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Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1992
Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
The United States, its allies, and increasingly the UN Security Council (UNSC) recognize the need to make those governments that support, tolerate, and engage in international terrorism pay a significant price for doing so. There was dramatic action by the UNSC in 1992 when it was presented with clear evidence of Libya's responsibility for the bombings of Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772 and the resulting loss of 441 lives. In Resolution 731, the UNSC demanded that Libya end its sponsorship of acts of international terrorism and cooperate with American, British, and French judicial requirements in the trials of those Libyan officials charged with the bombings. The Security Council later voted mandatory sanctions against Libya when it determined that Libya had not complied. The sanctions included an arms and air embargo, a demand that Libyan Arab Airlines offices be closed, and a requirement that all states reduce Libya's diplomatic presence abroad. The UNSC reviews the Libyan case every 120 days. The UNSC's requirement that Iraq refrain from sponsoring terrorism remains in effect as a part of Resolution 687.
Despite these counterterrorism accomplishments, state sponsorship poses an ongoing danger. Iran continued to be the most active of the state sponsors. Iranian agents or surrogate groups conducted over 20 attacks in 1992. Again this year, Iran's prime targets were Iranian opponents of the regime and Israeli interests. Iran was the principal sponsor of extremist Islamic and Palestinian groups. Besides providing funding, training, and weapons to groups that conduct terrorist acts, Iran also hosted a series of high-profile meetings with Hizballah and HAMAS that had the stated goal of coordinating efforts against Israel and bringing the Arab-Israeli peace process to a halt. Islamic Jihad, a covername for Hizballah, was responsible for the lethal car-bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina--an attack that killed 29 people and wounded 242.
Iraq, though constrained by UNSC sanctions and the expulsion of Iraqi agents from many countries during the Gulf war, sponsored in the last half of 1992 numerous attacks against Kurdish opponents and UN and Western relief personnel and killed an Iraqi scientist in Jordan. Libya and Syria continue to provide support and safehaven to a number of Palestinian and non-Palestinian groups that engage in international terrorism.
The United States currently lists Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. This list is maintained pursuant to Section 6 (j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979. This and related US statutes impose trade and other restrictions on countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. The list is sent annually to Congress, although countries can be added or removed any time during the year as circumstances warrant.
Cuba Cuba's increasingly critical economic situation and continued political isolation have precluded any significant material or financial assistance to the few remaining Marxist insurgencies in Latin America. As a result, Fidel Castro has impressed upon some of the insurgent leaders the need to make peace. In the past year Castro has welcomed the peace accord in El Salvador and has publicly advised Guatemalan and Colombian insurgents to negotiate seriously to end the armed struggle.
Castro continues to allow insurgent offices such as those of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) to operate in Havana. Although Cuba has adhered to UN-mandated sanctions against Libya, it has not moved to limit Libyan diplomatic representatives, as required by international law. Reports indicate that Cuba continues to host Third World leftist militants for study and political training, but military training seems to have been halted.
Iran Iran was the most dangerous state sponsor of terrorism in 1992, with over 20 acts in 1992 attributable to it or its surrogates. Iran's intelligence services continue to support terrorist acts--either directly or through extremist groups--aimed primarily against Iranian opponents of the regime living abroad and Israeli targets. Although Iran did not carry out direct attacks on US targets in 1992, Iranian agents regularly surveilled US missions and personnel. Tehran's leaders view terrorism as a valid tool to accomplish the regime's political objectives, and acts of terrorism are approved at the highest level of government in Iran. Hizballah, Iran's most important client, was responsible for the deadliest act of terrorism in 1992, the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in March, which killed 29 people and wounded 242. Indications are that Iran at least had foreknowledge of this act and was probably involved.
Despite Iran's attempts to distance itself publicly from direct involvement in terrorist acts during the past year, Tehran has been tied to several bombings and assassinations in the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America.
Iranian intelligence continues to stalk members of the Iranian opposition, especially in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. There are strong indications that Iran was responsible for the assassination of the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and three of his followers in Berlin in September. The killing closely resembled the murder of the previous head of the KDPI in Vienna in 1989. The fatal stabbing of an Iranian dissident poet in Bonn in August 1992 was reminiscent of the stabbing of former Prime Minister Bakhtiar in Paris in 1991.
