Terrorism: Near Eastern Groups and State Sponsors, 2002
Report for Congress
Terrorism: Near Eastern Groups and
State Sponsors, 2002
Updated February 13, 2002
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Terrorism: Near Eastern Groups and
State Sponsors, 2002
The Al Qaeda terrorist network founded by Osama bin Laden is believed to pose
a continuing, although diminished, threat to the United States at home and to U.S.
interests and allies abroad following the network’s defeat in its base in Afghanistan.
As stated in taped appearances by its leaders since the September 11, 2001 terrorist
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the goal of Al Qaeda is to
destroy high profile U.S. targets in order to end what Al Qaeda claims is U.S.
suppression of Islamic societies. In these appearances, bin Laden virtually claimed
responsibility for the September 11 attacks. Throughout its history, Al Qaeda has
sought to oust pro-U.S. regimes in the Middle East and gain removal of U.S. troops
from the region.
Before September 11, signs pointed to a decline in state sponsorship of
terrorism. Since the attacks, some countries that are designated by the United States
as state sponsors of terrorism, including Iran and Sudan, have cooperated to an extent
with the U.S.-led war against Al Qaeda and its Taliban protectors in Afghanistan.
In spite of its cooperation against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Iran is still considered
a major sponsor of radical Islamic groups that conduct terrorism against Israel.
The Arab-Israeli peace process is a longstanding major U.S. foreign policy
interest, and the Administration and Congress are concerned about any terrorist
groups or state sponsors that oppose the process. Possibly because of a breakdown
in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in September 2000, Palestinian organizations
such as Hamas, as well as older groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine that have been inactive for years, have stepped up operations against
Israelis. Following several major terrorist attacks against Israelis since December
2001, the United States has strongly criticized Palestinian Authority President Yasir
Arafat for failing to exert sufficient efforts to constrain these and other groups.
Some analysts assert that Israel’s actions against the Palestinians have contributed to
increased Palestinian support for violence against Israel.
U.S. differences with other governments on the strategies for countering
terrorism in the Near East have to some extent narrowed since September 11. The
United States, in the past, differed with its allies, particularly on how to deal with
state sponsors of terrorism; most allied governments believe that engaging these
countries diplomatically might sometimes be more effective than trying to isolate or
punish them. The United States has generally been more inclined than its European
allies to employ sanctions and military action to compel state sponsors and groups
to abandon terrorism. Post-September 11 developments seem to have validated the
importance of both diplomacy and, in certain circumstances, more forceful responses
in dealing with terrorism. Differences with allies have begun to reemerge as the
Bush Administration expands its “war on terrorism,” indicating it will seek to prevent
the emergence of threats by regimes — some of which also have ties to terrorist
groups — that are developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
This report will be updated annually.
In troduction ......................................................1
Radical Islamic Groups.............................................4
Hizballah (Party of God)........................................4
Hizballah’s Outside Connections.............................6
Specially Designated Terrorists (SDTs).........................6
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)..........................7
The Islamic Group and Al-Jihad..................................9
Connections to Al Qaeda and the 1993 Bombing of
the World Trade Center.................................9
Al Qaeda (Osama bin Laden Network) ............................10
Al Qaeda’s Global Reach...................................11
History of Terrorist Activities...............................13
Al Qaeda Financing.......................................15
The Armed Islamic Group(GIA).................................17
Harakat ul-Mujahidin/Lashkar e-Tayyiba/Jaish e-Mohammad/
Other Islamist Groups in Pakistan............................18
Other Islamist Groups in Pakistan............................18
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)...........................19
Abu Sayyaf Group............................................20
Islamic Army of Aden.........................................20
Radical Jewish Groups: Kach and Kahane Chai ........................21
Left-wing and Nationalist Groups....................................22
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)...........................22
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine —
General Command (PFLP-GC) ..............................23
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).................24
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)..............25
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF).................................25
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)..................................26
Other Non-Islamist Organizations....................................27
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).................................27
Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).............28
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)................28
Middle Eastern Terrorism List Countries ..............................29
Pan Am 103 Issues........................................32
Other Terrorism Issues.....................................33
Countering Near Eastern Terrorism...................................37
Unilateral Economic Sanctions..................................38
Terrorism List Sanctions...................................38
Terrorism Fundraising Cooperation...........................41
The Domestic Front...........................................43
List of Tables
Table 1. Near Eastern Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)..............3
Table 2. Blocked Assets of Middle East Terrorism List States.............36
Terrorism: Near Eastern Groups and
State Sponsors, 2002
This report updates the version issued on September 10, 2001, just prior to the
September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed about
3,000 persons. It is an analysis of Near Eastern terrorist groups and countries on the
U.S. “terrorism list,” a list of countries that the Secretary of Commerce and Secretary2
of State have determined provide repeated support for international terrorism. This
report adopts the same definition of terrorism as that used by the State Department
in its annual reports: the definition contained in Title 22 U.S.C. Section 2656f(d).
According to this section, “terrorism” means “premeditated politically-motivated
violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or
clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”
Five out of the seven states currently on the terrorism list are located in the Near
East region — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Sudan. (The other two are Cuba and
North Korea, which will not be covered in this report). The composition of the list
has not changed since Sudan was added in 1993. The groups analyzed in this report
include, but are not limited to, those designated as “Foreign Terrorist Organizations”
(FTOs), pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(P.L. 104-132). The last section of the report discusses significant themes in U.S.
unilateral and multilateral efforts to combat terrorism in or from the region. The
State Department’s annual report on international terrorism, entitled Patterns of3
Global Terrorism: 2000 is a significant source for this report; other sources include
press reports and conversations with U.S. counter-terrorism officials, experts,
investigative journalists, and foreign diplomats.
Although the September 11 attacks have placed Near Eastern terrorist groups
at the center of U.S. anti-terrorism policy, Near Eastern terrorist groups and their
state sponsors have been a focus of U.S. counter-terrorism policies for several
decades. Since the 1970s, many of the most high-profile acts of terrorism against
American citizens and targets have been conducted by these groups, sometimes with
the encouragement or at the instigation of their state sponsors. However, no single
terrorist attack — either in or outside the Near East region — compares in scale to
the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, which killed a
1 This report was prepared with the assistance of Patricia Niehoff.
2 The determinations are made in accordance with Section 6(j) of the Export Administration
Act of 1979 50 U.S.C. 2405(j).
3 State Department Publication 10822, released April 2001.
total of over 3,000 persons. Senior U.S. officials have attributed this attack to the
Al Qaeda network, whose leaders enjoyed sanctuary in Afghanistan from 1996 until
their defeat at the hands of the U.S. military and its Afghan partners in late 2001.
According to Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2000 (available on the U.S.
Department of State’s web site at [http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2000/];
hereafter cited as Patterns 2000), worldwide terrorism-related casualties increased
to 405 in 2000 from 233 in 1999, but the number of attacks increased only slightly,
from 392 in 1999 to 423 in 2000. Of these 2000 totals, only 16 of the 423 attacks
and 19 of the 405 casualties occurred in the Middle East, although Patterns 2000
covered only three months of the Palestinian uprising that began in late September
2000. Since 2001 began, there have been dozens of terrorism-related Israeli
casualties resulting from Palestinian suicide bomb attacks, some of them in
retaliation for Israeli actions against suspected Palestinian militants. Thirty-one of
attacks and 12 of the deaths during 2000 occurred in Eurasia (Central Asia, the
Caucasus, and Russia).
The terrorist groups analyzed often differ in their motivations, objectives,
ideologies, and levels of activity. The Islamist groups remain generally the most
active, stating as their main objective the overthrow of secular, pro-Western
governments, the derailment of the Arab-Israeli peace process, the expulsion of U.S.
forces from the region, or the end of what they consider unjust occupation of Muslim
lands. Some groups, such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), fight for cultural
and political rights or the formation of separate ethnically-based states. Table 1
below shows the 20 Near Eastern groups currently designated by the State
Department as FTOs. The designations were mostly made when the FTO list was
inaugurated in October 1997 and revised in October 1999 and October 2001. A
group can be added to the list at any time; Al Qaeda (the bin Laden network) was
added on August 21, 1998, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was designated on
September 25, 2000, and two Pakistani groups — Lashkar e-Tayyiba and Jaish e-
Mohammad — were added to the FTO list on December 26, 2001.
Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the designation of
a group as an FTO blocks its assets in the United States and makes it a criminal
offense for U.S. persons to provide it with material support or resources, such as
financial contributions. Executive Order 12947 of January 23, 1995, also bars U.S.
dealings (contributions to or financial transactions) with any individuals named as
“Specially Designated Terrorists (SDTs).” On November 2, 2001, the Secretary of
State also subjected all FTOs to the increased financial restrictions that had been
applied to Al Qaeda-related entities under Executive Order 13224 (September 23,
branches of foreign banks that do not comply with U.S. requests to end dealings with
the FTOs. An SDT, according to the executive order, is a person found to pose a
significant risk of disrupting the Middle East peace process, or to have materially
supported acts of violence toward that end.
Table 1. Near Eastern Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)
Abu Nidal OrganizationPalestinian, nationalistLow
Abu Sayyaf GroupFilipino, IslamistModerate
Armed Islamic GroupAlgerian, IslamistModerate
Hamas Palestinian, IslamistVery High
Harakat ul-Kashmir, IslamistVery High
Hizballah Lebanese, Shiite Islamist High
Islamic GroupEgyptian, IslamistModerate
Islamic Movement ofUzbek, IslamistModerate
Al-Jihad Egyptian, IslamistModerate
Kach and Kahane ChaiJewish extremistLow
Kurdistan Workers’ Party Kurdish, anti-TurkeyLow
Palestinian Islamic Jihad Palestinian, IslamistVery High
Palestine Liberation Front Palestinian, nationalistLow
Popular Front for thePalestinian, MarxistLow
Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for thePalestinian, nationalistModerate
Liberation of Palestine -
People’s MojahedinIranian, left-wing anti-regimeVery Low
Organization of Iran
Al Qaeda (Bin LadenMultinational Islamist,Extremely
Revolutionary People’sTurkish, left-wing anti-Low
In contrast to Patterns 2000, this report analyzes the following:
!The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which has not been
the subject of a separate section in Patterns since Patterns 1995, is
analyzed in this report because of the debate over whether PLO
leader Yasir Arafat is taking sufficient steps to prevent terrorism by
other groups in areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
Since late 2000, there has been discussion about the degree to which
certain PLO factions are involved in violence against Israel and
whether they should be named as FTOs.
!When the FTO list was reviewed and re-issued in October 1999, the
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) was
dropped, largely because it has reconciled with Arafat. The group’s
past involvement in terrorism, and the recent revival of its operations
against Israel, are discussed in this report.
!This report contains a section on the Abu Sayyaf Group operating in
the Philippines, as well as analysis of several Pakistani Islamist
groups that are fighting Indian control of part of Kashmir Province.
These groups are discussed in this report, even though they operate
outside the Near East region, because of their alleged connections to
the bin Laden network and the Taliban of Afghanistan.
!In accordance with the October 2001 redesignation of the FTO list,
the two Jewish extremist groups Kach and Kahane Chai will be
treated as one group.
Radical Islamic Groups
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, and particularly since the seizure of
the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November of that year, radical Islam has attracted
widespread press attention as the driving ideology of the most active Middle Eastern
terrorist groups and state sponsors. Of the 20 FTOs listed above, 12 are Islamic
Hizballah (Party of God)4
Lebanon-based Hizballah appears to be groping for direction following Israel’s
May 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon. Having accomplished its main goal of ousting
Israel from southern Lebanon, some in the organization want it to focus exclusively
on political and social work, primarily through participation in parliament (it holds
8 out of 128 total seats) and through its charity and reconstruction works with
Lebanon’s Shiite community. Some want Hizballah to accept ministerial positions
4 For other names under which Hizballah or the other groups discussed in this paper operate,
see U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control. “Terrorism: What
You Need to Know About U.S. Sanctions.”
in Lebanon’s cabinet, a step that Hizballah has thus far not taken. Hardliners in
Hizballah want it to battle Israeli forces over the border, particularly in the disputed
Shib’a farms area.5 Other hardliners in the organization believe that the Israeli
withdrawal validated its guerrilla strategy and appear to be helping Palestinian groups
apply similar tactics against Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Although initially encouraged by Hizballah’s relative restraint following the
Israeli withdrawal, Israel and the United States remain wary of Hizballah.
Hizballah’s 15 year military campaign against Israeli and Israeli surrogate forces in
southern Lebanon — activity that is not technically considered terrorism by the U.S.
State Department — often included rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. Even though
the United Nations has certified that Israel’s withdrawal is complete, Hizballah has
asserted that Israel still occupies some Lebanese territory (the Shib’a farms) and, on
that basis, has conducted several military attacks on Israel since the withdrawal. In
October 2000, Hizballah captured three Israeli soldiers in the Shib’a farms area and
kidnaped an Israeli noncombatant whom it had lured to Lebanon. Israel announced
in early November 2001 that the three soldiers are believed dead.
Hizballah has continued to conduct surveillance of the U.S. Embassy in
Lebanon and its personnel, according to recent Patterns reports, but no major terrorist
attacks have been attributed to it since 1994. However, according to numerous press
reports and Hizballah leaders’ own statements, the organization is providing advice
and logistical support to Islamist Palestinian groups fighting against Israel in the
latest Palestinian uprising, which began in September 2000. In January 2001, Israel
accused Hizballah of serving as an intermediary in the shipment of 50 tons of
weaponry from Iran that was seized by Israel and, according to the United States and
Israel, was bound for the Palestinian Authority. The PA is precluded from fielding
the weapons contained in the shipment under its Oslo interim accords with Israel.
If true, this suggests that Hizballah is trying to broaden its assistance to non-Islamist
Palestinian elements. In late August 2001, Jordanian officials discovered a cache of
rockets at a Hizballah-owned location in Jordan, igniting fears that Hizballah might
fire rockets on Israel from there or might provide the weapons to Palestinian militants
there or in the West Bank.6 Jordan’s King Abdullah was said to have raised his
concern about growing Hizballah activity in Jordan with President Bush in February
Hizballah’s History. Founded in 1982 by Lebanese Shiite clerics inspired by
the Islamic revolutionary ideology of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, Hizballah’s original
goal was to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon. During the 1980s, Hizballah
was a principal sponsor of anti-Western, and particularly anti-U.S., terrorism. It is
known or suspected to have been involved in suicide truck bombings of the U.S.
