Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism 2002
Despite significant pressure from the US Government, the seven designated
state sponsors of terrorismCuba, Iran,
North Korea, Syria, and Sudandid
not take all the necessary actions to disassociate themselves fully from
their ties to terrorism in 2002. While some of these countries have taken
steps to cooperate in the global war on terrorism, most have also continued
the very actions that led them to be declared state sponsors.
Although Cuba is a party to all 12 international counterterrorism
conventions and protocols, and Sudan is a party to 11, both nations
continued to provide support to designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Likewise, Syria and Libya
have continually indicated that they wish to aid the United States in
the conflict against terrorism and have curtailed their sponsorship
activities. Their cooperation remained deficient in other areas, however.
Syria continued to provide safehaven and transit to some Palestinian
rejectionist groups. Suspended UN sanctions against Libya remained in
place, as Libya again failed
to comply with UN requirements
related to the bombing in 1988 of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie,
While some of the designated state sponsors have taken
steps to accede to the international norms of combating terrorism, othersnotably
and North Koreahave done little to comply. Iraq, through its intelligence
service, prepared for possible attacks against Western targets and was
a safehaven, transit point, and operational base for terrorist organizations
that included members of al-Qaida. Iran,
for its part, remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism during
2002. It has provided funding, training, and weapons to Central Asian
and anti-Israeli terrorist groups. In addition, some members of these
groups, as well as al-Qaida, have found safehaven
State sponsors of terrorism impede the efforts of
the United States and the international community to fight terrorism.
These countries provide a critical foundation for terrorist groups.
Without state sponsors, terrorist groups would have a much more difficult
time obtaining the funds, weapons, materials, and secure areas they
require to plan and conduct operations. The United States will continue
to insist that these countries end the support they give to terrorist
the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2002. Its Islamic Revolutionary
Guard Corps and Ministry of Intelligence and Security were involved
in the planning of and support for terrorist acts and continued to exhort
a variety of groups that use terrorism to pursue their goals.
Irans record against al-Qaida
has been mixed. While it has detained and turned over to foreign governments
a number of al-Qaida members, other al-Qaida
members have found virtual safehaven there and may even be receiving
protection from elements of the Iranian Government. Iran's long, rugged
borders are difficult to monitor, and the large number of Afghan refugees
in Iran complicates efforts to locate and apprehend extremists. Nevertheless,
it is unlikely that al-Qaida elements could escape
the attention of Irans formidable security services.
During 2002, Iran
maintained a high-profile role in encouraging anti-Israeli activity,
both rhetorically and operationally. Supreme Leader Khamenei referred
to Israel as a cancerous tumor, a sentiment echoed by other
Iranian leaders in speeches and sermons. Matching this rhetoric with
action, Iran provided Lebanese Hizballah and
Palestinian rejectionist groupsnotably HAMAS,
the Palestine Islamic Jihad,
and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Commandwith
funding, safehaven, training, and weapons. Tehran also encouraged Hizballah
and the Palestinian rejectionist groups to coordinate their planning
and to escalate their terrorist activities against Israel.
Iran also provided support to extremist groups in
Central Asia, Afghanistan,
and Iraq with ties to al-Qaida,
though less than that provided to the groups opposed to Israel.
In 2002, Iran
became party to the 1988 Protocol on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts
of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation. It is
party to five of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating
and sponsored international terrorism in 2002. Throughout the year,
the Iraqi Intelligence Services (IIS) laid the groundwork for possible
attacks against civilian and military targets in the United States and
other Western countries. The IIS reportedly instructed its agents in
early 2001 that their main mission was to obtain information about US
and Israeli targets. The IIS also threatened dissidents in the Near
East and Europe and stole records and computer files detailing antiregime
activity. In December 2002, the press claimed Iraqi intelligence killed
Walid al-Mayahi, a Shia Iraqi refugee in Lebanon
and member of the Iraqi National Congress.
Iraq was a
safehaven, transit point, and operational base for groups and individuals
who direct violence against the United States, Israel, and other countries.
Baghdad overtly assisted two categories of Iraqi-based terrorist organizationsIranian
dissidents devoted to toppling the Iranian Government and a variety
of Palestinian groups opposed to peace with Israel.
The groups include the Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq, the Abu
Nidal organization (although Iraq reportedly killed its leader), the
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and the Arab Liberation Front (ALF).
In the past year, the PLF increased its operational activity against
Israel and sent its members to Iraq for training for future terrorist
Baghdad provided material assistance to other Palestinian
terrorist groups that are in the forefront of the intifadah. The Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, HAMAS,
and the Palestine Islamic Jihad
are the three most important groups to whom Baghdad has extended outreach
and support efforts.
Saddam paid the families of Palestinian suicide
bombers to encourage Palestinian
terrorism, channeling $25,000 since March through the ALF alone
to families of suicide bombers in Gaza
and the West Bank. Public testimonials
by Palestinian civilians and officials and cancelled checks captured
by Israel in the West Bank verify
the transfer of a considerable amount of Iraqi money.
