Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) are foreign organizations that are designated by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business.
The Department of State continually monitors the activities of terrorist groups active around the world to identify potential targets for designation. When reviewing potential targets, the Department looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of terrorism or retains the capability and intent to carry out such acts.
Once a target is identified, a detailed "administrative record" is prepared demonstrating that the statutory criteria for designation have been satisfied. If the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, decides to make the designation, Congress is notified of the Secretary’s intent to designate the organization and given seven days to review the designation, as required by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Upon the expiration of the seven-day waiting period and in the absence of Congressional action to block the designation, notice of the designation is published in the Federal Register, at which point the designation takes effect. By law an organization designated as an FTO may seek judicial review of the designation in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit not later than 30 days after the designation is published in the Federal Register.
Until recently the INA provided that FTOs must be redesignated every two years or the designation would lapse. Under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), however, the redesignation requirement was replaced by certain review and revocation procedures. IRTPA provides that an FTO may file a petition for revocation two years after its designation date (or in the case of redesignated FTOs, its most recent redesignation date) or two years after the determination date on its most recent petition for revocation. In order to provide a basis for revocation, the petitioning FTO must provide evidence that the circumstances forming the basis for the designation are sufficiently different as to warrant revocation. If no such review has been conducted during a five year period with respect to a designation, then the Secretary of State is required to review the designation to determine whether revocation would be appropriate. In addition, the Secretary of State may at any time revoke a designation upon a finding that the circumstances forming the basis for the designation have changed in such a manner as to warrant revocation, or that the national security of the United States warrants a revocation. The same procedural requirements apply to revocations made by the Secretary of State as apply to designations. A designation may be revoked by an Act of Congress, or set aside by a Court order.
Legal Criteria for Designation under Section 219 of the INA as amended
1. It must be a foreign organization.
2. The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)), or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)(2)), or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
3. The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.
U.S. Government Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
Armed Islamic Group
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
Communist Party of Philippines/New People's Army
Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA)
Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B)
Islamic Jihad Union (IJU)
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
Jemaah Islamiya (JI)
Kahane Chai (Kach)
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LT)
Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group
Mujahadin-e Khalq Organization
National Liberation Army (ELN)
Palestine Liberation Front – Abu Abbas Faction
Palestinian Islamic Jihad – Shaqaqi Faction
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command
Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (Tanzim Qa‘idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn)
Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
Revolutionary Organization 17 November
Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
ABU NIDAL ORGANIZATION
a.k.a. ANO; Arab Revolutionary Brigades; Arab Revolutionary Council; Black September; Fatah Revolutionary Council; Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims
Description: The Abu Nidal Organization (ANO was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The ANO, an international terrorist organization, was founded by Sabri al-Banna (a.k.a. Abu Nidal) after splitting from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1974. The group's previous known structure consisted of various functional committees, including political, military, and financial. In August 2002, Abu Nidal died in Baghdad, probably at the hands of Iraqi security officials. Present leadership of the organization remains unclear.
Activities: The ANO has carried out terrorist attacks in 20 countries, killing or injuring almost 900 persons. The group has not staged a major attack against Western targets since the late 1980s. Major attacks included the Rome and Vienna airports in 1985, the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul, the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi in 1986, and the City of Poros day-excursion ship attack in Greece in 1988. The ANO is suspected of assassinating PLO Deputy Chief Abu Iyad and PLO Security Chief Abu Hul in Tunis in 1991. In 2008, a Jordanian official reported the apprehension of an ANO member who planned to carry out attacks in Jordan. The ANO did not successfully carry out attacks in 2008.
Strength: Current strength is unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: The group is largely considered inactive, although former and possibly current ANO associates might be in Iraq and Lebanon.
External Aid: The ANO's current access to resources is unclear, but it is likely that the decline in state support has had a severe impact on its capabilities.
ABU SAYYAF GROUP
a.k.a. al Harakat al Islamiyya
Description: The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The ASG is a terrorist group operating in the southern Philippines. Some ASG leaders allegedly fought in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and are students and proponents of radical Islamic teachings. The group split from the much larger Moro National Liberation Front in the early 1990s under the leadership of Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, who was killed in a clash with Philippine police in December 1998. His younger brother, Khadaffy Janjalani, replaced him as the nominal leader of the group. In September 2006, Janjalani was killed in a gun battle with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Radullah Sahiron is assumed to be the new ASG leader.
Activities: The ASG engages in kidnappings for ransom, bombings, beheadings, assassinations, and extortion. The group's stated goal is to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, areas in the southern Philippines heavily populated by Muslims, but the ASG primarily has used terrorist for financial profit. Recent bombings may herald a return to a more radical, politicized agenda, at least among certain factions. In 2006, the Armed Forces of the Philippines began "Operation Ultimatum," a sustained campaign that disrupted ASG forces in safe havens on Jolo Island in the Sulu archipelago, and resulted in the killing of ASG leader Khadaffy Janjalani in September 2006 and his deputy, Abu Solaiman in January 2007. In July 2007, the ASG, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) engaged a force of Philippine marines on Basilan Island, killing fourteen, ten of which were beheaded.
The group's first large-scale action was a raid on the town of Ipil in Mindanao in April 1995. In April 2000, an ASG faction kidnapped 21 persons, including ten Western tourists, from a resort in Malaysia. In May 2001, the ASG kidnapped three U.S. citizens and 17 Filipinos from a tourist resort in Palawan, Philippines. Several of the hostages, including U.S. citizen Guillermo Sobero, were murdered. A Philippine military hostage rescue operation in June 2002 freed U.S. hostage Gracia Burnham, but her husband Martin Burnham, also a U.S. national, and Filipina Deborah Yap were killed.
U.S. and Philippine authorities blamed the ASG for a bomb near a Philippine military base in Zamboanga in October 2002 that killed a U.S. serviceman. In February 2004, Khadaffy Janjalani's faction bombed SuperFerry 14 in Manila Bay, killing 132. In March 2004, Philippine authorities arrested an ASG cell whose bombing targets included the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The ASG also claimed responsibility for the 2005 Valentine's Day bombings in Manila, Davao City, and General Santos City, which killed eight and injured more than 150. In November 2007, a motorcycle bomb exploded outside the Philippines Congress, killing a congressman and three staff members. While there was no definitive claim of responsibility, three suspected ASG members were arrested during a subsequent raid on a safe house.
Strength: ASG is estimated to have 200 to 500 members.
Location/Area of Operation: The ASG was founded in Basilan Province and operates primarily in the provinces of the Sulu Archipelago, namely Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. The group also operates on the Zamboanga peninsula, and members occasionally travel to Manila. In mid-2003, the group started operating in Mindanao's city of Cotobato and on the provincial coast of Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao. The ASG was expelled from Mindanao proper by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in mid-2005. The group expanded its operational reach to Malaysia in 2000 with the abduction of foreigners from a tourist resort there.
External Aid: The ASG is funded through acts of ransom and extortion, and receives funding from both regional terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiya (JI), which is based mainly in Indonesia, and Middle Eastern Islamic extremists. In October 2007, the ASG appealed for funds and recruits on YouTube by featuring a video of the Janjalani brothers before they were killed.
AL-AQSA MARTYRS BRIGADE
a.k.a. al-Aqsa Martyrs Battalion
Description: The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade consists of loose cells of Palestinian militants loyal to, but not under the direct control of, the secular-nationalist Fatah movement. Al-Aqsa emerged at the outset of the 2000 Palestinian al-Aqsa intifada as a militant offshoot of the Fatah party, attacking Israeli military targets and settlers with the aim of driving Israel from the West Bank and Gaza and establishing a Palestinian state. Al-Aqsa has no central leadership; the cells operate with autonomy, although they remained ideologically loyal to Palestinian Authority (PA) President and Fatah party head Yassir Arafat until his death in November 2004.
Activities: Al-Aqsa initially focused on small arms attacks against Israeli military personnel and settlers in the West Bank. In 2002, however, the group began to conduct suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. Al-Aqsa suspended most anti-Israel attacks as part of the broader unilateral Palestinian ceasefire agreement during 2004 but resumed them following HAMAS's January 2006 victory in Palestinian Legislative Council elections. Al-Aqsa members continued the anti-Israeli and intra-Palestinian violence that contributed to the overall chaotic security environment in the Palestinian territories. In 2008, the majority of al-Aqsa attacks were rocket and mortar attacks into southern Israel from HAMAS-ruled Gaza. Israel agreed to extend a conditional pardon to 300 West Bank al-Aqsa members, but did not expand the program to the rest of the organization. Al-Aqsa has not targeted U.S. interests as a policy, although its anti-Israeli attacks have killed some dual U.S.-Israeli citizens.
Strength: Current strength is unknown, but most likely numbers a few hundred.
Location/Area of Operation: Al-Aqsa operates mainly in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and has conducted attacks inside Israel and Gaza. The group also has members in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
External Aid: Iran has exploited al-Aqsa's lack of resources and formal leadership by providing funds and other aid, mostly through Hizballah facilitators.
A.K.A. The Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin, al-Shabab, Shabaab, the Youth, Mujahidin al-Shabaab Movement, Mujahideen Youth Movement, Mujahidin Youth Movement
Description: Al-Shabaab was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on February 29, 2008. Al-Shabaab is the militant wing of the former Somali Islamic Courts Council that took over most of southern Somalia in the second half of 2006. In December 2006 and January 2007, Somali government and Ethiopian forces routed the Islamic Court militias in a two-week war. Since the end of 2006, al-Shabaab and disparate clan militias led a violent insurgency, using guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics against the Ethiopian presence in Somalia and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers.
Activities: Al-Shabaab has used intimidation and violence to undermine the Somali government and regularly kills activists working to bring about peace through political dialogue and reconciliation. The group has claimed responsibility for several high profile bombings and shootings in Mogadishu targeting Ethiopian troops and Somali government officials. It has been responsible for the assassination of numerous civil society figures, government officials, and journalists. Al-Shabaab fighters or those who have claimed allegiance to the group have also conducted violent attacks and targeted assassinations against international aid workers and nongovernmental aid organizations.
Location/Area of Operation: The majority of Ethiopian troops left Somalia in late January and the subsequent security vacuum in parts of central and southern Somalia has led divergent factions to oppose al-Shabaab and its extremist ideology. However, hardcore al-Shabaab fighters and allied militias continue to conduct brazen attacks in Mogadishu and outlying environs, primarily in lower-Somalia. After al-Shabaab’s leaders publicly ordered their fighters to attack African Union (AU) peace-keeping troops based in Mogadishu, a suicide vehicle bomber detonated near an AU base in the capital on January 24, 2008, killing an estimated 13 people.
Strength: Precise numbers are unknown, however some of al-Shabaab’s senior leaders are affiliated with al-Qa‘ida (AQ) operatives, and it is believed that specific al-Shabaab members have previously trained and fought with AQ in Afghanistan. Al-Shabaab has issued statements praising Usama Bin Ladin and linking Somalia jihadists to AQ’s global ideology.
External Aid: Al-Shabaab receives significant donations from the global Somali diaspora. It also raises funds in Somalia.
a.k.a. Ansar al-Sunna; Ansar al-Sunna Army; Devotees of Islam; Followers of Islam in Kurdistan; Helpers of Islam; Jaish Ansar al-Sunna; Jund al-Islam; Kurdish Taliban; Kurdistan Supporters of Islam; Partisans of Islam; Soldiers of God; Soldiers of Islam; Supporters of Islam in Kurdistan
Description: Ansar al-Islam (AI) is a Salafi terrorist group whose goals include expelling the U.S.-led Coalition from Iraq and establishing an independent Iraqi state based on Sharia law. AI was established in 2001 in Iraqi Kurdistan with the merger of two Kurdish extremist factions that traced their roots to the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan. In a probable effort to appeal to the broader Sunni jihad and expand its support base, AI changed its name to Ansar al-Sunna in 2003, in a bid to unite Iraq-based extremists under the new name. In December 2007, it changed its name back to Ansar al-Islam. AI has ties to the al-Qa’ida (AQ) central leadership and to al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI). Although AI did not join the AQI-dominated "Islamic State of Iraq", relations between AI and AQI have greatly improved and efforts to merge the groups are ongoing. Some members of AI trained in AQ camps in Afghanistan, and the group provided safe haven to affiliated terrorists before Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Since OIF, AI has become the second-most prominent group engaged in anti-Coalition attacks in Iraq behind AQI and has maintained a strong propaganda campaign.
Activities: AI continued to conduct attacks against a wide range of targets including Coalition Forces, the Iraqi government and security forces, and Kurdish and Shia figures. AI has claimed responsibility for many high profile attacks in 2007, including the execution-style killing of nearly two dozen Yazidi civilians in Mosul in reprisal for the stoning death of a Muslim convert in April, the car-bombing of a police convoy in Kirkuk in July, the suicide bombing of Kurdistan Democratic Party offices in Khursbat in October, and numerous kidnappings, executions, and assassinations.
Strength: Precise numbers are unknown. AI is one of the largest Sunni terrorist groups in Iraq.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily northern Iraq, but maintains a presence in western and central Iraq.
External Aid: AI receives assistance from a loose network of associates in Europe and the Middle East.
ARMED ISLAMIC GROUP
a.k.a. GIA, al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah al-Musallah, Groupement Islamique Arme
Description: The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) aims to overthrow the Algerian regime and replace it with a state governed by Sharia law. The GIA began its violent activity in 1992 after the military government suspended legislative elections in anticipation of an overwhelming victory by the Islamic Salvation Front, the largest Algerian Islamic opposition party.
Activities: The GIA engaged in attacks against civilians and government workers. The group began conducting a terrorist campaign of civilian massacres in 1992, sometimes wiping out entire villages and killing tens of thousands of Algerians, alienating itself from the Algerian populace. Since announcing its campaign against foreigners living in Algeria in 1992, the GIA killed more than 100 expatriate men and women, mostly Europeans, in the country. Almost all of the GIA's members have now joined other Islamist groups or have been killed or captured by the Algerian government. The Algerian government's September 2005 reconciliation program led to an increase in the number of GIA terrorist suspects who surrendered to security forces. Algerian press continues to report attacks local people attribute to the GIA, but the most recent significant attacks known to be perpetrated by the GIA occurred in August 2001. After the arrest of the GIA's last known emir and subsequent counterterrorism operations, the Algerian government declared that the GIA network was almost entirely broken up.