Embassy (April 1983), the U.S. Marine barracks (October 1983, killing 220 Marine,
18 Navy and 3 Army personnel), and the U.S. Embassy annex (September 1984), all
in Beirut. It also hijacked TWA Flight 847 in 1985, killing a Navy diver, Robert
Stethem, who was on board, and its factions were responsible for the detention of
5 For a further discussion of this dispute, see CRS Report RL31078, The Shib’a Farms
Dispute and Its Implications. August 7, 2001, by Alfred Prados.
6 Slavin, Barbara. Rockets Found in Jordan Worry U.S. USA Today, August 31, 2001.
most, if not all, U.S. and Western hostages held in Lebanon during the 1980s and
early 1990s. Eighteen Americans were held hostage in Lebanon during that period,
three of whom were killed.
In the early 1990s, Hizballah also demonstrated an ability to conduct terrorism
far from the Middle East. In May 1999, Argentina’s Supreme Court, after an official
investigation, formally blamed Hizballah for the March 17, 1992 bombing of Israel’s
embassy in Buenos Aires and issued an arrest warrant for Hizballah terrorist leader
Imad Mughniyah. Hizballah did not claim responsibility for the attack outright, but
it released a surveillance tape of the embassy, implying responsibility. In May 1998,
FBI Director Louis Freeh told Argentina the FBI believes that Hizballah, working
with Iranian diplomats, was also responsible for the July 18, 1994 bombing of the
Argentine-Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires that left 86
dead.7 In July 1999, Argentine investigators brought charges against 20 suspected
Argentine collaborators in the AMIA bombings, and the trial began in late September
Hizballah’s Outside Connections. Hizballah maintains connections with
similar groups in the Persian Gulf. Saudi and Bahraini investigations of anti-regime
unrest have revealed the existence of local chapters of Hizballah composed of Shiite
Muslims, many of whom have studied in Iran’s theological seminaries and received
terrorist training there and in Lebanon. Saudi and U.S. officials believe that Saudi
Shiite Muslims, possibly with connections to Lebanese Hizballah, were responsible
for the June 25, 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers housing complex for U.S.
military personnel, near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The United States reaffirmed this
allegation in the June 2001 U.S. indictments of 14 Khobar suspects. According to
Patterns 1998, in November 1998 Bahraini authorities uncovered an alleged bomb
plot that they blamed on persons linked to Bahraini and Lebanese Hizballah.
Patterns 1999 reiterates that Hizballah receives “substantial” amounts of
financial assistance, weapons, and political and organizational support from both
Syria and Iran, although it does not mention specific figures. Then Secretary of State
Christopher said on May 21, 1996 that Iran gave Hizballah about $100 million per
year, a figure that U.S. officials have not since deviated from. A reported 150 of
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards remain in Lebanon to coordinate Iran’s aid to Hizballah.
Syria permits Iran to supply weapons to Hizballah through the international airport
in Damascus, although a recent Turkish shutdown of the air corridor connecting Iran
and Syria has made Iranian deliveries more difficult.
Specially Designated Terrorists (SDTs).8 Hizballah members named as
SDTs include: (1) Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah, who is about 44 and has led
Hizballah since 1993; (2) Shaykh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, the 64-year-old
senior Shiite cleric and leading spiritual figure of Hizballah; (3) Subhi Tufayli, the
54 year old former Hizballah Secretary General who leads a radical breakaway
faction of Hizballah; and (4) Imad Mughniyah, the 39 year old Hizballah intelligence
7 FBI Ties Iran to Argentine Bombing in ‘94. Washington Post, August 8, 1998.
8 The list of SDTs is contained in the Office of Foreign Assets Control factsheet “Terrorism:
What You Need to Know About U.S. Sanctions.”
officer and alleged holder of some Western hostages in the 1980s. He was also
implicated in the TWA 847 hijacking. Mughniyah, as well as several alleged
perpetrators of the June 1996 attack on the U.S. housing complex of Khobar Towers
in Saudi Arabia, was included on a list of 39 entities and persons issued October 12,
2001 under Executive Order 13224 (September 23, 2001). The order subjects listed
entities to financial restrictions.
Blocked Assets. According to the Treasury Department’s “Terrorist Assets
Report” for 2000, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has seized $283,000
in assets belonging to 18 persons arrested in North Carolina in July 2000 on
suspicion of smuggling goods to generate funds for Hizballah.
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
Prior to the September 2000 outbreak of the Palestinian uprising, it appeared
that the bulk of the leadership of the Sunni Muslim Palestinian group Hamas (Islamic
Resistance Movement) was accommodating Yasir Arafat’s leadership of the
Palestinian Authority (PA). Hamas leaders also appeared resigned to an eventual
final peace agreement between Israel and the PA, although they continued to
criticize Arafat as too eager to compromise with Israel. Since the uprising began,
Hamas and its smaller ally, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), have escalated terrorist
attacks against Israelis. Hamas claimed responsibility for the June 1, 2001 suicide
bombing of the “Dolphinarium” discotheque in Tel Aviv, which killed 21, and for
an August 9, 2001 suicide bombing at a pizza restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 18,
including one American. It also claimed responsibility for the December 1 - 2, 2001
suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa that killed about 25 persons, in addition to
the three bombers. PIJ has conducted several recent suicide bombings, many of
which killed only the bomber(s). Many experts believe that the renewed terrorist
activity is at least partly attributable to a breakdown in security cooperation between
Israel and the Palestinian Authority — cooperation that was widely credited with
keeping terrorist attacks to a minimum in the preceding few years. The renewed
terrorist threat has led Israel to adopt a policy, criticized by the United States and
many other countries, of assassinating Hamas and PIJ activists to preempt their
Hamas continues to receive funding from businesses it runs in Palestinian
controlled areas, from Iran (about 10% of its budget), from wealthy private
benefactors in the Persian Gulf monarchies, and Palestinian expatriates, according
to Patterns 2000. The Patterns report adds that the group conducts fundraising and
propaganda activities in Western Europe and North America. Many individual
donors appear to believe their contributions go to charitable activities for poor
Palestinians served by Hamas’ social services network, and are not being used for
terrorism. PIJ is politically closer to Iran than is Hamas, and apparently derives most
of its funding from state sponsors, especially Iran. PIJ receives some logistical
support from Syria, according to Patterns 2000.
History. Hamas was formed by Muslim Brotherhood activists during the early
stages of the earlier Palestinian uprising (intifada) in 1987. Its spiritual leader,
Shaykh Ahmad Yassin, who is paralyzed, was released from prison by Israel in
October 1997. He seems to serve as a bridge between Hamas’ two main components
— the extremists who orchestrate terrorist attacks (primarily through a clandestine
wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades), and the more moderate elements affiliated
with Hamas’ social services, charity, and educational institutions. PIJ was, in part,
inspired by the Iranian revolution of 1979 even though PIJ is a Sunni Muslim, not a
Shiite Muslim organization. PIJ remains almost purely a guerrilla organization, with
no overt component. It is led by Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, a Gaza-born, 43 year
old academic who previously was an adjunct professor at the University of South
Florida. He was chosen leader in 1995 after his predecessor, Fathi al-Shiqaqi was
assassinated, allegedly by Israeli agents. Recent Patterns reports characterize Hamas’
strength as “an unknown number of hardcore members [and] tens of thousands of
supporters and sympathizers,” and PIJ’s strength as “unknown.”
Hamas and PIJ generally have not targeted the United States or Americans
directly, although Americans have died in attacks by these groups, along with Israelis
and often the bombers themselves. Five out of the 65 killed in a series of four
Hamas/PIJ bombings in Israel during February - March 1996 were American citizens.
These bombings had the apparent effect of shifting public opinion toward the
conservative Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu in Israeli national elections on
May 29, 1996, possibly proving decisive in his election victory as Prime Minister
over then Labor Party leader Shimon Peres. Neither group conducted major attacks
in the run-up to the May 1999 Israeli elections, although they did carry out attacks in
an attempt to derail the negotiation and implementation of the October 23, 1998
Israeli-Palestinian Wye River Memorandum. In total, the two groups have conducted
about 80 suicide bombings or attempted suicide bombings, killing more than 450
Israelis, since the signing of the Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles in 1993.9
Blocked Assets. The United States has blocked the assets of some alleged
Hamas/PIJ leaders, using the authority of President Clinton’s January 23, 1995
executive order on Middle East terrorism. As of the end of 2000, a total of about
$17,000 in PIJ assets in the United States were blocked, consisting of a bank account10
belonging to PIJ leader Shallah. On December 4, 2001, three financial entities
believed linked to Hamas were designated for increased financial restrictions under
Executive Order 13224. The three are the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and
Development, Beit al-Mal Holdings, and Al Aqsa Islamic Bank.
SDTs. Several Hamas and PIJ activists have been named as SDTs. They
include (1) Hamas founder Shaykh Ahmad Yassin; (2) PIJ leader Ramadan Abdullah
Shallah; (3) PIJ ideologist Abd al-Aziz Awda; (4) Hamas political leader Musa Abu
Marzuq; and (5) alleged U.S. fundraiser for Hamas, Mohammad Salah.
9 Pipes, Daniel and Steven Emerson. Rolling Back the Forces of Terror. Wall Street
Journal, August 13, 2001.
10 These figures are contained in the 2000 Annual Report to Congress on Assets in the
United States Belonging to Terrorist Countries or International Terrorist Organizations.
Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of Treasury. January 2001.
The Islamic Group and Al-Jihad
Egyptian security authorities continue to gain the upper hand in their battle
against the opposition Islamic Group and its ally, Al-Jihad,11 groups that, over the
past several decades, periodically have gone underground and then resurfaced. This
effort could be enhanced by the U.S. defeat of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, because
militants from the two groups constitute a large and politically significant faction of
Al Qaeda. There have been no large scale terrorist attacks by these groups since the
Islamic Group’s November 17, 1997 attack on tourists near Luxor, and no attacks
inside Egypt at all since August 1998. The gunmen in the Luxor attack killed 58
tourists and wounded 26 others, and then committed suicide or were killed by
Egyptian security forces. Even before September 11, these Egyptian groups sensed
that they were on the defensive and that terrorism had made them unpopular. In late
1997 leaders of both groups, including their common spiritual leader, the 64 year old
blind cleric Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman, declared a ceasefire with the Egyptian
government. Muhammad Hamza, who is in operational control of the Islamic Group
in Egypt while Abd al-Rahman remains incarcerated in the United States, has abided
by the truce.
Connections to Al Qaeda and the 1993 Bombing of the World Trade
Center. With the decline of the groups’ activities within Egypt and the incarceration
of Abd al-Rahman for plots related to the February 1993 bombing of the World
Trade Center, factions of the groups that are in exile have gravitated to the Al Qaeda
network. Several SDTs from the Islamic Group and Al-Jihad became members of
bin Laden’s inner circle as his top lieutenants, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, and
Abu Hafs Masri (Mohammad Atef). According to U.S. military officials, Atef was
killed by a U.S. air strike during the U.S. war on the Taliban and Al Qaeda. These
Egyptian militants oppose any truce with the Egyptian government and also seek, in
concert with bin Laden, to attack U.S. interests directly.
Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman was not convicted specifically for the February
1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, but he was convicted for
related unsuccessful plots in the New York area. Those convicted in the Trade
Center bombing were allegedly associated with him. There has been much
speculation about the relationship, if any, between Abd al-Rahman and bin Laden at
the time of the 1993 Trade Center bombing. Both recruited fighters for the Afghan
conflict against the Soviet Union through organizations in the United States and
elsewhere, particularly one called the Maktab al-Khidamat (Services Office), also
known as Al Kifah.12 The two also had close connections to the Islamic government
of Sudan, although Abd al-Rahman left Sudan in 1990, before bin Laden relocated
there in 1991. Abd al-Rahman’s two sons reportedly have been associated with Al
Qaeda in Afghanistan since 1989; one was reported killed and one reported captured
during the U.S.-led war on Al Qaeda. The alleged mastermind of the 1993 Trade
11 A faction of the Jihad operates under the name “Vanguards of Conquest.”
12 Maktab al-Khidamat/Al Kifah were designated for increased financial restrictions under
Executive Order 13224, September 23, 2001.
Center bombing, Ramzi Ahmad Yousef, reportedly was an Al Qaeda member.13
(See section on Al Qaeda, below). Although their recruiting activity in Afghanistan
has raised questions as to whether the United States gave bin Laden or Abd al-
Rahman assistance during the Afghan war, the Central Intelligence Agency has told
CRS that it found no evidence that the Agency provided any direct assistance to
either of them. The U.S. assistance program for the anti-Soviet groups in
Afghanistan focused primarily on indigenous Afghan mujahedin and not Arab
volunteers such as those sponsored by bin Laden or Abd al-Rahman.
History. The Islamic Group and Al-Jihad formed in the early 1970s as
offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, which opted to work within the political
system after being crushed by former President Gamal Abd al-Nasser. Both seek to
replace Egypt’s pro-Western, secular government with an Islamic state. Al-Jihad was
responsible for the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in October 1981. The
Islamic Group has been responsible for several attacks on high-ranking Egyptian
officials, including the killing of the People’s Assembly Speaker in October 1990
and the wounding of the Minister of Information in April 1993. The Islamic Group
also has a nonviolent arm which recruits and builds support openly in poor
neighborhoods in Cairo, Alexandria and throughout southern Egypt, and runs social
service programs. Al-Jihad has operated only clandestinely, focusing almost
exclusively on assassinations.
