunni extremist networks.

Aum Shinrikyo

Aka A.I.C. Comprehensive Research Institute; A.I.C. Sogo Kenkyusho; Aleph; Aum Supreme Truth

Description:  Aum Shinrikyo (AUM) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  It was established in 1987 by leader Shoko Asahara and gained legal status in Japan as a religious entity in 1989.  The Japanese government revoked its recognition of AUM as a religious organization following the group’s deadly 1995 sarin attack in Tokyo.  Despite claims that the group has renounced violence and Asahara’s teachings, concerns remain regarding its continued adherence to the violence.  The group now consists of two factions, both of which have recruited new members, engaged in commercial enterprises, and acquired property.

Activities:  In 1995, AUM members simultaneously released the chemical nerve agent sarin on several Tokyo subway trains, killing 13 and causing up to 6,000 people to seek medical treatment.  Subsequent investigations by the Japanese government revealed that AUM was responsible for other chemical incidents in Japan in 1994, including a sarin attack on a residential neighborhood in Matsumoto that killed seven persons and injured about 500 others.  Japanese police arrested Asahara in 1995; in 2004, authorities sentenced him to death for his role in the 1995 attacks.

In 2000, Russian authorities arrested a group of Russian AUM followers who planned to detonate bombs in Japan as part of an operation to free Asahara from prison.  In 2012, a Japan Airlines flight to the United States turned back after receiving a bomb threat demanding Asahara’s release.

In 2016, Montenegro expelled 58 people associated with AUM found holding a conference at a hotel in Danilovgrad.  One month later, Russian authorities carried out raids on 25 AUM properties and opened a criminal investigation into an AUM cell.  In 2017, Japanese police raided the offices of a “successor” group to AUM.  In 2018, AUM leader Shoko Asahara was executed.  AUM did not claim any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  AUM is estimated to have around 1,500 followers.

Location/Area of Operation:  Japan and Russia

Funding and External Aid:  AUM’s funding comes primarily from member contributions and group-run businesses.

Basque Fatherland and Liberty

Aka ETA; Askatasuna; Batasuna; Ekin; Euskal Herritarrok; Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna; Herri Batasuna; Jarrai-Haika-Segi; K.A.S.; XAKI; Epanastatiki Pirines; Popular Revolutionary Struggle

Description:  Designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) was founded in 1959 with the aim of establishing an independent homeland based on Marxist principles in the Spanish Basque provinces of Álava, Guipúzcoa, and Viscaya; the autonomous region of Navarre; and the southwestern French territories of Labourd, Lower Navarre, and Soule.

Activities:  ETA primarily has conducted bombings and assassinations against Spanish government officials, businesspersons, politicians, judicial figures, and security and military forces; however, the group also has targeted journalists and major tourist areas.  ETA is responsible for killing more than 800 civilians and members of the armed forces and police, as well as injuring thousands, since it formally began its campaign of violence in 1968.

In 2006, ETA exploded a massive car bomb, destroying much of the covered parking garage at Madrid-Barajas International Airport.  ETA marked its 50th anniversary in 2009 with a series of high-profile and deadly bombings, including an attack on a Civil Guard barracks that injured more than 60 people, including children.

ETA has not conducted any attacks since it announced a “definitive cessation of armed activity” in 2011.

In 2016, authorities seized ETA weapons, including a cache found in a forest north of Paris, and captured the top ETA leader.  In 2017, ETA reported that it had relinquished its last weapons caches.  In 2018, ETA released a letter announcing the dissolution of its organizational structures.  In a 2019 mass trial, a Spanish court accepted a plea deal for 47 ETA members to avoid prison sentences for membership in the group.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Spain and France

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.

Boko Haram

Aka Nigerian Taliban; Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad; Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad; People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings for Propagation and Jihad; Sunni Group for Preaching and Jihad

Description:  Boko Haram (BH) was designated as an FTO on November 14, 2013.  The Nigeria-based group is responsible for numerous attacks in northern and northeastern regions of the country as well as in the Lake Chad Basin in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger that have killed thousands of people since 2009.

In 2015, BH pledged allegiance to ISIS in an audiotape message.  ISIS accepted the pledge, and BH began calling itself ISIS-West Africa.  In 2016, ISIS announced that Abu Musab al-Barnawi was to replace Abubakar Shekau as the new leader of the group.  Infighting then led BH to split.  Shekau maintains a group of followers and affiliates concentrated primarily in the Sambisa Forest; this faction is known as Boko Haram, while al-Barnawi’s group is now separated and designated as ISIS-West Africa.

Activities:  BH crosses porous Lake Chad-region borders to target civilians and military personnel in northeast Nigeria, the Far North Region of Cameroon, and parts of Chad and Niger.  The group continued to evade pressure from Lake Chad country forces, including through the regional Multinational Joint Task Force.

In 2014, BH kidnapped 276 female students from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State.  BH has continued to abduct women and girls in the northern region of Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, some of whom are subjected to domestic servitude, other forms of forced labor, and sexual servitude, including through forced marriages to its members.

During 2017 and 2018, BH increased its forced abduction of women and girls and ordered them to carry out suicide attacks on civilians, including the 2017 attack against the University of Maiduguri in Borno State and twin attacks against a mosque and market in Adamawa State, Nigeria, in 2018, killing 86.  During 2019, BH reportedly killed at least 275 people, mostly civilians, and displaced thousands in the Far North Region of Cameroon.

In February, suspected BH fighters attacked trucks carrying passengers along a military checkpoint in Nigeria, killing at least 30 people.  In March, BH launched an attack in Boma, Chad, that killed at least 92 Chadian soldiers.  In June, suspected BH militants attacked a village in northeast Nigeria that killed at least 81 people.  BH was alleged to be responsible for a November attack on a village in northeast Nigeria that killed at least 110 people.  In December, BH claimed responsibility for the abduction of more than 330 students from an all-boys school in Nigeria’s northern Katsina State.

Strength:  BH is estimated to have several thousand fighters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria

Funding and External Aid:  BH largely self-finances through criminal activities such as looting, extortion, kidnapping-for-ransom, and bank robberies.

Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army

Aka CPP/NPA; Communist Party of the Philippines; CPP; New People’s Army; NPA; NPP/CPP

Description:  The Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) was designated as an FTO on August 9, 2002.  The military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) — the New People’s Army (NPA) — is a Maoist group formed in 1969 with the aim of overthrowing the government through protracted guerrilla warfare.  NPA’s founder, Jose Maria Sison, reportedly directs CPP/NPA activity from the Netherlands, where he lives in self-imposed exile.  Luis Jalandoni, a fellow Central Committee member and director of the CPP’s overt political wing, the National Democratic Front, also lives in the Netherlands.  Although primarily a rural-based guerrilla group, the CPP/NPA has an active urban infrastructure to support its terrorist activities and, at times, has used city-based assassination squads.

Activities:  The CPP/NPA primarily targets Philippine security forces, government officials, local infrastructure, and businesses that refuse to pay extortion, or “revolutionary taxes.”  The CPP/NPA also has a history of attacking U.S. interests in the Philippines.  In 1987, for example, the group killed three U.S. soldiers in four separate attacks in Angeles.  In 1989, the CPP/NPA issued a press statement claiming responsibility for the ambush and murder of Col. James Nicholas Rowe, chief of the Ground Forces Division of the Joint U.S.-Military Advisory Group.

Over the past several years, the CPP/NPA has continued to carry out killings, raids, kidnappings, acts of extortion, and other forms of violence primarily directed against Philippine security forces.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, several attempts were made to establish a cease-fire and peace deal between the CPP/NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  Reported violations from both sides, however — including reports of the CPP/NPA’s continued recruitment in the Philippines and attacks against government forces and civilians — stalled peace efforts through 2019.

In 2018, seven suspected members of the CPP/NPA were killed in a shootout with Philippine police in the town of Antique; authorities found a cache of cellphones, laptops, firearms, and explosives at the site.  In 2018, CPP/NPA members used an antipersonnel mine to attack a military patrol in the city of Catarman.  The attack killed four soldiers and two civilians.

In 2019 and 2020, the CPP/NPA continued attacks against security forces and civilians.  The deadliest of these was a 2019 offensive in which CPP/NPA detonated bombs using an improvised land mine in a surprise early morning attack clash on Samar Island, killing six Philippine troops.

Strength:  The Philippine government estimates that the CPP/NPA has about 4,000 members.  The group also retains a significant amount of support from communities in rural areas of the Philippines.

Location/Area of Operation:  The Philippines

Funding and External Aid:  The CPP/NPA raises funds through extortion and theft.

Continuity Irish Republican Army

Aka CIRA; Continuity Army Council; Continuity IRA; Republican Sinn Fein

Description:  Designated as an FTO on July 13, 2004, the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) is a terrorist splinter group that became operational in 1986 as the clandestine armed wing of Republican Sinn Fein, following its split from Sinn Fein.  “Continuity” refers to the group’s belief that it is carrying on the original goal of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), to force the British out of Northern Ireland.  CIRA cooperates with the Real IRA (RIRA).

Activities:  CIRA has been active in Belfast and the border areas of Northern Ireland, where it has carried out bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, extortion operations, and robberies.  On occasion, it has provided advance warning to police of its attacks.  Targets have included the British military, Northern Ireland security forces, and Loyalist paramilitary groups.

In 2016, CIRA claimed responsibility for a shooting at a boxing event in Dublin that left one person dead.  In 2019, CIRA members conducted an attack on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), setting off a bomb near the border of North Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Also in 2019, CIRA claimed responsibility for a grenade attack in west Belfast on a PSNI vehicle.

In February, CIRA claimed responsibility for attaching an IED to a truck destined for an unknown location in England; CIRA had allegedly planned for the bomb to go off on the day the United Kingdom left the European Union.

Strength:  CIRA’s membership is small, with possibly fewer than 50 members.

Location/Area of Operation:  United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland

Funding and External Aid:  CIRA supports its activities through criminal activities, including smuggling.

Gama’a al-Islamiyya

Aka al-Gama’at; Egyptian al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya; GI; Islamic Gama’at; IG; Islamic Group

Description:  Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  Formed in the 1970s, IG was once Egypt’s largest terrorist group.  The group’s external wing, composed mainly of exiled members residing in several countries, maintained that its primary goal was to replace the Egyptian government with an Islamist state.  IG’s “spiritual” leader Omar Abd al-Rahman, or the “blind Sheikh,” served a life sentence in a U.S. prison for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and died in prison in 2017.

Activities:  During the 1990s, IG conducted armed attacks against Egyptian security, other government officials, and Coptic Christians.  IG claimed responsibility for the 1995 attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The group also launched attacks on tourists in Egypt, most notably the 1997 Luxor attack.  In 1999, part of the group publicly renounced violence.  IG is not known to have committed a terrorist attack in recent years; the group did not claim any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Egypt

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.


Aka the Islamic Resistance Movement; Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya; Izz al-Din al Qassam Battalions; Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades; Izz al-Din al-Qassam Forces; Students of Ayyash; Student of the Engineer; Yahya Ayyash Units

Description:  Designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997, Hamas was established in 1987 at the onset of the first Palestinian uprising, or First Intifada, as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The armed element, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has conducted anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings against civilian targets inside Israel.  Hamas also manages a broad, mostly Gaza-based, network of Dawa or ministry activities that include charities, schools, clinics, youth camps, fundraising, and political activities.  After winning Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006, Hamas gained control of significant Palestinian Authority (PA) ministries in Gaza, including the Ministry of Interior.  In 2007 Hamas expelled the PA and Fatah from Gaza in a violent takeover.  In 2017 the group selected a new leader, Ismail Haniyeh, who is based in Gaza.  Hamas remained the de facto ruler in Gaza in 2020.

Activities:  Before 2005, Hamas conducted numerous anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings, rocket launches, IED attacks, and shootings.  U.S. citizens have died and been injured in the group’s attacks.  In 2007, after Hamas took control of Gaza from the PA and Fatah, the Gaza borders were closed, and Hamas increased its use of tunnels to smuggle weapons into Gaza through the Sinai and maritime routes.

Hamas fought a 23-day war with Israel from beginning in 2008 and concluding in 2009.

During 2012, Hamas fought another war with Israel during which it claims to have launched more than 1,400 rockets into Israel.  Despite the Egypt-mediated cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that year, operatives from Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad coordinated and carried out a bus bombing in Tel Aviv later that year that wounded 29 people.

On July 8, 2014, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in Gaza with the intent of preventing rocket fire into Israel; the rocket fire from Gaza had increased following earlier Israeli military operations that targeted Hamas for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in 2014, including 16-year-old U.S.-Israeli citizen Naftali Fraenkel.  In 2016, a Hamas member carried out a suicide attack on a bus in Jerusalem, killing 20 people.

Hamas-organized protests at the border between Gaza and Israel continued throughout much of 2019, resulting in clashes that killed Hamas members, Palestinian protestors, and Israeli soldiers.  Hamas claimed responsibility for numerous rocket attacks from Gaza into Israeli territory throughout 2018, and the Israeli military reported that some rocket attacks in 2019 and 2020 came from Hamas launchers. In August the Israeli military accused Hamas of being responsible for launching incendiary devices tied to balloons into Israel, causing more than 400 blazes in southern Israel.

Strength:  Hamas comprises several thousand Gaza-based operatives.

Location/Area of Operation:  Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon

Funding and External Aid:  Hamas has received funding, weapons, and training from Iran and raises funds in Gulf countries.  The group receives donations from some Palestinians and other expatriates as well as from its own charity organizations.

Haqqani Network


Description:  Designated as an FTO on September 19, 2012, the Haqqani Network (HQN) was formed in the late 1980s, around the time of the then-Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.  HQN’s founder Jalaluddin Haqqani established a relationship with Usama bin Laden in the mid1980s and joined the Taliban in 1995.  After the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, Haqqani retreated to Pakistan where, under the leadership of his son Sirajuddin, HQN continued to direct and conduct terrorist activity in Afghanistan.  In 2015, Sirajuddin Haqqani was appointed Deputy Leader of the Taliban.

Activities:  HQN has planned and carried out numerous significant kidnappings and attacks against U.S. and Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces in Afghanistan, the Afghan government, and civilian targets.  In 2011, HQN wounded 77 U.S. soldiers in a truck bombing in Maidan Wardak province and conducted a 19-hour attack on Embassy Kabul and International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, killing 16 Afghans.  In 2012 an HQN suicide bomb attack against Forward Operating Base Salerno killed 2 U.S. soldiers and wounded more than 100 others.

In 2016, HQN was blamed for an attack in Kabul against a government security agency tasked with providing protection to senior government officials, killing 64 people and injuring more than 300.  Afghan officials also blamed HQN for a 2016 double-suicide attack outside of Kabul against Afghan police cadets and first responders; 30 people were killed.

In 2017, Afghan officials blamed HQN for a truck bomb exploded in Kabul, killing more than 150 people.  Later that year, an American woman and her family were recovered after five years of HQN captivity.

HQN was believed to be responsible for a 2018 ambulance bombing in Kabul that killed more than 100 people.  Afghan officials blamed HQN for a 2018 attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that killed 22 persons, including Americans.  In 2019, HQN released two hostages, including a U.S. citizen, who had been kidnapped at gunpoint in 2016.

In May, the Afghan government identified HQN as responsible for an attack on a military court in Paktika province killing at least five.  In July the Afghan government identified HQN as responsible for killing three civilians in a bombing in Kabul.

Strength:  HQN is estimated to have between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan and Pakistan

Funding and External Aid:  HQN is funded primarily from taxing local commerce, extortion, smuggling, and other licit and illicit business ventures.  In addition to the funding it receives as part of the broader Afghan Taliban, the group receives some funds from donors in Pakistan and the Gulf.

Harakat-ul Jihad-i-Islami

Aka HUJI; Movement of Islamic Holy War; Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami; Harkat-al-Jihad-ul Islami; Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami; Harakat ul Jihad-e-Islami

Description:  Designated as an FTO on August 6, 2010, Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) was formed in 1980 in Afghanistan to fight against the former Soviet Union.  Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the group redirected its efforts toward India.  HUJI seeks the annexation of the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan and the expulsion of Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces from Afghanistan and has supplied fighters to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

HUJI historically focused its activities on the Afghanistan-Pakistan front, and was composed of Pakistani terrorists and veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war.  The group experienced internal splits, and a portion of the group has aligned with al-Qa’ida.