Strength: Precise numbers are unknown, but the group continues to decline.
Location/Area of Operation: Algeria
External Aid: Unknown.
Description: Asbat al-Ansar was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002. Asbat al-Ansar is a Lebanon-based Sunni extremist group composed primarily of Palestinians with links to the al-Qa’ida (AQ) organization and other Sunni extremist groups. Some of the group's goals include thwarting perceived anti-Islamic and pro-Western influences in the country.
Activities: Asbat al-Ansar maintains close ties with the AQ network. Its base of operations is located in the Ain al-Hilwah Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon. Asbat al-Ansar has recently been reluctant to involve itself in operations in Lebanon due in part to concerns over losing its safe haven in Ain al-Hilwah. Various extremist web forums criticized Asbat al-Ansar for its failure to support fellow Sunni extremist group Fatah al-Islam (FAI) during the Lebanese Armed Forces campaign in summer 2007. That campaign forced FAI out of Nahr al-Barid refugee camp in northern Lebanon, and severely damaged the group.
Members of Asbat al-Ansar were believed responsible for a Katyusha rocket attack on the Galilee region of Israel in December 2005. Asbat al-Ansar operatives have been involved in fighting Coalition Forces in Iraq since at least 2005 and several members of the group have been killed in anti-Coalition operations. Al-Sa'di was working in cooperation with Abu Muhammad al-Masri, the head of AQ at the Ain al-Hilwah refugee camp, where fighting has occurred between Asbat al-Ansar and Fatah elements. In 2007, Asbat al-Ansar remained focused on supporting jihad in Iraq and planning attacks against UNIFIL, Lebanese security forces, and U.S. and Western interests. Asbat al-Ansar-associated elements were implicated in the June 17, 2007 Katyusha rocket attack against northern Israel.
Asbat al-Ansar first emerged in the early 1990s. In the mid-1990s the group assassinated Lebanese religious leaders and bombed nightclubs, theaters, and liquor stores. It was involved in clashes in northern Lebanon in December 1999, and carried out a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the Russian Embassy in Beirut in January 2000. Asbat al-Ansar's leader, Ahmad Abd al-Karim al-Sa'di, a.k.a. Abu Muhjin, remains at large despite being sentenced to death in absentia for the 1994 murder of a Muslim cleric. In September 2004, operatives with links to the group were allegedly involved in planning terrorist operations targeting the Italian Embassy, the Ukrainian Consulate General, and Lebanese government offices. In October 2004, Mahir al-Sa'di, a member of Asbat al-Ansar, was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for his 2000 plot to assassinate then U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, David Satterfield.
Strength: The group commands between 100 and 300 fighters in Lebanon. Its named leader is Ahmad Abd al-Karim al-Sa'di.
Location/Area of Operation: The group's primary base of operations is the Ain al-Hilwah Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon in southern Lebanon.
External Aid: It is likely the group receives money through international Sunni extremist networks.
a.k.a. A.I.C. Comprehensive Research Institute; A.I.C. Sogo Kenkyusho; Aleph; Aum Supreme Truth
Description: Aum Shinrikyo was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Shoko Asahara established Aum Shinrikyo (Aum) in 1987, and the cult received legal status as a religious entity in 1989. Initially, Aum aimed to take over Japan and then the world, but over time it began to emphasize the imminence of the end of the world. Asahara predicted 1996, and 1999 to 2003, as likely dates and said that the United States would initiate Armageddon by starting World War III with Japan. The Japanese government revoked its recognition of Aum as a religious organization following Aum's deadly sarin gas attack in Tokyo in March 1995. In 1997, however, a government panel decided not to invoke the Operations Control Law to outlaw the group. A 1999 law authorized the Japanese government to maintain police surveillance over the group because of concerns that Aum might launch future terrorist attacks. In January 2000, under the leadership of Fumihiro Joyu, the chief of Aum's once thriving Moscow operation, Aum changed its name to Aleph and tried to distance itself from the violent and apocalyptic teachings of its founder. In late 2003, however, Joyu stepped down under pressure from members who wanted to return fully to the worship of Asahara. A growing divide between members supporting Joyu and Asahara emerged. In 2007, Joyu officially split and in May established a splinter group called Hikari No Wa, which is translated as ‘Circle of Light’ or ‘Ring of Light.’ Japanese authorities continued to monitor both Aum (now called Aleph) and Hikari No Wa.
Activities: In March 1995, Aum members simultaneously released the chemical nerve agent sarin on several Tokyo subway trains, killing 12 persons and causing up to 6,000 to seek medical treatment. Subsequent investigations by the Japanese government revealed the group was responsible for other mysterious chemical incidents in Japan in 1994, including a sarin gas attack on a residential neighborhood in Matsumoto that killed seven and hospitalized approximately 500. Japanese police arrested Asahara in May 1995, and in February 2004 authorities sentenced him to death for his role in the 1995 attacks. In September 2006, Asahara lost his final appeal against the death penalty.
Since 1997, the cult has recruited new members, engaged in commercial enterprises, and acquired property, although it scaled back these activities significantly in 2001 in response to a public outcry. In July 2001, Russian authorities arrested a group of Russian Aum followers who had planned to set off bombs near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo as part of an operation to free Asahara from jail and smuggle him to Russia.
Although Aum has not conducted a terrorist attack since 1995, concerns remain regarding their continued adherence to the violent teachings of founder Asahara that led them to perpetrate the sarin gas attack in Tokyo.
Strength: According to a study by the Japanese government issued in December 2008, current Aum Shinrikyo/Aleph membership in Japan is approximately 1,500 as well as approximately 200 in Russia, in addition to maintaining 30 facilities in 15 Prefectures, to include Tokyo and a few in Russia. At the time of the Tokyo subway attack, the group claimed to have as many as 40,000 members worldwide, including 9,000 in Japan and 30,000 members in Russia.
Location/Area of Operation: Aum's principal membership is located in Japan while a residual branch of about 300 followers live in Russia.
External Aid: None.
BASQUE FATHERLAND AND LIBERTY (ETA)
a.k.a. ETA, Askatasuna; Batasuna; Ekin; Euskal Herritarrok; Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna; Herri Batasuna; Jarrai-Haika-Segi; K.A.S.; XAKI
Description: Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) was founded in 1959 with the aim of establishing an independent homeland based on Marxist principles encompassing the Spanish Basque provinces of Vizcaya, Guipuzcoa, and Alava, the autonomous region of Navarra, and the southwestern French territories of Labourd, Basse-Navarre, and Soule. Spain and the EU both have listed ETA as a terrorist organization; in 2002 the Spanish Parliament banned the political party Batasuna, ETA's political wing, charging its members with providing material support to the terrorist group. In September 2008, Spanish courts in September also banned two other Basque independence parties with reported links to Batasuna.
Spanish and French prisons together are estimated to hold a total of more than 750 ETA members. In March 2006, days after claiming responsibility for a spate of roadside blasts in northern Spain that caused no injuries, ETA announced that it would implement a "permanent" cease-fire. On December 30, 2006, however, ETA exploded a massive car bomb that destroyed much of the covered parking garage outside the new Terminal Four of Madrid's Barajas International Airport. Two individuals killed in the blast became ETA's first fatalities in more than three years. The Spanish Government suspended talks with ETA and government officials later said political negotiations with the group had ended.
Activities: ETA primarily conducts bombings and assassinations. Targets are typically Spanish government officials, security and military forces, politicians, and judicial figures, but the group also has targeted journalists and tourist areas. The group is responsible for killing more than 800 and injuring thousands more since it began its lethal attacks in the late 1960s. Security service scrutiny and a public outcry after the Islamic extremist train bombings in Madrid in March 2004 have limited ETA's capability and willingness to inflict casualties. In February 2005, ETA detonated a car bomb in Madrid at a convention center where Spanish King Juan Carlos and then Mexican President Vicente Fox were scheduled to appear, wounding more than 20 people. ETA also detonated an explosive device at a stadium constructed as part of Madrid's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. There were no injuries in that attack. ETA’s late 2006 attack at Madrid's airport was the group's first fatal attack since March 2003.
ETA formally renounced its “permanent” cease-fire in June 2007 and three months later threatened a wave of attacks throughout Spain. By mid-2007, there were indications that the group may have expanded its logistical operations, such as renting vehicles, into Portugal. In October 2007, Spain and Portugal agreed to intensify their cooperation against ETA by establishing a joint counterterrorism team based in Lisbon.
In 2008, ETA continued to perpetrate attacks which resulted in casualties. In March 2008, just days before the national election, ETA fatally shot a former Spanish politician, Isaias Carrasco, outside his home in northern Spain. In May, a car bomb exploded outside a Civil Guard barracks in Legutiano, killing one policeman and wounding four others. In July, Eta was responsible for five bomb explosions in northern Spain, including four at popular seaside resorts. In September, a an ETA car bomb killed an army officer and injured several other people in the northern town of Santona. In October, ETA members conducted a car bomb attack at a university in Pamplona that injured more than one dozen people. The group also claimed responsibility for the December killing of Ignacio Uria, a leading Basque businessman, for failing to pay extortion money to ETA and for his construction company’s involvement in the building of high-speed train links in the Basque Country, which ETA opposes.
In 2008, French authorities apprehended ETA’s top three leaders, beginning in May with the arrest of Francisco Javier Lopez Pena (a.k.a. Thierry). In November, French police arrested Garikoitz Aspiazu (a.k.a. Txeroki), who is suspected of ordering a December 2006 car bombing at the Madrid airport. One month later, French police captured his alleged replacement, Aitzol Iriondo Yarza (a.k.a. Gurbitz).
Strength: ETA’s current strength is unknown as a result of the arrest of 365 ETA members in 2007 and 2008.
Location/Area of Operation: ETA operates primarily in the Basque autonomous regions of northern Spain and southwestern France, but has attacked Spanish and French interests elsewhere.
External Aid: ETA finances its activities primarily through bribery and extortion of Basque businesses. It has received training at various times in the past in Libya, Lebanon, and Nicaragua. Some ETA members have allegedly fled to Cuba and Mexico, while others reside in South America. ETA members have operated and been arrested in other European countries, including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, and Portugal.
COMMUNIST PARTY OF PHILIPPINES/NEW PEOPLE'S ARMY
a.k.a. CPP/NPA; Communist Party of the Philippines; the CPP; New People's Army; the NPA
Description: The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP/NPA) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on August 9, 2002. The military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA), is a Maoist group formed in March 1969 with the aim of overthrowing the government through protracted guerrilla warfare. Jose Maria Sison, the chairman of the CPP's Central Committee and the NPA's founder, reportedly directs CPP and NPA activity from the Netherlands, where he lives in self-imposed exile. Luis Jalandoni, a fellow Central Committee member and director of the CPP's overt political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), also lives in the Netherlands and has become a Dutch citizen. Although primarily a rural-based guerrilla group, the NPA has an active urban infrastructure to support its terrorist activities and at times uses city-based assassination squads.
In September 2007, Sison was briefly arrested in the Netherlands, but was released on a judge’s order a few days later. In November 2007, the Armed Forces of the Philippines announced the capture of Elizabeth Principe, a suspected member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Activities: The NPA primarily targets Philippine security forces, government officials, local infrastructure, and businesses that refuse to pay extortion, or "revolutionary taxes." The NPA charges politicians running for office in NPA-influenced areas for "campaign permits." The group opposes any U.S. military presence in the Philippines and has attacked U.S. military interests; it killed several U.S. service personnel before the U.S. base closures in 1992. The NPA claimed responsibility for the assassination of two congressmen, one from Quezon in May 2001 and one from Cagayan in June 2001, among other killings. Periodic peace talks with the Philippine government stalled after these incidents. In December 2005, the NPA publicly expressed its intent to target U.S. personnel if they were discovered in NPA operating areas.
Strength: Estimated at less than 9,000, a number significantly lower than its peak strength of approximately 25,000 in the 1980s.
Location/Area of Operations: The NPA operates in rural Luzon, Visayas, and parts of northern and eastern Mindanao. There are cells in Manila and other metropolitan centers.
External Aid: Unknown.
CONTINUITY IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY (CIRA)
a.k.a. Continuity Army Council; Continuity IRA; Republican Sinn Fein
Description: The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on July 13, 2004. CIRA is a terrorist splinter group formed in 1994 as the clandestine armed wing of Republican Sinn Fein, which split from Sinn Fein in 1986. "Continuity" refers to the group's belief that it is carrying on the original Irish Republican Army's (IRA) goal of forcing the British out of Northern Ireland. CIRA's aliases, Continuity Army Council and Republican Sinn Fein, are included in its FTO designation. CIRA cooperates with the larger Real IRA (RIRA).
Activities: CIRA has been active in Belfast and the border areas of Northern Ireland, where it has carried out bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, extortion, and robberies. On occasion, it has provided advance warning to police of its attacks. Targets have included the British military, Northern Ireland security forces, and Loyalist paramilitary groups. CIRA did not join the Provisional IRA in the September 2005 decommissioning and remains capable of effective, if sporadic, terrorist attacks. In early 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission reported that two splinter organizations, Óglaigh na hÉireann and Saoirse na hÉireann, were formed as a result of internal disputes within CIRA. In late 2006, CIRA members issued a list of up to 20 individuals they were targeting for paramilitary attacks, several of whom were wounded in subsequent shootings. Around the same time, CIRA claimed the firebomb attacks of B&Q home-supply stores, although RIRA also claimed such attacks. CIRA activity has largely decreased from previous levels seen in 2005.
By 2007, the group had become increasingly active in criminal activity in Northern Ireland and Ireland. In April 2007, following the discovery of an improvised mortar (direct-fire mode) adjacent to the railway line in Lurgan, three cira members were arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder, possession of explosives with intent to endanger life, and possession of articles for use in terrorism. The Independent Monitoring Commission, which was established to oversee the peace process, assessed that CIRA was responsible for both the June 2008 command detonated explosive device against a police patrol car and an August 2008 attempted rocket attack in Lisnaskea. In November 2008, CIRA publicly threatened to murder any Belfast Catholic community workers found to be cooperating with the police.