SDTs. The following Egyptian Islamist figures have been named as SDTs or
as subject to enhanced financial restrictions under Executive Order 13224: (1)
Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman, who was acquitted in 1984 of inciting Egyptian
President Anwar Sadat’s assassination, is in a medical detention facility in Missouri
following his October 1995 conviction for planning terrorist conspiracies in the New
York area; (2) Ayman al-Zawahiri, about 51, who is a top lieutenant of bin Laden
(see below) and was convicted in Egypt for the Sadat assassination;14 (3) Mohammad
Atef, who, as noted above, was apparently killed in the U.S.-led war on Al Qaeda;
(4) Rifa’i Taha Musa, about 48, who was arrested in Syria and extradited to Egypt
in October 2001; (5) Abbud al-Zumar, leader of the remnants of the original Jihad
who is serving a 40 year sentence in Egypt; (6) Talat Qasim, about 44, a propaganda
leader of the Islamic Group; and (7) Muhammad Shawqi Islambouli, about 46, the
brother of the lead gunman in the Sadat assassination. Islambouli, a military leader
of the Islamic Group, also is believed to be associated with bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda (Osama bin Laden Network)
Founded in 1988, Al Qaeda (Arabic for “the base”), the network of Osama bin
Laden, has evolved from a regional threat to U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf to a
global threat to U.S. citizens and national security interests. The September 11, 2001
suicide hijacking attacks, allegedly by Al Qaeda, on the World Trade Center and
Pentagon were considered a threat to U.S. national security and led to a U.S. military
campaign against Al Qaeda in its primary sanctuary in Afghanistan, and against Al
13 U.S. Sees Links in Brooklyn To World Terrorist Network. New York Times, October 22,
14 Egypt’s Most Wanted. The Estimate, December 19, 1997. P.8.
Qaeda’s protector, the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime. By December 2001,
the war had resulted in the ouster of the Taliban from power and the death or capture
of thousands of Al Qaeda fighters and operatives in Afghanistan. Bin Laden’s fate,
and that of his top cohort, Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, are
unknown. Pakistan’s leader, President Pervez Musharraf, has said he believes bin
Laden most likely has died, but others, particularly U.S. officials, say there is no
evidence bin Laden or al-Zawahiri have died.
Most experts believe that, whether bin Laden does or does not survive the war,
the effort has seriously disrupted Al Qaeda’s ability to plan major new acts of
terrorism. At least one of bin Laden’s top lieutenants, Mohammad Atef, was
reportedly killed in the war. Another senior recruiter, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, is in
U.S. custody. Zawahiri’s family has been killed in the war, according to a death
announcement in an Egyptian newspaper. Others say that much of the Al Qaeda
network is based outside Afghanistan and its members still pose a substantial threat
to U.S. and other targets in the United States and abroad. The fate of other top
operatives, including Abu Zubaydah and Safl al-Adl (Mohammad Makawi), is
unknown, and some believe that they or any number of other senior Al Qaeda
operatives are capable of reconstituting the group even if bin Laden and Zawahiri
have not survived.
Those who believe Al Qaeda can last beyond its defeat in Afghanistan note that,
in building this network, bin Laden assembled a broad coalition of disparate radical
Islamic groups of varying nationalities to work toward common goals — the
expulsion of non-Muslim control or influence from Muslim-inhabited lands. The
network’s ideology, laid out in several pronouncements by bin Laden and his allies,
has led Al Qaeda to sponsor Islamic fighters or terrorists against Serb forces in
Bosnia; against Soviet forces in Afghanistan and now Russian forces in Chechnya;
against Indian control over part of Kashmir; against secular or pro-Western
governments in Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan; and against U.S.
troops and citizens in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Yemen, Jordan, and the U.S.
mainland itself. Some experts believe this ideology is widely held and can outlive
bin Laden or Al Qaeda’s formal existence as an organization.
The backbone of Al Qaeda, according to many experts, is the ideological and
personal bond among the Arab volunteers who were recruited by bin Laden for the
fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989). Reflecting its initial
low level of early activity, Al Qaeda was not discussed in U.S. government reports
until Patterns 1993. That report, which did not mention a formal group name, said
that several thousand non-Afghan Muslims fought in the war against the Soviets and
the Afghan Communist government during 1979 to 1992,15 and that many of these
fighters had subsequently become engaged in Islamic opposition activity and
Al Qaeda’s Global Reach. U.S. officials say that Al Qaeda may have a
presence in up to 60 countries or locations worldwide. The presence varies widely
in scope: from Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda’s leadership was welcomed by the
15 Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1993. Released April 1994. p.4.
Taliban, to Western and Latin American countries in which Al Qaeda operatives are
unwelcome but might be active unbeknownst to the government of that country. In
some cases, such as Sudan and Yemen, governments are aware of an Al Qaeda
presence but might be unwilling or ill-equipped to take action to expel Al Qaeda. In
other cases, Al Qaeda activists are linked to opposition movements, such as those in
the Persian Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the
United Arab Emirates).
In other cases, the Al Qaeda presence is a function of the activities of its
subordinate or affiliate groups, including: Egypt’s Islamic Group and Al-Jihad;
Algeria’s Armed Islamic Group and Salafist Group for Call and Combat, which have
been active not only in Algeria but in past acts of terrorism against former colonial
power France; the Abu Sayyaf Organization in the Philippines; Harakat ul-Mujahidin
(Movement of Islamic Fighters) in Pakistan; the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan;
the Islamic Army of Aden (Yemen); the Asbat al-Ansar (Partisan’s Group) in
Lebanon; Al Ittihad Islamiya (Islamic Union) in Somalia; and the Libyan Islamic
Fighting Group, an opposition movement to Libya’s government.16 Although there
are few evident links to Hamas, bin Laden was a follower of Dr. Abdullah al-Azzam,
a Palestinian of Jordanian origin who was influential in the founding of both Hamas
and Al Qaeda and who was assassinated in 1989. In addition to Afghanistan, Al
Qaeda or its affiliates has participated in recent or ongoing wars or insurgencies, such
as in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Kashmir. Some Uighur activists in Muslim
areas of western China are said to be affiliated with Al Qaeda.17
In still other cases, Al Qaeda’s affiliate groups are active in countries near their
main areas of operation. For example, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has
transited Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in an effort to operate against the government of
Uzbekistan. Chechen guerrillas allegedly linked to Al Qaeda have reportedly
transited Azerbaijan, and there may be ties between Al Qaeda and an Azeri Islamist
opposition group called Hizb e-Tahrir (Liberation Party). In east Asia, Abu Sayyaf
and other Islamic activists are said to be operating in Indonesia, and Malaysia, and
an alleged Al Qaeda plot against the U.S. embassy in Singapore was reportedly
uncovered in January 2002. The Singapore plotters are alleged to be members of an
organization called Jemaah Islamiah (Islamic Group), which was created in Malaysia
in the mid 1990s and also has a presence in Indonesia and the Philippines.18
Regarding Indonesia, there is speculation that a group called Laskar Jihad, founded
in early 2000 and which advocates anti-Christian violence, is associated with Al
Qaeda.19 Al Qaeda has also been present in some countries in the course of planning
or committing acts of terrorism, such as several countries in east Africa, including
16 With the exception of the Islamic Group in Egypt, all the organizations mentioned above
were listed by Executive Order 13224 as subject to U.S. and international financial
17 Pan, Philip. China Links Bin Laden to Separatists. Washington Post, January 22, 2002.
18 Chandrasekaran, Rajiv. Al Qaeda’s Southeast Asian Reach. Washington Post, February
19 Bonner, Raymond and Jane Perlez. Al Qaeda Seeks Niche in Indonesia, Officials Fear.
New York Times, January 23, 2002.
Kenya, Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Uganda.20 A major Al Qaeda
terrorist plot was foiled in Jordan in December 1999 (see below), suggesting that
there has been Al Qaeda activity there; a segment of that plot, which also was foiled,
was attempted by an Al Qaeda cell in Canada.
The September 11 attacks demonstrated that Al Qaeda cells can exist even in
countries, such as the United States, where Al Qaeda is clearly considered hostile by
the government and the population. These countries are working together to uncover
and arrest Al Qaeda cells that might remain. Previous investigations of Al Qaeda
plots, as well as of the September 11 attacks, have turned up Al Qaeda cells in
virtually every country in western Europe, as well as a few countries in eastern
Europe, including Poland. Some alleged Al Qaeda activists are reported to have
transited a few countries in South America, and those countries are working with
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement authorities against Al Qaeda.21
History of Terrorist Activities. Bin Laden’s network has been connected
to a number of acts of terrorism prior to the September 11 attacks. Bin Laden himself
has been indicted by a U.S. court for involvement in several of them.
!Bin Laden has claimed responsibility for the December 1992
attempted bombings against 100 U.S. servicemen in Yemen — there
to support U.N. relief operations in Somalia (Operation Restore
Hope). No one was killed.
!In press interviews, bin Laden has openly boasted that he provided
weapons to anti-U.S. militias in Somalia during Operation Restore
Hope and that his loyalists fought against U.S. forces there. In a
street battle in Mogadishu in October 1993, 18 U.S. special
operations forces were killed in a battle with militiamen allegedly
supplied and assisted by Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda’s involvement with
the Somali militias appears to have strengthened bin Laden’s view
that terrorism and low-technology combat could succeed in causing
the United States to withdraw from military involvement abroad.
!The four Saudi nationals who confessed to the November 13, 1995
bombing of a U.S. military training facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,
admitted on Saudi television to being inspired by bin Laden and
other Islamic radicals. Three of the four who confessed to the
bombing were veterans of conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and
!According to Patterns 1997, members of bin Laden’s organization
might have aided the Islamic Group assassination attempt against
Egyptian President Mubarak in Ethiopia in June 1995.
20 For further information on Al Qaeda activities in Africa, see CRS Report RL31247,
Africa and the War on Terrorism, by Ted Dagne.
21 For further information, see CRS Report RS21049, Latin America: Terrorism Issues and
Implications for the United States, by Mark Sullivan.
!There is no direct evidence that bin Laden was involved in the
February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. However,
Patterns 1999 says that bin Laden’s network was responsible for
plots in Asia believed orchestrated by Ramzi Ahmad Yusuf, who
was captured in Pakistan, brought to the United States, and
convicted in November 1997 of masterminding the Trade Center
bombing. The plots in Asia, all of which failed, were: to assassinate
the Pope during his late 1994 visit to the Philippines and President
Clinton during his visit there in early 1995; to bomb the U.S. and
Israeli embassies in Manila in late 1994; and to bomb U.S. trans-
!The August 7, 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania,
which killed 224 persons, including 12 American citizens, occurred
just after a six month period in which bin Laden had issued repeated
and open threats, including a February 1998 pronouncement calling
for the killing of U.S. civilians and servicemen worldwide. On
August 20, 1998, the United States launched cruise missiles on bin
Laden’s training camps in eastern Afghanistan, based on U.S.
evidence of his network’s involvement in the bombings. The
United States also struck a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that the
Administration alleged was linked to bin Laden and was producing
chemical weapons agents. U.S. officials add that the bombings
were intended to disrupt planning for a new attack. For their alleged
role in the bombings, 17 alleged members of Al Qaeda have been
indicted by a U.S. court, including bin Laden. Four of the six in
U.S. custody have been tried and convicted; three others were
arrested and have been convicted in Britain.
!In December 1999, U.S. and Jordanian law enforcement authorities
uncovered and thwarted two alleged plots — one in the United
States and one in Jordan — to attack U.S. citizens celebrating the
new millennium. The United States plot, allegedly to bomb Los
Angeles international airport, was orchestrated by a pro-bin Laden
cell of Algerian Armed Islamic Group members coming from
Canada. In June 2000, Jordan tried 28 persons who allegedly were
planning to attack tourists during millennium festivities in that
country, but 15 of those charged are still at large. Also in June 2000,
Lebanon placed 29 alleged followers of bin Laden, who belong to an
organization called Asbat al-Ansar (see above), on trial for planning
terrorist attacks in Jordan. The presence of bin Laden cells in Jordan
and Lebanon, coupled with Israeli arrests of alleged bin Laden
operatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, suggests that Al Qaeda
might plan acts of terrorism in connection with the Palestinian
uprising. Some press reports in February 2002 indicate that some
Al Qaeda activists who fled Afghanistan after the start of the U.S.
war effort have gone to Lebanon. If the reports are true, the fleeing
Al Qaeda members might be benefitting from the Asbat al-Ansar
!Patterns 2000 says that “supporters” of bin Laden are suspected in
the October 12, 2000 bombing of the destroyer U.S.S. Cole in the
harbor of the port of Aden, Yemen. The blast, which severely
damaged the ship, killed 17 and injured 39 Navy personnel.
!Although most governments have agreed with the United States that
the evidence of Al Qaeda’s responsibility for September 11 is clear
and compelling, there is little agreement on responsibility for the
spate of anthrax mailings in the United States that followed the
September 11 events. Five people died in these mailings, which
temporarily closed several congressional buildings and post offices.
No one has been arrested for the mailings. U.S. officials say it
appears, based on tests, that the source of the anthrax was domestic,
such as a military research laboratory, but a connection to Al Qaeda
has not been ruled out.
SDTs/Executive Orders. President Clinton’s August 20, 1998 Executive
Order 13099 amended an earlier January 23, 1995 Executive Order (12947) by
naming Al Qaeda as an FTO. The effect of the order was to ban U.S. financial
transactions with bin Laden’s organization and to allow U.S. law enforcement to
freeze any bin Laden assets in the United States that could be identified. The order
also named bin Laden as an SDT, along with Rifai Taha Musa, of the Egyptian
Islamic Group (see that section above) and Mohammad Atef. Atef and Zawahiri (see
above) were indicted along with bin Laden on November 4, 1998, for the22
Al Qaeda Financing. Financially, Al Qaeda drew initially on the personal
fortune of bin Laden, variously estimated at anywhere from $50 million to $300
million. The organization, according to most press reports, later became relatively
self-sustaining, relying on funding from many other sources, including contributions,
Islamic charities and lending institutions, such as Al Barakat, and some legitimate
businesses, such as a chain of honey shops and bakeries in the Middle East.
Executive Order 13224 of September 23, 2001, greatly expanded the number of Al
Qaeda related entities under financial restrictions, and increased the scope of the
restrictions to include penalties against foreign financial entities that conduct
transactions with the named entities. Many of the entities named are individual
leaders of Al Qaeda, including those mentioned in this section.23 The Deputy
Treasury Secretary said on January 22, 2002 that about $80 million in Al Qaeda
assets had been uncovered and seized worldwide since Executive Order 13224 was
issued. In addition, about $221 million in assets of the Taliban movement were
blocked under Executive Order 13129, issued in July 1999 on the grounds that the
22 Loeb, Vernon. As U.S. Targets Bin Laden, 2 Top Aides Also Draw Scrutiny. Washington
Post, July 3, 2000.
23 A complete listing of the entities covered under Executive Order 13224 can be found at
the website of the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Dept. of the Treasury.
Terrorism: What You Need to Know About the U.S. Embargo [http://www.treas.gov/ofac/].
Taliban continued to harbor bin Laden. However, in January 2002 the United States
released those funds to the new Afghan interim administration.