Activities:  HUJI claimed responsibility for the 2011 bombing of the New Delhi High Court, which left at least 11 persons dead and an estimated 76 wounded.  The group sent an email to the press stating that the bomb was intended to force India to repeal a death sentence of a HUJI member.  HUJI did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.

Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh

Aka HUJI-B; Harakat ul Jihad e Islami Bangladesh; Harkatul Jihad al Islam; Harkatul Jihad; Harakat ul Jihad al Islami; Harkat ul Jihad al Islami; Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami; Harakat ul Jihad Islami Bangladesh; Islami Dawat-e-Kafela; IDEK

Description:  Designated as an FTO on March 5, 2008, Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) was formed in 1992 by a group of former Bangladeshi Afghan veterans seeking to establish Islamist rule in Bangladesh.  In 2005, Bangladeshi authorities banned the group.  HUJI-B leaders signed the 1998 Fatwa sponsored by Usama bin Laden that declared U.S. civilians legitimate targets.  HUJI-B has connections to al-Qa’ida and Pakistani terrorist groups advocating similar objectives, including HUJI and Lashkar e-Tayyiba.

Activities:  In 2008, three HUJI-B members, including HUJI-B leader Mufti Abdul Hannan, were convicted for the 2004 grenade attack that wounded the British High Commissioner in Sylhet, Bangladesh.  In 2011, Bangladeshi authorities formally charged multiple suspects, including Hannan, with the killing of former Finance Minister Shah AMS Kibria in a 2005 grenade attack.  In 2013, Bangladeshi police arrested a group of terrorists, including HUJI-B members, who were preparing attacks on public gatherings and prominent individuals.

In 2017, Bangladeshi authorities executed HUJI-B leader Hannan and two associates for the 2004 grenade attack. In 2019, Dhaka police arrested three HUJI-B operatives reportedly attempting to revive the group’s operations.  In January, a court in Bangladesh sentenced 10 members of HUJI-B to death for a deadly bomb attack at a rally in Dhaka in 2001.

Strength:  HUJI-B leaders claim that up to 400 of its members are Afghan war veterans; its total membership is unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Bangladesh and India

Funding and External Aid:  HUJI-B funding comes from a variety of sources.  Several international NGOs may have funneled money to HUJI-B.

Harakat ul-Mujahideen

Aka HUM; Harakat ul-Ansar; HUA; Jamiat ul-Ansar; JUA; al-Faran; al-Hadid; al-Hadith; Harakat ul-Mujahidin; Ansar ul Ummah

Description:  Designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997, Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM) seeks the annexation of the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan and the expulsion of Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces from Afghanistan.  In 2005, HUM’s long-time leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil stepped down and was replaced by Dr. Badr Munir.  HUM operated terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan until Defeat-ISIS Coalition air strikes destroyed them in 2001.  In 2003, HUM began using the name Jamiat ul-Ansar; Pakistan banned the group in 2003.

Activities:  HUM has conducted numerous operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as in India’s northeastern states.  In 1999, HUM hijacked an Indian airliner, which led to the release of Masood Azhar, an important leader who later founded Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).  India also released Ahmed Omar Sheikh as a result of the hijacking.  Sheikh was later convicted of the 2002 abduction and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.  HUM has conducted attacks targeting Indian interests including the late 2015 strikes in Handwor and Poonch, which resulted in the deaths of five Indian Army personnel.  HUM did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  After 2000 a significant portion of HUM’s membership defected to JeM, and only a small number of cadres are reported to still be active.

Location/Area of Operation:  HUM conducts operations primarily in Afghanistan and in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.  It operates from Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir, and in other cities in Pakistan.

Funding and External Aid:  HUM collects donations from wealthy donors in Pakistan.


Aka Party of God; Islamic Jihad; Islamic Jihad Organization; Revolutionary Justice Organization; Organization of the Oppressed on Earth; Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine; Organization of Right Against Wrong; Ansar Allah; Followers of the Prophet Muhammed; Lebanese Hizballah; Lebanese Hezbollah; LH; Foreign Relations Department; FRD; External Security Organization; ESO; Foreign Action Unit; Hizballah ESO: Hizballah International; Special Operations Branch; External Services Organization; External Security Organization of Hezbollah

Description:  Hizballah was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  Formed in 1982 following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Lebanon-based radical Shia group takes its ideological inspiration from the Iranian revolution and the teachings of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.  The group generally follows the religious guidance of the Iranian supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.  Hizballah is closely allied with Iran, and the two often work together on shared initiatives, although Hizballah also occasionally acts independently.  Hizballah shares a close relationship with the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, and like Iran provides assistance — including fighters — to Syrian regime forces in the Syrian conflict.

Activities:  Hizballah is responsible for multiple large-scale terrorist attacks, including the 1983 suicide truck bombings of Embassy Beirut and the U.S. Marine barracks; the 1984 attack on the U.S. Embassy Beirut annex; and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem was murdered.  Hizballah was also implicated, along with Iran, in the 1992 attacks on the Israeli embassy in Argentina and the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires.

Hizballah assisted Iraq Shia militant and terrorist groups in Iraq and in 2007 attacked the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center, killing five American soldiers.

In 2012, a suspected Hizballah operative was detained and later found guilty by Cypriot authorities for allegedly helping to plan an attack against Israeli tourists on the island.  The group was also responsible for the July 2012 attack on a passenger bus carrying 42 Israeli tourists at the Burgas Airport in Bulgaria.  The explosion killed 5 Israelis, 1 Bulgarian, and injured 32 others.

In 2013, Hizballah publicly admitted to playing a significant role in the ongoing conflict in Syria, rallying support for the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.  Hizballah’s support for Syria’s Assad regime continued into 2020.

During 2013 through 2017, Hizballah operatives planning attacks or storing weapons and explosive materials were arrested in Bolivia, Cyprus, Kuwait, Nigeria, and Peru.

In 2017, two Hizballah operatives were arrested in the United States.  One operative arrested in Michigan had identified the availability of explosives precursors in Panama in 2011 and surveilled U.S. and Israeli targets in Panama as well as the Panama Canal during 2011-12.  Another operative arrested in New York had surveilled U.S. military and law enforcement facilities from 2003 to 2017.

In 2018, Brazil arrested a Hizballah financier and extradited him to Paraguay for prosecution in 2020.  In 2019, Hizballah launched attacks directly on the Israeli military, firing antitank missiles targeting an army base and vehicles near the border.

In August, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that Hizballah fighters fired toward an IDF position in the Israeli town of Manara.  In December, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed the terrorist group had doubled the size of its Precision Guided Missiles arsenal in 2020.  Also in December, judges at the Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon found Hizballah member Salim Ayyash guilty for his central role in the bomb attack in Beirut in 2005 that killed the former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafic Hariri.

Strength:  Hizballah has tens of thousands of supporters and members worldwide.

Location/Area of Operation:  Lebanon and Syria

Funding and External Aid:  Iran continues to provide Hizballah with most of its funding, training, weapons, and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, monetary, and organizational aid.  Iran’s annual financial backing to Hizballah — which in recent years has been estimated at $700 million — accounts for the overwhelming majority of the group’s annual budget.  The Assad regime in Syria has provided training, weapons, and diplomatic and political support.  Hizballah also receives funding in the form of private donations from some Lebanese Shia diaspora communities worldwide, including profits from legal and illegal businesses.  These include smuggling contraband goods, passport falsification, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and credit card, immigration, and bank fraud.

Hizbul Mujahadeen

Aka HM, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen

Description:  Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) was designated as an FTO on August 17, 2017. The group was formed in 1989 and is one of the largest and oldest militant groups operating in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.  HM is led by Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as Syed Salahuddin, and officially supports the liberation of Jammu and Kashmir from Indian control and its accession to Pakistan, although some cadres are pro-independence.  The group concentrates its attacks on Indian security forces and politicians in Jammu and Kashmir and has conducted operations jointly with other Kashmiri militants.  HM is made up primarily of ethnic Kashmiris.

Activities:  HM has claimed responsibility for several attacks in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.  In 2015, the group claimed an attack on Indian security forces in Kupwara that killed three Indian troops, according to the targeted forces.  HM launched additional attacks against Indian security forces in 2015 and 2016.  In 2017, HM killed seven persons — including five policemen — when it attacked a bank van carrying cash in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2018, HM reportedly killed four police officers in Shopian district in the Indian state Jammu and Kashmir.  Also in 2018, HM claimed responsibility for abducting and killing three police officials in Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2019, Indian officials accused HM of being behind a grenade attack on a Jammu bus stand that killed a teenager and injured 32 other people.  That same year, two Indian soldiers were killed and six others injured when an alleged HM militant attacked their patrol with a vehicle-borne IED (or VBIED).  HM was also suspected by police of having killed five Bengali laborers and a truck driver in 2019. In August, three HM militants opened fire on Indian soldiers during a search operation in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, killing one soldier.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  The Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of support are unknown, but HM is suspected to receive some funding from sources in Pakistan as well as from local fundraising.

Indian Mujahedeen

Aka Indian Mujahedeen; Indian Mujahidin; Islamic Security Force-Indian Mujahideen (ISF-IM)

Description:  The Indian Mujahedeen (IM) was designated as an FTO on September 19, 2011.  The India-based terrorist group has been responsible for dozens of bomb attacks throughout India since 2005 and caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians.  IM maintains ties to other terrorist entities, including ISIS, Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Harakat ul-Jihad Islami.  IM’s stated goal is to carry out terrorist actions against Indians for their oppression of Muslims.

Activities:  IM is known for carrying out multiple coordinated bombings in crowded areas  to maximize terror and casualties.  In 2008, IM was responsible for 16 synchronized bomb blasts in crowded urban centers, including an attack in Delhi that killed 30 people and an attack at a local hospital in Ahmedabad that killed 38.  In 2010, IM bombed a popular German bakery frequented by tourists in Pune, India; 17 people were killed, and more than 60 people were injured in the attack.

In 2015 the arrest of three IM militants linked the group to the 2014 lowintensity blast near a restaurant in Bangalore that killed one woman and injured three other people.  The arrest also uncovered that the group planned to carry out attacks on India’s Republic Day and had provided explosives for attacks in other parts of the country.

In 2016, IM was increasingly linked to ISIS.  That year, six IM operatives were identified in an ISIS propaganda video threatening attacks on India.  A month later, it was reported that an IM cell linked to ISIS was plotting attacks on multiple targets in Hyderabad and had purchased chemicals to make high-grade explosives for the planned operations.  In 2017, Indian law enforcement uncovered the plans of an IM militant in custody to conduct attacks in India, including targeted killings and bombing a temple in Gaya.  IM did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  India

Funding and External Aid:  IM is suspected of obtaining funding and support from other terrorist organizations, as well as from sources in Pakistan and the Middle East.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Libya 

Aka Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Libya; Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya; Wilayat Barqa; Wilayat Fezzan; Wilayat Tripolitania; Wilayat Tarablus; Wilayat al-Tarabulus

Description:  The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Libya (ISIL-Libya) was designated as an FTO on May 20, 2016.  In 2014, then-ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dispatched a group of ISIS operatives from Syria to Libya to establish a branch of the terrorist group.  In 2014, several hundred operatives set up a base in Darnah, and the following month, Baghdadi formally established the branch after announcing he had accepted oaths of allegiance from fighters in Libya.

Activities:  Since becoming established, ISIL-Libya has carried out multiple attacks throughout Libya and threatened to expand ISIS’s presence into other countries in Africa.

In  2015, ISIL-Libya claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli that killed eight people, including a U.S. contractor.  In 2015, ISIL-Libya released a propaganda video showing the murder of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who had been kidnapped from Sirte, Libya, in two separate incidents in 2014 and 2015.

In 2016, ISIL-Libya expanded operations into Libya’s oil crescent, launching attacks on some of the country’s largest oil installations: burning oil tanks, killing dozens, and forcing facilities to shut down operations.

In 2018, ISIL-Libya claimed responsibility for an attack on Libya’s electoral commission headquarters in Tripoli that killed 14 people.  Also in 2018, ISIL-Libya claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on Libya’s National Oil Company headquarters that left 2 persons dead and 10 others wounded.  Later that year, ISIL-Libya was implicated in an attack on a town in central Libya that resulted in 5 persons killed and 10 others kidnapped.  Still later that year, ISIL-Libya claimed responsibility for an attack on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that killed three people.

In 2019, ISIL-Libya claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on the Libyan National Army (LNA).  These included a dawn assault on a military training camp in the southern city of Sabhā that killed at least nine soldiers and an attack on the town of Zillah in which three soldiers were killed and four captured.

In May, ISIL-Libya claimed responsibility for three attacks on LNA forces at an LNA checkpoint in southern Libya.  ISIS-Libya reportedly used explosives and Katyusha rockets in these attacks, which targeted Tamanhint Airbase, the headquarters of the LNA’s 628 Battalion in Taraghin, and the LNA’s Khalid Ibn al-Walid Battalion headquartered in Umm al Aranib.  Also in May, ISIL-Libya  conducted a separate VBIED attack targeting a LNA checkpoint in Taraghin.

Strength:  ISIL-Libya is estimated to have fewer than 500 fighters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Libya

Funding and External Aid:  ISIL-Libya’s funding comes from a variety of sources, including criminal activity, such as smuggling and extortion, and external funding.  The group also receives support from ISIS [in Syria].

Islamic Jihad Union

Aka Islamic Jihad Group; Islomiy Jihod Ittihodi; al-Djihad al-Islami; Dzhamaat Modzhakhedov; Islamic Jihad Group of Uzbekistan; Jamiat al-Jihad al-Islami; Jamiyat; The Jamaat Mojahedin; The Kazakh Jama’at; The Libyan Society

Description:  The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) was designated as an FTO on June 17, 2005.  The group splintered from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in the early 2000s.  Najmiddin Jalolov founded the organization as the Islamic Jihad Group in 2002, but the group was renamed Islamic Jihad Union in 2005.  Although IJU remains committed to overthrowing the Government of Uzbekistan, today it is active primarily in Afghanistan and, more recently, in Syria, where many of its members relocated from Afghanistan.

Activities:  IJU primarily operates against international forces in Afghanistan and remains a threat to Central Asia.  IJU claimed responsibility for attacks in 2004 in Uzbekistan, which targeted police at several roadway checkpoints and at a popular bazaar, killing approximately 47 people, including 33 IJU members, some of whom were suicide bombers.  In 2004 the group carried out near-simultaneous suicide bombings of the Uzbek Prosecutor General’s office and the U.S. and Israeli Embassies in Tashkent.

In 2007, German authorities detained three IJU operatives, including two German converts, disrupting the group’s plans to attack targets in Germany — including Ramstein Airbase, where the primary targets would be U.S. diplomats, soldiers, and civilians.

In 2013, two IJU videos showed attacks against a U.S. military base in Afghanistan and an IJU sniper shooting an Afghan soldier.

According to statements and photos released by the group, IJU participated in the five-month-long 2015 Taliban siege of Kunduz city.  At least 13 police officers were killed in the attacks, and hundreds of civilians also were killed.  In 2015, IJU pledged allegiance to the then-newly appointed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour.

In 2017, IJU released a video showing its militants using assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades to fight Afghan troops in late 2016.  IJU released a second video in 2018 showing a joint raid with the Taliban in northern Afghanistan.  The video, dated 2017, shows a nighttime clash with Afghan forces.  In 2019 the United Nations confirmed that IJU was operating inside Syria under control of al-Nusra Front.  IJU did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  IJU consists of 100 to 200 members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Europe

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.

Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan


Description:  Designated as an FTO on September 25, 2000, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) seeks to overthrow the Uzbek government and establish an Islamic state.  For most of the past decade, however, the group has recruited members from other Central Asian states and Europe.  Despite its stated objective to set up an Islamic state in Uzbekistan, the group primarily operates along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and in northern Afghanistan, where it fights against international forces.  Several IMU members are also suspected of having traveled to Syria to fight with terrorist groups.

The IMU has had a decade-long relationship with al-Qa’ida (AQ), the Taliban, and Tehrike Taliban Pakistan.  Top IMU leaders have integrated themselves into the Taliban’s shadow government in Afghanistan’s northern provinces.

In 2015, IMU leader Usman Ghazi publicly announced the group’s shift of allegiance to ISIS.  Numerous IMU members, including possibly Ghazi himself, were subsequently reported to have been killed as a result of hostilities between ISIS and the IMU’s former Taliban allies.