Strength: Membership is small, with possibly fewer than 50 hard-core activists. Police counterterrorist operations have reduced the group's strength.
Location/Area of Operation: Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. CIRA does not have an established presence in Great Britain.
External Aid: Suspected of receiving funds and arms from sympathizers in the United States. CIRA may have acquired arms and materiel from the Balkans, in cooperation with the Real IRA.
a.k.a. al-Gama'at; Egyptian al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya; GI, Islamic Gama'at, IG; Islamic Group, Egyptian Islamic Group
Description: Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Gama'a al-Islamiyya, once Egypt's largest militant groups, was active in the late 1970s, but is now a loosely organized network. Many of its members have renounced terrorism, although some have begun to work with or have joined al-Qa‘ida (AQ). The external wing, composed of mainly exiled members in several countries, maintains that its primary goal is to overthrow the Egyptian government and replace it with an Islamic state, though most of the group’s leadership have renounced violence as a means to do so. The IG announced a cease-fire in 1997 that led to a split into two factions: one, led by Mustafa Hamza, supported the cease-fire; the other, led by Rifa'i Taha Musa, called for a return to armed operations. The IG announced another ceasefire in March 1999, but its spiritual leader, Sheik Umar Abd al-Rahman, sentenced to life in prison in January 1996 for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and incarcerated in the United States, rescinded his support for the cease-fire in June 2000. IG has not conducted an attack inside Egypt since the 1997 Luxor attack, which killed 58 tourists and four Egyptians, and wounded dozens more. In February 1998, a senior member signed Usama bin Ladin's fatwa call for attacks against the United States.
In early 2001, Taha Musa published a book in which he attempted to justify terrorist attacks that cause mass casualties. Musa disappeared several months afterward and the United States has no information about his whereabouts. In March 2002, members of the group's historic leadership in Egypt declared the use of violence misguided and renounced its future use, prompting denunciations from much of the leadership abroad. The Egyptian government continued to release IG members from prison; approximately 900 were released in 2003 and most of the 700 persons released in 2004 at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan were IG members. In August 2006, Ayman al-Zawahiri announced that IG had merged with AQ, but the group’s Egypt-based leadership quickly denied this claim which ran counter to their reconciliation efforts.
Activities: Before the 1997 cease-fire, IG conducted armed attacks against Egyptian security and other government officials, Coptic Christians, and Egyptian opponents of Islamic extremism. After the cease-fire, the faction led by Taha Musa launched attacks on tourists in Egypt, most notably the 1997 Luxor attack. IG claimed responsibility for the June 1995 assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. IG was dormant in 2008.
Strength: At its peak, IG probably commanded several thousand hardcore members and a similar number of supporters. Security crackdowns following the 1997 attack in Luxor, the 1999 cease-fire, and post-September 11 security measures and defections to AQ have probably resulted in a substantial decrease in what is left of an organized group and its ability to conduct attacks.
Location/Area of Operation: The IG maintains an external presence in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. IG terrorist presence in Egypt is minimal due to the reconciliation efforts of former local members.
External Aid: AQ and Afghan militant groups provide support to members of the organization to carry out support on behalf of AQ. IG also may obtain some funding through various Islamic non-governmental organizations.
a.k.a. the Islamic Resistance Movement, Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya; Izz al-Din al Qassam Battalions; Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades; Izz al-Din al Qassam Forces; Students of Ayyash; Student of the Engineer; Yahya Ayyash Units; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Brigades; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Forces; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Battalions
Description: HAMAS was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. HAMAS includes military and political wings and was formed in late 1987 at the onset of the first Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The armed element, called the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, conducts anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings against civilian targets inside Israel. HAMAS also manages a broad, mostly Gaza-based network of "Dawa" or ministry activities that include charities, schools, clinics, youth camps, fund-raising, and political activities. A Shura council based in Damascus, Syria, sets overall policy. After winning Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006, HAMAS seized control of significant Palestinian Authority (PA) ministries, including the Ministry of Interior. HAMAS subsequently formed an expanded, overt militia called the Executive Force, subordinate to the Ministry. This force and other HAMAS cadres took control of Gaza in a military-style coup in June 2007, forcing Fatah forces to either leave Gaza or go underground.
Activities: Prior to 2005, HAMAS conducted numerous anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings, rocket launches, improvised-explosive device (IED) attacks, and shootings. HAMAS has not directly targeted U.S. interests, though the group makes little or no effort to avoid soft targets frequented by foreigners. The group curtailed terrorist attacks in February 2005 after agreeing to a temporary period of calm brokered by the PA, and ceased most violence after winning control of the PA legislature and cabinet in January 2006. After HAMAS staged a June 2006 attack on IDF soldiers near Kerem Shalom that resulted in two deaths and the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit, Israel took steps that severely limited the operation of the Rafah crossing. In June 2007, HAMAS took control of Gaza from the PA and Fatah in a military-style coup, leading to an international boycott and closure of Gaza borders. HAMAS has since dedicated the majority of its activity in Gaza to solidifying its control, hardening its defenses, tightening security, and conducting limited operations against Israeli military forces.
HAMAS fired rockets from Gaza into Israel in 2008 but focused more on mortar attacks targeting Israeli incursions. Additionally, other terrorist groups in Gaza fired rockets into Israel, most, presumably, with HAMAS support or acquiescence. Following the June 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip the majority of HAMAS activity has been directed at solidifying its control, including providing security and enforcing law and order. In June 2008, HAMAS agreed to a six-month cease-fire with Israel and temporarily halted all rocket attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip by arresting Palestinian militants and violators of the agreement. HAMAS fought a 23-day war with Israel from late December 2008 to January 2009, in an effort to break an international blockade on the Gaza Strip and force the openings of the international crossings. HAMAS’ failure to end its international isolation and open the borders could lead to future violent actions, but HAMAS appears, for now, to be focusing on a diplomatic solution.
Strength: HAMAS probably has several thousand operatives with varying degrees of skills in its armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, along with its reported 9,000-man Executive Force and tens of thousands of supporters and sympathizers.
Location/Area of Operation: HAMAS has an operational presence in every major city in the Palestinian territories and currently focuses its anti-Israeli attacks on targets in the West Bank and within Israel. HAMAS could potentially activate operations in Lebanon or resume terrorist operations in Israel. The group retains a cadre of leaders and facilitators that conducts diplomatic, fundraising, and arms-smuggling activities in Lebanon, Syria, and other states. HAMAS is also increasing its presence in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, probably with the mid-term goal of eclipsing Fatah’s long-time dominance of the camps and long-term goal of seizing control of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
External Aid: HAMAS receives some funding, weapons, and training from Iran. In addition, fundraising takes place in the Persian Gulf countries, but the group also receives donations from Palestinian expatriates around the world and private benefactors in Arab states. Some fundraising and propaganda activity takes place in Western Europe and North America.
HARAKAT UL-JIHAD-I-ISLAMI/BANGLADESH (HUJI-B)
a.k.a. Harakat ul Jihad e Islami Bangladesh; Harkatul Jihad al Islam; Harkatul Jihad; Harakat ul Jihad al Islami; Harkat ul Jihad al Islami; Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami; Harakat ul Jihad Islami Bangladesh; Islami Dawat-e-Kafela; IDEK
Description: Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 5, 2008. HUJI-B was formed in April 1992 by a group of former Bangladeshi Afghan veterans to establish an Islamic social system based on the “Medina Charter.” The group was banned by Bangladeshi authorities in October 2005. In May 2008, HUJI-B members formed a new organization, the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP). In November, government authorities rejected their application for registering as a party that could participate in elections. HUJI-B has connections to the Pakistani militant groups Harakat ul-Jihad-Islami (HUJI) and Harakat ul-Mujahedin (HUM), which advocate similar objectives in Pakistan, Jammu, and Kashmir. The leaders of HUJI-B and HUM both signed the February 1998 fatwa sponsored by Usama bin Ladin that declared American civilians to be legitimate targets for attack.
Activities: HUJI-B may be responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in India, including an October 2008 attack in a shopping area in Agartala, Tripura that killed three and wounded over 100 people. The Agartala attack may have been conducted jointly with a local Indian separatist group. HUJI-B has trained and fielded operatives in Burma to fight on behalf of the Rohingya, an Islamic minority group. Three HUJI-B members were convicted in December 2008 for the grenade attack on the British High Commissioner in May 2004 in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Bangladeshi courts issued warrants in December 2008 for the arrest of eight HUJI-B members for the bombing at a festival in April 2001 that killed 10 and injured scores of people. In May, Indian police arrested HUJI-B militant Mohammad Iqbal, a.k.a. Abdur Rehman, who was charged with plotting attacks in Delhi, India. HUJI-B and its detained leader, Mufti Hannan, are also suspected in a 2000 assassination attempt on Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Strength: HUJI-B leaders have claimed up to 400 members are Afghan war veterans, but its total membership is unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: The group operates primarily in Bangladesh, India, and Burma. HUJI-B has a network of madrassas and conducts trainings in Bangladesh.
External Aid: HUJI-B funding comes from a variety of sources. Several international Islamic NGOs such as the South African-based Servants of Suffering Humanity may have funneled money to HUJI-B and other Bangladeshi militant groups. HUJI-B also can draw funding from local militant madrassa leaders and teachers.
HARAKAT UL-MUJAHIDEEN (HUM)
a.k.a. HUM; Harakat ul-Ansar; HUA; Jamiat ul-Ansar
Description: Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. HUM, an Islamic militant group based in Pakistan, is politically aligned with the political party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam's Fazlur Rehman faction (JUI-F), and operates primarily in Kashmir. Reportedly under pressure from the Government of Pakistan, HUM's long-time leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil stepped down and was replaced by Dr. Badr Munir as the head of HUM in January 2005. Khalil has been linked to Usama bin Ladin, and his signature was found on Bin Ladin's fatwa in February 1998, calling for attacks on U.S. and Western interests. HUM operated terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan until Coalition air strikes destroyed them in autumn 2001. Khalil was detained by Pakistani authorities in mid-2004 and subsequently released in late December of the same year. In 2003, HUM began using the name Jamiat ul-Ansar (JUA). Pakistan banned JUA in November 2003.
Activities: HUM has conducted a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Kashmir. It is linked to the Kashmiri militant group al-Faran that kidnapped five Western tourists in Kashmir in July 1995; the five reportedly were killed later that year. HUM was responsible for the hijacking of an Indian airliner in December 1999 that resulted in the release of Masood Azhar, an important leader in the former Harakat ul-Ansar, who was imprisoned by India in 1994 and then founded Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) after his release. Ahmed Omar Sheik also was released in 1999 and was later convicted of the abduction and murder in 2002 of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.
Strength: HUM has several hundred armed supporters located in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan; India's southern Kashmir and Doda regions; and in the Kashmir valley. Supporters are mostly Pakistanis and Kashmiris, but also include Afghans and Arab veterans of the Afghan war. HUM uses light and heavy machine guns, assault rifles, mortars, explosives, and rockets. When JEM was founded in 2000, HUM lost a significant share of its membership in defections to the JEM.
Location/Area of Operation: Based in Muzaffarabad, Rawalpindi, and several other cities in Pakistan, HUM conducts insurgent and terrorist operations primarily in Kashmir, but members have also been found operating in Afghanistan. HUM trains its militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
External Aid: HUM collects donations from both wealthy and grassroots donors in Pakistan, Kashmir, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf and Islamic states. HUM's financial collection methods include soliciting donations in magazine ads and pamphlets. The sources and amount of HUM's military funding are unknown. Its overt fundraising in Pakistan has been constrained since the government clampdown on extremist groups and the freezing of terrorist assets.
a.k.a. the Party of God; Islamic Jihad; Islamic Jihad Organization; Revolutionary Justice Organization; Organization of the Oppressed on Earth; Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine; Organization of Right Against Wrong; Ansar Allah; Followers of the Prophet Muhammed
Description: Hizballah was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Formed in 1982, in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, this Lebanese-based radical Shia group takes its ideological inspiration from the Iranian revolution and the teachings of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. The group generally follows the religious guidance of Khomeini's successor, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Hizballah is closely allied with Iran and often acts at its behest, though it also acts independently. Although Hizballah does not share the Syrian regime's secular orientation, the group has helped Syria advance its political objectives in the region. The Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council, is the group's highest governing body and has been led by Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah since 1992. Hizballah remains the most technically-capable terrorist group in the world. It has strong influence in Lebanon's Shia community, which comprises about one-third of Lebanon's population. The Lebanese government and the majority of the Arab world, still recognize Hizballah as a legitimate "resistance group" and political party. Hizballah has 14 elected officials in the 128-seat Lebanese National Assembly and is represented in the Cabinet by the Labor Minister, Mohammed Fneish. After the group’s May 2008 armed takeover of West Beirut, which resulted in over 60 deaths, the Hizballah-led opposition negotiated to obtain sufficient representation in the cabinet providing it veto power over government decisions.
Hizballah has reduced its overt military presence in southern Lebanon in accordance with UNSCR 1701, although it likely maintains weapons caches in the area patrolled by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, in contravention of UNSCR 1701. It justifies its continued armed status by claiming to defend Lebanon against acts of Israeli aggression and citing unresolved territorial claims, such as the Sheba’a farms, which is legally considered part of the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Hizballah provides support to several Palestinian terrorist organizations, as well as a number of local Christian and Muslim militias in Lebanon. This support includes the covert provision of weapons, explosives, training, funding, and guidance, as well as overt political support.
After the February 2008 killing in Damascus of Imad Mughniyah, the Hizballah terrorist and military chief suspected of involvement in many of these attacks, senior Hizballah officials have repeatedly made public statements blaming Israel for the killing and vowing retaliation.
Activities: Hizballah is known to have been involved in numerous anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli terrorist attacks; prior to September 11, 2001, it was responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist group. In July 2006, Hizballah attacked an Israeli Army patrol, kidnapping two soldiers and killing three, starting a conflict with Israel that lasted into August. Since at least 2004, Hizballah has provided training to select Iraqi Shia militants, including the construction and use of shaped charge IEDs that can penetrate heavily-armored vehicles, which it developed in southern Lebanon in the late 1990s. A senior Hizballah operative, Ali Mussa Daqduq, was captured in Iraq in 2007 while facilitating Hizballah training of Iraqi Shia militants.
