State Sponsors of Terrorism
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (September 2011)|
"State Sponsors of Terrorism" is a designation applied by the United States Department of State to countries which have "repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism." Inclusion on the list imposes strict sanctions.
The list began on December 29, 1979, with Libya, Iraq, South Yemen, and Syria. Cuba was added to the list on March 1, 1982 and Iran on January 19, 1984. Later North Korea in 1988 and Sudan on August 12, 1993 were added.
Countries currently on the list
Cuba was added to the list on March 1, 1982.
According to the United States of America, Cuba has a history of supporting revolutionary movements in Spanish speaking countries and Africa. "Havana openly advocates armed revolution as the only means for leftist forces to gain power in Latin America, and the Cubans have played an important role in facilitating the movement of men and weapons into the region. Havana provides direct support in the form of training, arms, safe havens, and advice to a wide variety of guerrilla groups. Many of these groups engage in terrorist operations." Cuba "encouraged terrorism in the hope of provoking indiscriminate violence and repression, in order to weaken government legitimacy and attract new converts to armed struggle" In 1992, after the Soviet collapse, Fidel Castro stressed that his country’s support for insurgents abroad was a thing of the past.
According to Country Reports on Terrorism 2010: August 18, 2011:
|“||Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982, the Government of Cuba maintained a public stance against terrorism and terrorist financing in 2010, but there was no evidence that it had severed ties with elements from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and recent media reports indicate some current and former members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) continue to reside in Cuba. Available information suggested that the Cuban government maintained limited contact with FARC members, but there was no evidence of direct financial or ongoing material support. In March, the Cuban government allowed Spanish Police to travel to Cuba to confirm the presence of suspected ETA members. Cuba has been used as a transit point by third-country nationals looking to enter illegally into the United States. The Government of Cuba is aware of the border integrity and transnational security concerns posed by such transit and investigated third country migrant smuggling and related criminal activities. In November, the government allowed representatives of the Transportation Security Administration to conduct a series of airport security visits throughout the island. Regional and International Cooperation: Cuba did not sponsor counterterrorism initiatives or participate in regional or global operations against terrorists in 2010.||”|
As a result of the December 17, 2014 agreement to restore relations with Cuba, The President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately launch a review of Cuba's inclusion on the list, and provide a report to the President within six months regarding Cuba’s alleged support for international terrorism.
|“||Overview: Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran remained an active state sponsor of terrorism in 2011 and increased its terrorist-related activity, likely in an effort to exploit the uncertain political conditions resulting from the Arab Spring, as well as in response to perceived increasing external pressure on Tehran. Iran also continued to provide financial, material, and logistical support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Iran was known to use the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and terrorist insurgent groups to implement its foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and support terrorist and militant groups. The IRGC-QF is the regime's primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.
In 2011, the United States discovered that elements of the Iranian regime had conceived and funded a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the United States in Washington state. Mansour Arbabsiar, an Iranian-born U.S. dual-national working on behalf of the IRGC-QF, was arrested in September 2011 for his role in the plot; also indicted in the case was an IRGC-QF officer who remains at large. Arbabsiar held several meetings with an associate whom Iranian officials believed was a narcotics cartel member. This associate, in fact, was a confidential source for U.S. law enforcement. The thwarted plot underscored anew Iran's interest in using international terrorism – including in the United States – to further its foreign policy goals.
Despite its pledge to support the stabilization of Iraq, Iran continued to provide lethal support, including weapons, training, funding, and guidance, to Iraqi Shia militant groups targeting U.S. and Iraqi forces, as well as civilians. Iran was responsible for the increase of lethal attacks on U.S. forces and provided militants with the capability to assemble explosives designed to defeat armored vehicles. The IRGC-QF, in concert with Lebanese Hizballah, provided training outside of Iraq as well as advisors inside Iraq for Shia militants in the construction and use of sophisticated improvised explosive device technology and other advanced weaponry.
Sudan was added to the list on August 12, 1993.
Unlike the other three designated sponsors of terrorism, the US State Department acknowledges that Sudan has fully cooperated with the United States to reduce the threat of terrorism. However, citing concerns that the nation's security gaps have allowed terrorists to remain in the country, the US State Department decided to keep Sudan on the list in 2011.
