Country Reports on Terrorism 2006
Chapter 2 -- Country Reports: Europe and Eurasia Overview
"We must always keep in mind that terrorism, as an age-old method of coercion, has no deeper links to any culture or religion. Hence, we should be cautious not to associate any faith with terrorism."
Mr. Abdullah Gul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Turkey
Remarks, UN General Assembly, 61st Session
New York City, September 22, 2006
While no major terrorist attacks took place in Europe in 2006, foiled plots and concerns over increasing radicalization among immigrant youth served as stimulus for increased cooperation and efforts to strengthen counterterrorism capabilities. Italy and Germany worked closely with neighboring countries and held a successful and incident-free Winter Olympics and World Cup, respectively. European nations continued to work in close partnership with the United States on the global counterterrorism campaign and continued to enhance both their individual and collective abilities to deal with a terrorist threat characterized by both external and, increasingly, internal components. The contributions of European countries in sharing intelligence, arresting members of terrorist cells, and interdicting terrorist financing and logistics were vital elements in the War on Terror.
At the June 2004 U.S. - EU Summit, the sides agreed on a Declaration on Combating Terrorism that renewed the transatlantic commitment to develop measures to maximize capacities to detect, investigate and prosecute terrorists, prevent terrorist attacks, prevent access by terrorists to financial and other economic resources, enhance information sharing and cooperation among law enforcement agencies, and improve the effectiveness of border information systems. These commitments were reconfirmed at the 2006 Summit and work continued on implementation. In 2006, the ratification/implementation of the Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties between the U.S. and EU Member States was ongoing. (In the United States, the treaties were submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.) In October, the U.S. and EU reached an interim agreement on the transferring of passenger name record data, which was necessitated by the nullification of the earlier agreement by a European court. On November 6, the U.S. and the EU signed an agreement to facilitate U.S. participation in Eurojust, the EU's prosecutorial liaison organization. Also in November, the U.S. and EU launched a formal dialogue to develop common data protection standards to facilitate efforts to share terrorist information.
European nations are active participants in a variety of multilateral organizations that contribute to counterterrorist efforts, including the G8, NATO, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The United States and its partners work through these organizations to establish and implement best practices, build the counterterrorism capabilities of "weak but willing" states, and help fight the War on Terror globally. OSCE members committed themselves to becoming parties to the 13 UN terrorism conventions and protocols, to work together to modernize travel documents and shipping container security, to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist organizations, and to implement UNSC Resolution 1540 to counter WMD (related materials and the means of delivery) proliferation. (See Chapter 5 for further information on the G8, NATO, FATF, and OSCE.)
Terrorist activity and the presence of terrorist support networks in Europe remained a source of concern. Efforts to combat the threat in Europe were sometimes slowed by legal protections that made it difficult to take firm judicial action against suspected terrorists, asylum laws that afforded loopholes, inadequate legislation, or standards of evidence that limited the use of classified information in holding terrorist suspects. Terrorists are also able to take advantage of the ease of travel among Schengen countries1. Some European states have at times not been able to prosecute successfully or hold some of the suspected terrorists brought before their courts. The EU as a whole remained reluctant to take steps to block the assets of charities associated with HAMAS and Hizballah.
European governments were increasingly concerned about radicalization among their indigenous populations and sought greater understanding of the process of "radicalization" and how to prevent it. Several governments increased outreach to Muslim communities living within their countries and made attempts to gain support from within those communities to counter the appeal of extremist ideology.
The announcement by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), formerly the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), that it was merging with al-Qaida sparked concerns throughout Europe, in particular in France, after the AQIM/GSPC made more threats against what it termed "crusading" westerners, particularly American and French citizens.
In March, the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist group declared a "permanent cease-fire," leading to hopes that its long campaign would at last come to an end. On December 30, however, following street violence by ETA supporters and the organization's theft of 350 handguns from an armory in France, ETA set off a huge car bomb at the Madrid International Airport that killed two Ecuadorian immigrants.
In July, terrorists planted suitcase bombs that failed to detonate on two German trains.
In August, in cooperation with the U.S. and Pakistan, British authorities disrupted a terrorist plot to blow up aircraft traveling between the United Kingdom and the United States. Some 15 persons suspected of being involved in the U.K.-based plot were arrested.
Political progress in Northern Ireland continued, resulting in a marked decrease in terrorist incidents. The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), which monitors progress by paramilitary groups in ending violent activities, reported in October that evidence showed the leadership of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) was committed to following a peaceful path.
Cooperation among European law enforcement agencies was important to counterterrorism successes. France and Spain continued to cooperate effectively against ETA. Belgian courts convicted individuals connected to the 2003 Madrid bombings and several countries, including France, Spain and Italy, broke up terrorist networks facilitating travel by foreign fighters to Iraq.
U.S.- European bioterrorism cooperation expanded. The topic was addressed at high-level U.S.- EU counterterrorism talks and at the U.S.- Russia Counterterrorism Working Group. Switzerland and the U.S. co-sponsored the successful "Black Ice" bioterrorism coordination exercise in Montreux, hosting senior officials from numerous multilateral organizations. During its 2006 G8 presidency, Russia worked closely with the U.S. to launch the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
Several significant terrorist leaders were killed in Russia. In July, Russia's most wanted terrorist, Chechen separatist Shamil Basayev, was killed. In November, Russian security forces killed Abu Hafs al-Urdani, the al-Qaida-linked, Jordanian-born commander of foreign fighters in Chechnya. Central and Eastern European states made strides in countering terrorism in 2006. Many states across the Balkans, Baltics, and Caucasus sent troops to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo.
Albania contributed troops to both Afghanistan and Iraq, froze bank accounts related to money laundering and terrorism financing, and worked with the U.S. and other countries to combat terrorism. Albania made progress in identifying vulnerabilities at land and sea borders, but the government and police forces faced substantial challenges to fully enforce border security and combat organized crime and corruption.
In May, Albania granted political asylum to five Guantanamo Bay detainees, after the U.S. determined they were no longer considered enemy combatants. In November, Albania admitted an additional three former detainees who were designated for release. Albania has publicly committed to maintaining its presence in Iraq as long as required, and has a contingent of around 120 soldiers operating in the country. In Afghanistan, Albania deployed 26 troops to ISAF, including four members of a joint medical unit.
Although no new groups' assets were frozen this year under the Terrorism Financing Freeze (TFF) law enacted in 2004, the Albanian government found an additional seven holdings by already identified groups that were subsequently frozen. While the Albanian State Intelligence Service (SHISH) is the foremost counterterrorism unit within the Albanian government, much of their success went unnoticed due to the clandestine nature of their work. We note that the effectiveness of the government's counterterrorist financing efforts was hampered by inadequate financial resources, poor communications, a lack of data processing infrastructure, and the lack of experienced personnel due to frequent turnover.
The Government of Andorra worked to build law enforcement capacity, enhance border security, and combat money laundering and terrorist financing. In September, the Minister's Council approved the ratification of the Council of Europe's Convention on Terrorism prevention signed by the Andorrans in Warsaw on May 16, 2005, and the Convention is pending approval by the Andorran Parliament. The Andorran government contributed to UNESCO's solidarity and international cooperation programs by sending financial support to Afghanistan, and provided financial support to OSCE to implement a rocket buster destruction project in Tajikistan.
With substantial U.S. assistance, Armenia continued to strengthen its capacity to counter the country's few perceived terrorist threats. Armenia's geographic location, porous borders, and loose visa regime presents opportunities for traffickers of illicit materials, persons, and finances.
Armenia's reliance on ties with neighboring Iran have dampened Armenian criticism of Iranian extremism and led to closer trade relations between the two countries. Diplomatic and trade relations with Iran are seen as a geographic and strategic necessity for the landlocked country, in light of closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, and the perceived risk of instability in Georgia. President Kocharian spoke out in November against the possibility of international sanctions against Iran.
The Financial Monitoring Center (FMC), a U.S. - supported financial intelligence unit within the Central Bank, is still developing as a regulatory body. Established in 2005, the FMC began to make investigative strides this year. The FMC received 23 suspicious transaction reports in 2006. After analyzing the reports, the FMC developed five suspicious transaction cases; three of the cases were subsequently referred to the Prosecutor General's office for further investigation. To date, the FMC has received no reports of transactions involving watch-list designees. The heavy flow of remittances, however, may hinder efforts to detect fund transfers in support of terrorism. The FMC has applied for Egmont Group membership.
Armenia introduced additional security features into the production of passports, continued to install passport readers at border posts, and continued efforts to increase the security of its vital documents, such as birth certificates. On November 1, the government implemented mandatory fingerprinting for travelers departing Zvartnots Airport, Armenia's only international airport. The National Security Service (NSS) and police shared information with the U.S. Embassy when they discovered fraudulent U.S. visas or other such documents.
In May, the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team for al-Qaida and the Taliban visited Armenia to monitor the implementation of sanctions under UNSCR 1267 and successor resolutions. The team met with the Central Bank, the Ministry of Defense, the National Security Service and the Police, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to the MFA, the team said it was satisfied with Armenia's level of preparedness. Armenia supported U.S. efforts in Iraq with troops on the ground and provided overflight authorization in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In September, Armenia participated in a CIS-wide exercise called "Atom-Antiterror 2006." The Armenian Special Forces together with the Russian Federal Security Service, ran counterterrorism and hostage release drills at the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant.
In May, during its EU Presidency, Austria welcomed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson to a conference of Justice and Interior Ministers from the EU and Russia. The participants signed a declaration to increase cooperation against terrorism, organized crime, corruption, and illegal migration. In June, President Bush attended the U.S.-EU Summit in Vienna and discussed developing biometric standards and preventing WMD proliferation, terrorist financing, and radicalization and recruitment.
Austria promoted intercultural dialogues as a preventive strategy against radicalization and the isolation of ethnic and religious groups. In April, it hosted the second European Conference of Imams and convened a "Dialogue between Cultures and Religions" for high-ranking government and religious leaders from around the world in May. Austria has a comprehensive legal framework to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. It achieved a good level of compliance with FATF's nine Special Recommendations. Also in April, Austria hosted a joint EU-Gulf countries seminar in Brussels to strengthen international cooperation among financial intelligence units, non-profit organizations, and formal and informal banking systems. Austria allocated 12 million euros for counterterrorism measures and amended its export control legislation to further restrict transfers of chemicals, software, and weapons. In June, Austria hosted a U.S.-EU workshop on terrorist financing for 120 representatives from EU member state governments, and the private financial sector. The meeting focused on identifying best practices for ensuring private sector compliance with financial sanctions.
Austria maintained three instructors at the International Police Training Center in Jordan to train Iraqi police and four Austrian liaison officers served in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul.
Azerbaijan's counterterrorism cooperation with the United States included granting blanket overflight clearance, engaging in information sharing and law-enforcement cooperation, and approving numerous landings and refueling operations at its civilian airport in support of OEF. Azerbaijan has supported peacekeeping operations in Iraq since August 2003 with an infantry company of approximately 150 soldiers stationed at the Haditha dam. A platoon of Azerbaijani soldiers has been working with the Turkish peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan since November 2002, and President Aliyev announced plans to double this number to between 40 and 44 soldiers.
Azerbaijan stepped up its efforts and had some success in reducing the presence and hampering the activities of international mujahedin with ties to terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money, and material throughout the Caucasus. Azerbaijan took steps to combat terrorist financing and identify possible terrorist-related funding by distributing lists of suspected terrorist groups and individuals to local banks. In December, the inter-ministerial experts group responsible for drafting anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance legislation, provided its most recent draft to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Council of Europe (COE) for comment. The draft law included the establishment of a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and would expand the predicate crimes for money laundering beyond narcotics trafficking.
In April, the Azerbaijani Serious Crimes court sentenced six men in a group called Al-Muvahhidun Jamaat to prison terms ranging from ten to fifteen years. The group was convicted of purchasing illegal weapons, armed robbery, illegal border crossing, fabricating documents and resisting arrest. According to the Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security, the members of the group planned to travel to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey for military training. The group was accused of planning bomb attacks on the U.S., Israeli and Russian embassies, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) building, and the National Bank of Azerbaijan; and "seeking the physical elimination of the leaders of Azerbaijan's government and security forces." (Members of the group were first arrested on July 13, 2005.)
Also in April, in a trial involving a group called al-Qaida Caucasus (separate from a group of the same name sentenced in 2005), 16 group members were sentenced to terms of up to life in prison. The group was convicted of the illegal purchase and bearing of firearms and for the July 2005 assassination of an officer of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Internal Affairs. The group consisted of citizens of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia and Yemen. Most of them were activists of various radical religious organizations that had undergone training at a camp in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.
Azerbaijan extradited to Russia a terrorism suspect accused of a bombing in Dagestan in 2002. The suspect was originally arrested in Azerbaijan and, in April, was sentenced by an Azerbaijani court to seven years in prison. He was subsequently extradited to Russia.
The Belgian government continued efforts to improve its ability to combat and control terrorist financing, including disrupting the possibility for untraced money flows through phone shops and other alternate remittance systems, value added tax refund carousels, laundered proceeds through narcotics trafficking or prostitution, and the diamond trade. Separately, the Belgian government enacted new legislation that broadened the definition of "bank account" to include insurance, stocks or other securities, and other financial instruments, for the purpose of investigating financial crimes, including the financing of terrorism. The burden of proof on judges to freeze terrorist assets was relatively high. To constitute a criminal offense, authorities had to demonstrate that support was given "with the knowledge that it would contribute to the commission of a crime by the terrorist group."
Belgium contributed 340 troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The government also provided support for Afghan reconstruction. Belgium plans to expand its technical assistance efforts in Iraq and has begun implementing debt forgiveness within the framework of Paris Club agreements. It expanded its participation in the Jordan International Police Training Center in Amman, increasing the number of Belgian police officers at the facility from two to four. Other programs included training for Iraqi diplomats and magistrates in Belgium and training for Iraqi servicemen in Abu Dhabi, in cooperation with Germany.
Belgium is not a significant safe haven for terrorist groups, although the PKK operated television production facilities in the country. Belgian authorities were concerned about potential terror activities involving groups from Algeria and North Africa, and investigated groups such as the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM), the Revolutionary People's Liberation Front (DHKP-C), and a far right group with links to neo-Nazi groups.