In March 1992 a French court sentenced two Iranians in absentia to five years imprisonment on illegal weapons charges stemming from 1986. The two had been waiting outside the home of Abdal Rahman Barumand, an ally of former Prime Minister Bakhtiar. Barumand was assassinated in April 1991 and Bakhtiar in August 1991, both in Paris. Two Iranians were arrested in Paris in November 1992 and held for extradition to Switzerland for the murder of Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) leader Kazem Rajavi in 1990.
The death sentence for Salman Rushdie, British author of The Satanic Verses, was upheld in 1992 by both the Iranian parliament and Iran's Chief Justice, and the reward for killing him was raised to more than $2 million. The Iranian Government has tried to carry out the death threat. The United Kingdom expelled three Iranian officials who were attempting to organize Rushdie's murder.
Iran is also the world's principal sponsor of extremist Islamic and Palestinian groups, providing them with funds, weapons, and training. Turkish Islamic Jihad, believed to be backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for the March car-bomb murder of an Israeli diplomat in Ankara, as well as a grenade attack on an Istanbul synagogue a few days earlier. These attacks came within weeks after the killing of Hizballah chief Musawi in southern Lebanon by the Israelis. Both Iran and Hizballah had vowed revenge against Israel and the United States for his death.
Iran also supports other radical organizations that have resorted to terrorism, including the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), and HAMAS. In August, Iran's first vice president met with the chiefs of Hizballah and the PFLP-GC while visiting Damascus. In October, Tehran hosted a series of high-profile meetings with Hizballah and HAMAS with the stated goal of coordinating their efforts against Israel and bringing the Arab-Israeli peace talks to a halt. In the aftermath of these talks, Hizballah increased its operations against Israel, including its repeated use of rockets to attack villages in northern Israel.
Iran has become the main supporter and ally of the fundamentalist regime in Sudan. Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps provide training for the Sudanese military. The current Iranian Ambassador to Khartoum was involved in the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and served as Iranian Charge in Beirut, where he played a leading role in developing the Hizballah terrorist infrastructure in the 1980s. Khartoum has become a key venue for Iranian contact with Palestinian and North African extremists of the Sunni branch of Islam.
Tehran continues to support and provide sanctuary for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been responsible for hundreds of deaths in Turkey this year.
Iraq Iraq has not yet fully recovered its ability to conduct international terrorist attacks since the mass expulsion of Iraqi agents from many countries during the Gulf war. Nevertheless, Baghdad conducted 39 terrorist attacks against a variety of targets in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 687, which required Iraq to cease support for acts of international terrorism. Iraqi intelligence has resumed sending agents abroad to track opponents of Saddam Hussein. In addition, there have been persistent reports and at least one murder that strongly suggest Iraq is training hit squads to attack Hussein's enemies in other countries. In 1992, Iraqi-sponsored terrorism has focused on Kurdish targets and on UN and Western relief organization employees stationed in northern Iraq.
The most dramatic case of an assassination committed by the Iraqis during the year occurred in December, when two Iraqis shot and killed an Iraqi nuclear scientist in Amman, Jordan, as he was preparing to defect.
There have been many casualties in the dozens of attacks aimed at driving UN and aid workers out of northern Iraq. In November, magnetic time bombs placed under UN convoy trucks exploded in Irbil; all evidence points to Iraqi Government responsibility for the attacks. In December, Iraqi authorities placed eight time bombs under UN relief convoy trucks. The bombs were set to explode in Irbil but were discovered and defused. One week later, explosions destroyed or damaged 14 relief trucks that had just passed the Iraqi checkpoint at Faydah. The trucks had crossed Iraqi-controlled territory after returning from Suleyamaniya. The houses, offices, and vehicles of UN and relief workers have been repeatedly attacked by bombs, grenades, guns, and fires.
UN Security Council Resolution 687 also requires that Iraq not allow any terrorist organization to operate within its territory. Nevertheless, Baghdad continues to maintain contacts and in some cases provide sanctuary to several groups and individuals that have practiced terrorism. Iraq hosts and supports the main Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), which carried out several violent attacks in Iran in 1992.
