The United States actively promotes international cooperation in condemningstate sponsorship of terrorism and in bringing maximum pressure to bearagainst state sponsors. The Secretary of State has designated seven countriesas state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan,and Syria.
Although US and international pressure has led to a decline in activestate sponsorship of terrorism in recent years, more can and should bedone to restrain those states that engage in terrorism themselves, or assistterrorists by providing sanctuary, arms, training, logistic support, financialbacking, or diplomatic facilities. A range of bilateral and multilateralsanctions are in place to discourage these countries from continuing theirsupport for international terrorism.
Cuba no longer is able to support actively armed struggle in Latin Americaor other regions of the world because of its severe economic problems.Although there is no current evidence that Cuba was directly involved insponsoring specific acts of terrorism in 1996, it continues to providesafehaven for several international terrorists and maintains close tiesto other state sponsors.
Iran, the most active state sponsor of terrorism today, continues toprovide direction and support to terrorist groups, including Hizballahin Lebanon. Iran continues to assassinate dissidents abroad and also providessupport to other terrorist groups that oppose Israel and the Middle Eastpeace process. Iran has not withdrawn the fatwa against the life of SalmanRushdie.
Iraq's ability to carry out terrorism abroad has been curbed by UN sanctions.As events during 1996 clearly demonstrated, however, Saddam Hussein's regimecontinues to murder dissidents throughout Iraq and target foreign and localrelief personnel in the northern part of the country.
Terrorism by Libya has been sharply reduced by UN sanctions imposedafter the bombings of Pan Am Flight 103 (1988) and UTA Flight 772 (1989).Libya still evades its obligation to hand over those indicted for thesecrimes.
Although North Korea cannot be conclusively linked to any internationalterrorist attacks since 1987, it continues to provide sanctuary to JapaneseRed Army members.
Sudan was not directly involved in any acts of international terrorismin 1996 and took some positive steps to distance itself from its past supportfor terrorism. At the same time, Sudan continued to serve as a sanctuaryand training center for several international terrorist groups. Moreover,it has not complied with the UN Security Council's demand that it turnover the three suspects implicated in the 1995 assassination attempt againstPresident Mubarak.
There is no evidence of direct Syrian Government involvement in actsof international terrorism since 1986. The United States continues to urgeSyria to banish terrorist groups that maintain a presence in Syria or inSyrian-controlled territory in Lebanon. Until Syria does so, it will remainon the list of state sponsors.
Cuba no longer actively supports armed struggle in Latin America andother parts of the world. In earlier years the Castro regime provided significantlevels of military training, weapons, funding, and guidance to numerousleftist extremists. Havana's focus now is to forestall an economic collapse;the government actively continued to seek the upgrading of diplomatic andtrade relations with other nations.
Although there is no current evidence that Cuban officials were directlyinvolved in sponsoring specific acts of terrorism last year, Cuba is stilla safehaven for several international terrorists, maintains close relationswith other state sponsors of terrorism, and remains in contact with numerousleftist insurgent groups in Latin America.
A number of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorists who soughtsanctuary in Cuba several years ago continue to live on the island. Someof the more than 40 Chilean terrorists from the Manuel Rodriguez PatrioticFront (FPMR) who escaped from a Chilean prison in 1990 also probably stillreside in Cuba. Colombia's two main guerrilla groups, the revolutionaryArmed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN),reportedly maintain representatives in Havana.
Cuba also provides safehaven to several nonterrorist US fugitives.
Iran remained the premier state sponsor of terrorism in 1996. It continuedto be involved in the planning and execution of terrorist acts by its ownagents and by surrogates such as Lebanese Hizballah and continued to fundand train known terrorist groups.
Tehran conducted at least eight dissident assassinations outside Iranin 1996. In May 1996 Reza Mazlouman, a government official under the Shah,was murdered in Paris by an Iranian resident of Germany with alleged tiesto Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). The suspect wasextradited to France by Germany. Seven other dissidents were assassinatedby Iran in 1996 in Turkey and northern Iraq. Iran's primary targets aremembers of the regime's main opposition groups, the Mujahedin-eKhalq (MEK) and the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), as wellas former officials of the late Shah's government who speak out againstthe clerical regime.
Iran continued to provide support-including money, weapons, and training-toa variety of terrorist groups, such as Hizballah, HAMAS, and the PalestineIslamic Jihad (PIJ). It continued to oppose any recognition of Israel andto encourage violent rejection of the Middle East peace process. For example,Iranian Vice President Habibi met with HAMAS leaders in Damascus and praisedtheir successful efforts immediately following the February bombings inIsrael. HAMAS claimed responsibility for two more bombings in Israel thefollowing week.
During a routine customs inspection of an Iranian vessel in Antwerpin March, Belgian authorities discovered a disassembled mortar-like weaponhidden in a shipment of pickles. The shipment was consigned to an Iranianmerchant living in Germany. Iranian dissidents claim that the mortar wasintended for use in an assassination attempt against Iranian exiles inEurope.