Activities:  Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, the IMU has been predominantly focused on attacking international forces in Afghanistan.  In 2009, NATO forces reported an increase in IMU-affiliated FTFs in Afghanistan.  In 2010 the IMU claimed responsibility for the ambush that killed 25 Tajik troops in Tajikistan.

In 2014, IMU claimed responsibility for an attack on Karachi’s international airport that resulted in the deaths of at least 39 people.

Throughout 2015 the IMU actively threatened the Afghan government, primarily in the northern part of the country.  In 2015 the group released a video showing IMU members beheading an individual they claimed to be an Afghan soldier and threatened to behead Hazara (a historically persecuted ethnic group in Afghanistan) hostages, in supposed retaliation for the Afghan security forces’ capture of several female IMU members.  In 2016, Uzbek refugee Fazliddin Kurbanov was sentenced by a U.S. federal court to 25 years in prison for planning a bomb attack in Idaho.  Kurbanov had been in online contact with members of IMU, seeking advice on how to make explosives and discussing attacking U.S. military bases.

In 2016 a faction of the IMU announced its continued commitment to the Taliban and AQ, marking a split with its leader Ghazi and the rest of the group, which announced its loyalty to ISIS in 2015 and has since cooperated with Islamic State’s Khorasan Province.  IMU did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and Central Asia

Funding and External Aid:  The IMU receives support from a large Uzbek diaspora, terrorist organizations, and donors from Europe, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

Aka IRGC; The Iranian Revolutionary Guards; IRG; The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution; AGIR; Pasdarn-e Enghelab-e Islami; Sepah-e Pasdaran Enghelab Islami; Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami; Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enqelab-e Eslami; Pasdaran-e Inqilab; Revolutionary Guards; Revolutionary Guard; Sepah; Pasdaran; Sepah Pasdaran; Islamic Revolutionary Corps; Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps; Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps; Islamic Revolutionary Guards; Iran’s Revolutionary Guards; Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution.

Description:  Designated as an FTO on April 15, 2019, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), part of Iran’s official military, has played a central role in Iran’s use of terrorism as a key tool of Iranian statecraft since its inception.  The IRGC has been directly involved in terrorist plotting; its support for terrorism is foundational and institutional, and it has killed U.S. citizens.

The IRGC was founded in 1979 and since then has gained a substantial role in executing Iran’s foreign policy and wields control over vast segments of the economy.  The IRGC’s ties to nonstate armed groups in the region, such as Hizballah in Lebanon, help Iran compensate for its relatively weak conventional military forces.  Answering directly to the supreme leader, the corps is also influential in domestic politics, and many senior officials have passed through its ranks.

The IRGC is composed of five primary branches: the IRGC Ground Forces, IRGC Air Force, IRGC Navy, the Basij, and the  IRGC-QF.

Activities:  The IRGC — most prominently through its Qods Force (QF)  — directs and carries out a global terrorist campaign.  The IRGC-QF in 2011 plotted a brazen terrorist attack against the Saudi Ambassador to the United States on American soil.  In 2012, IRGC-QF operatives were arrested in Turkey and Kenya for plotting attacks.  An IRGC operative was convicted in 2017 of espionage for a foreign intelligence service; he had been surveilling a German-Israeli group.  In 2018, Germany uncovered 10 IRGC operatives involved in a terrorist plot in Germany.  In 2018, a U.S. federal court found Iran and the IRGC liable for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 Americans.  The QF is active in Syria in support of the Assad regime.

The IRGC-QF is Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorist groups abroad.  The IRGC continues to provide financial and other material support, training, technology transfer, advanced conventional weapons, guidance, or direction to a broad range of terrorist organizations, including Hizballah, Kata’ib Hizballah, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Harakat al-Nujaba in Iraq, al-Ashtar Brigades and Saraya al-Mukhtar in Bahrain, and other terrorist groups in Syria and around the Gulf.  Iran also provides up to $100 million annually in combined support to Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

Strength:  The IRGC has upward of 125,000 troops under its command.

Location/Area of Operation:  Iran, Iraq, Syria, Europe, and the Gulf

Funding and External Aid:  The IRGC-QF continues to engage in large-scale illicit financing schemes and money laundering to fund its malign activities.  In 2017 the IRGC-QF engineered a plot to produce counterfeit currency by deceiving European suppliers to procure advanced printing machinery and other necessary materials.  It then printed counterfeit Yemeni bank notes, which were used to support its destabilizing activities in Yemen.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Aka al-Qa’ida in Iraq; al-Qa’ida Group of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qa’ida Group of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida in Mesopotamia; al-Qa’ida in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida of the Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Tawhid; Jam’at al-Tawhid Wa’al-Jihad; Tanzeem Qa’idat al Jihad/Bilad al Raafidaini; Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn; The Monotheism and Jihad Group; The Organization Base of Jihad/Country of the Two Rivers; The Organization Base of Jihad/Mesopotamia; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base of Operations in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base of Operations in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of Jihad’s Base in the Country of the Two Rivers; al-Zarqawi Network; Islamic State of Iraq; Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham; Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; ad-Dawla al-Islamiyya fi al-’Iraq wa-sh-Sham; Daesh; Dawla al Islamiya; Al-Furqan Establishment for Media Production; Islamic State; ISIL; ISIS; Amaq News Agency; Al Hayat Media Center; Al-Hayat Media Center; Al Hayat

Description:  Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) was designated as an FTO on December 17, 2004.  In the 1990s, Jordanian militant Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi organized a terrorist group called al-Tawhid wal-Jihad to oppose the presence of U.S. and western military forces in the Middle East as well as the West’s support for, and the existence of, Israel.  In late 2004, Zarqawi joined al-Qa’ida (AQ) and pledged allegiance to Usama bin Laden.  At that time, his group became known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI).  Zarqawi led the group in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom to fight against U.S. and Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces until his death in 2006.

That year, AQI publicly renamed itself the Islamic State in Iraq.  In 2013, it adopted the moniker of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to express its regional ambitions as it expanded operations to include the Syrian conflict.  ISIS was led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared an Islamic caliphate in 2014, but he was killed in 2019.  In 2017 the U.S. military fighting with local Syrian allies announced the liberation of Raqqa, the self-declared capital of ISIS’s so-called caliphate.  Also in 2017, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq.  In 2018 the Syrian Democratic Forces, with support from the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, began a final push to oust ISIS fighters from the lower Middle Euphrates River Valley in Syria.  2019 marked the full territorial defeat of ISIS’s so-called caliphate; however, ISIS in Syria remains a serious threat. The group benefits from instability, demonstrates intent to cause attacks abroad, and continues to inspire terrorist attacks around the world.

Activities:  ISIS has conducted numerous high-profile attacks, including IED attacks against U.S. military personnel and Iraqi infrastructure, videotaped beheadings of U.S. citizens, suicide bombings against both military and civilian targets, and rocket attacks.  ISIS perpetrated these attacks using foreign, Iraqi, and Syrian operatives.  In 2014, ISIS was responsible for most of the 12,000 Iraqi civilian deaths that year.  ISIS was heavily involved in the fighting in Syria, and had participated in numerous kidnappings of civilians, including aid workers and journalists.  In 2015 and 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for several large-scale attacks in Iraq and Syria.  In 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for a car bombing at a popular shopping center in Baghdad that killed nearly 300 people, making it the single deadliest bombing in Iraq’s capital city since 2003.

Since at least 2015, the group has integrated local children and children of FTFs into its forces and used them as executioners and suicide attackers.  ISIS has systematically prepared child soldiers in Iraq and Syria using its education and religious infrastructure as part of its training and recruitment of members.  Further, since 2015, ISIS abducted, raped, and abused thousands of women and children, some as young as 8 years old.  Women and children were sold and enslaved, distributed to ISIS fighters as spoils of war, forced into marriage and domestic servitude, or subjected to physical and sexual abuse.  For further information, refer to the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report.

ISIS also directs, enables, and inspires individuals to conduct attacks on behalf of the group around the world, including in the United States and Europe.  In 2015, ISIS carried out a series of coordinated attacks in Paris, including at a rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall, killing about 130 people and injuring more than 350 others; 23-year-old U.S. citizen Nohemi Gonzalez was among the dead.  In 2016, ISIS directed two simultaneous attacks in Brussels, Belgium — one at the Zaventem Airport and the other at a metro station.  The attacks killed 32 people, including 4 U.S. citizens, and injured more than 250 people.  In 2016 a gunman who pledged allegiance to ISIS killed 49 individuals and injured 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  Also in 2016, ISIS claimed an attack in which a terrorist driving a cargo truck attacked a crowd in Nice, France, during Bastille Day celebrations, resulting in 86 deaths, including 3 U.S. citizens.  Also in 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for a truck attack on a crowded Christmas market in Berlin that killed 12 people and injured 48 others.

In 2017, ISIS claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack on London’s Westminster Bridge when a man drove his car into pedestrians and stabbed others, killing five people.  In 2017 a man who claimed to be a member of ISIS drove a truck into a crowded shopping center in Stockholm, killing five and injuring many more.  Also in 2017, ISIS claimed a suicide bombing in Manchester, England, that killed 22 people outside of a live concert.

In 2018, ISIS attacked the city of Suweida and nearby towns and villages in southwestern Syria, conducting multiple suicide bombings and simultaneous raids in a brutal offensive, killing more than 200 people.

In 2019, ISIS claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of a restaurant in Manbij, Syria, that killed 19 persons, including 4 Americans.  That same month, ISIS reportedly launched a missile attack that seriously wounded two British commandos in eastern Syria.  On Easter Sunday 2019, more than 250 people were killed in Sri Lanka when ISIS-inspired terrorists carried out coordinated suicide bombings at multiple churches and hotels.  Later that year, ISIS claimed responsibility for killing a U.S. servicemember while he was participating in a combat operation in Ninewa province, Iraq.  Also that year, ISIS claimed responsibility for a stabbing attack near the London Bridge in which a man killed two people and injured three others.  That same month, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a border post in Tajikistan that killed four Tajik servicemembers.

In November, ISIS claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on the Siniya oil refinery in Salahuddin province, Iraq. In December, ISIS attacked a convoy of Syrian regime soldiers and militiamen in Deir ez-Zor province, Syria, killing at least 37 people.

Strength:  Estimates suggest ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria number between 11,000 and 18,000, including several thousand FTFs.

Location/Area of Operation:  Iraq and Syria, with branches and networks around the world

Funding and External Aid:  ISIS received most of its funding from a variety of criminal activities in Iraq and Syria.  Criminal activities included extortion of civilian economies, smuggling oil, and robberies.  ISIS also maintains stockpiles of as much as hundreds of millions of dollars scattered across Iraq and Syria it looted during its occupation of those countries in 2013 to 2019.  ISIS continues to rely on trusted courier networks and money services businesses to move its financial resources within and outside of Iraq and Syria.  The territorial defeat of ISIS that eliminated its control of territory in Syria in 2019 reduced ISIS’s ability to generate, hold, and transfer its financial assets.  Despite this, ISIS continues to generate revenue from criminal activities through its many clandestine networks in Iraq and Syria and provides significant financial support and guidance to its network of global branches and affiliates.


Aka Caliphate in Bangladesh, Caliphate’s Soldiers in Bangladesh, Soldiers of the Caliphate in Bangladesh, Khalifa’s Soldiers in Bengal, Islamic State Bangladesh, Islamic State in Bangladesh, ISB, ISISB, Abu Jandal al-Bangali, Neo-JMB, New JMB, Neo-Jammat-ul Mujahadeen-Bangladesh

Description:  ISIS-Bangladesh was designated as an FTO on February 28, 2018.  Created in 2014, ISIS-Bangladesh has described itself as ISIS’s official branch in Bangladesh and was born out of ISIS’s desire to expand its campaign to the Indian subcontinent.  Coinciding with the announcement of the caliphate in Iraq and Syria, a group of Bangladeshi nationals pledged allegiance to ISIS and vowed to organize Bengali Muslims under the leadership of then-ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Activities:  In 2015, gunmen belonging to ISIS-Bangladesh shot and killed an Italian aid worker in Dhaka.  In 2015, ISIS-Bangladesh claimed responsibility for injuring 10 people during a Christmas Day suicide attack at a mosque packed with Ahmadi Muslims.  In  2016 the group claimed responsibility for an assault on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka that killed 22 people, including an American.  In 2017, ISIS-Bangladesh claimed responsibility for twin explosions that targeted a crowd in Sylhet, Bangladesh, killing six people.

In 2019, ISIS-Bangladesh claimed responsibility for two explosions in Dhaka that injured four police officers and two civilians.  Also in 2019, ISIS-Bangladesh claimed responsibility for a small bomb thrown at a Bangladeshi minister in Dhaka, which injured two police officers.  Also during that year, the group claimed responsibility for an explosion outside the Awami League office in Khulna.

On February 28 there was an IED blast near a police box in Chattogram, and on July 31 there was an attack at a Hindu temple in the Naogaon district where a crude bomb was planted.  ISIS-Bangladesh claimed responsibility for both attacks.  In July, ISIS-Bangladesh claimed responsibility for an attack on a police station in Dhaka that injured five people, including four police officers.

Strength:  ISIS-Bangladesh has several hundred armed supporters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Bangladesh

Funding and External Aid:  Although ISIS-Bangladesh’s sources of funding are largely unknown, the group does receive some support from ISIS.

ISIS-Greater Sahara

Aka ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS); Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS); Islamic State in the Greater Sahara; Islamic State of the Greater Sahel; ISIS in the Greater Sahel; ISIS in the Islamic Sahel

Description:  ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) was designated as an FTO on May 23, 2018.  ISIS-GS emerged when leader Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi and his followers split from al-Murabitoun.  Al-Sahrawi first pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015, which was acknowledged by ISIS in 2016.

Activities:  In 2016, ISIS-GS claimed responsibility for an attack on a military post in Intangom, Burkina Faso, that killed three Burkinabe soldiers.

In 2017, ISIS-GS claimed responsibility for an attack on a joint U.S.-Nigerien patrol in the region of Tongo Tongo, Niger, which killed four U.S. soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers.  In 2018, ISIS-GS was reportedly involved in numerous skirmishes and attacks in Mali and Niger, including those that targeted French troops and civilians. In 2019, ISIS-GS attacked a Malian military base, killing 54 soldiers.

In January, ISIS-GS militants attacked a Nigerien military base on the border between Niger and Mali, killing 89 soldiers.  In August, ISIS-GS was suspected of killing six French NGO workers, their Nigerien guide, and one other Nigerien citizen near Niamey, Niger.  In November, ISIS-GS claimed responsibility for an attack on Burkinabe soldiers in Oudalan province, Burkina Faso, killing 14 soldiers.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.

Islamic State’s Khorasan Province

Aka Islamic State’s Khorasan Province; ISIS Wilayat Khorasan; ISIL’s South Asia Branch; South Asian Chapter of ISIL

Description:  Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) was designated as an FTO on January 14, 2016.  The group is based in Afghanistan, conducts operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is composed primarily of former members of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.  ISIS-K’s senior leadership has pledged allegiance to then-ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which was accepted in 2015.  The group has carried out suicide bombings, small arms attacks, and kidnappings in Afghanistan against civilians and Afghan National Security and Defense Forces.  ISIS-K has also claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians and government officials in Pakistan.

Activities:  In 2016, ISIS-K  attacked a Pakistani consulate in Afghanistan, killing seven Afghan security personnel; bombed a peaceful protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing  an estimated 80 people and wounding another 230; claimed a shooting and suicide bombing at a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan,  killing  94; and bombed a Shrine in Balochistan province, Pakistan, killing more than 50 people.

In 2017, ISIS-K attacked the Iraqi Embassy in Kabul, killing two people; bombed a mosque in western Afghanistan, killing 29 people and injuring 60 others; claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing in a Shiite majority neighborhood in Kabul, Afghanistan, leaving more than 20 dead and 70 injured; attacked a Sufi shrine in Sindh province, Pakistan, that killed at least 88 people; and attacked  an election rally in Balochistan province, Pakistan, that killed 149 people.  In 2019, ISIS-K claimed responsibility for an attack at the Ministry of Communications in Kabul, killing seven people.  Also in 2019, ISIS-K claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a wedding hall in a Shiite minority neighborhood in Kabul, killing 80 people and injuring 154 others.  Later that year, an ISIS-K bombing of a mosque in Nangarhar province killed at least 70 people.  Also in 2019, ISIS-K suffered a series of major defeats and lost much of its territory in Nangahar in the face of attacks by both the Defeat-ISIS Coalition and Taliban forces.

