Country Reports on Terrorism 2013
Chapter 2. Country Reports: South and Central Asia Overview
Bureau of Counterterrorism
Country Reports on Terrorism 2013
April 30, 2014
South Asia remained a front line in the battle against terrorism. Although al-Qa’ida’s (AQ) core in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been seriously degraded, AQ’s global leadership continued to operate from its safe haven in the region and struggled to communicate effectively with affiliate groups outside of South Asia. AQ maintained ties with other terrorist organizations in the region, such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Haqqani Network (HQN). These alliances continued to provide the group with additional resources and capabilities. In 2013, terrorists in South Asia carried out operations in heavily populated areas and continued to target regional governmental representatives and U.S. persons. On numerous occasions, civilians throughout South Asia were wounded or killed in terrorist events.
Afghanistan, in particular, continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, HQN, and other insurgent and terrorist groups. A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan. Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are now providing security across all of Afghanistan as the transition to full Afghan leadership on security continues in anticipation of the 2014 drawdown of U.S. and Coalition Forces (CF). The ANSF and CF, in partnership, took aggressive action against terrorist elements in Afghanistan, especially in Kabul, and many of the eastern and northern provinces.
Pakistan continued to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks. The Pakistani military undertook operations against groups that conducted attacks within Pakistan such as TTP, but did not take action against other groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), which continued to operate, train, rally, and fundraise in Pakistan during the past year. Afghan Taliban and HQN leadership and facilitation networks continued to find safe haven in Pakistan, and Pakistani authorities did not take significant military or law enforcement action against these groups.
Levels of terrorist violence were similar to previous years. India remained severely affected by and vulnerable to terrorism, including from Pakistan-based groups and their affiliates as well as left-wing violent extremists. The Government of India, in response, continued to undertake efforts to coordinate its counterterrorism capabilities more effectively and expanded its cooperation and coordination with the international community and regional partners.
Bangladesh, an influential counterterrorism partner in the region, continued to make strides against international terrorism. The government’s ongoing counterterrorism efforts have made it more difficult for transnational terrorists to operate in or use Bangladeshi territory, and there were no major terrorist incidents in Bangladesh in 2013. The United States and Bangladesh signed a Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative on October 22, 2013, to enhance bilateral cooperation.
The potential challenges to stability that could accompany the changes of the international force presence in Afghanistan in 2014 remained a significant concern for the Central Asian leaders. Additionally, terrorist groups with ties to Central Asia – notably the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Jihad Union – continued to be an issue even as they operated outside of the Central Asian states. The effectiveness of some Central Asian countries’ efforts to reduce their vulnerability to perceived terrorist threats was difficult to discern in some cases, however, due to failure to distinguish clearly between terrorism and violent extremism on one hand and political opposition, or non-traditional religious practices, on the other.
Overview: Although responsibility for security in Afghanistan has transitioned from U.S. and international forces to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the United States remains committed to continued political, diplomatic, and economic engagement in Afghanistan as a strategic partner. U.S. forces retain the capacity to conduct counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, but increasingly these operations were being carried out in conjunction with Afghan units or solely by Afghan units. In 2013, the United States fully supported Afghan efforts to professionalize and modernize the security forces and will continue to train, advise, and assist the Afghan forces in these efforts. The Government of Afghanistan's response to the increase of insider attacks in 2012 led to new procedures to vet and train security force personnel, which likely contributed to a dramatic reduction in the number of insider attacks in 2013.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: In 2013, insurgents conducted a significant number of large vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks, targeting Coalition Forces (CF) bases, military convoys, and Afghan government buildings, mostly in southern and eastern Afghanistan, including Kabul. Insurgents across Afghanistan used a variety of tactics to target Afghan security personnel and CF in major cities and rural areas, seeking to expand their territorial influence and further disrupt civil governance. In major cities, attacks were often well-coordinated and complex, with the intention of garnering media attention; in rural areas, they targeted the ANSF. Insurgents carried out several targeted assassinations of provincial Afghan leaders. As in previous years, a greater number of attacks occurred during the summer months. Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, and Wardak represented the most dangerous provinces for Afghan security personnel and CF.
High-profile attacks included:
- On January 16, insurgents conducted a complex attack against the Afghan Intelligence Headquarters in Kabul city, killing 14 and wounding 32.
- On January 26, a suicide bomber killed 10 policemen and injured 19 other security personnel and civilians in the northeastern Afghan city of Kunduz. Among the victims were the city's counterterrorism and traffic police chiefs.
- On February 26, a group of 17 Afghan Local Police (ALP) recruits were shot to death after being drugged by Taliban infiltrators.
- On March 13, a suicide bomber detonated his vest at a sports event in Imam Sahib District, Kunduz Province which resulted in the death of the seven spectators, including the District Chief of Police, and the wounding of five other civilians.
- On April 3, a group of militants detonated a suicide VBIED outside a judicial building in Farah City, followed by an assault on the Farah Court Building by heavily-armed suicide bombers in an attempt to free accused Taliban fighters standing trial. The attack resulted in the deaths of 34 civilians, including 12 members of the security forces, along with nine insurgents. More than 100 others were injured.
- On April 6, a suicide bomber detonated a VBIED near FOB Smart in Zabul. The attack resulted in deaths of five Americans including three U.S. soldiers and a State Department diplomat. An additional 15 personnel were also injured.
- On May 16, a suicide VBIED targeted a NATO convoy on Route Crimson in Kabul city, killing six U.S. personnel.
- On May 24, a suicide attack on an International Organization for Migration (IOM) compound followed by a gun battle killed five and wounded 14, including IOM staff.
- On June 3, a suicide bomber targeting a joint U.S. and Afghan Local Police dismounted patrol in Samkani District, Paktia Province detonated his explosive-packed motorcycle killing two U.S. soldiers, an Afghan police officer, and 10 children from a nearby school. At least twenty others were injured by the blast.
- On June 11, two suicide bombers detonated VBIEDs in front of Afghanistan's Supreme Court building in a heavily fortified area of Kabul. The attack, which targeted buses with court employees, killed at least 17 people and left dozens more injured.
- On June 25, a group of eight Taliban fighters wearing American uniforms cleared two security check points to enter a heavily-restricted area in Kabul to assault the Presidential Palace and nearby U.S. Embassy facilities. Seven Embassy local guards were killed, as well as all eight Taliban fighters.
- On August 3, a suicide bomber detonated his vest outside the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad killing nine children studying in an adjacent mosque, and wounding an additional 23 persons in the area, including students. The three attackers involved were also killed.
- On August 30, a suicide attack at a mosque in Qarlugh Village in Kunduz resulted in the death of the District Governor, his body guard, and 10 civilians attending a memorial service. An additional 22 locals were wounded.
- On September 13, suicide bombers detonated a large VBIED at the entrance to the main gate of the U.S. Consulate in Herat. Shortly after, a second blast occurred when an explosives-laden van detonated. Additional suicide bombers then breached the outer perimeter and opened fire on security forces inside, but were killed in the ensuing gunfight. Eight U.S. Consulate Herat local national guards were killed in this attack.
- On October 18, insurgents conducted a suicide VBIED attack outside of Green Village in Kabul city. The attack killed two American citizens and wounded six.
- On November 16, a suicide bomber in a VBIED detonated his explosives-laden vehicle at a security checkpoint in the vicinity of the Afghan Loya Jirga (a traditional assembly of tribal elders and national and provincial leaders) site in Kabul. At least 10 people were killed and as many as 20 injured.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Afghan Attorney General's Office investigates and prosecutes violations of the laws on crimes against the internal and external security of the state (1976 and 1987), violations of the Law on Combat Against Terrorist Offences (2008), and the Law on Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives (2005), including laws that prohibit membership in terrorist or insurgent groups as well as laws that forbid violent acts committed against the state, hostage taking, murder, and the use of explosives against military forces and state infrastructure. The Antiterrorism Prosecution Department handled a total of 4005 cases in 2013 on both the primary and appellate levels.
The current Afghan Penal Code, enacted in 1976, has gaps, a lack of definitions, disproportionate mandatory fines and sentences, and strict minimum imprisonments that result in overcrowded prisons. The President of Afghanistan has issued a decree requiring the Ministry of Justice to reorganize and consolidate the penal code. That work has been undertaken by the Criminal Law Reform Working Group (CLRWG), chaired by the Minister of Justice, and staffed by various international and Afghan partners, including the United States. The CLRWG is actively discussing how the new penal code will address Sharia law, gender-related crimes, crimes involving children, and compliance with international obligations regarding human rights and other international treaties to which Afghanistan is a party.
Although the draft Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) was pending in Parliament at year's end, it is important to note that several provisions within the draft CPC continued to be problematic. In particular, the Ministry of Justice inserted new provisions restricting the testimony of family members against the accused.
The Law on the Structure and Jurisdiction of the Attorney General's Office was enacted in October 2013, and codified the structure and funding of the existing Antiterrorism Protection Directorate in the Attorney General's Office, permitting the investigation and prosecution of terrorist and national security cases using internationally accepted methods and evidentiary rules.