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden, born July 30, 1957 the seventeenth of twenty sons of a (now deceased)
Saudi construction magnate of Yemeni origin, gained prominence during the Afghan war
against the Soviet Union. Bin Laden’s father died in 1968 when the aircraft he was
piloting crashed. Bin Laden studied civil engineering in his family’s home city of
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, before going to Afghanistan following the Soviet invasion of that
country in December 1979. In 1989, after the Afghan war ended, he returned to Saudi
Arabia to work in his family’s business, the Bin Laden Construction group. However,
his radical Islamic contacts and protests against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi
Arabia to combat Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait caused him to run afoul of Saudi authorities.
In 1991, bin Laden relocated to Sudan with the approval of Sudan’s National Islamic
Front (NIF) leader Hasan al-Turabi. There, in concert with NIF leaders, he built a
network of businesses, including an Islamic bank (Al Shamal), an import-export firm, and
firms that exported agricultural products. An engineer by training, bin Laden also used
his family connections in the construction business to help Sudan build roads and airport
facilities. The businesses in Sudan, some of which may still be operating, enabled him
to offer safe haven and employment in Sudan to Al Qaeda members, promoting their
involvement in radical Islamic movements in their countries of origin (especially Egypt)
as well as anti-U.S. terrorism. He reportedly has some business interests in Yemen as
well and is believed to have investments in European and Asian firms. Bin Laden has
said publicly that, while he was in Sudan, there were a few assassination attempts against
During his time in Sudan, bin Laden also sponsored a London-based group, the Advisory
and Reform Committee, that distributed literature against the Saudi regime. As a result
of bin Laden’s opposition activities, Saudi Arabia revoked his citizenship in 1994 and his
family disavowed him, although his Syrian-born mother and some of his brothers
reportedly maintained contact with him. He has no formal role in the operations of the
Bin Laden Construction group, which continues to receive contracts from the Saudi
government and from other Arab countries. In May 1996, following strong U.S. and
Egyptian pressure, Sudan expelled him, and he returned to Afghanistan, under protection
of the Taliban movement. Some reports say Sudan offered to extradite him to Saudi
Arabia but that Saudi Arabia refused the offer.
On June 7, 1999, bin Laden was placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List,” and a $25
million reward is offered for information leading to his capture. He is believed to suffer
from kidney ailments and the last known video of him, made in early December 2001,
showed him to be weakened and possibly injured or ailing. He has several children,
including a few sons photographed in Afghanistan by various Middle Eastern media
The Armed Islamic Group(GIA)
The Armed Islamic Group (GIA, after its initials in French) is experiencing
pressure in Algeria similar to that faced by Egyptian Islamist groups in Egypt.
According to Patterns 2000, a GIA splinter group, the Salafi Group for Call and
Combat, is now the more active armed group inside Algeria, although it is considered
somewhat less violent in its tactics than is the GIA. Both the GIA and the Salafi
Group were subjected to increased financial restrictions under Executive Order
Some GIA members, including Ahmad Ressam, were allegedly involved in a
thwarted December 1999 plot to detonate a bomb in the United States,24 a plot widely
attributed to Al Qaeda by U.S. law enforcement authorities. As noted above, it now
appears that the target of the plot was Los Angeles international airport.
The GIA is highly fragmented,25 in part because it does not have an authoritative
religious or political figure who can hold its various factions together and arbitrate
disputes. Founded by Algerian Islamists who fought in Afghanistan, the GIA formed
as a breakaway faction of the then legal Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) political party
in 1992, after the regime canceled the second round of parliamentary elections on
fears of an FIS victory. According to Patterns 2000, the GIA has killed over 100
expatriates in Algeria (mostly Europeans) since 1992, but, in a possible indication of
regime counter-terrorism success, no foreigners have been killed in Algeria since
1997. Over the past six years, the GIA has conducted a campaign of civilian
massacres, sometimes wiping out entire villages in their areas of operations, in an
effort to intimidate rival groups and to demonstrate that the government lacks
control over the country. The GIA conducted its most lethal terrorist attack on
December 31, 1997, when it killed 400 Algerian civilians in a town 150 miles
southwest of Algiers, according to Patterns 1997. It should be noted that there are
allegations that elements of the regime’s security forces and other opposition groups
have also conducted civilian massacres.
Over the years, several of the GIA’s leaders have been killed battling Algerian
security forces. In February 2002, Algerian authorities announced that the GIA’s
latest leader, Antar Zouabri, was killed in a gun battle with government forces.
Among its acts outside Algeria, the GIA hijacked an Air France flight to Algiers
in December 1994, and the group is suspected of bombing the Paris subway system
on December 3, 1996, killing four. Patterns 2000 repeats previous descriptions of the
GIA’s strength as probably between several hundred to several thousand. The
organization receives financial and logistical aid from Algerian expatriates, many of
whom reside in Western Europe and in Canada.
24 Evidence Is Seen Linking Bin Laden to Algerian Group. New York Times, January 27,
2000; Burns, John and Craig Pyes. Radical Islamic Network May Have Come to U.S. New
York Times, December 31, 1999.
25 For more information, see CRS Report 98-219, Algeria: Developments and Dilemmas, by
Carol Migdalovitz, updated August 18, 1998.
Harakat ul-Mujahidin/Lashkar e-Tayyiba/Jaish e-Mohammad/
Other Islamist Groups in Pakistan
Three Islamic militant organizations based in Pakistan have been named as
foreign terrorist organizations. These groups, as well as others discussed below,
seek the end of Indian control of Muslim-inhabited parts of the divided region of
Kashmir. They are Harakat ul-Mujahidin (Movement of Islamic Fighters), Lashkar
e-Tayyiba (Army of the Righteous), and Jaish e-Mohammad (Army of Mohammad).
The latter two were designated as foreign terrorist organizations on December 26,
2001, following a December 13, 2001 attack by Pakistani Islamic militants on India’s
parliament building. The three groups are also designated for financial restrictions
under Executive Order 13224.
The largest and most well known of the Pakistani Islamic extremist movements
is Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM). It is composed of militant Islamist Pakistanis and
Kashmiris, as well as Arab veterans of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union who
view the Kashmir struggle as a “jihad” (Islamic struggle). The HUM was included
in the original October 1997 FTO designations when its name was Harakat al-Ansar.
It subsequently changed its name to Harakat ul-Mujahidin, possibly in an attempt to
avoid the U.S. sanctions that accompanied its designation as an FTO. Under its new
name, the group was redesignated as an FTO in October 1999. An offshoot of the
HUM kidnapped and reportedly later killed five Western tourists in Kashmir in 1995.
The HUM is believed responsible for the December 1999 hijacking of an Indian
airliner because the hijackers demanded the release of an HUM leader, Masood
Azhar, in exchange for the release of the jet and its passengers (one of whom was
killed by the hijackers).
The group is allied with or part of the Al Qaeda coalition, but it has been
focused primarily on expelling Indian troops from Kashmir and does not appear to
be part of Al Qaeda’s broader struggle against the United States. Then leader of the
HUM, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, signed bin Laden’s February 1998 pronouncement
calling for terrorist attacks on American troops and civilians, although the HUM has
not tended to target Americans. According to Patterns 1999, some HUM fighters
were killed in the August 20, 1998 U.S. retaliatory strikes on bin Laden’s training
camps in Afghanistan. Khalil stepped down in February 2000 as leader of the HUM
in favor of his second-in-command, Faruq Kashmiri. Kashmiri is not viewed as
closely linked to bin Laden as is Khalil, and the move suggested that the HUM was
seeking to distance itself from Al Qaeda. Khalil remained as Secretary General of
the organization, but he is said to be in hiding since October 2001, fearing arrest by
Pakistan after its decision to cooperate with the U.S. war on the Taliban.
Other Islamist Groups in Pakistan. The HUM fights alongside other
Pakistani Islamist groups that have not been named as FTOs. They include the
!Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM, Army of Mohammed). This is a more
radical splinter group of the HUM formed by Masood Azhar (see
above) in February 2000. The group, which attracted a large
percentage (up to 75%) of HUM fighters who defected to it when it
was formed, is politically aligned with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and
the pro-Taliban Islamic Scholars Society (Jamiat-i Ulema-i Islam)
party of Pakistan. It probably receives some funds from Al Qaeda,
according to Patterns 2000. On December 25, 2001, Pakistan
detained Masood Azhar, a partial response to Indian demands on
Pakistan to curb Kashmir-related terrorism following the December
!Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (Army of the Righteous) is described by Patterns
2000 as “one of the three largest and best trained groups fighting in
Kashmir against India.” Led by Professor Hafiz Mohammed Saeed
and operating through a missionary organization known as the MDI
(Center for Islamic Call and Guidance), its fighters are Pakistanis
from religious schools throughout Pakistan, as well as Arab
volunteers for the Kashmir “jihad.” Pakistan detained Saeed in late
December 2001 following the attack on India’s parliament building.
!A few other Kashmir-related groups are mentioned in press reports
or in Patterns 2000, but they are not analyzed separately in the report
or discussed in depth. One is the Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (Islamic
Jihad Movement), many of whose fighters defected to the Jaish-e-
Mohammed when it was formed. Another group, Lashkar-e-
Jhangvi, has called for attacks on the United States and declared
itself an ally of bin Laden. The Hizb-ul Mujahedin (Mujahedin
Party) is an older, more established, and somewhat more moderate
group with few apparent links to bin Laden or to Arab volunteers for
the Kashmir struggle.
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) was named as an FTO on
September 25, 2000 after kidnaping four U.S. citizens who were mountain climbing
in Kyrgyzstan in August 2000. The IMU’s primary objective is to replace the
secular, authoritarian government of Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov with an
Islamic regime, and it is believed responsible for setting off five bombs in Tashkent,
Uzbekistan on February 16, 1999. One of the bombs exploded in a government
building just minutes before Karimov was to attend a meeting there. The government
of Uzbekistan blamed the plot on two IMU leaders, Tahir Yuldashev and Juma
Namangani, both of whom reportedly enjoyed safe haven in Taliban-controlled
Afghanistan.26 Anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan say Namangani was killed in the
U.S. war against the Taliban while commanding Al Qaeda fighters around the city
of Mazar e-Sharif in November 2001. Yuldashev’s fate is unknown. The
government of Uzbekistan is hopeful that the IMU’s activities will be significantly
reduced by the successful U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. Press reports have
indicated that Al Qaeda contributed funds to the IMU,27 although Patterns 2000 says
26 Kyrgyz Lawmaker to Extend Stay in Kabul to Push Talks. Reuters, September 29, 1999.
27 Kinzer, Stephen. Islamic Militants With Japanese Hostages Hold Kyrgyz at Bay. New
only that the IMU receives “support from other Islamic extremist movements in
Among IMU insurgency operations, in August 1999, Namangani led about 800
IMU guerrillas in an unsuccessful attempt to establish a base in Kyrgyzstan from
which to launch cross-border attacks into Uzbekistan. In the course of their
operations, the IMU guerrillas kidnaped four Japanese geologists and eight Kyrgyz
soldiers. In early August 2000, about 100 guerrillas presumably linked to the IMU
seized several villages just inside Uzbekistan, on the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border.
At the same time, a related group of guerrillas battled security forces in neighboring
Abu Sayyaf Group
The Abu Sayyaf Group, which is a designated FTO, is an Islamic separatist
organization operating in the southern Philippines, founded in 1991. Although it is
not known to operate in the Near East region, Abu Sayyaf is discussed in this report
because of its alleged financial and political ties to Al Qaeda. The group is led by
Khadafi Janjalani, brother of its founder, Abdujarak Janjanlani, who was killed in a
battle with the Filipino military in 1998. It now raises funds for operations and
recruitment by kidnaping foreign hostages. Press reports assess its numeric strength
at about 2,000, some of whom have trained in Afghanistan. As of now, it is holding
about 12 hostages, including two American citizens, in the southern Philippines. It
has also expanded its kidnapings into Malaysia and is suspected of shipping weapons
to Muslim extremists in Indonesia who are fighting against Christians there.28
The United States fears that some Al Qaeda fighters who fled the recent fighting
in Afghanistan might try to congregate in the Philippines, possibly in territory
controlled by the Abu Sayyaf Group. U.S. officials have announced that
approximately 600 U.S. military officers are now in the Philippines advising the
Filipino military on how to combat the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Islamic Army of Aden
The Islamic Army of Aden, also called the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, is a
Yemen-based radical Islamic organization. It has not been designated by the State
Department as an FTO, although it is designated for financial restrictions under
Executive Order 13224. Patterns 2000 did not analyze the group as a distinct entity,
although the report did mention it in its discussion of terrorism in Yemen. Little is
known about the group, but it advocates the imposition of Islamic law in Yemen and
the lifting of international sanctions against Iraq, and opposes the use of Yemeni
ports and bases by U.S. or other Western countries. Some of the group’s members
York Times, October 18, 1999.
28 Malaysia Probes Abu Sayyaf Link in Gun Racket - Reports. Dow Jones Newswire,
August 21, 2001.
are suspected of having links to bin Laden, and the group was one of three to claim
responsibility for the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole on October 12, 2000.
The group first achieved notoriety in December 1998, when it kidnaped sixteen
tourists, including two Americans. Three British and one Australian tourist were
killed in the course of a rescue attempt by Yemeni security forces; the rest were
saved. The group’s leader at the time, Zein al-Abidine al-Midhar (Abu Hassan),
admitted to the kidnaping and was executed by the Yemeni government in October
Even before September 11, Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah al-Salih had
publicly vowed to eradicate terrorism from Yemen and there is no evidence that the
government, as a matter of policy, supported radical Islamist groups or alleged Al
Qaeda sympathizers living in Yemen. However, there are areas of Yemen under
tenuous government control and experts believe that the Yemeni government has, to
some extent, tolerated the presence of Islamic extremists in Yemen. Some
government workers are believed to have personal ties to individual Islamists there.
Yemen interrogated many people and made a number of arrests in the Cole attack,
but some U.S. law enforcement officials have been unsatisfied with its cooperation
in that investigation. In mid-December 2001, Yemen government forces attacked
tribes in central Yemen believed to be harboring associates of bin Laden, although
the attack was unsuccessful and led to U.S. requests to provide Yemen with military
The former South Yemen (People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, PDRY)
was on the U.S. terrorism list during 1979-1990 for supporting left-wing Arab
terrorist groups, but was removed from the list when South Yemen merged with the
more conservative North Yemen in 1990 to form the Republic of Yemen.
