Patterns of Global Terrorism Report/1996/Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
The United States actively promotes international cooperation in condemning state sponsorship of terrorism and in bringing maximum pressure to bear against state sponsors. The Secretary of State has designated seven countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
Although US and international pressure has led to a decline in active state sponsorship of terrorism in recent years, more can and should be done to restrain those states that engage in terrorism themselves, or assist terrorists by providing sanctuary, arms, training, logistic support, financial backing, or diplomatic facilities. A range of bilateral and multilateral sanctions are in place to discourage these countries from continuing their support for international terrorism.
Cuba no longer is able to support actively armed struggle in Latin America or other regions of the world because of its severe economic problems. Although there is no current evidence that Cuba was directly involved in sponsoring specific acts of terrorism in 1996, it continues to provide safehaven for several international terrorists and maintains close ties to other state sponsors.
Iran, the most active state sponsor of terrorism today, continues to provide direction and support to terrorist groups, including Hizballah in Lebanon. Iran continues to assassinate dissidents abroad and also provides support to other terrorist groups that oppose Israel and the Middle East peace process. Iran has not withdrawn the fatwa against the life of Salman Rushdie.
Iraq's ability to carry out terrorism abroad has been curbed by UN sanctions. As events during 1996 clearly demonstrated, however, Saddam Hussein's regime continues to murder dissidents throughout Iraq and target foreign and local relief personnel in the northern part of the country.
Terrorism by Libya has been sharply reduced by UN sanctions imposed after the bombings of Pan Am Flight 103 (1988) and UTA Flight 772 (1989). Libya still evades its obligation to hand over those indicted for these crimes.
Although North Korea cannot be conclusively linked to any international terrorist attacks since 1987, it continues to provide sanctuary to Japanese Red Army members.
Sudan was not directly involved in any acts of international terrorism in 1996 and took some positive steps to distance itself from its past support for terrorism. At the same time, Sudan continued to serve as a sanctuary and training center for several international terrorist groups. Moreover, it has not complied with the UN Security Council's demand that it turn over the three suspects implicated in the 1995 assassination attempt against President Mubarak.
There is no evidence of direct Syrian Government involvement in acts of international terrorism since 1986. The United States continues to urge Syria to banish terrorist groups that maintain a presence in Syria or in Syrian-controlled territory in Lebanon. Until Syria does so, it will remain on the list of state sponsors.
Cuba no longer actively supports armed struggle in Latin America and other parts of the world. In earlier years the Castro regime provided significant levels of military training, weapons, funding, and guidance to numerous leftist extremists. Havana's focus now is to forestall an economic collapse; the government actively continued to seek the upgrading of diplomatic and trade relations with other nations.
Although there is no current evidence that Cuban officials were directly involved in sponsoring specific acts of terrorism last year, Cuba is still a safehaven for several international terrorists, maintains close relations with other state sponsors of terrorism, and remains in contact with numerous leftist insurgent groups in Latin America.
A number of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorists who sought sanctuary in Cuba several years ago continue to live on the island. Some of the more than 40 Chilean terrorists from the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) who escaped from a Chilean prison in 1990 also probably still reside in Cuba. Colombia's two main guerrilla groups, the revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), reportedly maintain representatives in Havana.
Cuba also provides safehaven to several nonterrorist US fugitives.
Iran remained the premier state sponsor of terrorism in 1996. It continued to be involved in the planning and execution of terrorist acts by its own agents and by surrogates such as Lebanese Hizballah and continued to fund and train known terrorist groups.
Tehran conducted at least eight dissident assassinations outside Iran in 1996. In May 1996 Reza Mazlouman, a government official under the Shah, was murdered in Paris by an Iranian resident of Germany with alleged ties to Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). The suspect was extradited to France by Germany. Seven other dissidents were assassinated by Iran in 1996 in Turkey and northern Iraq. Iran's primary targets are members of the regime's main opposition groups, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), as well as former officials of the late Shah's government who speak out against the clerical regime.
Iran continued to provide support-including money, weapons, and training-to a variety of terrorist groups, such as Hizballah, HAMAS, and the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ). It continued to oppose any recognition of Israel and to encourage violent rejection of the Middle East peace process. For example, Iranian Vice President Habibi met with HAMAS leaders in Damascus and praised their successful efforts immediately following the February bombings in Israel. HAMAS claimed responsibility for two more bombings in Israel the following week.
During a routine customs inspection of an Iranian vessel in Antwerp in March, Belgian authorities discovered a disassembled mortar-like weapon hidden in a shipment of pickles. The shipment was consigned to an Iranian merchant living in Germany. Iranian dissidents claim that the mortar was intended for use in an assassination attempt against Iranian exiles in Europe.