Under the current structure, the ANSF has demonstrated an adequate capacity to conduct counterterrorism operations, in part due to contributions from the international community and pressure from international partners. The Governments of Afghanistan and the United States investigated a variety of criminal acts, including kidnappings and conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. On several occasions, U.S. law enforcement bodies assisted the Ministry of Interior, the National Directorate of Security, and other Afghan authorities, which enabled them to take actions to disrupt and dismantle terrorist operations and prosecute terrorist suspects.
Afghanistan continued to process travelers on entry and departure at major points of entry with the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES). With U.S. support, Afghan authorities continued to expand PISCES installations at additional locations. With assistance from United States Central Command, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security mentor and support Afghan law enforcement bodies in interdicting illegal narcotics and arms; the proceeds from smuggling enterprises often support terrorist and insurgent groups. Afghanistan remained an important partner nation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, which continued to focus on building broader, self-sustaining Afghan security force capacity to protect national leadership, government facilities, and diplomatic facilities, and to improve Afghan security force agencies’ coordination and cooperation in response to terrorism-related crisis incidents. In addition to a suite of tactical response courses, the ATA program provided instructor development and mentorship to Afghan officers to build and institutionalize a sustained capacity in antiterrorism skills, so they could share lessons learned with law enforcement colleagues tasked with counterterrorism response.
In May, the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Attaché to Embassy Kabul and the World Customs Organization (WCO) conducted a counter-improvised explosive device training seminar in support of its Global Shield program for Afghan law enforcement officers. The Global Shield course provided participants with a comprehensive understanding of risk assessment, targeting, identification of precursor chemicals, basic investigative techniques, and Afghan prosecution procedures. Throughout 2013, Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) training led to an increased number of seizures of illicit materials by Afghan counternarcotics and counterterrorism police forces.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Afghanistan is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In June 2012, Afghanistan was publicly identified by FATF as a jurisdiction with strategic anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies. The Central Bank of Afghanistan confirmed by letter the government’s high-level commitment to implement an action plan to address these deficiencies. In October 2013, the FATF noted key deficiencies that had not yet been addressed, including: adequately criminalizing money laundering and terrorist financing; establishing and implementing an adequate legal framework for identifying, tracing and freezing terrorist assets; implementing an adequate AML/CFT supervisory and oversight program for all financial sectors; establishing and implementing adequate procedures for the confiscation of assets related to money laundering; establishing a fully operational and effectively functioning financial intelligence unit; and establishing and implementing effective controls for cross-border cash transactions.
In addition to the problems FATF identified, the vast narcotics trafficking trade and bulk cash smuggling have been significant sources of revenue for terrorist groups. Foreign terrorist organizations were operating in Afghanistan and neighboring countries and both fundraised and sent funds from Afghanistan.
Terrorist finance investigations in Afghanistan have continued to be hampered by a weak or non-existent legal and regulatory regime, coupled with lack of capacity and political will.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Afghanistan consistently emphasized the need to strengthen joint cooperation to fight terrorism and violent extremism in a variety of bilateral and multilateral fora. Notable among such meetings were the regular discussions of the U.S.-Afghanistan-Pakistan Core Group; the Istanbul Process; and meetings of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and other bodies.
Afghanistan shares the lead on the Counterterrorism Confidence Building Measure (CBM) of the Istanbul Process, working closely with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. In August 2013, the CBM Regional Technical Group met to discuss IED Precursors in Abu Dhabi and identified strategies to work together with Pakistan to help eliminate the shipment of precursors over the border into Afghanistan.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Afghan government programs to counter violent extremism continued through increased engagement with religious communities. According to most estimates, over 90 percent of Afghan mosques and madrassas, operated independently of government oversight, with some promoting a violent extremist ideology. The Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs (MoHRA), as well as the Department of Islamic Education at the Ministry of Education, continued efforts to register more mosques and madrassas with limited success. The MoHRA also disseminated peaceful messages in its Friday sermons to both its affiliated mosques and some non-registered ones. The National Ulema Council, a quasi-governmental body of religious scholars established by President Karzai in 2002, became more vocal in condemning suicide attacks as un-Islamic.
The Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) continued to reintegrate low- and mid-level insurgents back into their communities. The APRP is a National Priority Program of the Afghan government, is managed by the High Peace Council (HPC), and executed at the national level by the Joint Secretariat (JS). The HPC and JS work with the Provincial Peace committees and Provincial Joint Secretariat teams to effectively execute the program at the provincial level. By joining the program, the former fighter makes the commitment to renounce violence and sever all ties with the insurgency, and to abide by the Constitution of Afghanistan. This includes accepting the Government of Afghanistan's laws on women's rights. Since its inception, the APRP has successfully reintegrated over 7,400 former combatants across Afghanistan.
Overview: The Government of Bangladesh has demonstrated political will and firm commitment to combat domestic and transnational terrorist groups, and its counterterrorism efforts made it harder for transnational terrorists to operate or establish safe havens in Bangladesh. Bangladesh and the United States signed a Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative to enhance counterterrorism cooperation as an important element of its bilateral partnership and engagement. In 2013, U.S. assistance supported programs for Bangladeshi civilian, law enforcement, and military counterparts to build their capacity to monitor, detect, and prevent terrorism.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Bangladesh’s criminal justice system was in the process of fully implementing the Antiterrorism Act of 2009. In 2013, Parliament passed into law extensive amendments to the ATA. The amendments, which were drafted with technical assistance from the Department of Justice and experts from the U.S. Department of Treasury, bring Bangladesh into greater compliance with international standards. Significant improvements have been made to the law, including more extensive criminalization of terrorist financing, prohibitions on supporting individuals (rather than simply organizations) who engage in terrorist activity, and an ability to promptly freeze funds and assets of those engaged in or supporting terrorism. Parliament also enacted the Children Act in 2013, which provides for capital punishment of those convicted of exploiting children to commit terrorist acts and provided for the appointment of a Children’s Affairs Officer in every police station.
In January, Bangladesh police arrested three suspected Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists. Bangladesh cooperated with the United States to further strengthen control of its borders and land, sea, and air ports of entry. Bangladesh continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, and Bangladesh National Police (BNP) officers received training in crisis response, border security, and investigations. An ATA program team met with Bangladeshi law enforcement and U.S. embassy officials in September, and the outcomes of these meetings will contribute to the development of ATA program objectives to build Bangladeshi incident management and expand Bangladesh Border Guard’s (BBG) security capacity. In November, a senior level delegation representing a cross section of Bangladeshi security and public safety entities traveled to the U.S. to participate in a five-day crisis management seminar. The course included table top exercises designed to help participants effectively prepare for, manage, control, and support a coordinated response to a critical incident of national importance. Bangladesh also cooperated with the Department of Justice’s efforts to provide prosecutorial skills training to its assistant public prosecutors, encourage greater cooperation between police and prosecutors, and institute community policing in targeted areas of the country.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Bangladesh is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The Bangladesh Bank (the central bank) and its financial intelligence unit/anti-money laundering section lead the government's effort to comply with the international sanctions regime. Significant improvements to its Antiterrorism Act have allowed Bangladesh to start the path of successfully exiting the FATF International Cooperation Review Group process. The presence and large-scale use of informal value transfer systems such as hawalas and the hundi system of remittances provide channels for exploitation by terrorists. In the formal financial sector, law enforcement rarely uses its powers to freeze and confiscate assets. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Bangladesh is active in the full range of international fora. Bangladesh is party to various counterterrorism protocols under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and is bringing the country’s counterterrorism efforts in line with the four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Bangladesh’s foreign and domestic policies are heavily influenced by the region’s major powers, particularly India. In past years, the India-Bangladesh relationship has provided openings for transnational threats, but the current government has demonstrated its interest in regional cooperation on counterterrorism. It has signed memoranda of understanding with a number of countries to share evidence regarding criminal investigations, including investigations related to financial crimes and terrorist financing.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Bangladesh uses strategic communication to counter violent extremism, especially among youth. The Ministry of Education oversees madrassas and is developing a standard national curriculum that includes language, math, and science modules, as well as minimum standards of secular subjects to be taught in all primary schools, up to the eighth grade. The Ministry of Religious Affairs and the National Committee on Militancy Resistance and Prevention work with imams and religious scholars to build public awareness against terrorism. The Government of Bangladesh is also actively expanding economic opportunities for women as a stabilizing force against violent religious extremism.
Overview: According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), approximately 400 people were killed as a result of terrorist attacks in India in 2013. This figure is somewhat higher than in 2012, demonstrating that India remains subject to violent terrorist attacks and continued to be one of the most persistently targeted countries by transnational and domestic terrorist groups. Included in the total number of fatalities were approximately 200 deaths ascribed to the Communist Party of India (Maoist) or Maoist/Naxalite violence, which the Indian government considers its most serious internal security threat. To date, these groups have not specifically targeted U.S. or other international interests.