Radical Jewish Groups: Kach and Kahane Chai
Some radical Jewish groups are as opposed to the Arab-Israeli peace process as
are radical Islamic groups. The Jewish groups, which derive their support primarily
from Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, have been willing to engage in
terrorism to try to derail the process. The incidents involving these Jewish groups
have declined in recent years, although settlers possibly linked to them have attacked
Palestinians throughout the latest Palestinian uprising that began in September 2000.
In the October 2001 reissuing of the foreign terrorist organization list, the State Dept.
combined Kach and Kahane Chai into a single designation, suggesting that the two
have either merged or are so closely associated as to be indistinguishable.
Kach was founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was assassinated in the United29
States in 1990. Kahane Chai (Kahane Lives) was founded by Kahane’s son,
Binyamin, following his father’s assassination. Binyamin Kahane and his wife were
29 El Sayyid Nosair, a radical Islamist associated with Shaykh Abd al-Rahman and others
involved in the World Trade Center bombing, was convicted of weapons possession for the
attack on Kahane, but not the murder itself.
killed on December 31, 2000 by a Palestinian group calling itself the “Martyr’s of Al-
Aqsa.” The two Jewish movements seek to expel all Arabs from Israel and expand
Israel’s boundaries to include the occupied territories and parts of Jordan. They also
want strict implementation of Jewish law in Israel. To try to accomplish these goals,
the two groups have organized protests against the Israeli government, and threatened
Palestinians in Hebron and elsewhere in the West Bank.
On March 13, 1994, the Israeli Cabinet declared both to be terrorist
organizations under a 1948 Terrorism Law. The declaration came after the groups
publicly stated their support for a February 25, 1994 attack on a Hebron mosque by
a radical Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, who was a Kach affiliate and an immigrant
from the United States. The attack killed 29 worshipers and wounded about 150.
Patterns 2000 says that the numerical strength of Kach and Kahane Chai is unknown
and repeats previous assertions that both receive support from sympathizers in the
United States and Europe. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was killed by Israeli
extremist Yigal Amir in November 1995, shortly after signing the Oslo II interim
agreement with the Palestinians. Neither Amir nor his two accomplices were known
to be formal members of Kach or Kahane Chai, although Amir appears to espouse
ideologies similar to those of the two groups.
Blocked Assets. According to the Terrorist Assets Report for 2000, about
$200 belonging to Kahane Chai has been blocked since 1995.
Left-wing and Nationalist Groups
Some Middle Eastern terrorist groups are guided by Arab nationalism or left-
wing ideologies rather than Islamic fundamentalism. During the 1980s and 1990s,
with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of much of their backing from state
sponsors, the left-wing and nationalist groups became progressively less active and
were largely eclipsed by militant Islamic groups. However, some of the left-wing
nationalist groups have reactivated their terrorist and commando operations since the
latest Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
The PLO formally renounced the use of terrorism in 1988, and it reaffirmed that
commitment as part of its September 1993 mutual recognition agreement with Israel.
The PLO has not been named an FTO by the State Department and Patterns 1995
was the last Patterns report to contain a formal section analyzing the PLO. The PLO
is analyzed in this CRS report because of the debate in Congress and among
observers over whether the PLO, as the power behind the Palestinian Authority (PA),
is taking sufficient steps to prevent Hamas, PIJ, and others from conducting terrorist
attacks against Israelis. This debate has intensified since the Palestinian uprising
began in September 2000: the uprising has been accompanied by a significant
increase in the frequency of Hamas and PIJ terrorist attacks. Some observers
maintain there is evidence that Hamas and PIJ are increasingly cooperating with
militant elements linked to the PLO in conducting acts of violence against Israel.
The Bush Administration has become more critical of the PA following Hamas
suicide attacks in Jerusalem and Haifa on December 1-2, 2001 that killed 26 persons.
The U.S. criticism escalated following Israel’s seizure in early January 2002 of a ship
carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms bound for the PA and possibly Hamas, according to
press reports. The weapons aboard the ship, including long range mortars and plastic
explosives — all of which are banned under Palestinian interim agreements with
Israel — suggested that PA elements might be planning terrorist attacks against
Israel, trying to build a conventional military option, or attempting to build a
capability to combat reprisal attacks on PA facilities.
Patterns 2000 generally credited the PA with working with Israel to disrupt
Hamas and PIJ attacks against Israel in the first half of 2000, but the report noted
Israel’s dissatisfaction with PA anti-terrorism cooperation after the uprising began.
An Administration report to Congress on PLO compliance with its commitments
(covering December 15, 2000 - June 15, 2001) alleges that factions of the PLO have
encouraged or participated in violence against Israel. The factions mentioned include
a wing of the Fatah movement called the “Tanzim” (Organization) and a PLO
security apparatus called Force 17. On the basis of these allegations, some Members
of Congress maintain that Fatah, the Tanzim, Force 17, and a related armed faction
that has been conducting attacks on Israel, the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, should be
designated as FTOs.
Although some Israelis no longer view Arafat as a partner for peace, others note
than many Palestinians have looked to Arafat and the PLO for leadership for more
than three decades and that there is no viable alternative to him. Yasir Arafat, who
was born August 1, 1929, used the backing of his Fatah guerrilla organization to
become chairman of the PLO in 1969. After the PLO and other Palestinian guerrillas
were forced out of Jordan in 1970 and 1971, cross border attacks on Israel became
more difficult, and some constituent groups under the PLO umbrella resorted to
international terrorism. In the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, international
efforts to promote Arab-Israeli peace caused Arafat to limit terrorist attacks largely
to targets within Israel, Lebanon, and the occupied territories.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General
Ahmad Jibril, a former captain in the Syrian army, formed the PFLP-GC in
October 1968 as a breakaway faction of the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine (PFLP, see below), which he considered too willing to compromise with
Israel. He also believed that a conventional military arm was needed to complement
terrorist operations, and the group operates a small tank force at its bases in Lebanon,
according to observers. Jibril’s several hundred guerrillas fought against Israeli
forces alongside Hizballah during Israel’s occupation of a strip of southern Lebanon,
which ended in May 2000. Recent Patterns reports have not attributed any significant
terrorist attacks to the PFLP-GC in the past few years. In May 2001, Jibril claimed
responsibility for shipping a boatload of weapons to the Palestinians in the occupied
territories, although the shipment was intercepted by Israel’s navy.
Probably because of Jibril’s service in the Syrian military, Syria has always been
the chief backer of the PFLP-GC, giving it logistical and military support. In the late
1980s, the PFLP-GC also built a close relationship with Iran, and it receives Iranian
financial assistance. Although only Libyan agents have been tried or convicted for
the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103, there have been persistent reports
that Iran approached the PFLP-GC to bomb a U.S. passenger jet in retaliation for the
July 3, 1988 U.S. Navy’s downing of an Iranian passenger airplane (Iran Air flight
655). According to some theories, the PFLP-GC first pursued such the operation and
abandoned it or, according to other versions, handed off the operation to Libya in
what became a successful effort to bomb the flight.30 Patterns 2000 drops assertions
in previous Patterns reports that Libya, formerly a major financier of the group,
retains ties to the PFLP-GC.
SDTs. Jibril, who is about 64, and his deputy, Talal Muhammad Naji (about
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
After several years of relative inactivity, the PFLP appears to be reviving its
attack operations against Israel, particularly following Israel’s August 27, 2001
killing of its leader, Abu Ali Mustafa. Israel killed Mustafa with a missile strike on
his West Bank office. Mustafa had replaced his longtime mentor, ailing PFLP
founder George Habash, as PFLP Secretary-General in July 2000. (In October 1999,
in the wake of the PFLP’s reconciliation talks with Arafat, Israel had allowed
Mustafa to return to Palestinian-controlled territory from exile.) Partly because
Mustafa’s office was located in a building inhabited by civilians, the United States
strongly criticized the Israeli killing of Mustafa — and Israel’s policy of targeted
killings — as an excessive use of force and unhelpful to efforts to quiet the ongoing
violence. In October 2001, the PFLP retaliated for Mustafa by assassinating Israeli
tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi. Mustafa’s successor, Ahmad Saadat, was arrested
in mid-January 2002 by PA authorities as part of Arafat’s most recent crackdown on
The PFLP was founded in December 1967, following the Arab defeat in the Six
Day War with Israel in June of that year, by Marxist-Leninist ideologue and medical
doctor George Habash, a Christian. The PFLP was active in international terrorism
during the late 1960s and the 1970s; on September 6, 1970, PFLP guerrillas
simultaneously hijacked three airliners and, after evacuating the passengers, blew up
the aircraft. The PFLP opposed the Palestinians’ decision to join the Madrid peace
process and suspended its participation in the PLO after the September 1993 Israel-
PLO Declaration of Principles. In August 1999, in apparent recognition of Arafat’s
growing control over Palestinian territory, the PFLP held reconciliation talks with
him. Arafat reportedly invited the PFLP to send a delegate to the U.S.-brokered
summit talks with Israel at Camp David in July 2000, but the PFLP refused. Its
terrorist wing had been almost completely inactive in the four years prior to the latest
Palestinian uprising, but since then has conducted five car bombings and a few other
attacks on Israelis, according to Israeli officials. Patterns 2000 repeats previous
30 Closing In on the Pan Am Bombers. U.S. News and World Report, May 22, 1989. p.23.
estimates of the PFLP’s strength as about 800, and says that the group receives
logistical assistance and safehaven from Syria. The PFLP is headquartered in
Damascus and it reportedly has training facilities in Syrian-controlled areas of
SDTs. George Habash, who is about 76 years old, is named as an SDT. He
suffered a stroke in 1992.
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)31
As have other non-Islamist Palestinian groups, the DFLP has revived some of
its operations since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000. Since then,
the group has claimed responsibility for a few attacks on Israeli military patrols and
settlers in the occupied territories, and has openly encouraged the Palestinian
uprising. Two commandos from the group attacked a heavily fortified Israeli military
position in the Gaza Strip on August 25, 2001, and killed three Israeli soldiers; the
two guerrillas were killed in the exchange of fire. Recent Patterns reports estimate
the total strength (for all major factions) of the DFLP is about 500. The DFLP may
still receive some financial assistance from Syria, where it has its headquarters.
The DFLP formed in 1969 as an offshoot of the PFLP. The DFLP’s most noted
terrorist attack was the May 1974 takeover of a school in Maalot, in northern Israel,
in which 27 schoolchildren were killed and 134 people wounded. It thereafter
confined itself largely to small-scale border raids into Israel and infrequent attacks
on Israeli soldiers, officials, and civilians in Israel and the occupied territories. The
DFLP, still led by its 67-year-old founder Nayif Hawatmeh, abandoned its call for the
destruction of Israel in the 1980s. It sought stringent conditions for Palestinian
participation in the October 1991 Madrid peace conference and publicly opposed the
September 1993 Israel-PLO mutual recognition accords and subsequent interim
agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinians. The DFLP began
reconciling with Arafat in August 1999 and stated that it might recognize Israel if
there were a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace. In response to the DFLP’s apparent
moderation, the State Department removed the group from the list of FTOs when that
list was revised in October 1999. Also that month, Israel permitted Hawatmeh to
relocate to the Palestinian-controlled areas, although he apparently has not moved
there permanently. Patterns 1999 was the first Patterns report to exclude the group
from its analysis of terrorist organizations. In July 2000, the DFLP was part of the
Palestinian delegation to the U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian final status summit
negotiations at Camp David.
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)
The PLF, founded in 1976 as a splinter faction of the PFLP-GC, has been
considered dormant for at least the past five years. However, in late November 2001,
Israel said it had uncovered a 15-member Iraq-trained PLF cell, which was allegedly
responsible for the July 2001 killing of an Israeli youth and a separate bombing that
31 The DFLP has splintered into factions, but the one headed by Nayif Hawatmeh dominates
the organization and is the one discussed in this paper.
injured five. The group’s last major attack was a failed raid on the Israeli resort town
of Eilat in May 1992. The leader of the most prominent PLF faction, Abu Abbas
(real name, Muhammad Zaydun), has always enjoyed close personal ties to Arafat.
Abbas at first opposed Arafat’s decision to seek peace with Israel, but, since the mid-
1990s, he has accommodated to that decision. In April 1996, Abu Abbas voted to
amend the PLO Charter to eliminate clauses calling for Israel’s destruction. In April
1998, Israel allowed Abu Abbas to relocate to the Gaza Strip from Iraq, where he had
settled after his expulsion from Damascus in 1985.
During its most active period, the PLF conducted several high-profile attacks.
Its most well-known operation was the October 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise
ship Achille Lauro, in which the group murdered disabled U.S. citizen Leon
Klinghoffer and held the other passengers hostage for two days. Abu Abbas and his
team surrendered to Egyptian forces in exchange for a promise of safe passage. They
were apprehended at a NATO airbase in Italy after U.S. aircraft forced down the
Egyptian airliner flying them to safehaven. Abu Abbas, who was not on board the
Achille Lauro during the hijacking, was released by the Italian government but later
sentenced in absentia. A warrant for his arrest is outstanding in Italy but the Justice
Department dropped a U.S. warrant in 1996 for lack of evidence. The four other
hijackers were convicted and sentenced in Italy.32 (On April 30, 1996, the Senate
voted 99-0 on a resolution (S.Res. 253) seeking Abu Abbas’ detention and
extradition to the United States.) On May 30, 1990, the PLF unsuccessfully
attempted a seaborne landing, from Libya, on a Tel Aviv beach. Arafat refused to
condemn the raid and, as a consequence, the United States broke off its dialogue with
the PLO, which had begun in 1988. The dialogue resumed in September 1993,
following the mutual Israeli-PLO recognition agreement.
SDTs. Abu Abbas, who was born in 1948, has been named an SDT. He33
underwent guerrilla training in the Soviet Union.
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
The international terrorist threat posed by the Abu Nidal Organization has
receded because of Abu Nidal’s reported health problems (leukemia and a heart
condition), internal splits, friction with state sponsors, and clashes with Arafat
loyalists. It still has a few hundred members and a presence in Palestinian refugee
camps in Lebanon, in addition to its reported headquarters in Iraq, but it has not
attacked Western targets since the late 1980s. During the 1970s and 1980s, the ANO
carried out over 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries, killing about 300 people. One
of its most well-known operations was a December 27, 1985 attack at airports in
Rome and Vienna, in which 18 died and 111 were injured. One month earlier, ANO
members hijacked Egypt Air 648, resulting in the deaths of 60 people. On September
6, 1986, ANO gunmen killed 22 at a synagogue (Neve Shalom) in Istanbul. The
group is suspected of assassinating top Arafat aides in Tunis in 1991 and a Jordanian
diplomat in Lebanon in January 1994.