Testimony in the three-year-long trial of an Iranian and four Lebanesefor the Iran-sponsored killing of Iranian Kurdish dissidents in Berlin'sMykonos restaurant in 1992 concluded in late 1996. German authorities issuedan arrest warrant in March for Ali Fallahian, Iran's Intelligence Minister.In the fall, former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani Sadr and two otherwitnesses testified against Iran. In final statements in late November,German prosecutors charged Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and IranianPresident Rafsanjani with approving the operation. (Guilty verdicts forfour of the accused were announced in April 1997.)
Iranian leaders have consistently denied being able to revoke the fatwaagainst Salman Rushdie's life, in effect for nearly eight years, claimingthat revocation is impossible because the author of the fatwa is deceased.There is no indication that Tehran is pressuring the 15 Khordad Foundationto withdraw the $2 million reward it is offering to anyone who will killRushdie.
In addition, Iran provides safehaven to elements of the Kurdistan Workers'Party (PKK), a Turkish separatist group that has conducted numerous terroristattacks in Turkey and throughout Europe. Although Turkey and Iran agreedto a joint operation in mid-October to remove the PKK from the border region,Iran reportedly failed to cooperate in a meaningful way.
Iran's terrorist network in the Persian Gulf remained active in 1996.The Government of Bahrain announced in June the discovery of a local Hizballahgroup of Bahraini Shiites who had been trained and sponsored by Iran inan effort to overthrow the ruling al-Khalifa family.
Iraq has not managed to recover its preGulf war international terroristcapabilities, but it is slowly rebuilding its intelligence network. Actsof political violence continued in northern Iraq, and intra-Kurdish fightingin August led to an increased number of operatives there under Baghdad'scontrol. At the time of its military attack on Irbil, Iraq reportedly murderedmore than 100 Iraqis associated with the dissident Iraqi National Congress(INC). Later, Baghdad renewed its threat to charge foreign relief personneland other Iraqi staff with "espionage," a crime punishable bydeath.
Iraq continues to provide safehaven to a variety of Palestinian rejectionistgroups, including the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), the Arab LiberationFront (ALF), and the former head of the now defunct 15 May Organization,Abu Ibrahim, who masterminded several bombings of US aircraft. The Mujahedin-eKhalq (MEK), a terrorist group that opposes the current Iranian regime,also is based in Iraq.
In mid-November a Jordanian diplomatic courier was murdered in Iraqon the road from Amman to Baghdad, and his diplomatic pouch stolen. Theperpetrators of the act have yet to be identified. The diplomatic bag contained250 new Jordanian passports, which could be used by terrorist operativesfor travel under cover.
The terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) continues to attempt touse northern Iraq as a safehaven and base for attacks on Turkey.
The end of 1996 marked the fifth year of the Libyan regime's refusalto comply with the demands of UN Security Council Resolution 731. Thismeasure was adopted following the indictments in November 1991 of two Libyanintelligence agents for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. UNSCR731 ordered Libya to turn over the two Libyan bombing suspects for trialin the United States or the United Kingdom, pay compensation to the victims,cooperate in the ongoing investigations into the Pan Am 103 and UTA Flight772 bombings, and cease all support for terrorism.
UN Security Council Resolution 748 was adopted in April 1992 as a resultof Libya's refusal to comply with the demands of UNSCR 731. UNSCR 748 imposedsanctions that embargoed Libya's civil aviation and military procurementefforts and required all states to reduce Libya's diplomatic presence.In November 1993 UNSCR 883 was adopted, imposing additional sanctions againstLibya for its continued refusal to comply with UNSC demands. UNSCR 883included a limited assets freeze and a ban on sales of some oil technologyto Libya and strengthened existing sanctions in other ways.
By the end of 1996 Qadhafi had yet to comply in full with the UNSC demands.He did, however, allow a French magistrate to visit Libya in July to furtherhis investigation of the 1989 bombing of UTA 772. As a result of that investigation,France has issued a total of six arrest warrants-two in 1996-for Libyanintelligence officers, who are still at large.
Tripoli continues to deny any involvement in Pan Am 103 and has madeno attempt to comply with the UN resolutions. Most significantly, it stillrefused to turn over for trial in the United States or the United Kingdomthe two Libyan agents indicted for the Pan Am bombing. In response to continuedLibyan and Iranian support for terrorism, the US Congress passed the Iranand Libya Sanctions Act of 1996. This Act imposes new sanctions on companiesthat invest in the development of either country's petroleum resources.The law is intended to help deny revenues that could be used to financeinternational terrorism.
In addition to the Pan Am and UTA airliner bombings, Libya continuesto be held responsible for other terrorist acts of the past that retaincurrent interest. In October 1996 warrants were issued by German authoritiesfor four Libyans who are suspected of initiating the 1986 Berlin discothequebombing that killed two US citizens. The four are believed to be in Libya.Also, Libya is widely believed to be responsible for the 1993 abductionof prominent Libyan dissident and human rights activist Mansur Kikhia.The current whereabouts of Kikhia, a US green card holder, remains unknown.