In 2013, Indian sources continued to attribute violence and deaths in Jammu and Kashmir to transnational terrorist groups that India alleges are backed by Pakistan. Continued allegations of violations of the Line of Control between India and Pakistan (the border along Jammu and Kashmir), Pakistan’s failure to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice, and activities of Pakistan-based terrorist groups remained serious concerns for the Indian government.
The United States and India maintained counterterrorism capacity building efforts and cooperation. In May 2013, the Second U.S.-India Homeland Security Dialogue took place in Washington, DC, and Indian and U.S. leaders reaffirmed their commitment to, and the importance of, bilateral counterterrorism cooperation. In December, India hosted the U.S.-India Homeland Security Dialogue Police Chiefs Conference, a landmark event that brought together U.S. and Indian law enforcement officials to share best practices and lessons learned in detecting, preventing, and responding to threats facing large cities, including terrorist threats. Indian officials participated in courses provided through the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program and through other regional capacity building programs. In addition, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, through the Embassy’s Office of the Legal Attaché, conducted exchanges with Indian law enforcement personnel.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: Significant terrorist incidents included the following:
- On February 21, terrorists exploded two bombs in Dilsukhnagar, a crowded shopping area within Hyderabad. The bombs exploded within 330 feet of each other, killing 17 and injuring at least 119. Authorities determined that the Indian Mujahideen (IM) carried out the attack.
- On April 17, a motorcycle bomb was detonated in front of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters in the Malleswaram district of Bangalore, injuring 18 people. Following the blast, authorities arrested 15 suspects with alleged links to the al-Ummah terrorist organization.
- On May 25, Naxalite insurgents belonging to the Communist Party of India (Maoist) attacked a convoy of Indian National Congress party leaders in the Darbha Valley in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, India. The attack killed 27, including former state minister Mahendra Karma as well as India’s former Minister of External Affairs Vidya Charan Shukla.
- On July 7, a series of 10 bombs exploded in and around the Mahabodhi Temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bodh Gaya. Five people, including two Buddhist monks, were injured by the blasts. Bomb-disposal squads defused three other devices at a number of locations in Gaya. Authorities determined that IM was responsible for the bombings.
- On September 26, Pakistan-based terrorists entered Jammu and Kashmir and attacked a police station in Hiranagar, killing five; and an Indian army camp in Samba, killing 10, including an army officer. The attacks took place just ahead of a planned meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York.
- On October 27, IM operatives detonated a series of bombs at a political rally for the BJP, and its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, in Patna, Bihar. The attacks killed at least six and injured 85.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: India passed no new counterterrorism laws in 2013. The country continued to apply previously-enacted measures, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (1967), the SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism Act (1993), and various state-level laws.
Following the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, India enhanced efforts to counter terrorism through agencies including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the National Security Guard (NSG), and the National Investigation Agency (NIA). India’s efforts to counter terrorism are seriously hampered by impediments to coordination and information sharing between agencies. In addition, law enforcement organizations display a limited command and control capacity. India has launched initiatives to address some of these challenges, including through a Multi-Agency Centre for enhancing intelligence gathering and sharing. It also plans to implement the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), a system for linking databases in different government departments and ministries for use by intelligence agencies. The Indian government had proposed to create a National Counterterrorism Centre, but state-level officials have opposed this initiative and it has not been implemented.
On December 16, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the Indian Bureau of Civil Aviation Security signed a Sensitive Security Information-sharing agreement to enhance cooperation on aviation security, increase collaboration on security-related technologies, increase reciprocal visits for airport security assessments, and facilitate the exchange of ideas and best practices for security at airport points of entry. Indian airport officials already utilize biographical databases for counterterrorism screening. In an effort to boost its border security, India continued to build fences along its borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, although rural areas remained susceptible to illegal border crossings. India’s maritime boundaries, as well as its border with Nepal, remained extremely porous.
India continued to participate in the Department of State’s ATA program, and received training and equipment designed to build Indian police counterterrorism capacity. ATA training focused on issues related to securing infrastructure, conducting investigations, and responding to critical incidents.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: India is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and two FATF-style regional bodies, the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering. India’s financial intelligence unit is also a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. India has criminalized terrorist financing in accordance with international standards. Indian officials monitor and regulate money transfers, require the collection of data for wire transfers, oblige non-profit organizations to file suspicious transaction reports, and regulate and monitor these entities to prevent misuse and terrorist financing. However, the government does not have procedures in place for freezing and confiscating terrorist assets without delay and does not routinely distribute UN lists of designated entities to financial institutions.
In November 2012, the Government of India passed amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) that aligned the law to international standards.
The degree of training and expertise in financial investigations involving transnational crime or terrorist-affiliated groups varies widely among the federal, state, and local levels and depends on the particular jurisdiction’s financial resources and perceived necessities. U.S. investigators have had limited success in coordinating the seizure of illicit proceeds with their Indian government counterparts. While intelligence and investigative information supplied by U.S. law enforcement authorities have led to numerous money seizures, a lack of follow-through on investigational leads has prevented a more comprehensive offensive against violators and related groups.
The Indian government is taking steps to increase financial inclusion through “small [banking] accounts,” and issuing a biometric-enabled universal identification number. International experts have urged India to further the development and expansion of alternative money transfer services in the financial sector, including mobile banking, domestic funds transfer, and foreign remittances in order to allow broader financial inclusion of legitimate individuals and entities and reduce overall AML/CFT vulnerabilities. India’s reporting structure only protects principal officers/compliance officers of institutions who file suspicious activity reports in good faith. The lack of protection for staff or employees of these institutions who report may limit the number of reports received.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: India is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and participated in GCTF and UN forums on counterterrorism.
The 2013 arrests of high-profile terrorists Abdul Karim Tunda and Yasin Bhatkal cast a spotlight on India’s counterterrorism cooperation with neighbors, in this case, Nepal. India sought greater cooperation with Nepal in managing the two countries’ shared border, and it appeared that Nepal was taking steps to achieve this.
During 2013, the Indian and Bangladeshi governments continued their cooperation under their bilateral Coordinated Border Management Plan to control illegal cross-border activities and announced the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the field of security and border management through additional cooperation agreements.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: India’s counter-radicalization and violent extremism efforts are mostly directed by state and local authorities. While there is no comprehensive national policy for countering radicalization or violent extremism, the government has implemented some initiatives to counter violent extremism, such as offering quality and modern education in madrassas. In addition, the government has programs to rehabilitate and integrate various groups, mostly insurgents, back into the mainstream of society, such as the “Scheme for Surrender cum-Rehabilitation of militants in North East.” While not a CVE program per se, it is directed at disaffected members of Indian society who support separatist and at times violent movements. Indian government officials have raised concerns about how social media and the internet can be used to stir communal unrest and radicalization.
Overview: The Government of Kazakhstan passed new counterterrorism legislation and continued to develop its national program for countering terrorism and what it refers to as “religious extremism,” with efforts to establish new interagency counterterrorism bodies at the national, regional, and local levels. The national program outlines the responsibilities of each government agency and ministry to prevent and/or respond to acts of terrorism, with a strong focus on social and educational programs that are intended to form a zero-tolerance approach for citizens, especially youth, against the influence of terrorist or “extremist” ideas. Broad, vague definitions of terrorism and so-called “religious extremism” sometimes led to the arrest and prosecution of individuals and religious groups that are peaceful.
The Government of Kazakhstan has expressed an interest in increasing counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, particularly in the areas of information sharing and law enforcement cooperation, and in the development of Kazakhstani capability to conduct special counterterrorism operations.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Kazakhstani legislation criminalizes terrorist acts and extremist “propaganda.” Broad, vague definitions of terrorism and religious extremism sometimes lead to the arrest and prosecution of individuals and groups that are engaged in apparently peaceful activities. New legislation adds the forfeiture of property to the potential sentences for all terrorism-related crimes.
In January, President Nursultan Nazarbayev approved changes and amendments to Kazakhstan’s existing counterterrorism legislation that provided new definitions for several legal terms relating to terrorism and violent extremism, assigned counterterrorism roles and responsibilities to 26 government agencies, and created a framework for the government’s national counterterrorism program, including the establishment of national, regional, and local counterterrorism centers. The government’s ambitious new counterterrorism plan envisions extensive interagency cooperation and coordination, but cooperation, coordination, and information-sharing are limited in practice and certain government agencies dominate counterterrorism operations. There are four special counterterrorism detachments under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and one under the National Security Committee. The new state program for law enforcement development provides for the creation of new counterterrorist detachments and enhanced training for such units.
Details of the implementation of the national counterterrorism program are being defined primarily through specific bylaws, executive orders, and government decrees. For example, the government issued decrees identifying facilities vulnerable to terrorist threats, a public outreach system that includes codes corresponding to current threat levels, and procedures for compensating victims of terrorist acts. Nevertheless, a lack of capacity and the government’s general lack of respect for human rights constrained more effective Kazakhstani government counterterrorism efforts in 2013.
Law enforcement units demonstrated the capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist plots; law enforcement officials made numerous arrests of people believed to be terrorists or violent extremists, but also of peaceful religious figures. Kazakhstan continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program and received training in incident response.
