CRS Report for Congress
Terrorism: Middle Eastern Groups and State Sponsors, 2000
Updated August 17, 2000
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division
There are clear signs that state sponsorship of terrorism is declining. During the 1980s and the early 1990s, Iran and terrorist groups it sponsors were responsible for the most politically significant acts of Middle Eastern terrorism. Although Iran continues to actively sponsor terrorist groups, since 1997 some major factions within Iran have sought to change Iran's image to that of a more constructive force in the region. Pressured by international sanctions and isolation, Sudan and Libya appear to have sharply reduced their support for international terrorist groups. Syria, according to the Administration, has made a strategic choice for peace, implying that Syria may be ready to expel terrorist groups in areas under its control if there is a peace agreement with Israel.
The major state sponsors are, to some extent, becoming eclipsed by the radical Islamic terrorist network of exiled Saudi dissident Usama bin Ladin, who is independently financed and enjoys safe haven in Afghanistan. The goals of bin Ladin and his cohorts are to oust pro-U.S. regimes in the Middle East and gain removal of U.S. troops from the region. Within the past year, there have been growing signs that bin Ladin might be seeking to disrupt the Arab-Israeli peace process; bin Ladin cells have been discovered and their members arrested by authorities in Jordan and Lebanon, although no attacks linked to bin Ladin were actually carried out in these countries.
|Radical Islamic Groups|
|Hizballah (Party of God)|
|Hizballah's Regional Connections|
|Specially Designated Terrorists (SDT's)|
|Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)|
|The Islamic Group and Jihad|
|Al-Qaida (Usama bin Ladin Network)|
|SDT's/August 20, 1998 Executive Order|
|The Armed Islamic Group (GIA)|
|Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)|
|Islamic Army of Aden|
|Radical Jewish Groups: Kach and Kahane Chai|
|Leftwing and Nationalist Groups|
|Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)|
|Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine - General Command (PFLPGC)|
|Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine (PFLP)|
|Democratic Front For The Liberation Of Palestine (DFLP)|
|Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)|
|Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)|
|Other Non-Islamist Organizations|
|Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)|
|The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)|
|Revolutionary People s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)|
|Middle Eastern State Sponsors|
|Countering Near Eastern Terrorism|
|Unilateral Economic Sanctions|
|Multilateral Sanctions and Diplomatic Approaches|
|The Domestic Front|
|Table 1. Near Eastern Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO's): October 1999 Designations|
|Table 2. Blocked Assets of Middle East Terrorism-List States (As of End 1999)|
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Terrorism: Middle Eastern Groups
and State Sponsors, 2000
This report is an annual analysis of Near Eastern terrorist groups and countries on the U.S. "terrorism list." 1 The report also discusses significant themes in U.S. unilateral and multilateral efforts to combat terrorism in or from the region. The analysis draws extensively from the State Department's annual report on international terrorism, entitled Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999. (State Department Publication 10687, Released April 2000.) It also relies on press reports as well as conversations with U.S. counter-terrorism officialsl, experts from the United States and the region, investigative journalists, and foreign diplomats.
Near Eastern terrorist groups and their state sponsors have been the focus of U.S. counter-terrorism policies for several decades. Since the 1970s, many of the most high-profile acts of terrorism against American citizens and targets have been conducted by these groups or their state sponsors. However, there were no terrorist attacks in 1999 either related or unrelated to the Near East region that compare in scale to the August 7, 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Those attacks killed 301 persons, including 12 Americans, according to Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998. Seventeen persons, including Usama bin Ladin, have been indicted for those bombings. According to Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999 (hereafter cited as Patterns 1999), the absence of such major attacks caused terrorism-related casualties to fall to 233 in 1999 from 741 in 1998, even though the number of attacks rose 40% to 392 in 1999. The number of attacks increased in every region of the world except the Middle East, where six fewer attacks occurred, according to Patterns 1999. Five out of the seven states currently on the U.S. terrorism list are located in the Near East region Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Sudan. (The other two are Cuba and North Korea, which will not be covered in this report). The countries on the list have not changed since Sudan was added in 1993.
The first major section of this paper discusses individual groups, which often differ in their motivations, objectives, ideologies, and levels of activity. The Islamist groups remain generally the most active, stating as their main objective the overthrow of secular, pro-Western governments, the derailment of the Arab-Israeli peace process, the expulsion of U.S. forces from the region, or the end of what they consider unjust occupation of Muslim lands. Some groups, such as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), fight for cultural and political rights or the formation of separate ethnically-based states. Table 1 below shows the 17 Near Eastern groups currently designated by the State Department as "Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO s)," pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-132). 2 With the exception of al-Qaida (the bin Ladin network), the listed groups were designated as FTO s on October 8, 1997. President Clinton added al-Qaida on August 21, 1998.
Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the designation of a group as an FTO blocks its assets in the United States and makes it a criminal offense for U.S. persons to provide material support or resources to it. Executive order 12947 of January 23, 1995 also bars U.S. dealings (contributions to or financial transactions) with any terrorist group members named as Specially Designated Terrorists (SDT). An SDT, according to the Executive order, is a person found to pose a significant risk of disrupting the Middle East peace process, or to have materially supported acts of violence toward that end.
This report also analyzes the following four movements not named as FTOs:
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO is discussed briefly in this report because of the debate over whether or not the Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by PLO leader Yasir Arafat, is taking sufficient steps to prevent terrorism by other groups in areas under its nominal control.
When the FTO listed was reviewed and re-issued in October 1999, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) was dropped, largely because it has reconciled with Arafat. The group s past involvement in terrorism is discussed briefly.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) will be discussed, since Patterns 1999, for the first time ever, formally analyzes the group. The Administration has stopped short of naming the IMU as an FTO.
Some Islamic groups now operating in Yemen are discussed in this report because of their possible linkages to bin Ladin.
Following the analysis of individual groups, the five Middle Eastern countries on the terrorism list are discussed. The last section reviews major recent themes in U.S. anti-terrorism strategy.
|Abu Nidal Organization||Palestinian, nationalist||Very Low|
|Armed Islamic Group (GIA)||Algerian, Islamist||High|
|Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM)||Pakistan, Kashmir, Separatist||High|
|Hizballah||Lebanese, Shiite Islamist||Moderate|
|Islamic Group||Egyptian, Islamist||High|
|Kach||Jewish, anti-peace process||Low|
|Kahane Chai||Jewish, anti-peace process||Low|
|Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)||Kurdish, anti-Turkey||Low|
|Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)||Palestinian, Islamist||High|
|Palestine Liberation Front||Palestinian, nationalist||Low|
|Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)||Palestinian, Marxist||Low|
|Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)||Palestinian, Nationalist||Moderate|
|People s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)||Iranian, leftwing anti-regime||Moderate|
|Al-Qaida (Bin Ladin Organization)||Multinational. Afghanistan-based Islamist.||Very high|
|Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front||Turkish, leftwing anti-government||Low|
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Since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, and particularly the seizure of the U. S. Embassy in Tehran in November of that year, radical Islam has attracted widespread press attention as the driving ideology of the most active Middle Eastern terrorist groups and state sponsors. Of the seventeen Near Eastern FTO s named by the State Department, eight are radical Islamic organizations (Bin Ladin s al-Qaida organization, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hizballah, the Armed Islamic Group, the Islamic Group, al-Jihad, and Harakat ul-Mujahidin). The Administration perceived bin Ladin s organization as the most active terrorist threat in the world at this time, and factions of several of the other groups in this section are believed to be part of his network
Hizballah (Party of God) 3
Lebanon-based Hizballah has been transforming itself from a guerrilla and terrorist organization into a more mainstream political movement. Its initial goal was to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon, but it has downplayed that ambition in recent years. It holds nine seats in Lebanon s 128 seat parliament and no major terrorist attacks have been attributed to it since 1994. It is running jointly with its sometime rival, the more secular Shiite group called Amal (Hope), in August-September 2000 elections. Hizballah s military wing has refrained from conducting revenge attacks against Lebanese collaborators with Israel since moving into the areas of southern Lebanon vacated by Israeli troops in May 2000.
Although encouraged thus far by Hizballah's relative restraint following the Israeli withdrawal, Israel and the United States remain wary of Hizballa's intentions and capabilities. Hizballah's 15 year military campaign against Israeli and Israeli surrogate forces in southern Lebanon activity that is not technically considered terrorism by the U.S. State Department often included rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. Even though the United Nations has certified that Israel s withdrawal is complete, Hizballah has threatened renewed attacks on Israel if Israel violates Hizballah s interpretation of the location of the Israel-Lebanon border or if Israel refuses to release Lebanese still held in Israeli prisons. In the aftermath of the unsuccessful July 2000 Israeli-Palestinian summit at Camp David, Hizballah also threatened to kill U.S. diplomats if President Clinton moves the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. With a force of several thousand, according to Patterns 1999, and weaponry such as Katyusha rockets capable of hitting Israeli villages, Hizballah is in a position to back up its threats. The Washington Post reported on December 4, 1999 that Iran had transferred to Hizballah rocket systems that can almost reach Haifa if fired from southern Lebanon. On the other hand, Hizballah could face massive retaliation from vastly superior Israeli forces if it attacked Israeli cities, and possibly forfeit its new found popularity inside Lebanon.
Founded in 1982 by Lebanese Shiite clerics inspired by the Islamic revolutionary ideology of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, Hizballah has a long record of violence against Israel and the West, especially the United States. During the 1980s, Hizballah was a principal sponsor of anti-Western, and particularly anti-U.S., terrorism. It is known or suspected to have been involved in suicide truck bombings of the U. S. Embassy (April 1983), the U. S. Marine barracks (October 1983, killing 220 Marine, 18 Navy and 3 Army personnel), and the U.S. Embassy annex (September 1984), all in Beirut. It also hijacked TWA Flight 847 in 1985, killing a Navy diver, Robert Stethem, who was on board, and its factions were responsible for the detention of most, if not all, U.S. and Western hostages held in Lebanon during the 1980s and early 1990s. Eighteen Americans were held hostage in Lebanon during the period, three of whom were killed. (on June 5, 1998, Hizballah's leader denied the group was linked to the Marine barracks bombing or the holding of hostages, but he said he supported the Marine bombing, the perpetrators of which have not been found.) Hizballah has continued to conduct surveillance of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon and its personnel, according to Patterns 1999.
In the early 1990s, Hizballah demonstrated its ability to conduct terrorism far from the Middle East. In May 1999, Argentina s Supreme Court, after an official investigation, formally blamed Hizballah for the March 17, 1992 bombing of Israel's embassy in Buenos Aires and issued an arrest warrant for Hizballah terrorist leader Imad Mughniyah. Hizballah did not claim responsibility for the attack outright, but it released a surveillance tape of the embassy, implying responsibility. In May 1998, FBI Director Louis Freeh told Argentina the FBI believes that Hizballah, working with Iranian diplomats, was also responsible for the July 18, 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires that left nearly 86 dead. 4 On that trip, Freeh said publicly that Hizballah had built a support network in Brazil, at the triborder area with neighboring Argentina and Paraguay. 5 In July 1999, Argentine investigators brought charges against 20 suspected Argentine collaborators in the AMIA bombings, but non of the alleged perpetrators have been caught. In February 1999, an Iranian women suspected of involvement was released for lack of evidence. In Addition, Hizballah is believed to retain a terrorism infrastructure in Europe, Africa, North America and elsewhere.During a visit to South America in May 1998, FBI Director Louis Freeh said Hizballah is suspected of building a support network in Brazil, at the triborder area with neighboring Argentina and Paraguay. 5 In addition, Hizballah retains a terrorism infrastructure in Europe, Africa, North America, and elsewhere.