32 Of the four, one is still in jail, two were paroled in 1991, and one, Yusuf al-Mulqi,
escaped in 1996 while on prison leave.
33 Holmes, Paul. Achille Lauro Mastermind Looks Back at 50. Reuters, June 24, 1998.
Also known as the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the ANO was created in 1974
when Abu Nidal (real name, Sabri al-Banna), then Arafat’s representative in Iraq,
broke with the PLO over Arafat’s willingness to compromise with Israel. U.S.
engagement with Iraq in the early stages of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war contributed to
Iraq’s expulsion of Abu Nidal to Syria in November 1983, but Syria expelled the
group four years later to reduce scrutiny on the country as a sponsor of terrorism.
Abu Nidal left his next home, Libya, in April 1998, after a schism between pro and
anti-Arafat members of Abu Nidal’s group. He relocated to Cairo, where he stayed
until December 1998, when more infighting caused his presence in Egypt to become
public, and therefore a foreign policy problem for Egypt. He has been in Iraq since,
but there is no hard evidence that Abu Nidal is reviving his international terrorist
network on his own or on Baghdad’s behalf. 34
SDTs. Abu Nidal, who was born in 1937 in Jaffa (part of what is now Israel),
is the only ANO member named an SDT. He faces no legal charges in the United
States, according to an ABC News report of August 25, 1998, but he is wanted in
Britain and Italy. His aide, Nimer Halima, was arrested in Austria in January 2000.
Other Non-Islamist Organizations
Three groups designated as FTOs primarily are attempting to influence the
domestic political structures or the foreign policies of their countries of origin. Two
of them operate against the government of Turkey and the other against the
government of Iran.
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)35
The PKK appears to be in transition from a guerrilla and terrorist organization
to a political movement. It was founded in 1974 by political science student
Abdullah Ocalan, who is now about 53 years old, with the goal of establishing a
Marxist Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, where there is a predominantly
Kurdish population. It claims to have changed its goals somewhat to focus on greater
cultural and political rights within Turkey. The PKK generally targeted government
forces and civilians in eastern Turkey, but it has operated elsewhere in the country
and attacked Turkish diplomatic and commercial facilities in several Western
European cities in 1993 and 1995. The United States sides with Turkey in viewing
the PKK as a terrorist organization, but wants to see a peaceful resolution of the
conflict, and encourages Turkey to provide greater cultural and linguistic rights to the
The PKK’s transition accelerated in October 1998 when Turkish military and
diplomatic pressure forced Syria to expel PKK leader Ocalan and the PKK. Ocalan,
35 The PKK is distinct from Iranian and Iraqi Kurdish organizations that the State
Department does not consider terrorist and which, in the case of Iraqi Kurds, benefit from
who is about 52, sought refuge in several countries, but Turkey, acting on
information reportedly provided by the United States, captured him as he was leaving
Greece’s embassy in Kenya in early 1999. He was tried and, on June 29, 1999,
sentenced to death for treason and the murder of about 30,000 Turks since 1984. The
implementation of the sentence has been suspended pending appeals to the European
Court of Human Rights. In August 1999, he called on his supporters to cease armed
operations against the Turkish government, a decision affirmed at a PKK congress
in January 2000. PKK violence against the Turkish government has since subsided,
but not ended, and many of the PKK’s estimated 5,000 fighters remain encamped and
active across the border in Iran and Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq and have
conducted a few minor terrorist attacks since.
Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)
The DHKP/C is becoming more active after a long period of virtual dormancy.
This Marxist organization, still commonly referred to by its former name, Dev Sol,
was formed in 1978 to oppose Turkey’s pro-Western tilt and its membership in the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Since the late 1980s, the DHKP/C
(which corresponds to its acronym in Turkish) has concentrated attacks on Turkish
military and security officials, but it has since 1990 attacked foreign interests,
according to Patterns 2000. The group assassinated two U.S. military contractors in
Turkey to protest the Gulf War against Iraq and it rocketed the U.S. consulate in
Istanbul in 1992. An attempt by the group to fire an anti-tank weapon at the
consulate in June 1999 was thwarted by Turkish authorities. Also foiled was a
planned attack by the group in August 2000 on Incirlik air base, which hosts U.S.
aircraft patrolling a “no fly zone” over northern Iraq. The group attacked an Istanbul
police station, killing one police officer, in January 2001.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), the dominant
organization within a broader National Council of Resistance (NCR), has left-wing
roots but it is not composed of an ethnic minority. It was formed in the 1960’s as an
opponent of the Shah’s authoritarian rule and was part of the broad movement that
overthrew the Shah. In 1981, the PMOI turned against the Islamic revolutionary
regime of Ayatollah Khomeini when Iran’s clerics violently excluded the PMOI and
other groups from major roles in the new government, but the PMOI rebellion was
suppressed and some of its leaders fled Iran to continue their political activities in
exile. The group claims that it has abandoned what some experts describe as a left-
wing past and that it is committed to free markets and democracy. However, the
State Department noted in a 1994 congressionally-mandated report that there is no
record of an internal debate over the change in ideology, and there is reason to doubt
the organization’s sincerity. The group publicly supports the Arab-Israeli peace
process and the rights of Iran’s minorities.
The State Department’s longstanding mistrust of the group is based not only on
the group’s past activities, but on its killing of several U.S. military officers and
civilians during the struggle against the Shah, its alleged support for the takeover of
the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, its authoritarian internal structure, and its use
of Iraq as base for its several thousand member military wing. The State Department
named the PMOI an FTO in October 1997 on the grounds that it kills civilians in the
course of its anti-regime operations inside Iran. In one of its most high-profile
attacks, the group claimed responsibility for the April 10, 1999 assassination in
Tehran of a senior Iranian military officer. However, the group does not appear to
purposely target civilians. In the October 1999 revision of the FTO list, the State
Department, partly in response to an Iranian government request, named the NCR as
an alias of the PMOI, meaning that FTO-related sanctions now apply to the NCR as
well. The NCR’s offices in the United States have not been closed by U.S. law
enforcement authorities, because its U.S. chapter was not included in the FTO
Seven persons were arrested in California in March 2001 for allegedly soliciting
donations for the group, which, if proved, would be a violation of FTO sanctions
regulations. Other supporters of the group often operate under the names of local
Iranian expatriate organizations. In 1998, a majority of the House signed a letter
questioning the State Department’s designation of the group as an FTO, and some
Members state that the group merits U.S. support as an alternative to the current
regime in Tehran. Some Members and outside experts believe that the PMOI was
designated as an FTO as a gesture of goodwill to Iran after the election of
Mohammad Khatemi in 1997.36
The PMOI is led by Masud and Maryam Rajavi. Masud leads the PMOI’s
military forces based in Iraq and he is President of the NCR. His wife Maryam, who
is now with him in Iraq after leaving France in 1997, is the organization’s choice to
become interim president of Iran if it were to take power. Mozagan Parsaii is the
organization’s Secretary General.
Middle Eastern Terrorism List Countries
U.S. officials maintain that they have made a number of gains in their efforts to
reduce state sponsorship of terrorism. Five Middle Eastern countries are on the37
terrorism list — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Libya. In the case of Libya, Sudan,
and, to a lesser extent, Iraq, U.S. and international pressure, coupled with internal
developments in some of these states, have reduced their support for international
terrorism long before September 11. Of the Middle Eastern countries on the list,
Sudan appears to be the closest to achieving removal. The State Department openly
acknowledges working with Sudan to help it meet the remaining requirements for
removing it from the list, and has praised its cooperation against Al Qaeda after
September 11. In the case of Iran and Syria, however, U.S. efforts have had little
success in curbing the support of these governments for terrorist groups.
36 Kempster, Norman. US Designates 30 Groups as Terrorists. Los Angeles Times, October
37 Along with Cuba and North Korea, these countries have been designated by the Secretary
of State, under Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App.
Under Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, removal from the list
requires 45 day advance notification to the House International Relations Committee,
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Senate and House Banking
Committees, that the country has ceased support for international terrorism and
pledges to continue doing so. Also under that provision, a major change of
government in the listed country can serve as grounds for immediate removal from
Iran’s sponsorship of terrorist groups appears to be setting back the prospects
for reconciliation between the United States and Iran. U.S.-Iran relations were
improving prior to September 11 and subsequently in the course of tacit cooperation
in the war against the Taliban. However, in January 2002, the United States and
Israel alleged that Iran sold a large shipment of arms to the Palestinian Authority.
Israel seized the ship before its cargo was offloaded. The episode expanded U.S.
concerns about Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism by indicating a link between Iran and
Palestinian groups who are not Islamic in nature and with which Tehran has
previously had few links. In his January 29, 2002 State of the Union message,
President Bush was highly critical of Iran, calling it a part of an “axis of evil” with
Iraq and North Korea.
Patterns 2000, as has been the case for the past 6 years, again characterized Iran
as “the most active” state sponsor of international terrorism. However, the report, as
did Patterns 1999, attributes Iran’s terrorism support to specific institutions — the
Revolutionary Guard and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security — rather than the
Iranian government as a whole. These institutions are controlled by Supreme Leader
Ali Khamene’i, who espouses hardline positions on most foreign and domestic
policies. This characterization suggests that the State Department believes President
Mohammad Khatemi and his allies genuinely wish to overcome Iran’s reputation as
a “terrorist state” in order to further ease Iran’s isolation. Indicating that Khatemi is
attempting not to differ with Khamene’i, Patterns 2000 cites statements by Khatemi
as well as by hardline leaders calling for the destruction of Israel. In an apparent
positive signal to Iran, Patterns 2000, for the third year in a row, cites PMOI attacks
on Iranian officials as justification for Iran’s claim that it is a victim of terrorism.
Although no major international terrorist attacks have been linked to Iran since
Khatemi took office in August 1997, the United States has not publicly noted any
diminution of Iranian material support for terrorist groups opposed to the Arab-
Israeli peace process, such as those groups discussed earlier in this paper. Patterns
2000 notes that Iran has encouraged Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups to
escalate attacks on Israel in the context of the Palestinian uprising. Iran also has been
accused by regional governments of sponsoring assassinations of anti-Shiite Muslim
clerics in Tajikistan and Pakistan, and of supporting Shiite Muslim Islamic
opposition movements in the Persian Gulf states and Iraq. On the other hand, U.S.
officials acknowledge that Iran has improved relations with its Gulf neighbors
38 For further information, see CRS Issue Brief IB93033, Iran: Current Developments and
U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman.
dramatically in recent years, and that its support for Gulf opposition movements has
diminished sharply. Iran also has largely ceased attacks on dissidents abroad that
were so prominent during the tenures of Khatemi’s predecessors.
In handing down indictments of 14 people in June 2001, the Department of
Justice stated its belief that Iran was involved in the June 1996 Khobar Towers
bombing in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. airmen. No Iranians were among
those indicted, but the indictments detail the role of Iranian security personnel in
inspiring and supervising the plot, which was carried out by members of Saudi
Hizballah. Eleven of the 14 are in custody in Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia says
they will be tried there and not extradited to the United States.39 Many experts
believe that the Saudi and U.S. governments have sought to avoid firmly pressing the
Khobar case against Iran — legally or diplomatically — in order not to undermine
Khatemi (who was elected after the bombing) or reduce the chance to improved
relations with Iran.
Syria has expressed public support for the U.S. war on terrorism and has
emphasized that Syria itself has long combated Islamic movements in Syria. At the
same time, Syria is attempting to deflect U.S. and international scrutiny of its role as
host to terrorist groups. Syria’s position is that the movements it hosts are legitimate
resistance movements against Israeli occupation. On that basis, Syria refuses to expel
the groups in Syria and areas of Lebanon that Syria controls.
Even before September 11, Patterns 2000 was more critical of Syria than was
Patterns 1999, which came close to promising that Syria would be removed from the
terrorism list if it signed a peace agreement with Israel. This appeared to signal that
U.S. hopes had receded that President Bashar al-Assad would be more flexible on
foreign policy than his father, the late Hafez al- Assad, who Bashar succeeded in June
2000 upon his death. Far from praising Syria for restraining terrorist groups as was
the case in some past Patterns report, Patterns 2000 says that Syria allowed Hamas
to open a new office in Damascus in March 2000. The report adds that Syria did not
act to stop Hizballah or Palestinian terrorist groups, operating in Syria or areas under
Syrian control or influence, from launching ant-Israel attacks. Syria continues to
allow Iran to resupply Hizballah through the Damascus airport, and has allowed
visiting Iranian officials to meet with anti-peace process terrorist organizations based
in Syria. It also publicly opposed suggestions that Hizballah be disarmed by U.N.
peacekeepers after the militia seized positions in southern Lebanon vacated by Israel
during its May 2000 withdrawal.
Syria also provides sanctuary to the PFLP-GC and other non-Islamist Palestinian
groups. There are no indications that Al Qaeda members are welcome in Syria. A
group active in Lebanon, Asbat al-Ansar (Partisans’ Group) is believed linked to Al
39 MacFarquhar, Neil. Saudis Say They, Not U.S., Will Try 11 in ‘96 Bombing. New York
Times, July 2, 2001.
40 For further information, see CRS Issue Brief IB92075, Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral
Issues, by Alfred Prados.
Qaeda and was named to the list of entities covered under Executive Order 13224
restrictions. Syria exercises substantial influence over Lebanon, but Lebanon
arrested several Asbat members in 1999-2000 and there is no information to suggest
that the group operates with Syrian or Lebanese government approval.
Patterns 2000 does state that Syria is generally upholding its pledge to Turkey
not to support the PKK. Some believe that Syria’s position on the PKK is the result
of Syria’s fear of Turkey’s potential threat to use armed force against Syria, and not
a unilateral Syrian desire to sever relations with the PKK. An alternate interpretation
is that Syria wants to sustain the recent improvement in its bilateral relationship with
Turkey. Also, Patterns 2000 states that Syria appears to have maintained its long-
standing ban on attacks launched from Syrian territory or against Western targets.
Despite its position on the terrorism list, the United States maintains relatively
normal relations with Syria. The two countries exchange ambassadors and most
forms of non-military U.S. trade with and U.S. investment in Syria are permitted,
subject to various licensing restrictions.