In March, ISIS-K claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sikh house of worship in Kabul that killed 25 worshippers and wounded 8 others.  After that attack, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security arrested the leader of ISIS-K, Abdullah Orokzai, and two other high-ranking commanders.  In August, ISIS-K claimed responsibility for an attack on a prison in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, that killed at least 29 people and injured more than 50 others.  In October, ISIS-K carried out a suicide bombing outside an education center in Kabul that killed at least 18 people and injured at least 57 others.

Strength:  ISIS-K is estimated to have about 1,000 fighters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia

Funding and External Aid:  ISIS-K receives some funding from ISIS.  Additional funds come from illicit criminal commerce, taxes, and extortion on the local population and businesses.


Aka ISIS in the Philippines; ISIL Philippines; ISIL in the Philippines; IS Philippines; ISP; Islamic State in the Philippines; Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in South-east Asia; Dawlatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik, DIWM; Dawlatul Islamiyyah Waliyatul Mashriq; IS East Asia Division; ISIS Branch in the Philippines; ISIS’ “Philippines province”.

Description:  ISIS-Philippines (ISIS-P) was designated as an FTO on February 28, 2018.  In 2014, militants in the Philippines pledged allegiance to ISIS in support of ISIS’s efforts in the region under the command of now-deceased leader Isnilon Hapilon.  Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan is the current leader of ISIS-P, and the organization has ties to elements of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Activities: In 2016, ISIS-P claimed responsibility for an attack on Basilan Island, which killed one solider and injured another.  In 2017, ISIS-P participated in five months of fighting in Marawi that claimed more than 1,000 lives and forced more than 300,000 residents to flee the area.  In 2018, ISIS-P claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a military checkpoint in Basilan that killed 10 people.  In 2019, ISIS-P claimed responsibility for the Jolo cathedral bombing in Sulu, a complex suicide attack carried out by an Indonesian couple during mass, killing 23 people and wounding more than 100 others.  ISIS-P did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  ISIS-P is estimated to have a small cadre of fighters in the southern Philippines, but exact numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  The Philippines

Funding and External Aid:  ISIS-P receives financial assistance from ISIS in Syria and receives funds from local extortion and kidnapping-for-ransom groups.

Islamic State-Sinai Province

Aka Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis; Ansar Jerusalem; Supporters of Jerusalem; Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes; Ansar Beit al-Maqdis; Islamic State-Sinai Province; Islamic State in the Sinai; Jamaat Ansar Beit al-Maqdis fi Sinaa; Sinai Province; Supporters of the Holy Place; The State of Sinai; Wilayat Sinai

Description:  Originally designated as an FTO on April 9, 2014, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM, as it was known then) rose to prominence in 2011 following the uprisings in Egypt.  In 2014, ABM officially declared allegiance to ISIS.  In 2015, the Department of State amended ABM’s designation to add the aliases ISIL Sinai Province and Islamic State-Sinai Province (ISIS-SP), among others.

Activities:  Before pledging allegiance to ISIS, ABM claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Israeli and Egyptian interests from 2012 through 2014, including attacks on Israeli economic and military assets, as well as attacks on the Egyptian military and tourist sectors.  From 2015 through 2019, ISIS-SP claimed responsibility for numerous attacks, including the bombing of a Russian passenger plane, the abduction and killing of a Croatian citizen, rockets launched at Israeli cities, attacks on Egyptian Christians, and numerous attacks against Egyptian military and security personnel.

In 2020, ISIS-SP claimed responsibility for multiple attacks on Egyptian police and army checkpoints in the Sinai as well as against Egyptian civilians.  In April, ISIS-SP claimed responsibility for an IED attack against a military armored convoy causing at least 10 casualties among Egyptian soldiers.  In June, ISIS-SP claimed it killed six Egyptian soldiers during a checkpoint attack at al-Maghara in central Sinai.  ISIS-SP also increased its attacks against Sinai tribal members in 2020, including the June killing of a 75-year-old tribal elder who was strapped to a pole with explosives detonated next to him.  In July an ISIS-SP suicide bomber targeted a tribal family gathering, killing at least three people.

Strength:  ISIS-SP is estimated to have between 800 and 1,200 fighters in the Sinai Peninsula and affiliated cells in the Nile Valley.

Location/Area of Operation:  Egypt

Funding and External Aid:  Although the sources of ISIS-SP’s funding are largely unknown, there are indications that it may receive funding from ISIS in Syria.

ISIS-West Africa 

Aka Islamic State West Africa Province; ISISWAP; Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-West Africa; ISIL-WA; Islamic State of Iraq and Syria West Africa Province; ISIS West Africa Province; ISIS West Africa; ISIS-WA

Description:  ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA) was designated as an FTO on February 28, 2018.  In 2015, a faction of Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in an audiotape message.  ISIS accepted the group’s pledge, and the group began calling itself ISIS-West Africa.  In 2016, ISIS announced that Abu Musab al-Barnawi was to become the new leader of ISIS-WA.

Activities:  ISIS-WA has been responsible for numerous attacks in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region since 2016.

In 2018, ISIS-WA abducted a Christian student in Nigeria, and in 2018 the group kidnapped three aid workers during an attack that killed dozens of other people.  Also that year, ISIS-WA claimed responsibility for five attacks in Chad and Nigeria that resulted in 118 deaths.

In 2019, ISIS-WA attacked the convoy of the then-governor of Borno State as it drove from the capital of Maiduguri to a town near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, killing as many as 10 people.  In 2019, ISIS-WA claimed responsibility for two attacks in western Niger, ambushing Niger Army soldiers in Tongo Tongo, resulting in 28 deaths, while also attacking Niger security forces near the Koutoukale prison that killed one soldier.

In 2019, ISIS-WA fighters launched an attack against a military base near Baga in the Lake Chad area, killing 20 Nigerian and five Chadian soldiers.  Also in 2019, ISIS-WA attacked a convoy of Action Against Hunger (AAH) and Nigerian health ministry employees in northeastern Nigeria.  One AAH driver was killed during the attack, while five people were taken hostage; ISIS-WA claimed to have killed four of the hostages by year’s end. Late that year, ISIS-WA released a video showing the execution of 11 reported Christians and claimed the killings were revenge for the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In September, ISIS-WA attacked the convoy of the Borno State governor in northeast Nigeria, killing 15 security personnel.  In June, ISIS-WA claimed responsibility for two attacks in the Monguno and Nganzai areas in northeastern Nigeria, killing 20 soldiers and 40 civilians.  Also in June, ISIS-WA claimed responsibility for raiding a village in the Gubio area, killing 81 people.  In December, ISIS-WA fighters kidnapped a humanitarian aid worker and two local officials at a checkpoint in the village of Wakilti in Borno State.

Strength:  ISIS-WA has an estimated 3,500 members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Nigeria and the greater Lake Chad region

Funding and External Aid:  ISIS-WA receives funding from local sources, the capture of military supplies, taxes, and kidnapping-for-ransom payments.

Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin

Aka Jamaat Nosrat al-Islam wal-Mouslimin; Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims; Group to Support Islam and Muslims; GSIM; GNIM; Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen

Description:  Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) was designated as an FTO on September 6, 2018.  JNIM has described itself as al-Qa’ida’s official branch in Mali and has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks and kidnappings since its 2017 formation.  That year, the Sahara Branch of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, and the Macina Liberation Front came together to form JNIM.  JNIM is led by Iyad ag Ghali.  JNIM’s second in command, Ali Maychou, was killed in 2019.

Activities:  In 2017, JNIM carried out an attack at a resort frequented by Westerners outside of Bamako, Mali, and was responsible for the large-scale coordinated attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2018.

In 2018, JNIM claimed responsibility for a suicide attack against an African Defeat-ISIS Coalition base in Mali that killed at least 6 people; a suicide bombing in Gao, Mali, which targeted a French military patrol and killed several civilians; and a truck bomb in a residential complex in Gao, killing 3 and injuring 30.  In 2019, JNIM claimed responsibility for an attack against a UN base in northern Mali, killing 10 Chadian peacekeepers and wounding 25 others; an assault on a Malian military base, killing 11 soldiers; and a landmine under a passenger bus in central Mali, killing 14 civilians and injuring another 24.

In 2020, JNIM claimed responsibility for a January attack against a Malian military camp near the border with Mauritania that killed 20 members of Mali’s security forces and wounded 5 others; a March raid on a Malian army base in the northern town of Tarkint that killed at least 29 soldiers and wounded 5 others; and a July suicide attack on French troops in northern Mali that killed a French soldier. In April, Switzerland’s foreign ministry reported that a Swiss woman held hostage in Mali by JNIM since 2016 had been killed by JNIM.

Strength:  JNIM is estimated to have between 1,000 and 2,000 fighters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger

Funding and External Aid:  JNIM receives funding through kidnapping-for-ransom and extortion and from smugglers and traffickers who pay a tax in exchange for permission and safe transit through JNIM-controlled trafficking routes in Mali.

Jama’atu Ansarul Muslima Fi Biladis-Sudan

Aka Ansaru; Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan; Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa; JAMBS; Jama’atu Ansaril Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan

Description:  Designated as an FTO on November 14, 2013, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan (Ansaru) publicly splintered from Boko Haram in 2012.  Since its inception, Ansaru has targeted civilians, including Westerners, and Nigerian government and security officials.  Ansaru purportedly aims to defend Muslims throughout Africa by fighting against the Nigerian government and international interests.  Ansaru claims to identify with Boko Haram’s objectives and struggle, but it has criticized the group for killing fellow Muslims.

Activities: In 2012, Ansaru kidnapped a French engineer allegedly in response to French involvement in Mali.  In 2013, Ansaru kidnapped and subsequently killed seven international construction workers.

In 2016, the Nigerian Army announced the capture of Ansaru leader Khalid al-Barnawi. Ansaru did not publicly claim responsibility any attacks in 2019, but during that year Ansaru announced the creation of a new media outlet for the group.

In January, Ansaru claimed responsibility for attacking  convoy of  the Emir of Potiskum in northern Nigeria, killing at least 30 Nigerian soldiers.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown; however, given its narrower scope of operations, Ansaru’s membership is estimated to be much smaller than that of Boko Haram.

Location/Area of Operation:  Nigeria

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.


Aka Army of Mohammed; Mohammed’s Army; Tehrik ul-Furqaan; Khuddam-ul-Islam; Khudamul Islam; Kuddam e Islami; Jaish-i-Mohammed

Description:  Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) was designated as an FTO on December 26, 2001.  JeM was founded in 2000 by former senior Harakat ul-Mujahideen leader Masood Azhar.  The group aims to annex the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan and expel international forces from Afghanistan.  JeM has openly declared war against the United States.

Activities:  JeM continues to operate openly in parts of Pakistan, conducting fatal attacks in the region, despite the country’s 2002 ban on its activities.  JeM has claimed responsibility for several suicide car bombings in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, including a 2001 suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly building in Srinagar that killed more than 30 people.  The Indian government publicly implicated JeM, along with Lashkar e-Tayyiba, in the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament that killed 9 persons and injured 18 others.

In 2002, Pakistani authorities arrested and convicted a JeM member for the abduction and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.  In 2003, Pakistan implicated JeM members in two assassination attempts against then-President Pervez Musharraf.

In 2018, JeM claimed responsibility for killing nine Indian officers at the Sunjuwan military station.  Also in 2018, several JeM militants stormed a police outpost in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, killing four police officers and injuring another.  In 2019, JeM claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 40 personnel from India’s Central Reserve Police Force in the city of Pulwama in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Strength:  JeM has several hundred armed supporters.

Location/Area of Operation:  India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

Funding and External Aid:  To avoid asset seizures by the Pakistani government, since 2007 JeM has withdrawn funds from bank accounts and invested in legal businesses, such as commodity trading, real estate, and the production of consumer goods.  JeM also collects funds through donation requests, sometimes using charitable causes to solicit donations.

Jaysh al-Adl

Aka People’s Resistance Movement of Iran (PMRI); Jonbesh-i Moqavemat-i-Mardom-i Iran; Popular Resistance Movement of Iran; Soldiers of God; Fedayeen-e-Islam; Former Jundallah of Iran; Jundallah; Jundullah; Jondullah; Jundollah; Jondollah; Jondallah; Army of God (God’s Army); Baloch Peoples Resistance Movement (BPRM); Jeysh al-Adl; Army of Justice; Jaish ul-Adl; Jaish al-Adl; Jaish Aladl; Jeish al-Adl

Description:  Jaysh al-Adl was designated as an FTO on November 4, 2010, under the name Jundallah.  Since its inception in 2003, Jaysh al-Adl, has engaged in numerous attacks, killing and maiming scores of Iranian civilians and government officials.  The group’s stated goals are to secure recognition of Balochi cultural, economic, and political rights from the Government of Iran and to spread awareness of the plight of the Baloch people.  The group adopted the name Jaysh al-Adl in 2012 and has since claimed responsibility for attacks under that name.

Activities:  Jaysh al-Adl claimed responsibility for a 2009 suicide bomb attack in the Sistan and Balochistan province that killed more than 40 people and was reportedly the deadliest terrorist attack in Iran since the 1980s.  In a statement on its website, Jaysh al-Adl claimed responsibility for the 2010 suicide bomb attack inside the Iman Hussein Mosque in Chabahar, which killed an estimated 35 to 40 civilians and wounded 60 to 100 others.  Also in 2010, Jaysh al-Adl attacked the Grand Mosque in Zahedan, killing about 30 people and injuring an estimated 300.  In 2018, Jaysh al-Adl claimed responsibility for abducting 12 Iranian security personnel on the border with Pakistan.  In 2019, Jaysh al-Adl claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing in southeastern Iran that killed 27 Iranian government officials.

In June, Jaysh al-Adl claimed responsibility for planting two roadside bombs on the course of an Iranian military convoy; one of the bombs detonated, injuring one person.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of support are unknown.

Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi 

Aka Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order; Armed Men of the Naqshabandi Order; Naqshbandi Army; Naqshabandi Army; Men of the Army of al-Naqshbandia Way; Jaysh Rajal al-Tariqah al-Naqshbandia; JRTN; JRN; AMNO

Description:  Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi (JRTN) was designated as an FTO on September 30, 2015.  The group first announced insurgency operations against international forces in Iraq in 2006 in response to the execution of Saddam Hussein.  Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, former vice president of Saddam Hussein’s Revolutionary Council, leads the group, which consists of former Baath Party officials, military personnel, and Sunni nationalists.  JRTN aims to overthrow the Government of Iraq, install a new Baathist regime, and end external influence in Baghdad.

Activities:  Between its founding in 2006 and the 2011 withdrawal of Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces from Iraq, JRTN claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on U.S. bases and forces.  JRTN also is known to have used VBIEDs against Iraqi government security forces.

In 2014, elements of JRTN joined military forces with ISIS in opposition to the Iraqi government.  JRTN played a major role in the capture of Mosul from Iraqi security forces in 2014.  However, fissures between ISIS and JRTN quickly emerged after ISIS’s advance in Baiji and Tikrit.  Although some elements of JRTN splintered off, most of the organization was subsumed by ISIS.  JRTN did not claim responsibility for any attacks between 2016 and 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Iraq

Funding and External Aid:  JRTN has received funding from former regime members, major tribal figures in Iraq, and from Gulf-based financiers of terrorism.

Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid

Aka JAT; Jemmah Ansharut Tauhid; Jem’mah Ansharut Tauhid; Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid; Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid; Laskar 99; JAT

Description:  Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) was designated as an FTO on March 13, 2012.  Formed in 2008, the Indonesia-based group seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia and has carried out numerous attacks on Indonesian government personnel, police, military, and civilians.  In 2011, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the founder and leader of JAT, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in organizing a militant training camp in Aceh.  Ba’asyir is also the co-founder and former leader of Jemaah Islamiya (JI).  JAT maintains ties to JI and other terrorist groups in Southeast Asia.