Hizballah's Regional Connections. Hizballah maintains active connections with similar groups in the Middle East. In October 1997, Hizballah publicly admitted training Hamas militants in Lebanon. 6 Saudi and Bahraini investigations of anti-regime unrest have revealed the existence of local chapters of Hizballah composed of radical Shiite Muslims, many of whom have studied in Iran s theological seminaries and received terrorist training there and in Lebanon. Saudi officials apparently believe that one such organization in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Hizballah, was responsible for the June 25, 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers housing complex for U.S. military personnel, near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. 7 A similar organization in Kuwait, Kuwaiti Hizballah, in 1996 allegedly assisted its allies in Bahrain by smuggling weapons to Bahrain, according to Patterns 1996. According to Pattersn 1998, in November 1998 Bahraini authorities uncovered an alleged bomb plot that they blamed on persons linked to Bahraini and Lebanese Hizballah. On the other hand, a group called Turkish Hizballah, active in Turkey, is composed of Kurds and does not appear linked to Lebanese Hizballah or these other Hizballah movements.
Patterns 1999 reiterates that Hizballah receives substantial amounts of financial assistance, weapons, and political and organizational support from both Syria and Iran, although it does not mention specific figures. Then Secretary of State Christopher said on May 21, 1996 that Iran gives Hizballah about $100 million per year. About 150 of Iran s Revolutionary Guards remain in Lebanon to coordinate Iran s aid to Hizballah. Syria permits Iran to supply weapons to Hizballah through the international airport in Damascus.
Specially Designated Terrorists (SDT's). 8 Hizballah members named as SDT s include (1) Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah, who is about 41 and has led Hizballah since 1993. He was re-elected by Hizballah on July 29, 1998 to head the organization for another three years; (2) Imad Mughniyah, the 37 year old Hizballah intelligence officer and alleged holder of some Western hostages in the 1980s; (3) Shaykh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, the 63 year old senior Shiite cleric and leading spiritual figure of Hizballah; and (4) Subhi Tufayli, the 53 year old former Hizballah Secretary General who leads a radical breakaway faction of Hizballah.
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
Some leaders of the Sunni Muslim Palestinian group Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement), including founder Shaykh Ahmad Yassin, appear to be increasingly open to accommodation with Arafat s leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA). These Hamas leaders also appear to have resigned themselves to an eventual final peace agreement between Israel and the PA, although they continue to publicly denounce peace talks with Israel and believe Arafat is too eager to compromise with Israel. Along with three other Hamas leaders, Yassin attended an April 1999 meeting of the PLO, marking the first time senior Hamas leaders have attended a formal PLO gathering. However, he declined to attend a similar meeting in advance of the July 2000 Israeli-Palestinian summit, which was called to attempt to conclude a comprehensive peace between the two sides. Unlike Hamas, PIJ appears internally united in its opposition to territorial or political compromise with Israel.
On the other hand, Yassin and other Hamas leaders have not renounced the use of terrorism or colluded with the PA to curb terrorist activities by militant factions of the group. Rather, Hamas and PIJ terrorism has declined because of improved Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation. A strong sign of the improved cooperation was the arrest in May 2000 of Mohammad Deif, leader of Hamas terrorist arm. Because of his role in masterminding attacks against Israel, he was at the top of Israel s list of most wanted fugitives. The PA imprisoned Deif but did not turn him over to Israel. In the aftermath of the unsuccessful Israeli-Palestinian summit at Camp David, Shaykh Yassin said the Palestinians should resume armed struggle against Israel as a means of forcing Israel to accede to Palestinian demands on Jerusalem and other final status issues. In August 2000, PA security forces discovered a large Hamas bomb making factory in the West Bank town of Nablus, apparently preventing what could have been a major attack against Israelis. 9
Hamas and PIJ 10 remain active in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas was formed by Muslim Brotherhood activists during the early stages of the Palestinian uprising (intifadah) in 1987. Sahykh Ahmad Yassin, released from prison by Israel in October 1997, serves as a bridge between Hamas two main components the radicals that conduct terrorist attacks (primarily through a clandestine wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades). And the more pragmatic elements affiliated with Hamas social services, charity, and educational institutions. PIJ was, in part, inspired by the Iranian revolution in 1979 even though PIJ is a Sunni Muslim, not a Shiite Muslim organization. PIJ remains almost purely a guerrilla organization, with no overt component. It is led by Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, a Gaza-born, 41 year old academic who previously was an adjunct professor at the University of South Florida. He was chosen leader in 1995 after his predecessor, Fathi al-Shiqaqi was assassinated, allegedly by Israeli agents. Patterns 1999, as have previous Patterns reports, characterizes Hamas strength as an unknown number of hardcore members [and] tens of thousands of supporters and sympathizers, and PIJ s strength as unknown.
Hamas reportedly receives funding from Iran, from wealthy private benefactors in the Persian Gulf monarchies and, according to recent Patterns reports, from residents of the United States and Western Europe. Many individual donors appear to believe their contributions go to charitable activities for poor Palestinians served by Hamas social services network, and are not being used for terrorism. PIJ is politically closer to Iran than is Hamas, and apparently derives most of its funding from state sponsors, especially Iran. PIJ has its headquarters in Syria, and received some logistical support from Syria, according to recent Patterns reports.
Hamas and PIJ have not targeted the United States or Americans directly, although Americans have died in attacks by these groups, along with Israelies and often the bombers themselves. Five out of the 65 killed in a series of four Hamas/PIJ bombings in Israel during February march, 1996 were American citizens. These bombings had the apparent effect of shifting public opinion toward Benjamin Netanyahu in Israeli national elections on May 29, 1996, possibly proving decisive in his election victory as Prime Minister over then Labor Party leader Shimon Peres. Neither group conducted major attacks in the run-up to the May 1999 Israeli elections, although they did carry out attacks in an attempt to derail the negotiation and implementation of the October 23, 1998 Israeli-Palestinian Wye River Memorandum. Among those attacks were an October 19, 1998 grenade attack by Hamas on a bus station in Beersheva, wounding 67, and a November 6, 1998 PIJ suicide car bombing in a Jerusalem marketplace, killing the two bombers and injuring 24 Israelis. Since then, the two groups have conducted several small attacks, including a PIJ pipebombing in Israel in January 2000 that injured 13, but several attempted bombings either failed or were pre-empted by Israeli or PA security forces.
Blocked Assets. The United States has blocked the assets of some alleged Hamas/PIJ leaders, using the authority of President Clinton s January 23, 1995 Executive order on Middle East terrorism. As of the end of 1999, a total of about $85,600 in Hamas assets in the United States were blocked, as were PIJ assets worth about $18,4000. PIJ leader Shallah had signature authority over these PIJ accounts. 11
SDT's. Several Hamas and PIJ activists have been named as SDT s. They include: (1) Hamas founder Shaykh Ahmad Yassin; (2) PIJ leader Ramadan Abdullah Shallah; (3) PIJ idelologist Abd al-Aziz Awda; (4) Hamas political leader Musa Abu Marzuq, who was not allowed to return to Jordan when that country shut Hamas s offices in Amman in August 1999; and (5) alleged U.S. fundraiser for Hamas, Mohammad Salah.
The Islamic Group and Al-Jihad
Egyptian security authorities continue to gain the upper hand in their battle against the opposition Islamic Group and its ally, al-Jihad, 12 groups that have proved resilient over several decades. There have been no large scale terrorist attacks by these groups since the Islamic Group s November 17, 1997 attack on tourists near Luxor. The gunmen in that attack killed 58 tourists and wounded 26 others, and then committed suicide or were killed by Egyptian security forces. Sensing that they are on the defensive and that terrorism has made them unpopular, in late 1997 leaders of both groups, including their spiritual leader Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman, declared a ceasefire with the Egyptian government. (In June 2000, Abd al-Rahman, from his incarceration in the United States, at least temporarily, renounced the ceasefire on the grounds that the Egyptian government was continuing to execuite suspected members of both groups.) Part of Egypt s success over the past few years can be attributed to its work with a number of governments, including Azerbaijan, Kuwait, the Central Asian states, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay, to extradite to Egypt suspected terrorists from the two groups. In one major development, in June 2000 the UAE reportedly captured and extradited to Egypt Mohammad al-Zawahiri, the brother of a senior Al-Jihad leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. 13 Some exilted guerrilla leaders, particularly those associated with Usama bin Ladin in Afghanistan, remain at large and have rejected any unilateral truce with the Egyptian government (see section on bin Ladin, below).
The Islamic Group has been responsible for several attacks on high-ranking officials, including the killing of the People s Assembly Speaker in October 1990 and the wounding of the Minister of Information in April 1993. The Islamic Group also has a nonviolent arm which recruits and builds support openly in poor neighborhoods in Cairo, Alexandria and throughout southern Egypt, and runs social service programs. Al-Jihad was responsible for the Assassination of President Anwar Sadat in October 1981. A reborn version of the group claimed responsibility for the August 1993 bombing in Cairo in which Egypt s Interior Minister (Zaki Badr) was wounded, as well as a November 1993 car bomb attempt against then-Prime Minister Atif Sidky.
External Linkages. Patterns 1999, as it has in previous years, cites Egyptian government assertions that Iran, Sudan, and militant Islamic groups in Afghanistan (bin Ladin) provide financial and logistical support to the two groups. However, Egypt has downplayed accusations against Iran and Sudan in recent years as relations have improved with both. The Patterns assertion that the Egyptian groups have linked to bin Ladin is consistent with the observation that top leaders of the Islamic Group and Al-Jihad have become part of his coalition. Several SDT s from the Islamic Group and Al-Jihad now serve in bin Ladin s inner circle.
There has been much speculation about the relationship, if any, between Abd al-Rahman and bin Ladin. Both recruited fighters for the Afghan conflict against the Soviet Union through centers in the United States and elsewhere, but it is not clear that the two men had any direct contact with each other in Afghanistan. The two also had close connections to the Islamic government of Sudan, although Abd al-Rahman left Sudan in 1990, before bin Ladin relocated there. Abd al-Rahman s two sons reportedly have been in or around Afghanistan since the war ended in 1989. Before the World Trade Center bombing, some of Abd al-Rahman s aides reportedly had personal contact with bin Ladin associates in the United States. 14 Although their recruiting presence has raised questions as to whether or not the United States gave bin Ladin or Abd al-Rahman assistance during the Afghan war, the Central Intelligence Agency has told CRS that it found no evidence that the Agency provided any direct assistance to either of them. The U.S. assistance program for the anti-Soviet groups in Afghnaistan focused primarily on indigenous Afghan mujahedin and not Arab volunteers such as those sponsored by bin Ladin or Abd al-Rahman.
SDT's. The following Egyptian Islamist figures have been named as SDT's: (1) Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman ; (2) Ayman al-Zawahiri, about 49, who is a top lieutenant of bin Ladin (see below) and was convicted in Egypt for the Sadat assassination 15; (3) Rifa I al-Taha, about 46, another top aide to bin Ladin; (4) Abbud al-Zumar, leader of the remnants of the original Jihad who is serving a 40 year sentence in Egypt; (5) Talat Qasim, about 43, a propaganda leader of the Islamic Group; and (6) Muhammad shawqi Islambouli, about 45, the brother of the lead gunman in the Sadat assassination. Islambouli, a military leader of the Islamic Group, also is believed to be associated with bin Ladin in Afghanistan.