Testimony in the three-year-long trial of an Iranian and four Lebanese for the Iran-sponsored killing of Iranian Kurdish dissidents in Berlin's Mykonos restaurant in 1992 concluded in late 1996. German authorities issued an arrest warrant in March for Ali Fallahian, Iran's Intelligence Minister. In the fall, former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani Sadr and two other witnesses testified against Iran. In final statements in late November, German prosecutors charged Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and Iranian President Rafsanjani with approving the operation. (Guilty verdicts for four of the accused were announced in April 1997.)
Iranian leaders have consistently denied being able to revoke the fatwa against Salman Rushdie's life, in effect for nearly eight years, claiming that revocation is impossible because the author of the fatwa is deceased. There is no indication that Tehran is pressuring the 15 Khordad Foundation to withdraw the $2 million reward it is offering to anyone who will kill Rushdie.
In addition, Iran provides safehaven to elements of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Turkish separatist group that has conducted numerous terrorist attacks in Turkey and throughout Europe. Although Turkey and Iran agreed to a joint operation in mid-October to remove the PKK from the border region, Iran reportedly failed to cooperate in a meaningful way.
Iran's terrorist network in the Persian Gulf remained active in 1996. The Government of Bahrain announced in June the discovery of a local Hizballah group of Bahraini Shiites who had been trained and sponsored by Iran in an effort to overthrow the ruling al-Khalifa family.
Iraq has not managed to recover its preGulf war international terrorist capabilities, but it is slowly rebuilding its intelligence network. Acts of political violence continued in northern Iraq, and intra-Kurdish fighting in August led to an increased number of operatives there under Baghdad's control. At the time of its military attack on Irbil, Iraq reportedly murdered more than 100 Iraqis associated with the dissident Iraqi National Congress (INC). Later, Baghdad renewed its threat to charge foreign relief personnel and other Iraqi staff with "espionage," a crime punishable by death.
Iraq continues to provide safehaven to a variety of Palestinian rejectionist groups, including the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), and the former head of the now defunct 15 May Organization, Abu Ibrahim, who masterminded several bombings of US aircraft. The Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a terrorist group that opposes the current Iranian regime, also is based in Iraq.
In mid-November a Jordanian diplomatic courier was murdered in Iraq on the road from Amman to Baghdad, and his diplomatic pouch stolen. The perpetrators of the act have yet to be identified. The diplomatic bag contained 250 new Jordanian passports, which could be used by terrorist operatives for travel under cover.
The terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) continues to attempt to use northern Iraq as a safehaven and base for attacks on Turkey.
The end of 1996 marked the fifth year of the Libyan regime's refusal to comply with the demands of UN Security Council Resolution 731. This measure was adopted following the indictments in November 1991 of two Libyan intelligence agents for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. UNSCR 731 ordered Libya to turn over the two Libyan bombing suspects for trial in the United States or the United Kingdom, pay compensation to the victims, cooperate in the ongoing investigations into the Pan Am 103 and UTA Flight 772 bombings, and cease all support for terrorism.
UN Security Council Resolution 748 was adopted in April 1992 as a result of Libya's refusal to comply with the demands of UNSCR 731. UNSCR 748 imposed sanctions that embargoed Libya's civil aviation and military procurement efforts and required all states to reduce Libya's diplomatic presence. In November 1993 UNSCR 883 was adopted, imposing additional sanctions against Libya for its continued refusal to comply with UNSC demands. UNSCR 883 included a limited assets freeze and a ban on sales of some oil technology to Libya and strengthened existing sanctions in other ways.
By the end of 1996 Qadhafi had yet to comply in full with the UNSC demands. He did, however, allow a French magistrate to visit Libya in July to further his investigation of the 1989 bombing of UTA 772. As a result of that investigation, France has issued a total of six arrest warrants-two in 1996-for Libyan intelligence officers, who are still at large.
Tripoli continues to deny any involvement in Pan Am 103 and has made no attempt to comply with the UN resolutions. Most significantly, it still refused to turn over for trial in the United States or the United Kingdom the two Libyan agents indicted for the Pan Am bombing. In response to continued Libyan and Iranian support for terrorism, the US Congress passed the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996. This Act imposes new sanctions on companies that invest in the development of either country's petroleum resources. The law is intended to help deny revenues that could be used to finance international terrorism.
In addition to the Pan Am and UTA airliner bombings, Libya continues to be held responsible for other terrorist acts of the past that retain current interest. In October 1996 warrants were issued by German authorities for four Libyans who are suspected of initiating the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing that killed two US citizens. The four are believed to be in Libya. Also, Libya is widely believed to be responsible for the 1993 abduction of prominent Libyan dissident and human rights activist Mansur Kikhia. The current whereabouts of Kikhia, a US green card holder, remains unknown.