Li bya 41
The Pan Am 103 bombing issue has been at the center of U.S. policy toward
Libya for more than a decade, and will likely prevent any major rapprochement as
long as Muammar Qadhafi remains in power. However, some press reports citing
unnamed Administration officials indicate that the Bush Administration might
consider easing sanctions, perhaps including removing Libya from the terrorism list
outright, if outstanding Pan Am 103 issues are resolved.42 After an article to this
effect appeared in January 2002, Bush Administration officials sought to downplay
the possibility that Libya would be removed from the list anytime soon.
Most experts believe Libya has reduced its involvement with terrorist groups,
at least for now. In 1998, prior to the handover, Libya had expelled Abu Nidal, it
was reducing its contacts with other radical Palestinian organizations, and it
expressed support for Yasir Arafat. In an effort to reward Libya’s positive steps, in
1999 a U.S. official began meeting with a Libyan diplomat for the first time since
On the other hand, reflecting the difficulties of assessing Libya’s intentions, Patterns
signifies a true change in policy.
Pan Am 103 Issues. The Pan Am attack, on December 21, 1988, killed 259
people aboard plus 11 on the ground. Three U.N. Security Council resolutions —
called on Libya to turn over the two Libyan intelligence agents (Abd al-Basit Ali al-
Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifah Fhimah) suspected in the bombing, and to help
41 For further information on Libya and its involvement in terrorism, see CRS Issue Brief
IB93109, Libya, by Clyde Mark.
42 Slavin, Barbara. U.S. May Take Libya Off Terror Sponsor List. USA Today, January 23,
resolve the related case of the 1989 bombing of French airline UTA’s Flight 772.
The U.N. resolutions prohibited air travel to or from Libya and all arms transfers to
that country (Resolution 748); and froze Libyan assets and prohibited the sale to
Libya of petroleum-related equipment (Resolution 883). In accordance with U.N.
Security Council Resolution 1192 (August 27, 1998), the sanctions were suspended,
but not terminated, immediately upon the April 5, 1999 handover of the two to the
Netherlands. There, their trial under Scottish law began on May 3, 2000 and ended
on January 31, 2001 with the conviction of al-Megrahi and the acquittal of Fhimah.
Megrahi began the appeal process in January 2002. In March 2000, a group of U.S.
security officials visited Libya briefly to assess whether to lift the U.S. restriction on
the use of U.S. passports for travel to Libya. The restriction has not been lifted.
The January 31, 2001 conviction of al-Megrahi brought some closure to the Pan
Am case but also reinforced the perception among the Pan Am victims’ families and
others that Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi had, at the very least, foreknowledge of
the bombing. Immediately upon the conviction, President Bush stated that the United
States would maintain unilateral sanctions on Libya and oppose permanently lifting
U.N. sanctions until Libya: (1) accepts responsibility for the act; (2) compensates the
families of the victims; (3) renounces support for terrorism; and (4) discloses all it
knows about the plot. In January 2002, some persons involved in pursuing a
compensation agreement with Libya expressed optimism about a settlement.43
Other Terrorism Issues. There is no evidence that Libya has supported Al
Qaeda, and it appears to view Al Qaeda as more of a threat than a potential ally. A
Libyan opposition group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is linked to Al Qaeda
and was designated for financial restrictions under Executive Order 13224. The
group allegedly tried to assassinate Qadhafi in 1996, and Libya has provided the
United States some information on the group subsequent to the September 11 attacks.
In the early 1990s, the Libyan government indicted bin Laden for allegedly
supporting the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
Libya has tried to appear cooperative in resolving other past acts of terrorism.
In March 1999, a French court convicted six Libyans, in absentia, for the 1989
bombing of a French airliner, UTA Flight 772, over Niger. One of them is Libyan
leader Muammar Qadhafi’s brother-in-law, intelligence agent Muhammad Sanusi.
Although it never acknowledged responsibility or turned over the indicted suspects,
in July 1999 Libya compensated the families of the 171 victims of the bombing, who
included seven U.S. citizens. In July 1999, Britain restored diplomatic relations with
Libya after it agreed to cooperate with the investigation of the 1984 fatal shooting of
a British policewoman, Yvonne Fletcher, outside Libya’s embassy in London. It is
alleged that a Libyan diplomat shot her while firing on Libyan dissidents
demonstrating outside the embassy.
In what some construe as part of the effort to improve its international image,
Libya also has tried to mediate an end to conflicts between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and
within Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, some believe
Libya is trying to extend its influence in Africa rather than broker peace, and some
43 Slavin, Barbara. U.S. May Take Libya Off Terror Sponsor List.
in Congress and the Administration assert that Libya continues to arm rebel groups
in Africa, such as the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone.44 In March 2000,
a group of U.S. security officials visited Libya briefly to assess whether to lift the
U.S. restriction on the use of U.S. passports for travel to Libya. The restriction has
not been lifted.
Sudan appears closest of any of the Near Eastern countries on the terrorism list
to being removed, despite congressional and outside criticism over its prosecution of
the war against Christian and other rebels in its south. Prior to the September 11
attacks, the State Department said it was engaged in discussions with Sudan with the
objective of getting Sudan “completely out of the terrorism business and off the
terrorism list.”46 The Administration has praised Sudan’s cooperation with the U.S.
investigation of Al Qaeda and the September 11 plot. In recognition of this
cooperation, the Administration did not block a U.N. Security Council vote on
September 28, 2001 to lift U.N. sanctions on Sudan.
In recent years, Sudan has signaled a willingness to assuage international
concerns about its support for terrorism. In August 1994, Sudan turned over the
terrorist Carlos (Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez) to France. In December 1999, Sudan’s
President Umar Hassan al-Bashir, a military leader, politically sidelined Sudan’s
leading Islamist figure, Hassan al-Turabi. In February 2001, Turabi was arrested, and
has remained under house arrest since May 2001. Turabi was one of the primary
proponents of Sudan’s ties to region-wide Islamic movements, including Al Qaeda,
the Abu Nidal Organization, Hamas, PIJ, Egypt’s Islamic Group and Al Jihad,
Hizballah, and Islamist rebel movements in East Africa — the ties that prompted the
United States to place Sudan on the terrorism list in August 1993. According to
Patterns 2000, by the end of 2000 Sudan had signed all 12 international conventions
on combating terrorism.
One issue that apparently has been resolved is Sudan’s compliance with three
Security Council resolutions adopted in 1996: 1044 of January 31; 1054, of April 26;
and 1070 of August 16. The resolutions demanded that Sudan extradite the three
Islamic Group suspects in the June 1995 assassination attempt against President
Mubarak in Ethiopia, restricted the number of Sudanese diplomats abroad, and
authorized a suspension of international flights by Sudanese aircraft, although the last
measure was never put into effect. According to the Washington Post of August 21,
2001, the Bush Administration has concluded that Sudan has ended its support for
the terrorists involved in the bomb plot.
44 Libya Must Fulfill All Requirements to Have Sanctions Lifted. USIS Washington File,
July 22, 1999.
45 For further information see CRS Issue Brief IB98043, Sudan: Humanitarian Crisis,
Peace Talks, Terrorism, and U.S. Policy, by Theodros S. Dagne.
46 Patterns 2000, p. 31.
The United States has tried to promote further progress on terrorism by slowly
increasing engagement with Sudan. The United States removed its embassy staff
from Khartoum in February 1996, although diplomatic relations were not broken.
U.S. diplomats posted to Sudan have since worked out of the U.S. Embassy in
Kenya, but have made consular visits to the embassy in Khartoum. Beginning in
mid-2000, U.S. counter-terrorism experts have visited Sudan to discuss U.S.
terrorism concerns and monitor Sudan’s behavior on the issue. A U.S. envoy for
Sudan, former Senator John Danforth, was appointed on September 6, 2001.
There is lingering resentment among some Sudanese against the United States
because of the August 20, 1998 cruise missile strike on the al-Shifa pharmaceutical
plant in Khartoum, conducted in conjunction with the strike on bin Laden’s bases in
Afghanistan. The United States destroyed the plant on the grounds that it was
allegedly contributing to chemical weapons manufacture for bin Laden. Although
the Clinton Administration asserted that the al-Shifa strike was justified, several
outside critics maintained that the plant was a genuine pharmaceutical factory with
no connection to bin Laden or to the production of chemical weapons. The plant
owner’s $24 million in U.S.-based assets were unfrozen by the Administration in
U.S.-Iraq differences over Iraq’s regional ambitions and its record of compliance
with post-Gulf war ceasefire requirements will probably keep Iraq on the terrorism
list as long as Saddam Husayn remains in power. Some U.S. officials want to expand
the “war on terror” to Iraq despite a lack of hard evidence of Iraqi involvement in the
September 11 attacks. President Bush, in his January 29,2002 State of the Union
message, suggested Iraq was part of an “axis of evil” along with North Korea and
Iran, a statement that some took as an indication that the United States would
eventually take action against Iraq. Even those U.S. officials who oppose extending
the war to Iraq assess Iraq’s record of compliance with its postwar obligations as
poor, and its human rights record as abysmal. However, international pressure on
Iraq on these broader issues appears to have constrained Iraq’s ability to use
Patterns 2000, as have the past few Patterns reports, notes that Iraq continues
to plan and sponsor international terrorism, although Iraq’s activities are directed
mostly against anti-regime opposition, those Iraq holds responsible for its past
defeats, or bodies that represent or implement international sanctions against Iraq.
These trends apparently accord with recent Central Intelligence Agency judgments
of Iraq’s terrorism policy, according to a New York Times report of February 6, 2002.
That press report added that the CIA has no evidence Iraq has planned anti-U.S.
terrorism since it organized a failed assassination plot against former President
George H.W. Bush during his April 1993 visit to Kuwait, which triggered a U.S.
retaliatory missile strike on Iraqi intelligence headquarters. The Times report also
47 For further information, see CRS Issue Brief IB92117, Iraqi Compliance With Ceasefire
Agreements, by Kenneth Katzman.
said that the CIA is “convinced” Iraq has not provided chemical or biological
weapons to Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.
Among recent developments, in October 1998, Iraqi agents allegedly planned
to attack the Prague-based Radio Free Iraq service of Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty, although no attack occurred. Czech officials say an Iraqi intelligence officer
in Prague met with September 11 lead hijacker Muhammad Atta in early 2001,
reportedly to discuss an attack on the radio facility. Some observers believe the
meeting suggests an Iraqi role in the September 11 attacks. Iraq, which historically
has had close ties to Yasir Arafat, has given some support to anti-peace process
Palestinian groups, and hosts the Abu Nidal Organization, Abu Abbas’ Palestine
Liberation Front, and other minor groups. As a lever in its relations with Iran, Iraq
continues to host and provide some older surplus weaponry to the PMOI’s army, the
National Liberation Army (NLA), which has bases near the border with Iran.
However, Iraq apparently has reduced support for the group as Iraq’s relations with
Tehran have improved over the past two years.
Table 2. Blocked Assets of Middle East Terrorism List States
(As of End 2000)
CountryAssets in U.S.
$23.2 million, consisting of blocked
IRANdiplomatic property and related accounts. (A reported additional $400 million in
(added to terrorism listassets remain in a Defense Dept. account
January 19, 1984) pending resolution of U.S.-Iran military
IRAQ$2.356 billion, primarily blocked bankdeposits. Includes $596 million blocked in
(on list at inception, December 29, 1979.U.S. banks’ foreign branches, and $173
Removed March 1982, restored to listmillion in Iraqi assets loaned to a U.N.
September 13, 1990)escrow account.
(on list since inception)No blocked assets.
(added August 12, 1993)$33.3 million in blocked bank deposits.
LIBYA$1.073 billion, primarily blocked bank
(on list since inception)deposits.
Principal Source: 2000 Annual Report to Congress on Assets in the United States Belonging to
Terrorist Countries or International Terrorist Organizations. Office of Foreign Assets Control,
Department of the Treasury. January 2001.
48 Pincus, Walter. Bill Would Use Frozen Assets to Compensate Terrorism Victims.
Washington Post, July 30, 2000.
Countering Near Eastern Terrorism
Prior to September 11, there was little agreement on a strategy for countering
the terrorism threats discussed above. The apparent success of the U.S. military
campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan apparently has prompted
wider acceptance of the utility of military force than was the case previously.
Observers tend to agree that the continued success against Al Qaeda and other
terrorist groups will depend on sustained bilateral, multilateral, or international
cooperation with U.S. efforts.
Not all options focus on pressuring states or groups; some experts believe that
diplomatic engagement with some state sponsors and U.S. efforts to address
terrorists’ grievances could be more effective over the long term. The United States
has claimed some successes for its policy of pressuring state sponsors, but there are
signs that the United States is now incorporating a greater degree of engagement into
its policy framework. At the same time, the United States has not dropped the
longstanding stated U.S. policy of refusing to make concessions to terrorists or of
pursuing terrorism cases, politically or legally, as long as is needed to obtain a
An exhaustive discussion of U.S. efforts to counter terrorism emanating from
the region is beyond the scope of this paper, but the following sections highlight key
themes in U.S. efforts to reduce this threat.49
The success of the U.S. military against the Taliban movement of Afghanistan
that had protected the Al Qaeda organization has, according to many experts,
validated the utility of military force against terrorism. Some believe that many
governments are now moving against Al Qaeda cells and other terrorist groups
present in their countries, fearing that U.S. military force might be used against
regimes that tolerate the presence of terrorist groups. Advocates of broad application
of military force believe that military action against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan has
severely disrupted that organization’s ability to plan new acts of terrorism. Skeptics
of further military action maintain that conditions in Afghanistan are unique and that
the anti-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan cannot easily be replicated elsewhere.
U.S. officials say that the continued campaign against Al Qaeda might unfold
differently elsewhere, including the use of U.S. military advisers to help governments
destroy Al Qaeda sanctuaries in other countries.
U.S. military attacks were conducted in retaliation for terrorist acts sponsored
by Libya and Iraq, as well as those allegedly sponsored by Al Qaeda. On April 15,
1986, the United States sent about 100 U.S. aircraft to bomb military installations in
Libya. The attack was in retaliation for the April 2, 1986 bombing of a Berlin
nightclub in which 2 U.S. military personnel were killed, and in which Libya was
implicated. On June 26, 1993, the United States fired cruise missiles at the
49 Further discussion of these issues is provided by CRS Issue Brief IB10119, Terrorism
and National Security: Issues and Trends, by Raphael Perl.
headquarters in Baghdad of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, which allegedly sponsored
a failed assassination plot against former President George Bush during his April 14-
16, 1993 visit to Kuwait. (Other U.S. retaliation against Iraq since 1991 has been
triggered by Iraqi violations of ceasefire terms not related to terrorism.) The August
20, 1998 cruise missile strikes against the bin Laden network in Afghanistan
represented a U.S. strike against a group, not a state sponsor. The related strike on
a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan could have been intended as a signal to Sudan to
sever any remaining ties to bin Laden.