Al-Qaida (Usama bin Ladin Network)
Over the past five years, Al-Qaida (Arabic for the military base ), the network of Usama bin Ladin, has evolved from a regional threat to U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf to a global threat to U.S. citizens and national security interests. In building this network, bin Ladin has assembled a coalition of disparate radical Islamic groups of varying nationalities to work toward common goals the expulsion of non-Muslim control or influence from Muslim-inhabited lands. The ideology, enshrined in several pronouncements signed by bin Ladin and his allies, had led bin Ladin to support Islamic fighters or terrorists against Serb forces in Bosnia; against Soviet/Russian forces in Afghanistan and now Chechnya; against Indian forces in part of Kashmir; against secular or pro-Western governments in Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan, and against U.S. troops and citizens in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Yemen, Jordan, and the U.S. mainland itself.
The backbone of the Saudi dissident s network is the ideological and personal bond among the Arab volunteers who were recruited by bin Ladin for the fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989). Al-Qaida now encompasses members and factions of several major Islamic militant organizations, including Egypt s Islamic Group and Al-Jihad, Algeria s Armed Islamic Group, Pakistan s Harakat ul-Mujahidin, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and opposition groups in Saudi Arabia. The network reportedly also has links to the Abu Sayyaf Islamic separatist group in the Phillipines. Reflecting its low level of early activity, al Qaida was not discussed in U.S. government reports until Patterns 1993. That report said that several thousand non-Afghan Muslims fought in the war against the Soviets and the Afghan Communist government during 1979 to 1992. 16 Although the Taliban movement of Afghanistan, which controls about 90% of that country, gives bin Ladin and his subordinates safehaven, bin Ladin does not appear to be acting on behalf of the Taliban.
Bin Ladin s network has been connected to a number of acts of terrorism. Bin Ladin himself has been indicted by a U.S. court for involvement in several of them. They include the following:
· Bin Ladin has claimed responsibility for the December 1992 attempted bombings against 100 U.S. servicemen in Yemen there to support U.N. relief operations in Somalia (Operation Restore Hope).
· In a November 1996 press interview, bin Ladin said that he provided weapons to anti-U.S. militias in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope and that his loyalists fought against U.S. forces there.
· The four Saudi nationals who confessed to the November 13, 1995 bombing of a U.S. military training facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, admitted on Saudi television to being inspired by bin Ladin and other Islamic radicals. Three of the confessors were veterans of conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya
.· According to Patterns 1997, members of bin Ladin s organization might have aided the Islamic Group assassination attack against Egyptian President Mubarak during his visit to Ethiopia in June 1995.
· There is no direct evidence that bin Ladin was involved in the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. However, Patterns 1999 says that bin Ladin s network was responsible for plots in Asia believed orchestrated by Ramzi Ahmad Yusuf, who was captured in Pakistan, brought to the United States, and convicted in November 1997 of masterminding the Trade Center bombing. The plots in Asia, all of which failed, were: to assassinate the Pope during his late 1994 visit to the Philippines and President Clinton during his visit there in early 1995; to bomb the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Manila in later 1994; and to bomb U.S. flights across the Pacific in 1995.
· The August 7, 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya an Tanzania, which killed 301 and injured over 5,000, occurred just after a six month period in which bin Ladin had issued repeated and open threats, including a February 1998 pronouncement calling for the killing of U.S. civilians and servicemen worldwide. On August 20, 1998, the United States launched cruise missiles on bin Ladin s training camps near Khost, in Eastern Afghanistan, based on what U.S. officials called convincing evidence of his network s involvement in the bombings. The United States also struck a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that the Administration alleged was linked to bin Ladin and was producing chemical weapons agents. U.S. officials add that the bombings were intended to disrupt planning for a new attack. For their alleged role in the bombings, 17 alleged members of al-Qaida have been indicted by a U.S. court, including bin Ladin, of whom six are in custody in the United States and three in Britain.
· In December 1999, U.S. and Jordanian law enforcement authorities uncovered and thwarted two alleged plots one in the United States and one in Jordan to attack U.S. citizens celebrating the new millennium. The United States plot was allegedly orchestrated by a pro-bin Ladin cell of Algerian Armed Islamic Group members coming from Canada. In June 2000, Jordan began trying its 28 alleged millennium plotters, but 15 of those charged are still at large. One, Khalil Deek, was arrested and extradited to Jordan by Pakistan. Also in June 2000, Lebanon placed 29 alleged followers of bin Ladin on trial for planning terrorist attacks in Jordan. The presence of bin Ladin cells in Jordan and Lebanon both neighbors of Israel could suggest that Al-Qaida might attempt future attacks in Israel with the intent of disrupting the Arab-Israeli peace process. It is possible that some Hamas guerrillas, fearing that the Hamas leadership might not vigorously oppose a Palestinian peace deal with Israel, are gravitating to bin Ladin s network, although few Palestinians have been associated with bin Ladin in the past.
Since the August 1998 U.S. retaliatory strikes on the Afghan camps and the Sudan pharmaceutical plant, the Taliban leadership has tried to dissociate itself from bin Ladin by asserting that he is no longer its guest. However, Taliban officials have rebuffed repeated U.S. requests to extradite him, claiming that the United States has not provided the Taliban with convincing evidence that bin Ladin might have een involved in anti-U.S. terrorism. Adding to the U.S. concerns, several hundred U.S. shoulder-held anti-craft weapons ( Stringers ) are still at large in Afghanistan, and, because of bin Ladin s financial resources, it is highly likely he has acquired some of them. U.S. officials say bin Ladin s fighters have experimented with chemical weapons and might be trying to purchase nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction materials. 17 From those comments, it is reasonable to assume that bin Ladin s organization has at least a rudimentary chemical weapon capability. 18
SDT s/August 20, 1998 Executive Order. President Clinton s August 20, 1998 Executive Order 13099 amended an earlier January 23, 1995 Executive order (12947) by naming al-Qaida and its aliases (the World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders, the Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places, the Islamic Salvation Foundation, and the Group for the Preservation of the Holy Sites), as an FTO. The effect of the order was to ban U.S. financial transactions with bin Ladin s organization and to allow U.S. law enforcement to freeze any bin Ladin assets in the United States can be identified. The order also named bin Ladin as an SDT, along with Rifai al-Taha, of the Islamic Group (see that section above) and another associate, Abu Hafs al-Masri (aka Mohammad Atef). Atef and Al-Jihad guerrilla leader Ayman al-Zawahiri (see above) were indicted along with bin Ladin on November 4, 1998 for the Kenya/Tanzania bombings. Atef and al-Zawahiri reportedly are considered by U.S. intelligence to be potential successors to bin Latin. 19 (See section above on the Egyptian groups for more SDT s linked to bin Ladin). A $5 million reward is offered for the capture of Atef, who, according to the U.S. indictment against him, was sent by bin Ladin to Somalia in 1992 to determine how to combat U.S. troops sent there for Operation Restore Hope. Al Zawahiri, a medical doctor, met bin Ladin in the later 1980s in Afghanistan and is considered bin Ladin s closest and most influential adviser on policy and strategy.
Blocked Assets. No assets linked to bin Ladin, in the United States or elsewhere, are frozen at this time, according to the Treasury Department s report on terrorist assets for 1999. U.S. officials say they are encouraging other governments to help dismantle bin Ladin s financial empire and they have persuaded Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to end the handling of some of bin Ladin s money by a few of their banks. 20
Usama bin Ladin
Usama bin Ladin, born July 30, 1957 as the seventeenth of twenty sons of a (now deceased) Saudi construction magnate of Yemeni origin, gained prominence during the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. In 1989, after the Afghan war ended, he returned to Saudi Arabia to work in his family's business, the Bin Ladin Construction group, although his radical Islamic contacts caused him to run afoul of Saudi authorities.
The Armed Islamic Group (GIA)
The Armed Islamic Group (GIA, after its initials in French) is experiencing pressure in Algeria similar to that faced by Egyptian Islamist groups in Egypt. The GIA is generally considered the most radical of Islamic factions fighting to establish an Islamic state in Algeria and its is one of the few Algerian opposition groups to continue to refuse a truce with the government. The GIA, led by Anta Zouabri, is highly fragmented, 21 in part because it does not have an authoritative religious figure who can hold its various factions together and arbitrate disputes. Some GIA members in exile appear to have gravitated to bin Ladin s network, according to information coming out of the thwarted December 1999 plot to detonate a bomb in the United States. 22
Founded by Algerian extremists who fought in Afghanistan, the GIA formed as a breakaway faction of the then legal Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) political party in 1992, after the regime canceled the second round of parliamentary elections n fears of an FIS victory. According to Patterns 1999, the GIA has killed over 100 expatriates in Algeria (mostly Europeans) since 1992, but, in a possible indication of regime counterterrorism success, no foreigners have been killed in Algeria since 1997. Over the past five years, the GIA has conducted a campaign of civilian massacres, sometimes wiping out entire villages in their areas of operations, in an effort to intimidate rival groups and to demonstrate that the government lacks control over the country. The GIA conducted its most lethal terrorist attack on December 31, 1997, when it killed 400 Algerian civilians in a town 150 miles southwest of Algiers, according to Patters 1997. In August 1999, the GIA massacred 27 civilians in a town near the Moroccan border, according to Patterns 1999. The massacres represent one of the world s most serious domestic terrorist threats, although there are allegations that renegade elements of the regime's security forces and other opposition groups have also conducted civilian massacres, according to U.S. officials. Among its other acts outside Algeria, the GIA hijacked an Air France flight to Algiers in December 1994. The group might also have been responsible for a bombing of the Paris subway system on December 3, 1996, which killed four and woulded 80.
Patterns 1999 repeats previous descriptions of the GIA s strength as probably between several hundred to several thousand. The organization receives financial and logistical aid from Algerian expatriates, many of whom reside in Western Europe and Canada, whre the accused millennium plotters were from.
The Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) is a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group that seeks to end Indian control of Muslim-Inhabited parts of the divided region of Kashmir. It is composed of militant Islamist Pakistanis and Kashmiris, as well as Arab veterans of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. The HUM was included in the original Octobr 1997 FTO designations when its name was Harakat al-Ansar. It subsequently changed its name to Harakat ul-Mujahidin, possible in an attempt to avoid the U.S. sanctions that accompanied its designation as an FTO. Under its new name, the group was redesignated as an FTO in October 1999. An offshoot of the HUM kidnapped and later killed five Western tourists in Kashmir in 1995. The HUM is believed responsible for the December 1999 hijacking of an Indian airline because the hijackers demanded the release of an HUM leader, Masood Azhar, in exchange for the release of the jet and its passengers (one of whom was killed by the hijackers).
The group appears to be part of bin Ladin s militant Islamic network, although its primary targets are Indian troops in Kashmir, not Americans or American forces outside South Asia. A senior leader of the HUM, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, signed bin Ladin s February 1998 pronouncements calling for terrorist attacks on American troops and civilians. According to Patterns 1999, some HUM fighters were killed in the August 20, 1998 U.S. retaliatory strikes on bin Ladin s training camps in Afghanistan. On the other hand, some Pakistani observers note that Fazlur Khalil s association with bin Ladin was not widely supported by all HUM factions, and that Khalil was demoted in mid-1999 in favor of Khalid Kashmiri, who does not have links to bin Ladin. 23
The HUM is also affiliated with Pakistani Islamist groups active in Kashmir that have not been named as FTO s by the State Department. Leaders of groups called Lashkar-e-Taiba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have called for attacks on U.S. interest and declared themselves to be allies of bin Ladin. Pakistani leaders, both before and after the October 1999 military coup, have admitted providing political and moral support for the Kashmir rebel groups but denied providing them with training, arms, or logistical support.