Libya also continued in 1996 to provide support to a variety of Palestinian terrorist groups, including the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and Ahmed Jabril's Popular Front for the Liberation of PalestineGeneral Command (PFLP-GC). The ANO maintains its headquarters in Libya, where the group's leader, Sabri al-Banna (a.k.a. Abu Nidal) resides.
North Korea has not been conclusively linked to any international terrorist attacks since 1987. North Korea is best known for its involvement in the 1987 midair bombing of KAL Flight 858 and the 1983 Rangoon bombing aimed at South Korean Government officials. A North Korean spokesman in November 1995 stated that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) opposed "all kinds of terrorism" and "any assistance to it."
There is no conclusive evidence the DPRK conducted any act of terrorism since 1987. The Republic of Korea, however, suspects that North Korean agents were involved in the murder of a South Korean official in Vladivostok on 1 October 1996, which shortly followed a North Korean warning that it would retaliate if Seoul did not return the bodies of several North Korean infiltrators killed in South Korea.
The DPRK provides asylum to a small group of Japanese Red Army members-the "Yodo-go" group-who hijacked a JAL airliner to North Korea in 1970. The senior surviving Yodo-go member, Yoshimi Tanaka, in late March was arrested in Cambodia on counterfeiting charges. Tanaka was captured while carrying a North Korean diplomatic passport and in the company of several North Korean diplomats. P'yongyang admitted publicly that Tanaka was a Yodo-go member, did not dispute the counterfeiting charges, and refused to take up his defense.
Sudan in 1996 continued to serve as a refuge, nexus, and training hub for a number of international terrorist organizations, primarily of Middle East origin. The Sudanese Government also condoned many of the objectionable activities of Iran, such as funneling assistance to terrorist and radical Islamic groups operating in and transiting through Sudan.
Following the passage of three critical UN Security Council resolutions, Sudan ordered the departure of terrorist financier Usama Bin Ladin from Sudan in May. Sudan failed, however, to comply with the Security Council's demand that it cease support to terrorists and turn over the three Egyptian al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (IG) fugitives linked to the 1995 assassination attempt of President Mubarak. Khartoum continued to deny any foreknowledge of the planning behind the Mubarak attempt and claimed not to know the whereabouts of the assailants.
Since Sudan was placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in August 1993, the Sudanese Government has continued to harbor members of several international terrorist and radical Islamic groups, including the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), Lebanese Hizballah, the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), and the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) of Algeria. The National Islamic Front, which is the dominant influence within the Sudanese Government, also supports opposition and insurgent groups in Uganda, Tunisia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.
In April 1996 the Department of State expelled a Sudanese diplomat at the Sudanese UN Mission who had ties to the conspirators planning to bomb the UN building and other targets in New York in 1993. A Sudanese national, who pleaded guilty in February 1995 to various charges of complicity in the New York City bomb plots foiled by the FBI, indicated two members of the Sudanese UN Mission had offered to facilitate access to the UN building in support of the bombing plot.
There is no evidence that Syrian officials have been directly involved in planning or executing international terrorist attacks since 1986. Nevertheless, Syria continues to provide safehaven and support for several groups that engage in such attacks. Though Damascus has stated its commitment to the peace process, it has not acted to stop anti-Israeli attacks by Hizballah and Palestinian rejectionist groups in southern Lebanon. Syria also permits the resupply of arms for rejectionist groups operating in Lebanon via Damascus. On the positive side, Syria took action to prevent specific terrorist acts, continued to restrain the international activities of some terrorist groups in Syria, and has been a member of the Israel-Lebanon Monitoring Group-established by the 12 April 1996 Understanding-helping to enforce its provisions. After King Hussein of Jordan raised the issue of individuals infiltrating into Jordan from Syria with plans to attack Jordanian and Israeli targets, Damascus conducted an arrest campaign against the infiltrators' backers.
Several radical terrorist groups maintain training camps or other facilities on Syrian territory. Ahmed Jibril's PFLP-GC and the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), for example, have their headquarters near Damascus. In addition, Damascus grants basing privileges or refuge to a wide variety of groups engaged in terrorism in areas of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley under Syrian control. These include HAMAS, the PFLP-GC, the PIJ, and the Japanese Red Army (JRA). The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) continues to train in Syria-controlled areas of Lebanon, and its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, resides at least part-time in Syria. In 1996 the PKK executed numerous terrorist attacks across Europe and continued-with limited success-its violent campaign against Turkish tourist spots.
Syria also suffered from several terrorist attacks in 1996, including a string of unresolved bombings in major Syrian cities.