Hizballah’s terrorist attacks have included the suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in 1984, and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which a U.S. Navy diver was murdered. Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping, detention, and murder of Americans and other Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s. Hizballah also was implicated in the attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires in 1994. In 2000, Hizballah operatives captured three Israeli soldiers in the Sheba'a Farms area and kidnapped an Israeli non-combatant.
Strength: Thousands of supporters, several thousand members, and a few hundred terrorist operatives.
Location/Area of Operation: Operates in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon. Receives support from Lebanese Shia communities in Europe, Africa, South America, North America, and Asia. Much of the support from these communities is fundraising, although Hizballah can expect to receive logistic support if needed.
External Aid: Receives training, weapons, and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran, and diplomatic, political, and logistical support from Syria. Hizballah also receives funding from private donations and profits from legal and illegal businesses.
ISLAMIC JIHAD UNION (IJU)
a.k.a. Islomiy Jihod Ittihodi; formerly known as Islamic Jihad Group (IJG); al-Djihad al-Islami; Dzhamaat Modzhakhedov; Islamic Jihad Group of Uzbekistan; Jamiat al-Jihad al-Islami; Jamiyat; The Jamaat Mojahedin; The Kazakh Jama'at; The Libyan Society
Description: The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on June 17, 2005. The IJU is a Sunni extremist organization that splintered from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). They oppose secular rule in Uzbekistan and seek to replace it with a government based on Islamic law. They adhere to a radical Sunni extremist agenda.
Activities: IJU has claimed responsibility for attacks targeting Coalition forces in Afghanistan in 2008, including a March 2008 suicide attack against a U.S. military post purportedly carried out by a German-born Turk. In September 2007, German authorities disrupted an IJU plot by detaining three IJU operatives involved in the operation. Two of the three had attended IJU-run terrorist training camps in Pakistan and maintained communications with their Pakistani contacts after returning to Germany. The operatives had acquired large amounts of hydrogen peroxide and an explosives precursor that they stockpiled in a garage in southern Germany. The group had acquired large amounts of hydrogen peroxide for possible use in multiple car bomb attacks. The IJU subsequently claimed responsibility for the foiled attacks.
The IJU issued a statement in May 2005, fully supporting the armed attacks on Uzbek police and military personnel in Andijon, Uzbekistan, and called for the overthrow of the regime in Uzbekistan. The group first conducted attacks in March and April 2004 targeting police at several roadway checkpoints and a popular bazaar. These attacks killed approximately 47 people, including 33 terrorists, some of whom were suicide bombers. The IJU's claim of responsibility, which was posted to multiple militant Islamic websites, denounced the leadership of Uzbekistan. These attacks marked the first use of suicide bombers in Central Asia.
In July 2004, the group carried out near-simultaneous suicide bombings in Tashkent of the Uzbekistani Prosecutor General's office and the U.S. and Israeli Embassies. The IJU again claimed responsibility via an Islamic website and stated that martyrdom operations by the group would continue. The statement also indicated that the attacks were done in support of IJU's Palestinian, Iraqi, and Afghan brothers in the global insurgency. The date of the July attack corresponded with the trial of individuals arrested for their alleged participation in the March and April attacks.
Location/Area of Operation: IJU members are scattered throughout Central Asia, South Asia, and Europe.
External Aid: Unknown.
ISLAMIC MOVEMENT OF UZBEKISTAN
Description: The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 9, 2000. The IMU is a group of Islamic militants from Uzbekistan, other Central Asian states, and Europe. The IMU's goal is to overthrow the Uzbekistani regime and to establish an Islamic state in Uzbekistan. The IMU, under the leadership of Tohir Yoldashev, has embraced Usama bin Ladin's anti-Western ideology.
Activities: Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, the IMU has been predominantly occupied with attacks on U.S. and Coalition soldiers in Afghanistan, and has also been active in terrorist operations in Central Asia. Government authorities in Tajikistan arrested several IMU members in 2005. In November 2004, the IMU was blamed for an explosion in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh that killed one police officer and one terrorist. In May 2003, Kyrgyz security forces disrupted an IMU cell that was seeking to bomb the U.S. Embassy and a nearby hotel in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The IMU was responsible for explosions in Bishkek in December 2002 and Osh in May 2003 that killed eight people. The IMU primarily targeted Uzbekistani interests before October 2001 and is believed to have been responsible for several explosions in Tashkent in February 1999. In August 1999, IMU militants took four Japanese geologists and eight Kyrgyz soldiers hostage, and in August 2000, they took four U.S. mountain climbers hostage.
Strength: Approximately 500 members.
Location/Area of Operation: IMU militants are located in South Asia, Central Asia, and Iran. Their area of operation includes Afghanistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
External Aid: The IMU receives support from a large Uzbek Diaspora, Islamic extremist groups, and patrons in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia.
a.k.a. the Army of Mohammed; Mohammed’s Army; Tehrik ul-Furqaan; Khuddam-ul-Islam; Khudamul Islam; Kuddam e Islami
Description: Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 26, 2001. JEM is an Islamic extremist group based in Pakistan that was founded in early 2000 by Masood Azhar, a former senior leader of Harakat ul-Ansar, upon his release from prison in India. The group's aim is to unite Kashmir with Pakistan and it has openly declared war against the United States. It is politically aligned with the radical political party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam's Fazlur Rehman faction (JUI-F). Pakistan outlawed JEM in 2002. By 2003, JEM had splintered into Khuddam ul-Islam (KUI), headed by Azhar, and Jamaat ul-Furqan (JUF), led by Abdul Jabbar, who was released from Pakistani custody in August 2004. Pakistan banned KUI and JUF in November 2003.
Activities: JEM continued to operate openly in parts of Pakistan despite then President Musharraf's 2002 ban on its activities. The group was well-funded and was said to have tens of thousands of followers who supported attacks against Indian targets, the Pakistani government, and sectarian minorities. Since Masood Azhar's 1999 release from Indian custody in exchange for 155 hijacked Indian Airlines hostages, JEM has conducted many fatal terrorist attacks in the area.
JEM continued to claim responsibility for several suicide car bombings in Kashmir, including an October 2001 suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly building in Srinagar that killed more than 30 people. The Indian government has publicly implicated JEM, along with Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LT), for the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament that killed nine and injured 18. Pakistani authorities suspect that JEM members may have been involved in the 2002 anti-Christian attacks in Islamabad, Murree, and Taxila that killed two Americans. In December 2003, Pakistan implicated elements of JEM in the two assassination attempts against President Musharraf. In July 2004, Pakistani authorities arrested a JEM member wanted in connection with the 2002 abduction and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl. In 2006, JEM claimed responsibility for a number of attacks, including the killing of several Indian police officials in the Indian-administered Kashmir capital of Srinagar.
Strength: JEM has at least several hundred armed supporters, including a large cadre of former HUM members, located in Pakistan, in India's southern Kashmir and Doda regions, and in the Kashmir Valley. Supporters are mostly Pakistanis and Kashmiris, but also include Afghans and Arab veterans of the Afghan war. The group uses light and heavy machine guns, assault rifles, mortars, improvised explosive devices, and rocket-propelled grenades.
Location/Area of Operation: Pakistan and Kashmir. Prior to autumn 2001, JEM maintained training camps in Afghanistan.
External Aid: Most of JEM's cadre and material resources have been drawn from the Pakistani militant groups Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI-B) and the Harakat ul-Mujahadin (HUM). In anticipation of asset seizures by the Pakistani government, JEM withdrew funds from bank accounts and invested in legal businesses, such as commodity trading, real estate, and production of consumer goods. In addition, JEM collects funds through donation requests in magazines and pamphlets, and allegedly from al-Qa’ida.
JEMAAH ISLAMIYA (JI)
Description: Jemaah Islamiya (JI) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 23, 2002. Southeast Asia-based JI is a terrorist group that seeks the establishment of an Islamic caliphate spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the southern Philippines. More than 300 JI operatives, including operations chief Hambali, have been captured since 2002, although many of these were subsequently released after serving short sentences, including former JI emir Abu Bakar Bashir. Abu Bakar was released from prison in 2006 after serving a 25-month sentence for his involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings. Indonesia’s Supreme Court later that year acquitted him of the charges. The death of top JI bomb maker Azahari bin Husin in 2005 and a series of high-profile arrests between 2005 and 2008, in combination with additional efforts by the Government of Indonesia, likely disrupted JI's anti-Western attacks that occurred annually from 2002-2005. These included the 2006 arrests of several close associates of senior JI operative Noordin Mat Top, the 2007 arrests of former acting JI emir Muhammad Naim (a.k.a. Zarkasih) and JI military commander Abu Dujana, the 2008 arrests of two senior JI operatives in Malaysia, and the mid-2008 arrest of a JI-linked cell in Sumatra.
Activities: The group's most recent high-profile attack occurred in Bali on October 1, 2005, which left 25 persons dead, including the three suicide bombers. Other major JI attacks included
the September 2004 bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the August 2003 bombing of the J. W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, and the October 2002 Bali bombing. The 2002 Bali attack, which killed more than 200, was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks since 9/11. In December 2001, Singaporean authorities uncovered a JI plot to attack the U.S. and Israeli Embassies, and British and Australian diplomatic buildings in Singapore. In December 2000, JI coordinated bombings of numerous Christian churches in Indonesia and was involved in the bombings of several targets in Manila. In February 2004, JI facilitated attacks in Manila, Davao, and General Santos City. JI associates in the Philippines provide operational support and training for indigenous Philippine Muslim violent extremists.
Strength: Exact numbers currently are unknown. Estimates of total JI members vary from the hundreds to one thousand.
Location/Area of Operation: JI is based in Indonesia and is believed to have cells in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
External Aid: Investigations indicate that JI is fully capable of its own fundraising, although it also has received financial, ideological, and logistical support from Middle Eastern contacts and non-governmental organizations.
a.k.a. Egyptian Islamic Jihad; Egyptian al-Jihad; New Jihad; Jihad Group
Description: In 2001, this Egyptian Islamic extremist group merged with al-Qa’ida (AQ). Usama bin Ladin's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was the former head of Al-Jihad (AJ). Active since the 1970s, AJ's primary goal has been the overthrow of the Egyptian government and the establishment of an Islamic state. The group's targets, historically, have been high-level Egyptian government officials as well as U.S. and Israeli interests in Egypt and abroad. Regular Egyptian crackdowns on extremists and Cairo’s deradicalization measures, such as its very successful reconciliation program aimed at imprisoned AJ members have greatly reduced AJ’s capabilities in Egypt.
Activities: The original AJ was responsible for the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. It claimed responsibility for the attempted assassinations in 1993 of Interior Minister Hassan al-Alfi and Prime Minister Atef Sedky. AJ has not conducted an attack inside Egypt since 1993 and has never successfully targeted foreign tourists there. The group was responsible for the Egyptian Embassy bombing in Islamabad in 1995 and a disrupted plot against the U.S. Embassy in Albania in 1998. AJ has not committed independent acts of terrorism since its merger with AQ in 2001.
Strength: Believed to have an indeterminate number of hard-core members outside Egypt.
Location/Area of Operation: Most AJ members today are outside Egypt in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, the United Kingdom, and Yemen. AJ activities have been centered outside Egypt for several years under the auspices of AQ.
KAHANE CHAI (KACH)
a.k.a. American Friends of the United Yeshiva; American Friends of Yeshivat Rav Meir; Committee for the Safety of the Roads; Dikuy Bogdim; DOV; Forefront of the Idea; Friends of the Jewish Idea Yeshiva; Jewish Legion; Judea Police; Judean Congress; Kach; Kahane; Kahane Lives; Kahane Tzadak; Kahane.org; Kahanetzadak.com; Kfar Tapuah Fund; Koach; Meir's Youth; New Kach Movement; Newkach.org; No'ar Meir; Repression of Traitors; State of Judea; Sword of David; The Committee Against Racism and Discrimination (CARD); The Hatikva Jewish Identity Center; The International Kahane Movement; The Jewish Idea Yeshiva; The Judean Legion; The Judean Voice; The Qomemiyut Movement; The Rabbi Meir David Kahane Memorial Fund; The Voice of Judea; The Way of the Torah; The Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea; Yeshivat Harav Meir
Description: Kahane Chai’s (Kach) stated goal was to restore the biblical state of Israel. Kach was founded by radical Israeli-American rabbi Meir Kahane. Its offshoot, Kahane Chai, (translation: "Kahane Lives") was founded by Meir Kahane's son Binyamin following his father's 1990 assassination in the United States. Both Kach and Kahane Chai were declared terrorist organizations in 1994 by the Israeli Cabinet under its 1948 Terrorism Law. This designation followed the groups' statements in support of Dr. Baruch Goldstein's attack in February 1994 on the Ibrahimi Mosque and their verbal attacks on the Israeli government. Palestinian gunmen killed Binyamin Kahane and his wife in a drive-by shooting in December 2000 in the West Bank. The group has attempted to gain seats in the Israeli Knesset over the past several decades, but has won only one seat, in 1984.
Activities: Kach has harassed and threatened Arabs, Palestinians, and Israeli government officials, and has vowed revenge for the death of Binyamin Kahane and his wife. Kach is suspected of involvement in a number of low-level attacks since the start of the al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000.
Location/Area of Operation: Israel and West Bank settlements, particularly Qiryat Arba' in Hebron.
External Aid: Receives support from sympathizers in the United States and Europe.
KURDISTAN WORKERS’ PARTY (PKK)
a.k.a. the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress; the Freedom and Democracy Congress of Kurdistan; KADEK; the Kurdistan Workers' Party; Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan; the People’s Defense Force; Halu Mesru Savunma Kuvveti (HSK); Kurdistan People’s Congress (KHK); People’s Congress of Kurdistan; KONGRA-GEL
Description: The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The PKK was founded by Abdullah Ocalan in 1978 as a Marxist-Leninist separatist organization. The group, composed primarily of Turkish Kurds, launched a campaign of violence in 1984. The PKK aspired to establish an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, but in recent years has spoken more often about autonomy within a Turkish state that guaranteed Kurdish cultural and linguistic rights.