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is another radical Islamic organization that has not been named an FTO although, in contrast to the Islamic Army of Aden (see below), the IMU is analyzed separately in Patterns 1999. Its prime objective is to topple the secular, authoritarian government of Uzbekistan s President Islam Karimov. The IMU is discussed in Patterns 1999, for the first time, primarily because it is believed responsible for setting off five bombs in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on February 16, 1999. One of the bombs exploded in a government building in which Karimov was to attend a key meeting minutes later. The government of Uzbekistan blamed the plot on two IMU leaders, Tahir Yuldashev and Juma Namangani, both of whom are reported to enjoy safehaven in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. 24 In August 1999, Namangani led about 800 guerrillas mostly Uzbeks oppositionists but reportedly including some Arab veterans of the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan ina an unsuccessful attempt to establish a base in Kyrgyzstan from which to launch cross-border attacks into Uzbekistan. In the course of their operations, the IMU guerrillas kidnapped four Japanese geologists and eight Kyrgyz citizens. In early August 2000, about 100 guerrillas presumably linked to the IMU seized several villages just inside Uzbekistan, on the Uzbeskistan-Tajikistan border. 25 At the same time, a related group of guerrillas battled security forces in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Some press reports indicate that bin Ladin contributes funds to the IMU, 26 although Patterns 1999 says only that the IMU receives support from other Islamic extremist movements in Central Asia.
Islamic Army of Aden
The Islamic Army of Aden, also called the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, is a relatively young Yemen-based radical Islamic organization. It has not been designated by the State Department as an FTO, and it is mentioned in Patterns 1999 only in the course of the report s discussion on Yemen. Little is known about the group, but it advocates the imposition of Islamic law in Yemen and the lifting of international sanctions against Iraq, and opposes the use of Yemeni ports and bases by U.S. or other Western countries. A United Kingdom-based cleric linked to the group, Abu Hamza al-Masri, fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan and on behalf of the Muslims in Bosnia and is believed linked to bin Ladin. In December 1998, the group kidnapped sixteen tourists, including two Americans. Three British and one Australian tourist were killed in the course of a rescue attempt by Yemeni security forces; the rest were saved. The group s leader at the time, Zein al-Abidine al-Midhar (Abu Hassan), admitted to the kidnapping and was executed by the Yemeni government in October 1999. No new leader has been publicly identified, and the group may have disintegrated or suspended its operations.
Yemen s President Ali Abdullah al-Salih has publicly vowed to eradicate terrorism from Yemen. There is no evidence that the government supports members of regional radical Islamist groups or alleged bin Ladin sympathizers believed living in remote parts of Yemen, where government control is weak. The former South Yemen (People s Democratic Republic of Yemen,PDRY) was on the U.S. terrorism list during 1979-1990 for supporting leftwing Arab terrorist groups, but was removed from the list when South Yemen merged with the more conservative North Yemen in 1990 to form the Republic of Yemen.
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Some radical Jewish groups are as opposed to the Arab-Israeli peace process as are radical Islamic groups. They have been willing to engage in terrorism to try to derail the process. The incidents involving these Jewish groups have declined in recent year, but they might mobilize to oppose a final settlement with the Palestinians. Kach was founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was assassinated in the United States in 1990. 27 Kahane Chai (Kahane Lives) was founded by Kahan s son, Binyamin, following his father s assassination. The two movements seek to expel all Arabs from Israel and expand Israel s boundaries to include the occupied territories and parts of Jordan. They also want strict implementation of Jewish law in Israel. To try to accomplish these goals, the two groups have organized protests against the Israeli government, and threatened Palestinians in Hebron and the West Bank.
On March 13, 1994, the Israeli Cabinet declared both to be terrorist organizations under a 1948 Terrorism Law. The declaration came after the groups publicly stated their support for a Feb. 25, 1994 attack on a Hebron mosque by a radical Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, who was a Kach affiliate and an immigrant from the United States. The attack killed 29 worshipers and wounded about 150. Patterns 1999 says that the numberial strength of Kach and Kahane Chai are unknown and repeats previous assertions that both receive support from sympathizers in the United States and Europe. Prime Minster Yitzhak Rabin was killed by Israeli extremist Yigal Amir in November 1995, shortly after signing the Oslo II interim agreement with the Palestinians. Neither Amir nor his two accomplices were known to be formal members of Kach or Kahane Chai.
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Some Middle Eastern terrorist groups have professed radical Arab nationalism or leftwing ideologies rather than Islamic fundamentalism. However, ideological differences have not always prevented non-Islamist groups from working with Islamist organizations to achieve common objectives. The leftwing and nationalist groups have become less active in international terrorism than they were in the 1970 s and 1980s, and they are far less active than are the radical Islamist groups. This trend might be attributed to decreased suppost from some state sponsors, the loss of superpower (Soviet) patronage, and the rise of Islamic political ideology.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
The PLO formally renounced the use of terrorism in 1988, and it reaffirmed that commitment as part of its September 1993 mutual recognition agreement with Israel. The PLO has not been named an FTO by the State Department and Patterns 1995 was the last Patterns report to formally include the PLO in its description of terrorist groups. The PLO is discussed in this CRS report because of the debate in Congress and among observers over whether or not the PLO, as the power behind the Palestinian Authority (PA), is taking sufficient steps to prevent Hamas and PIJ from conducting terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Patterns 1999 generally praises the PA for improved efforts to disrupt Hamas and PIJ attacks against Israel, and drops the language contained in the few previous Patterns reports that the PA needs to undertake greater anti-terrorism efforts. Patterns 1999, as well as recent Administration reports to Congress, 28 credit the PA with preventing several planned terrorist attacks during 1999. In March 1999, then Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Yasir Arafat for averting a planned Hamas attack in central Israel. Critics, including some in Congress, maintain that PA anti-terrorism efforts are still not sufficient. Some critics believe that Araft prefers accommodation with Hamas to aggressive efforts to root out Hamas terrorism infrastructure, 29 and that PA security forces have the ability to prevent virtually all attacks against Israelis if they want to do so.
Critics and sympathizers of the PLO agree that is has evolved substantially since Yasir Arafat used the backing of his Fatah guerrilla organization to become chairman of the PLO in 1969. After the PLO and other Palestinian guerrillas were forced out of Jordan in 1970 and 1971, cross border attacks on Israel became difficult, and some constituent groups under the PLO umbrella resorted to international terrorism. On September 5, 1972, eight terrorists reportedly linked to Fatah seized the dormitory of Israeli athletes at the Olympics in Munich; eleven Israeli athletes were killed in that incident. (In April 2000, German prosecutors decided not to formally investigate whether or not Arafat was linked to the attack). 30 In the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, international efforts to promote Arab-Israeli peace caused Arafat to limit terrorist attacks largely to targets within Israel, Lebanon, and the occupied territories. In 1988, Arafat renounced the use of terrorism as part of an effort to initiate an official dialogue with the United States. The United States suspended the dialogue in 1990, when Arafat refused to denounce an attempted attack by a small PLO-affiliated organization, the Palestine Liberation Front, on a Tel Aviv beach (see below). The dialogue resumed following the September 1993 mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO, and the PLO has an office in Washington.
Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC)
Ahmad Jibril, a former captain in the Syrian army, formed the PFLP-GC in October 1968 as a breakaway faction of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP, see below), which he considered too willing to compromise with Israel. He also believed that a conventional military arm was needed to complement terrorist operations, and the group operates a small tank force at its bases in Lebanon, according to observers. During Israel s occupation of a strip of southern Lebanon, which ended in May 2000, Jibril s several hundred guerrillas fought against Israeli forces alongside Hizballah. However, recent Patterns reports have not attributed any significant terrorist attacks to the PFLP-GC in the past few years. In the past, the PFLP-GC has experimented with unconventional terrorist tactics such as motorized hang gliders, which it has successfully used to cross the Israeli border from Lebanon
Probably because of Jibril's service in the Syrian military, Syria has always been the chief backer of the PFLP-GC, giving it logistical and military support. In the alter 1980s, the PFLP-GC also built a close relationship with Iran, and it receives Iranian financial assistance. There have been persistent reports that Iran approached the PFLP-GC to bomb a U.S. passenger jet in retaliation for the July 3, 1988 U. S. downing of an Iranian passenger airplane (Iran Air flight 655). The PFLP-GC allegedly pursued such an operation and abandoned it or, according to other speculation, handed off the operation to Libya in what became a successful effort to bomb Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988. 31 Patterns 1999 says that Libya, formerly a major financier of the group, may retain ties to it.
SDT's. Jibril, who is about 62, and his deputy, Talal Muhammad Naji (about 69), have been named as SDT's.
Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine (PFLP)
The PFLP s opposition to Arafat and to eventual peace with Israel appears to be weakening. The PFLP opposed the Palestinians decision to join the Madrid peace process and suspended its participation in the PLO after the September 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles. In, in August 1999, in apparent recognition of Arafat s growing control over Palestinian territory, the PFLP held reconciliation talks with him. Arafat reportedly invited the PFLP to send a delegate to the U.S.-brokered summit talks with Israel at Camp David in July 2000, but the PFLP refused and continues to oppose compromise with Israel. Patterns 1999 repeats previous estimates of the PFLP s strength as about 800, and says that the group receives logistical assistance and safehaven from Syria. The PFLP is based in Damascus and it reportedly has training facilities in Syrian-controlled areas of Lebanon.
The PFLP was founded in December 1967, following the Arab defeat in the Six Day War with Israel in June of that year, by Marxist-Leninist ideologue and medical doctor George Habash. The PFLP was active in international terrorism during the later 1960s and the 1970s; on September 6, 1970, PFLP guerrillas simultaneously hijacked three airliners and, after evacuating the passengers, blew up the aircraft. Since then, the group has conducted mostly small scale attacks against Israelis inside Israel and the occupied territories. It is suspected of a June 9, 1996 attack that killed an Israeli and a dual U.S./Israeli citizen as well as a December 11, 1996 killing of an Israeli settler and her son.
SDT's. George Habash is the only PFLP leader named as an SDT. Habash, who is about 73 years old, suffered a stroke in 1992 and was replaced as PFLP Secretary-General in July 2000 by his long time deputy Abu Ali Mustafa, who is about 62. In October 1999, in the wake of the PFLP s reconciliation talks with Arafat, Israel allowed Mustafa to return to Palestinian-controlled territory from exile.
Democratic Front For The Liberation Of Palestine (DFLP) 32
The DFLP, still led by its 67-year-old founder Nayif Hawatmeh, abandoned its call for the destruction of Israel in the 1980s. However, it sought stringent conditions for Palestinian participation in the October 1991 Madrid peace conference and opposed the September 1993 Israel-PLO mutual recognition accords. Although it still opposes the interim agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinians since 1993, the DFLP began reconciling with Arafat in August 1999 and stated that it might recognize Israel if there were a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace. In response to the DFLP s apparent moderation, the State Department removed the group from the list of FTO s when that list was revised in October 1999. Also that month, Israel permitted Hawatmeh to relocate to the Palestinian-controlled areas, although he apparently has not moved there permanently. Patterns 1999 is the first Patterns report to exclude the group from its analysis of terrorist organizations. In July 2000, the DFLP was part of the Palestinian delegation to the U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian final status summit negotiations at Camp David.
The DFLP formed in 1969 as an offshoot of the PFLP. When it was active as a terrorist organization, the DFLP generally attacked within Israel or territory under Israeli control. The DFLP s most noted terrorist attack was the May 1974 takeover of a school in Maalot, in northern Israel, in which 27 schoolchildren were killed and 134 people wounded. Since 1988, its members have been involved primarily in small-scale border raids into Israel and attacks on Israeli soldiers, officials, and civilians in Israel and the occupied territories. Recent Patterns reports estimate the total strength (for all major factions) of the DFLP is about 500. The DFLP may still receive some financial assistance from Syria, where it still has its headquarters.