In February, a Belgian court convicted members of the GICM for belonging to a terrorist group linked to attacks in Madrid and Casablanca and providing logistical and financial support to the GICM. Under the antiterrorism law, prosecutors focused on the material support the suspects provided to terrorists, including lodging and false documents. Three of the 13 defendants were sentenced to terms of six to seven years. Six received three to five year sentences under the 2003 antiterrorism law, which criminalized membership in a terrorist group and broadened the definition of terrorist acts. In September, a Belgian appeals court upheld the convictions of five GICM members and imposed sentences ranging from 40 months to eight years.
In another case, also prosecuted pursuant to the 2003 antiterrorism law, members of the DHKP-C were convicted for membership in a terror organization and for providing material support to a terrorist group. In November, the Belgian court of appeals upheld those convictions. In September, Belgian authorities arrested 17 members of a loosely-organized far right group with links to neo-Nazi groups that was allegedly planning attacks to disrupt Belgian democratic institutions.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina's law enforcement organizations cooperated with the United States on international counterterrorism. Bosnia remained a weak state, however, with multiple semi-autonomous centers of power, vulnerable to exploitation as a terrorist safe haven or as a potential staging ground for terrorist operations in Europe. Nevertheless, there were notable signs of increased local operational capability to combat terrorism and terrorism finance.
Bosnian authorities continued to strengthen existing counterterrorism mechanisms and develop new ones. The Inter-Ministerial Counterterrorism Task Force (IMCTF), formed in December 2004, and currently responsible for coordinating all State-level institutions with counterterrorism responsibilities, directed two successful terrorism-related deportations in 2006. On February 8, the State Investigative and Protection Agency (SIPA), the State Border Police (SBP), the Foreigners Affairs Service (FAS), and the State Prosecutor worked together to remove convicted terrorist Said Atmani from the country. Atmani, a Moroccan national who fought in Bosnia during the war, served three years in jail for a bombing in France in the mid-1990s, before returning to Bosnia in 2005. On August 30, these agencies deported Tunisian national Bedrudin Ferchicij (a.k.a. Abu Malik), a mujahedin fighter who had remained illegally in Bosnia after the war. Despite these successes, the Task Force's operational effectiveness was generally hampered by insufficient coordination, such as infrequent communication and a lack of clear divisions of labor among the agencies.
In January, the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina formed the Citizenship Review Commission (CRC). The Commission reviewed the status of foreign Mujahadin fighters and others who obtained Bosnian citizenship during and after the 1992-95 war, and withdrew citizenship from those who had obtained it improperly. In October the Council of Ministers adopted the Commission's interim progress report. According to the report, the CRC has completed preliminary reviews of approximately 600 cases (about half the total number pending), adjudicated 150 decisions, and stripped about 50 individuals of their citizenship. Among those stripped were three men listed under UNSC 1267 Committee for links with the Taliban, UBL and/or al-Qaida. The Foreigner Affairs Service had responsibility for determining the appropriate legal status of people stripped of citizenship and of initiating deportations when mandated under the Law on Movement and Stay of Aliens and Asylum. Although created in August 2005, vacant leadership positions stalled FAS institutional development until summer 2006. The process of drafting a revised Law on Movement and Stay of Aliens that would define and strengthen the FAS, which also began in 2005, remained unfinished.
The Bosnian State Court heard opening arguments in its first state-level terrorism trial in July. The trial remained underway with three individuals that were arrested in October 2005 and charged with terrorism, and two others charged with illegal possession of explosives. During the arrests, authorities confiscated weapons, explosives, a crudely fashioned suicide belt, and a video depicting masked men supposedly preparing to attack unspecified European targets. Lead defendants Mirsad Bektasevic (a Swedish citizen) and Abdulkadir Cesur were linked to terrorist networks elsewhere in Europe, and Cesur was also a named defendant in a terrorism trial concurrently underway in Denmark.
The Bosnian organization Aktivna Islamska Omladina (Active Islamic Youth, or AIO) spread extremist and anti-American rhetoric through its weekly print and on-line publication SAFF Magazine. AIO was founded in Zenica in 1995 by individuals with ties to the so-called "El Mujahid Brigade," a wartime unit comprised mainly of foreign extremists. There were indications that AIO conducted youth outreach in Bosnia during the year and maintained a presence in Western Europe.
In December, the Ministry of Defense pledged to donate 50,000 AK-47 rifles and necessary ammunition to security forces in Afghanistan in support of OEF. Bosnia and Herzegovina deployed a 36-member Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) unit in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit began its fourth rotation in Iraq in November.
Bulgaria participated in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Bulgaria's OIF contribution included a year-long deployment of a 154-person security company to Camp Ashraf in March, peace support operations training for 27 Iraqi officers at the National Military University in Veliko Turnovo in August as part of the NATO Training Mission in Iraq, and deployment of four officers to the NATO Training Mission in Iraq in October. In Afghanistan, Bulgaria maintained approximately 150 military personnel throughout the year, including soldiers assigned to HQ SEEBRIG; a separate mechanized infantry platoon assigned to the Kabul Multinational Brigade; a military police and counterintelligence platoon in Kabul; three military medical teams in Kabul and Herat; and Air Force personnel operating Kabul International Airport from October through December.
The Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) continued efforts against terrorist financing and cooperated with the U.S. government on identifying terrorist assets. The FIA distributed lists of individuals and organizations linked to terrorism to all Bulgarian banks, the Ministry of Interior, Customs, and the Border Police. Parliament further strengthened the FIA's investigative powers by passing amendments enabling the FIA to obtain bank information without a court order.
The Croatian government increased its contribution to the International Stabilization and Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from 50 to 147 soldiers who served in military police, medical support and training roles. In addition, Croatia maintained a small civilian and police team deployment to the German-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Feyzabad. On December 8, the Croatian Parliament approved a further increase to 200 troops in 2007, and to 300 troops in 2008.
Croatia's long land and sea borders presented a monitoring and enforcement challenge and guided continued efforts to improve its border integrity, its export control regime, and to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In November, Croatian police arrested in two men who were carrying explosives in Zadar, Croatia. The case was initially investigated as a terrorist plot to target and detonate the explosives on a ferry in the Adriatic Sea. Subsequent information pointed to the more likely scenario of an organized crime operation.
Despite limited resources, Cyprus took a clear stand against international terrorism and supported U.S. counterterrorism efforts. The government continued to allow blanket overflight and landing rights to U.S. military aircraft supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the government raised concerns about the allegations in a Council of Europe report identifying Cyprus as a "staging post" for U.S. rendition flights. Cyprus was generally supportive of international efforts to block and freeze terrorist assets, implemented Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, and conformed to EU directives on counterterrorism. In 2005, the Director of the Cyprus Central Intelligence Service (KYP) drafted and submitted to parliament legislation to restructure, modernize, and strengthen Cyprus's intelligence-gathering capabilities.
Third-country nationals comprised approximately ten percent of the Republic of Cyprus population, and the asylum community was growing. The government had concerns that this population was a potential source of recruits for terrorist groups looking to extend their reach into Europe. Moreover, the UN-patrolled "Green Line" dividing north and south is relatively porous. Immigration controls were uneven, and it was relatively easy for asylum seekers to cross from the Turkish Cypriot-administered area. Such conditions posed a potential vulnerability and access point for terrorist groups seeking entry into an EU member state (the EU's "acquis communitaire" currently is suspended in the north of Cyprus).
Cyprus's eastern Mediterranean location and the large volume of container traffic moving through its ports made the island potentially convenient for terrorist organizations seeking transshipment points for WMD and other items of concern. While Cypriot agencies responsible for nonproliferation assessed there was only a small risk that illicit materials might move through transit cargo, the United States continued to work for increased maritime cooperation.
In addition to EXBS activities, there was increased collaboration between the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in providing antiterrorism programming to Cyprus through the Department of Defense's International Counterproliferation Program (ICP). In October, the ICP provided an "Executive Seminar" on terrorist applications of weapons of mass destruction for 40 senior Republic of Cyprus officials.
The Kongra Gel/Kurdistan Workers' Party (KGK/PKK) maintained an active presence throughout Cyprus and reportedly used the island as both a fundraising and transit point. Experts estimated the Kurdish community in the government-controlled area to number 1,500. Among Kurdish-origin Turkish settlers in the north, the KGK/PKK reportedly enjoyed significant support. Cyprus maintained that it was fulfilling all responsibilities with respect to the EU designation of the KGK/PKK as a terrorist organization. Authorities in both the area under government control and in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots believed there was little risk the KGK/PKK would conduct operations on Cyprus and were reluctant to take any action that they perceived could make the island a potential target for PKK action. In addition, Turkish authorities believed that the large Turkish troop presence in the north acted as a significant deterrent to open KGK/PKK activity.
The Government of the Czech Republic provided military assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, cooperated in routine investigations, and worked with the U.S. to protect the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The Czech Republic contributed 101 troops to Coalition efforts in Iraq, 148 troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and 120 Special Forces troops under Operation Enduring Freedom.
In December 2005, pursuant to a U.S. arrest warrant and INTERPOL Red Notice, Czech authorities arrested Oussama Kassir, a Lebanese-born Swedish national, in transit from Stockholm to Lebanon. Kassir was wanted in the United States on allegations that he conspired to provide material support to terrorists in the planned establishment of a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon. In June, a hearing was held to consider the extradition. Kassir remained in Czech custody pending continued consideration of the U.S. extradition request.
Denmark implemented several new measures as part of two anti-terror packages adopted by Parliament. These new measures criminalized the recruitment of persons to terrorism, and the training of others to assist in committing terrorist acts, including financing terrorism.
These new counterterrorism packages also enhanced the Danish government's ability to investigate and prevent terrorism and other serious crimes. Under the new acts, police may jam or disrupt communications to prevent criminal acts relating to terrorism or the security of Denmark. Information sharing between the Danish Security Intelligence Service (PET) and other agencies was made easier; and phone and internet providers must retain certain data for one year. In addition, the new legislation expanded the scope of certain warrants, allowing the police to conduct repeated searches under one warrant and to obtain intercept warrants covering an individual, rather than a particular phone number or single means of communication.
In January, the Danish government established the Center for Terrorism Analysis under the PET, which was composed of 15 analysts from five agencies. The government also transferred 150 employees from the national police to the PET to strengthen investigative capabilities within the intelligence service for terrorism and other serious crimes. In addition, the government proposed legislation that would prohibit private persons from purchasing fertilizer with ammonium nitrate levels of more than 28 percent, which could be used for improvised explosive devices.
Danish police and prosecutors cooperated closely on terror-related cases. Acting under the new counterterror measures and under provisions of its 2002 counterterrorism law, which explicitly criminalized both terrorism and providing financial and other support to terrorist groups, Danish authorities made several arrests on terrorism-related charges. In September, Danish officers arrested nine individuals suspected of planning a terrorist attack in Denmark in a suburb of Odense, Denmark's third-largest city. Five of the individuals remained in custody.
Danish authorities proceeded with several court trials on terrorism charges. In August, Danish prosecutors indicted four individuals, all born in Denmark, for attempting to conduct terrorist acts in cooperation with two men arrested in Bosnia in 2005. The four were charged under the terrorism statute; the trial began in December.
The trial continued against three members of the Danish branch of the Al-Aqsa Foundation (a Palestinian charity with suspected links to HAMAS) charged with supporting terrorism. They were indicted in 2003 for funneling money collected in Denmark, ostensibly for humanitarian purposes, to terrorist-related groups abroad. Danish authorities seized approximately $89,406 in funds from the organization. The case is Denmark's first prosecution under its financing of terrorism legislation.
The trial of Said Mansour, a Danish citizen originally from Morocco, began in December. Mansour was arrested in September 2005, by Danish police, for making and distributing CDs and videos throughout Europe that showed beheadings and killings and called for a violent jihad against the Western world. He was charged under the counterterrorism statute for attempting to recruit terrorists and facilitate terrorism, the first such case in Denmark. Mansour previously served a 90-day sentence from December 2004 on weapons possession charges.
Patrick MacManus, the spokesman of the Danish Non-Governmental Organization, "Opror" (Revolt) was indicted in October for violating Danish counterterrorism legislation by transferring approximately $17,000 to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In 2005, MacManus informed local media that the group's actions were a means to challenge Denmark's counterterrorism laws.
Denmark deployed more than 450 military personnel in southern Iraq to assist with security and reconstruction efforts, and contributed more than 350 military personnel to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Denmark served as chair of the UN Security Council's Counterterrorism Committee.
Estonia contributed 132 soldiers to participate in the U.K.-led provincial reconstruction team in Helmand, Afghanistan. The Estonian contribution consisted of an explosive ordnance disposal team, a national support element, a military observation team, a human intelligence team, a platform maintenance team in Kabul, and infantry. Estonia also sent 38 soldiers to participate in international peace support operations in Iraq. In addition, two staff officers served in the NATO-led training mission along with one police trainer in the Iraq training mission in Jordan.
In April, Estonian law enforcement, security police, and defense forces took part in Shamrock Key 2006, a regional counterterrorism exercise held in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The U.S., Norway, and Poland also participated as NATO partners. The exercise's objective was to improve cooperation and coordination between the various NATO allies' counterterrorism units, including synchronization of communications systems, coordination of logistical support, and cooperation on combat tactics.
On August 17, the Government of Estonia's antiterrorism council approved its antiterrorism policy's basic principles and action plan. The council consisted of representatives from the Ministries of Defense, Justice, Foreign Affairs, Economic Affairs and Communication, Internal Affairs (which included Security Police and Central Criminal Police), and the State Chancery's National Security Coordination Office. The Ministry of Internal Affairs headed the council.
Finland held the EU Presidency from July-December and made counterterrorism a top priority. The government led ongoing efforts within the EU to remove institutional barriers to counterterrorism cooperation and championed EU cooperation with the U.S. and international community. In November, Interior Minister Rajamaki visited Washington for discussions with Justice and Homeland Security officials, and FBI officials participated in Finnish-sponsored EU seminars.
Approximately 100 Finnish troops were deployed in Afghanistan in support of ongoing NATO operations, and a number of Finnish civilian crisis management experts were working in Afghanistan as well. Finland aims to provide ten million euros in development and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan on an annual basis.
On October 1, 2005, new regulations entered into force requiring ships to submit security-related information prior to entry into port. Finland signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the United States; the treaty is awaiting ratification by the Finnish Parliament.
In cases when another government presented a legal request for action or when an individual or organization was suspected of having committed an offense within Finland's borders, Finland implemented regulations that allowed it to freeze assets without EU or UN approval. Finland amended its criminal code to make it possible to sentence leaders of terrorist groups to 15 years in jail, although the group would have to have actually committed an act of terrorism in Finland before investigation or prosecution could begin. If the charge included murder, the maximum sentence would be life imprisonment.
