21 May 2002
State Department Report Cites Seven State-Sponsors of Terrorism
(Iran remains most active state sponsor, report says) (3000)
While state-sponsored terrorism has declined over the past several
decades, seven governments -- Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea,
Sudan and Syria -- remain on the U.S. list of state sponsors of
international terrorism, according to the State Department's annual
The designation of state sponsors of terrorism is a mechanism for
isolating nations using terrorism as a means of political expression,
the "Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2001" report said. The State
Department released the report May 21 at a news briefing.
The list, which imposes strict sanctions, has remained unchanged since
Sudan was added in 1993.
"While some of these countries appear to be reconsidering their
present course, none has yet taken all necessary actions to divest
itself fully of ties to terrorism," the report said.
"Sudan and Libya seem closest to understanding what they must do to
get out of the terrorism business, and each has taken measures
pointing it in the right direction."
The terrorism report, which is required by the U.S. Congress,
indicated that Iran remained the most active state sponsor of
terrorism last year.
"Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of
Intelligence and Security (MOIS) continued to be involved in the
planning and support of terrorist acts and supported a variety of
groups that use terrorism to pursue their goals," the report said.
Following is the text of the overview of state-sponsored terrorism:
Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
"Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you
are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
-- President George W. Bush, 20 September 2001
President Bush put state supporters of terrorism on notice in his 20
September address to the joint session of Congress: "Every nation, in
every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or
you are with the terrorists." The seven designated state sponsors --
Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan -- clearly
heard the President's message. While some of these countries appear to
be reconsidering their present course, none has yet taken all
necessary actions to divest itself fully of ties to terrorism.
Sudan and Libya seem closest to understanding what they must do to get
out of the terrorism business, and each has taken measures pointing it
in the right direction. Iran, North Korea, and Syria have, in some
narrow areas, made limited moves to cooperate with the international
community's campaign against terrorism. Iran and Syria, however, seek
to have it both ways. On the one hand, they clamped down on certain
terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida. On the other hand, they maintained
their support for other terrorist groups, such as HAMAS and Hizballah,
insisting they were national liberation movements. North Korea's
initial positive moves halted abruptly.
Until all states that support or tolerate terrorism cease their
sponsorship, whether by choice or coercion, they remain a critical
foundation for terrorist groups and their operations. Even though the
year 2001 saw a continuation of a slow trend away from state
sponsorship as the guiding force behind the overall global terrorist
threat, state sponsors still represent a key impediment to the
international campaign against terrorism.
In certain areas, including Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip,
state sponsors remain an important driving force behind terrorism.
Iran continues its firm support for Hizballah, HAMAS, and the
Palestine Islamic Jihad. Iraq employs terrorism against dissident
Iraqi groups opposed to Saddam Hussein's regime. Syria continued its
support for Hizballah and allowed HAMAS, the Palestine Islamic Jihad,
and other Palestinian rejectionist groups to maintain offices in
Cuba: Since September 11, Fidel Castro has vacillated over the war on
terrorism. In October, he labeled the U.S.-led war on terrorism "worse
than the original attacks, militaristic, and fascist."
When this tactic earned ostracism rather than praise, he undertook an
effort to demonstrate Cuban support for the international campaign
against terrorism and signed all 12 U.N. counterterrorism conventions
as well as the Ibero-American declaration on terrorism at the 2001
summit. Although Cuba decided not to protest the detention of
suspected terrorists at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, it
continued to denounce the global effort against terrorism -- even by
asserting that the United States was intentionally targeting Afghan
children and Red Cross hospitals.
Cuba's signature of U.N. counterterrorism conventions notwithstanding,
Castro continued to view terror as a legitimate revolutionary tactic.