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)
The PLF, founded in 1976 as a splinter faction of the PFLP-GC, has declined as a terrorist threat. The group s last major attack was a failed raid on the Israeli resort town of Eilat in May 1992. The leader of the most prominent PLF faction, Abu Abbas (real name, Muhammad Zaydun), has always enjoyed close personal ties to Arafat. Abbas at first opposed Arafat s decision to seek peace with Israel, but, since the mid-1990s, he has largely renounced terrorism and come to support peace, if the terms are sufficiently favorable. In April 1996, Abbas voted to amend the PLO Charter to eliminate clauses calling from Israel s destruction. In April 1998, Israel allowed him to relocate to the Gaza Strip from Iraq, where he had settled after his expulsion from Damascus in 1985.
During its period of terrorist activity, the PLF conducted several high-profile attacks. Its most well-known operation was the October 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, in which the group murdered disabled U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer and held the other passengers hostage for two days. Abu Abbas and his team surrendered to Egyptian forces in exchange for a promise of safe passage. They were apprehended at a NATO airbase in Italy after U.S. aircraft forced down the Egyptian airliner flying them to safehaven. Abbas, who was not on board the Achille Lauro during the hijacking, was released by the Italian government but later sentenced in absentia. A warrant for his arrest is outstanding in Italy but the Justice Department dropped a U.S. warrant in 1996 for lack of evidence. The four other hijackers were convicted and sentenced in Italy. 33 (On April 30, 1996, the Senate voted 99-0 on a resolution (S.Res.253) seeking Abbas detention and extradition to the United States). On May 30, 1990, the PLF unsuccessfully attempted a seaborne landing, from Libya, on a Tel Aviv beach. Arafat refused to condemn the raid and, as a consequence, the United States broke off its dialogue with the PLO, which had begun in 1988. The dialogue resumed in September 1993, following the mutual Israeli-PLO recognition agreement.
SDT's. Abu Abbas, who was born in 1948, has been named as an SDT. Inspired by the Cuban revolution and the Vietcong, he underwent guerrilla training in the Soviet Union. 34
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
The international terrorist threat posed by the Abu Nidal Organization has receded because of Abu Nidal s reported health problems (leukemia and a heart condition), internal splits, friction with state sponsors, and clashes with Arafat loyalists. However, it still has several hundred members and a presence in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. The ANO has not attacked Western targets since the later 1980s, although it reportedly targeted radical Islamic opponents of the Egyptian government during Abu Nidal s 1998 stay in Cairo. 35 During the 1970s and 1980s, the ANO carried out over 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries, killing about 300 people. One of its most well-known operations was a December 27, 1985 attack at airports in Rome and Vienna, in which 18 died and 111 were injured. One month earlier, ANO members hijacked Egypt Air 648, resulting in the deaths of 60 people. On September 6, 1986, ANO gunmen killed 22 at a synagogue in Istanbul. The group is suspected of assassinating top Arafat aids in Tunis in 1991 and a Jordanian diplomat in Lebanon in January 1994.
Also known as the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the ANO was created in 1974 when Abu Nidal (real name, Sabri al-Banna), then Arafat s representative in Iraq, perceived Arafat as willing to compromise with Israel and broke with the PLO. U.S. pressure contributed to Iraq s decision to expel Abu Nidal to Syria in November 1983 but Syria expelled the group four years later to reduce scrutiny on the country as a sponsor of terrorism. Abu Nidal left his next home, Libya, in April 1998, after infighting with pro-Arafat members. He relocated to Cairo, where he stayed until December 1998, when more infighting caused his presence in Egypt to become public, and therefore a foreign policy problem for Egypt. He has been in Iraq since, but there is no hard evidence that Abu Nidal is reviving his international terrorism network on his own or on Baghdad s behalf. 36
SDT's. Abu Nidal, who was born in 1937 in Jaffa (part of what is now Israel), is the only ANO member named an SDT. He faces no legal charges in the United States, according to an ABC News report of August 25, 1998, but he is wanted in Britain and Italy. His aide, Nimer Halima, was arrested in Austria in January 2000.
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Three groups designated as FTO s primarily are attempting to influence the domestic political structures or the foreign policies of their countries of origin. Two of them are Turkish and the other, Iranian.
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) 37
The PKKwas established in 1974 to seek a Marxist Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, where there is a predominantly Kurdish population. Observers believe it has moderated its goals somewhat to focus on greater cultural and political rights within Turkey. It was founded by Abdullah Ocalan, who is about 51 years old and who formed his ideas on Kurdish nationalism as a political science student at Ankara University in the later 1960 s. The PKK has generally targeted government forces and civilians in eastern Turkey, but it has operated elsewhere in the country and attacked Turkish diplomatic and commercial facilities in several Western European cities in 1993 and 1995. The United States sides with Turkey in viewing the PKK as a terrorist organization, but wants to see a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The PKK suffered a major setback in October 1998 when Turkish military and diplomatic pressure forced Syria to expel PKK leader Ocalan and the PKK. Ocalan sought refuge in several countries, but Turkey captured him in Kenya in early 1999 and tried him. On June 29, 1999, a Turkish court sentenced him to death for treason and the murder of about 30,000 Turks since 1974, although the implementation of the sentence has been suspended pending appeals to the European Court of Human Rights. In August 1999, he called on his supporters to cease armed operations against the Turkish government. At least partly as a result, PKK violence against the Turkish government has subsided, although some PKK fighters remain encamped and active across the border in Iran and Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Within Turkey, the PKK sometimes skirmishes with an Islamist Kurdish group called Turkish Hizballah, which Turkey alleges receives Iranian support but which is not related to Lebanese Hizballah or other Arab Hizballah organizations.
The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)
The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), the largest organization within a broader National Council of Resistance (NCR), has leftwing roots but it is not composed of an ethnic minority. It was formed in the 1960 s as an opponent of the Shah s authoritarian and pro-Western rule but later turned against the Islamic revolutionary regime of Ayatollah Khomeini when Iran s clerics excluded the PMOI and other groups from major roles in the new government. The group claims to have abandoned its leftwing past and that it is committed to free markets and democracy. The group publicly supports the Arab-Israeli peace process and the rights of Iran s minorities.
The State Department s longstanding mistrust of the group is based on the group is based on the group s killing of several U.S. military officers and civilians during the struggle against the Shah, its support for the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, its authoritarian internal structure and former Marxist doctrine, and its use of Iraq as base for its several thousand strong military wing. The State Department named the PMOI an FTO in October 1997 on the grounds that it kills civilians in the course of its anti-regime operations inside Iran. In one of its most high-profile attacks, the group claimed responsibility for the April 10, 1999 assassination in Tehran of a senior military officer. The group does not appear to purposely target civilians. In the October 1999 revision of the FTO list, the NCR was named as an alias of the PMOI, meaning that FTO-related sanctions now apply to the NCR as well. However, the NCR s offices in the United States have not been closed by the U.S. law enforcement authorities. In signing letters circulated by supporters of the group, some Members of Congress have questioned the State Department s designation of the group as an FTO, and stated that the group merits U.S. support as an alternative to the current regime in Tehran.
The PMOI is led by Masud and Maryam Rajavi. Masud, the PMOI Secretary General, leads the PMOI s military forces based in Iraq. His wife Maryam, who is now with him in Iraq after being asked to leave France in 1997, is the organization s choice to become interim president of Iran if it were to take power.
Revolutionary People s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)
The Marxist organization, still commonly referred to by its former name, Dev Sol, was formed in 1978 to oppose Turkey s pro-Western tilt and its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Since the later 1980 s, the DHKP/C (which corresponds to its acronym in Turkish) has concentrated attacks on Turkish military and security officials, but it has since 1990 attacked foreign interests, according to Patterns 1999. The group assassinated two U.S. military contractors in Turkey to protest the Gulf War against Iraq and it rocketed the U.S. consulate in Istanbul in 1992. An attempt by the group to fire an anti-tank weapon at the consulate in June 1999 was thwarted by Turkish authorities.
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Signs of success in the long-running U.S. campaign to reduce state sponsorship of international terrorism continue to mount. In the case of virtually all five Middle Eastern countries on the U.S. "terrorism list" Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Libya 38 U.S. and international pressure, coupled with internal developments in some of these states, appears to have reduced their support for international terrorism. However, many experts believe that a decision whether or not to remove a country from the terrorism list is based on factors other than terrorism support alone. Based on conversations with U.S. officials, and barring any dramatic developments in these countries, it appears unlikely that any Middle Eastern country will be removed from the list in the very near future. The State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Michael Sheehan, said in April 2000 that he hopes that some of the less active terrorism list countries would soon meet remaining U.S. requirements to achieve their removal from the list, in order to better focus U.S. attention on the more active state sponsors of terrorism. 39
Under Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, removal from the list requires 45 day advance notification to the House International Relations Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Senate and House Banking committees, that the country has ceased support for international terrorism and pledges to continue doing so. Under that provision, a major change of government in the listed country can serve as grounds for immediate removal from the list.Libyan sponsorship of terrorism has declined to the point at which the Administration is considering removing it from the list
Patterns of 1999 again characterizes Iran as "the most active" state sponsor of international terrorism but, for the first time, the report attributes this level of activity to certain state institutions. 41 rather then the Iranian government as a whole. This characterization suggests that the Administration believes President Mohammad Khatemi and his allies genuinely wish to overcome Iran s reputation as a terrorist state in order to further erode Iran s isolation. In another apparent signal to Iran, Patterns 1999, for the second year in a row, cites PMOI attacks on Iranian officials as justification for Iran s claim that is a victim of terrorism.
Although no major international terrorist attacks have been linked to Iran since Khatemi took office in August 1997, the United States has not publicly noted any diminution of Iranian material support for terrorist groups opposed to the Arab-Israeli peace process, such as those discussed earlier in this paper. Iran also has been accused by regional governments of sponsoring assassinations of anti-Shiite Muslim clerics in Tajikistan and Pakistan, and of supporting Shiite Muslim Islamic opposition movements in the Persian Gulf states and Iraq. Khatemi, as well as more hardline Iranian leaders, have expressed public support for Hamas and Hizballah in what Iran calls their struggle against Israeli occupation. A broad range of Iranian leaders, including Khatemi, strongly criticized Palestinian participation in the July 2000 summit at Camp David as unlikely to yield an agreement acceptable to the Palestinians and other Muslims. On the other hand, such public statements by Khatemi and his allies might be intended to defuse criticism from his opponents who believe Iranian reformists will sell out the principles of the Islamic revolution.
The question of whether Iran was directly involved in the June 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. airmen, remains unresolved. Most press reports indicate that the Saudis believe that Iran had a role in the bombing, working through dissident Saudi Shiites, but neither the FBI nor the Saudi investigators have released any final conclusions. On October 5, 1999, the State Department said that the United States had information but not proof that Iranian agents were involved and that the United States had asked Iran for cooperation in the investigation. Iran said it had refused to cooperate. The June 7, 2000 report of the National Commission on Terrorism recommended that the President seek support from U.S. allies to compel Iran to cooperate. However, many believe that both the United States and Saudi Arabia are reluctant to press Iran on this issue because they seek improved relations with Khatemi s government. Khatemi took office in August 1997, more than a year after that bombing. 42
Patterns 1999 comes close to promising that Syria will be removed from the terrorism list if it signs a peace agreement with Israel. The report credits Syria with an effort, in August 1999, to encourage terrorist groups in areas under its control to abandon violence against Israel. The Syrian move was widely interpreted as an effort to signal Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who was elected in May 1999, that it wanted to reopen negotiations with Israel. Talks resumed in December 1999, but broke down following an unsuccessful summit between President Clinton and Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in March 2000. Assad died in June and was succeeded by his son, Bashar. Patterns 1999 states that Syria has participated in the five-country monitoring group that seeks to limit civilian damage from Israeli-Hizballah fighting in southern Lebanon, and that it is generally upholding its pledge to Turkey not to support the PKK. Some press reports note that Syria may be backsliding on that pledge, however. 44 It should also be noted that Syria s expulsion of the PKK may have resulted more from Turkey s threat to use armed forces against Syria than from a unilateral Syrian desire to sever relations with the PKK.