Activities:  JAT has conducted multiple attacks targeting civilians and Indonesian officials, resulting in the deaths of numerous Indonesian police and innocent civilians.  In 2012, four police officers were killed and two wounded in an attack by suspected local JAT members in central Sulawesi.  Since Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS in 2014, many JAT members have joined Indonesia’s ISIS-affiliated groups, while others have joined al-Qa’ida-affiliated groups.  Although JAT did not claim responsibility for any attacks between 2016 and 2020, JAT members are believed to have been involved in ISIS operations in Southeast Asia.

Strength:  JAT is estimated to have several thousand supporters and members.  Internal disagreements over aligning with ISIS have likely reduced its membership.

Location/Area of Operation:  Indonesia

Funding and External Aid:  JAT raises funds through membership donations and legitimate business activities.  JAT also has conducted cyber hacking, robbed banks, and carried out other illicit activities to fund the purchase of assault weapons, ammunition, explosives, and bomb making materials.

Jemaah Islamiya

Aka Jemaa Islamiya; Jema’a Islamiyah; Jemaa Islamiyya; Jema’a Islamiyya; Jemaa Islamiyyah; Jema’a Islamiyyah; Jemaah Islamiah; Jemaah Islamiyah; Jema’ah Islamiyah; Jemaah Islamiyyah; Jema’ah Islamiyyah; JI

Description:  Designated as an FTO on October 23, 2002, Jemaah Islamiya (JI) is a Southeast Asia-based terrorist group co-founded by Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Ba’asyir.  The group seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in the region.  More than 400 JI operatives have been captured or killed since 2002, including operations chief and al-Qa’ida associate Hambali and, in 2015, bomb maker Zulfiki bin Hir (aka Marwan).

Activities:  Significant JI attacks include the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed more than 200 people, among them 7 U.S. citizens; the 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta; the 2004 bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta; and the 2005 suicide bombing in Bali, which killed 26 people.

In 2009, a JI faction claimed responsibility for suicide attacks on the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta that killed 7 people and injured more than 50, including 7 U.S. citizens.

In 2015, 44 policemen and 3 civilians were killed during a raid targeting 2 JI members in Mamasapano on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

In 2019, Indonesian authorities arrested several JI members, including its emir Para Wijayanto.  Indonesian police said that between 2013 and 2018, under Wijayanto’s leadership, JI sent at least six groups to Syria for military training or to participate in the fighting.

In 2020, Indonesian authorities arrested a JI leader, Aris Sumarsono, who is suspected of being involved in the making of bombs used in  the 2002 Bali bombings and the 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. JI did not claim responsibility for any attacks between 2016 and 2020.

Strength:  Estimates of JI membership vary from 500 to several thousand members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines

Funding and External Aid:  JI fundraises through membership donations, criminal actions, and business activities.  The group has received financial, ideological, and logistical support from Middle Eastern contacts and illegitimate charities and organizations.

Kahane Chai

Aka American Friends of the United Yeshiva; American Friends of Yeshivat Rav Meir; Committee for the Safety of the Roads; Dikuy Bogdim; DOV; Forefront of the Idea; Friends of the Jewish Idea Yeshiva; Jewish Legion; Judea Police; Judean Congress; Kach; Kahane; Kahane Lives; Kahane Tzadak;;; Kfar Tapuah Fund; Koach; Meir’s Youth; New Kach Movement;; No’ar Meir; Repression of Traitors; State of Judea; Sword of David; The Committee Against Racism and Discrimination (CARD); The Hatikva Jewish Identity Center; The International Kahane Movement; The Jewish Idea Yeshiva; The Judean Legion; The Judean Voice; The Qomemiyut Movement; The Rabbi Meir David Kahane Memorial Fund; The Voice of Judea; The Way of the Torah; The Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea; Yeshivat Harav Meir

Description:  Kahane Chai (KC) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  Radical Israeli-American Rabbi Meir Kahane founded Kach — the precursor to KC — with the aim of restoring Greater Israel (Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza).  Its offshoot, Kahane Chai (translation: “Kahane Lives”), was founded by Meir Kahane’s son Binyamin, following his father’s 1990 assassination.  In 1994 the group was banned from running in Israeli elections.

Activities:  KC has harassed and threatened Arabs, especially Palestinians, and Israeli government officials and vowed revenge for the 2000 death of Binyamin Kahane and his wife.  The group is suspected of involvement in numerous low-level attacks dating to the start of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000.  KC was last linked to an attack in 2005, when one of its members killed four people on a bus in Shfaram, Israel.

Strength:  KC’s core membership has been estimated to be fewer than 100.

Location/Area of Operation:  Israel and the West Bank

Funding and External Aid:  KC has received support from sympathizers in the United States and Europe.

Kata’ab Hizballah

Aka Hizballah Brigades; Hizballah Brigades in Iraq; Hizballah Brigades-Iraq; Kata’ib Hezbollah; Khata’ib Hezbollah; Khata’ib Hizballah; Khattab Hezballah; Hizballah Brigades-Iraq of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Kata’ib Hizballah Fi al-Iraq; Katibat Abu Fathel al-A’abas; Katibat Zayd Ebin Ali; Katibut Karbalah

Description:  Formed in 2006 as an anti-western Shia group, Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) was designated as an FTO on July 2, 2009.  Before the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, the group conducted attacks against U.S., Iraqi, and Defeat-ISIS Coalition targets in Iraq and threatened the lives of Iraqi politicians and civilians supporting the legitimate political process in Iraq.  KH is notable for its extensive use of media operations and propaganda, such as filming and releasing videos of attacks.  KH has ideological ties to and receives support from Iran.

Activities:  KH has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks since 2007, including IED attacks, rocket-propelled grenade attacks, and sniper operations.  In 2007, KH gained notoriety for its attacks against U.S. and Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces in Iraq.  In 2011, five U.S. soldiers were killed in Baghdad when KH assailants fired multiple rockets at a U.S. military base, Camp Victory.  The group remained active in 2015, fighting in Syria in support of the Assad regime and in Iraq against ISIS.

In 2016, KH continued to fight ISIS alongside the Iraqi Army, but operated outside the Iraqi government’s command-and-control structure.  In 2017 and 2018, KH published warnings threating to fight against the U.S. presence in Iraq.

In 2019, KH members stormed the Bahraini Embassy in Baghdad in protest of Bahrain’s hosting the United States’ Israel-Palestine conference.  In 2019, KH was reportedly involved in sniper operations against Iraqi protestors.  Later that year, KH was blamed for a rocket attack on K-1 Air Base in Kirkuk that killed one U.S. citizen.  A few days later, members of KH broke into the U.S. Embassy compound and participated in a violent attack against the facility, setting fires inside, which destroyed security checkpoints and reception rooms.

On March 11, KH reportedly launched rockets at the Camp Taji, an American-controlled military base near Baghdad, killing two Americans and one British soldier, and wounding 14 others.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Iraq and Syria

Funding and External Aid:  KH depends heavily on support from Iran.

Kurdistan Workers’ Party

Aka the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress; the Freedom and Democracy Congress of Kurdistan; KADEK; Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan; the People’s Defense Force; Halu Mesru Savunma Kuvveti; Kurdistan People’s Congress; People’s Congress of Kurdistan; KONGRA-GEL

Description:  Founded by Abdullah Ocalan in 1978 as a Marxist-Leninist separatist organization, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  The group, composed primarily of Turkish Kurds, launched a campaign of violence in 1984.  The PKK’s original goal was to establish an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey.

Activities:  In the early 1990s, the PKK moved beyond rural-based insurgent activities to engage in urban terrorism.  Anatolia became the scene of significant violence, with some estimates suggesting at least 40,000 casualties.  The PKK foreswore violence from 1999 until 2004, when its hardline militant wing took control and renounced the self-imposed cease-fire.  In 2009 the Turkish government and the PKK resumed peace negotiations, but talks broke down after the PKK carried out an attack in 2011 that killed 13 Turkish soldiers.  In 2012 the PKK claimed responsibility for multiple car bombings that killed more than 10 people.  Between 2012 and midyear 2015, the Turkish government and the PKK resumed peace negotiations, but the negotiations ultimately broke down — owing partly to domestic political pressures and the conflict in Syria.

In 2016, the group claimed a VBIED strike against Sirnak police headquarters, which killed 11 people and wounded more than 70 others.  In 2017, Turkish officials blamed the PKK for a car bomb and shooting outside of a courthouse that killed two people and an attack on a military convoy that killed more than 20 soldiers.

In 2018, numerous attacks by the PKK were reported against Turkey’s security forces, including an attack claimed by the PKK against a Turkish army base, which resulted in dozens of causalities.  Also in 2018 a roadside bomb struck a bus carrying workers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, killing 7 persons and wounding 13 in Diyarbakir province’s Kulp district.  The government blamed the PKK for the attack.

In 2019 the PKK engaged in terrorist attacks in eastern and western Turkey when the organization struck over the border from its bases within Iraq.  Also that year, the PKK was accused of assassinating a senior Turkish diplomat in Erbil, Iraq.  Later that year, the PKK attacked a Turkish military vehicle in Hakkari province, killing two soldiers and wounding another.

In February a PKK-claimed rocket attack on the Gürbulak customs gate with Iran killed two Turkish Customs officials.  In March a PKK affiliate claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a natural gas pipeline near the Turkish-Iranian border, taking the pipeline offline for months.  In September PKK militants fired rockets at a Turkish military base in northern Iraq, killing two soldiers and wounding another.  In October the PKK took responsibility for a bombing in Turkey’s Mardin province that temporarily disabled an oil pipeline running from Iraq to Turkey.

Strength:  The PKK is estimated to consist of 4,000 to 5,000 members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey

Funding and External Aid:  The PKK receives financial support from the large Kurdish diaspora in Europe.

Lashkar e-Tayyiba

Aka al Mansooreen; Al Mansoorian; Army of the Pure; Army of the Pure and Righteous; Army of the Righteous; Lashkar e-Toiba; Lashkar-i-Taiba; Paasban-e-Ahle-Hadis; Paasban-e-Kashmir; Paasban-i-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Kashmir; Jamaat-ud-Dawa; JUD; Jama’at al-Dawa; Jamaat ud-Daawa; Jamaat ul-Dawah; Jamaat-ul-Dawa; Jama’at-i-Dawat; Jamaiat-ud-Dawa; Jama’at-ud-Da’awah; Jama’at-ud-Da’awa; Jamaati-ud-Dawa; Idara Khidmate-Khalq; Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation; FiF; Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation; FalaheInsaniyat; Falah-i-Insaniyat; Falah Insania; Welfare of Humanity; Humanitarian Welfare Foundation; Human Welfare Foundation; Al-Anfal Trust; Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool; TehrikeTahafuz Qibla Awwal; Al-Muhammadia Students; Al-Muhammadia Students Pakistan; AMS; Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir; Kashmir Freedom Movement; Tehreek Azadi Jammu and Kashmir; Tehreek-e-Azadi Jammu and Kashmir; TAJK; Movement for Freedom of Kashmir; Tehrik-i-Azadi-i Kashmir; Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Jammu and Kashmir; Milli Muslim League; Milli Muslim League Pakistan; MML

Description:  Designated as an FTO on December 26, 2001, Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) is an anti-India-focused terrorist group.  LeT was formed in the late 1980s as the terrorist wing of Markaz ud Dawa ul-Irshad, a Pakistan-based extremist organization and charity originally formed to oppose the Soviet presence in Afghanistan.  LeT is led by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.  Shortly after LeT’s FTO designation, Saeed changed the group’s name to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and launched humanitarian projects to circumvent sanctions.  LeT disseminates its message through JUD’s media outlets.  Since the creation of JUD, LeT has repeatedly changed its name in an effort to avoid sanctions.

Elements of LeT and Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) have combined with other groups such as Hizbul Mujahideen to mount anti-India attacks.  The Pakistani government banned LeT in 2002 and temporarily arrested Hafiz Saeed following the 2008 Mumbai attack.  In 2017, Pakistan placed Saeed under house arrest; however, he was released 10 months later after a Lahore High Court judicial body rejected a government request to renew his detention.  In 2019, Pakistani police again arrested Saeed and charged him with financing terrorism.

Activities:  LeT has conducted operations, including several high-profile attacks, against Indian troops and civilian targets since 1993.  The group also has attacked Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces in Afghanistan.  LeT uses assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, explosives, and rocket-propelled grenades.

LeT was responsible for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai against luxury hotels, a Jewish center, a train station, and a popular café that killed 166 people — including 6 U.S. citizens — and injured more than 300.  India has charged 38 people in the case; most are at large, however, and thought to be in Pakistan.

In 2010, Pakistani-American businessman David Headley pled guilty in a U.S. court to charges related to his role in the 2008 LeT attacks in Mumbai and to charges related to a separate plot to bomb the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.  Headley testified in the trials of other LeT supporters in 2011 and 2015.

LeT was behind a 2015 attack in Gurdaspur, Punjab, that killed seven people.  Later in 2015, operatives affiliated with LeT attacked Indian security forces in Udhampur, in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.  Still later in 2015, LeT carried out an attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy after it left Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, injuring one civilian and seven Indian military personnel.

During a three-month period in 2016, LeT was suspected of engaging in at least three firefights with Indian security forces in Kupwara district, in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, injuring two Indian personnel.  Also in 2016, LeT was suspected of conducting an ambush on an Indian security force convoy in Pulwama district, in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, killing 8 persons and injuring 20.  Some media reports alleged the group’s involvement in an attack that year on an Indian army camp in Uri, in Jammu and Kashmir, which killed 20 soldiers.

In 2017, LeT conducted an attack in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir that left six police officers dead.  The following month, LeT militants attacked a bus of pilgrims returning from the Amarnath Yatra shrine, killing seven people.  In 2018, LeT claimed responsibility for a suicide attack against an Indian army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora district that killed three soldiers.

In 2020, Pakistani authorities arrested and convicted LeT founder and leader Hafiz Saeed, as well as multiple other senior LeT leaders, on terrorism finance charges.  LeT did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan

Funding and External Aid:  LeT collects donations in Pakistan and the Gulf as well as from other donors in the Middle East and Europe — particularly the UK, where it is a designated terrorist organization as Lashkar e Tayyaba (LT).  In 2019, LeT and its front organizations continued to operate and fundraise in Pakistan.

Lashkar i Jhangvi

Aka Army of Jhangvi; Lashkar e Jhangvi; Lashkar-i-Jhangvi

Description:  Designated as an FTO on January 30, 2003, Lashkar I Jhangvi (LJ) is the terrorist offshoot of the Sunni Deobandi sectarian group Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan.  LJ carries out anti-Shia and other sectarian attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The Government of Pakistan banned the group in 2001 as part of an effort to rein in sectarian violence, causing many LJ members to seek refuge in Afghanistan with the Taliban, with whom the group had existing ties.  After the collapse of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, LJ members became active in aiding other terrorists and have since provided them with safe houses, false identities, and protection in Pakistani cities.  LJ works closely with Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan.  LJ chief Asif Chotu was killed along with three other LJ militants in a police operation in Pakistan in 2017.

In 2018, LJ’s Balochistan chief, Salman Badini, and two other LJ militants were killed during a police raid in Quetta, Pakistan.

Activities:  LJ specializes in armed attacks and bombings and has admitted to numerous killings of Shia religious and community leaders in Pakistan.  In 1999 the group attempted to assassinate then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab province.

In 2014, more than 24 people were killed and 40 others wounded in a bus bombing by an LJ attack targeting Shia pilgrims.  LJ claimed responsibility for the 2015 suicide bombing that targeted a market in the predominantly Shia town of Parachinar, Pakistan, that killed at least 23 people and wounded 50.  In 2016, two individuals suspected of belonging to LJ were arrested by police in Pakistan for their alleged involvement in 25 cases of targeted killings, including the murder of Pakistani singer Amjad Sabri, as well as army and police personnel.  In 2019, LJ claimed responsibility for bombing a market in Quetta that killed 20 people and injured 48 others.  The attack reportedly targeted the local minority Shia Muslim Hazara community.

In July, Pakistani police arrested three LJ members who were allegedly planning to carry out an attack in the Gujranwala, Pakistan.  Explosive materials, detonators, and a safety fuse were recovered during the arrest.

Strength:  LJ’s membership is assessed to be in the low hundreds.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan and Pakistan

Funding and External Aid:  LJ’s funding comes from wealthy donors in Pakistan and the Middle East, particularly Gulf states.  The group engages in criminal activity, including extortion, to fund its activities.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

Aka Ellalan Force; Tamil Tigers

Description:  Founded in 1976 and designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a Tamil secessionist group in Sri Lanka.  Despite its military defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan government in 2009, the LTTE’s international network of sympathizers and financial support has persisted.

