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Country Reports on Terrorism 2021: Oman

(February 27, 2023)

Overview:  Oman is an important regional counterterrorism partner.  The nation remains concerned about the conflict in Yemen and the potential for AQAP and ISIS-Yemen to threaten Oman’s land and maritime borders.  Omani and U.S. officials regularly engaged on efforts to counter violent extremism and terrorism.  Oman sought training and equipment from the U.S. government, other countries, and commercial entities to support its efforts to control its land, air, and maritime borders.  The country welcomed U.S. security assistance to improve its crisis management capacity, as well as its counterterrorism tactics and procedures; however, some counterterrorism training and exercises were postponed or canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Oman issued statements condemning terrorist attacks around the world in 2021.

2021 Terrorist Incidents:  There were no reported terrorist incidents in Oman in 2021.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  There were no changes to Oman’s counterterrorism legislation in 2021.

Local capacity and a challenging operating environment owing to Oman’s extensive coastline and long, remote borders with Saudi Arabia and Yemen remain obstacles for counterterrorism investigations, crisis response, and border security capabilities.  Nevertheless, Oman had sufficient communication and coordination among its many counterterrorism-related agencies and National Security Council.  The Sultan’s Special Forces and the Royal Oman Police (ROP) Special Task Force are Oman’s primary tactical counterterrorism response forces.  The Royal Office Liaison and Coordination Service, the Internal Security Service, and ROP’s Special Branch play key roles in securing Oman from terrorist threats.  Omani authorities have developed specific plans to prevent or respond to terrorist attacks against soft targets.

Oman recognizes the need to improve its counterterrorism capabilities and the value of U.S. counterterrorism and law enforcement training and assistance.  The Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program targeted skills related to crisis management and advanced counterterrorism operations and response.  Omani officials from the ROP and other agencies participated in ATA training.

The ROP Coast Guard, ROP Customs, the Maritime Security Center, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Royal Office participated in several training activities through the Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program.  EXBS programming supported the government’s efforts to build its capacity to interdict weapons and conduct investigations at airports and seaports.  EXBS programming also increased Omani officials’ understanding of UN sanctions implementation through virtual webinars and tabletop exercises.

The major impediments to effective law enforcement and border security in Oman remained limited resources, challenges with Omani interagency coordination, and the need for continued training to develop advanced law enforcement skills.  The rugged mountainous terrain along Oman’s border with Yemen presents an additional challenge.  Oman continued to seek opportunities for additional U.S. border security training.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Oman is preparing for an upcoming Financial Action Task Force Mutual Evaluation.  Oman is a member of MENAFATF, and its Financial Information Processing Unit is a member of the Egmont Group.  The nation also is a member of the Riyadh-based Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC).  Oman continued to participate in TFTC capacity building workshops and expressed support for continued joint sanctions.

Oman has taken steps to enhance the efficiency of the National Center for Financial Information (NCFI, its financial intelligence unit) to analyze and respond to suspicious activity reports related to AML/CFT, such as an MOU between the Central Bank of Oman and NCFI to enhance information-sharing mechanisms.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The full nature and scope of Oman’s CVE initiatives remained opaque in 2021, but engagement with the Omani government suggests that Oman continued to counter terrorist recruitment through unpublicized initiatives.

There were no reports of foreign government or foreign non-governmental support for religious schools, mosques, or other organizations that may be conducive to the spread of violent extremism.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Oman is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, and TFTC.  Oman regularly votes in favor of counterterrorism measures in the UN General Assembly, the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Source: Country Reports on Terrorism 2021, U.S. Department of State, (February 27, 2023).