In the early 1990s, the PKK moved beyond rural-based insurgent activities to include urban terrorism. In the 1990s, southeastern Anatolia was the scene of significant violence; some estimates place casualties at approximately 30,000 persons. Following his capture in 1999, Ocalan announced a "peace initiative," ordering members to refrain from violence and requesting dialogue with Ankara on Kurdish issues. Ocalan's death-sentence was commuted to life-imprisonment; he remains the symbolic leader of the group. The group foreswore violence until June 2004, when the group's hard-line militant wing took control and renounced the self-imposed cease-fire of the previous five years. Striking over the border from bases within Iraq the PKK engaged in terrorist attacks in eastern and western Turkey.
Activities: Primary targets have been Turkish government security forces, local Turkish officials, and villagers who oppose the organization in Turkey. The PKK’s reputed military wing, the People’s Defense Force (HPG), has been responsible mainly for attacks against military and paramilitary targets in the southeastern area of Turkey. The PKK’s reported urban terrorist arm, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) has attacked primarily tourist areas in Western Turkey, and in late February 2008, announced a new wave of terrorist actions against Turkey.
In an attempt to damage Turkey's tourist industry, the PKK has bombed tourist sites and hotels and kidnapped foreign tourists. In July, PKK operatives kidnapped three German tourists on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey in retaliation for Germany’s tough stance against the group. On October 3, PKK militants killed 15 Turkish soldiers at the Aktutun outpost on the Turkish-Iraqi border, and five days later the group killed several police officers and wounded 19 in an attack in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir.
Strength: Approximately 4,000 to 5,000; 3,000 to 3,500 are located in northern Iraq.
Location/Area of Operation: Operates primarily in Turkey, Iraq, Europe, and the Middle East.
External Aid: In the past, the PKK received safe haven and modest aid from Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Since 1999, Syria and Iran have cooperated in a limited fashion with Turkey against the PKK. In 2008, Turkey and Iraq began cooperating to fight the PKK. The group maintains a large extortion, fundraising, and propaganda network in Europe.
LASHKAR E-TAYYIBA (LT)
a.k.a. al Mansooreen; Al Mansoorian; Army of the Pure; Army of the Pure and Righteous; Army of the Righteous; Lashkar e-Toiba; Lashkar-i-Taiba; Paasban-e-Ahle-Hadis; Paasban-e-Kashmir; Paasban-i-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Kashmir; Jamaat-ud-Dawa, JUD; Jama’at al-Dawa; Jamaat ud-Daawa; Jamaat ul-Dawah; Jamaat-ul-Dawa; Jama’at-i-Dawat; Jamaiat-ud-Dawa; Jama’at-ud-Da’awah; Jama’at-ud-Da’awa; Jamaati-ud-Dawa; Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq
Description: Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LT) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 26, 2001. The group remains the prime suspect for the November 26 Mumbai attacks. LT is one of the largest and most proficient of the traditionally Kashmiri-focused militant groups. LT formed in the late 1980s or early 1990s as the militant wing of the Islamic extremist organization Markaz Dawa ul-Irshad (MDI), a Pakistan-based Islamic fundamentalist mission organization and charity founded to oppose the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. LT, which is not connected to any political party, is led by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Shortly after LT was designated as an FTO, Saeed changed the name to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and began humanitarian projects to avoid restrictions. LT functions and disseminates its message through JUD’s media outlets. Elements of LT and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JEM) combined with other groups to mount attacks as "The Save Kashmir Movement.” The Pakistani government banned the group and froze its assets in January 2002. LT and its leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, continued to spread ideology advocating terrorism, as well as virulent rhetoric condemning the United States, India, Israel, and other perceived enemies.
Activities: LT has conducted a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Jammu and Kashmir since 1993, as well as several high profile attacks inside India itself. LT claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in 2001, including an attack in January on Srinagar airport that killed five Indians; an attack on a police station in Srinagar that killed at least eight officers and wounded several others; and an attack in April 2007 against Indian border security forces that left at least four dead. The Indian government publicly implicated LT, along with JEM, for the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament building, although concrete evidence was lacking. LT is also suspected of involvement in the May 2002 attack on an Indian Army base in Kaluchak that left 36 dead. India blamed LT for an October 2005 attack in New Delhi and a December 2005 Bangalore attack. Senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) lieutenant Abu Zubaydah was captured at an LT safe house in Faisalabad in March 2002, which suggested that some members were facilitating the movement of AQ members in Pakistan. Indian governmental officials hold LT responsible for the July 11, 2006 train attack in Mumbai and several attacks since then in Hyderabad. In 2008, the Indian government assessed that LT was behind the November 26-28 attacks in Mumbai against luxury hotels, a Jewish center, a prominent train station, and a popular café that killed at least 183, including 22 foreigners, and injured over 300.
Strength: The actual size of the group is unknown but LT has several thousand members in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, in the southern Jammu and Kashmir and Doda regions, and in the Kashmir Valley. Most LT members are Pakistanis or Afghanis and/or veterans of the Afghan wars, though the group is alleged to augment its strength through collaboration with terrorist groups comprised of non-Pakistanis. The group uses assault rifles, light and heavy machine guns, mortars, explosives, and rocket-propelled grenades.
Location/Area of Operation: Based in Muridke (near Lahore) and Muzaffarabad, Pakistan; maintains a number of facilities, including training camps, schools, and medical clinics.
External Aid: Collects donations from the Pakistani expatriate communities in the Middle East and the United Kingdom, Islamic NGOs, and Pakistani and other Kashmiri business people. LT coordinates its charitable activities through its front organization Jamaat ud-Daawa (JUD), which spearheaded humanitarian relief to the victims of the October 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. The precise amount of LT funding is unknown.
LASHKAR I JHANGVI (LJ)
Description: Lashkar I Jhangvi (LJ) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 30, 2003. LJ is the militant offshoot of the Sunni Deobandi sectarian group Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan. LJ focuses primarily on anti-Shia attacks and was banned by then Pakistani President Musharraf in August 2001 as part of an effort to rein in sectarian violence. Many of its members then sought refuge in Afghanistan with the Taliban, with whom they had existing ties. After the collapse of the Taliban, LJ members became active in aiding other terrorists with safe houses, false identities, and protection in Pakistani cities, including Karachi, Peshawar, and Rawalpindi.
Activities: LJ specializes in armed attacks and bombings and has admitted responsibility for numerous killings of Shia religious and community leaders in Pakistan. In January, the Interior Ministry ordered the arrest of three LJ militants suspected of being involved in a suicide bombing at a Shia religious procession in Peshawar that killed 15 people. In February, police arrested 20 LJ militants wanted for various terrorism attacks in the Punjab and Sindh provinces. In June, Sindh authorities issued a statement attributing the April 2006 Mishtar Parking bombing in Karachi to a militant with ties to LJ. The Government of Pakistan claimed that the group was involved in the April 2006 assassination attempt and the July 2006 assassination of Allama Turabi, an influential Shia leader. In October 2008, Afghan security forces claimed to have arrested four Pakistani suicide bombers in Kandahar who asserted that they belonged to LJ.
In May 2006, Pakistani police arrested two LJ militants suspected of involvement in the March bombing outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi that killed one U.S. official. Pakistani authorities have publicly linked LJ members to the 2002 abduction and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl. Media reports linked LJ to attacks on Christian targets in Pakistan, including a March 2002 grenade assault on the Protestant International Church in Islamabad that killed two U.S. citizens, but no formal charges were filed. Pakistani authorities believe LJ was responsible for the July 2003 bombing of a Shia mosque in Quetta, Pakistan. Authorities also implicated LJ in several sectarian incidents in 2004, including the May and June bombings of two Shia mosques in Karachi that killed more than 40 people. In January 1999, the group attempted to assassinate former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shabaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab Province.
Strength: Probably fewer than 100.
Location/Area of Operation: LJ is active primarily in Punjab and Karachi. Some members travel between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
External Aid: Unknown.
LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE)
a.k.a. Ellalan Force; Tamil Tigers
Description: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Founded in 1976, the LTTE is a powerful Tamil secessionist group in Sri Lanka. The LTTE wants to establish an independent Tamil state in the island's north and east. Since the beginning of its insurgency against the Sri Lankan government in 1983, it has evolved its capability from terrorist and guerilla tactics to conventional warfare. Although the LTTE nominally committed to a 2002 cease-fire agreement with the Sri Lankan government, it continued terrorist attacks against government leaders and dissident Tamils.
Activities: LTTE has integrated a battlefield insurgent strategy with a terrorist program that targets key personnel in the countryside and senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders in Colombo and other urban centers. It has conducted a sustained campaign targeting rival Tamil groups and figures, and assassinated Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India in 1991, and President Ranasinghe Premadasa of Sri Lanka in 1993. Although most notorious for its cadre of suicide bombers, the Black Tigers, the organization also features an amphibious force, the Sea Tigers; and a nascent air wing, the Air Tigers. Fighting between the LTTE and the Sri Lanka government escalated in 2006 and continued through 2008. Open source reporting asserts the LTTE is believed to have detonated a claymore mine on a crowded bus near Colombo on June 6, 2008, killing 22 civilians and wounding more than 50 others. Political assassinations and bombings were commonplace tactics prior to the cease-fire and have increased again since mid-2005. Most LTTE attacks targeted Sri Lankan military and official personnel but, as illustrated by the June 6, 2008 bombing, the LTTE appears to continue to target civilians on occasion.
Strength: Exact strength is unknown, but LTTE is estimated to have 8,000 to 10,000 armed combatants in Sri Lanka, with an elite cadre of 5,000 to 7,000. LTTE also has a significant overseas support structure for fundraising, weapons procurement, and propaganda activities.
Location/Area of Operations: In June 2008, Sri Lankan government forces increased military operations against the LTTE capturing the Jaffna Peninsula and Kilinochchi, LTTE’s administrative center of operations, reducing LTTE’s control in Sri Lanka to a region around the northeastern town of Mullaitivu.
External Aid: The LTTE uses its international contacts and the large Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funding, and other needed supplies. The group employs charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for their activities.
LIBYAN ISLAMIC FIGHTING GROUP
Description: The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 17, 2004. In the early 1990s, LIFG emerged from the group of Libyans who had fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan and the Qadhafi regime in Libya, and declared Libyan President Muammar Qadhafi un-Islamic and pledged to overthrow him. In the years following, some members maintained a strictly anti-Qadhafi focus and targeted Libyan government interests. Others, such as Abu al-Faraj al-Libi, who in 2005 was arrested in Pakistan, aligned with Usama bin Ladin, and are believed to be part of the al-Qa’ida (AQ) leadership structure or active in the international terrorist network. On November 3, 2007, senior AQ leaders announced that LIFG had officially joined AQ.
Activities: Libyans associated with LIFG are part of the broader international terrorist movement. LIFG is one of the groups believed to have planned the Casablanca suicide bombings in May 2003. LIFG continued to target Libyan interests, and attempted to assassinate Qadhafi four times; the last attempt was in 1998. The LIFG engaged Libyan security forces in armed clashes during the 1990s. However, the LIFG has been largely operationally inactive in Libya since the late 1990s when members fled predominately to Europe and the Middle East because of tightened Libyan security measures. To date, the November 3, 2007 merger with AQ has not resulted in a significant increase in LIFG activities within Libya.
Strength: The LIFG probably has several hundred active members or supporters, mostly in the Middle East or Europe.
Location/Area of Operation: Since the late 1990s, many members have fled to various Asian, Arabian Gulf, African, and European countries, particularly the UK. It is likely that LIFG maintains a limited presence in eastern Libya.
External Aid: Unknown. The LIFG has used Islamic charitable organizations as cover for fundraising and transferring money and documents; it may have also financed operations with criminal activity.
MOROCCAN ISLAMIC COMBATANT GROUP
a.k.a. Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain (GICM)
Description: The Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 11, 2005. The GICM is a clandestine transnational terrorist group centered in the Moroccan Diaspora communities of Western Europe. Its goals include establishing an Islamic state in Morocco and supporting al-Qa’ida’s (AQ 's) war against the West by assisting in the assimilation of AQ operatives into Moroccan and European society. The group emerged in the 1990s and is composed of Moroccan recruits who trained in armed camps in Afghanistan, including some who fought in the Soviet Afghan war. GICM members interact with other North African extremists, particularly in Europe.
Activities: GICM members were among those responsible for the 2004 Madrid bombing, and Moroccans associated with the GICM are part of the broader international terrorist movement. GICM members were implicated in the recruitment network of individuals for Iraq, and at least one GICM member carried out a suicide attack against Coalition Forces in Iraq. GICM individuals are believed to have been involved in the 2003 Casablanca attacks.
Strength: Much of the GICM's leadership in Morocco and Europe has been killed, imprisoned, or are awaiting trial. Alleged leader Mohamed al-Guerbouzi was convicted in absentia by the Moroccan government for his role in the Casablanca attacks but remains free in exile in the UK.
Location/Area of Operation: Morocco, Western Europe, Afghanistan, and Canada.
External Aid: The GICM has been involved in narcotics trafficking in North Africa and Europe to fund its operations. Moroccan security officials believe money from drug trafficking largely financed the 2003 Casablanca attacks. The Madrid attacks were financed mainly by the narcotics trafficking of Moroccan terrorist Jamal Ahmidan.
MUJAHADIN-E KHALQ ORGANIZATION
a.k.a. MEK; MKO; Mujahadin-e Khalq (Iranian government name for group); Muslim Iranian Students' Society; National Council of Resistance; NCR; Organization of the People's Holy Warriors of Iran; the National Liberation Army of Iran; NLA; People's Mujahadin Organization of Iran; PMOI; National Council of Resistance of Iran; NCRI; Sazeman-e Mujahadin-e Khalq-e Iran
Description: The Mujahadin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) advocates the violent overthrow of the Iranian government and was responsible for the assassination of several U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970s. The MEK’s armed wing is known as the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA). In December 2008, the European Court of First Instance annulled the European Union’s designation of the MEK as a terrorist organization.
The MEK emerged in the 1960s as one of the more violent political movements opposed to the Pahlavi dynasty and its close relationship with the United States. MEK ideology has gone through several iterations and blends elements of Marxism, Islam, and feminism. The group has planned and executed terrorist operations against the Iranian government for nearly three decades from its European and Iraqi bases of operations. Additionally, it has expanded its fundraising base, further developed its paramilitary skills, and aggressively worked to expand its European ranks. In addition to its terrorist credentials, the MEK has also displayed cult-like characteristics.