Other Syrian actions and policies raise questions about whether Syria has permanently abandoned the use of terrorism as a lever in its foreign policy. Prior to Israel s May 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Damascus did not act to stop anti-Israel attacks by Hizballah and Palestinian rejectionist groups in southern Lebanon, and it continues to allow these groups safe haven in Syria. Syria allows Iran to resupply Hizballah through the Damascus airport, and has allowed visiting Iranian officials to meet with anti-peace process terrorist organizations based in Syria. Syria publicly opposed suggestions that Hizballah be disarmed by U.S. peacekeepers after the militia seized positions in southern Lebanon vacated by Israel during its May 2000 withdrawl.
Despite its position on the terrorism list, the United States has relatively normal relations with Syria. The two countries exchange ambassadors and most forms of U.S. trade with and U.S. investment in Syria are permitted. Exports of items that can have military applications are subject to strict licensing requirements.
The April 5, 1999 handover of the two suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 (December 21, 1988), along with Libya s growing distance from radical Palestinian groups, reportedly prompted the Administration to review whether to remove Libya from the terrorist list. 46 In 1988, Libya expelled Abu Nidal. Since then, Libya has reduced its contacts with other radical Palestinian organizations and has expressed support for Yasir Arafat. However, perhaps because the Pan Am victims families and U.S. officials strongly believe that Libya was responsible for the Pan Am bombing, no U.S. official has suggested recently to CRS that Libya will be removed from the terrorism list in the near future.
The Pan Am bombing issue is at the center of U.S. policy toward Libya. The attack killed 259 people aboard plus 11 on the ground. Three U.N. Security Council resolutions 731 of January 21, 1992; 748, of March 31, 1992; and 883, of November 11, 1993 called on Libya to turn over the two Libyan intelligence agents ( Abd al-Basit Ali al-Meghrahi and Al Amin Khalifah Fhimah) suspected in the bombing to help resolve the related case of the 1989 bombing of French airline UTA s Flight 772. The U.N. resolutions prohibited air travel to or from Libya and all arms transfers to that country (Resolution 748); and froze Libyan assets and prohibited the sale to Libya of petroleum-related equipment (Resolution 883). U.N. Resolution 1192 (August 27, 1998), suspended, but following the handover of the two to the Netherlands, where they will be tried under Scottish law, these international sanctions were suspended but not terminated. On the grounds that it is too soon to judge Libyan cooperation with the trial and whether or not Libya has permanently ceased supporting international terrorism, the United States has maintained its unilateral sanctions and, thus far, opposed a permanent lifting of the international sanctions. However, in a signal of U.S. appreciation of Libya s apparent moderation, in June 1999 a U.S. official met with a Libyan diplomat for the first time since 1981.
Libya followed up the handover with two more initiatives designed to end its international isolation. In March 1999, a French court convicted six Libyans, in absentia, for the 1989 bombing of a French airliner, UTA Flight 772, over Niger. One of them is Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi s brother-in-law and intelligence operative, Muhammad Sanusi. Although it never submitted the suspects for trial or openly acknowledged responsibility, in July 1999 Libya paid compensation to the families of the 171 victims of the bombing, which included seven U.S. citizens. In July 1999, Britain restored diplomatic relations with Libya after it agreed to cooperate with the investigation of the 1984 fatal shooting of a British policewoman, Yvonne Fletcher, outside Libya s embassy in London. British investigators believe a member of Libya s embassy staff shot her while firing on Libyan dissidents demonstrating outside the embassy.
In what some construe as part of the effort to improve its international image, Libya also has tried to mediate an end to conflicts between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and within Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, some believe Libya is trying to extend its influence in Africa rather than broker peace, and some in congress and the Administration assert that Libya continues to arm rebel groups in Africa, such as the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone. 47 Libya also attempted to end a four month hostage-taking by Islamic rebels (Abu Sayyaf group) in the Philippines (initiated in April 2000); Libya s former ambassador to that country visited the Islamist rebels in August 2000 to try to work out the release of 14 remaining Western hostages held by the captors. 48
Like some of the other terrorism list states, Sudan is trying to change its international image. In August 1994, Sudan turned over the terrorist Carlos (Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez) to France. In May 1996, it asked bin Ladin to leave Sudan, although some of his followers remain there, according to Patterns 1999. In May 1999, Sudan told the United States it would sign U.N. conventions on the suppression of terrorism and related anti-terrorism, and it has since done so. In December 1999, Sudan s President Umar Hassan al-Bashir, a military leader, polticially sidelined Sudan s leading Islamist figure, Hassan al-Turabi. Turabi has been perceived as the primary proponent of Sudan s ties to region-wide Islamic movements, including Al Qaida, the Abu Nidal Organization, Hamas, PIJ, Egypt s Islamic Group and Al Jihad, Hizballah, and Islamist rebel movements in East Africa.
The United States has tried to promote further progress on terrorism by slowly increasing engagement with Sudan. The United States closed its Embassy in Khartoum in February 1996, although diplomatic relations were not broken. U.S. diplomats posted to Sudan have since worked out of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya. In October 1999, the Administration appointed former Representative Harry Johnston as a special envoy to Sudan. In mid-2000, the U.S. diplomats resumed regular visits to the embassy in Khartoum for consular purposes. In June 2000, the Administration sent counterterrorism experts to Sudan to discuss remaining U.S. terrorism concerns.
However, the Administration has blocked a move by some U.N. Security Council members to lift U.N. sanctions on Sudan, imposed in 1996 under three Security Council resolutions: (1044 of January 31; 1054, of April 26; and 1070 of August 16). The resolutions demanded Sudan extradite the three Islamic Group suspects in the June 1995 assassination attempt against President Mubarak, restricted the number of Sudanese diplomats abroad, and authorized a suspension of international flights by Sudanese aircraft, although the latter measure was never put into effect. The U.S. position is that Sudan has not provided sufficient evidence for its assertion that the Mubarak plotters are not in Sudan, although the Administration appears to have indicated that it might look more favorably on a move to lift the sanctions in mid-Nov ember 2000. 50 If Sudan continues to take steps to address U.S. terrorism concerns, it is possible that Sudan might qualify for removal from the list in the near future, although that decision could hinge on the state of the civil war with southern Sudan and on broader human rights concerns.
There is lingering resentment among some Sudanese for the United States because of the August 20, 1998 cruise missile strike on the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant outside Khartoum, conducted in conjunction with the strike on bin Ladin s bases in Afghanistan. The United States destroyed the plant on the grounds that it was allegedly contributing to chemical weapons manufacture for bin Ladin. Although the Administration asserts that the al-Shifa strike was justified, several outside critics maintain that there was sufficient evidence of the plan ts connection to bin Ladin and to production of chemical weapons. In July 2000, the owner of the plant, whose $23 million in U.S.-based assets were unfrozen by the Administration in 1999, sued the U.S. government for $50 million in compensation for the destruction of the plant. The Administration maintains that there is no basis for yielding to s Sudanese request that the United Nations investigate the strike.
U.S.-Iraq differences over Iraq's regional ambitions and its record of compliance with cease fire requirements will probably keep Iraq on the terrorism list as long as Saddam Husayn remains in power. Observers are virtually unanimous in assessing Iraq's record of compliance with its postwar obligations as poor, and its human rights record as abysmal. However, international pressure on Iraq on these broader issues appears to have constrained Iraq's ability to use terrorism. Patterns 1999 reports that Iraq continues to plan and sponsor international terrorism, although Iraq s activities are directed mostly against anti-regime opposition, symbols of Iraq s past defeats, or bodies that represent international sanctions against Iraq. In October 1998, Iraqi agents allegedly planned to attack the Prague-based Radio Free Iraq service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, although no attack occurred. Iraq organized a failed assassination plot against former President Bush during his April 1993 visit to Kuwait, which triggered a U.S. retaliatory missile strike on Iraqi intelligence headquarters. Since 1991, it has sporadically attacked international relief workers in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.
Saddam Husayn, who has historically had close ties to Yasir Arafat, has given minimal support to anti-peace process Palestinian groups. Since December 1998, Baghdad has hosted Abu Nidal, although his organization is virtually moribund. As a lever in its relations with Iran, Iraq continues to host and provide some older surplus weaponry to the PMOI s army, the National Liberation Army (NLA), which has bases near the border with Iran. However, Iraq apparently has reduced support for the group as Iraq s relations with Tehran have improved over the past tow years.
(added to list January 19,1984)
|$22.5 million, consisting of blocked
diplomatic property and related accounts.(A reported additional $400 million in assets remain in a Defense Dept. account pending resolution of U.S.-Iran military sales cases) 52
(on list at inception, December 29, 1979, removed March 1982, restored to list September 13, 1990)
|$2.277 billion, primarily blocked bank deposits in U.S. Includes $540 million blocked in U.S. banks' foreign branches, and $173 million in Iraqi assets loaned to a U.N. escrow account.|
(on list since inception)
|No blocked assets.|
(added August 12, 1993)
|$24.4 million in blocked
(on list since inception)
|$993.5 million, primarily blocked bank deposits. Includes $1.1 million blocked in U.S. banks foreign branches|
Principal Source: 1999 Annual Report to Congress on Assets in the United States Belonging to Terrorist Countries or International Terrorist Organizations. Office of Foreign Assets Control, Department of the Treasury. March 2000.
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There is no universally agreed strategy for countering the terrorism threats discussed above. Some observers advocate options that attempt to isolate state sponsors and pressure terrorist groups. Success with either strategy often depends on bilateral, multilateral, or international cooperation with U.S. efforts. Others believe that, engagement with terrorism state sponsors and U.S. efforts to address terrorists grievances could be more effective over the long term. The Administration has claimed some success for its policy of pressuring state sponsors, but there are signs that the United States is now incorporating a greater degree of engagement into its policy mix. The Administration has not dropped the longstanding stated U.S. policy of refusing to make concessions to terrorists or of pursuing terrorism cases as long as is needed to obtain a resolution.
Some in Congress are seeking independent threat assessments and recommendations. Section 591 of the FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations law (P.L. 105-277) created a ten member National Commission on Terrorism to review progress on anti-terrorism. The Commission filed its report, entitled Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism, on June 7, 2000.
An exhaustive discussion of U.S. efforts to counter terrorism emanating from the region is beyond the scope of this paper, but the following sections highlight key themes in U.S. efforts to reduce this threat. 53
The United States has used military force as a tool against terrorism in selected circumstances. U.S. allies have often been the victims of Near Eastern terrorism, but they generally view military retaliation as a last resort, believing that it could inspire a cycle of attack and reaction that might be difficult to control. On some occasions, however, allies have provided logistic and diplomatic support for unilateral U.S. retaliatory attacks. The U.S. military actions against terrorists have almost always received strong congressional support.