Kazakhstan’s security forces, including military and law enforcement, are undergoing a process of professionalization and reform with the goal of more effectively discharging their duties. To date, however, security forces have a poor record of accountability and respect for human rights. Parliamentarians criticized law enforcement bodies for the tendency to “eliminate” or kill members of suspected terrorist groups rather than capture them for questioning, but there is a lack of transparency about the specific circumstances of counterterrorism operations. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Right Practices for 2013 for further information: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper.
Kazakhstani officials announced the arrest and prosecution of numerous individuals and groups on charges of terrorism or extremism. Trials of small groups of alleged extremists have become frequent throughout Kazakhstan. Sentences typically range from five to 15 years in prison. One group was accused of planning to attack senior host government officials and bomb several landmark sites in the capital.
As a testament to Kazakhstan’s growing cooperation with the United States, the Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan traveled to Washington in December 2013 and met with heads of federal law enforcement agencies. In a meeting with the FBI Director, the two parties discussed bilateral judicial cooperation in countering terrorism.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Kazakhstan belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and the Finance of Terrorism (EAG), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The Financial Monitoring Committee under the Ministry of Finance recorded 360 cases of terrorist financing in 2013. The latest EAG evaluation, done in 2011, found Kazakhstan non-compliant in reporting suspicious transactions. There is no requirement for non-profit organizations to file suspicious transaction reports. A further evaluation was scheduled, but was postponed by Kazakhstan in order to properly prepare for the evaluation. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: The Kazakhstani Prosecutor General’s Office cooperated with the OSCE on countering violent extremism and terrorism through joint workshops.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The government’s counterterrorism efforts focused heavily on the prevention of radicalization, with particular efforts to educate youth and provide positive alternatives through social programs and economic opportunities, but the results of these nascent programs are unclear. Kazakhstan’s legislation on religious beliefs and practices is unnecessarily restrictive, and might engender violent resistance from peaceful religious groups that experience government repression. We refer you to the Department of State’s Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/index.htm) for further information.
Kazakhstan’s recent strategy in countering radicalization and religious extremism focuses on preventive messaging to vulnerable groups, primarily young people and prison inmates. State-sponsored NGOs and local officials offer lectures to students in secondary schools, vocational schools, and universities. The lectures focused on religious groups the government considers to be “destructive,” which include peaceful “non-traditional” religious groups. The program aims to make young people “immune” to religious extremism and includes government publications on “proper” religious values.
Media have aired interviews with former terrorists who publicly state that they regret their deeds, including an interview with young men who said they illegally crossed the Turkish-Syrian border to fight alongside Syrian insurgents because of the influence of “internet propaganda.” One of Kazakhstan’s national news agencies aired a segment that showed the men repenting of their actions and appealing to Kazakhstani Muslims not to follow in their footsteps.
Overview: In 2013, there were no reported terrorist attacks in Kyrgyzstan. However, Kyrgyzstani security forces arrested several individuals suspected of affiliation with terrorist organizations and terrorist activities abroad. Security forces became more aware of increased recruitment of citizens for terrorist acts in Syria. On December 26, the Government of Kyrgyzstan arrested one fighter who reportedly returned from Syria.
The Government of Kyrgyzstan is committed to preventing terrorist attacks and reaches out to international organizations and foreign governments that can provide training and technical assistance. The country remains vulnerable, however, especially in the south where conflicts on the border with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and lack of central government control of the mountainous border are an issue. The Government of Kyrgyzstan is also concerned about the potential for an influx of terrorist elements into its territory following the withdrawal of ISAF troops from Afghanistan in 2014.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2013, the State Committee for National Security (GKNB) remained the main government organization tasked with countering terrorism. It arrested several individuals based on their alleged connections to terrorist organizations, including those linked to Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which the Kyrgyzstani government designated as a terrorist organization in 2003. Embassy officials report positive cooperation with Kyrgyzstan’s main counterterrorism bodies – the GKNB and the MOI.
In November 2013, the Kyrgyzstani Parliament approved a law aimed at improving interagency cooperation and regulations in the field of counterterrorism. The law addressed the integration of international agreements and improvements in streamlining regulations for counterterrorism activities. The new legislation also reduced the number of people required in order for a mass gathering to receive additional security and protection from terrorist attacks. This will allow more events to qualify for an increased police presence.
Although the GKNB’s antiterrorism unit has demonstrated the capacity to quickly react to bomb scares or other potential terrorist threats, it has limited capacity to act to counter the threat in practice. It lacks both specialized training and equipment.
There remains strong political will and desire for increased capacity building and acquisition of equipment and all law enforcement entities demonstrated a desire for cooperation with international organizations. Kyrgyzstani police officers continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, and received training focused on enhancing law enforcement capacity to secure Kyrgyzstan’s airports and conduct terrorism-related investigations. The ATA program continued to focus on strengthening police capacity to secure the country’s borders.
The border guards and customs service also cooperated closely with Embassy Bishkek’s Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) office. EXBS is funding construction of additional border towers and providing renovations and enhancements to existing border towers along the southern borders of Kyrgyzstan with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The OSCE, through its Community Security Initiative (CSI) continued to support an embedded police advisor with law enforcement agencies in each region of Kyrgyzstan, which began following ethnic clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in 2010 in the southern regions of Osh and Jalalabad. Along with community policing, the advisors train local law enforcement officials on how to identify potential terrorist attacks.
The Government of Kyrgyzstan does not maintain a terrorist screening watch list. It also does not have biographic or biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry. Although internal information sharing within the host government increased in 2013, it still needs improvement. Information sharing with other countries happened rarely and usually only by request in the context of a human trafficking or other organized crime investigation. The Government of Kyrgyzstan does not collect advance passenger name records on commercial flights.
In August, the GKNB arrested two citizens of Kyrgyzstan and a citizen of Kazakhstan who were suspected members of a terrorist cell in southern Kyrgyzstan. According to GKNB, the suspects intended to execute a series of attacks in Kyrgyzstan on behalf of foreign sponsors. The suspects purchased weapons, explosive materials, and communication equipment. In September, GKNB Special Forces facilitated the repatriation of two Kyrgyzstani recruits from Syria, working in collaboration with relatives of the recruits. It is not clear how many Kyrgyzstani nationals remain in Syria. On December 26, an alleged fighter who returned from Syria was arrested in Batken province under suspicion of attempting to recruit local Kyrgyzstani citizens for membership into an unnamed terrorist group.
Deterrents to more effective host government law enforcement measures against terrorism include interagency rivalries, a lack of coordination between the GKNB and the MOI, and budgetary constraints. Inefficient Soviet-era bureaucratic structures, low salaries, and frequent personnel turnover hampered law enforcement efforts. Kyrgyzstani counterterrorist units remained largely untested in real-life situations.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Kyrgyzstan belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and the Finance of Terrorism (EAG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In October 2011, Kyrgyzstan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and EAG to address its strategic anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance (AML/CFT) deficiencies. Since then, Kyrgyzstan has taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime. However, the FATF called for the country to address its remaining deficiencies: the criminalization of money laundering in accordance with international standards; improving the framework for freezing terrorist assets; and improving the AML/CFT supervisory program. In 2012, the Government of Kyrgyzstan established a Commission on Combating the Financing of Terrorism but it was largely inactive in 2013. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: In 2013, Kyrgyzstan participated in counterterrorism activities organized by the OSCE, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Antiterrorism Center, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The U.S. military conducted eight counterterrorism training events with the GKNB, the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry, and the Border Service. These events were designed to teach units to perform typical military tasks while respecting human rights and the safety of noncombatants.
Overview: Maldives, an archipelago consisting of nearly 1,200 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls, is strategically located close to international sea lanes bisecting the Indian Ocean. Since 2010, concerns about the activities of a small number of local violent extremists involved with transnational terrorist groups have been mounting. There has been particular concern that young Maldivians, including those within the penal system, may be at risk of becoming radicalized and joining violent Islamist extremist groups. Links have been made between Maldivians and violent extremists throughout the world.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2013, the Maldivian government arrested several people possibly associated with violent extremism. However, since existing laws and law enforcement processes severely limit the ability of law enforcement agencies to prosecute such cases, the number of convictions was limited.
Maldives continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA training focused on building capacity in counterterrorism leadership and management, critical target protection, and crisis management. ATA training included courses in securing maritime and other vital infrastructure from terrorism-related threats. The State Department also provided training to more than 100 Maldivian immigration officers in fraudulent travel document recognition.
Maldives has few laws that effectively control the movement of people and money in and out of the country. Due to its sprawling island geography and insufficient technological capabilities, the Maldivian Coast Guard currently cannot effectively patrol Maldivian waters. In August, the Maldivian government worked with the United States to upgrade its border security with installation of the PISCES system (Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System) at Maldives’ main international airport and at Malé Seaport.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Maldives is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Maldivian authorities believe that funds are currently being raised in Maldives to support terrorism abroad; however, there is no reliable information regarding the amounts involved. While no official studies yet have been conducted, the Maldivian Central Bank believes that criminal proceeds mainly come from domestic sources, as a large percentage of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) are related to Maldivians. The Maldives Monetary Authority reports that hawala systems (informal money transfer networks) are being used to transfer funds between the islands, although the extent to which these systems are used to launder money is still unclear.