Activities:  Although largely inactive since 2009, the LTTE was responsible for an integrated insurgent strategy that targeted key installations and senior Sri Lankan leaders.  In early 2009, Sri Lankan forces recaptured the LTTE’s key strongholds, including its capital of Kilinochchi.  In 2009, government forces defeated the last LTTE fighting forces, killed members of its leadership including leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, and declared military victory.

There have been no known attacks in Sri Lanka attributed to the LTTE since 2009, but 13 LTTE supporters, several of whom had allegedly planned attacks against U.S. and Israeli diplomatic facilities in India, were arrested in Malaysia in 2014.  Additional members were arrested in Malaysia and India in 2015, one of whom was accused of exhorting other Sri Lankans to fund and revive the LTTE.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Sri Lanka, India, and Malaysia

Funding and External Aid:  The LTTE’s financial network of support continued after the group’s military defeat in 2009.  The LTTE has employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for its activities.

Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem

Aka MSC; Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem; Mujahideen Shura Council; Shura al-Mujahedin Fi Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis; Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin; Majlis Shura alMujahideen; Magles Shoura al-Mujahddin

Description:  The Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC) was designated as an FTO on August 19, 2014.  The MSC is a consolidation of several Salafi terrorist groups based in Gaza that have claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Israel since the group’s founding in 2012.

Activities:  In 2013, MSC claimed responsibility for a rocket attack targeting the Israeli city of Eilat.  Previously, MSC claimed responsibility for the 2013 attack in which Gaza-based militants fired at least five rockets at Sderot, Israel, and the 2013 attack in which two rockets were fired at Eilat.  MSC did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  MSC is estimated to have several hundred fighters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Gaza

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.


Aka al-Mulathamun Battalion; al-Mulathamun Brigade; al-Muwaqqi’un bil-Dima; Those Signed in Blood Battalion; Signatories in Blood; Those who Sign in Blood; Witnesses in Blood; Signed-in-Blood Battalion; Masked Men Brigade; Khaled Abu al-Abbas Brigade; al-Mulathamun Masked Ones Brigade; The Sentinels

Description:  Al-Murabitoun was designated as an FTO on December 19, 2013, originally under the name al-Mulathamun Battalion.  Al-Murabitoun was originally part of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) but became a separate organization in 2012 after its leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, split from AQIM.  After the split, Belmokhtar threatened to fight against western interests and announced the creation of the al-Mulathamun Battalion.  In 2013 the al-Mulathamun Battalion and the Mali-based Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (known as MUJAO) announced that the two organizations would merge under the name “al-Murabitoun.”  In 2015, al-Murabitoun announced a re-merger with AQIM.  In 2017 the Sahara Branch of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, and the Macina Liberation Front came together to form Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM).

Activities:  In 2013, what is now known as al-Murabitoun claimed responsibility for the attack against the Tiguentourine gas facility near In Amenas, in southeastern Algeria.  More than 800 people were taken hostage during the four-day siege, resulting in the deaths of 39 civilians, including 3 U.S. citizens.  Seven other U.S. citizens escaped.

In 2013, al-Murabitoun participated in twin suicide bombings on a northern Nigerien military base and a French uranium mine in Arlit, Niger.  The coordinated attacks killed more than 20 people, including all the attackers.

In 2015, al-Murabitoun claimed responsibility for an attack at La Terrasse restaurant in Bamako, Mali, that killed a French national, a Belgian national, and three Malians.  Al-Murabitoun also claimed responsibility for the 2015 hotel siege in central Mali that killed 17 people.  Also in 2015, al-Murabitoun operatives participated in the strike against the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, taking more than 170 people hostage — including U.S. citizens.  Up to 26 people were killed in the attack, among them a U.S. international development worker.

Al-Murabitoun was reportedly involved in the 2016 AQIM attack on a popular tourist hotel in Burkina Faso that killed nearly 30, including a U.S. citizen.  In addition, al-Murabitoun claimed responsibility for a 2017 suicide car bombing at a military camp in Mali that killed more than 47 people and injured more than 115.  In 2018, al-Murabitoun was involved in fighting against French forces in Mali.  Al-Murabitoun did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, and Niger

Funding and External Aid:  In addition to the support it may receive through its connections to other terrorist organizations in the region, al-Murabitoun is likely funded through kidnapping-for-ransom and other criminal activities.

National Liberation Army

Aka ELN; Ejército de Liberación Nacional

Description:  The National Liberation Army (ELN) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  The ELN is a Colombian Marxist-Leninist group formed in 1964.  The ELN remains focused on attacking the security services and economic infrastructure — in particular oil and gas pipelines and electricity pylons — and on extorting foreign and local companies and commits crimes and acts of terror throughout Colombia, including violence against civilian populations there and in Venezuela.

Activities:  The ELN continued to target Colombia’s infrastructure, particularly oil pipelines.  The ELN also launched mortar attacks on police stations and the military; placed explosive devices near roads; and engaged in sniper attacks, roadblocks, and ambushes.  Additionally, the ELN continued to kidnap civilians and members of the security services.

Throughout 2017 the Government of Colombia and the ELN conducted peace talks but did not ultimately reach an agreement.  Peace talks were intermittent throughout 2018 after being suspended early in the year following a series of ELN bombings that killed several police officers and injured dozens more.  The government ended talks following a 2019 VBIED attack by the ELN on the General Santander National Police Academy.  The attack was the deadliest Bogotá had experienced in years, killing 22 police cadets and injuring 87 more.  Colombian officials also attributed numerous oil pipeline bombings to the ELN in 2019.

ELN continued to commit attacks throughout Colombia in 2020.  In February, ELN called for an “armed strike” across the country; authorities reported that ELN executed 23 attacks, killing one soldier and injuring seven police officers.

Strength:  ELN consists of about 2,300 armed combatants.

Location/Area of Operation:  Colombia and Venezuela

Funding and External Aid:  The ELN draws its funding from the illicit narcotics trade, extortion of oil and gas companies and landowners, and illegal mining in Colombia and Venezuela.  Additional funds are derived from kidnapping-for-ransom payments.

al-Nusrah Front

Aka Jabhat al-Nusrah; Jabhet al-Nusrah; The Victory Front; al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant; al-Nusrah Front in Lebanon; Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham min Mujahedi al-Sham fi Sahat al-Jihad; Support Front for the People of the Levant; Jabhat Fath al-Sham; Jabhat Fath al Sham; Jabhat Fatah al-Sham; Jabhat Fateh al-Sham; Front for the Conquest of Syria; the Front for Liberation of al Sham; Front for the Conquest of Syria/the Levant; Front for the Liberation of the Levant; Conquest of the Levant Front; Fatah al-Sham Front; Fateh al-Sham Front; Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham; Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham; Hayat Tahrir al-Sham; HTS; Assembly for the Liberation of Syria; Assembly for Liberation of the Levant; Liberation of al-Sham Commission; Liberation of the Levant Organization; Tahrir al-Sham; Tahrir al-Sham Hay’at

Description:  Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) was designated as an FTO on May 15, 2014, and is al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria.  It is led by Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani.  The group was formed in 2011 when then-al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) — now ISIS — leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sent al-Jawlani to Syria to organize terrorist cells.  In 2013 the group split from AQI and became an independent entity.  ANF’s stated goal is to oust Syria’s Assad regime and replace it with a Sunni Islamic state.  The group is concentrated in and controls a portion of territory in northwest Syria, where it is active as an opposition force, and exerts varying degrees of influence over local governance and external plotting.

In 2017, ANF joined with four smaller Syrian factions and created Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) as a vehicle to advance its position in the Syrian insurgency and further its own goals as al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria.

Activities:  ANF has been active in operations against other factions in the Syrian conflict.  In 2016 the group carried out attacks in Aleppo and other parts of Syria controlled by the Syrian Army, killing both military officials and civilians.

Since 2017, ANF has continued to operate through HTS in pursuit of its objectives.  In October 2017, ANF launched an attack near the Turkish border against the Syrian Army, killing several soldiers.  Also that year, the group carried out multiple suicide bombings in Damascus, including suicide attacks using VBIEDs.  ANF took control of significant portions of Idlib from 2017 to 2019, exerting severe military pressure over other local groups such as Ahrar al-Sham and Nur ad-Din al-Zinki as it fought against the regime and continued plotting against U.S. and allied interests.

In 2019 the group suffered heavy casualties, estimated in the hundreds, from engagement with Russian-backed Syrian government forces.  Also that year, ANF bombed the Syrian town of Kafr Takharim, using heavy weaponry, and killing at least five people.

In May, an ANF member threw a grenade and opened fire into a group of civilians in Idlib city, Syria, killing two persons and injuring others.

Strength:  ANF has between 5,000 and 10,000 fighters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Syria

Funding and External Aid:  ANF receives funding from a variety of sources, including kidnapping-for-ransom payments, taxes and fees on border crossings it controls, and donations from external Gulf-based donors.  The group also generates revenue by collecting fees from commercial traffic entering and exiting Idlib.

Palestine Islamic Jihad

Aka PIJ; PIJ-Shaqaqi Faction; PIJ-Shallah Faction; Islamic Jihad of Palestine; Islamic Jihad in Palestine; Abu Ghunaym Squad of the Hizballah Bayt al-Maqdis; Al-Quds Squads; Al-Quds Brigades; Saraya al-Quds; Al-Awdah Brigades.

Description:  Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  Formed by militant Palestinians in Gaza during the 1970s, PIJ is committed to the destruction of Israel and to the creation of an Islamic state in historic Palestine, including present-day Israel.

Activities:  PIJ terrorists have conducted numerous attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings, against Israeli civilian and military targets.  Between 2008 and 2011, PIJ conducted rocket attacks and used other explosive devices to target southern Israel.  Throughout 2014, PIJ operatives carried out attacks on Israeli buses in Tel Aviv.  That year, PIJ carried out a wave of rocket attacks into Israeli territory; up to 60 rockets may have reached Israel.

In 2015, PIJ revealed that its militants were smuggling weapons, including Gaza-made rockets and mortars, through tunnels in Gaza, in preparation for future attacks against Israel.  That year, Israeli forces blamed PIJ for firing a rocket that landed in Gan Yazne, a region close to the Gaza border.  Also that year, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed PIJ operatives in Syria fired four rockets at the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee.

Throughout 2016, PIJ continued to strike Israel, primarily through light arms fire directed at IDF patrols.  That year, Israeli authorities arrested PIJ operative Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha upon his entry into Israel from Gaza, interrupting a PIJ plot to abduct and kill an IDF soldier and carry out a mass-casualty attack on a reception hall in Beersheba.  PIJ claimed responsibility for launching rockets into Israel throughout 2018 and 2020.  In a 2019 video, PIJ’s Al-Quds Brigade introduced a new rocket to its arsenal and thanked Iran for its support.

In February, PIJ claimed responsibility for rocket and mortar attacks fired into southern Israel.

Strength:  PIJ has close to 1,000 members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank

Funding and External Aid:  PIJ receives financial assistance and training primarily from Iran.  PIJ has partnered with Iran- and Syria-sponsored Hizballah to carry out joint operations.

Palestine Liberation Front — Abu Abbas Faction

Aka PLF; PLF-Abu Abbas; Palestine Liberation Front

Description:  The Palestinian Liberation Front-Abu Abbas Faction (PLF) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  In the late 1970s, the PLF splintered from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.  It later split into pro-Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), pro-Syrian, and pro-Libyan factions.  The pro-PLO faction was led by Muhammad Zaydan (aka Abu Abbas) and was based in Baghdad before Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Activities:  The PLF was responsible for the 1985 attack on the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer.  Throughout the 1990s the PLF was suspected of supporting terrorism against Israel by other Palestinian groups. In 2004, Abu Abbas died of natural causes while in U.S. custody in Iraq.  After not claiming an attack for 16 years, the PLF claimed responsibility for the 2008 assault against an Israeli military bus in Huwarah, Israel, and the shooting of an Israeli settler.  In 2010, the PLF claimed responsibility for an IED attack against an IDF patrol, which caused minor injuries to a soldier; another IED was discovered during a search of the area.  The PLF has not claimed responsibility for any attacks since 2016 but continues to maintain a strong presence in many refugee camps in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Gaza, Lebanon, and the West Bank

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of funding are unknown.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Aka PFLP; Halhul Gang; Halhul Squad; Palestinian Popular Resistance Forces; PPRF; Red Eagle Gang; Red Eagle Group; Red Eagles; Martyr Abu-Ali Mustafa Battalion

Description:  Designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is a Marxist-Leninist group founded in 1967 by George Habash after splitting from the Arab Nationalist Movement.  The group earned a reputation for committing large-scale international attacks in the 1960s and 1970s, including airline hijackings that killed more than 20 U.S. citizens.

Activities:  The PFLP increased its operational activity during the Second Intifada.  During that time, the group assassinated Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001, carried out at least two suicide operations, and launched multiple joint operations with other Palestinian terrorist groups.

In 2014, two Palestinians reportedly affiliated with the PFLP entered a Jerusalem synagogue and attacked Israelis with guns, knives, and axes, killing 5 persons — including 3 U.S. citizens — and injuring 12.  A month later, the PFLP claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks along the Lebanese-Israel border.

In 2017, three Palestinian militants launched an attack near Jerusalem’s Old City, stabbing and killing an Israeli border security agent.  Two of the militants were PFLP members, although ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

In 2019, IDF and Israeli Border Patrol forces arrested four PFLP members allegedly responsible for remotely detonating an IED in the West Bank, killing an Israeli teenager and seriously wounding two others.

In December, Israeli security forces in the West Bank arrested approximately 50 members of a PFLP cell believed to be behind a string of deadly attacks in the area and seized a large number of weapons and bomb making materials.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank

Funding and External Aid:  Sources of support are unknown.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command


Description:  The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  The PFLP-GC split from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1968, claiming it wanted to concentrate more on resistance and less on politics.  Ahmad Jibril, a former captain in the Syrian Army, has led the PFLP-GC since its founding.  The PFLP-GC has close ties to both Syria and Iran.

Activities:  The PFLP-GC carried out dozens of attacks in Europe and the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s.  The organization was known for conducting cross-border attacks into Israel using unusual means, such as hot-air balloons and motorized hang gliders.  Since the early 1990s the group has focused primarily on supporting Hizballah’s attacks against Israel, training members of other Palestinian terrorist groups, and smuggling weapons.  More recently, the PFLP-GC has been implicated by Lebanese security officials in several rocket attacks against Israel.  In 2009 the group was responsible for wounding two civilians in an armed attack in Nahariyya, Israel.

In 2012 the PFLP-GC claimed responsibility for a bus bombing in Tel Aviv that injured 29 people, although four Palestine Islamic Jihad and Hamas operatives later were arrested for the attack.  In 2015 the PFLP-GC reportedly began fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria, while also receiving logistical and military aid from Hizballah and Iran.

Separately that year, the PFLP-GC took responsibility for rocket fire aimed at Israeli territory.  In that attack, at least three rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel and landed near Shlomi, a small town near the Lebanese frontier with Israel.

Although the PFLP-GC did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020, the group remained an active part of the Syrian conflict.

Strength:  The PFLP-GC has several hundred members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza

Funding and External Aid:  The PFLP-GC receives safe haven and logistical and military support from Syria as well as financial support from Iran.


Aka al-Qa’eda; al Qaida, al Qaeda, Islamic Army; Islamic Salvation Foundation; The Base; The Group for the Preservation of the Holy Sites; The Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places; the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders; Usama Bin Laden Network; Usama Bin Laden Organization; al-Jihad; the Jihad Group; Egyptian al-Jihad; Egyptian Islamic Jihad; New Jihad; International Front for Fighting Jews and Crusades; Islamic Army for the Liberation of Holy Sites

Description:  Al-Qa’ida (AQ) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1999.  Established in 1988, the group helped finance, recruit, transport, and train fighters for the Afghan resistance against the former Soviet Union.  AQ strives to eliminate western influence from the Muslim world, topple “apostate” governments of Muslim countries, and establish a pan-Islamic caliphate governed by its own interpretation of Sharia law that would ultimately be at the center of a new international order.  These goals remain essentially unchanged since the group’s 1996 public declaration of war against the United States.  AQ leaders issued a statement in 1998 under the banner of “The World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders,” saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizens — civilian and military — and their allies everywhere.  AQ merged with al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) in 2001.  While numerous AQ leaders have been killed in recent years, including Usama bin Laden in 2011, AQ’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, remains at large.