The Cuban Government continued to allow at least 20 Basque ETA members
to reside in Cuba as privileged guests and provided some degree of
safe haven and support to members of the Colombian FARC and ELN
groups. In August, a Cuban spokesman revealed that Sinn Fein's
official representative for Cuba and Latin America, Niall Connolly,
who was one of three Irish Republican Army members arrested in
Colombia on suspicion of providing explosives training to the FARC,
had been based in Cuba for five years. In addition, the recent arrest
in Brazil of the leader of a Chilean terrorist group, the Frente
Patriotico Manuel Rodriguez (FPMR), has raised the strong possibility
that in the mid-1990s, the Cuban Government harbored FPMR terrorists
wanted for murder in Chile. The arrested terrorist told Brazilian
authorities he had traveled through Cuba on his way to Brazil. Chilean
investigators had traced calls from FPMR relatives in Chile to Cuba
following an FPMR prison break in 1996, but the Cuban Government twice
denied extradition requests, claiming that the wanted persons were not
in Cuba and the phone numbers were incorrect.
Numerous U.S. fugitives continued to live on the island, including
Joanne Chesimard, wanted in the United States for the murder in 1973
of a New Jersey police officer and living as a guest of the Castro
regime since 1979.
Iran: Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in
2001. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of
Intelligence and Security (MOIS) continued to be involved in the
planning and support of terrorist acts and supported a variety of
groups that use terrorism to pursue their goals. Although some within
Iran would like to end this support, hardliners who hold the reins of
power continue to thwart any efforts to moderate these policies. Since
the outbreak of the intifadah, support has intensified for Palestinian
groups that use violence against Israel. During the past year,
however, Iran appears to have reduced its involvement in other forms
of terrorist activity. There is no evidence of Iranian sponsorship or
foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks in the United States.
President Khatami condemned the attacks and offered condolences to the
During 2001, Iran sought a high-profile role in encouraging
anti-Israeli activity by way of increasing its support for
anti-Israeli terrorist groups. Supreme Leader Khamenei continued to
refer to Israel as a "cancerous tumor" that must be removed. Matching
this rhetoric with action, Iran continued to provide Lebanese
Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionist groups -- notably HAMAS,
the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the PFLP-GC -- with varying amounts
of funding, safe haven, training, and weapons. It also encouraged
Hizballah and the rejectionist Palestinian groups to coordinate their
planning and to escalate their activities.
In addition, Iran provided limited support to terrorist groups in the
Gulf, Africa, Turkey, and Central Asia. This support is at a
considerably lower level than that provided to the groups opposed to
Israel and has been decreasing in recent years. The Iranian Government
took no direct action in 2001 to implement Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa
against Salman Rushdie, but the decree has not been revoked nor has
the $2.8 million bounty for his death been withdrawn. Moreover, on the
anniversary of the fatwa in February, some hard-line Iranians stressed
again that the decree is irrevocable and should be carried out.
During Operation Enduring Freedom, Tehran informed the United States
that, in the event U.S. warplanes went down inside Iran, Iranian
forces would assist downed aircrews in accordance with international
convention. Iran also worked with the United States and its allies at
the Bonn Conference in late 2001 to help in the formation of the
Afghan Interim Authority. Tehran pledged to close its borders with
Afghanistan and Pakistan to prevent the infiltration of Taliban and
al-Qaida escapees. There are, however, reports that Arab Afghans,
including al-Qaida members, used Iran as a transit route to enter and
leave from Afghanistan.
Iraq: Iraq was the only Arab-Muslim country that did not condemn the
September 11 attacks against the United States. A commentary of the
official Iraqi station on September 11 stated that America was
"...reaping the fruits of [its] crimes against humanity." Subsequent
commentary in a newspaper run by one of Saddam's sons expressed
sympathy for Usama bin Ladin following initial U.S. retaliatory
strikes in Afghanistan. In addition, the regime continued to provide
training and political encouragement to numerous terrorist groups,
although its main focus was on dissident Iraqi activity overseas.