The Maldivian government monitors banks, the insurance sector, money remittance institutions and finance companies, and requires the collection of data for wire transfers. Financial institutions other than banks and intermediaries in the securities sector, however, are not subject to current anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations. Insurance companies and intermediaries, finance companies, money remittance service providers, foreign exchange businesses, and credit card companies therefore operate outside the AML/CFT framework. Maldives does not currently require non-profit organizations to file suspicious transaction reports, nor does it regulate or monitor those organizations to prevent misuse and terrorist financing.
The Maldivian government implements UNSCRs 1267 (1999) and follow-on resolutions and 1373 (2001), and monitors and regulates alternative remittance services, despite the fact that they lie outside the AML/CFT framework. The Maldivian government did not report any efforts to seize terrorist assets in 2013.
According to the Maldivian government, capacity building of relevant supervisory and regulatory authorities (such as the Maldives Monetary Authority and the Capital Market Development Authority), as well as law enforcement authorities (the Anti-Corruption Commission, Department of Immigration and Emigration, Maldives Customs Service, and Maldives Police Service), and the judiciary is needed in order to properly counter money laundering and terrorist financing. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: The Maldivian government cooperated closely with Indian security forces, who offered regular support in the form of assets and training to Maldivian security forces. The Maldivian government also cooperated closely with the Sri Lankan government.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Maldivian government continued to recognize that counter-radicalization efforts form a critical component to long-term success against violent extremism and pursued initiatives in this area. In 2013, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs conducted more than a dozen seminars and workshops on preventing violent extremism for religious leaders, educators, and local government officials.
Overview: Nepal experienced no significant acts of international terrorism in 2013, although its open border with India and weak controls at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport raised concerns that international terrorist groups could use Nepal as a transit point.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: On March 13, a group of attackers ambushed a motorcade including Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN(M)) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal (aka “Prachanda”) en route to a campaign event in Kanchanpur. Media reported that a landmine exploded near the lead car, but nobody was injured. In the run-up to the November 19 Constituent Assembly Elections, one individual was killed and several injured in sporadic violence. During this period, police and army bomb squads discovered what appeared to be more than 100 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), of which about one-third were in the Kathmandu Valley. While the vast majority of IED scares were hoaxes, at least five actual IEDs exploded. There were no fatalities from any of these relatively unsophisticated IEDs, although on election day, a young child was seriously injured when he handled an IED that he believed was a toy. Also on election day, an IED injured three individuals when it exploded near a polling station in Kathmandu. In addition, there were at least six petrol-bomb attacks on long-distance buses and vans. A bus driver was killed in one of the attacks, and several individuals were injured.
The police arrested more than 200 individuals for involvement in the attacks, including dozens of members of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) – a splinter party that broke from the UCPN(M) in June 2012 and opposed the elections. CPN-M leaders denied responsibility for the attacks, although CPN-M Chairman Mohan Baidya acknowledged at a December press conference that some party members, frustrated that demands to call off the elections were ignored, may have been involved in the petrol-bomb attacks.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Nepali law criminalizes activities related to terrorism, including the financing of terrorism. While Nepal has specialized units to respond to terrorist incidents, law enforcement units lack the capacity to effectively detect, deter, and identify terrorist suspects. An open border with India and relatively weak airport security hamper efforts to implement effective counterterrorism policing.
Nepali police officers continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. In 2013, the ATA program funded six training courses to improve counterterrorism capabilities within Nepali law enforcement agencies. ATA training focused on building Nepali law enforcement capacity to secure the country’s borders from terrorist transit and preventing terrorists from establishing safe havens within Nepal. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) began training the Nepal Police in Polygraph Examination to improve criminal investigations, including investigations of potential terrorist activities. The United States also sponsored four joint training exercises with the Nepal Army to develop its counter-terrorism force, the Mahabir Rangers.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Nepal belongs to the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In June, President Yadav signed an additional ordinance to satisfy FATF requirements for criminalizing terrorist finance. The President also approved amendments to the Money-Laundering Prevention Act (MLPA) that give the government broad powers to confiscate assets of terrorist organizations and financiers. In September, Nepal froze the assets of 224 entities and 64 individuals with suspected connections to al-Qa’ida.
In October, the FATF noted that Nepal had largely addressed its action plan and is planning on conducting an onsite review to ensure that the process of implementing the required reforms and actions is underway, including addressing deficiencies previously identified by the FATF.
Nepali law allows the government to freeze and confiscate terrorist assets; however, coordination among different institutions remained slow. The Nepali authorities were in the process of installing computer systems to trace suspected terrorist assets and freeze them.
The Nepal Rastra Bank (the Central Bank of Nepal, NRB), licenses and monitors business services that receive remittances. Transactions by unauthorized banks and financial institutions to transfer or receive money (such as hundi and hawala) are considered criminal money laundering offenses, but it is difficult for the Nepali government to investigate these informal money transfer systems.
Only banks can legally transfer money out of Nepal. Money transfer services in Nepal may receive inbound remittances, but funds must be distributed to recipients through banks, which are required to collect data on the originator.
The NRB’s Financial Information Unit (FIU) directives do not cover non-profit organizations, unless there is specific information that they are involved in money laundering and terrorist financing.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Overview: In 2013, Pakistan continued to confront terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida (AQ), Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Punjabi Taliban, and Lashkar I Jhangvi (LJ), all of whom mounted attacks against police, military and security forces, or engaged in sectarian violence and criminal activities against all sectors of society. Pakistan did not confront Lashkare-Tayyiba, however, who continued to operate, rally, and fundraise in Pakistan with its front organizations. In 2013, terrorists used remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in bicycles, motorcycles, parked cars, rickshaws, donkey carts, and alongside roads, used vehicle-borne IEDs, suicide bombers (including females), targeted assassinations, rocket-propelled grenades, and other armed combat tactics in attacks on mosques, churches, markets, journalists, aid workers, government institutions and officials. AQ and HQN continued to plot against U.S. interests in the region, including U.S. diplomatic facilities. TTP posed a threat to both U.S. and Pakistani interests, and carried out numerous attacks against Pakistani armed forces, Pakistani civilians, and government institutions.
The May 2013 national elections brought in new civilian leadership, which was reviewing a new counterterrorism strategy at year’s end. In the pre-election period, some terrorist groups forged alliances with certain political parties, including religiously-based political parties. Some violent extremists conducted election-related terrorist attacks against political parties, candidates, and government officials. Pakistan’s government has pursued negotiations with TTP while also targeting the group militarily. Pakistan continued to support the Afghan peace process.
Karachi continued to suffer from political and ethnic violence inflicted by different groups, including militant organizations, fundamentalist religious groups, and the militant wings of political parties. Some militant groups worked to assert control over political parties and criminal gangs operating in the city and surrounding areas of southern Sindh. The security situation in Karachi was a priority concern for Pakistan’s president, prime minister, parliament, Supreme Court, and the military and law enforcement agencies.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: During 2013, terrorist groups targeted the Pakistani government and military, engaged in sectarian violence, and perpetrated attacks against civilians. Terrorists organized armed assaults on police stations, judicial centers, border check posts, military convoys, and polio vaccination teams. Terrorists plotted against and attacked judges, prosecutors, police officers, defense lawyers, anti-TTP peace committee members, intelligence officers, and elected officials. In the months leading up to the May national elections, terrorists attacked and killed political party workers and candidates, bombed political rallies, and, after the elections, killed newly elected and appointed officials. Terrorists mounted an armed attack on a Pakistan military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) office in Sukkur, and days later stormed a major prison, releasing several dozen imprisoned high-profile terrorists.
In separate incidents, terrorists assassinated a high-ranking Army general in the tribal areas, the Karachi Chief of Police, and the president’s chief of security. Terrorists targeted Shia and other religious minorities in all areas of Pakistan, especially in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Balochistan. Terrorists killed an international team of mountain climbers, including one U.S. citizen, on Pakistan’s famed Nanga Parbat Mountain.
As of mid-December, over 1,025 civilians and more than 475 security forces personnel had been killed in terrorist-related incidents in Pakistan during the year. The presence of AQ, TTP, and other militant groups continues to pose a threat to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan. The TTP claimed responsibility for the majority of the frequent attacks that targeted civilians and security personnel. Terrorist incidents occurred in every province. Representative incidents include:
- On January 10, a string of bombings in Quetta killed over 105 people and injured an estimated 169 more. In one attack, there were two explosions 10 minutes apart, with most fatalities occurring when police and media responded to the first bombing. The banned Sunni group, LJ, claimed responsibility for the twin attack, which took place in a predominantly Shia neighborhood. On the same day, a bomb exploded under a military vehicle at a busy market area, killing 12 and injuring 47 people. A Baloch nationalist group claimed responsibility.