Saddam Hussein also supports extremist Palestinian groups including the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), the Arab Liberation Front, Abu Abbas's Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and Abu Ibrahim, leader and master bomb maker of the now defunct May 15 Organization. The 1992 conviction of Mohammed Rashid in a Greek court for bombing a Pan Am aircraft in 1982 provided clear proof of longstanding Iraqi state sponsorship of international terrorism. Baghdad is alleged to provide safehaven and support to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Libya On 21 January, the UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution 731, which endorsed US, British, and French demands that Libya comply with a series of steps, including turning over for trial two Libyan intelligence agents indicted by the United States and the United Kingdom for their role in bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. The resolution also required that Libya accept responsibility for the bombing and disclose all evidence related to it, pay appropriate compensation, satisfy French demands regarding Libya's role in bombing UTA Flight 772 in 1989, and cease all forms of terrorism. On 30 March the UNSC adopted Resolution 748, imposing mandatory sanctions against Libya for its failure to meet UNSC Resolution 731 demands. Those sanctions went into effect on 15 April. The sanctions included an arms and civil aviation embargo on Libya, a demand that Libyan Arab Airlines offices be closed, and a requirement that all states reduce Libya's diplomatic presence abroad. As of the end of 1992, Tripoli has failed to comply with the Security Council resolution.
Although the Libyan regime has made some cosmetic changes to its terrorism apparatus, it retains its capability to commit terrorist acts. In addition, the regime continues to support terrorist and insurgent groups worldwide despite Tripoli's repeated offer to open to UN inspection terrorist camps--previously identified publicly by the US Government--as proof of its renunciation of terrorism. Many of these suspect camps, although they have been changed superficially, can be easily reactivated as terrorist-training facilities. Members of some terrorist groups remain at other government facilities or are dispersed in Libyan cities.
Tripoli appears to have put its own terrorist operations on hold during 1992 in an effort to evade and then lift UN sanctions. However, the regime orchestrated the April mob attacks on the Venezuelan and Russian Embassies in Tripoli in retaliation for their support for UN sanctions against Libya. The attacks were staged to appear as though angry Libyan citizens had spontaneously rioted against the embassies, throwing gasoline bombs and stones.
On 4 December, German prosecutors identified two Libyan Embassy workers as having helped a Palestinian carry out the 1986 La Belle disco bombing that killed two US soldiers and a Turkish woman and wounded more than 200. The Libyans implicated in the case were working at the time at Libya's Embassy in East Germany and supplied the Palestinian with weapons and other cover support. In addition, the two Libyans had worked with the Palestinian in plotting an attack against a location where US soldiers congregated. This latest confirmation of Libyan involvement in the La Belle bombing serves as a reminder of Tripoli's traditional practice of using its diplomatic missions abroad to carry out terrorist acts.
North Korea The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since 1987, when a KAL airliner was bombed in flight. While not explicitly renouncing terrorism, the DPRK Foreign Ministry made an ambiguous condemnation of international terrorism on 26 March 1992 following the passage of a UN Security Council resolution on the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. North Korea appears to be honoring its pledge to abandon violence against South Korea, as set out in the 1991 reconciliation agreement. North Korea also appears to be respecting a promise to the Philippine Government to suspend its support for the Communist New People's Army (NPA). Normalization talks with Japan broke off in the fall of 1992, when North Korea refused to respond to questions concerning the status of a Korean resident of Japan allegedly kidnapped by North Koreans to teach Japanese to DPRK terrorists involved in the 1987 KAL bombing. P'yongyang continues to provide political sanctuary to members of the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction who participated in the hijacking of a Japanese airlines flight to North Korea in 1970.
Syria There is no evidence that Syrian officials have been directly involved in planning or executing terrorist attacks outside Lebanon since 1986, but Syria continues to provide support and safehaven to a number of groups that engage in international terrorism. Syria has at times restrained the activities of these groups.
Several radical groups maintain training camps or other facilities on Syrian territory. Ahmad Jabril's PFLP-GC, for example, has its headquarters near Damascus. In addition, areas of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley under Syria's control provide sanctuary for a wide variety of groups engaged in terrorism, including the PFLP-GC, Hizballah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), and the Japanese Red Army (JRA). The notorious international terrorist Carlos continues to enjoy Syrian sanctuary.
Two organizations that have engaged in terrorism in Turkey maintained training camps in the Bekaa Valley throughout much of 1992. Dev Sol killed three Westerners in Turkey, including two Americans, in terrorist attacks in 1991 and was responsible for two rocket attacks against the US Consulate in Istanbul in 1992. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is responsible for dozens of terrorist incidents in Turkey, including bombings in public places and the kidnapping of foreigners. PKK leader Ahmed Ocalan also uses Syria as his residence and base of operations, with Syrian Government knowledge and support. PKK operations are the subject of ongoing talks between Syria and Turkey, and the Turks report some progress. Press reports indicate that the Lebanese Army closed down--apparently with Syrian approval--the Dev Sol and PKK facilities in September, although it is not clear whether the terrorist groups have left the Bekaa Valley altogether.