Overview: Oman is an important regional counterterrorism partner that actively worked to prevent terrorists from conducting attacks or using the country as a safe haven. The nation remains concerned about the Yemen conflict and the potential for AQAP and ISIS-Yemen to threaten Oman’s land and maritime borders. Omani and U.S. officials regularly engaged on efforts to counter violent extremism and terrorism. Oman sought training and equipment from the U.S. government, commercial entities, and other countries to support its efforts to control Omani land, air, and maritime borders. The country welcomed U.S. security assistance to improve its crisis management capacity, as well as its counterterrorism tactics and procedures; however, some counterterrorism training and exercises were postponed or cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oman issued several statements condemning terrorist attacks around the world in 2020.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Oman in 2020.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no changes to Oman’s counterterrorism legislation in 2020.
Local capacity and a challenging operating environment owing to Oman’s extensive coastline and long, remote borders with Saudi Arabia and Yemen remain obstacles for counterterrorism investigations, crisis responses, and border security capabilities. Nevertheless, Oman had adequate communication and coordination among its many counterterrorism-related agencies and the National Security Council. The Sultan’s Special Forces and the Royal Oman Police (ROP) Special Task Force are Oman’s primary counterterrorism response forces. The Royal Office Liaison and Coordination Service, the Internal Security Service, and ROP’s Special Branch also play key roles in securing Oman from terrorist threats. Omani authorities have developed specific plans to prevent or respond to terrorist attacks against soft targets.
Oman continued to recognize the need to improve its counterterrorism capabilities and the value of U.S. counterterrorism and law enforcement training and assistance. However, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program postponed courses until 2021. ATA programming in Oman will target skills related to advanced counterterrorism operations and response, as well as crisis management exercise development. Omani security officials representing the ROP and their interagency will participate in the training.
The ROP Coast Guard, ROP Customs, the Maritime Security Center, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Royal Office participated in numerous virtual training activities through the Department’s Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program. EXBS programming supported the government’s efforts to build its capacity to interdict weapons and conduct investigations at air and seaports of entry, including in Muscat, Salalah, and Sohar. EXBS programming also increased Omani government officials’ understanding of UN sanctions implementation through virtual webinars and tabletop exercises.
The major impediments to effective law enforcement and border security in Oman remained limited resources, challenges to Omani interagency coordination, and the need for continued training to develop advanced law enforcement skills. The rugged, mountainous terrain along Oman’s border with Yemen presents an additional challenge. Oman continued to seek opportunities for additional U.S. border security training.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Oman is a member of MENAFATF. Oman’s Financial Information Processing Unit is a member of the Egmont Group. The nation also is a member of the Riyadh-based TFTC.
In collaboration with other TFTC member states, in July, Oman sanctioned six individuals and entities affiliated with ISIS terror-support networks in the region.
Oman made progress on the implementation and execution of its countering the finance of terrorism law, to include incorporating entities listed under the UNSC’s 1267 Sanctions Committee and designating wire transfer amounts for customer due-diligence procedures.
Countering Violent Extremism: The full nature and scope of Oman’s CVE initiatives remained opaque in 2020, but it is believed Oman continued to counter terrorist recruitment through tightly controlled, private initiatives.
International and Regional Cooperation: Oman is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, and the TFTC. Oman regularly votes in favor of counterterrorism measures in the UN General Assembly, the Arab League, and the OIC.