France pursued aggressive counterterrorism measures, including dismantling terror networks on its territory, notably those assisting in the recruitment or financing of terrorists to Iraq. In total, French authorities arrested 317 people in connection with terrorism: 140 for links to Islamic terrorism,150 for attacks in Corsica, and 27 with ties to Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA). Since 2002, French police have arrested 1,422 persons on terrorism related charges.
In September, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) announced its merger with al-Qaida, changed its name to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and declared France its number one target. Several high profile events -- including the local publication of the Danish Mohammed cartoon pictorials, heated debate on the interdiction of the veil in French public institutions, and the presence of French troops in Afghanistan and Lebanon -- were cited by various French authorities as factors manipulated by Islamic extremists to incite violence.
In May, 29 people were detained in France for suspected association with Iraq-related terror networks. In September, officials noted that at least nine terrorists, whose journey to Iraq began in France were killed, two were incarcerated, and another twelve-to-fifteen were likely still engaged in combat against Coalition Forces. Increasing Islamic radicalization in the prison system also continued to worry French officials.
On January 23, the French government adopted new counterterrorism legislation that considerably strengthened police powers in criminal law and codified some current practices. Preliminary detention for terrorism suspects was extended from a maximum of four to up to six days. Current legislation allowed the state to thereafter place suspects in pre-trial detention for up to four years when the evidence is strong or when they present an imminent threat. The law gave the government additional powers for the freezing of assets, video and telephone surveillance, allowed increased monitoring of public transport records, and granted broader powers of official access to connection data held by internet cafes and to various personal data records. Sentences for convicted terrorists were increased from 20 to 30 years for leading or organizing an attack, and from ten to twenty years for assisting a terrorist organization or operation. The new law also reinforced existing legislation that allowed for the revocation of French nationality and eventual expulsion if the terrorist became a citizen through naturalization within the preceding 15 years.
The French government published its White Paper on terrorism on March 7. The paper, a publicly available document, sets out the government's overall policy efforts to combat terrorism. It included attack scenarios, threat analyses, and technical as well as political responses to terrorism.
France continued its active engagement with the United Nation's Security Council (UNSC) Counterterrorism Committee (CTC), the G8's Counterterrorism Action Group (CTAG), the UN's 1267 Sanctions Committee (for the Taliban and al-Qaida), and the European Council's Anti-Terrorism Strategy action plan. In response to increasing calls, especially in some European and NAM delegations, that the process of listing and delisting of terrorist groups and entities under UNSCR 1267 lacked transparency, the United States and France co-sponsored UNSCR 1730, which made improvements in the process. The resolution was adopted in December. France is a founding member of the joint U.S./Russia Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism that was inaugurated in October. France is a member and contributor to both the Proliferation and Container Security Initiatives. The U.S. and France maintained regular bilateral counterterrorism consultations.
On the military front, French Special Forces participated in coalition operations in Afghanistan as part of OEF. France was also a key participant in Coalition Task Force (CTF) 150, a multinational naval force that patrols the Red Sea and Gulf of Yemen to interdict the movement of suspected terrorists between Afghanistan, the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. It has twice commanded the Task Force. France's overall contributions in Afghanistan increased.
French police cooperated closely with Spanish authorities in the Basque region. Several arms caches were discovered in France, and a number of arrests of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) suspects were made throughout the year. Several ETA members were extradited to Spain. One attack, allegedly claimed by Ipparetarek (a defunct French Basque nationalist group) or an Ipparetarek sympathizer, occurred in France on June 11 against the Hotel Ostap. There were no injuries and only minimal damage.
France continued to develop competencies and capabilities of TRACFIN, the Ministry of Finance's terrorism financing coordination and investigation unit. Within the European
Union, France played an active role in the Clearinghouse, the EU process for designation of terrorist organizations. France did not designate HAMAS-affiliated charities, such as the French based Comite de Bienfaisance et Secours aux Palestiniens (Committee for the Well-Being and Assistance to Palestinians), arguing that it had no proven links to terrorism. France also opposed EU designation of Lebanese Hizballah as a terrorist organization, although it supported Hizballah's eventual disarmament, maintaining that disarmament would result in Hizballah's gradual integration into Lebanese politics.
Attacks on the French island of Corsica were up approximately 38 percent in 2006, totaling over 225. A majority of these attacks were claimed by the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica-Combatants Union, or by the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica of October 22. Three terrorists were killed during the year by accident while attempting to carry out attacks. The government had a widespread police presence in the region and arrested dozens of people throughout the year in connection with various attacks. The groups tended to target secondary residences, and avoided serious damage or casualties. Separatist groups appeared to have largely given up their political battle for independence but continued to wage an intimidation campaign aimed at foreigners or mainland French citizens interested in permanent residence or secondary homes on the small island.
Key judicial proceedings on Islamic terrorism related crimes included:
-- On June 13, 25 Islamic militants tied to a Chechen extremist network that allegedly planned to bomb a commercial center in Paris and the Eiffel Tower were sentenced. Several members of the group, including Menad Benchellali and Merouane Benhamed, received the maximum sentence of ten years.2
-- Five of six former Guantanamo detainees expelled to France in 2004 and 2005 were no longer in detention (they were initially detained for many months after their arrival in
France). One, Brahim Yadel, remained in custody for violating the terms of his conditional release. All six former detainees faced further charges in France for terrorist conspiracy. In September the trial was halted when a judge ordered further investigations into the role of alleged visits of French intelligence authorities to Guantanamo.
-- On October 26, Karim Mehdi, a Moroccan national, was sentenced to nine years for terrorism related activities. Mehdi is alleged to have ties with September 11 terrorists (Ramzi bin al Shaibah and Ziad Jarrah) and is suspected of planning an attack on the island of Reunion in 2003. Mehdi will be deported following his sentence and not allowed in France for a minimum of six years.
-- On March 29, Rachid Ramda, who was extradited to France from the U.K. in December 2005 after ten years in detention, was sentenced to ten years for his role in the 1995 Paris subway and train attacks.
-- On November 12, France's chief counterterrorism judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, sent to
the Paris Court of Assises the cases of three suspects allegedly connected to the 2002 Djerba, Tunisia attacks. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Christian Ganczarski, and Walid Nawar are suspected of assisting convicted terrorist Belgacem Nawar in the Djerba AQ attacks whose victims included two French citizens. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed remained in U.S. custody at Guantanamo.
-- In late November, three individuals were detained in France after being expelled from Syria; they were suspected of attempting to transit through Syria to join insurgents fighting against Coalition Forces in Iraq. Another nine individuals were deported from Egypt in mid-December under similar charges. All were released after a brief period of detention.
-- On July 19, Adel Tebourski, a Tunisian and French dual-national citizen, who was arrested in 2001 and sentenced in 2005 for his contribution to the September 9, 2001 assassination of Afghan War Chief Ahmad Shah Massood, was stripped of his French nationality by decree and expelled to Tunisia on August 7.
-- Karim Bourti, a French AQIM/GSPC supporter, was also stripped of his citizenship in May.
-- Since May 2005, the Government of France revoked the security clearances of 72 individuals working in private companies at Charles de Gaulle international airport. The majority of those were announced in early November. A few of those concerned brought legal action against the government and were subsequently reinstated. The government claimed that the individuals, while not terrorists, posed a security risk to the airport because background checks showed they had sympathies with Islamic extremists.
Georgia is improving border security operations and made efforts to close its borders to those who wished to smuggle money, weapons, and supplies, but was hindered by corruption at border checkpoints, a general lack of resources, and obstructionism by Georgian separatists. Russia's July closure of its single legal border crossing with Georgia at Verkkhniy Lars (ostensibly a temporary closure for repairs) further hampered Georgia's control over its borders. All commerce and transit from Russia into Georgia had to thus pass illegally through the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where Georgian authorities have no way to monitor or control the movement of goods and people as a result of the refusal of Russia and the separatists to permit joint monitoring of Georgia's borders between these separatist regions and Russia. Georgian internal troops carried out anti-terrorist operations in the Pankisi Gorge. The identification and safe removal of hidden weapons caches in Pankisi enabled Georgian security forces to better improve security in the area.3
The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General's Office worked closely with U.S. law enforcement on counterterrorism. On January 12, a Georgian court sentenced Vladimir Arutunyan, who was convicted of throwing a grenade at President George Bush in 2005, to life in prison.
Germany participated in military operations overseas, provided leadership in multilateral settings, and fought terrorism within its borders. While no terrorist attacks took place in Germany, terrorists planted suitcase bombs that failed to detonate on two German trains, and German authorities uncovered a plot to smuggle a bomb aboard an Israeli jetliner. These incidents received extensive press coverage and were pointed to by German officials as reasons for Germany to take additional counterterrorism actions.
Germany was a leading contributor of troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan with nearly 3000 troops deployed. The German Navy also participated in Operation Enduring Freedom off the Horn of Africa with roughly 330 military personnel involved. On October 25, a German Ministry of Defense White Paper outlined that, in the future, the international fight against terrorism would be a central task for the German military. Germany has resisted sending forces to Iraq, but provided equipment and training for the Iraqi military and training for the Iraqi police in the United Arab Emirates.
Eight EU member states joined the "Pruem" agreement, a German initiative from May 2005, to deepen law enforcement cooperation. The agreement enables faster sharing of car registration, DNA, and fingerprint data. Germany was active in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, in the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, and in seeking additional EU listings of terrorists.
The German government implemented legislation to strengthen its ability to fight terrorism. Federal reforms, enacted in July, granted the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation broader powers for terrorism investigations and for preventive arrest of would-be terrorists. On December 1, the German Bundestag approved two bills: one created a unified terrorism database, combining information from federal and state agencies as well as from law enforcement and security agencies; the second bill broadened and simplified the ability of German security agencies to obtain travel, financial, and telephone data.
The June 9 - July 9 Soccer World Cup brought millions of fans from around the world to 64 matches in 12 German cities. Germany sought vigorous cooperation with law enforcement officials from neighboring and participating countries to prevent terrorist incidents. Several U.S. agencies developed new bilateral cooperative arrangements with German counterparts.
During the year, German law enforcement authorities arrested and investigated numerous individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism. At the end of the year, German authorities were investigating nearly 200 cases of terrorism-related crimes nationwide. Prominent new actions and arrests included:
- The November 17 raids and detention of six individuals who tried to bribe another person to smuggle a bomb aboard an Israeli aircraft during the summer. German authorities indicated the plot had been at an early stage; they released all individuals later in the day except for one wanted on another charge.
- The October 10 arrest of an Iraqi for posting AQ and other terrorist messages on the Internet.
- The August 19 and 25 arrests of a Lebanese and a Syrian, respectively, connected with the July 31 planting of two suitcase bombs aboard German regional trains in Dortmund and Koblenz. German prosecutors ordered the release of the Syrian on September 14 due to lack of evidence. German authorities worked closely with their Lebanese counterparts, who arrested another individual implicated in the plot.
- The July 6 arrest of a German citizen of Moroccan heritage charged with recruiting extremist fighters for battle in Iraq as well as for fundraising and providing logistical support for AQ.
- The June 12 arrest of an Iraqi charged with providing financial and logistical support for Ansar al-Islam.
- Additional arrests resulted in German prosecutors charging several with leadership of and fundraising for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C).
German courts began trials or reached verdicts in some notable counterterrorism cases. As in previous years, German laws and traditional procedures, as well as the courts' long-standing and expansive view of civil liberties, sometimes limited the success of cases prosecutors brought to trial:
- On November 16, ruling on an appeal, the Federal High Court convicted Moroccan citizen and 9/11 Hamburg cell member Mounir el Motassadeq of both membership in a terrorist organization and of 246 counts of accessory to murder (the 246 figure represented the number of passengers aboard the hijacked airliners of 9/11).4
- On July 14, German prosecutors closed their investigation of Syrian-German dual national Mamoun Darkazanli, wanted in Spain on terrorism charges.
- On June 20, a Stuttgart court began the trial of three Iraqi alleged members of Ansar al-Islam: Ata Abdoulaziz Rashid, Rafik Mohamad Yousef, and Mazen al-Hussein. German prosecutors have charged the three, who have been in detention since December 2004, with a plot to assassinate former Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi during his visit to Berlin that month. Prosecutors also charged them with financial crimes and membership in, financing, and recruiting for a foreign terrorist organization.
- On May 9, a Düsseldorf court began the trial of one Iraqi (Ibrahim Mohamed Khalil) and two Palestinian defendants (brothers Yasser Abu Shaweesh and Ismail Abu Shaweesh) accused of membership in and/or support of Ansar al-Islam, insurance fraud, and attempted procurement of enriched uranium for a "dirty bomb." The three have been in German custody since their arrests in January and May 2005.
- On January 12, a Bavarian court convicted Iraqi citizen Lokman Amin Mohammed of membership in Ansar al-Islam and Ansar al-Sunna, providing them financial and logistical support, and smuggling terrorists into Iraq; he was sentenced to seven years in jail.
The German Interior Ministry used its authority under the Law on Associations to ban organizations that it believed were connected to terrorism. Germany banned a number of such organizations in recent years, including the DHKP-C, Dev Sol, Hizb-ut Tahrir, the PKK, and organizations connected with HAMAS. On January 25, a German court rejected an appeal of the ban against Hizb-ut Tahrir.
Germany participated in several U.S. programs to combat terrorism, including the Container Security Initiative in the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven. The Transportation Security Administration's presence in Frankfurt, together with U.S. and German air marshals, formed key parts of bilateral efforts to provide air transport security for the six German airports with flights to the United States.
With improved counterterrorism infrastructure in place following the 2004 summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece continued to fight domestic and international terrorism. Greece sustained its participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan by providing a unit from the Greek Corps of Engineers (511 troops) and a NATO medical unit in Kabul (209 troops). From October 2005 through April, Greece had the lead for security at Kabul International Airport. On October 12, Greece signed the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism.
In July, convicted 17 November (17N) terrorist Nikos Papanastasiou, was released from prison for health reasons. Papanastasiou was sentenced to eight years imprisonment in 2003, for setting up and participating in the 17N terrorist group. Papanastasiou is the third convicted 17N terrorist to be granted an early release from prison on health grounds, being preceded by Konstantinos Telios and Pavlos Serifis in 2005. On April 12, an appellate criminal court unanimously acquitted Constantinos Avramidis, a self-confessed member of anarchist organizations who was arrested and indicted as a member of 17N in 2003, for lack of evidence.