Activities:  AQ conducted three bombings targeting U.S. troops in Aden, Yemen, in 1992 and claimed responsibility for shooting down U.S. helicopters and killing U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993.  AQ also carried out the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing up to 300 people and injuring more than 5,000.  In 2000, AQ conducted a suicide attack on the U.S.S. Cole in the port of Aden with an explosive-laden boat, killing 17 U.S. Navy sailors and injuring 39 others.

On September 11, 2001, 19 AQ members hijacked and crashed four U.S. commercial jets — two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon, and the last into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Nearly 3,000 civilians, police, and first responders were killed.  The dead included U.S. and foreign citizens from at least 77 countries.

In a 2011 video, al-Zawahiri claimed AQ was behind the kidnapping of U.S. aid worker Warren Weinstein in Pakistan.  Weinstein was held captive until his death in 2015.

In 2015, five senior AQ leaders were released from Iranian custody in exchange for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen.  Of the five, Saif al Adel and Abu Mohammed al Masri are wanted for the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

In 2016, al-Zawahiri publicly released two audio messages and one seven-page statement, condemning the Government of Saudi Arabia and its role in the Syrian conflict, encouraging AQ activity in Southeast Asia — especially Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines — and acknowledging support for its affiliate in Syria, al-Nusrah Front.

In 2017 a U.S. citizen was convicted in New York of charges related to abetting AQ’s 2009 attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan using two truck bombs.  The following month, al-Zawahiri released a video calling for jihadists around the world to conduct attacks against the United States.  Al-Zawahiri released multiple recordings and videos in 2018 in which he continued to call for jihad against the United States after the U.S. Embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In 2019, a man from Cleveland, Ohio, was arrested for allegedly making plans for an AQ-inspired bomb attack on the city’s downtown Independence Day parade.  Also in 2019, Zawahiri called for extremists in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to attack Indian forces and appealed to Muslims to attack U.S., European, Israeli, and Russian military targets in a video recording.

While AQ did not claim responsibility for any attacks, it remained active in 2020.

Strength:  In South Asia, AQ’s core has been seriously degraded.  The death or arrest of dozens of mid- and senior-level AQ operatives, including Usama bin Laden, has disrupted communication, financial support, facilitation nodes, and several terrorist plots.  AQ leaders oversee a network of affiliated groups.  Among them are al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Nusrah Front, al-Shabaab, al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), and other terrorist groups, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad Union, Lashkar i Jhangvi, Harakat ul-Mujahideen, and Jemaah Islamiya.  Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Haqqani Network also have ties to AQ.  In addition, supporters and associates worldwide who are motivated by the group’s ideology may operate without direction from AQ central leadership.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and North Africa

Funding and External Aid:  AQ primarily depends on donations from likeminded supporters, and from individuals who believe that their money is supporting a humanitarian cause.  Some funds are diverted from Islamic charitable organizations.

al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula

Aka al-Qa’ida in the South Arabian Peninsula; al-Qa’ida in Yemen; al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organization in the Arabian Peninsula; al-Qa’ida Organization in the Arabian Peninsula; Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Jazirat al-Arab; AQAP; AQY; Ansar al-Shari’a; Ansar al-Sharia; Ansar al-Shariah, Ansar al Shariah, Partisans of Islamic Law, Sons of Abyan; Sons of Hadramawt; Sons of Hadramawt Committee; Civil Council of Hadramawt; and National Hadramawt Council

Description:  Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was designated as an FTO on January 19, 2010.  In 2009, the now-deceased leader of al-Qa’ida in Yemen, Nasir al-Wahishi, publicly announced that Yemeni and Saudi al-Qa’ida (AQ) operatives were working together under the banner of AQAP.  The announcement signaled the rebirth of an AQ franchise that previously carried out attacks in Saudi Arabia.  AQAP’s stated goals include establishing a caliphate and implementing Sharia law in the Arabian Peninsula and the wider Middle East.

Activities:  AQAP has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts against both local and foreign targets since its inception in 2009.  These include a 2009 attempted attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan.  In 2010, AQAP claimed responsibility for a foiled plot to send explosive-laden packages to the United States on cargo planes.  In 2015, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 people.  One of the brothers, who had traveled to Yemen in 2011 and met with now-deceased Anwar al-Aulaqi, claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of AQAP.

In 2017 a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in a raid against AQAP leaders in Yemen.  That same year, AQAP attacked a Yemeni Army camp, killing at least two soldiers.  In 2018, AQAP senior leader Khaled Batarfi called on the group’s supporters to “rise and attack” Americans “everywhere.”  In 2019, AQAP gunmen killed 19 soldiers in an attack on an army base in southern Yemen.

In February, AQAP released a video claiming “full responsibility” for Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani’s 2019 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola that killed three persons and injured eight others.

Strength:  AQAP fighters are estimated to be in the low thousands.

Location/Area of Operation:  Yemen

Funding and External Aid:  AQAP’s funding has historically come from theft, robberies, oil and gas revenue, kidnap-for-ransom operations, and donations from likeminded supporters.

al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent

Aka al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent; Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent

Description:  Al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) was designated as an FTO on July 1, 2016.  Established in 2014, AQIS focuses on terrorist activity in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.  Its leader is Asim Umar, a former member of the FTO Harakat ul-Mujahideen.  In 2019, the Afghan government reported that Umar was killed in a military raid on a Taliban compound in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Activities:  In 2014, AQIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a naval dockyard in Karachi, Pakistan, in which militants attempted a hijacking of a Pakistani Navy frigate to attack nearby U.S. warships.  AQIS also claimed attacks against human rights activists and secular writers in Bangladesh, including U.S. citizen Avijit Roy, U.S. Embassy local employee Xulhaz Mannan, and Bangladeshi nationals Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, Ahmed Rajib Haideer, and A.K.M. Shafiul Islam.  In 2017, AQAP called on AQIS to launch more attacks on Burmese authorities because of Burma’s policies toward Rohingya Muslims.  AQIS has not claimed responsibility for any attacks since 2017.  In 2019, Asim Umar, the head of AQIS, was killed in a joint U.S.-Afghan military operation.

AQIS did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020. India’s National Investigation Agency arrested 10 alleged al Qa’ida-affiliated operatives from Kerala and West Bengal on September 19 and 26.

Strength:  AQIS is estimated to have several hundred members.

Location/Area of Operations:  Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan

Funding and External Aid:  AQIS likely receives funding from al-Qa’ida senior leadership and engages in general criminal activity, kidnapping, and extortion.

al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb

Aka AQIM; GSPC; Le Groupe Salafiste Pour la Predication et le Combat; Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat; Salafist Group for Call and Combat; Tanzim al-Qa’ida fi Bilad al-Maghrib al-Islamiya

Description:  The Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) was designated as an FTO on March 27, 2002.  The Department of State amended the GSPC designation on February 20, 2008, after the GSPC officially joined with al-Qa’ida in 2006 and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) became the primary name of the group.  Although AQIM remains largely a regionally focused terrorist group, it has adopted a more anti-western rhetoric and ideology.  The group aspires to overthrow “apostate” African regimes and create an Islamic state.  Following the death of AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel, who was killed in June by French forces, the group chose Abu Obaida Yusuf al-Annabi as Droukdel’s successor.

Activities:  Following AQIM’s 2007 bombing of the UN headquarters building and an Algerian government building in Algiers, which killed 60 people, AQIM’s northern leadership was contained to northeastern Algeria, while the group’s southern battalions focused mostly on kidnapping-for-ransom efforts.  In 2011 and 2012, however, AQIM took advantage of the deteriorating security situation across Libya, Mali, and Tunisia to expand its operations.  Terrorists with ties to AQIM were involved in the 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff members.  In 2014, AQIM killed 14 Algerian soldiers in an ambush east of Algiers.

In 2015, AQIM claimed responsibility for an attack on a UN vehicle in Kidal, Mali, which wounded seven peacekeepers.  That same year, AQIM twice attacked UN convoys near Timbuktu, Mali, with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades; three peacekeepers were killed in another attack; six others were killed in still another attack; and AQIM, in cooperation with other terrorist groups, attacked the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, taking more than 170 hostages, including U.S. citizens.  As many as 27 people were killed in this last attack, among them a U.S. international development worker.

In 2016, AQIM carried out an attack on a hotel in Burkina Faso that killed 28 people and injured 56 others.  Also in 2016, AQIM claimed responsibility for a strike on a popular tourist beach resort in Cote d’Ivoire that killed more than 16 people and wounded another 33.

In 2017, AQIM conducted a suicide attack that left more than 50 people dead in Gao, Mali.  In 2018, AQIM claimed responsibility for a vehicle suicide attack on an army patrol in Gao that killed 4 civilians and wounded 31 others, including 4 French soldiers.

In 2019, AQIM claimed responsibility for an attack on a UN camp in northern Mali, killing 10 peacekeepers and wounding 25 others.

In 2020, AQIM engaged in clashes with Algerian security forces during sweeping operations in which AQIM primarily used IEDs and small arms.

Strength:  AQIM has an estimated 1,000 fighters operating in the Sahel, including Algeria, northern Mali, southwest Libya, and Niger.

Location/Area of Operation:  Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Tunisia

Funding and External Aid:  AQIM members engage in kidnapping-for-ransom and other criminal activities to finance their operations.  AQIM also successfully fundraises globally and receives limited financial and logistical assistance from supporters residing in Western Europe.

Real IRA

Aka RIRA; Real Irish Republican Army; 32 County Sovereignty Committee; 32 County Sovereignty Movement; Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association; Real Oglaigh Na Heireann

Description:  The Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) was designated as an FTO on May 16, 2001.  The group was formed in 1997 as the clandestine armed wing of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, a “political pressure group” dedicated to removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland.  The RIRA has historically sought to disrupt the Northern Ireland peace process and did not participate in the 2005 weapons decommissioning.  Despite internal rifts and calls by some jailed members (including the group’s founder Michael “Mickey” McKevitt) for a cease-fire and disbandment, the RIRA has pledged additional violence and continued to conduct attacks.  Many RIRA members are former Provisional Irish Republican Army members who left the organization after the group renewed its cease-fire in 1997.  These members brought extensive experience in terrorist tactics and bomb making to the group.

Activities:  Targets have included civilians (the most notorious example is the Omagh bombing in 1998), British security forces, and police officers in Northern Ireland.  The Independent Monitoring Commission, which oversees the peace process, assessed that RIRA likely was responsible for most of the attacks that occurred after the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was decommissioned in Northern Ireland.

In 2015, Irish police carried out 20 searches aimed at known dissident republicans across Ireland.  Six individuals with links to the RIRA and the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) were arrested after police discovered explosive devices.  In 2016 the RIRA bombed the van of an Irish prison officer in East Belfast; the officer died from complications following the attack.  Dublin police also linked the RIRA to a cache of explosives found in Dublin in 2016.  In 2017, RIRA gunmen fired at police officers in North Belfast, injuring one officer.  RIRA did not claim responsibility for any attacks between 2018 and 2020.

Strength:  The Irish government reports that the RIRA has roughly 100 active members.  The organization may receive limited support from IRA hardliners and sympathizers who are dissatisfied with the IRA’s cease-fire and with Sinn Fein’s involvement in the peace process.

Location/Area of Operation:  United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland

Funding and External Aid:  RIRA is suspected of receiving funds from sympathizers in the United States and of attempting to buy weapons from U.S. gun dealers.  The group reportedly purchased sophisticated weapons from the Balkans and occasionally collaborated with the CIRA.

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

Aka FARC, FARC-EP; Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo

Description:  Founded in 1964 and designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was Latin America’s oldest, largest, and best-equipped terrorist organization.  The FARC was responsible for large numbers of kidnappings-for-ransom in Colombia and held as many as 700 hostages.  In 2016, after four years of negotiation in Havana, the Colombian government and FARC reached a peace agreement, later approved by Colombia’s Congress, setting into motion a disarmament, demobilization, and reincorporation process.  In accordance with the peace agreement, the vast majority of FARC combatants disarmed and demobilized between December 2016 and August 2017 under UN supervision, with roughly 7,000 FARC members turning in more than 8,000 weapons.

As of December, roughly 13,000 FARC ex-combatants (including former rank-and-file guerrillas and militia) continue to participate in the reintegration process based on the 2016 Peace Accord.

Following the 2016 Peace Accord, FARC dissident groups have seen a resurgence in some areas of Colombia by filling the void left by FARC ex-combatants who permanently left the battlefield.

Activities:  Over the years, the FARC has perpetrated many high-profile terrorist acts, including the 1999 murder of three U.S. missionaries working in Colombia as well as multiple kidnappings and assassinations of Colombian government officials and civilians.  In 2008 the Colombian military conducted a dramatic rescue of 15 high-value FARC hostages, including U.S. Department of Defense contractors Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howe, who were held captive for more than five years, along with former Colombian presidential candidate Íngrid Betancourt.

There have been reports of continued extortion and violent criminal activities by FARC dissidents not participating in the peace process.  In 2019, former FARC commanders Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich appeared in a video calling for a return to arms against the Colombian government.

In 2020, FARC continued to commit attacks throughout the country, including bombings, violence against civilians, kidnappings, attacks against utilities infrastructure, and attacks against military and police facilities.

Strength:  Before the peace accord, the FARC was estimated to have 7,000 armed members, with several thousand additional supporters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Colombia and Venezuela

Funding and External Aid:  Before the peace accord, the FARC was primarily funded by extortion and international drug trade.  FARC dissidents continue such activities.

Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front

Aka DHKP/C; Dev Sol; Dev Sol Armed Revolutionary Units; Dev Sol Silahli Devrimci Birlikleri; Dev Sol SDB; Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi; Devrimci Sol; Revolutionary Left

Description:  Designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) was formed in 1978 as Devrimci Sol, or Dev Sol, a splinter faction of Dev Genc (Revolutionary Youth).  It was renamed in 1994 after factional infighting.  “Party” refers to the group’s political activities, and “Front” alludes to the group’s militant operations.  The group advocates a Marxist-Leninist ideology and opposes the United States, NATO, and the Turkish establishment.  It strives to establish a socialist state and to abolish Turkish prisons.

Activities:  Since the late 1980s the group primarily has targeted current and retired Turkish security and military officials.  In 1990 the group began conducting attacks against foreign interests, including U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities.  The DHKP/C assassinated two U.S. military contractors, wounded a U.S. Air Force officer, and bombed more than 20 U.S. and NATO military, diplomatic, commercial, and cultural facilities.  In 2001 the DHKP/C began conducting its first suicide bombing attacks against Turkish police.  Since the end of 2001, DHKP/C has typically used IEDs against official Turkish and U.S. targets.

The DHKP/C was responsible for many high-profile attacks in 2012, including the suicide bombing of a police station in Istanbul.  In 2013, a DHKP/C operative exploded a suicide vest inside the employee entrance to Embassy Ankara .  The explosion killed a Turkish guard and seriously wounded a Turkish journalist.  In 2013, three members of the group attacked the Ministry of Justice and the Ankara headquarters of the Turkish Justice and Development political party, using grenades and rocket launchers.

In 2015 the DHKP/C claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed one police officer and wounded another.  That year, Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz was taken hostage and died from multiple gunshot wounds inflicted by the DHKP/C after police attempted to rescue him.  Also that year, two women opened fire on the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul; one woman was identified as a member of the DHKP/C.

In 2017 a DHKP/C militant launched an antitank missile into Istanbul police headquarters.  The attack did not result in any deaths or injuries.

In 2019, two individuals linked to the DHKP/C were arrested by Turkish security forces after they had entered the Turkish Parliament and taken a staff member hostage.

In October, Turkish security forces launched a nationwide operation across 12 provinces, arresting 93 individuals linked to the DHKP/C.

Strength:  The DHKP/C is estimated to have several dozen members inside Turkey, with a support network throughout Europe.

Location/Area of Operation:  Turkey and Europe

Funding and External Aid:  The DHKP/C finances its activities chiefly through donations and extortion.  The group raises funds primarily in Europe.