Iraq provided bases to several terrorist groups including the
Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and the Abu Nidal organization
(ANO). In 2001, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
(PFLP) raised its profile in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by carrying
out successful terrorist attacks against Israeli targets. In
recognition of the PFLP's growing role, an Iraqi Vice President met
with former PFLP Secretary General Habbash in Baghdad in January 2001
and expressed continued Iraqi support for the intifadah. Also, in
mid-September, a senior delegation from the PFLP met with an Iraqi
Deputy Prime Minister. Baghdad also continued to host other
Palestinian rejectionist groups, including the Arab Liberation Front,
and the 15 May Organization.
Meanwhile, Czech police continued to provide protection to the Prague
office of the U.S. Government funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
(RFE/RL), which produces Radio Free Iraq programs and employs
expatriate journalists. The police presence was augmented in 1999 and
2000, following reports that the Iraqi Intelligence Service might
retaliate against RFE/RL for broadcasts critical of the Iraqi regime.
As concerns over the facility's security mounted through 2000, the
Czechs expelled an Iraqi intelligence officer in April 2001.
The Iraqi regime has not met a request from Riyadh for the extradition
of two Saudis who had hijacked a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight to
Baghdad in 2000. Disregarding its obligations under international law,
the regime granted political asylum to the hijackers and gave them
ample opportunity to voice their criticisms of alleged abuses by the
Saudi Government in the Iraqi Government-controlled and international
Libya: Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Libyan leader
Muammar Qadhafi issued a statement condemning the attacks as horrific
and gruesome and urging Libyans to donate blood for the U.S. victims.
On 16 September he declared that the United States had justification
to retaliate for the attacks. Since September 11, Qadhafi has
repeatedly denounced terrorism.
Libya appears to have curtailed its support for international
terrorism, although it may maintain residual contacts with a few
groups. Tripoli has, in recent years, sought to recast itself as a
peacemaker, offering to mediate a number of conflicts such as the
military standoff between India and Pakistan that began in December
2001. In October, Libya ransomed a hostage held by the Abu Sayyaf
Group, although it claimed that the money was not a ransom and would
be used for "humanitarian assistance."
Libya's past record of terrorist activity continued to hinder
Qadhafi's efforts to shed Libya's pariah status. In January, a
Scottish court found Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset Ali
al-Megrahi guilty of murder, concluding that in 1988 he planted an
explosive device on Pan Am Flight 103 whose detonation resulted in the
murder of all 259 passengers and crew on board as well as 11 persons
on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland. The judges found that Megrahi
had acted "in furtherance of the purposes of...Libyan Intelligence
Services." His codefendant, Libyan Arab Airlines employee Al-Amin
Khalifa Fhima, was acquitted on the grounds that the prosecution
failed to prove his role in the bombing "beyond a reasonable doubt."
At year's end, Libya had yet to comply fully with the remaining U.N.
Security Council requirements related to Pan Am 103, including
accepting responsibility for the actions of its officials, fully
disclosing all that it knows about the bombing, and paying appropriate
compensation to the victims' families. Libya's hesitation to do so may
have reflected a hope that Megrahi's appeal would overturn his
conviction. (On 14 March 2002, a Scottish appellate court upheld
In November, a German court convicted four defendants in the bombing
in 1986 of La Belle Discotheque in West Berlin. In rendering his
decision, the judge stated that Libyan Government officials had
clearly orchestrated the attack. In response to the court's findings,
the German Government called on Libya to accept responsibility for the
attack and provide compensation to the victims. Two U.S. servicemen
and one Turkish civilian died in the bombing, and more than 200
persons were wounded.
North Korea: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK)
response to international efforts to combat terrorism has been
disappointing. In a statement released after the September 11 attacks,
the DPRK reiterated its public policy of opposing terrorism and any
support for terrorism. It also signed the U.N. Convention for the
Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, acceded to the Convention
Against the Taking of Hostages, and indicated its willingness to sign
five others. Despite the urging of the international community,
however, North Korea did not take substantial steps to cooperate in
efforts to combat terrorism, including responding to requests for
information on how it is implementing the U.N. Security Council
resolutions, and it did not respond to U.S. proposals for discussions
on terrorism. It did not report any efforts to search for and block
financial assets as required by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373.