Despite these early releases, on October 10, a Greek court denied 17N prisoner Savvas Xiros' pleas for release on medical grounds for the second time. Xiros' first plea was denied in October 2005. Xiros' botched bombing attempt in 2002 led to his arrest and the subsequent arrest and trial of several members of the November 17 organization.
In 2003, Greek courts handed down multiple life sentences to key 17N members who were responsible for hundreds of crimes and the murders of 13 Greeks and five U.S. government employees over a course of almost 30 years. A group appeals trial for 15 17N convicts and two previously acquitted individuals opened in December 2005. The appeals trials essentially represented a new trial for the convicts, since the Greek judicial system allows new facts and evidence to be introduced in the appeals phase.
The appeals trial lasted far longer than the original trial, in part due to the defense team's tactics and the court's decisions allowing defendants great leeway to make statements and interrupt witnesses. The defense attorney's strategy had been to dismiss defendant confessions rendered in the first trial as void due to alleged illegal interrogation methods. Investigation of 17N continued despite the arrest, trial, and conviction of what has been identified as "the main body" of the 17N terrorist group.
The Revolutionary Struggle (RS), an anti-Greek establishment radical leftist group, claimed responsibility for a May bomb explosion near the residence of former Minister of Public Order Giorgos Voulgarakis. The remotely detonated bomb was placed next to a school along the minister's usual route to work and exploded just minutes before he was due to pass. The explosion wrecked several cars but did not cause any injuries. Police have made no arrests in the case. Police officials have not closed their investigation into the 2004 killing of a Greek Special Guard at his post outside the residence of the British Defense Attaché, which they regarded as a domestic terrorist incident.
Self-styled anarchists attacked "imperialist-capitalist targets" with tools such as firebombs and Molotov cocktails. Since these attacks usually occurred in the middle of the night, few persons were seriously injured and there were no deaths. Several U.S. businesses were targeted. Police officials pursued a more pro-active approach to deterring violent attacks by anarchists and arrested perpetrators.
Hungary deployed a provincial reconstruction team to Afghanistan and continued to fully implement domestic legislation to ensure compliance with EU norms regarding financial transactions and money laundering. Cooperation with U.S. and regional officials on export and border controls remained outstanding as Hungary continued its preparations to join the Schengen zone. Hungarian officials aggressively developed and pursued leads in cooperation with U.S. officials to prevent the transshipment of hazardous materials. Efforts to improve its technical ability to trace and control dangerous materials continued, consistent with EU membership obligations.
Although Iceland does not have its own military, the government undertook efforts to review its national security policy following the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iceland. The Icelandic government made strong efforts to ensure that Iceland was not a haven for terrorist groups. In June, Iceland passed the "Act to Counter Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorist Acts," which brought Icelandic law fully into compliance with FATF's recommendations regarding terrorist financing. In support of efforts to prevent trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, Iceland was a member of the Proliferation Security Initiative and participated in the U.S. Coast Guard's International Port Security Program. Through its participation in the Schengen Agreement, the Icelandic government consulted closely with other Schengen states on border control and security matters.
In September, the National Police Commissioner's Office confirmed it was investigating a case involving a resident who showed an interest in researching explosives and bomb making. No charges were brought in the case, but this was the first public confirmation that Iceland's police conduct preemptive investigations of possible terrorist activity.
On September 26, the government announced efforts to strengthen its security and counterterrorism capabilities, including: a legal review of intelligence and information sharing with foreign governments, the planned establishment of a national security unit within the National Police Commissioner's Office, and purchases of a new fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and a patrol vessel for the Icelandic Coast Guard (ICG).
On October 12, Iceland's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and the U.S. Secretary of State signed a Joint Understanding on Defense and Security Issues, detailing new initiatives in training, exercises, and intelligence. The government conducted several joint counterterrorism training activities with the United States.
Iceland supported NATO counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan through the deployment of a mobile observation team to the provincial reconstruction team in Ghor Province and through its role as lead NATO nation at Kabul International Airport. Iceland also deployed personnel to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, which reported violations of the cease-fire between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The Irish government permitted the transit of U.S. military personnel and material through Irish airspace and airports for deployment to Iraq. The government also took steps to strengthen bilateral dialogue on terrorism issues, including establishing a security liaison office at the Irish Embassy in Washington and the visit of an Irish Justice Department delegation to meet with U.S. Government agencies to discuss terrorism. Ireland focused largely on implementing recent terrorism-related domestic legislation and on negotiations to bring republican groups into a political power-sharing arrangement in Northern Ireland.
The Irish media focused on concerns about the possible radicalization of small numbers of people within Ireland's 40,000-strong Muslim community. One imam told the press that recruits were targeting some Muslim youth to participate in terrorist activity, although most Muslim leaders strongly denied this claim.
The Irish government continued to work with the British government to bring republican groups into the Northern Ireland political process, the objective of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. In October, representatives of Sinn Fein, formerly the political wing of the Provisional IRA (PIRA), and the Democratic Unionist Party announced their support for the Ireland/U.K.-brokered "St. Andrews Agreement." The Agreement envisions a power-sharing arrangement between the two sides and a Sinn Fein endorsement of joint policing. The negotiation process leading to the Agreement followed steps by the IRA in 2005 to decommission its weapons and to announce an end to armed struggle.
In October, the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), a four-person body established by the Irish and British governments in 2004, published its twelfth report which concluded that the IRA "is firmly set on a political strategy, eschewing terrorism and other forms of crime." The IMC reported no acts of crime or violence that could be regarded as sanctioned by the PIRA. In April, however, former Sinn Fein leader Denis Donaldson was murdered in Ireland, roughly four months after his public admission that he had acted as an informant for the British government. While no suspects were apprehended in his murder, there is widespread suspicion that his murder was an act of republican retribution for his work as a double-agent.
Italy aggressively fought terrorism and dismantled terrorist-related cells within its borders, while it maintained high-level professional cooperation with its international partners. The Italian security services maintained a high-state of readiness at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin in February and during national elections in April, and closely collaborated with U.S. and other international partners to ensure that both events remained free of terrorist-related incidents. There was no discernible change in either the pace or scope on counterterrorism cooperation with the political change in government from the center-right to the center-left.
Italy contributed to Coalition peacekeeping activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. Italy was an important partner in the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Container Security Initiative. In October, Italy became an initial partner nation of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, developed by the United States and Russia.
Italy's judiciary continued to be engaged in counterterrorism efforts, with several noteworthy cases during the reporting period. In September, a Milan court sentenced five members of an Ansar al-Islam cell to sentences ranging from five to ten years. The ruling overturned a January 2005 decision by another court that released two of the individuals and reduced the sentences of the other three, based on a judgment that their activities to recruit fighters for the insurgency in Iraq did not necessarily constitute terrorist activity.
In October, Italy's Court of Cassation (Italy's highest appellate court) overturned acquittals by two lower appellate courts for three individuals: Mohamed Daki, Maher Abdelaziz Bouyahia, and Ali Ben Sassi Toumi, suspected of supporting international terrorism. The higher court maintained there was sufficient evidence for a retrial of their alleged involvement in recruiting fighters for Iraq and facilitating the movement of suspected terrorists. In November, a court in Milan sentenced Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, an Egyptian national, to ten years in prison on charges of subversive association aimed at international terrorism for having recruited suicide bombers in Italy for Iraq. Rabei Osman will be extradited to Spain to stand trial on charges of being a key plotter in the 2004 Madrid bombings.
In July, the new Parliament, dominated by the center-left, approved a universal pardon in an effort to relieve prison overcrowding. The pardon allowed anyone serving a prison sentence (except for certain specified offenses) to be released from prison three years early. The pardon excluded those convicted of terrorism, but some individuals convicted of lesser crimes, but potentially having some terror connections, were pardoned. It is unknown how the pardon will affect other individuals with known or suspected ties to terrorism.
In May, the U.S. Ambassador and the Italian Justice Minister signed a new treaty on extradition and mutual legal assistance. The treaty, when ratified by the U.S. Senate, will allow for joint investigative teams, easier asset freezing and forfeiture, and faster sharing of bank account and other financial information.
The Italian security services engaged in raids, temporary detentions, prosecutions, and expulsions of known or suspected extremists to combat Islamic extremists. The Italian government benefited from reinforced counterterrorism legislation enacted in 2005, which made it easier to hold suspects; mandated arrest for crimes involving terrorism; and facilitated the deportation of persons who may be involved in terrorist activities. More than 25 individuals were arrested nationwide as a result of counterterrorism investigations, and approximately 20 suspected terrorists or facilitators were deported. The European Court of Human Rights is reviewing the Italian government's policy of expulsions and deportations without judicial review, which could impact the government's ability to uphold a key part of its counterterrorism policy.
Italian officials carefully monitored and dismantled groups with suspected links to the Balkans and Islamic terrorist groups. In a variety of operations, Italian officials maintained that some members of Balkan-based groups in Italy traveled throughout the country and elsewhere in Europe, possibly engaging in recruitment, support, and facilitation of terrorist activities. These individuals faced charges of membership to a terrorist organization and involvement in illegal immigration, both of which are considered a crime under the Italian Penal Code.
In February, two of the main plotters in terrorist cells that were planning attacks in Italy, including against Saint Petronio's Basilica in Bologna, were arrested in Algeria and Morocco with Italian support. The investigation and subsequent debriefing of the suspects identified seven other individuals residing in Italy linked to the plot; the seven were subsequently ordered deported. In April, as a result of a joint operation, Italian and French police detained 13 suspected Islamic militants linked to the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (AQIM/GSPC). Eight of the suspects were apprehended in Naples on suspicion of using or making forged documents. In July, Italian police authorities arrested four Algerians suspected of belonging to the AQIM/GSPC and of fabricating false documentation. In October, Italian police services, in collaboration with the Federal Swiss Police, arrested six Algerians that belonged to the AQIM/GSPC and were suspected of promoting, financing, and supporting terrorist acts against the Algerian government. Individuals in the group reportedly were linked to at least two terrorist attacks in Algiers conducted in 2005. The investigation also revealed that the group managed more than $1.7 million through some 50 bank and postal accounts.
With respect to financial aspects of fighting terrorism, Italy aggressively identifies and blocks financial resources to suspected terrorist individuals and groups. Italy is second in the EU only to the United Kingdom in the number of individual terrorists and terrorist organizations the country has submitted to the United Nations UN 1267 Sanctions Committee for designation.
Domestic anarchist-inspired terrorist groups presented a diminished threat as a result of Italian authorities' continued efforts to dismantle their organizations. Nevertheless, anarchist groups sent letter bombs to Italian officials and placed package bombs near military installations and media outlets. In some cases, these devices caused minor injuries. Communist-inspired revolutionary groups occasionally placed improvised explosive devices outside military installations and in one case, a defense industrial firm.
In December, Italian authorities rearrested Fabio Matteini on charges of belonging to a terrorist and subversive organization and of participating in an armed organization. Matteini, who was released from prison in 1997 after serving time for similar charges, is connected to the new Red Brigades, which killed labor advisers Marco Biagi (in 2002) and Massimo D'Antona (in 1999). Biagi and D'Antona served as advisers to the center-right and center-left governments, respectively. Matteini previously was a member of the Combatant Communist Nuclei. In December, a Court of Appeals in Bologna confirmed the life sentences of four other individuals involved in Biagi's killing.
Latvia's Financial Intelligence Unit continued to maintain a terrorist financing (OFAC) database that it shared with local banks. Although Latvia had previously passed legislation to improve government oversight, in May 2005, the Department of the Treasury designated two Latvian banks as institutions of "primary money laundering concern" under Section 311 of the Patriot Act, prohibiting them from having any dealings with U.S. financial institutions. Since then, the Latvian government and regulatory agencies have worked very closely with the United States to enhance their legislative and regulatory framework. In July, Treasury cleared one bank but continued sanctions against the second.
In April, Latvian law enforcement, security police, and defense forces took part in Shamrock Key 2006, a regional counterterrorism exercise held in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The United States, Norway, and Poland also participated as NATO partners. The exercise's objective was to improve cooperation and coordination between the various NATO Allies' counterterrorism units, including synchronization of communications systems, coordination of logistical support, and cooperation on combat tactics. In November, the NATO summit in Riga brought Heads of State and Government from 26 countries to Latvia. The summit provided an impetus for significant improvements in coordination among the various Latvian security-related agencies. Annual exercises are planned to ensure continuation of this high level of coordination. Latvia actively sought vigorous cooperation with law enforcement officials from neighboring and participating countries to prevent terrorist incidents. In securing the summit, Latvia also undertook significant cooperation with U.S. agencies and the U.S. military. Latvia used the Summit to strengthen its border control and inspection system, including data sharing with EU and other partners.
Latvia contributed 35 soldiers to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan; in October the team's mandate was renewed for one year and is now scheduled to expire the same day that the UNSCR mission mandate expires (October 13, 2007). In Iraq, Latvia has 120 soldiers under Polish command. Parliament renewed the authority for the Iraq deployment in December for an additional year.
In May, President Adamkus introduced a Lithuanian-Belarusian intergovernmental agreement to combat organized crime and trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances, terrorism, and other crimes (Decree No. 616), which is pending ratification. In June, the Parliament passed an amendment that allows for and formalizes the process by which the military can be used for counterterrorism purposes. In October, based on EU guidelines, the Lithuanian government approved a terrorist watch list of persons, groups, and organizations related to terror acts or suspected of terrorism. For EU citizens on the list, it limited their rights to own and use funds held by them in financial institutions (Decision No. 1027).
Lithuania has approximately 60 troops in Iraq, including infantry troops serving in Multinational Division South East (MND-SE) near Basra and trainers in the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I). Lithuania also led a provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan's remote Ghor Province. This element consists of approximately 130 Lithuanian troops and civilians responsible for maintaining a stable environment throughout the province to enable reconstruction efforts.
Macedonia's active implementation of the Law on Export Control of Dual Use Goods and Technologies, through the establishment of an electronic system to review and issue export licenses for dual use technologies, demonstrated its commitment to preventing the sale of potentially dangerous technologies to terrorist and criminal regimes. Macedonia also passed legislation on nuclear security and terrorism, chemical weapons, and bilateral law enforcement, security, and extradition agreements.