Upon entry into the group, new members are indoctrinated in MEK ideology and revisionist Iranian history. Members are also required to undertake a vow of "eternal divorce" and participate in weekly "ideological cleansings." Additionally, children are reportedly separated from parents at a young age. MEK leader Maryam Rajavi has established a "cult of personality." She claims to emulate the Prophet Muhammad and is viewed by members as the "Iranian President in exile."
Activities: The group's worldwide campaign against the Iranian government uses propaganda and terrorism to achieve its objectives and has been supported by reprehensible regimes, including that of Saddam Hussein. During the 1970s, the MEK assassinated several U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilians working on defense projects in Tehran and supported the violent takeover in 1979 of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
In 1981, MEK leadership attempted to overthrow the newly installed Islamic regime; Iranian security forces subsequently initiated a crackdown on the group. The MEK instigated a bombing campaign, including an attack against the head office of the Islamic Republic Party and the Prime Minister's office, which killed some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials, including Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar. These attacks resulted in a popular uprising against the MEK and an expanded Iranian government crackdown which forced MEK leaders to flee to France. For five years, the MEK continued to wage its terrorist campaign from its Paris headquarters. Expelled by France in 1986, MEK leaders turned to Saddam Hussein's regime for basing, financial support, and training. Near the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, Baghdad armed the MEK with heavy military equipment and deployed thousands of MEK fighters in suicidal, mass wave attacks against Iranian forces.
The MEK's relationship with the former Iraqi regime continued through the 1990s. In 1991, the group reportedly assisted the Iraqi Republican Guard's bloody crackdown on Iraqi Shia and Kurds who rose up against Saddam Hussein's regime. In April 1992, the MEK conducted near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and installations in 13 countries, demonstrating the group's ability to mount large-scale operations overseas. In April 1999, the MEK targeted key Iranian military officers and assassinated the deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff, Brigadier General Ali Sayyaad Shirazi.
In April 2000, the MEK attempted to assassinate the commander of the Nasr Headquarters, Tehran's interagency board responsible for coordinating policies on Iraq. The pace of anti-Iranian operations increased during "Operation Great Bahman" in February 2000, when the group launched a dozen attacks against Iran. One attack included a mortar attack against a major Iranian leadership complex in Tehran that housed the offices of the Supreme Leader and the President. In 2000 and 2001, the MEK was involved in regular mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids against Iranian military and law enforcement personnel, as well as government buildings near the Iran-Iraq border. Also in 2001, the FBI arrested seven Iranians in the United States who funneled $400,000 to an MEK-affiliated organization in the UAE, which used the funds to purchase weapons. Following an initial Coalition bombardment of the MEK's facilities in Iraq at the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, MEK leadership negotiated a cease-fire with Coalition Forces and voluntarily surrendered their heavy-arms to Coalition control. Since 2003, roughly 3,400 MEK members have been encamped at Ashraf in Iraq.
In 2003, French authorities arrested 160 MEK members at operational bases they believed the MEK was using to coordinate financing and planning for terrorist attacks. Upon the arrest of MEK leader Maryam Rajavi, MEK members took to Paris' streets and engaged in self-immolation. French authorities eventually released Rajavi. Although currently in hiding, Rajavi has made “motivational” appearances via video-satellite to MEK-sponsored conferences across the globe.
According to evidence which became available after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the MEK received millions of dollars in Oil-for-Food program subsidies from Saddam Hussein from 1999 through 2003. In addition to discovering 13 lists of recipients of such vouchers on which the MEK appeared, evidence linking the MEK to the former Iraqi regime includes lists, as well as video footage of both Saddam Hussein handing over suitcases of money to known MEK leaders, and of MEK operatives receiving training from the Iraqi military.
Strength: Estimates place MEK's worldwide membership at between 5,000 and 10,000 members, with large pockets in Paris and other major European capitals. In Iraq, roughly 3,400 MEK members are gathered at Camp Ashraf, the MEK's main compound north of Baghdad. As a condition of the 2003 cease-fire agreement, the MEK relinquished more than 2,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery. Between 2003–2006, a significant number of MEK personnel have voluntarily left Ashraf, and an additional several hundred individuals have renounced ties to the MEK and been voluntarily repatriated to Iran.
Location/Area of Operation: The MEK maintains its main headquarters in Paris and has concentrations of members across Europe, in addition to the large concentration of MEK located at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The MEK's global support structure remains in place, with associates and supporters scattered throughout Europe and North America. Operations target Iranian government elements across the globe, including in Europe and Iran. MEK's political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has a global support network with active lobbying and propaganda efforts in major Western capitals. NCRI also has a well-developed media communications strategy.
External Aid: Before Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003, the MEK received all of its military assistance and most of its financial support from Saddam Hussein. The fall of Saddam's regime has led MEK increasingly to rely on front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities.
NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY (ELN)
a.k.a. Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional
Description: The National Liberation Army (ELN) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The National Liberation Army (ELN) is a Colombian Marxist-Leninist terrorist group formed in 1964 by urban intellectuals inspired by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. It is primarily rural-based, although it also has several urban units. Peace talks between the ELN and the Colombian government began in Cuba in December 2005 and continued as recently as August 2007. To date, Bogota and the ELN have yet to agree on a formal framework for peace negotiations and talks have been indefinitely suspended. Suspensions have occurred before with talks subsequently resuming.
Activities: The ELN engages in kidnappings, hijackings, bombings, drug trafficking, and extortion activities. It has minimal conventional military capabilities. The group conducts kidnappings for ransom, often targeting foreign employees of large corporations, especially in the petroleum industry. On February 17, 2008, ELN rebels kidnapped a Radio Delfin journalist near Dibuya. It attacks energy infrastructure and has inflicted major damage on oil and natural gas pipelines and the electrical distribution network, but has lost much of its capacity to carry out these types of attacks in recent years. The ELN derives some revenue from taxation of the illegal narcotics industry, and its involvement may be increasing.
Strength: Approximately 2,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of active supporters.
Location/Area of Operation: Mostly in rural and mountainous areas of northern, northeastern, and southwestern Colombia, as well as Venezuelan border regions.
External Aid: Cuba provides some medical care and political consultation. In spite of this, Cuba appears to encourage the Colombian government and the ELN to reach an agreement.
PALESTINE LIBERATION FRONT- ABU ABBAS FACTION
a.k.a. PLF; PLF-Abu Abbas; Palestine Liberation Front
Description: The Palestinian Liberation Front – Abu Abbas Faction (PLF) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. In the late 1970s the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) splintered from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), and later split into pro-PLO, pro-Syrian, and pro-Libyan factions. The pro-PLO faction was led by Muhammad Zaydan (a.k.a. Abu Abbas) and was based in Baghdad prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Activities: Abbas's group was responsible for the 1985 attack on the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer. In 1993, the PLF officially renounced terrorism when it acknowledged the Oslo accords, although it was suspected of supporting terrorism against Israel by other Palestinian groups into the 1990s. In April 2004, Abu Abbas died of natural causes while in U.S. custody in Iraq. Current leadership and membership of the relatively small PLF appears to be based in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. The PLF took part in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentarian elections but did not win a seat. In 2008, as part of a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hizballah, Samir Kantar, a PLF member and purportedly the longest serving Arab prisoner in Israeli custody was released from an Israeli prison. After going approximately 16 years without claiming responsibility for an attack, PLF claimed responsibility for two attacks against Israeli targets on March 14, 2008, according to media reports. One attack was against an Israeli military bus in Huwarah, Israel, and the other involved a PLF “brigade” firing at an Israeli settler south of the Hebron Mountain, seriously wounding him. On March 28, 2008, shortly after the attacks, a PLF Central Committee member reaffirmed PLF’s commitment to using “all possible means to restore” its previous glory and to adhering to its role in the Palestinian “struggle” and “resistance,” through its military.
Strength: Estimates have placed membership between 50 and 500.
Location/Area of Operation: Based in Iraq from 1990 until 2003. The group currently is based in Lebanon and Syria.
External Aid: Unknown.
PALESTINE ISLAMIC JIHAD - SHAQAQI FACTION
a.k.a. PIJ; Palestine Islamic Jihad; PIJ-Shaqaqi Faction; PIJ-Shallah Faction; Islamic Jihad of Palestine; Islamic Jihad in Palestine; Abu Ghunaym Squad of the Hizballah Bayt Al-Maqdis; Al-Quds Squads; Al-Quds Brigades; Saraya Al-Quds; Al-Awdah Brigades
Description: The Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Formed by militant Palestinians in Gaza during the 1970s, PIJ is committed to both the creation of an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine, including present day Israel, and the destruction of Israel through attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets.
Activities: PIJ terrorists have conducted numerous attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings against Israeli civilian and military targets. PIJ continues to plan and direct attacks against Israelis both inside Israel and in the Palestinian territories. Although U.S. citizens have died in PIJ mounted attacks, the group has not directly targeted U.S. interests. PIJ attacks in 2008 have primarily been rocket attacks aimed at southern Israeli cities. In April 2008, alone, PIJ fired 216 rockets and mortar shells at various Israeli towns. In March 2008, two IDF soldiers died as a result of an explosive device detonated near their jeep while patrolling the security fence in the central Gaza Strip, near Kissufim. HAMAS and PIJ claimed responsibility for the attack.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. The group's senior leadership resides in Syria. Other leadership elements reside in Lebanon and official representatives are scattered throughout the Middle East.
External Aid: Receives financial assistance and training primarily from Iran. Syria provides the group with safe haven.
POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE
a.k.a. PFLP; Halhul Gang; Halhul Squad; Palestinian Popular Resistance Forces; PPRF; Red Eagle Gang; Red Eagle Group; Red Eagles; Martyr Abu-Ali Mustafa Battalion
Description: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The PFLP, a Marxist-Leninist group founded by George Habash, broke away from the Arab Nationalist Movement in 1967. The PFLP views the Palestinian struggle not as religious, but as a broader revolution against Western imperialism. The group earned a reputation for spectacular international attacks in the 1960s and 1970s, including airline hijackings that killed at least 20 U.S. citizens. A leading faction within the PLO, the PFLP has long accepted the concept of a two-state solution but has opposed specific provisions of various peace initiatives.
Activities: The PFLP stepped up its operational activity during the al-Aqsa intifada. This was highlighted by at least two suicide bombings since 2003, multiple joint operations with other Palestinian terrorist groups, and the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001 to avenge Israel's killing of the PFLP Secretary General earlier that year. In March 2006, the PFLP's current Secretary General, Ahmed Sa'adat, then imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority for his involvement in the Ze'evi assassination, was seized from the Jericho prison compound by Israeli forces and sentenced to 30 years in prison by an Israeli military court in December 2008. The PFLP was involved in several rocket attacks against Israel in 2008.
Location/Area of Operation: Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
External Aid: Receives safe haven and some logistical assistance from Syria.
POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE - GENERAL COMMAND
Description: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The PFLP-GC split from the PFLP in 1968, claiming it wanted to focus more on resistance and less on politics. Originally, the group was violently opposed to the Arafat-led PLO. Ahmad Jibril, a former captain in the Syrian Army whose son, Jihad, was killed by a car bomb in May 2002, has led the PFLP-GC since its founding. The PFLP-GC is closely tied to both Syria and Iran.
Activities: The PFLP-GC carried out dozens of attacks in Europe and the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s. The organization was known for cross-border terrorist attacks into Israel using unusual means, such as hot-air balloons and motorized hang gliders. The group's primary focus is now on supporting Hizballah’s attacks against Israel, training members of other Palestinian terrorist groups, and smuggling weapons. The PFLP-GC maintains an armed presence in several Palestinian refugee camps and at its own military bases in Lebanon and along the Lebanon-Syria border. The PFLP-GC has been implicated by Lebanese security officials in several rocket attacks against Israel in 2008. In May 2008, the PFLP-GC claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on a shopping center in Ashkelon, wounding at least ten people. A health clinic took the brunt of the attack.
Strength: Several hundred to several thousand.
Location/Area of Operation: Headquartered in Damascus with bases in southern Lebanon and a presence in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria.
External Aid: Receives logistical and military support from Syria and financial support from Iran.
Variant spelling al-Qa’ida; translation "The Base;" Qa'idat al-Jihad (The Base for Jihad); formerly Qa'idat Ansar Allah (The Base of the Supporters of God)
a.k.a. al Qaeda; the Islamic Army; Islamic Salvation Foundation; the Base; The Group for the Preservation of the Holy Sites; The Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places; the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders; the Usama Bin Laden Network; the Usama Bin Laden Organization; al-Jihad; the Jihad Group; Egyptian al-Jihad; Egyptian Islamic Jihad; New Jihad
Description: Al-Qa’ida (AQ) was established by Usama bin Ladin in 1988 with Arabs who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. The group helped finance, recruit, transport, and train Sunni Islamic extremists for the Afghan resistance. AQ’s near-term goal is uniting Muslims to fight the United States and its allies, overthrowing regimes it deems "non-Islamic," and expelling Westerners and non-Muslims from Muslim countries. Its ultimate goal is the establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate throughout the world. AQ leaders issued a statement in February 1998 under the banner of "The World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders" saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizens, civilian and military, and their allies everywhere. AQ merged with al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) in June 2001, renaming itself Qa’idat al-Jihad.
Activities: Even as AQ's top leaders continue to plot and direct terrorist attacks worldwide, terrorists affiliated with, but not necessarily controlled by AQ, have increasingly carried out high-profile attacks. AQ, its affiliates, and those inspired by the group were involved in anti-U.S. and anti-Coalition attacks in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, including suicide bombings and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.
Although bin Ladin remains the group’s ideological figurehead, Zawahiri has emerged as AQ’s strategic and operational planner.
AQ is assessed to be the top terrorist threat to the United States and is developing stronger operational relationships with affiliates in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. AQ remains committed to attacking the United States and focuses its planning on targets that would produce mass casualties, dramatic visual destruction, and economic dislocation.