Revolutionary Struggle

Aka Epanastatikos Aghonas

Description:  Designated as an FTO on May 18, 2009, Revolutionary Struggle (RS) is a radical Marxist extremist group that has conducted attacks against both Greek and U.S. targets in Greece.  RS emerged in 2003 following the arrests of members of two other Greek Marxist groups:  17 November and Revolutionary People’s Struggle.

Activities:  RS first gained notoriety when it claimed responsibility for the September 5, 2003, bombings at the Athens Courthouse during the trials of 17 November members.  From 2004 to 2006, RS carried out IED attacks that included a 2004 attack outside a Citibank office in Athens.  RS claimed responsibility for the 2007 rocket-propelled grenade attack on Embassy Athens, which damaged the building, and the 2009 bombing of a Citibank branch in Athens.

The Greek government has made significant strides in curtailing the group’s terrorist activity.  In 2010, Greek police arrested six suspected RS members, including purported leader Nikos Maziotis, who later escaped.  In 2013, five RS members were convicted by an Athens appeals court, three of them receiving maximum prison sentences.  Maziotis and another accused RS conspirator, Paula Roupa, were convicted in absentia.  Before Maziotis’s recapture, RS conducted a bomb attack outside a Bank of Greece office in Athens in 2014; the blast caused extensive damage to surrounding structures but no casualties.

In 2016 a Greek court sentenced Maziotis to life in prison plus 129 years.  In 2017, Roupa was arrested by Greek police in Athens and later sentenced to life and 25 years’ imprisonment.  RS did not claim responsibility for any attacks in 2020.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Greece

Funding and External Aid:  RS’s sources of funding are unknown, but the group most likely supports itself by means of criminal activities, including bank robbery.


Aka Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin; al-Shabab; Shabaab; Youth Wing; Mujahidin al-Shabaab Movement; Mujahideen Youth Movement; Mujahidin Youth Movement; al-Hijra, al Hijra, Muslim Youth Center, the Youth, MYC MYM, Pumwani Muslim Youth, Pumwani Islamist Muslim Youth Center; Hizbul Shabaab; Hisb’ul Shabaab; al-Shabaab al-Islamiya; al-Shabaab al-Islaam; al-Shabaab al-Jihaad; The Unity of Islamic Youth; Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujaahidiin; Harakatul-Shabaab al Mujaahidiin; Mujaahidiin Youth Movement.

Description:  Al-Shabaab was designated as an FTO on March 18, 2008.  Al-Shabaab was the militant wing of the former Somali Islamic Courts Council that took over parts of southern Somalia during the second half of 2006.  Since the end of 2006, al-Shabaab and associated militias have engaged in violent insurgency using guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics against the transitional governments of Somalia.

Al-Shabaab is an official al-Qa’ida (AQ) affiliate and has ties to other AQ affiliates, including al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb.  The group’s leader is Ahmed Diriye, aka Ahmed Umar, aka Abu Ubaidah.

Al-Shabaab is composed of Somali recruits and foreign terrorist fighters.  Since 2011, al-Shabaab has seen its military capacity reduced owing to the efforts of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali forces, and clashes within the group itself.  Despite al-Shabaab’s loss of urban centers since 2012, the group has maintained its hold on large sections of rural areas throughout Somalia and has conducted attacks in Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, and Djibouti.

Activities:  Al-Shabaab has used intimidation and violence to exploit divisions in Somalia and undermine the Somali government, recruit new fighters, extort funding from local populations, and kill activists working to bring about peace through political dialogue.  The group has claimed responsibility for several high-profile bombings and shootings throughout Somalia targeting AMISOM troops and Somali officials.  Al-Shabaab has assassinated numerous civil society figures, government officials, journalists, international aid workers, and members of non-governmental organizations.

Al-Shabaab was responsible for the 2010 suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda — its first attack outside of Somalia.  The attack, which took place during the World Cup, killed 76 people, including a U.S. citizen.  In 2013, al-Shabaab staged a significant attack against the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.  The multi-day siege resulted in the deaths of at least 65 civilians, including foreign nationals from 13 countries as well as 6 soldiers and police officers; hundreds of others were injured.  In 2015, al-Shabaab carried out a raid with small arms and grenades on Kenya’s Garissa University College that killed 148 people.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks against AMISOM troops in Somalia in 2016.  Using a VBIED and small arms fire, al-Shabaab assembled against a Kenyan AMISOM base and killed more than 100 soldiers.  Also that year, al-Shabaab attempted to down Daallo Airlines Flight 159 with 74 passengers on board, but only the suicide bomber was killed in the explosion.

Al-Shabaab continued a steady pace of attacks in 2017 and 2018. The deadliest of these was a 2017 attack in which  al-Shabaab is believed to have conducted a double truck bombing in a Mogadishu intersection with heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic that killed more than 500 people and injured 300 others.

In 2019, al-Shabaab was involved in more than 1,000 violent events in Somalia and eastern Kenya.  Attacks included  a hotel attack in Kenya that killed 21 people; an attack on the government ministries in Mogadishu, killing 15 people including a deputy minister; a suicide bombing at the office of Mogadishu Mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman, killing 8 persons including Osman; an attack on the UN and AMISOM compound in Mogadishu, killing 7 persons; and a bomb blast in Mogadishu that killed more than 90 people.

Al-Shabaab continued to carry out attacks in Somalia and Kenya throughout 2020.  In January, al-Shabaab fighters attacked the United States Armed Forces’ Camp Simba in Manda Bay, killing the  three U.S. citizens. Later in January, suspected al-Shabaab operatives killed three teachers and destroyed a communications mast and police post in Garissa County, Kenya.  In July, 20 al-Shabaab gunmen attacked and destroyed a communication mast in Garissa County, Kenya.  In September, al-Shabaab operatives attacked a Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) convoy with small arms and grenades in Mandera County, Kenya.  One KDF soldier was killed.  In August al-Shabaab detonated a car bomb at the gates of the Elite Hotel in Mogadishu, starting a four-hour gun battle with security official that killed at least 16 people.  In October, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for killing 24 Somali troops in the Afgooye District, northwest of Mogadishu.

Strength:  Al-Shabaab is estimated to have between 7,000 and 9,000 members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda

Funding and External Aid:  Al-Shabaab receives enough income to launch attacks throughout Somalia, including against AMISOM bases and other civilian targets.  Al-Shabaab obtains funds through illegal charcoal production and exports, taxation of local populations and businesses, and by means of remittances and other money transfers from the Somali diaspora (although these funds are not always intended to support al-Shabaab members).

Shining Path

Aka SL; Sendero Luminoso; Ejército Guerrillero Popular; EGP; Ejército Popular de Liberación; EPL; Partido Comunista del Perú (Communist Party of Peru); PCP; Partido Comunista del Perú  en el Sendero Luminoso de José Carlos Mariategui (Communist Party of Peru on the Shining Path of José Carlos Mariategui); Socorro Popular del Perú; SPP, Communist Party of Peru on the Shining Path of José Carlos Mariategui, Communist Party of Peru, People’s Aid of Peru, People’s Guerrilla Army; People’s Liberation Army

Description:  The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) was designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997.  The Peru-based terrorist organization was formed in the late 1960s by former university professor Abimael Guzmán, whose teachings created the foundation of SL’s militant Maoist doctrine.  In the 1980s, SL was one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the Western Hemisphere.  In 1992 the Peruvian government captured Guzmán who, along with key accomplices, is serving a life sentence in prison.  SL is now led by brothers Victor and Jorge Quispe Palomino and Tarcela Loya Vilchez.  Under their direction, the group aims to overthrow the Peruvian government and names the United States as a principal enemy.

Activities:  In 2016 the group attacked a six-vehicle military caravan transporting election materials ahead of the country’s election; eight soldiers and two civilian contractors were killed by SL members armed with long-range rifles and grenades.  In separate incidents in 2017, SL killed several policemen in an area where the group controls territory and facilitates drug trafficking.

In 2018, six soldiers were wounded by SL sharpshooters at the Nueva Libertad army base in the region of Junín.  That same month, a group of SL members killed five soldiers and wounded another in an attack on the Nueva Libertad army base, and attacked a police vehicle using a roadside bomb, killing four policemen.

In 2019, suspected SL members conducted an attack on the Peruvian Army, killing three soldiers.

In August, Peruvian troops and SL members fought in the Valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers.  In December, Peruvian authorities captured 71 suspected members of SL.

Strength:  Estimates of SL’s strength vary, but experts assess SL to number between 250 and 300 members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Peru

Funding and External Aid:  SL is primarily funded by the illicit narcotics trade.

Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan

Aka Pakistani Taliban; Tehreek-e-Taliban; Tehrik-e-Taliban; Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan; TTP

Description:  Designated as an FTO on September 1, 2010, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a Pakistan- and Afghanistan-based terrorist organization formed in 2007 to oppose Pakistani military efforts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas).  Previously disparate tribal militants agreed to cooperate and eventually coalesced into TTP under the leadership of now-deceased leader Baitullah Mehsud.  Mullah Fazlullah headed the group until his death in 2018.  TTP then named Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud as the group’s new leader.

TTP aims to push the Government of Pakistan out of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and establish Sharia law by waging a terrorist campaign against the Pakistani military and state.  TTP uses the tribal belt along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to train and deploy its operatives, and the group has ties to al-Qa’ida (AQ).  TTP draws ideological guidance from AQ, while elements of AQ rely in part on TTP for safe haven in the Pashtun areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistani border.  This arrangement has given TTP access to both AQ’s global terrorist network and its members’ operational expertise.

Activities:  TTP has carried out and claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts against Pakistani and U.S. interests, including a 2009 suicide attack on a U.S. military base in Khost, Afghanistan, which killed seven U.S. citizens, and a 2010 suicide bombing against the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, which killed six Pakistani citizens.  TTP is suspected of involvement in the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.  TTP directed and facilitated Faisal Shahzad’s failed attempt to detonate an explosive device in New York City’s Times Square in 2010.

Between 2011 and 2018, TTP continued to carry out attacks against the Government of Pakistan and Pakistani civilian targets, as well as against U.S. targets in Pakistan.  In 2012, TTP carried out attacks against a mosque, a police checkpoint, a Pakistani Air Force base, and a bus carrying Shia Muslims.  In 2013, TTP attacked churches, the home of a government minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and a Shia neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan.  These attacks killed and wounded hundreds of civilians and Pakistani government and law enforcement officials.  In 2014, TTP carried out two consecutive attacks against Karachi’s international airport and a siege on a primary school in Peshawar that killed 145 people, 132 of whom were children.  In 2016 the group claimed responsibility for killing the deputy superintendent of the police counterterrorism department and injuring his son in an attack on their vehicle in Peshawar.

TTP attacks in 2017 included several suicide bombings, among them an attack that targeted a protest in Lahore, an attack on a mosque in northwestern Pakistan, and an attack in Lahore that killed 26 people.  Also in 2017, TTP militants disguised as women stormed an agricultural training school in Peshawar, leaving nine dead including the attackers.

In 2018, TTP claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed more than 11 Pakistani security personnel in Swat, Pakistan.  TTP also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that year that targeted a checkpoint on the outskirts of Lahore, resulting in the deaths of four police officers and two civilians.

In 2019, TTP claimed responsibility in August for killing four members of a peace committee who were working with the Pakistani government in its efforts against the Afghan Taliban.

In February, TTP confirmed the killing of four of its top leaders, including the former deputy of TTP, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani.  TTP conducted numerous attacks in 2020, most of which targeted Pakistani security forces.  TTP announced a merger with splinter groups Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Hizbul Ahrar in August.  Following the merger, TTP’s rate of attacks increased.

Strength:  TTP is estimated to have between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan and Pakistan

Funding and External Aid:  TTP likely raises most of its funds through kidnapping-for-ransom payments, extortion, and other criminal activity.

Chapter 6 -- Legislative Requirements and Key Terms

Country Reports on Terrorism 2019 is submitted in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f (the “Act”), which requires the Department of State to provide Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of the Act.  Statutory excerpts relating to the terms used in this report and a discussion of the interpretation and application of those terms in this report are included below.

Excerpts and Summary of Key Statutory Terms 

Section 2656f(a) of Title 22 of the United States Code states as follows:

(a) … The Secretary of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, by April 30 of each year, a full and complete report providing –

(1) (A) detailed assessments with respect to each foreign country –

(i) in which acts of international terrorism occurred which were, in the opinion of the Secretary, of major significance;

(ii) about which the Congress was notified during the preceding five years pursuant to section 4605(j) of Title 50 [deemed under Section 1768(c)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA FY 2019) to refer to section 1754(c) of the NDAA FY 2019 as of August 13, 2018]; and

(iii) which the Secretary determines should be the subject of such report; and

(B) detailed assessments with respect to each foreign country whose territory is being used as a sanctuary for terrorist organizations;

(2) all relevant information about the activities during the preceding year of any terrorist group, and any umbrella group under which such terrorist group falls, known to be responsible for the kidnapping or death of an American citizen during the preceding five years, any terrorist group known to have obtained or developed, or to have attempted to obtain or develop, weapons of mass destruction, any terrorist group known to be financed by countries about which Congress was notified during the preceding year pursuant to section 4605(j) of Title 50, any group designated by the Secretary as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189), and any other known international terrorist group which the Secretary determines should be the subject of such report;

(3) with respect to each foreign country from which the United States Government has sought cooperation during the previous five years in the investigation or prosecution of an act of international terrorism against United States citizens or interests, information on –

(A) the extent to which the government of the foreign country is cooperating with the United States Government in apprehending, convicting, and punishing the individual or individuals responsible for the act; and

(B) the extent to which the government of the foreign country is cooperating in preventing further acts of terrorism against United States citizens in the foreign country; and

(4) with respect to each foreign country from which the United States Government has sought cooperation during the previous five years in the prevention of an act of international terrorism against such citizens or interests, the information described in paragraph (3)(B).

Section 2656f(d) of Title 22 of the United States Code defines certain key terms used in Section 2656f(a) as follows:

(1) The term “international terrorism” means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country;

(2) The term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents; and

(3) The term “terrorist group” means any group practicing, or which has significant subgroups which practice, international terrorism.

Interpretation and Application of Key Terms.  For purposes of this report, the terms “international terrorism,” “terrorism,” and “terrorist group” have the definitions assigned to them in 22 USC 2656f(d) (see above).  The term “non-combatant,” which is referred to but not defined in 22 USC 2656f(d)(2), is interpreted to mean, in addition to civilians, military personnel (whether or not armed or on duty) who are not deployed in a war zone or a war-like setting.

It should be noted that 22 USC 2656f(d) is one of many U.S. statutes and international legal instruments that concern terrorism and acts of violence, many of which use definitions for terrorism and related terms that differ from those used in this report.  The interpretation and application of defined and related terms concerning terrorism in this report are therefore specific to the statutory and other requirements of the report, and not intended to express the views of the U.S. government on how these terms should be interpreted or applied for any other purpose.  Accordingly, there is not necessarily any correlation between the interpretation of terms such as “non-combatant” for purposes of this report and the meanings ascribed to similar terms pursuant to the law of war (which encapsulates the obligations of states and individuals with respect to their activities in situations of armed conflict).

Statistical Information.  Pursuant to 22 USC § 2656f(b), this report should contain “to the extent practicable, complete statistical information on the number of individuals, including United States citizens and dual nationals, killed, injured, or kidnapped by each terrorist group during the preceding calendar year.”  This is satisfied through the inclusion of a statistical annex to the report that sets out statistical information provided by Development Services Group, Inc. (DSG).  The statistical annex includes a discussion of the methodology employed by DSG in compiling the relevant data.  This report does not contain statistical information specifically concerning combatants.  The focus of the terrorism report, as is clear from the definition of terrorism, is on violence against noncombatant targets.

Contextual Reporting.  Adverse mention in this report of individual members of any political, social, ethnic, religious, or national population is not meant to imply that all members of that population are terrorists.  Indeed, terrorists rarely represent anything other than a tiny fraction of such larger populations.  It is terrorist groups — and their actions — that are the focus of this report.

Further, terrorist acts are part of a larger phenomenon of violence inspired by a cause, and at times the line between the two can become difficult to draw.  This report includes some discretionary information in an effort to relate terrorist events to the larger context in which they occur, and to give a feel for the conflicts that spawn violence.

Thus, this report discusses terrorist acts as well as other violent incidents that are not necessarily “international terrorism” and therefore are not subject to the statutory reporting requirement.

U.S. Department of State

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