- On June 15, 25 people died in a sectarian-related coordinated attack on a women’s college in Quetta along with the medical complex where victims were subsequently taken for treatment. The attack was notable for its use of a female suicide bomber, the first such occurrence in Balochistan. Later the same day, terrorists attacked and torched the historical landmark Ziarat residence 75 miles east of Quetta.
- On June 23, terrorists wearing paramilitary uniforms attacked a mountaineering base camp on Nanga Parbat in Gilgit-Baltistan and killed 10 foreign climbers, including one U.S. citizen. Three security officials sent to investigate the murders were also killed by terrorists.
- On July 10, a terrorist suicide bomber attacked the convoy of the chief of the presidential security detail in Karachi, killing the chief of security for President Zardari and two others.
- On July 24, suicide bombers and armed militants attacked the regional office of the ISI in a high security zone in Sukkur. Three ISI officials, and 10 Sindh police and Rangers personnel were killed, and 50 other people were injured during the ensuing battle.
- On July 29, terrorists stormed the Central Prison at Dera Ismail Khan in KP, forcing the release of imprisoned high-value terrorists. Twenty-four people died during the attack.
- On September 22, two suicide bombers attacked an historic Christian church in Peshawar; 119 persons were killed with over 145 others injured. The bombers detonated their vests at the end of a church service.
- On September 29, 42 people were killed and over 100 injured after a car bomb blast in the crowded Kissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar.
- On October 16, the newly appointed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa law minister and 10 others died after a suicide attacker exploded a bomb at the minister’s residence in Dera Ismail Khan.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Pakistan enacted additional amendments to the Antiterrorism Act of 1997, and promulgated several new laws to empower the national government to address terrorism with enhanced law enforcement and prosecutorial powers. Pakistan’s government is in the process of implementing four significant laws passed in 2013: the National Counterterrorism Authority Act, the Fair Trial Act, amendments to the Antiterrorism Act of 1997, and the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance of 2013 (PPO). The Pakistan government continued to make use of the reinforced counterterrorism legislation; however, the judiciary moved slowly in processing terrorism and other criminal cases in general.
Pakistan took steps in 2013 to address challenges in in interagency cooperation and coordination. In 2013, Pakistan engaged in structural reforms on counterterrorism, designed to centralize coordination and information sharing. The National Counterterrorism Authority (NACTA) was empowered by new legislation in April, but was not fully activated in 2013. NACTA is envisioned as facilitating increased coordination and collection of counterterrorism intelligence among security agencies and provincial police, and providing a vehicle for national policy and strategy formulation for all aspects of counterterrorism. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has nationwide jurisdiction as a civilian agency, and is fully empowered under the PPO to coordinate with provincial and territorial counterterrorism units.
Intimidation by terrorists against witnesses, police, victims, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges contribute both to the slow progress of cases in Antiterrorism Courts and a high acquittal rate. Prosecutors often lacked resources needed to conduct successfully prosecutions in the trial phase. Jurisdictional divisions among and between military and civilian security agencies continued to hamper effective investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases. Pakistan promulgated new legislation in 2013 that supports the investigation and prosecution of terrorism offenses. The new enhanced tools provided by the Fair Trial Act of 2012 and the NACTA law are in the process of being implemented by the government. These laws are designed to provide the necessary legal tools to detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist activities and organizations to intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors. The PPO augments the Antiterrorism Act of 1997 (as amended) and creates a federally-empowered infrastructure with special federal courts, prosecutors, police stations, and investigation teams for the enforcement of 20 specially delineated categories of offenses. Pakistan’s 2013 amendments to the Antiterrorism Act of 1997 increase protections for witnesses, victims, and judges in terrorism cases, provide for admissibility of electronic evidence in court, and set guidelines for detention and judicial review.
Pakistan is implementing biometric collection in national databases and screening at border land crossings with the International Border Management Security (IBMS) system. The National Automated Database Registration Authority (NADRA) maintains a national biometric database of citizens, residents, and diaspora Pakistanis, which is continually subject to upgrades. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Pakistan’s customs and tax authority, continues to maintain currency detection units in Pakistan’s 12 international airports to counter bulk cash smuggling. The FBR has improved information sharing protocols on arrests and seizures.
The Antiterrorism Courts in Pakistan have limited procedures for the admission of foreign evidence. Pakistan’s prosecution of seven suspects accused in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack is ongoing, with witnesses recording statements before the court. A Pakistani judicial commission made a second visit to India to obtain evidence and cross-examine four witnesses involved in India’s prosecution of Ajmal Kasab; however, it is unknown what impact India’s execution of Kasab in 2012 might have on the prosecution’s ability to introduce Kasab’s confession in the trial.
Pakistani military forces conducted significant counterterrorism operations in the tribal areas, and civilian and other forces conducted operations in Sindh, Balochistan, KP, and Punjab. Some AQ- affiliated terrorist groups were disrupted in Punjab, and some TTP leaders were killed during security operations. Security forces intercepted large stockpiles of weapons and explosives and discovered bomb-making facilities and sophisticated telecommunication networks. Pakistan continued to arrest terrorists and initiate prosecutions throughout 2013.
Cooperation with Pakistan’s security establishment on information sharing and law enforcement continued. Law enforcement cooperation continues with respect to terrorist attacks and plots against the embassy and personnel in Islamabad and the U.S. Consulates General and personnel in Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar. Pakistani security services continued to actively investigate individuals and organizations behind the threats to the U.S. Consulate in Lahore and have partnered with the United States for information exchange and enhanced security cooperation.
Pakistan continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA training and equipment focused on building capacity to respond to critical terrorism-related incidents – including explosives-related incidents – and to conduct counterterrorism investigations. The ATA program was able to successfully deliver crisis response training in the latter part of 2013. Overall, however, delays in issuance of Pakistani visas to ATA trainers significantly impeded program implementation.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Pakistan is an active participant in the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In February 2012, FATF identified Pakistan on its public statement because Pakistan failed to address strategic deficiencies in anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance (AML/CFT). In October, the FATF noted Pakistan’s substantial steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including by issuing a Statutory Regulatory Order that addresses the definition of terrorism and an Antiterrorism Amendment Ordinance to establish procedures for the identification and freezing of terrorist assets. While FATF praised the content of the Antiterrorism Amendment Ordinance, it encouraged Pakistan to take the necessary steps for swift ratification of the ordinance by its legislature.
UN-designated terrorist organizations in Pakistan continue to avoid sanctions by reconstituting themselves under different names, often with little effort to hide their connections to previously banned groups. Although Pakistan added some named groups to its proscribed organizations list, there was still concern about the weak implementation of UNSCRs 1267 (1999) and 1988 (2011) and their follow-on resolutions. While Pakistan has taken steps over the past year to implement UNSCR 1267, it still falls short of FATF’s international standards regarding the identification and freezing of terrorist assets under UNSCR 1373 (2001). The government has the ability to freeze assets but cannot confiscate assets unless an individual or entity is convicted of a crime. Pakistan issued a UNSC Enforcement Order of 2012 setting out a range of sanctions for non-compliance in the implementation of UNSCR 1267 but has not yet applied this authority. The FATF has recommended that Pakistan increase the administrative monetary penalty available or legislate for additional criminal sanctions to meet the international standards.
Lack of capacity, resource constraints, and effective CFT training for all participants in the criminal justice system are deterrents to an effective government response. Further, delays or denials of visas for U.S. law enforcement and judicial officials seeking to engage in AML/CFT capacity building have furthered hampered efforts in this area. Terrorist groups such as the Haqqani Network continued to raise funds in Pakistan.
Regional and International Cooperation: Pakistan actively participated in counterterrorism efforts in both regional and international venues. Pakistan is an active member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and attended GCTF meetings and supported GCTF initiatives. Pakistan is a partner in the UK’s Counterterrorism Prosecution Reform Initiative (CaPRI), and provincial governments contributed to rule of law programs in Malakand and Punjab. Pakistan participated in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meetings on counterterrorism; is a member of Interpol and the Organization of Islamic States (OIC); and participated in multilateral groups where counterterrorism cooperation is discussed, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) (as an observer) and the D-8, a group of developing nations with large Muslim populations. Pakistan participated in UN Security Council meetings on sanctions and counterterrorism, and co-hosted a UN Counter-Terrorism Committee’s Executive Directorate regional workshop for South Asian judges, prosecutors and investigators in Islamabad.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States held high-level meetings on regional security, including efforts to combat violent extremism in the border region and to promote an Afghan reconciliation process. Pakistan also participated in bilateral meetings with a number of other nations on security cooperation and counterterrorism, including Turkey and the People’s Republic of China.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: In 2013, Pakistan’s NACTA started consultations with Malaysia, Turkey, and Indonesia on strategies for countering violent extremism Integration of militants into society after peace agreements remained a major priority for the government. Pakistan’s military worked with civil society to operate the Sabaoon Rehabilitation Center, a de-radicalization program for youth in a military camp in Mingora, Swat. Militancy-exposed youth are rehabilitated through a combination of education and counseling. Sabaoon centers claim success in reintegrating militant youth into society, and there are now nine such centers operating in KP and FATA.