According to Country Reports on Terrorism 2010, Sudan remained a cooperative partner of the USA in global counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaeda (AQ) in 2010. During that year, the Government of Sudan worked actively to counter AQ operations that posed a potential threat to US interests and personnel in Sudan. Sudanese officials indicated that they viewed continued cooperation with the United States as important and recognized potential benefits in US training and information-sharing.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: The Sudanese government has taken steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist groups within Sudan and has worked hard to disrupt foreign fighters' use of Sudan as a logistics base and transit point for violent extremists going to Iraq. Nonetheless, elements of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including al-Qa'ida-inspired terrorists, remained in Sudan, as gaps remained in the Sudanese government’s knowledge of and ability to identify and capture these individuals as well as prevent them from exploiting the territory for smuggling activities. Some evidence suggested that individuals who actively participated in the Iraqi insurgency have returned to Sudan, and may be in a position to use their expertise to conduct attacks within Sudan or to pass on their knowledge. Sudanese officials continued to view Hamas members as representatives of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas members conducted fundraising in Sudan, and Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) maintained a presence in Sudan.
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continued to operate in the region, though there was no reliable information that corroborated allegations that the Government of Sudan provided support to the LRA. Operating in small cells, the LRA carried out attacks in areas where the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, and Southern Sudan intersect. The UN estimated that in 2010, LRA attacks displaced 25,000 southern Sudanese. In October, the African Union (AU) announced that Uganda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic will form an AU-backed joint brigade to pursue the LRA.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: On June 11, four Sudanese men sentenced to death for the January 1, 2008, killing of two U.S. Embassy staff members escaped from Khartoum's maximum security Kober prison. One police officer was reportedly killed and another was injured in an exchange of fire at a checkpoint following the breakout. Police subsequently intercepted the get-away car and arrested the driver, but the four fugitives escaped on foot. On June 22, Sudanese authorities confirmed that one of the four convicts was recaptured. The whereabouts of the other three convicts remained unknown at year’s end. The Sudanese government cooperated with the United States in efforts to bring the four to justice.
Countering Terrorist Finance: The Central Bank of Sudan and its financial intelligence unit circulated to financial institutions a list of individuals and entities that have been included on the UN 1267 al-Qa’ida and Taliban sanctions committee's Consolidated List. Through increasing cooperation with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Sudan took steps in 2010 to meet international standards in combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The most significant achievement was passage of the Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act of 2010, approved by the Council of Ministers in January 2010 and ratified by Parliament in June 2010. Sudan continued its cooperation with the U.S. government in investigating financial crimes related to terrorism.
Regional and International Cooperation: Sudanese officials regularly discussed counterterrorism issues with U.S. counterparts. Sudan was generally responsive to the international community’s concerns on terrorism and was generally supportive of international counterterrorism efforts.
Syria was added to the list on December 29, 1979.
According to Country Reports on Terrorism 2010: August 18, 2011:
|“||Overview: Designated in 1979 as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, Syria in 2010 continued its political support to a variety of terrorist groups affecting the stability of the region and beyond. Syria provided political and weapons support to Hezbollah in Lebanon and allowed Iran to resupply the terrorist organization with weapons. The external leadership of Hamas, the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), among others, were based in Damascus and operated within Syria's borders. Statements supporting terrorist groups like Hamas and Hizballah consistently permeated government speeches and press statements.
President Bashar al-Asad continued to express public support for Palestinian terrorist groups as elements of the resistance against Israel. Damascus historically has allowed exiled individuals safe haven in Syria and Hamas Politburo head Khalid Meshaal and his deputies continued to reside in Syria, while the Syrian government provided Meshaal security escorts for his motorcades. Though the Syrian government claimed periodically that it used its influence to restrain the rhetoric and activities of Palestinian groups, Meshaal freely traveled around Damascus and the Syrian government allowed Meshaal's use of the Syrian Ministry of Information as the venue for press conferences. Open source reports indicated that Hamas used Syrian soil as training grounds for its militant fighters.