In January 2008, militants attacked a convoy of Belgian tourists in Hadhramout, Yemen, killing two Belgian women and two Yemeni drivers. AQ claimed responsibility for the attack. In June 2008, a suicide car bomber attacked the Danish Embassy in Islamabad, killing six people, including a Danish citizen. The blast was so powerful that it damaged windowpanes of buildings in a four kilometer radius and left a three-foot crater at impact. In a press interview, an AQ commander in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack, on behalf of AQ.
The Government of Pakistan accused AQ, along with the Taliban, of being responsible for the October 2007 suicide bombing attempt against former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto that killed at least 144 people in Karachi, Pakistan. On December 27, 2007, the Government of Pakistan stated that Baitullah Mahsud, a leading Pakistani Taliban commander with close ties to AQ, was responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Bin Ladin's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri claimed responsibility on behalf of AQ for multiple attacks on July 7, 2005 against the London public transportation system. The extent of senior leadership involvement in planning the July 2005 attacks was unclear. Some suspects in the attacks included homegrown UK-based extremists who were “inspired” by AQ.
In 2003 and 2004, Saudi-based AQ operatives and associated extremists launched more than a dozen attacks, killing at least 90 people, including 14 Americans in Saudi Arabia. AQ may have been connected to the suicide bombers and planners of the November 2003 attacks in Istanbul that targeted two synagogues, the British Consulate, and the HSBC Bank, and resulted in the deaths of more than 60 people. Former Pakistani President Musharraf blamed AQ for two attempts on his life in December 2003.
In October 2002, AQ directed a suicide attack on the French tanker MV Limburg off the coast of Yemen that killed one and injured four. The group also carried out the November 2002 suicide bombing of a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya that killed 15. AQ probably provided financing for the October 2002 Bali bombings by Jemaah Islamiya that killed more than 200.
On September 11, 2001, 19 AQ members hijacked and crashed four U.S. commercial jets – two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon near Washington, DC, and a fourth into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania – leaving nearly 3,000 individuals dead or missing. In October 2000, AQ conducted a suicide attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen, with an explosive-laden boat, killing 17 U.S. Navy sailors and injuring 39. AQ also carried out the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killing at least 301 individuals and injuring more than 5,000 others. AQ and its supporters claim to have shot down U.S. helicopters and killed U.S. servicemen in Somalia in 1993, and to have conducted three bombings that targeted U.S. troops in Aden in December 1992.
Strength: AQ's organizational strength is difficult to determine in the aftermath of extensive counterterrorist efforts since 9/11. The arrests and deaths of mid-level and senior AQ operatives have disrupted some communication, financial, and facilitation nodes and disrupted some terrorist plots. Additionally, supporters and associates worldwide who are “inspired” by the group's ideology may be operating without direction from AQ central leadership; it is impossible to estimate their numbers. AQ serves as a focal point of “inspiration” for a worldwide network that is comprised of many Sunni Islamic extremist groups, including some members of the Gama'at al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Group, Lashkar i Jhangvi, Harakat ul-Mujahadin, Ansar al-Sunnah, the Taliban, and Jemaah Islamiya.
Location/Area of Operation: AQ worldwide networks are augmented by ties to local Sunni extremists. The group was based in Afghanistan until Coalition Forces removed the Taliban from power in late 2001. While the largest concentration of senior AQ members now resides in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the network incorporates members of al-Qa’ida in Iraq and other associates throughout the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and Central Asia.
External Aid: AQ primarily depends on donations from like-minded supporters and individuals who believe that their money is supporting a humanitarian or other cause. Some funds are diverted from Islamic charitable organizations. In addition, parts of the organization raise funds through criminal activities; for example, al-Qa’ida in Iraq raises funds through hostage-taking for ransom, and members in Europe have engaged in credit card fraud. U.S. and international efforts to block AQ funding have hampered the group's ability to raise money.
AL-QA‘IDA IN IRAQ (TANZIM QA‘IDAT AL-JIHAD FI BILAD AL-RAFIDAYN)
a.k.a. al-Qa’ida Group of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qa’ida Group of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers;
al-Qa’ida in Mesopotamia; al-Qa’ida in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organization in the Land of The Two Rivers; al-Qa’ida of the Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Tawhid; Jam'at al-Tawhid Wa'al-Jihad; Tanzeem Qa’idat al Jihad/Bilad al Raafidaini; Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn; The Monotheism and Jihad Group; The Organization Base of Jihad/Country of the Two Rivers; The Organization Base of Jihad/Mesopotamia; The Organization of al-Jihad's Base in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad's Base in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of al-Jihad's Base of Operations in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad's Base of Operations in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of Jihad's Base in the Country of the Two Rivers; al-Zarqawi Network
Description: In January 2006, in an attempt to unify Sunni extremists in Iraq, al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) created the Mujahidin Shura Council (MSC), an umbrella organization meant to encompass the various Sunni terrorist groups in Iraq. AQI claimed its attacks under the MSC until mid-October, when Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's successor, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, took the first step toward al-Qa’ida's goal of establishing a caliphate in the region by declaring the "Islamic State of Iraq" (ISI), under which AQI now claims its attacks. Although Iraqis compose at least 90 percent of the group’s membership, it is probable that the majority of AQI’s senior leadership is foreign-born. In an attempt to give AQI a more Iraqi persona, the AQI-led ISI was created and headed by Abu Umar al-Baghdadi.
Abu Ayyub al-Masri, Zarqawi's successor, issued a statement pledging to continue what Zarqawi began, and AQI has continued its strategy of targeting Coalition Forces, Iraqi government groups, anti-AQI Sunni tribal and security elements, and Shia civilians to provoke violence and undermine perceptions that the Iraqi central government can effectively govern.
AQI has claimed joint attacks with both Ansar al-Islam (AI) and the Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI); however, ideological differences have prevented these groups from merging. More recently, IAI and the 1920 Revolution Brigades cooperated with Coalition Forces in targeting AQI. (See Chapter 2, Country Reports, Middle East and North Africa, for further information on U.S. efforts to counter AQI.)
Activities: The threat from AQI continued to diminish in 2008. AQI, although still dangerous, has experienced the defection of members, lost key mobilization areas, suffered disruption of support infrastructure and funding, and been forced to change targeting priorities. Indeed, the pace of suicide bombing countryside, which we consider one indicator of AQI's operational capability, fell significantly during last year.
High-profile attacks in 2007 included the suicide car-bombing attack of a mosque in Al Habbaniyah in February, the multiple suicide bombing attack of Shia pilgrims in Al Hillah in March, several chlorine gas canister bombings from January through June, an orchestrated bridge bombing campaign throughout Iraq aimed at isolating Baghdad Shia population concentrations and disrupting ground transportation from January through October, the suicide truck bombing of a market in Tall ‘Afar in March, the suicide truck bombings of a market and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party offices in Amurli and Kirkuk in July, and the single deadliest attack of the Iraq war, the multiple suicide truck bombings of two Yazidi villages near Sinjar in August.
In August 2003, Zarqawi's group carried out major terrorist attacks in Iraq when it bombed the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad, which was followed 12 days later by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack against the UN Headquarters in Baghdad that killed 23, including the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. That same month the group conducted a VBIED attack against Shia worshippers outside the Imam Ali Mosque in al Najaf, killing 85, including the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The group kept up its attack pace throughout 2003, striking numerous Iraqi, Coalition, and relief agency targets such as the Red Cross. Zarqawi's group conducted VBIED attacks against U.S. military personnel and Iraqi infrastructure throughout 2004, including suicide attacks inside the Green Zone perimeter in Baghdad. The group successfully penetrated the Green Zone in the October 2004 bombing of a popular café and market. It also claimed responsibility for the videotaped execution by beheading of Americans Nicholas Berg (May 11, 2004), Jack Armstrong (September 22, 2004), and Jack Hensley (September 21, 2004). AQI was likely involved in other hostage incidents as well. In 2005, AQI largely focused on conducting multiple high-profile, coordinated suicide attacks. AQI claimed numerous attacks primarily aimed against civilians, the Iraqi government, and security forces, such as the coordinated attacks against polling sites during the January elections and the coordinated VBIED attacks outside the Sheraton and Palestine hotels in Baghdad on October 24. The group also continued assassinations against Shia leaders and members of the Shia militia groups Jaysh al-Mahdi and Badr Corps.
AQI increased its external operations in 2005 by claiming credit for three attacks: suicide bomber attacks against three hotels in Amman on November 9; a rocket attack against U.S. Navy ships in the port of Aqaba in August, which resulted in limited damage in Jordan and in Eilat, Israel; and the firing of several rockets into Israel from Lebanon in December. In August 2005, an AQI operative was arrested in Turkey while planning an operation targeting Israeli cruise ships. Prior to 2005, Zarqawi planned and conducted limited attacks in Jordan, including the assassination of USAID official Laurence Foley in 2002. In October 2006, AQI declared the ISI would become a platform from which AQI would launch terrorist attacks throughout the world. Following the announcement, AQI members marched through cities they considered to be part of their new state as a show of force. AQI attack claims, which the group released under the auspices of the Mujahidin Shura Council and now the ISI, increased in 2006 but decreased significantly starting in late 2007.
AQI was implicated in the February 2006 Samarra’ al-Askari Mosque bombing that precipitated the escalation in sectarian violence.
AQI senior leaders in Iraq may have had advance knowledge of terrorist attacks in Iraq that incorporated chlorine into VBIEDs. However, the use of chlorine in suicide attacks probably represents an opportunistic evolution of conventional VBIED attacks.
Strength: Membership is estimated at 2,000-4,000, making it the largest, most potent Sunni extremist group in Iraq. AQI perpetrates the majority of suicide and mass casualty bombings in Iraq, using both foreign and Iraqi operatives. The selection of civilian targets, particularly in large urban areas, generates widespread media coverage, but garners public backlash against the group.
Location/Area of Operation: AQI's operations are predominately Iraq-based, but it has perpetrated attacks in Jordan. The group maintains an extensive logistical network throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Iran, South Asia, and Europe. In Iraq, AQI currently conducts the majority of its operations in Ninawa, Diyala, Salah ad Din, and Baghdad provinces and to a lesser extent Al Anbar.
External Aid: AQI probably receives funds from donors in the Middle East and Europe, local sympathizers in Iraq, from a variety of businesses and criminal activities, and other international extremists throughout the world. In many cases, AQI's donors are probably motivated to support terrorism rather than an attachment to any specific terrorist group.
AL-QA’IDA IN THE ISLAMIC MAGHREB
a.k.a. AQIM, formerly known as Group for Call and Combat; GSPC; Le Groupe Salafiste Pour La Predication Et Le Combat; Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat
Description: Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002. The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) officially merged with al-Qa’ida (AQ) in September 2006 and subsequently changed its name to al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The GSPC formed in 1998 when its members left the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) over disagreements about leadership, tactics, and indiscriminant targeting of Algerian civilians. In contrast to the GIA, it has pledged to avoid attacks on civilians inside Algeria. Nevertheless, civilians have died in numerous GSPC/AQIM attacks. The GSPC retained GIA’s mission of overthrowing the Algerian government and installing an Islamic regime. AQIM is the most effective and largest armed group inside Algeria. AQIM and AQ have used the merger extensively in their propaganda.
Activities: AQIM employed sophisticated suicide tactics for the first time on April 11, 2007. The near-simultaneous bombings of multiple targets inside Algiers, including the office of Algeria’s prime minister, claimed more than 30 lives. Shortly thereafter, AQIM vowed to continue to use suicide tactics, and proceeded to carry out five additional suicide attacks in Algeria in 2007. On December 11, AQIM carried out two near-simultaneous suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks that struck two UN offices and the headquarters of Algeria's Constitutional Council, killing 41 people, (including 17 UN employees), and wounding at least 170 others. AQIM had previously attacked vehicles belonging to foreign corporations several times during the year, beginning in December 2006 with an attack in Algiers on a bus belonging to a U.S.-Algeria joint venture and carrying several expatriate workers. There was a rise in terrorist attacks claimed by AQIM during the month of August 2008, with at least 79 people killed in various incidents across northeastern Algeria
Outside Algeria, in December 2007, multiple AQIM-linked attacks in Mauritania were the first terrorist incidents since 2005, when the GSPC had claimed responsibility for an attack on a remote Mauritanian military outpost that killed 15; this appeared to indicate an AQIM shift towards a more regional terrorist campaign. Also during 2007, police in France, Italy, and Spain arrested several individuals from Algeria and other Maghreb countries suspected of providing support to AQIM. French officials announced that AQIM had issued an Internet call-to-action against France, declaring France "public enemy number one."
AQIM maintains a safe haven in northern Mali. This safe haven functions as a training area and logistics-facilitation hub for AQIM operations in Algeria and Mauritania. AQIM hostages are generally held in this area.
Strength: AQIM has an estimated several hundred fighters operating in Algeria with a smaller number in the Sahel. Abdelmalek Droukdel, a.k.a. Abu Mus’ab Abd al-Wadoud, is the leader of the group.
Location/Area of Operation: Algeria and the Sahel, with affiliates and logistics/fundraisers in Western Europe.
External Aid: Algerian expatriates and AQIM members abroad, many residing in Western Europe, provide financial and logistical support. AQIM members also engage in hostage-taking for ransom and criminal activity to finance their operations.
a.k.a. RIRA; Real Irish Republican Army, 32 County Sovereignty Committee; 32 County Sovereignty Movement; Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association; Real Oglaigh Na Heireann
Description: The Real IRA (RIRA) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 16, 2001. RIRA was formed in 1997 as the clandestine armed wing of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, a "political pressure group" dedicated to removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland. RIRA also seeks to disrupt the Northern Ireland peace process and did not participate in the September 2005 weapons decommissioning. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement opposed Sinn Fein's adoption in September 1997 of the Mitchell principles of democracy and non-violence; it also opposed the amendment in December 1999 of Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution that laid claim to Northern Ireland. Despite internal rifts and calls by some jailed members, including the group's founder Michael "Mickey" McKevitt, for a cease-fire and disbandment, RIRA has pledged additional violence and continues to conduct attacks.