Overview: The Sri Lankan government defeated the terrorist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009. Concerns remain that widely reported allegations of atrocities and violations of international law committed by both the government and the LTTE during the civil war have not been addressed. Partly as a result, counterterrorism cooperation and training with the United States was limited in 2013. No arrests related to terrorism were made, but the Government of Sri Lanka remained concerned that the LTTE’s international network of financial support was still functioning. The Sri Lankan government continued to maintain a strong military presence in post-conflict areas and continued to voice concern about the possible re-emergence of pro-LTTE sympathizers. Sri Lankan police did not participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program in 2013.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Counterterrorism legislation in Sri Lanka has historically focused on eliminating the LTTE. In 2013, the Government of Sri Lanka continued to implement the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), enacted in 1982 as a wartime measure, which gives security forces sweeping powers to search, arrest, and detain individuals. The government sometimes used the PTA to stifle dissent among political opponents or others critical of the government.
Although U.S. antiterrorism assistance to Sri Lanka has generally been limited, in 2013 the Sri Lankan government was a proactive partner with the U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense, and Energy on securing its maritime border. The U.S. Coast Guard, under the Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security program, continued to train Sri Lankan Coast Guard and Navy personnel on border and export control matters, and the government of Sri Lanka continued to cooperate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection through the Container Security Initiative.
Border security remained a significant issue for the Sri Lankan Government in 2013. In 2013, the U.S. State Department trained 25 Sri Lankan immigration officials on fraudulent document recognition, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) trained 40 immigration officers in techniques to improve border surveillance and combat human trafficking. IOM also continued to work with the Australian government to provide specialized training to Sri Lankan immigration personnel on profiling, identification of violators, and arrests and prosecutions, among other border control-related training.
Beginning in late 2012, the Sri Lankan government began partnering with the Canadian Counterterrorism Program on two border security related projects: the Interpol Database system, used to store and share profiling information in real time, and the Lost and Stolen Passport program, which addresses the large-scale border control issues the Sri Lankan government faces.
Also in 2013, the Sri Lankan government collaborated with the EU Immigration Department on the Advanced Passenger Information system, which transmits passenger information to Government of Sri Lanka immigration officials upon arrival. Collaboration with the Australian government has resulted in the development of a passport fingerprinting program scheduled to go online in 2014. The data generated from these collection systems will be significant assets to the Sri Lankan government in its efforts to control and combat illegal migration; however, the issue of maritime border security is one that needs additional action and must be considered within a regional context.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Sri Lanka belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and the Finance of Terrorism (EAG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In June, the FATF welcomed Sri Lanka’s progress in improving its anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance (AML/CFT) regime and removed the country from FATF’s monitoring process. Sri Lanka was, however, encouraged to continue the implementation of its procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets.
While neither an important regional financial center nor a preferred center for money laundering, several factors make the country vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist finance. These include a lack of transparent tender mechanisms in government projects, past experience with terrorism, tax evasion, and a large informal economy. Legal remittance flows through the formal banking system have increased sharply in recent years. Remittances originate primarily from Sri Lanka’s substantial overseas workforce.
Before its defeat in 2009, the LTTE had used a number of non-profit organizations for fundraising purposes. Sri Lanka continued its efforts to search for other financial links to the LTTE, even many years after the war ended. There were criticisms that this search for terrorists was extended well beyond its utility and expanded to target legitimate political opponents of the government. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: In November, the Sri Lankan government held the Galle Dialogue, which featured multilateral discussion by international security force representatives on issues of regional security in South Asia. Issues covered during the conference included maritime terrorism and the trafficking of narcotics, weapons, and people.
Overview: In 2013, Tajikistan continued to address weaknesses in its counterterrorism strategy and demonstrated its ability to conduct counterterrorism operations. Tajikistan’s counterterrorism policies were focused on marginalizing violent Islamist extremist groups in Tajikistani society. In 2013, Tajikistan conducted various meetings with its fellow Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member countries to enhance cooperation in the sphere of counterterrorism and border security. Tajikistan sought to increase military and law enforcement capacity to conduct tactical operations through bilateral and multilateral assistance programs, including with the United States.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Tajikistani government prosecuted terrorists under the Law on Combating Terrorism, the Law on Anti-Money Laundering, the Law on Currency Regulation, the Law on Notary, and the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan. Resource constraints, corruption, lack of training for effective law enforcement and border security officials, and general capacity issues continued to plague the Tajikistani government’s ability to interdict possible terrorists.
Throughout 2013, Tajikistan was an active participant in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, and other U.S.-sponsored counterterrorism training programs.ATA focused on delivering training and equipment to build Tajikistani capacity to secure the country’s borders. ATA assistance also included instructor development courses to improve the abilities of Tajikistani officers to share lessons from ATA training with their colleagues.
Tajikistan continued to make progress in improving border security with bilateral and multilateral assistance, although effectively policing the Tajikistani/Afghan border was a difficult task requiring more resources and capabilities than were available to the Tajikistani government. In 2013, the Tajikistani government established an interagency Secretariat, which met regularly throughout the year to coordinate implementation of Tajikistan’s 2010 National Border Management Strategy. The International Organization for Migration and the OSCE worked to improve travel document security. The OSCE also provided funding to link Tajikistan’s existing passport data scanners at airports and land ports of entry to the Interpol database. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, the Border Management Program in Central Asia, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime worked to improve border infrastructure, promote inter-agency cooperation, provide direct training, and expand training capacity in Tajikistan.
Corruption in the judicial system and misuse of counterterrorism statutes to suppress legitimate political opposition hampered the effectiveness of the government’s counterterrorism efforts.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Tajikistan is a member of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In June 2011, Tajikistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and EAG to address its strategic AML/CFT deficiencies. In October, the FAFT noted that Tajikistan has taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime but called on the country to address its remaining deficiencies: ensuring adequate procedures for freezing terrorist assets; implementing adequate procedures for the confiscation of funds related to the full range of money laundering predicate offences; and addressing the remaining issues relating to customer due diligence measures. The EAG has provided Tajikistan with assistance to improve its legislative and regulatory frameworks and operational capabilities.
In 2013, Tajikistan amended portions of its legislation pertaining to money laundering and financial crimes, bringing its laws closer to compliance with international recommendations
Outstanding deficiencies in the financial crime enforcement and regulatory sector included: lack of adequate record keeping; the lack of an effective financial intelligence unit; and poor coordination, staffing, and training among Tajikistani agencies that deal with money laundering, which impeded the Tajikistani government’s ability to conduct effective investigations. Endemic corruption also hampered reforms in this area.
Tajikistan successfully prosecuted terrorists under the Law on Combating Terrorism in 2013. Three suspects faced anti-money laundering (AML) charges, and 28 faced charges related to countering the financing of terrorism (CFT), resulting in two AML- and 13 CFT-related convictions. In total, Tajikistan sentenced 45 members of prohibited organizations, 15 on finance-related charges. The Tajikistani government confiscated property in one AML and five CFT-related cases.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2014/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Tajikistan is an active member of the OSCE, where it focuses on border security issues, and is also a member of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization and the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (CSO). The United States, Russia, Japan, and the EU provided funding for border security programs in Tajikistan. In June 2013, Tajikistan participated in regional counterterrorism exercises with SCO partner nations.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Stemming violent extremism and radicalization in Tajikistan is a top priority for the Tajikistani government. Many of the government's measures, however, had a negative impact on religious freedoms, including prohibiting children under 18 from attending mosque or other public religious services and banning women from worshiping in mosques. We refer you to the Department of State’s Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/index.htm) for further information.
Overview: The Government of Turkmenistan continued its efforts to improve the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism, ensure border security, and detect terrorist financing. The Government of Turkmenistan has been reluctant to work with the State Department, however, participating in only two out of five Antiterrorism Assistance courses offered in the past three years. Counterterrorism cooperation continued to focus on building the trust and relationships necessary for future effective, widespread training and capacity building. Broad, vague definitions of terrorism and so-called “religious extremism” are sometimes used by the government to target internal dissent.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The country’s legal system as it pertains to counterterrorism centers on the 2003 counterterrorism law that defines which crimes are considered terrorist in nature. This law is supplemented by articles 271-273 of the criminal code, which pertain to terrorist acts and terrorist financing and are used to prosecute terrorism-related offenses.
The Ministries of National Security, Internal Affairs, Defense, and State Border Service perform counterterrorism functions and share information through an interagency commission. The country’s law enforcement capacity needs improvement, as law enforcement units have a poor record of accountability and respect for human rights. Prosecutors, however, do play a significant role in the investigation phase of a case, and specialized law enforcement units exist to conduct investigations. These units possess specialized equipment but usually only use the equipment for official ceremonies and demonstrations as opposed to daily operations. Turkmenistan also participated in U.S. and international-sponsored training programs, including a UN Office on Drugs and Crime program on international counterterrorism instruments and a U.S. training program on combating transnational threats. Turkmenistan remained a partner nation for the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, and the ATA program provided a successful crisis management seminar for law enforcement leaders in 2013.