Added to the terrorist operatives calling Damascus home, in 2010, Iraqi Baathists continued to congregate in the Syrian capital and some of them call for violence against the Iraqi government, Iraqi civilian targets, and American and coalition forces within Iraq. Al-Rai Television, a television station owned by Iraqi Baathist Mishaan al-Jaburi and broadcast from a suburban Damascus location, transmitted violent messages in support of terrorism in Iraq throughout the year.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: The Syrian government stressed its success in achieving security and stability within its borders, and terrorist attacks on Syrian soil remained rare. However, a string of incidents over the past several years have increased concerns that militant groups can strike Syrian targets and have caused the authorities to strengthen their efforts to prevent attacks. Especially following a September 27, 2009 bombing near a Syrian security installation that killed 17, the regime has attempted to portray Syria as a victim of terrorism rather than a purveyor of it. In July 2010, the Syrian security services conducted a series of raids that netted operatives of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), accused of plotting and implementing terrorist attacks in neighboring Turkey.
Regional and International Cooperation: Syria continued its strong partnership with fellow state sponsor of terrorism Iran in 2010. Throughout the year, the countries exchanged frequent high-level visitors. Iranian President Ahmedinejad visited Damascus in February and September and President Assad visited Tehran in October. The Iranian National Security Advisor, Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, and Intelligence Chief all visited Damascus within the last year. Syria also allowed leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian groups resident in Syria to visit Tehran. Asad continued to be a staunch defender of Iran's policies, including Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Syria exhibited a mixed record on Iraq. Syria increased border monitoring activities, instituted tighter screening practices on military-age Arab males entering its borders, and expressed a desire to increase security cooperation with Iraq. These activities likely contributed to a decrease in Iraq-bound foreign fighters. At the same time, however, Syria remained a key hub for foreign fighters en route to Iraq and a safe haven for Iraqi Baathists expressing support for terrorist attacks against Iraqi government interests and coalition forces.
Attacks against coalition and Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens continued to have a destabilizing effect on Iraq's internal security. While Syria and Iraq returned their ambassadors to Baghdad and Damascus, respectively, in the autumn of 2010, Syrian and Iraqi security cooperation has been largely inactive since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in August 2009 accused Baathists harbored by Syria of fomenting terrorism in Iraq.
Legislation/Law Enforcement: Syria has laws on the books pertaining to counterterrorism and terrorism financing/money laundering, but largely used these legal instruments against only those groups perceived as a threat to the regime or country. Opponents of the regime, including Islamist activists and Kurdish separatists, were frequently charged with violating counterterrorism statutes. Furthermore, these laws were not enforced against Hamas, Hizballah, or the various Palestinian rejectionist groups based in Damascus.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Syria remained a source of concern regarding terrorist financing. Industry experts reported that 60 percent of all business transitions were conducted in cash and that nearly 80 percent of all Syrians did not use formal banking services. Despite Syrian legislation that required money-changers to be licensed by the end of 2007, many money-changers in 2010 continued to operate illegally in Syria's vast black market, estimated to be as large as Syria's formal economy. Regional "hawala" networks remained intertwined with smuggling and trade-based money laundering, facilitated by notoriously corrupt customs and immigration officials, raising significant concerns that some members of the Syrian government and the business elite were complicit in terrorist financing schemes.
Countries that have been removed
Iraq was added to the list on December 29, 1979 and removed in 1982 to allow US companies to sell arms to it while it was fighting Iran in the Iran–Iraq War; it was put back on in 1990 following its invasion of Kuwait. The State Department's reason for including Iraq was that it provided bases to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and the Abu Nidal organization (ANO). It was again removed following the 2003 invasion and the overthrow of the government of Saddam Hussein. Following the invasion, US sanctions applicable to state sponsors of terrorism against Iraq were suspended on 7 May 2003 and President Bush announced the removal of Iraq from the list on 25 September 2004.
Libya was added on December 29, 1979.
On May 15, 2006, the United States announced that Libya would be removed from the list after a 45-day wait period. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explained that this was due to "...Libya's continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism".
North Korea was added in 1988.
On June 26, 2008, President George W. Bush announced that he would remove North Korea from the list. On October 11, the country was officially removed from the list for meeting all nuclear inspection requirements.
The North was initially added because it sold weapons to terrorist groups and gave asylum to Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction members. The country is also responsible for the Rangoon bombing and the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858.