Macedonia continued to support troop rotations to Afghanistan and Iraq. The government removed five of seven caveats on its troops deployed to both countries so Macedonian soldiers can better support ISAF and other allied military operations. The United States trained several hundred police and military personnel in counter and antiterrorism techniques, technologies, and methods.
Although the Government of Malta has expressed political will, counterterrorism efforts in Malta remained in a nascent stage and are in need of development, enlargement, training, and financial assistance. Deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg acknowledged this during his September visit to the United States.
In February, Malta's Prevention of Money Laundering Regulations was extended to include "financing of terrorism," which criminalized terrorist financing and imposed additional obligations, namely customer due diligence, record keeping, reporting, and training procedures. Like other EU countries, Malta has not yet adopted the Directive but was already in substantial compliance with the enumerated requirements. The Government of Malta made significant strides to reform and regulate the banking laws, most significantly, ending its offshore investment regime. The Ministry of Finance's Financial Intelligence and Analysis Unit continued to expand and upgrade its capabilities.
The Maltese government was concerned about the proliferation and trafficking of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in and through its territory. A particular vulnerability is Malta's Freeport which transshipped approximately 1.2 million containers per year. Most of the containers through Freeport were heading to, or coming from, nations along the North African littoral. Through the Export Control and Border Security assistance program, the United States has for several years provided training and advanced equipment that have increased Maltese authorities' capability to monitor what passes through its ports. The Maltese have seized many shipments of stolen and counterfeit goods as a direct outcome of the U.S. assistance. Malta and the United States agreed in October on the text for a bilateral Proliferation Security Initiative Ship Boarding Agreement. After Malta and the United States sign the agreement, which is set to occur in March 2007, the Maltese Parliament must approve legislation for it to enter into force.
Technology, funding, and training of Maltese agencies contributed to improved port security and the ability to inspect goods transiting the Freeport and Malta International Airport. With Malta's geographic location between northern Africa and the European mainland, Malta could become increasingly attractive to terrorist organizations seeking entry into Europe.
Moldova deployed four separate contingents of servicemen (a total of 76 servicemen) to Iraq, where they specialized in demining, liaison, and convoy security. The Moldovan government continued to manage a counterterrorism strategy based on its 2003 - 2008 National Action Plan on Combating Terrorism. The SECI/GUAM National Virtual Center, aimed at combating terrorism, organized crime, and narcotics trafficking, was created on January 27. On November 13, a Counterterrorism Center within the Information and Security Service (SIS) was created and staffed by 18 employees.
The separatist-controlled Transnistria region of Moldova remained a potential area for terrorist recruitment. Moldovan law enforcement worked hard to track the whereabouts and activities of a sizeable Arab student population, as many often move in and out of Transnistria, an area where the Moldovan police and security services do not have the authority to operate. Many of these students remained in Moldova illegally, as the government lacked the resources to deport them when their visas expired. Corruption was endemic, and it was easy to obtain false travel documents. The U.S. embassy does not maintain liaison relationships or contacts with Transnistrian law enforcement and/or security service personnel. To date, Embassy has not obtained any information about known terrorist organizations or terrorists operating from or within this region.
Montenegro became independent on June 3, after a May 21 public referendum. The Government of Montenegro, before and after independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, has taken a serious and considered approach to combating international terrorism, including terrorism finance. Although Montenegro made considerable progress in its efforts to combat corruption and organized crime, weak border control and high levels of organized crime make Montenegro a potential harbor for organized crime and extremist groups that seek to operate in Montenegro and the Balkan region. Montenegro sits along several major smuggling routes between Southern and Western Europe.
Montenegro does not tolerate the activity of terrorist groups on its territory. The Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering, which was established with and continues to receive assistance and training from the United States, works closely and shares information with regional and international Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs). The Montenegrin FIU also conducted local investigations of terrorism finance and initiated investigations potentially leading to future criminal prosecution in three cases this past year. Montenegro joined INTERPOL in September.
On September 9, the day before parliamentary elections, Montenegrin police raided arms caches in a suburb of Podgorica, the nation's capital, initially arresting 14 persons, including three foreign nationals, on suspicion that the group planned to carry out armed attacks on election day. The Government described the group as comprising of ethnic Albanian extremists. On December 7, 18 persons, including four fugitives and, non-exclusively, five foreign nationals, were criminally charged with planning terrorist acts, financing of terrorism, and other acts constituting organized crime. Subsequently, one foreign national fugitive was arrested in Austria upon an Interpol warrant filed by Montenegro. The State Prosecutor, in the indictment, stated that additional planning for the terrorist acts took place in Skoder, Albania. Some opposition political parties criticized the arrests, claiming the raid was aimed at suppressing legitimate political dissent. At year's end, all of the defendants were still awaiting trial. Since September 9, there were numerous unconfirmed reports of similar ethnic-Albanian extremist groups operating within Montenegro.
The Dutch continued to respond to the global terrorist threat with leadership and energy in the areas of border and shipping security, terrorist financing, and Coalition efforts in Afghanistan. The Netherlands deployed over 1900 troops to Afghanistan as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The Dutch led a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Uruzgan province, and in November assumed a six-month rotational command in Kandahar of NATO's efforts in southern Afghanistan. For 2004-2006, the Dutch pledged 75 million euros toward the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund to support the transition from humanitarian to reconstruction assistance. From December 2005 to May 2006, the Government of the Netherlands commanded OEF's Combined Task Force 150, committing a fast frigate, a submarine, and a support ship to the mission. Dutch troops ended their deployment in Iraq as part of SFIR in March 2005 following two extensions. The Netherlands deployed 14 trainers and security guards in support of the NATO Training Mission in Iraq and pledged 21 million euros for Iraqi reconstruction.
In its October quarterly terrorism threat analysis, the Dutch National Counterterrorism Coordinator (NCTb) maintained the "substantial threat" level, citing significant threats against other European countries, and Western countries in general. The NCTb also highlighted concern about continuing radicalization among young Muslims, particularly through the Internet. The report cited the increasing presence of susceptible teenagers, particularly those of Dutch-Turkish descent, in local Jihad networks as evidence of continuing radicalization, noting that frustration about the position of Muslims in the Netherlands and fury about events in conflict areas appeared to nourish the feeling of "having to do something." The NCTb also highlighted the role of the Internet as a platform for radical Islamic propaganda.
In February, the Dutch government launched a national counterterrorism public information campaign, "The Netherlands against Terrorism." The campaign was designed to make the public aware of government counterterrorism actions and what individuals could do to minimize the risks of an attack. In March a special notification center for radical statements and hate mail became operational via the new cyber crime website. The Dutch hosted the first ever U.S.-Netherlands Cyber-Crime Conference in October. The conference, attended by Attorney General Gonzales and Dutch Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin, included discussions on bilateral counterterrorism investigations and combating internet radicalization.
The Dutch prosecuted two major terrorism cases. In March, the Rotterdam court ruled the Hofstad group a terrorist organization that aimed to incite hatred, violence, and intimidation. Nine of 14 defendants, including Mohammad Bouyeri, the convicted murderer of film director Theo Van Gogh, were found guilty of membership in a criminal organization "with terrorist intent." Two of the nine, Jason Walters (a dual U.S. - Dutch national) and Ismael Akhnikh, were also convicted for attempted murder and violating the Weapons and Ammunition Act for throwing a hand grenade at The Hague police officers in November 2004. They were sentenced to 15 and 13 years, respectively. Noureddin el Fatmi, also charged in the Piranha case (see below), was sentenced to five years. Bouyeri, considered the group's leader, did not receive an additional sentence in the Hofstad case because he already was serving a life term for Van Gogh's murder. This was the first case to be tried under the 2004 Terrorist Crimes Act, which made membership in a terrorist group and conspiracy to commit terrorist attacks criminal offenses.
The second major prosecution concluded in December, when Samir Azzouz and four additional defendants in the "Piranha" trial were found guilty of planning terrorist attacks on politicians and the national intelligence office. Samir Azzouz, the alleged leader of the group, was sentenced to eight years in prison.
In November, the National Crime Squad arrested five men and one woman on suspicion of terrorist recruitment, participating in a terrorist organization, and obtaining false travel documents.
Dutch officials remained committed to active cooperation with the United States in freezing the assets of known terrorist organizations. In March, the Netherlands Finance Ministry hosted an international conference on terrorist financing issues. In April, the Hofstad group and nine convicted members of the group were put on the Dutch Terrorist Sanctions List, freezing all their assets; in June the government decided, on humanitarian grounds, to ease financial sanctions on some members of the group who already served their sentences. The Netherlands sought EU designations of the Hofstad group and Hizballah as terrorist groups.
The Netherlands adopted three new counterterrorism laws that were expected to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of terrorism suspects. The Protected Witness Act permitted the use of intelligence information in criminal proceedings by establishing procedures to allow the examining judge to assess the reliability of intelligence information without exposing the identities of intelligence officers or sharing confidential intelligence information with the public. The provisions went into effect November 1. The "special investigative methods" bill expanded the use of special investigative techniques in terror investigations by lowering the threshold for the use of surveillance, infiltration, undercover purchases, and wiretapping. This allows the police to initiate investigations at a much earlier stage in terrorist planning. The final law forbade the operation in the Netherlands of terrorist organizations on the UN or EU designations lists. (Previously, only the bank accounts of such groups were frozen.) The law also provided for action, including the confiscation and liquidation of the group's Dutch assets, to be taken against foreign organizations, including those not appearing on the UN or EU terror lists, conducting activities or pursuing objectives in the Netherlands deemed contrary to public order. These new laws complemented the 2004 Terrorist Crimes Law and were expected to facilitate the successful investigation and prosecution of terrorist suspects.
The National Police Service's Special Intervention Unit became operational in June. It integrated various special police and defense units engaged in counterterrorism activities.
The government's sectoral terror alert system, which became operational in June 2005, now includes nine economic sectors: Schiphol Airport, the Rotterdam Port, and the petrochemical industry, drinking water, railway, natural gas, electricity, nuclear, municipal and regional transport, and financial sectors. This early-warning system was designed to trigger a clear and rapid response to terrorist threats by both the public and private sectors. It links sector-specific measures to be taken to the latest threat information from the National Counterterrorism Coordinator. There are four alert levels: basic, low, moderate, and high-threat. A total of 14 sectors are anticipated.
On October 11, the Justice Minister approved the extradition to the United States of Wasem Al Delaema, an Iraqi-born Dutch citizen. Al Delaema was charged with conspiring to attack U.S. troops in Iraq in 2003, and was the first person to be charged in U.S. courts for terrorist activities in Iraq. The Supreme Court's September ruling that Al Delaema was eligible for extradition was the first time a Dutch court approved the extradition of a Dutch citizen on terrorism-related charges. Al Delaema filed for an injunction against the Minister's extradition order; his appeal was rejected on December 19, paving the way for his extradition. In September, the Dutch Supreme Court blocked the extradition of alleged female PKK leader Nuriye Kesbir to Turkey, citing concerns over Turkey's human rights practices and insufficient guarantees against torture.
Norway took steps to improve its counterterrorism capabilities but more work remains to be done. The government's efforts to address serious shortages in equipment, training, and capabilities were complicated by the widespread belief among the general public that no one would attack Norway. In October, the Ministry of Interior conducted a large-scale exercise in Oslo designed to test emergency response capabilities to a London and Madrid-type terrorist attack on transit infrastructure.
In October 2005, Norway passed an antiterrorism law that gave the police greater leeway to investigate and prosecute terror suspects. The September 2006 arrest of four individuals suspected of shooting an Oslo synagogue and planning attacks on the U.S. and Israeli embassies was the first test of this law. Some of the new investigative tools were used in the case. However, the prosecution of the case highlighted concerns that the law's definition of a conspiracy to commit a terror act was restrictive and could limit its usefulness. Reported miscommunication among various police offices and mishandling of information and suspects illustrated the need for improvement.
Alleged Ansar al-Islam leader Mullah Krekar, an Iraqi Kurd listed in December 2006 under UNSCR 1267, continued to reside in Norway but was unable to travel abroad, as his travel documents were confiscated and he remained under a government expulsion order. In the fall of 2005 the Oslo City Court rejected Krekar's suit against the government's expulsion decision. His subsequent appeal was rejected one year later. Despite the failure of his appeal, Krekar remained in Norway because the government was unable to receive sufficient human rights assurances from Iraq to proceed with deportation.
Poland supplied about 100 troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan while leading the Multinational Division Center South (MND-CS) in Iraq with 900 troops. Domestically, Poland hosted the global Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) policy meeting in June, conducted a PSI maritime interdiction exercise in September, and cooperated with the United States in various counterterrorism training opportunities. There were no reported terrorist groups or incidents in Poland, but a growing population of Chechen migrants vulnerable to radicalization was a cause for concern.
Through the bilateral Joint Counterterrorism Working Group (JCTWG), Poland cooperated with various U.S. government agencies on synchronizing counterterrorism policy and training counterterrorism specialists. The United States trained 16 Polish Air Marshals, eight Polish officials in cargo inspection procedures, and about 100 Polish officials in topics ranging from bioterrorism to the psychology of terrorism.
Poland continued to closely monitor incoming Chechen migrants for signs of radicalization. According to the Office for the Repatriation of Foreigners, about 4,500 Chechens entered Poland in 2006. Most of them continued on to other EU destinations in search of work, however, approximately 5,500 Chechens were residing in Poland, of whom approximately 100 were known to be extremists.
Portugal supported international efforts to combat terrorist networks and actively pursued indications of extremist group activity in Portugal. Portuguese government agencies took steps to minimize exploitation of its financial sector and to maintain the integrity of its passports and other documents.
On November 14, Portugal's Judicial Police (PJ) simultaneously executed 48 search warrants on small currency exchange operations. The effort, in cooperation with the Bank of Portugal, was intended to investigate money laundering operations with links to Lusophone Africa and South Asia that could be exploited by extremist organizations. The investigation into the "mixed Hawala" system netted equipment, documents, and over 300,000 Euros, but no arrests. Portugal announced it would restructure the Judicial Police to create four major operational commands regarding terrorism, corruption, drug trafficking, and technological investigation.
In August, Portugal began issuing biometric passports with greater protections than previous iterations. In addition to the additional security features, the new Portuguese passport law passed July 16 centralized the production of all passports to counter the fraudulent acquisition of Portuguese documents by criminal and extremist organizations. Portugal maintained its active participation in both the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Container Security Initiative.