The presence of several hundred al-Qaida
operatives fighting with the small Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam
in the northeastern corner of Iraqi Kurdistanwhere the IIS operatesis
well documented. Iraq has an agent in the most senior levels of Ansar
al-Islam as well. In addition, small numbers of highly placed al-Qaida
militants were present in Baghdad and areas of Iraq that Saddam controls.
It is inconceivable these groups were in Iraq without the knowledge
and acquiescence of Saddams regime. In the past year, al-Qaida
operatives in northern Iraq concocted
suspect chemicals under the direction of senior al-Qaida
associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and tried to smuggle them into
Russia, Western Europe, and the United States for terrorist operations.
Iraq is a party
to five of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to
(Note: See Appendix G for a fuller description of
Iraq's ties to terrorismparticularly al-Qaida
excerpted from Secretary Powells 5 February 2003 presentation
before the United Nations Security Council.)
In 2002, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi continued the
efforts he undertook following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks
to identify Libya with the war
on terrorism and the struggle against Islamic extremism. In August,
Qadhafi told visiting British officials that he regards Usama Bin Ladin
and his Libyan followers a threat to Libya.
In his 1 September speech, he declared that Libya would combat members
of al-Qaida and hereticsa likely
reference to Libyan extremists allied with al-Qaida
and opposed to his regimeas doggedly as the United States did.
He further claimed that all political prisoners would be released and
that the Libyan Government would henceforth only hold members of al-Qaida.
Libya appears to have curtailed its support for international terrorism,
although it may maintain residual contacts with some of its former terrorist
Libyas past record of terrorism continued to
hinder Qadhafis efforts to shed Libyas pariah status in
2002. In March, a Scottish appellate court upheld the convictionoriginally
returned in January 2001of Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset
Ali al-Megrahi for murder in connection with planting an explosive device
on Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988. The explosion killed all 259
passengers and crew on board and 11 persons on the ground in Lockerbie,
Scotland. There have been reports of a proposed out-of-court settlement
of a suit brought by Pan Am 103 family members against Libya, but by
years end it had not been concluded.
Despite progress toward the payment of appropriate
compensation, at years end Libya had yet to comply with the remaining
UN Security Council requirements related to Pan Am Flight 103, necessary
for the permanent lifting of UN sanctions, including accepting responsibility
for the actions of its officials.
In October, lawyers representing the seven US citizens
who died in the bombing of UTA Flight 772 in 1989for which a French
court convicted six Libyans in absentia in 1999filed a suit against
Libya and Qadhafi, reportedly
seeking $3 billion in compensation. The same month, Libya reportedly
pledged to French authorities to increase payments already made to victims
of the UTA bombing following the French court ruling in 1999.
In 2002, Libya
became a party to the 1999 Convention for the Suppression of the Financing
of Terrorism and the 1991 Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives
for the Purpose of Detection. It is a party to all the 12 international
conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
cooperating with US counterterrorism efforts before 11 September 2001,
which included a close relationship with various US Government agencies
to investigate and apprehend extremists suspected of involvement in
terrorist activities. Sudan
is a party to 11 of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating
to terrorism. Sudan also has participated in regional efforts to end
the civil war that has been ongoing since 1983a US policy priority
that parallels the US objective of having Sudan deny safehaven to terrorists.
While concerns remain regarding Sudanese Government
support for certain terrorist groups, such as HAMAS
and the Palestine Islamic Jihad,
the United States is pleased with Sudans cooperation and the progress
being made in their antiterrorist activities.
The Syrian Government has continued to provide political
and limited material support to a number of Palestinian groups, including
allowing them to maintain headquarters or offices in Damascus. Some
of these groups have committed terrorist acts, but the Syrian Government
insists that their Damascus offices undertake only political and informational
activities. The most notable Palestinian rejectionist groups in Syria
are the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), the Palestine
Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Islamic
Resistance Movement (HAMAS). Syria
also continued to permit Iranian resupply, via Damascus, of Hizballah
in Lebanon. Nonetheless, the Syrian Government has not been implicated
directly in an act of terrorism since 1986.
At the UN Security
Council and in other multilateral fora, Syria
has taken a leading role in espousing the view that Palestinian and
Lebanese terrorist groups fighting Israel are not terrorists; it also
has used its voice in the UN Security
Council to encourage international support for Palestinian national
aspirations and denounce Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories
as state terrorism.
The Syrian Government has repeatedly assured the United
States that it will take every possible measure to protect US citizens
and facilities from terrorists in Syria.
In times of increased threat, it has increased police protection around
the US Embassy. During the past five years, there have been no acts
of terrorism against US citizens in Syria. The Government of Syria has
cooperated significantly with the United States and other foreign governments
against al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other terrorist
organizations and individuals. It also has discouraged any signs of
public support for al-Qaida, including in the media
and at mosques.
In 2002, Syria
became a party to the 1988 Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful
Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, making
it party to five of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating
Source: Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002,
Department [Middle East nations only]