Similarly, the DPRK did not respond positively to the Republic of
Korea's call to resume dialogue, where counterterrorism is an agenda
item, nor to the United States in its call to undertake dialogue on
improved implementation of the agreed framework. In light of President
Bush's call to recognize the dangerous nexus between Weapons of Mass
Destruction and terrorism, this latter failure, with its implications
for nuclear development and proliferation, was especially troublesome.
In addition, Pyongyang's provision of safe haven to four remaining
Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction members who participated in
the hijacking of a Japanese Airlines flight to North Korea in 1970
remained problematic in terms of support for terrorists. Moreover,
some evidence suggested the DPRK may have sold limited quantities of
small arms to terrorist groups during the year.
Sudan: The counterterrorism dialogue begun in mid-2000 between the
U.S. and Sudan continued and intensified during 2001. Sudan condemned
the September 11 attacks and pledged its commitment to combating
terrorism and fully cooperating with the United States in the campaign
against terrorism. The Sudanese Government has stepped up its
counterterrorism cooperation with various U.S. agencies, and Sudanese
authorities have investigated and apprehended extremists suspected of
involvement in terrorist activities. In late September, the United
Nations recognized Sudan's positive steps against terrorism by
removing UN sanctions.
Sudan, however, remained a designated state sponsor of terrorism. A
number of international terrorist groups including al-Qaida, the
Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Egyptian al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, the Palestine
Islamic Jihad, and HAMAS continued to use Sudan as a safe haven,
primarily for conducting logistics and other support activities. Press
speculation about the extent of Sudan's cooperation with the United
States probably has led some terrorist elements to depart the country.
Unilateral U.S. sanctions remained in force.
Syria: Syria's president, Bashar al-Asad, as well as senior Syrian
officials, publicly condemned the September 11 attacks. The Syrian
Government also cooperated with the United States and with other
foreign governments in investigating al-Qaida and some other terrorist
groups and individuals.
The Government of Syria has not been implicated directly in an act of
terrorism since 1986, but it continued in 2001 to provide safe haven
and logistics support to a number of terrorist groups. Ahmad Jibril's
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command
(PFLP-GC), the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Abu Musa's
Fatah-the-Intifadah, George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine, and HAMAS continued to maintain offices in Damascus.
Syria provided Hizballah, HAMAS, PFLP-GC, the PIJ, and other terrorist
organizations refuge and basing privileges in Lebanon's Beka'a Valley,
under Syrian control. Damascus, however, generally upheld its
September 2000 antiterrorism agreement with Ankara, honoring its 1998
pledge not to support the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Damascus served as the primary transit point for the transfer of
Iranian-supplied weapons to Hizballah. Syria continued to adhere to
its longstanding policy of preventing any attacks against Israel or
Western targets from Syrian territory or attacks against Western
interests in Syria.
State Sponsor: Implications
Designating countries that repeatedly support international terrorism
(i.e., placing a country on the "terrorism list") imposes four main
sets of U.S. government sanctions:
1. A ban on arms-related exports and sales,
2. Controls over exports of dual use items, requiring 30-day
Congressional notification for goods or services that could
significantly enhance the terrorist list country's military capability
or ability to support terrorism,
3. Prohibitions on economic assistance; and
4. Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions,
-- Requiring the United States to oppose loans by the World Bank and
other international financial institutions;
-- Lifting the diplomatic immunity to allow families of terrorist
victims to file civil lawsuits in U.S. courts;
-- Denying companies and individuals tax credits for income earned in
terrorist list countries;
-- Denial of duty-free treatment for goods exported to the United
-- Authority to prohibit any U.S. person from engaging in a financial
transaction with terrorism list government without a Treasury
-- Prohibition of Defense Department contracts above $100,000 with
companies controlled by terrorist list states.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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