Activities: Many RIRA members are former Provisional Irish Republican Army members who left the organization after it renewed its cease-fire in 1997. These members brought a wealth of experience in terrorist tactics and bomb-making to RIRA. Targets have included civilians (most notoriously in the Omagh bombing in August 1998), British security forces, police in Northern Ireland, and local Protestant communities. RIRA's most recent fatal attack was in August 2002 at a London army base, killing a construction worker. The organization wants to improve its intelligence-gathering ability, engineering capacity, and access to weaponry; it also trains members in the use of guns and explosives. RIRA continued to attract new members, and its senior members were committed to launching attacks on security forces. Three suspected RIRA members that engaged in cigarette smuggling were arrested in Spain in 2006. From 2006 to November 2007, terrorist activity in the form of successful and attempted attacks by RIRA only slightly decreased. Notably, between August and November 2006, throughout Northern Ireland, RIRA targeted B&Q home-supply stores and other retail businesses in successful and attempted fire bombings, although a handful of these attacks were also claimed by the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA). In November 2007, RIRA claimed two armed attacks that wounded two Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers that same month. RIRA claimed responsibility for a May 2008 improvised explosive device that injured a PSNI officer in Belfast and the firebombing of two stores. The Independent Monitoring Commission, which was established to oversee the peace process, assesses that RIRA members were likely responsible for the majority of the shootings and assaults that occurred in Northern Ireland in 2008. In November 2008, Lithuania arrested a RIRA member for attempting to arrange a shipment of weapons to Northern Ireland.
Strength: According to the Irish government, RIRA has approximately 100 active members. The organization may receive limited support from IRA hardliners and Republican sympathizers who are dissatisfied with the IRA's continuing cease-fire and with Sinn Fein's involvement in the peace process. Approximately 40 RIRA members are in Irish jails.
Location/Area of Operation: Northern Ireland, Great Britain, and the Irish Republic.
External Aid: RIRA is suspected of receiving funds from sympathizers in the United States and of attempting to buy weapons from U.S. gun dealers. RIRA also is reported to have purchased sophisticated weapons from the Balkans.
REVOLUTIONARY ARMED FORCES OF COLOMBIA
a.k.a. FARC; Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia
Description: The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is Latin America's oldest, largest, most capable, and best-equipped insurgency, and remains so in spite of recent losses at the hands of the Colombian government. It began in the early 1960s as an outgrowth of the Liberal Party-based peasant self-defense leagues, but took on Marxist ideology. Today, it only nominally fights in support of Marxist goals. The FARC is governed by a general secretariat led by new Supreme Commander Guillermo Leon Saenz (a.k.a. Alfonso Cano) and six others, including senior military commander Victor Suarez (a.k.a. Jorge Briceno or "Mono Jojoy"). The FARC is organized along military lines and includes some specialized urban fighting units. In 2008, the FARC experienced several significant setbacks. A robust and continuing Colombian military offensive targeting key FARC units and leaders succeeded in capturing or killing a number of FARC senior and mid-level commanders. Colombian military operations on March 1 resulted in the death of Luis Devia Silva (a.k.a. Raul Reyes), the FARC’s second-in-command at the time. In early March the FARC lost another secretariat member, Manuel Jesus Munoz Ortiz (a.k.a. Ivan Rios) when he was killed by one of his own security guards, and the FARC’s co-founder and Supreme Leader Antonio Marin (a.k.a. Manuel Marulanda or “Tirofijo”) died in late March, reportedly from heart failure. In July, the Colombian military pulled off a dramatic rescue of 15 high-value FARC hostages including three U.S. Department of Defense contractors and former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
Activities: The FARC has carried out bombings, murder, mortar attacks, kidnapping, extortion, and hijacking, as well as guerrilla and conventional military action against Colombian political, military, and economic targets. Foreign citizens were often targets of abductions that the FARC carried out to obtain ransom and political leverage. The FARC has well-documented ties to the full range of narcotics trafficking activities, including taxation, cultivation, and distribution.
Strength: Approximately 9,000 to 12,000 combatants and several thousand more supporters.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in Colombia with some activities, such as extortion, kidnapping, weapons sourcing, and logistics in neighboring countries.
External Aid: Cuba provided some medical care, safe haven, and political consultation. Venezuela supplied some logistical, financial, and lethal aid to the FARC, although this may be a result of individual corruption rather than official policy; available information is not conclusive. The FARC often used the Colombia/Venezuela, Colombia/Panama, and Colombia/Ecuador border areas for incursions into Colombia and also used Venezuelan and Ecuadorian territory for safe haven, although the degree of government acquiescence was not clear and may vary depending on localized cross-border relations.
a.k.a. Revolutionary Cells; ELA; Epanastatiki Pirines; Epanastatikos Laikos Agonas; June 78; Liberation Struggle; Organization of Revolutionary Internationalist Solidarity; Popular Revolutionary Struggle; Revolutionary People’s Struggle; Revolutionary Popular Struggle
Description: Revolutionary Nuclei (RN) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. RN emerged from a broad range of anti-establishment and anti-U.S./NATO/EU leftist groups active in Greece between 1995 and 1998. The group is believed to be the successor to or offshoot of Greece's most prolific terrorist group, Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA), which has not claimed an attack since January 1995. Indeed, RN appeared to fill the void left by ELA, particularly as lesser groups faded from the scene. RN's few communiqués show strong similarities in rhetoric, tone, and theme to ELA proclamations.
Activities: Since it began operations in January 1995, the group has claimed responsibility for some two dozen arson attacks and low-level bombings against a range of U.S., Greek, and other European targets in Greece. In its most infamous and lethal attack to date, the group claimed responsibility for a bomb it detonated at the Intercontinental Hotel in April 1999 that resulted in the death of a Greek woman and injury of a Greek man. RN's modus operandi includes warning calls of impending attacks, attacks targeting property instead of individuals, use of rudimentary timing devices, and strikes during the late evening to early morning hours. RN's last confirmed attacks against U.S. interests in Greece occurred in November 2000, with two separate bombings against the Athens offices of Citigroup and the studio of a Greek-American sculptor. Greek targets have included judicial and other government office buildings, private vehicles, and the offices of Greek firms involved in NATO-related defense contracts in Greece. Similarly, the group has attacked European interests in Athens.
Strength: Group membership is unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: Unknown, but historically RN’s area of operation was Athens.
External Aid: Unknown but believed to be self-sustaining.
REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION 17 NOVEMBER
a.k.a. Epanastatiki Organosi 17 Noemvri; 17 November
Description: The Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N) is a radical leftist group established in 1975 and named for the student uprising in Greece in November 1973 that protested the ruling military junta. 17N is an anti-Greece, anti-U.S., anti-Turkey, and anti-NATO group that seeks the ouster of U.S. bases from Greece, the removal of Turkish military forces from Cyprus, and the severing of Greece's ties to NATO and the European Union (EU).
Activities: Initial attacks consisted of assassinations of senior U.S. officials and Greek public figures. Five U.S. Embassy employees have been murdered since 17N began its terrorist activities in 1975. The group began using bombings in the 1980s. In 1990, 17N expanded its targets to include Turkish diplomats, EU facilities, and foreign firms investing in Greece, and added improvised rocket attacks to its methods. The group supported itself largely through bank robberies. A failed 17N bombing attempt in June 2002 at the port of Piraeus in Athens, coupled with robust detective work, led to the arrest of 19 members, the first 17N operatives ever arrested, including a key leader of the organization. In December 2003, a Greek court convicted 15 members, five of whom were given multiple life terms. Four other alleged members were acquitted for lack of evidence. In May 2007, two of these 15 members were acquitted on appeal due to doubts surrounding the charges against them. The convictions of the other 13 were upheld on appeal.
Strength: Unknown but presumed to be small.
Location/Area of Operation: Athens, Greece.
External Aid: Unknown.
REVOLUTIONARY PEOPLE'S LIBERATION PARTY/FRONT
a.k.a. DHKP/C; Dev Sol; Dev Sol Armed Revolutionary Units; Dev Sol Silahli Devrimci Birlikleri; Dev Sol SDB; Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi; Devrimci Sol; Revolutionary Left
Description: The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The DHKP/C originally formed in 1978 as Devrimci Sol, or Dev Sol, a splinter faction of Dev Genc (Revolutionary Youth). It was renamed in 1994, after factional infighting. "Party" refers to the group's political activities, while "Front" is a reference to the group's militant operations. The group espouses a Marxist-Leninist ideology and is vehemently an anti-U.S., anti-NATO, and anti-Turkey establishment. Its goals are the establishment of a socialist state and the abolition of F-type prisons, which contain one to three-man prison cells. DHKP/C finances its activities chiefly through donations and extortion.
Activities: Since the late 1980s, the group has primarily targeted current and retired Turkish security and military officials. It began a new campaign against foreign interests in 1990, which included attacks against U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities. In order to protest perceived U.S. imperialism during the Gulf War, Dev Sol assassinated two U.S. military contractors, wounded an Air Force officer, and bombed more than 20 U.S. and NATO military, commercial, and cultural facilities. In its first significant terrorist act as DHKP/C in 1996, the group assassinated a prominent Turkish businessman and two others; the perpetrators fled to Belgium, where legal cases continue. DHKP/C added suicide bombings to its repertoire in 2001, with successful attacks against Turkish police in January and September. Since the end of 2001, DHKP/C has typically used improvised explosive devices against official Turkish targets and soft U.S. targets of opportunity. Attacks against U.S. targets beginning in 2003 were probably a response to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Operations and arrests against the group have weakened its capabilities. In late June 2004, the group was suspected of a bus bombing at Istanbul University, which killed four civilians and 21 other people. In July 2005, in Ankara, police intercepted and killed a suicide bomber who attempted to attack the Ministry of Justice. In June 2006, the group fired upon and killed a police officer in Istanbul; four members of the group were arrested the next month for the attack.
The DKHP/C was dealt a major ideological blow when Dursun Karatas, leader of the group, died in August 2008 in the Netherlands. Throughout 2008, several DHKP/C members were arrested in Turkey and Europe, and several members stood trial for previous terrorist activity. In early March, Turkish Authorities arrested three DHKP/C members preparing bombings. German authorities in late July indicted a DKHP/C senior leader, and in November German authorities arrested several individuals suspected of serving as high-ranking DHKP/C functionaries. In addition, Belgian authorities reviewed the acquittal of several DHKP/C members and began retrial to reach final judgment.
Strength: Probably several dozen terrorist operatives inside Turkey, with a limited support network throughout Europe.
Location/Area of Operation: Turkey, primarily Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Adana.
External Aid: Widely believed to have training facilities or offices in Lebanon and Syria. DHKP/C raises funds in Europe.
a.k.a. SL; Sendero Luminoso; Ejercito Guerrillero Popular (People's Guerrilla Army); EGP; Ejercito Popular de Liberacion (People's Liberation Army); EPL; Partido Comunista del Peru (Communist Party of Peru); PCP; Partido Comunista del Peru en el Sendero Luminoso de Jose Carlos Mariategui (Communist Party of Peru on the Shining Path of Jose Carlos Mariategui); Socorro Popular del Peru (People's Aid of Peru); SPP
Description: Shining Path (SL) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Former university professor Abimael Guzman formed the Shining Path (SL) in Peru in the late 1960s; his teachings created the foundation of SL's militant Maoist doctrine. In the 1980s, SL became one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the Western Hemisphere. The Peruvian government made dramatic gains against SL during the 1990s, capturing Guzman in 1992 and killing a large number of militants. SL's stated goal is to destroy existing Peruvian institutions and replace them with a communist peasant revolutionary regime. It also opposes any influence by foreign governments. More recently, SL members have attempted to influence the local populace through indoctrination as opposed to violence.
Activities: In the past, SL has conducted indiscriminate bombing campaigns, ambushes, and selective assassinations. Remnants of SL now focus on drug-trafficking and production activities to obtain funds to carry out attacks.
A recent increase in SL attacks against Peruvian security forces and counter-narcotics personnel during fall 2008 underscored that the SL remained a threat. In response to SL's bloody attacks, Peruvian authorities stepped up counterterrorism efforts against the group and have since kept the SL remnants largely on the defensive.
Strength: Unknown but estimated to be between 200 and 300 armed militants.
Location/Area of Operation: Peru, with most activity in rural areas, specifically the Huallaga Valley, the Ene River, and the Apurimac Valley of central Peru.
External Aid: None.
UNITED SELF-DEFENSE FORCES OF COLOMBIA
a.k.a. AUC; Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia
Description: The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 10, 2001. The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), commonly referred to as the paramilitaries, was an umbrella group formed in April 1997 to organize loosely affiliated illegal paramilitary groups that had emerged to retaliate against leftist guerillas fighting the Colombian government and the landed establishment. The AUC increasingly discarded its counter-guerilla activities, electing instead to involve itself in the illegal drug trade. By 2007, as the result of a large demobilization process, most of the AUC's centralized military structure had been dismantled, and all of the top paramilitary chiefs had stepped down with the majority being held in a maximum security facility. More than 31,000 paramilitary members and support personnel demobilized bloc by bloc from 2003 to 2006. Colombia now faces criminal gangs composed of some demobilized paramilitaries and other individuals, and one minor paramilitary group that refused to disarm. Unlike the AUC, the new criminal groups make little claim of fighting insurgents. They are more clearly criminal enterprises focused primarily on drug trafficking, other lucrative illicit activities, and influencing local politics to facilitate their criminal ventures. These new criminal groups are not a reconstituted AUC, but they recruit from the pool of former AUC members. Some of the various groups’ leadership appears to be former mid-level paramilitary commanders who did not participate in demobilization.
Activities: Prior to the 2006 demobilization, the AUC engaged in terrorist activity through a variety of activities including political killings and kidnappings of human rights workers, journalists, teachers, and trade unionists, among others. As much as 70 percent of the paramilitary operational costs were financed with drug-related earnings. The emerging criminal groups include some remnants of the AUC, and their members continued to engage heavily in criminal activities.
Strength: With the exception of a few paramilitary fronts who refused to participate in the demobilization process, the AUC’s organizational structure no longer exists. According to Colombian government figures, approximately 10 to 15 percent of the 3,000 to 4,000 members of these criminal groups are former members of paramilitary groups, including the AUC.
Location/Areas of Operation: Paramilitary forces were strongest in northwest Colombia in Antioquia, Cordoba, Sucre, Atlantico, Magdelena, Cesar, La Guajira, and Bolivar Departments, with affiliate groups in the coffee region, Valle del Cauca, and Meta Department.
External Aid: None.
Copyright U.S. State Department 2009