The State Border Service (SBS) continued to operate frontier garrisons on its borders with Iran and Afghanistan and managed eight radiation portal monitors along its borders, which were donated by the Department of Energy through its Second Line of Defense program. The State Migration Service maintains a terrorist screening watch-list and possesses biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry.
Turkmenistan’s political will to counter terrorism and ensure border security is evident in the government’s continued emphasis on maintaining stability above all other concerns. On border security, the Government of Turkmenistan has increased its cooperation with the United States via participation in the Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program, and for the first time, participated in programs pertaining to legal/regulatory reform and the creation of a strategic trade control regime to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Petty corruption, however, sometimes hampered effective law enforcement. For example, in October, President Berdimuhamedov dismissed the Chairman of the State Border Service (SBS), who was imprisoned shortly thereafter on bribery charges. Additionally, international cooperation with the government is often hampered by a bureaucracy that operates according to an opaque set of rules and that frequently deems public information “state secrets.”
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Turkmenistan is a member of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), a FATF-style regional body. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Turkmenistan government officials participated in OSCE-sponsored trainings on border security, countering the financing of terrorism, and protecting human rights while combating terrorism.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Turkmenistan's law enforcement and security agencies exercise stringent control over the population. The Turkmen government reportedly views conservative Islam with suspicion. Since the country's independence, mosques and Muslim clergy have been state-sponsored and financed. This level of government surveillance suggests that any violent extremist groups existing in Turkmenistan would be small, underground, and disparate. However, the severe curtailment of basic freedoms, growing economic inequality, an ideological void among young people, and the perception of corruption could cause people to be attracted to violent extremist ideologies. We refer you to the Department of State’s Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/index.htm) for further information.
Overview: As with other Central Asian governments in 2013, the Government of Uzbekistan remained concerned about the possibility of a growing terrorism threat connected to changes in the number of international forces in Afghanistan past 2014, and it continued to seek to reduce its vulnerability to this perceived threat. A central concern is the possibility that terrorist groups that have previously operated in Uzbekistan, notably the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), could return from Afghanistan and pose a greater threat. While Uzbekistan’s government remains confident that it can control its border with Afghanistan, it is less sure about its neighbors’ ability to do so and is particularly concerned with infiltration of extremists through Uzbekistan’s long, rugged border with Tajikistan.
The Government of Uzbekistan restricts information on internal matters, making it difficult to analyze both the extent of the terrorist threat and the effectiveness of Uzbekistani law enforcement’s efforts to combat it. Additionally, resource constraints, corruption and lack of modern law enforcement training continue to hamper the government’s ability to respond to terrorist attacks. Furthermore, Uzbekistan’s counterterrorism effectiveness is undermined by its lack of respect for fundamental human rights, ineffective and overly bureaucratic institutions, and slow progress in establishing the rule of law. These factors increase the country’s vulnerability to the appeal of violent extremism.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: On October 26, independent, Prague-based press outlet Ozodlik reported that 25 year-old Doniyor Oripov detonated an improvised explosive device in a restroom of a restaurant in Samarkand, killing himself and wounding his 18 year-old brother Damir Oripov. Uzbekistani authorities did not release any information on the incident.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Government of Uzbekistan investigates and prosecutes terrorist-related acts under its Law on Combating Terrorism, passed in 2000 and revised in 2004. The Law on Combating Terrorism identifies the National Security Service (NSS), the Ministry of Interior, the State Border Guards Committee (operating within the NSS command structure), the State Customs Committee, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry on Emergency Situations as the government entities responsible for countering and responding to terrorism. The NSS is the lead counterterrorist law enforcement agency, with primary responsibility for the coordination and supervision of the interagency efforts.
Law enforcement in Uzbekistan continued to arrest, prosecute, and convict an unknown number of people under charges of extremism in 2013. External security threats and “religious extremism” provide the primary justifications for Uzbekistan’s restrictive border control and often indiscriminate police actions. Moreover, the security sector in Uzbekistan, led by the NSS, prioritized the narrow goal of securing the regime against internal dissent and utilized broad enforcement methods to maintain internal security. As a result, its policy is to brand any Islamic groups that it broadly determines to deviate from the state-sponsored version of Islam as “extremist” and to criminalize membership in such groups. Law enforcement frequently uses the terms “terrorism” or “extremism” interchangeably and views alleged ties to what the government considers extremist organizations as grounds to arrest, prosecute, and convict people. It is possible that the Uzbekistani security forces have neutralized legitimate threats in course of conducting indiscriminate and broadly targeted anti-extremist or politically motivated operations; however, a lack of reliable information makes it difficult to differentiate between legitimate counterterrorist law enforcement actions and politically motivated arrests aimed at individuals on the basis of their religion or opponents of the government.
Below are known examples from 2013 in which law enforcement arrested and prosecuted suspects under charges of alleged extremism or terrorism. As with many cases like this, it is difficult to determine if the arrests and convictions were truly terrorist- or violent extremist-related or simply used to suppress expressions of political or religious beliefs.
- A court sentenced to five to 12 years in prison 11 adherents of the banned Jihadisti (Jihodchilar) group from Namangan Region for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and “inciting interethnic and interreligious hatred.”
- Authorities jailed nine individuals for membership in the banned Tabligh Jammat group, as well as for teaching religion to others without proper education.
- A court sentenced eight individuals from eight to 18 years in prison for alleged membership in a “Wahhabi” group and for possessing banned religious literature.
- Authorities brought charges against Novosti Uzbekistana newspaper for “consciously promoting terrorism” and banned its publication. The charges related to a picture that the newspaper published in its October 10 edition. The file photograph, taken from the internet for an article about the Andijon local government, reportedly showed armed individuals during the 2005 Andijon events.
- A court sentenced 26-year-old Murodali Isroilov to seven years in prison for conspiring while in Russia to create a clandestine extremist organization within Uzbekistan to build an Islamic state and implement “Wahhabi” doctrine.
- An international NGO and family members reported that Kazakhstan extradited to Uzbekistan 38-year-old Khayrullo Tursunov. Kashkadaryo Region Criminal Court sentenced Tursunov to 16 years in prison on June 6 on “religious extremism” charges.
- In July 2013, Amnesty International released a report focusing on the practice of forcible extraditions in Central Asia, highlighting numerous cases where Uzbekistani citizens were extradited from other Commonwealth of Independent States member states, often forcibly and without due process of law, to face charges of “religious extremism” in Uzbekistan.
As part of an end-of-year amnesty of prisoners announced by the Senate in December in honor of the 21st anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution, the Uzbekistani government included a group of prisoners identified as “individuals who were convicted for the first time of participation in banned organizations and the commission of crimes against peace and security or against public security and who have firmly stood on the path to recovery.” However, the decree also included stipulations that prisoners convicted of “participating in banned organizations and those convicted of participating in crimes against the public order,” terms used in the past for prisoners convicted of extremism, would be excluded from those being released.
The Government of Uzbekistan continued issuing biometric passports to citizens for travel outside of Uzbekistan. The biometric data includes a digital photo, fingerprints, and biographical data.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Uzbekistan belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), a FATF-style regional body. In 2013, Uzbekistan’s Cabinet of Ministers designated the Department on Fighting Tax, Currency Crimes and Legalization of Criminal Income under Prosecutor-General's Office as the body responsible for implementation of EAG agreements.
Legally, money laundering needs to be linked to a predicate offense. As such, investigators and the judicial system do not often pursue money laundering charges. Investigators have three months to finalize investigations. With the intense pressure to solve cases, this three month time frame does not leave much time to understand the complexities and/or to learn of the players involved in the money laundering.
Regional and International Cooperation: Although the Government of Uzbekistan prefers bilateral engagement in its security-related cooperation, it is currently a member of several regional organizations that address terrorism, including the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with the Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure of the SCO (RATS) headquartered in Tashkent. Tashkent hosted the 2013 annual meeting of SCO heads of government. The Uzbekistani government also continued to work with several multilateral organizations such as the OSCE, the EU, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime on general security issues, including border control.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Official government media continued to produce documentaries, news articles, and full-length books about the dangers of joining violent Islamist extremist and terrorist organizations. The message is generally targeted to the 15-40 year old, male demographic, which the government considers the most susceptible to recruitment to violent extremist groups, although some media has focused on keeping women from falling into the traps of violent extremists. In February and July, state TV aired programs warning parents of the danger of sending their children to hujras, traditional religious schools outlawed in the country, and declaring that the roots of religious extremism, dogmatism, and terrorism lay in private religious classes. However, some NGOs continued to suggest that greater freedom to circulate mainstream, non-extremist Islamic and other religious materials could be more effective in countering extremism than the current policy of maintaining a government monopoly over religious publications. We refer you to the Department of State’s Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/index.htm) for further information.
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