Major U.S. attacks have taken place in retaliation for terrorist acts sponsored by Libya and Iraq, as well as those allegedly sponsored by the bin Ladin network. On April 15, 1986, the United States sent about 100 U.S. aircraft to bomb military installations in Libya. The attack was in retaliation for the April 2, 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub in which 2 U.S. military personnel were killed, and in which Libya was implicated. On June 26, 1993, the United States fired cruise missiles at the headquarters in Baghdad of the Iraqi intelligence Service, which allegedly sponsored a failed assassination plot against former President George Bush during his Apr. 14-16, 1993 visit to Kuwait. (Other U.S. retaliation against Iraq since 1991 has been prompted by Iraqi violations of ceasefire terms not related to terrorism.) The August 20, 1998 cruise missile strikes against the bin Ladin network represented a U.S. strike against a group, not a state sponsor. The related strike on a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan could have been intended as a signal to Sudan to sever any remaining ties to bin Ladin.
The effectiveness of U.S. military action against terrorist groups or state sponsors is difficult to judge. Libya was quiescent just after the 1986 U.S. strike, but officials believe it returned to the use of terrorism in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 and the UTA bombing in 1989, before distancing itself from terrorism in the later 1990s in the fact of U.N. sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Since the 1993 strike, Iraq has avoided terrorist attacks against high profile U.S. targets, but it remains at odds with the United States on numerous issues related to its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The airstrikes against bin Ladin did not prompt the Taliban leadership to extradite or expel him from Afghanistan, although the strikes apparently did contribute to Taliban moves to exercise tighter control over his activities and movements in Afghanistan. The strikes did not prevent bin Ladin from allegedly plotting to bomb gathering sites in the United States and Jordan on the eve of the millennium, although those plots were foiled by law enforcement authorities in both countries.
Unilateral Economic Sanctions
The United States has been willing to apply economic sanctions unilaterally. Under a number of different laws, 54 the placement of a country on the terrorism list triggers a wide range of U.S. economic sanctions, including:
· A ban on direct U.S. foreign aid, including Export-Import Bank guarantees.
· A ban on sales of items on the U.S. Munitions Control List.
· A requirement that the United States vote against lending to that country by international institutions.
· Strict licensing requirements for sales to that country, which generally prohibit exports of items that can have military applications, such as advanced sensing computation, or transportation equipment.
· A U.S. trade ban has been imposed on every Middle Eastern terrorism list state, except Syria, under separate Executive orders. Placement on the U.S. terrorism list does not automatically trigger a total ban on trade with the United States.
· Foreign aid appropriations bills since the later 1980s have made it more difficult to exercise the waiver on the ban on direct U.S. assistance, provided for in Section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. The aid bills also have barred indirect assistance to terrorism list and other selected countries, and mandated cuts in U.S. contributions to international programs that work in those countries.
· As shown in table above, the United States also tries to maintain some leverage over terrorism list states and groups by blocking some of their assets in the United States.
· Some sanctions are aimed at countries that help or arm terrorism list countries. Section 325 and 326 of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act amended the Foreign Assistance Act by requiring the President to withhold U.S. foreign assistance to any government that provides assistance or lethal military aid to any terrorism list country. In April 1999, three Russian entities were sanctioned under this provision for providing anti-tank weaponry to Syria; sanctions on the Russian government were waived.
In the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (P.L. 104-132), Congress gave the Administration another option besides placing a country on the terrorism list. Section 303 of the Act created a new list of states that are deemed not cooperating with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, and provided that states on that list be barred from sales of U.S. Munitions List items. Under a provision of the Act, President Clinton, in May 1997 and every year thereafter has designated Afghanistan along with the seven terrorism list countries as states not cooperating, although the provision was enacted following an April 1995 incident in which Saudi Arabia did not attempt to detain a known terrorist when a plane, on which he was believed to be a passenger, was scheduled to land in Saudi Arabia. The terrorist is believed to be Imad Mughniyah, a Hizballah leader who reputedly held some of the U.S. hostages in Lebanon. 55 Possibly in an attempt to avoid a repetition of incidents similar to the Mughniyah incident, on June 21, 1995, President Clinton signed Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39), enabling U.S. law enforcement authorities to capture suspected terrorists by force from foreign countries that refuse to cooperate in their extradition. 56
The Administration has refused several outside recommendations most recently by the National Commission on Terrorism to place Afghanistan on the terrorism list on the grounds that doing so would imply that the United States recognizes the Taliban movement as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. However, President Clinton, on July 4, 1999, issued Executive order 13129 imposing sanctions on the Taliban that are similar to those imposed on terrorism list countries and on foreign terrorist organizations. The order imposed a ban on U.S. trade with areas of Afghanistan under Taliban control, froze Taliban assets in the United States, and prohibited contributions to Taliban by U.S. persons. The President justified the move by citing the Taliban s continued harboring of bin Ladin.
The National Commission on Terrorism also recommended naming Greece and Pakistan as not fully cooperating with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts. The Administration rejects those recommendations as well. In the case of Greece, the United States does not want to offend a NATO ally. In the case of Pakistan, the Administration does not want to isolate that country and wants to enlist its help in persuading the Taliban to extradite bin Ladin. In addition, the Administration notes that Pakistan has sometimes been helpful to U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, helping the United States capture Ramzi Ahmad Yusuf (February 1995), CIA shooter Mir Aimal Kansi (June 1997) 57, and some suspects in the Kenya/Tanzania embassy bombings. On the other hand, Patterns 1999 acknowledges that Pakistan s military government provides some support to Kashmir terrorists, including the Harakat ul-Mujahidin, in their campaign against Indian forces in Kashmir. Pakistan also has rebuffed several U.S. requests for help in persuading the Taliban to extradite bin Ladin.
Analysts doubt that unilateral U.S. economic sanctions, by themselves, can force major changes in the behavior of state sponsors of terrorism. Major U.S. allies did not join the U.S. trade ban imposed on Iran in May 1995 and the move did not, in itself, measurably alter Iran s objectionable behavior. Sanctions have not forced the Taliban to extradite bin Ladin. On the other hand, virtually all Middle Eastern terrorism list states have publicly protested their inclusion on the list and other U.S. sanctions, suggesting that these sanctions are hurting politically and /or economically. Three years after being included on the terrorism list, Sudan expelled Usama bin Ladin from that country. U.S. officials assert that U.S. sanctions, even if unilateral, have made some terrorism state sponsors think twice about promoting terrorism.
To encourage moderation, in April 1999 the Administration announced that it would permit, on a case-by-case basis, commercial sales of U.S. food and medical products to Libya, Sudan and Iran. The move relaxed the bans on U.S. trade with the three countries. As noted previously, all three have recently shown some signs of greater cooperation with the international community or internal reform. Some in Congress followed up the Administration move with proposed legislation that would facilitate licensing procedures for food and medicine exports to terrorism list countries. However, some in Congress wanted to include a relaxation of sanctions on Cuba in the proposed legislation, and it remains uncertain whether, and within which legislative vehicle, the proposed legislation might be enacted.
Multilateral Sanctions and Diplomatic Approaches
In concert with U. S. unilateral sanctions, the United States has sought to develop multilateral approaches to combating Middle Eastern terrorism. As noted above, the United States led efforts to impose international sanctions on Libya and Sudan for their support of terrorism. The United States and Russia jointly worked successfully to persuade the United Nations Security Council to adopt sanctions on the Taliban because of its refusal to extradite bin Ladin. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267, adopted October 15, 1999, banned flights outside Afghanistan by its national airline, Ariana, and directed U.N. member states to freeze Taliban assets. The United Staes and Russia are building support for a new resolution that might, among other measures, impose an international arms embargo on the Taliban only, not on its opposition factions. 58
On the multilateral diplomatic front, in the wake of February and March 1996 suicide bombings in Israel, conducted by groups believed supported by Iran, President Clinton convened a March 13-14, 1996 Summit of Peacemakers in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. According to Patterns 1999, the Administration has worked with other industrialized nations (G-8) to exert influence on Iran to end its sponsorship of terrorist groups. In mid-1999, the State Department hosted a multilateral conference of senior counterterrorism officials from the Middle East, Central Asia, and Asia. In June 2000, the State Department hosted another conference of counterterrorism officials from Central Asia, focusing on combating the terrorism threat from Afghanistan. These conferences and meetings have often resulted in agreements to exchange information, to conduct joint efforts to counter terrorist fundraising, and to develop improved export controls on explosives and conventions against nuclear terrorism. 59 In May 1998, the European Union countries agreed on a code of conduct to curb arms sales to states that might use the arms to support terrorism. However, the code is not legally binding on the EU member governments. 60 These multilateral meetings appear to have contributed to some of the counterterrorism successes of the past few years, but it is impossible to judge the relative contribution of this approach compared to other methods used.
The Administration has identified one key element of its policy as bolster[ing] the counterterrorist capabilities of those countries that work with the United States and require assistance. In one important regional example of the policy, the Administration has sought to rein in Hizballah by providing military and law enforcement assistance to the government of Lebanon. In the past few years, the United States has sold Lebanon excess armored personnel carriers and, according to the State Department budget justification for FY2001, it plans to provide that country with additional excess defense articles (E) to support military operations. In the aftermath of Israel s withdrawl from southern Lebanon, the Administration encouraged the Lebanese armed forces to deploy to the south to displace Hizballah as the primary force on Israel s northern border. Lebanese soldiers and police began a limited deployment to the south in August 2000, but Hizballah has been allowed to retain many of its positions there. The United States also has provided non-lethal aid, such as excesss trucks and equipment, to Palestinian Authority security forces in an effort to strengthen them against the opposition Hamas and PIJ. Several Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey, receive anti-terrorism assistance through the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program run by the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security, in which the United States provides training in airport security, explosives detection, and crisis management.
According to Patterns 1999, the Administration has expanded its counterterrorism dialogue with Russia and begun bilateral dialogues on the issue with the Central Asian states. The United States has provided some detection equipment to these states to help them prevent smuggling nuclear and other material to terrorist groups such as the bin Ladin network or terrorism list countries. In April 2000, Uzbek border authorities used this equipment to detect and seize ten containers with radioactive material bound for Pakistan. 61 During a trip to the region a few weeks after this incident, Secretary of State Albright pledged $3 million each to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan to help their border policy combat drug smuggling and terrorism.
As noted in the discussions of terrorism list countries, the Administration has shown increasing willingness to engage state sponsors, once these countries have demonstrated some willingness to curb support for terrorism. U.S. officials, justify engagement with the argument that doing so creates incentives for terrorism list countries to continue to reduce their support for international terrorism. On the other hand, critics believe that terrorism list countries are likely to view a U.S. policy of engagement as a sign that supporting terrorism will not adversely affect relations with the United States.
Legal action against terrorist groups and state sponsors is becoming an increasing part of the counterterrorism policy mix. In the case of the bombing of Pan Am 103, the Bush Administration chose international legal action a trial of the two Libyan suspects over military retaliation. Congress has attempted to give victims of international terrorism a legal option against state sponsors. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (Section 221) created and exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity for Certain Cases (28 U.S.C., Section 1605) allowing victims of terrorism to sue terrorism list countries for acts of terrorism by them or groups they support.
Since this provision was enacted, a number of cases have been brought in U.S. courts. Since 1998, several multimillion awards have been made to former hostages and the families of victims of groups proven in court to have been sponsored by Iran. In August 2000, the family of an Israeli-American man sued Syria on the grounds that it supports Hamas, which carried out the attack in 1996 that killed the man.
These cases have led to disagreement between the Administration and some in Congress over whether and how to collect on the court judgments. Some U.S. plaintiffs, supported by some in Congress, have sought to attach the frozen U.S. assets of the state sponsor in question. Frozen assets of terrorism list countries hare depicted in above table. The Administration, however, has maintained that terrorism list assets should not be used for these judgments because doing so could provoke future acts of terrorism against American citizens or diplomatic property. Some in Congress who oppose the Administration argument have introduced the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, S.1796 and H.R. 3485, which would prevent the Administration from blocking the attachment of some terrorism country assets or the proceeds of those assets to pay such judgments. H.R. 3485 was passed by the House on July 26, 2000.