Approximately 1,500 Romanian troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of coalition and NATO efforts to combat terrorism and to deny terrorists operational and political opportunities. President Basescu reaffirmed his commitment to keep Romanian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for as long as they are needed. Romania made available its airspace, ground infrastructure, and naval facilities to support U.S. and NATO forces. The Romanian frigate Regina Maria deployed from September to November with NATO counterterrorism forces in the Mediterranean Sea as part of Operation Active Endeavor.
The Romanian government strengthened its national policies as part of a strategic approach to combat terrorism. Romania included proactive language on counterterrorism in its National Security Strategy, in its National Antiterrorism Strategy, and in guidelines for preventing and combating terrorist financing activities. Romania continued to promote the Bucharest-based South East Europe Cooperation Initiative (SECI), a regional center that provides law enforcement training and intelligence sharing to prevent trans-border criminal activities, including terrorist-related activities, for the 12 member countries in South Eastern and Central Europe.
In April, Romania hosted the first meeting of counterterrorism chiefs within the framework of the Regional Conference of Interior Ministers under the Brdo Process (a regional initiative involving Interior Ministries from Central and Southern European states). In October 2005, the Government of Romania first released a list of over 250 individuals and legal entities suspected of committing or financing terrorist acts. The 21 official agencies that form Romania's National System to Prevent and Combat Terrorism routinely update this list based on information from the UN Security Council. The list was compiled by the Ministry of Public Finance, which was responsible for monitoring and blocking the movement of terrorist funds.
In October, the Romanian Parliament ratified the UN International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism; in November, it ratified two Council of Europe Conventions related to counterterrorism: the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism and the Convention on Money Laundering, and the Search, Seizure, and Confiscation of Criminal Proceeds.
In June, a Romanian citizen, Ioan Les, was detained by Romanian intelligence agents near the town of Buzias in Western Romania, for allegedly planning an act of terrorism. According to Romanian authorities, the suspect was arrested in transit to Timisoara, where he planned to use a remote control device to blow up a car in the city center. The suspect told investigators that his motive was to force Romania to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Investigators linked the suspect to a Bosnia-based terrorist network. The Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) placed Les under surveillance for several months after he allegedly made several threats via the internet to various entities, including CNN and Al-Jazeera television stations. Les was charged under a 29-day preventive arrest warrant.
Omar Hayssam, a businessman with strong connections both to the Arab world and the now-in-opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD) was arrested on terrorism-related charges in 2005 for his involvement in the abduction of three Romanian journalists and another businessman in Iraq. Although prohibited from leaving the country, Hayssam fled Romania for Syria on June 30, following his conditional April release on medical grounds. As a result of the ensuing public scandal, the General Prosecutor, the Police Information Service chief, and both Internal and External Intelligence chiefs resigned.
On November 13, four Romanian-Muslim citizens were arrested in Iasi under suspicion of supporting Middle Eastern terrorist groups. On November 14, an Iraqi citizen Shaker A. Shaker was arrested in Bacau under suspicion of terrorist-related activities. Romanian Intelligence Services had evidence that Shaker possessed a false passport, and that his real name was in fact Mahmoud Chaker, a former Iraqi Embassy diplomat, who had been deported previously from Romania in 2003 along with 40 other Iraqi citizens for planning terrorist attacks against Israeli interests in Bucharest.
The Russian government continued to view counterterrorism as a top priority and considered cooperation with the United States in this area as one of the pillars of the bilateral relationship. Much of the terrorist activity in Russia was homegrown and linked to both the Chechen separatist movement and in some ways, to separate, but overlapping, North Caucasus-wide extremism. However, there was evidence of a foreign terrorist presence in the North Caucasus with financial and ideological ties to international terrorism. There were no high-profile terrorist incidents involving large numbers of civilian casualties, as had been the case in the four previous years.
Russian security forces carried out operations that led to the deaths of two significant terrorist leaders. In July, Russia's most wanted terrorist, Chechen separatist Shamil Basayev, was killed in the North Caucasus. Russian officials claim he was targeted by security forces but there were reports he was killed accidentally by his own explosives. In November, Abu Hafs al-Urdani, the AQ-linked, Jordanian-born commander of foreign separatist forces in Chechnya, was killed by security forces. In June Russian security forces killed Chechen separatist leader Abdul Khalim Sadulayev, whom the Russian government considered a terrorist, and who was nominal head of the Chechen separatist "government" to which Basayev belonged.
The most significant terrorist incident for Russia took place outside the borders of the Russian Federation. In June, five employees of the Russian Embassy in Baghdad were abducted and murdered, reportedly by members of the Mujahideen Shura Council, an umbrella group incorporating al-Qaida in Iraq. This was followed by a Presidential decree that ordered Russian security forces to "eliminate" those responsible and authorized the deployment of Russian security forces abroad to prevent "international terrorist activity."
The Russian government continued to take steps to improve coordination of counterterrorism activities and expand law enforcement responsibilities domestically. In February, President Putin signed a decree creating the National Counterterrorism Committee (NCC), to be headed by the Federal Security Service (FSB). The NCC was an effort to rationalize the decision-making process following the 2004 Beslan school siege, and was designed to establish a single chain of command and centralize the decision-making process at the national level, subordinating the Regional Counterterrorism Committees headed by governors. In March, the Russian legislature approved the law "On Counteracting Terrorism," which further defined the role of the NCC. The legislation expanded the concept of terrorism under Russian law, going beyond physical involvement in planning or carrying out terrorist attacks. Under the law, terrorism also included promotion of "terrorist ideas" and distributing materials or information to encourage terrorist activity or inciting individuals to commit a terrorist act.
The government provided further transparency about its counterterrorist efforts in July by releasing, for the first time, a list of 17 organizations it designated as terrorist entities. All entries to the list must be approved by the Supreme Court, and must meet the following criteria:
-- Activities aimed at changing Russia's constitutional system through violence, including terrorism;
-- Links to illegal armed groups and other extremist organizations operating in the North Caucasus; and
-- Association with, or links to, groups regarded as terrorists by the international community.
The list includes the following organizations: AQ; Supreme Military Majlisul Shura of the Caucasus Mujahedin United Forces; Ichkeria and Dagestan People's Congress; Asbat al-Ansar; Holy War (Al Jihad or Egyptian Islamic Jihad); Islamic Group (Al-Gamaa al Islamia); Moslem Brothers (Al-Ikhvan al-Muslimun); Party of Islamic Liberation (Hiz'but-Tahrir al-Islami); Lashkar-I-Taiba; Islamic Group (Jamaat-i-Islami); Taliban Movement; Islamic Party of Turkestan (former Islamic movement of Uzbekistan); Social Reform Society (Jamiyat Ikhya al-Islakh al-Ijtimai); Islamic Heritage Renaissance Society (Jamiyat Ikhya at-Turaz al-Islami); Two Holies' House (Al Kharamein); Islamic Jihad -- Mujahidin Jammat; and Jund ash-Sham.
There were three known organizations operating within the Russian Federation that the United States designated terrorist entities in February 2003, under Executive Order 13224. They have not been designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations under 8 USC Section 1189. These include:
-- The Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR). The SPIR was one of three Chechen-affiliated terrorist groups that furnished personnel to carry out the seizure of the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow in October 2003. It is not clear if the SPIR was still active, nor is it clear who commanded the organization.
-- Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs. The group had been led by Basayev. It used terrorism as part of an effort to secure an independent Muslim state in the North Caucasus. The group has not mounted a terrorist attack since the Beslan school attack in September 2004. The group's strength is probably no more than 50 fighters at any given time.
-- Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (IIPB). The IIPB is a terrorist group affiliated with the Chechen separatist movement demanding a single Islamic state in the North Caucasus. Arab mujahedin still operating in Chechnya fell under the command of Abu Hafs al-Urdani, until his death in November. According to the pro-separatist website Kavkaz Center, Saudi national "Mukhanned" (full name not known) is the group's new commander. The IIPB has engaged in terrorist and guerrilla operations against Russian forces, pro-Russian Chechen forces, and Chechen non-combatants. At its peak, the group had up to 400 fighters, including as many as 100 Arabs and other foreign fighters, but almost certainly has suffered significant attrition. It operates primarily in Russia in adjacent areas of the North Caucasus, particularly in the mountainous south of Chechnya, with major logistical activities in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The IIPB and its Arab leaders appear to be a primary conduit for Islamic funding of the Chechen guerrillas, in part through links to AQ-related financiers on the Arabian Peninsula. The IIPB was also listed under UNSCR 1267 for its associations with AQ, and the Terrorist Exclusion List.
Noteworthy court cases involving terrorist suspects included:
-- In May, Nurpashi Kulayev was found guilty of all charges for his role in the 2004 Beslan school siege and was sentenced to life in prison. He was charged with murder and terrorism. Kulayev was the sole known survivor among the Beslan hostage takers. Kulayev claimed he did not kill anyone during the siege.
-- In November, the highest court in the Russian Republic of Dagestan found Magomed Salikhov innocent of the 1999 apartment bombing that killed 64 people. Russian authorities cited that attack and a series of other bombings to justify sending troops back into Chechnya in 1999. The court had previously found Salikhov not guilty but that decision was overturned by the Federal Supreme Court, which ordered him retried.
-- In December, Spanish police arrested suspected Chechen terrorist Murat Gasayev in Mislata, Valencia. Russian authorities were preparing an extradition request. Under Spanish law, Gasayev would first have to be found guilty in a Spanish court.
The United States and Russia continued to cooperate on a broad range of counterterrorism issues, including efforts to destroy, safeguard, and prevent the proliferation of WMD. The U.S.- Russian Counterterrorism Working Group (CTWG) met for its fifteenth session September 13-14 in Washington, fostering cooperative, operational links between numerous U.S. and Russian agencies. Law enforcement, intelligence, and policy cooperation have increased as a result of the work of the CTWG. At the St. Petersburg G8 Summit in July, the United States and Russia jointly announced the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and Russia and the United States invited other nations to join. The Initiative demonstrates Russia's effort to take a leadership role in establishing a partnership amongst nations to accelerate efforts to combat nuclear terrorism. Partner nations are committed to steps to combat nuclear terrorism in a variety of ways, to include safeguarding radioactive and nuclear materials, preventing nuclear smuggling, and sharing information. The first meeting of the Initiative took place in Morocco in October.
Russia was an active member of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (FATF). Russia fulfilled its pledge to create a Eurasian FATF-style regional body (FSRB) in 2004, known as the Eurasia Group on Money Laundering (EAG), and as the group's leading force remained its chair. The EAG, whose members also include Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, made significant progress toward building Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and established the necessary legislative and regulatory frameworks in member states to help those states improve their compliance with international standards.
Russia used its position in international fora to build cooperative mechanisms and programs to counter terrorism. For example, Russia led efforts to make counterterrorism cooperation a key element in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Russia has also promoted counterterrorism within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the G8, and the United Nations.
Serbia was eager to cooperate with the United States on a wide range of issues including border security, information sharing, antiterrorism financing, and export control. Internally, the Serbian government consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to counterterror operations. Serbia and the United States signed an agreement on countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; the agreement was provisionally in force upon signature and awaited ratification by the Serbian parliament. While still largely complacent about the prospect of an attack in Serbia by international terrorists, Belgrade officials were significantly concerned about the potential for an increase of Middle Eastern terrorist transit through Serbia.
Kosovo's counterterrorism efforts were hampered by porous boundary lines easily crossed by individuals trafficking in people or goods. The Kosovo border police service is new and lacks basic equipment: Underpaid border and customs officials were often easily corrupted. While NATO has roving teams patrolling the green border right up to the border and administrative boundary lines, terrorists could exploit numerous passable roads leading into Kosovo.
The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) continued to administer Kosovo pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1244, and to monitor suspected terrorist activity with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG). The Provisional Institutions and UNMIK monitored NGOs suspected of funding Islamic extremist and Albanian extremist movements. Officials believed only several of the more than 400 NGOs operating in Kosovo were involved in suspicious activities, and sought to prevent extremists from using NGOs to gain a foothold in Kosovo. Consequently, municipalities authorized NGO use of public facilities for religious gatherings only if the relevant religious community consented. The Kosovo Islamic Community (KIC) reported that it evaluated about 20 applications of mostly foreign NGOs and rejected four due to reservations about their proposed programs and participants.
The UNMIK Police's Counterterrorism Task Force (CTTF) is primarily responsible for Kosovo's counterterrorism efforts, and reported that its objectives shifted in 2006 from reactive to preventive measures. It received information and analysis support from the UNMIK Central Intelligence Unit (CIU) and the UNMIK Police Intelligence Liaison Unit (ILU). In October, with UNMIK Police's support and guidance, the Kosovo Police Service established its own Counterterrorism Unit (CTU), with six officers.
While there were no new terrorism cases, UNMIK's Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that intimidation of witnesses during investigation and trial phases hampered ongoing terror prosecutions. According to UNMIK's DOJ, a weak domestic witness protection program and the absence of witness relocation agreements to places outside of Kosovo made it difficult to convince witnesses to come forward. Moreover, international officials still handled terrorism cases due to concerns that local officials could be susceptible to intimidation.
While Kosovo officials struggled to bring the perpetrators of terrorist acts to justice, domestic extremists, acting individually and in groups, continued to commit violence, sometimes directed towards local government institutions and UN facilities. Approximately 15 attacks by such groups or individuals occurred and included use of hand grenades, rocket propelled grenades, explosive devices, and shots fired. There were a few fatalities and injuries as a result of these attacks. In early December, groups of armed, masked men reportedly presenting themselves as members of the Albanian National Army (AKSH), intermittently stopped pedestrians and vehicles in western Kosovo to check their identification documents. On December 5, the masked men fired at Kosovo Police Service officers in the village of Gercine near Gjakove. AKSH's Tirana-based spokesman, Gafurr Adili, told Kosovo media that these groups were not affiliated with the AKSH.
Slovakia contributed a team of 57 deminers and construction engineers to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and 112 personnel to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). In late 2006 Slovakia decided to withdraw the bulk of its forces from Iraq with effect from February 2007.
Slovenia participated in four training sessions for dual-use licensing as part of its ongoing cooperation with the United States under the Export Control and Border Security Program, as well as several Proliferation Security Initiative exercises. Slovenia continued to provide police instructors in Amman, Jordan, to train Iraqi policemen, instructors as part of the NATO training mission in Iraq, and troops as part of the International Stabilization Forces in Afghanistan.
Spain cooperated closely with the United States and worked aggressively to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism, to prevent future attacks, and to disrupt terrorist acts that possibly were directed against U.S. interests.