Libya also continued in 1996 to provide support to a variety of Palestinianterrorist groups, including the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), the PalestineIslamic Jihad (PIJ), and Ahmed Jabril's Popular Front for the Liberationof PalestineGeneral Command (PFLP-GC). The ANO maintains its headquartersin Libya, where the group's leader, Sabri al-Banna (a.k.a. Abu Nidal) resides.
North Korea has not been conclusively linked to any international terroristattacks since 1987. North Korea is best known for its involvement in the1987 midair bombing of KAL Flight 858 and the 1983 Rangoon bombing aimedat South Korean Government officials. A North Korean spokesman in November1995 stated that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) opposed"all kinds of terrorism" and "any assistance to it."
There is no conclusive evidence the DPRK conducted any act of terrorismsince 1987. The Republic of Korea, however, suspects that North Koreanagents were involved in the murder of a South Korean official in Vladivostokon 1 October 1996, which shortly followed a North Korean warning that itwould retaliate if Seoul did not return the bodies of several North Koreaninfiltrators killed in South Korea.
The DPRK provides asylum to a small group of Japanese Red Army members-the"Yodo-go" group-who hijacked a JAL airliner to North Korea in1970. The senior surviving Yodo-go member, Yoshimi Tanaka, in late Marchwas arrested in Cambodia on counterfeiting charges. Tanaka was capturedwhile carrying a North Korean diplomatic passport and in the company ofseveral North Korean diplomats. P'yongyang admitted publicly that Tanakawas a Yodo-go member, did not dispute the counterfeiting charges, and refusedto take up his defense.
Sudan in 1996 continued to serve as a refuge, nexus, and training hubfor a number of international terrorist organizations, primarily of MiddleEast origin. The Sudanese Government also condoned many of the objectionableactivities of Iran, such as funneling assistance to terrorist and radicalIslamic groups operating in and transiting through Sudan.
Following the passage of three critical UN Security Council resolutions,Sudan ordered the departure of terrorist financier Usama Bin Ladin fromSudan in May. Sudan failed, however, to comply with the Security Council'sdemand that it cease support to terrorists and turn over the three Egyptianal-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (IG) fugitives linked to the 1995 assassinationattempt of President Mubarak. Khartoum continued to deny any foreknowledgeof the planning behind the Mubarak attempt and claimed not to know thewhereabouts of the assailants.
Since Sudan was placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism inAugust 1993, the Sudanese Government has continued to harbor members ofseveral international terrorist and radical Islamic groups, including theAbu Nidal organization (ANO), Lebanese Hizballah, the Palestine IslamicJihad (PIJ), the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), and the Islamic SalvationFront (FIS) of Algeria. The National Islamic Front, which is the dominantinfluence within the Sudanese Government, also supports opposition andinsurgent groups in Uganda, Tunisia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.
In April 1996 the Department of State expelled a Sudanese diplomat atthe Sudanese UN Mission who had ties to the conspirators planning to bombthe UN building and other targets in New York in 1993. A Sudanese national,who pleaded guilty in February 1995 to various charges of complicity inthe New York City bomb plots foiled by the FBI, indicated two members ofthe Sudanese UN Mission had offered to facilitate access to the UN buildingin support of the bombing plot.
There is no evidence that Syrian officials have been directly involvedin planning or executing international terrorist attacks since 1986. Nevertheless,Syria continues to provide safehaven and support for several groups thatengage in such attacks. Though Damascus has stated its commitment to thepeace process, it has not acted to stop anti-Israeli attacks by Hizballahand Palestinian rejectionist groups in southern Lebanon. Syria also permitsthe resupply of arms for rejectionist groups operating in Lebanon via Damascus.On the positive side, Syria took action to prevent specific terrorist acts,continued to restrain the international activities of some terrorist groupsin Syria, and has been a member of the Israel-Lebanon Monitoring Group-establishedby the 12 April 1996 Understanding-helping to enforce its provisions. AfterKing Hussein of Jordan raised the issue of individuals infiltrating intoJordan from Syria with plans to attack Jordanian and Israeli targets, Damascusconducted an arrest campaign against the infiltrators' backers.
Several radical terrorist groups maintain training camps or other facilitieson Syrian territory. Ahmed Jibril's PFLP-GC and the Palestine Islamic Jihad(PIJ), for example, have their headquarters near Damascus. In addition,Damascus grants basing privileges or refuge to a wide variety of groupsengaged in terrorism in areas of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley under Syrian control.These include HAMAS, the PFLP-GC, the PIJ, and the Japanese Red Army (JRA).The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) continues to train in Syria-controlledareas of Lebanon, and its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, resides at least part-timein Syria. In 1996 the PKK executed numerous terrorist attacks across Europeand continued-with limited success-its violent campaign against Turkishtourist spots.
Syria also suffered from several terrorist attacks in 1996, includinga string of unresolved bombings in major Syrian cities.