The effectiveness of other U.S. military action against terrorist groups or state
sponsors is difficult to judge. Libya did not immediately try to retaliate after the
1986 U.S. strike, but many believe that it did eventually strike back by orchestrating
the Pan Am 103 bombing. Since the 1993 U.S. strike, Iraq has avoided terrorist
attacks against high profile U.S. targets, but it has continued to challenge the United
States on numerous issues related to its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The 1998
airstrikes against Al Qaeda did not prompt the Taliban leadership to extradite or
expel bin Laden from Afghanistan, nor did the strikes deter bin Laden’s network
from engaging in further terrorist activities, including September 11.
Unilateral Economic Sanctions
The United States has been willing to apply economic sanctions unilaterally,
particularly against state sponsors of terrorism, in an effort to pressure those states
to expel terrorist groups they host. Analysts doubt that unilateral U.S. economic
sanctions, by themselves, can force major changes in the behavior of state sponsors
of terrorism. Major U.S. allies did not join the U.S. trade ban imposed on Iran in
May 1995 and the move did not, in itself, measurably alter Iran’s support for terrorist
groups. On the other hand, virtually all Middle Eastern terrorism list states have
publicly protested their inclusion on the list and other U.S. sanctions, suggesting that
these sanctions are having an effect politically and/or economically. U.S. officials
assert that U.S. sanctions, even if unilateral, have made some terrorism state sponsors
“think twice” about promoting terrorism.
To demonstrate that improvements in behavior can be rewarded, in April 1999
the Clinton Administration announced that it would permit, on a case-by-case basis,
commercial sales of U.S. food and medical products to Libya, Sudan, and Iran. The
move relaxed the bans on U.S. trade with the three countries. As noted previously,
all three have recently shown some signs of wanting to improve their international
Terrorism List Sanctions. Under a number of different laws,50 the
placement of a country on the terrorism list triggers a wide range of U.S. economic
50 The list of sanctions are under the following authorities: Section 6(j) of the Export
Administration Act, as amended [P.L. 96-72; 50 U.S.C. app. 2405 (j)]; Section 40 of the
Arms Export Control Act, as amended [P.L. 90-629; 22 U.S.C. 2780]; and Section 620A of
the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended [P.L. 87-195; 22 U.S.C. 2371]; and Section
!a ban on direct U.S. foreign aid, including Export-Import Bank
!a ban on sales of items on the U.S. Munitions Control List.
!a requirement that the United States vote against lending to that
country by international institutions.
!strict licensing requirements for sales to that country, which
generally prohibit exports of items that can have military
applications, such as advanced sensing, computation, or
A U.S. trade ban has been imposed on every Middle Eastern terrorism list state,
except Syria, under separate executive orders. Placement on the terrorism list does
not automatically trigger a total ban on U.S. trade with or investment by the United
States. In addition, foreign aid appropriations bills since the late 1980s have barred
direct and indirect assistance to terrorism list and other selected countries, and
mandated cuts in U.S. contributions to international programs that work in those
countries. As shown in Table 2 above, the United States also tries to maintain some
leverage over terrorism list states and groups by blocking some of their assets in the
Some U.S. sanctions are “secondary sanctions,” imposing penalties on countries
that help or arm terrorism list countries. Sections 325 and 326 of the Anti-Terrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act (P.L. 104-132) amended the Foreign Assistance Act
by requiring the President to withhold U.S. foreign assistance to any government that
provides assistance or lethal military aid to any terrorism list country. In April 1999,
three Russian entities were sanctioned under this provision for providing anti-tank
weaponry to Syria; sanctions on the Russian government were waived.
“Non-Cooperating List.” The 1996 Anti-Terrorism act also gave the
Administration another option besides placing a country on the terrorism list.
Section 303 of that Act created a new list of states that are deemed “not cooperating
with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts,” and provided that states on that list be barred from
sales of U.S. Munitions List items. Under that provision, and every year since 1997,
Afghanistan, along with the seven terrorism list countries, has been designated as not
cooperating. No U.S. allies have been designated as “not cooperating,” although the
provision was enacted following an April 1995 incident in which Saudi Arabia did
not attempt to detain Hizballah terrorist Imad Mughniyah when a plane on which he
was believed to be a passenger was scheduled to land in Saudi Arabia.51 Possibly in
an attempt to avoid similar incidents, on June 21, 1995, President Clinton signed
Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39), enabling U.S. law enforcement
authorities to capture suspected terrorists by force from foreign countries that refuse
to cooperate in their extradition.52
51 Hizballah Denies Mughniyah on Board Plane. FBIS-NES-95-079. Apr. 25, 1995. p.44.
52 Policy on Terror Suspects Overseas. Washington Post, February 5, 1997.
The Clinton Administration rejected several outside recommendations — most
recently those issued in June 2000 by the congressionally mandated National
Commission on Terrorism — to place Afghanistan on the terrorism list. The Clinton
Administration said that placing Afghanistan on the list would imply that the United
States recognizes the Taliban movement as the legitimate government of
Afghanistan, a position later adopted by the Bush Administration. However,
President Clinton, on July 4, 1999, issued Executive Order 13129, imposing
sanctions on the Taliban that are similar to those imposed on terrorism list countries
and on foreign terrorist organizations. The order imposed a ban on U.S. trade with
areas of Afghanistan under Taliban control, froze Taliban assets in the United States,
and prohibited contributions to Taliban by U.S. persons. The Clinton Administration
justified the move by citing the Taliban’s continued harboring of bin Laden.
Also in its June 2000 report, the National Commission on Terrorism
recommended naming Greece and Pakistan as not fully cooperating with U.S. anti-
terrorism efforts. The Clinton Administration rejected those recommendations as
well. In Patterns 2000, the State Department implied that Pakistan and Lebanon were
potential candidates for the terrorism list, or possibly the “not cooperating” list, for
supporting or tolerating operations by terrorist groups.53 On the other hand, Patterns
2000 did credit both Pakistan and Lebanon with anti-terrorism cooperation in
selected cases. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and Pakistan’s decision
to align itself with the U.S. war effort, the United States has praised Pakistan’s
cooperation, lifted U.S. sanctions, and begun a new foreign assistance program for
In concert with U.S. unilateral actions, the United States has sought to enlist its
friends, allies, and other countries to employ multilateral sanctions against Middle
Eastern terrorism. As noted above, the United States led efforts to impose
international sanctions on Libya and Sudan for their support of terrorism, and both
those states sought to distance themselves from terrorist groups. This suggests that
the perception of isolation caused by the U.N. sanctions was a factor in the terrorism
policy decisions of these countries. In 1998 and 1999, the United States and Russia
jointly worked successfully to persuade the United Nations Security Council to adopt
sanctions on the Taliban because of its refusal to extradite bin Laden. U.N. Security
Council Resolution 1267, adopted October 15, 1999, banned flights outside
Afghanistan by its national airline, Ariana, and directed U.N. member states to freeze
Taliban assets. The United States and Russia teamed up again to push another
resolution (U.N. Security Council Resolution 1333, adopted December 19, 2000)
that, among other measures, imposed an international arms embargo on the Taliban
only, not on opposition factions.54 These measures began to be implemented just
prior to the September 11 attacks, but did not cause the Taliban to waiver in its
refusal to hand over bin Laden.
53 Patterns 2000, p. 32.
54 Miller, Judith. Russians Join U.S. To Seek New Sanctions on Taliban. New York Times,
August 4, 2000.
Successive administrations have identified counter-terrorism cooperation with
friendly countries as a key element of U.S. policy. In one important regional
example, the United States has sought to contain Hizballah by providing military and
law enforcement assistance to the government of Lebanon. In the past few years, the
United States has sold Lebanon non-lethal defense articles such as armored personnel
carriers. In 1994, on a one-time basis, the United States provided non-lethal aid,
including excess trucks and equipment, to Palestinian Authority security forces in an
effort to strengthen them against Hamas and PIJ.
Prior to September 11, the United States had been expanding a counter-terrorism
dialogue with Russia and the Central Asian states against Islamic militant groups
linked to Al Qaeda. All of these countries subsequently aligned themselves, openly
or tacitly, with the U.S. war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Every year since
terrorism officials from the Middle East, Central Asia, and Asia, focusing on
combating the terrorism threat from Afghanistan. These conferences and meetings
have often resulted in agreements to exchange information, to conduct joint efforts
to counter terrorist fundraising, and to develop improved export controls on
explosives and conventions against nuclear terrorism.55 For the past few years, the
United States has been providing some detection equipment and a few million dollars
in financial assistance to the Central Asian states to help them prevent the smuggling
of nuclear and other material to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. The measure
yielded some results in April 2000, when Uzbek border authorities used this
equipment to detect and seize ten containers with radioactive material bound for
The United States has worked with the European Union (EU) to exert influence
on Iran to end its sponsorship of terrorism. In exchange for relaxing enforcement of
U.S. sanctions under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (P.L. 104-172) , which would have
sanctioned EU firms that invest in Iran’s energy industry, in mid 1998 the United
States extracted a pledge from the EU to increase cooperation with the United States
against Iranian terrorism. In May 1998, the EU countries agreed on a “code of
conduct” to curb arms sales to states, such as Iran, that might use the arms to support
terrorism. However, the code is not legally binding on the EU member
Terrorism Fundraising Cooperation. In January 2000, the United States
signed a new International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing,
which creates an international legal framework to investigate those involved in
terrorist financing. Since September 11, the United States has made cooperation
against terrorism fundraising a major priority in its dealings with other countries,
55 Patterns 1998. p. V.
56 Bryen, Stephen. “The New Islamic Bomb.” Washington Times, April 10, 2000.
57 “Plan Still Lets Rogue States Buy Arms.” Associated Press, May 26, 1998.
particularly Middle Eastern countries where much of the fundraising for Al Qaeda
As noted in the discussions of terrorism list countries, the Administration has
shown increasing willingness to engage state sponsors, once these countries have
demonstrated some willingness to curb support for terrorism. U.S. officials justify
engagement with the argument that doing so creates incentives for terrorism list
countries to continue to reduce their support for international terrorism. On the other
hand, critics believe that terrorism list countries are likely to view a U.S. policy of
engagement as a sign that supporting terrorism will not adversely affect relations with
the United States.
Of the Middle Eastern terrorism list countries, the United States engages in
bilateral dialogue with all except Iran and Iraq. The United States has called for a
dialogue with Iran, but Iran has thus far refused on the grounds that the United States
has not dismantled what Iran calls “hostile” policies toward that country — a
formulation widely interpreted to refer to U.S. sanctions. Iraq has asked for direct
talks with the United States, but the United States has rejected the suggestion on the
grounds that Iraq is too far from compliance with Gulf war-related requirements to
make official talks useful.
Legal action against terrorist groups and state sponsors had become an
increasingly large component of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy, although the
September 11 attacks and U.S. military response has, to some extent, diminished
support among observers for this option. In the case of the bombing of Pan Am 103,
the Bush Administration chose international legal action — a trial of the two Libyan
suspects — over military retaliation. A similar choice has apparently been made in
the Khobar Towers bombing case, although that legal effort consists of U.S.
indictments of suspects and not a U.N.-centered legal effort. The United States is
planning to try some Al Qaeda fighters captured in Afghanistan, although the U.S.
strategy has been primarily to defeat Al Qaeda militarily rather than treat the
September 11 attacks primarily as a criminal case.
Congress has attempted to give victims of international terrorism a legal option
against state sponsors. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(Section 221) created an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity for Certain
Cases (28 U.S.C., Section 1605), allowing victims of terrorism to sue terrorism list
countries for acts of terrorism by them or groups they support. Since this provision
was enacted, a number of cases have been brought in U.S. courts, and several
multimillion dollar awards have been made to former hostages and the families of
victims of groups proven in court to have been sponsored by Iran. In 2000, the
Clinton Administration accepted compromise legislation to use general revenues to
pay compensatory damage awards to these successful claimants, with the stipulation
that the President try to recoup expended funds from Iran as part of an overall
reconciliation in relations and settlement of assets disputes. The provision, called the
“Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act,” was incorporated into the Victims of
Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386). The Clinton and
Bush Administrations have opposed directly tapping frozen Iranian assets in the
United States, such as selling Iran’s former embassy in Washington, on the grounds
that doing so could violate diplomatic sovereignty or provoke attacks on U.S.
property or citizens abroad.
The Domestic Front
The September 11 attacks have exposed the vulnerability of the United States
homeland to Middle Eastern-inspired terrorism as no other previous event. The
October-November 2002 anthrax mailings also exposed U.S. vulnerabilities,
although it is not known whether these incidents were related to September 11, other
Middle Eastern-related terrorism, or activity by groups in the United States not
connected to the Middle East. The September 11 attacks have sparked stepped up
law enforcement investigation into the activities of Islamic networks in the United
States and alleged fundraising in the United States for Middle East terrorism.
Some observers allege that Middle Eastern terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda,
have extensive political networks in the United States, working from seemingly
innocent religious and research institutions and investment companies.58 PIJ leader
Shallah, before being tapped to lead PIJ, taught at the University of South Florida in
the early 1990s and ran an affiliated Islamic studies institute called the World and
Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). Some observers believe that extraordinary security
measures are needed to ferret out Al Qaeda cells in the United States.
Others have challenged this view, saying that most American Muslims oppose
the use of violence, and donate money to organizations that they believe use the
funds solely for humanitarian purposes. Some post-September 11 U.S. domestic
counter-terrorism efforts, particularly those dealing with immigration and
investigative powers, have drawn substantial criticism from U.S. civil liberties
groups, which have expressed concern about excessive intrusions by law enforcement
authorities. Some Arab-American and American Muslim organizations have long
complained that U.S. residents and citizens of Arab descent are unfairly branded as
suspected terrorists, and that this sentiment increased dramatically after September
11. As part of their criticism, these organizations point to erroneous initial
accusations by some terrorism experts that Islamic extremists perpetrated the
Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995.
58 Emerson, Steven. Islamic Terror: From Midwest to Mideast. Wall Street Journal, August