Spain has decades of experience with terrorism involving the Basque terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA). Despite the "permanent ceasefire" declared by the group in March, on December 30 the group exploded a massive car-bomb at Madrid's Barajas International Airport, killing two individuals. The government of Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced political negotiations with the group had ended. ETA supporters continued to carry out acts of street violence and vandalism in the Basque region and Navarra. The group was weakened by the continued arrests of senior members and logistical supporters by Spanish and French authorities.
Spain arrested 47 individuals with possible links to al-Qaida and related extremist organizations. The National Court Chief Prosecutor reported in July that Spain held a total of 145 Islamist extremist terrorist suspects that were either under prison sentence or awaiting trial. Detainees included individuals arrested in 2004 for the March 11 train bombings and others for conspiring to bomb Spain's High Court. Authorities continued to hold eleven Pakistani nationals arrested in Barcelona in 2004, for allegedly providing logistical support to al-Qaida, and the prosecutor asked for sentences ranging from 22 to 32 years in jail. In April, the U.K. extradited Tunisian citizen Hedi Ben Youseff Boudhiba to Spain, where he was awaiting trial for membership in a Spanish terrorist cell that provided false passports and other identification to the March 11, 2004 bombers.
Spain remained both a target for international terrorist groups and an important transit point and logistical base for terrorist organizations operating in Western Europe. Spain did not serve as a safe haven for terrorists or terrorist organizations, but the large population of immigrants from North Africa, the opportunities that exist for raising funds through illicit activities, and the ease of travel to other countries in Europe, made Spain a strategic location for international terrorist groups. Spanish authorities put great effort into investigating, disrupting, and prosecuting members of such groups.
Many of the 2004 Madrid train bombing suspects had direct or indirect relationships with members of the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group (GICM), and, in 2006, several GICM members were arrested. A splinter group, known as the Moroccan Salafiya Jihadiya, was also increasingly on the radar screen of Spanish law enforcement.
The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), who later in the year changed its name to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, was known to use Spain as a logistical base and transit point. Several alleged AQIM/GSPC members were arrested this year and Joan Mesquida, Director of the Police and Civil Guard, announced in November that the Spanish and French Ministries of Interior had created a "Joint Investigation Team" to investigate the financial network of the group. This was the first joint team the two countries have created to fight Islamist terrorism.
Spanish police worked to thwart terrorist facilitation networks that sought both to funnel potential extremists from Spain to Iraq, primarily through Syria, as well as bring fighters seasoned in Iraq into Spain. In November, police arrested four individuals charged with cooperating with an Islamist terrorist organization, forging official documents to support terrorist activities, and aiding extremists who tried to enter Spain after having fought in Iraq. In a separate case pending before Spanish courts, the national prosecutor will seek a prison sentence of 124 years for six alleged Islamist extremists arrested in January 2003 in Barcelona and Girona. These individuals are known in Spain as "The Detergent Command," because of their possession of large quantities of detergents that police believed were to serve as ingredients for explosive devices. In June, police arrested eleven individuals on charges of recruiting terrorists for terrorist organizations operating in Iraq.
Also in June, the Supreme Court reduced the prison sentence of Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, aka Abu Dahdah, from 27 years to 12 years. Barakat Yarkas, a Syrian immigrant to Spain, was detained in November 2001 on charges of providing support to AQ and of helping Mohammed Atta organize the September 11 terrorist attacks. Yarkas and 17 co-defendants were convicted in September 2005 for their roles in supporting AQ, but three codefendants were later released on appeal. Among those convicted was al-Jazeera journalist Taysir Alony, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for transporting funds from Yarkas to terrorists in Afghanistan under his cover as a journalist. Spanish authorities released Alony in October for humanitarian reasons stemming from a serious heart problem, but he remained under surveillance.
Spanish authorities continued their investigation into the March 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people and wounded hundreds of others, and the trials of 29 suspected perpetrators of the attacks were scheduled to begin in February 2007. This year, police arrested an additional 31 individuals in connection with the attacks, bringing to 110 the total number of suspects detained as part of the investigation. In November, Italian authorities extradited Egyptian national Osman El Sayed, known as "the Egyptian," to Spain in response to an international arrest warrant for his alleged role in the Madrid bombings. Later that month, Osman was sentenced in Italy to ten years in jail for international terrorist crimes.
Key arrests by Spanish security forces of suspected international terrorists included:
-- January: A joint Civil Guard-SNP operation culminated in the arrest of 19 people associated with Islamist terrorism in Catalonia, Madrid, and Guipuzcoa Province (15 of them were sent to jail). Among the group arrested in Catalonia were seven Moroccans and one Spaniard who were alleged members of the GICM, and allegedly were responsible for sending the suicide bomber who struck the Italian base of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq in November 2003, killing 20 Italian soldiers.
-- May: the Civil Guard arrested Issa Ben Othman in Barcelona, an alleged member of the terrorist network dismantled in the January operation. He was accused him of recruiting and sending foreign combatants to Iraq.
-- November: Two individuals accused of belonging to the GICM and of having links with the 2003 Casablanca terrorist attack were arrested by Spanish police in Melilla.
-- December: Spanish National Police arrested ten Spanish nationals and one Moroccan national in the North African enclave of Ceuta on charges that the men were plotting to carry out a terrorist attack. 5
Spain continued to make progress in its decades-old campaign to eliminate the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist group, but a new phase in the struggle began in March when ETA declared a "permanent cease-fire." The government of President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero agreed to begin peace talks with ETA and its outlawed political wing Batasuna if the group put an end to all violence. ETA supporters continued to engage in street violence and vandalism, and in October alleged ETA supporters stole 350 handguns from an armory in the French town of Vauvert. As of mid-December, Spanish authorities had arrested 15 individuals for membership in or association with ETA. On December 30, ETA exploded a massive car-bomb that destroyed much of the covered parking garage outside the new Terminal 4 of Madrid's Barajas International Airport and effectively broke its nine-month "permanent cease-fire." Two individuals killed in the blast became ETA's first fatalities in more than three years. The government suspended talks with ETA, and government officials subsequently said political negotiations with the group had ended. The bombing came on the heels of extensive vandalism by street gangs in various Basque cities.
Spain cooperated with French authorities in its ETA effort, with French police arresting 22 suspected members and extraditing seven of them to Spain to stand trial. Cooperation with Mexico resulted in the extradition to Spain of four additional ETA members. Spanish authorities charged 41 members of ETA's illegal political front group Batasuna, including senior Batasuna figure Arnaldo Otegi, with membership in a terrorist organization and of providing financial support to ETA. Before the fatal December 30 airport bombing, ETA had carried out 12 bombings, all of them before the March 22 cease-fire announcement, resulting in injuries and significant property damage, but no fatalities.
Spain made great strides in disrupting terrorist cells and frustrating would-be terrorist plots. Under Spanish law, however, the standards of evidence for conviction are high and this affects terrorism cases. For example, the Spanish National Court in September 2005 convicted Spanish national Hamed Abderrahman (known as the "Spanish Taliban", who was transferred to Spain from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo in February 2004 at the request of Spanish authorities), and sentenced him to six years imprisonment for membership in a terrorist organization. The Supreme Court overturned that decision in July. In its decision, the Supreme Court excluded all evidence obtained during the more than two years that Abderrahman spent in Guantanamo, as well as communications intercepts by Spanish authorities that had also served as evidence against him. It threw out other evidence collected against Abderrahman prior to his capture in Afghanistan and determined that prosecutors had skewed Abderrahman's testimony to incriminate him. This finding had an immediate affect on the case of Lahcen lkassrien, a Moroccan national and former Guantanamo detainee transferred to Spanish custody in July 2005. Spain's National Court, in October, acquitted lkassrien after finding insufficient evidence that he was a member of either AQ or of the Abu Dahdah terror cell in Spain, or that he fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Court excluded the prosecution's evidence that was obtained during his detention in Guantanamo and any information gleaned from intercepted phone calls in Spain.
The U.S. - Spain Counterterrorism Working Group (CTWG) met in Madrid in October, and was addressed by U.S. Attorney General Gonzales, Spanish Minister of Justice Lopez Aguilar, and Spanish Attorney General Conde Pumpido. The group helped foster counterterrorism cooperation between numerous U.S. agencies and their Spanish law enforcement and judicial counterparts. The sides agreed to designate a point of contact on counterterrorism issues in the U.S. Department of Justice and in the Spanish Prosecutors' office to streamline future collaborative efforts.
Spain participated in the Container Security Initiative to scan containers bound to the United States from the port of Algeciras for hazardous and illicit materials. The Megaports initiative was inaugurated in Algeciras in June. Spain and the United States co-chaired the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Terrorism Finance Working Group, and Spain participated in all meetings of the G8 Counterterrorism Action Group (CTAG).
In his first policy statement in October, newly elected Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt called for increased international cooperation against terrorism, to include preventive measures and greater coordination of operational activities and intelligence. Authorities considered the threat of terrorist attacks in Sweden low, but monitored a number of known extremists and extremist organizations within the country. Such groups, including AQ, Ansar-Al-Islam, FARC, Hizb Al-Tahrir, Hizballah, and Islamic Jihad, provided logistical and financial support to their respective organizations abroad.
While the Government of Sweden did not provide safe haven for terrorists or terrorist organizations, terrorist organizations exploited its considerable legal protections of personal freedoms and civil liberties to maintain a presence in the country. Sweden's immigration policy, based on political asylum, attracted individuals from troubled countries, including some that sponsor terrorism.
The government augmented law enforcement funding and passed new laws to fight terrorism. In July, a law entered into force that enabled the military to assist police in responding to terrorist incidents. The Swedish government provided an extra $10 million to strengthen the work on serious crime and to increase capabilities at the Prosecutors Office and the National Police Board.
The Stockholm District Court in June convicted three men: 22-year-old Nima Ganjin, 25-year-old Andreas Fahlen, and 19-year-old Albert Ramic; for attempting to commit a terrorist act, and conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, in connection with a December 2005 botched arson attack on a Stockholm polling center for expatriate Iraqis. Prison sentences for the three ranged from two to three years. In September an appeals court reduced the sentences of Ganjin and Fahlen to two years for Mr. Ganjin, and 15 months for Mr. Fahlen, and reversed the conviction of Mr. Ramic.
In April, authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed the indictment of Swedish citizen Mirsad Bektasevic on charges, inter alia, of terrorism under Article 201, Paragraph 1, in conjunction with Article 29 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bektasevic's formal trial opened in July and was ongoing. He has remained in Bosnian custody since his arrest in Sarajevo in 2005.
Pursuant to a U.S. arrest warrant and INTERPOL Red Notice, in December 2005, Czech authorities arrested Oussama Kassir, a Lebanese-born Swedish national, while he was in transit from Stockholm to Lebanon. Kassir is wanted in the United States on allegations that he conspired to provide material support to terrorists in the planned establishment of a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon. In June, a hearing was held to consider the extradition. Kassir remained in Czech custody pending continued consideration of the U.S. extradition request.
Swedish law did not provide the government independent national authority to freeze assets, unless in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation. Noteworthy cases concerning asset freezing included:
-- In September, Sweden unfroze the assets of Ahmed Yusuf, one of three Swedes designated on UN and EU lists in 2002; after he was delisted from UNSCR 1267 and the EU formally de-listed him.
-- In November, authorities froze assets of a grain trading company "al-Aqsa" in Malmo (southern Sweden), and arrested its head Marwan el-Ali; they subsequently released him and unfroze the assets due to lack of evidence.
-- Subsequent to his listing in December 2006 under UNSCR 1267 (as well as U.S. and EU designations), Sweden froze the financial assets of, and imposed travel restrictions on AQ-linked Mohamed Moumou, a Swedish citizen of Moroccan origin.
Sweden actively contributed to EU counterterrorism efforts. Through the European Common Foreign and Security Policy (EFSP), Sweden coordinated EU counterterrorism cooperation with Morocco and Algeria. Sweden participated in EUROPOL and EUROJUST, European law enforcement institutions that coordinated member states' counterterrorism cooperation and activities. Further, the government participated in the Nordic Council of Ministers Regional Forum for Nordic Governmental Cooperation. Sweden contributed $900,000 to the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It additionally provided $150,000 to the UN Counterterrorism Implementation Taskforce. In Asia, Sweden continued to provide funding for the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation, with a contribution of $150,000.
In 2006, the Swiss became more conscious of the presence of terrorist groups on their own soil, with the Swiss Federal Police describing Switzerland as a "jihadi field of operations" in its 2005 terrorism report. Due in part to increased pressure in neighboring EU countries, several non-al-Qaida terrorist groups, including the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), and Colombian FARC, appeared to have increased their presence in Switzerland. Existing Swiss law and practice limited the government's ability to designate these as terrorist entities, but Swiss officials have expressed willingness to pursue criminal investigations of such "violent extremist" groups. Swiss officials have provided information to U.S. officials when information had a specific U.S. angle; however, law and practice continued to limit the scope of intelligence sharing and joint investigations.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) noted that, in the past, Swiss officials were primarily concerned that outside radical networks might try to use the country as a logistical base to raise money or support operations elsewhere. Whereas most terrorism suspects arrested or questioned after September 11, 2001, were foreigners just transiting, most of the ten North African suspects arrested for alleged involvement in a plot against a U.S. or Israeli commercial aircraft at Geneva or Zurich airport were immigrants who had been granted Swiss residency. The accused were believed to be members of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (AQIM/GSPC).
On May 12, the Swiss Federal Police arrested seven North African terrorists in Basel and Zurich, following a lengthy investigation in Switzerland, including close cooperation with the police and legal authorities in several European countries. This operation was followed in July with the arrest of another North African terrorist in July and other arrests abroad.
In a parallel investigation, federal police arrested another AQIM/GSPC member in October following an international warrant issued by Italian authorities. Afif Mejri, also known as Lofti, is believed to be a member of a Milan cell that had raised 1.62 million Euros (SFr 2.57 million) to finance at least two AQIM/GSPC attacks on January 3, 2005, and another on March 27, 2005, in towns southwest of Algiers. Two others, Yacine Ahmed Nacer and Ali El Heit have been jailed in Italy since May 2005 for weapons trafficking for terrorist groups. Three other suspects, identified as Rabah Bouras, Lamine Ahmed Nacer and Farid Aider are fugitives and are believed to have left Europe last year. They are being sought on the more serious charge of having criminal associations with terrorism.