According to Country Reports on Terrorism: April 30, 2007:
- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987. The DPRK continued to harbor four Japanese Red Army members who participated in a jet hijacking in 1970. The Japanese government continued to seek a full accounting of the fate of the 12 Japanese nationals believed to have been abducted by DPRK state entities; five such abductees have been repatriated to Japan since 2002. In the February 13, 2007 Initial Actions Agreement, the United States agreed to "begin the process of removing the designation of the DPRK as a state-sponsor of terrorism."
Terrorology specialist Gus Martin, writes in his university-level textbook, Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, perspectives and issues that “it is important to note that the State Department’s list includes countries that have significantly reduced their involvement in terrorism, such as North Korea and Cuba. For example North Korea was at one time quite active in attacking South Korean interests. In November 1987, North Korean operatives apparently destroyed Korean Airlines Flight 858, which exploded in Myanmar (Burma), The North Korea government has since renounced its sponsorship of terrorism.”
The U.S State Department said it made the decision as Pyongyang had agreed to verification of all of its nuclear programs, etc.
April 13, 2009 Pyongyang agreed to dismantle the rocket facility as part of an aid-for-disarmament deal, and in response, the US removed North Korea from its terrorism blacklist. Despite requests from the South Korea government to put North Korea back on the list after it sunk the Navy ship the ROKS Cheonan in 2010, the Obama administration stated that it will not do so because the act was conducted by only the North Korean military and was thus not an act of terror. However, following the incident, the Obama administration also stated that it would now closely monitor North Korea for signs for a return to international terrorism. US State Department spokesman P.J Crowley also said that returning North Korea to the list was under continual review.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has since stated she is considering renaming North Korea on the List of State Sponsors of Terrorism. As of 2011, North Korea, unlike the other countries removed and the designated state sponsor of terrorism Sudan, is still listed as not fully cooperating with the United States to reduce terrorism.
South Yemen was added to the list on December 29, 1979. It had been branded a sponsor of terrorism due to its support for several left-wing terrorist groups. South Yemen was dropped from the list in 1990 after it merged with the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen), to become Yemen.
Timeline of the list
|Timeline of the 'State Sponsors of Terrorism' list|
The sanctions which the US imposes on countries on the list are:
- 1. A ban on arms-related exports and sales.
- 2. Controls over exports of dual-use items, requiring 30-day Congressional notification for goods or services that could significantly enhance the terrorist-list country's military capability or ability to support terrorism.
- 3. Prohibitions on economic assistance.
- 4. Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions, including:
- Requiring the United States to oppose loans by the World Bank and other international financial institutions;
- Lifting diplomatic immunity to allow families of terrorist victims to file civil lawsuits in U.S. courts;
- Denying companies and individuals tax credits for income earned in terrorist-listed countries;
- Denial of duty-free treatment of goods exported to the United States;
- Authority to prohibit any U.S. citizen from engaging in a financial transaction with a terrorist-list government without a Treasury Department license; and
- Prohibition of Defense Department contracts above $100,000 with companies controlled by terrorist-list states.
Terrorist safe havens
The U.S. Country Reports on Terrorism also describes "Terrorist safe havens" which "are defined in this report as ungoverned, under-governed, or ill-governed areas of a country and non-physical areas where terrorists that constitute a threat to U.S. national security interests are able to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate in relative security because of inadequate governance capacity, political will, or both. Physical safe havens provide security for terrorist leaders, allowing them to plan acts of terrorism around the world."
- United States and state-sponsored terrorism
- Iran and state-sponsored terrorism
- Axis of evil
- Rogue state
- Outposts of tyranny
- United States embargoes
- U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
- 22 U.S.C. § 2656f
- "State Sponsors of Terrorism". State.gov. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
- CRS Report
- "Chapter 3 - State Sponsors of Terrorism". State.gov. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- From Elise Labott CNN. "U.S. to restore relations with Libya - May 15, 2006". CNN.com. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
- "Powell Names State Sponsors of Terrorism". Usembassyjakarta.org. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
- "Chapter 3 - State Sponsors of Terrorism Overview". State.gov. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
- Martin, Gus, Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, perspectives and issues, Sage Publications, 2006,83
- "Clinton says North Korea could return to terror list". The Boston Globe. June 8, 2009.
- "Chapter 5 - Terrorist Safe Havens (7120 Report)". State.gov. Retrieved 2009-06-09.