The Domestic Front
The February 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as well as Israeli allegations that month that Hamas was receiving funding and direction from Arab residents in the United States, placed greater focus in the Administration and Congress on domestic efforts to combat Middle Eastern terrorist groups. The Trade Center bombing exposed the vulnerability of the United States to Middle Eastern-inspired terrorism as did no other previous event.
The Trade Center bombing sparked stepped up law enforcement investigation into the activities of radical Muslims in the United States and alleged fundraising in the United States for Middle East terrorism. In January 1995, President Clinton targeted terrorism fundraising in his Executive order 12947 (see above). Congress included many of the measures in that Executive order in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The additional law enforcement powers and efforts in recent years might have accounted for the foiling of the alleged plot by bin Ladin supporters to detonate a bomb in the United States on the eve of the millennium (see above).
Some observers allege that Middle Eastern groups have extensive fundraising and political networks in the United States, working from seemingly innocent religious and research institutions and investment companies. 62 Others have challenged this view, saying that most American Muslims who support such groups oppose the use of violence. Some who suspect extensive terrorist connections in the United States have noted that PIJ leader Shallah, when he was teaching at the University of South Florida in the early 1990s, ran an affiliated Islamic studies institute called the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). The University severed its connection to WISE in June 1995, a few months before Shallah was chosen to head PIJ. Some have alleged that Shallah used WISE to raise money for PIJ and to invite alleged Islamic radicals to the United States for conferences. 63
In July 2000, U.S. law enforcement officials arrested 18 people in North Carolina in what was described as a conspiracy to funnel the proceeds of illicit business activities to Lebanese Hizballah. Those arrested were not accused of directly planning any acts of terrorism. In May 2000, the parents of an Israeli-American teenager killed in a 1996 Hamas attack in Israel filed suit against several Islamic charity groups in the United States alleging that they raised money for Hamas. 64 Groups named in the suit included the Quranic Literary Institute, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and the United Association for Studies and Research. Representatives of these groups have consistently denied any involvement with fundraising for terrorism or involvement in Hamas/PIJ activities. 65
On the other hand, some U.S. domestic counterterrorism efforts, particularly those dealing with immigration and investigative powers, have drawn substantial criticism from U.S. civil liberties groups, which have expressed concern about excessive intrusions by law enforcement authorities. These groups also have said that the prohibition on donations to groups allegedly involved in terrorism infringes free speech. Some Arab-American organizations have complained that U.S. residents and citizens of Arab descent are being unfairly branded as suspected terrorists, and point to the apparently erroneous initial accusations that Arab-Americans were behind the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995.
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1. Each year, under the provisions of Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979, as amended (50 U.S.C 24050(j)), the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State, provides Congress with a list of countries that support international terrorism.
2. Fifteen other groups not considered Middle East-related were also designated as FTO s in the original October 8, 1997 designations. In most cases, the FTO s have several different aliases. For a complete list of these alternate names, see U.S. Department of the Treasury. Office of Foreign Assets Control. Terrorism: What You Need to Know About U.S. Sanctions [http://www.treasgov/ofac/].
3. For other names under which Hizballa or the other groups discussed in this paper operate, see U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control. Terrorism: What You Need to Know About U.S. Sanctions.
4. FBI Ties Iran to Argentine Bombing in 94. Washington Post, August 8, 1998.
5. Diderich, Joelle. FBI Suspects Hizbollah Network in S. America. Reuters, May 13, 1998.
6. Hizbollah Says Training Hamas Militants in Lebanon. Reuters, October 3, 1997
7. Conversations with Saudi and U.S. officials since 1996.
8. The list of SDT s is contained in the Office of Foreign Assets Control factsheet "Terrorism: What You Need to Know About U.S. Sanctions.
9. Lahoud, Lamia. Huge Hamas Bomb Factory Found. Jerusalem Post, August 3, 2000.
10. Palestinian Islamic Jihad should not be confused with Islamic Jihad, which is a name often used by elements of Hizballah in the conduct of terrorist or military operations, or with al-Jihad, the Egyptian group which is sometimes called Egyptian Islamic Jihad or Egyptian Jihad.
11.These figures are contained in the 1999 Annual Report to Congress on Assets in the United States Belonging to Terrorist Countries or International Terrorist Organizations. Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of Treasury. March 1, 2000.
12.A faction of the Jihad operates under the name "Vanguards of Conquest.
13.Salaheddin, Esmat. Exiled Islamist Says Militant Jailed in Egypt. Reuters, June 8, 2000.
14.U.S. Sees Links in Brooklyn To World Terrorist Network. New York Times, October 22, 1998.
15.Egypt s Most Wanted. The Estimate, December 19, 1997. p.8.
16.Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1993. Released April 1994. p.4.
17.Weisner, Benjamin. U.S. Says Bin Laden Aide Tried to Get Nuclear Material. New York Times, September 26, 1998; West, Julian. Atomic Haul Raises Fears of Bin Laden Terror Bomb. London Sunday Telegraph, April 23, 2000.
18.For further information on the Taliban s relationship with bin Ladin, see CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Current Issues and U.S. Policy Concerns. June 22, 2000, by Kenneth Katzman.
19.Loeb, Vernon. As U.S. Targets Bin Laden, 2 Top Aides Also Draw Scrutiny. Washington Post, July 3, 2000.
20.Risen, James and Benjamin Weiser. U.S. Officials Say Aid for Terrorists Came Through Two Persian Gulf Nations. New York Times, July 8, 1999.
21.For more information, see CRS Report 98-219F. Algeria: Developments and Dilemmas, by Carol Migdalovitz, updated August 18, 1998.
22.Evidence Is Seen Linking Bin Laden to Algerian Group. New York Times, January 27, 2000; Burns, John and Craig Pyes. Radical Islamic Network May Have Come to U.S. New York Times, December 31, 1999.
23.Conversation with Pakistani journalist, Mr. Muzamal Suherwardy. June 2, 2000.
24.Kyrgyz Lawmaker to Extend Stay in Kabul to Push Talks. Reuters, September 29, 1999.
25.Militants Invade Uzbekistan Villages, Clash With Troops. Dow Jones Newswire, August 7, 2000.
26.Kinzer, Stephen. Islamic Militants With Japanese Hostages Hold Kyrgyz at Bay. New York Times, October 18, 1999.
27.El Sayyid Nosair, a radical Islamist associated with Shaykh Abd al-Rahman and others involved in the World Trade Center bombing, was convicted of weapons possession for the attack on Kahane, but not the murder itself.
28.These reports are submitted in accordance with Section 804(b) of the PLO Commitments Compliance Act of 1989 (Title VIII of P.L. 101-246, as amended) and Section 604(b)(1) of the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act of 1995 (Title VI of P.L. 104-107).
29.Schenker, David. Araft Vs. The Terrorist Infrastructure : A Status Report. Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Peacewatch 191, December 10, 1998.
30.No Inquiry Into Arafat Over Massacre At Munich Olympics. Associated Press, April 13, 2000.
31.Closing In on the Pan Am Bombers. U.S. News and World Report, May 22, 1989. p.23.
32.The DFLP has splintered into factions, but the one headed by Nayif Hawatmeh dominates the organization and is the one discussed in this paper.
33.Of the four, one is still in jail, two were paroled in 1991, and one, Yusuf al-Mulqi, escaped in 1996 while on prison leave.
34.Holmes, Paul. Achille Lauro Mastermind Looks Back at 50. Reuters, June 24, 1998.
35.Risen, James. A Much-Shunned Terrorist Is Said to Find Haven in Iraq. New York Times, January 27, 1999.
37.For more information on the PKK, see Turkey s Kurdish Imbroglio and U.S. Policy, by Carol Migdalovitz, CRS Report 94-267, Mar. 18, 1994. The PKK is distinct from Iranian and Iraqi Kurdish organizations which the State Department does not consider terrorist and which, in the case of Iraqi Kurds, benefit from U.S. support.
38.Along with Cuba and North Korea, these countries have been designated by the Secretary of State, under Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 240(j) as having repeatedly provided state support for international terrorism.
39.Slavin, Barbara. Terrorist State List Should Be Flexible, State Official Says. USA Today, April 13, 2000.
40.For further information, see CRS Issue Brief IB93033. Iran: Current Developments and U.S. Policy. Updated regularly, by Kenneth Katzman.
41.The Institutions named in the report are the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, which is largely populated by active or former Revolutionary Guards.
42.For further information, see CRS Issue Brief IB93113. Saudi Arabia: Post-War Issues and U.S. Relations. Updated regularly, by Alfred Prados.
43.For further information, see Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues, by Alfred Prados, CRS Issue Brief IB92075 (updated regularly).
44.Turkey s Neighbors Accused of Supporting Terrorism. Istanbul Milliyet. July 27, 2000.
45.For further information on Libya and its involvement in terrorism, see Libya, by Clyde Mark, CRS Issue Brief IB93109 (updated regularly).
46.Slavin, Barbara. Libya May Be Taken Off Terrorist List. USA Today, July 8, 1999.
47.Libya Must Fulfill All Requirements to Have Sanctions Lifted. USIS Washington File, July 22, 1999.
48.Libyan Negotiator Heads to Philippines Rebel Camp. Reuters, August 14, 2000.
49.For further information see CRS Issue Brief IB98043. Sudan: Humanitarian Crisis, Peace Talks, Terrorism, and U.S. Policy. Updated regularly, by Theodros S. Dagne.
50.Leopold, Evelyn. U.S. Considers Lifting Sudan U.N. Sanctions in November. Reuters, June 29, 2000.
51.For further information, see CRS Issue Brief IB92117, Iraqi Compliance With Ceasefire Agreements, updated regularly, by Kenneth Katzman.
52.Pincus, Walter. Bill Would Use Frozen Assets to Compensate Terrorism Victims. Washington Post, July 30, 2000.
53.An extended discussion of these issues is provided by CRS Issue Brief IB95112. Terrorism, the Future, and U.S. Foreign Policy. Updated regularly, by Raphael Perl.
54.The list of sanctions are under the following authorities: Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, as amended [P.L. 96-72; 50 U.S.C. app. 2405 (j); Section 40 of the Arms Export control Act, as amended [P.L. 90-629; 22 U.S.C. 2780]; and Section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended [P.L. 87-195; 22 U.S.C. 2371]; and Section 1621 of the International Financial Institutions Act [22 U.S.C. 262c].
55.Hizballah Denies Mughniyah on Board Plane. FBIS-NES-95-079. Apr. 25, 1995. p.44.
56.Policy on Terror Suspects Overseas. Washington Post, February 5, 1997.
57.On January 23, 1998, Kansi was sentenced to death for the January 25, 1993 shooting outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia that killed two CIA employees and wounded three others. The execution has not yet been carried out.
58.Miller, Judith. Russians Join U.S. To Seek New Sanctions on Taliban. New York Times, August 4, 2000.
59.Patterns 1998. p. V.
60.Plan Still Lets Rogue States Buy Arms. Associated Press, May 26, 1998.
61.Bryen, Stephen. The New Islamic Bomb, Washington Times, April 10, 2000.
62.Emerson, Steven. Islamic Terror: From Midwest to Mideast. Wall Street Journal, August 28, 1995.
63.Islamic Jihad in Florida. Washington Times, editorial, November 10, 1995.
64.Miller, Judith. Suit Accuses Islamic Charities of Fund-Raising for Terrorism. New York Times, May 13, 2000.
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