The Government of Switzerland estimated there were 4,000 sympathizers of the PKK/Kongra-Gel in Switzerland and approximately 100 individuals in the Kongra-Gel's central coordinating cadre, although no training camps were found in Switzerland during the last four years. Swiss police still experienced problems when tracking them, because their leaders changed jobs about every six months. Most Kongra-Gel's activities in Switzerland consisted of media relations, training management staff, and fundraising. Swiss authorities also noted that the Turkish Communist Party/Marxist-Leninists (TKP/ML) and the successor organizations of Devrimci Sol, the Revolutionary Peoples' Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), and the Turkish Peoples' Liberation Party/Front (THKP-C) remained active in Switzerland.
The Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UN in Geneva met with Swiss authorities on June 6, and expressed concerns about the presence of members of the separatist movement Tamil Tigers, and pointed to the EU's inclusion of the Tamil rebels on its terrorist list in May. While Norway is an official mediator in the Sri Lankan conflict, Switzerland has offered its services several times in the past. Swiss officials asserted that since September 2005, Switzerland "has implemented a very selective visa policy" for Sri Lanka, especially regarding sympathizers of Tamil rebels.
Similarly, the Colombian Ambassador raised concerns with Swiss officials over the presence of the Colombian Marxist guerrilla movement FARC in Switzerland. The Swiss press reported not only the presence of the FARC member Marcos Calarca, but also noted that the group's website was based in Switzerland.
Investigations continued against individuals suspected of supporting the 2002 Jerba and 2003 Riyadh bombings, although only three suspects remained imprisoned.
On March 29, the Federal Council agreed that authorities must be able to better supervise new technologies and in particular those related to the Internet.
Counterterrorism activities were carried out by several police units: the Federal Criminal Police's Counterterrorism Unit focused on al-Qaida-related cases and employed 21 officials -- eleven working on terrorism, nine working on terrorism financing, and a chief. Another 15 analysts worked in the Department for Analysis and Prevention (DAP) in the Federal Office for Police. There were also 70 policemen in the cantons working on counterterrorism activities.
The Federal Council extended its ban on AQ and kept frozen approximately $28 million in AQ and Taliban assets in 82 separate accounts. One recent Swiss investigation centered on Al-Taqwa Management, a financial firm based in Switzerland until it went into liquidation in December 2001. The United States accused the company of funding al-Qaida. Al-Taqwa was founded in 1988 and was run from Lugano, canton Ticino, by its Egyptian-born managing director, Youssef Nada, and his Syrian-born associate, Ali Himat. The company is on the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)'s list of organizations accused of helping to fund terrorism and is listed under UNSCR 1267. Soon after the list was published, Swiss police raided the firm's headquarters in Lugano. The company's bank accounts, as well as those belonging to its board members, were subsequently frozen. Swiss authorities acknowledged that their investigations showed that the Al-Taqwa directors' ties to leadership could go back as far as the late 1990s.
In September, Switzerland and the United States co-sponsored the successful "Black Ice" bioterrorism coordination exercise in Montreux, hosting senior officials from numerous multilateral organizations. The Swiss also sponsored several conferences on civil infrastructure protection and terrorism finance under the auspices of NATO's Partnership for Peace.
Domestic and transnational terrorist groups have targeted Turkish nationals and foreigners, including, on occasion, U.S. Government personnel, for more than 40 years. International and domestic terrorist groups that operated in Turkey included Kurdish separatist, Marxist-Leninist, radical Islamist, and pro-Chechen groups.
Most prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey is the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), subject to regular name changes, currently operating as Kongra-Gel (KGK/PKK). Composed primarily of Kurds with a historically separatist agenda, the KGK/PKK operated from headquarters in part of northern Iraq and directed forces to target mainly Turkish security forces, government offices, and villagers who opposed the KGK/PKK. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a group affiliated with the KGK, assumed responsibility for attacks on resort areas in southern and western Turkey, an attack on the office of a political party, and the bombing of a minibus carrying schoolchildren.
KGK/PKK attacks against Turkey increased significantly and claimed as many as 600 lives in 2006. In October, the KGK/PKK declared a unilateral cease-fire that slowed the intensity and pace of its attacks but attacks continued in response to Turkish security forces significant counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, especially in the southeast.
Other prominent terrorist groups included the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a militant Marxist-Leninist party with anti-U.S. and anti-NATO views that seeks the violent overthrow of the Turkish state; and Turkish Hizballah (not affiliated with Lebanese Hizballah), an organization of Sunni Kurds with a violent history, which appeared to be providing social services and promoting Sharia in parts of the southeast.
At year's end, a criminal trial was underway for the 72 defendants allegedly involved in the four November 2003 Istanbul bombings. The trial concluded on February 16, 2007, with 48 of the 72 receiving jail sentences. Seven of those were sentenced to life in prison; 26 were acquitted. The lead defendants admitted to contacts with AQ and warned of further attacks. Most of the other defendants denied responsibility for, or knowledge of, the bombings. Four of the suspects, including the brother of one of the four suicide bombers, were released pending trial in May after spending more than two and half years in prison.
As of late November, Turkish prosecutors were seeking life imprisonment for Luay Sakka, a Syrian national linked to AQ and the Zarqawi network. Sakka was connected to the funding of the November 2003 Istanbul bombings and the deaths of U.S. and Coalition Forces in Iraq, and was allegedly plotting a terrorist attack on Israeli cruise ships in Turkish ports when he was apprehended in August 2005.
In addition to sharing intelligence information on various groups operating in Turkey, the Turkish National Police (TNP) and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) conducted an aggressive counterterrorist campaign and detained numerous suspected terrorists in scores of raids, disrupting these groups before terrorist acts could be carried out. For example, in December, TNP counterterrorism units simultaneously raided ten addresses in Istanbul that were suspected of housing leftist militants. Twenty suspects were arrested. Turkish law defined terrorism as attacks against Turkish citizens and the Turkish state, and government left the definition unchanged when Parliament enacted a package of amendments to its antiterrorism law.
Turkey has consistently supported Coalition efforts in Afghanistan. After commanding ISAF II in 2002 and ISAF VII in 2005, in August, Turkey began a two-year joint rotational command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan for the Capital Regional Command along with France and Italy. Turkey also opened its first Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in November in Wardak Province and pledged $100 million in humanitarian assistance for the reconstruction and operation of schools and hospitals.
Turkey has provided significant logistical support to Coalition operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, authorizing the use of Incirlik Air Base as an air-refueling hub for OEF and OIF and as a cargo hub to transport non-lethal cargo to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Almost 60 percent of air cargo for U.S. troops in Iraq transits Incirlik. Establishment of this hub allows six C-17 aircraft to transport the amount of goods it took nine to ten aircraft to move from Germany, and saves the United States almost $160 million per year.
One-third of the fuel (has been as high as two-thirds) destined for the Iraqi people and more than 25 percent of fuel for Coalition Forces transits from Turkey into Iraq via the Habur Gate border crossing. Turkey was active in reconstruction efforts, including providing electricity to Iraq. Turkish citizens continued to be killed, providing logistical support to Coalition Forces or performing reconstruction in Iraq. Turkey contributed headquarters personnel to the NATO Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I), helped train Iraqi diplomats and political parties, and completed military leadership training in Turkey for 90 Iraqi officers as a further contribution to the NATO NTM-I.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) conducted a peer review of Turkey's regime against the financing of terrorism and money laundering in September and planned to publicize the report in early 2007. Pursuant to its obligations under UNSCR 1267 and subsequent resolutions, Turkish officials continued to pass UN and U.S.-designated names of terrorists to all law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as to financial institutions. Only UN-designated names, however, were subjected to asset freezes enforced through a Council of Ministers decree. This legal mechanism for enforcing the sanctions under UNSCR 1267 was challenged in Turkish courts by UN-designated terrorist financier Yasin al-Qadi. A lower-court ruled in July that the Council of Ministers lacked the authority to freeze assets, but in February 2007, an appeals court overturned the lower court ruling and confirmed the Council of Ministers' authority to freeze. In the meantime, al-Qadi's assets remain frozen. Separately, in October, Parliament enacted legislation to reorganize MASAK, Turkey's anti-money laundering agency, which doubled as Turkey's Financial Intelligence Unit. This law explicitly criminalized terrorism finance and provided legal protections for filers of suspicious transaction reports
Ukraine did not suffer from domestic terrorism incidents, although law enforcement authorities sometimes labeled ordinary criminal activity as terrorist acts. Still, the Ukrainian government instituted legislative and regulatory changes to improve its ability to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism. In September, the Ukrainian Parliament amended the Criminal and Criminal Proceedings Codes of Ukraine to conform to commitments resulting from Ukraine's ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Prevention of Terrorism. The amendments to the codes introduced punishments for inducing people to participate in an act of terror, public calls to commit an act of terror, formation of a terrorist group/organization, and facilitating an act of terror through provision of financing, material, or arms. The Ukrainian State Financial Monitoring Agency signed bilateral agreements with Croatia, Canada, and China, which stipulated cooperation in the prevention of money laundering and prevention of terrorist financing. Ukrainian banks and other financial institutions were required to screen all transactions against a consolidated list of terrorists approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.
There were no successful terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom in 2006. In August, British, Pakistani, and American officials worked together to disrupt a terror plot involving British citizens intent on detonating aircraft traveling between the United Kingdom and the United States. The British government arrested over 20 individuals suspected of being involved in that plot, many of whom were subsequently charged with criminal acts and intent to carry out acts of terrorism. Their cases remained before the courts. Some of those arrested had spent time in or had ties to Pakistan. The British and American governments instituted new restrictions to transatlantic airline travel in response to the revealed airline plot. The United States and United Kingdom enjoyed a wide-range of bilateral information sharing on threat assessments and terror networks, and government responses to both. Cooperation in derailing the transatlantic terror plot in August was evidence of the ability of the two governments to work together, in real-time, to avert loss of life from terrorism.
The British government acknowledged the existence of some 200 known terror networks in the United Kingdom. In November, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of the domestic security service (known as MI5), made a stark announcement that there were some "1,600" individuals, "200 networks," and an estimated "30 terror plots" in the United Kingdom. The British government viewed radicalization of young people in the U.K. and elsewhere, regardless of whether those radicalized in the U.K. had ties to AQ or are "homegrown," as a growing threat to international and British security.
The government enacted new counterterrorism legislation that made the "glorification of terrorism" illegal, and expanded the government's ability to detain terror suspects before charging them. The government has a mechanism for deporting foreign terror suspects to their home countries once those countries agreed to provide assurances that the suspects' human rights will not be violated upon their return. The courts tried and convicted several prominent terror suspects involved in terror plots prior to 2006. The British government also increased its efforts at outreach to Muslim communities within the U.K. It sought to support advocates of moderate interpretations of Islam and to gain support from within British Muslim communities to counter the appeal of extremist ideology and radicalization.
The United States and the U.K. worked closely within the UN and the FATF to deny terrorists and their supporters access to the international financial system. The United Kingdom had strong legal provisions for freezing assets related to terrorist financing, including the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2001, the al-Qaida and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2001, and the Antiterrorism Crime and Security Act 2001. In October, the British government took measures to further strengthen its terrorist financing legislation when Chancellor Gordon Brown announced that Her Majesty's Treasury, on the advice of law enforcement agencies, had agreed to use "closed source evidence" (classified materials) in asset freezing cases where there were strong operational reasons to impose a freeze but insufficient unclassified information available. He also announced that the government would seek to amend its existing domestic legislation to give "the Treasury the power to stop funds reaching anyone in the U.K. suspected of planning terror or engaging with terror."
Political progress in Northern Ireland, including prospects for the establishment of a devolved government and continuing cease-fires by paramilitary organizations, have created a marked decrease in terrorist incidents in Northern Ireland. In October, the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), which was established in 2004 by the British and Irish governments to monitor progress made by paramilitary groups in ending their violent activities, reported that evidence showed the Provisional Irish Republican Army had committed itself to following a peaceful path.
Loyalist paramilitary groups, however, were thought to be responsible for two killings in Northern Ireland from September 2005 to August 2006. The IMC was unable to place blame in three other killings, including the April murder of Sinn Fein member Denis Donaldson, who admitted publicly in December 2005 to having been a British spy.
Loyalist paramilitary Michael Stone disrupted a session of the Northern Ireland Assembly on November 24 as he tried to enter the parliament building with a viable bomb, a knife, and an imitation pistol. Afterwards, Stone, who was sentenced to over 600 years in prison for killing three mourners at a 1988 Sinn Fein funeral but released in 2000 under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, had his license for liberty under that agreement revoked. He will now serve out the remainder of his term and faces additional charges stemming from the November 24 incident including attempted murder for targeting the leader of Sinn Fein (Gerry Adams).
1 In June 1985, seven European Union countries signed a treaty in Schengen, Luxembourg, to end internal border checkpoints and controls. At present, there are 15 Schengen countries, all in Europe. The Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.
2 The French government continued its policy of expelling non-French citizens engaged in terrorist activities or speech that promoted hate or incited violence. Among those ordered expelled from France were at least 20 imams from Algeria, Bangladesh, Morocco, and Pakistan.
3 Russia continued to charge Georgia with allowing Islamic fundamentalists that support Chechen insurgents to use Georgia, specifically the Pankisi Gorge region, as a staging area and transit point for fighters and materiel.
4 German courts convicted Motassadeq in 2003 of membership in a terrorist organization and accessory to 3,000 murders, but the Federal High Court subsequently ordered a retrial in 2004 due to the perceived lack of access to potentially exculpatory testimony from such individuals as Khaled Sheik Mohammed, whom the court presumed to be in U.S. custody. In August 2005, a Hamburg court convicted Motassadeq on the charge of membership in a terrorist organization and sentenced him to seven years in jail. As is possible in Germany, both the prosecution and the defense appealed. On February 6, the court released Motassadeq from custody pending the outcome of the appeal. Police re-arrested Motassadeq on November 17, the day after the Federal High Court's guilty verdict.
5 Among the detainees were two brothers of former Spanish national Guantanamo detainee Hamed Abderrahaman Ahmed (known in Spain as the Spanish Taliban), whose conviction on terrorism charges was overturned earlier this year by the Spanish Supreme Court. According to initial reports, the eleven men were accused of membership in the GICM or the related "Al Haraka Salafiya Jihadiya" organization. In announcing the arrests, Minister of Interior Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the group had not selected a specific target, but was in the initial stages of planning an attack.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|