Great Seal logo Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999


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The U.S. Government continues its commitment to use all tools necessary--including international diplomacy, law enforcement, intelligence collection and sharing, and military force--to counter current terrorist threats and hold terrorists accountable for past actions. Terrorists seek refuge in "swamps" where government control is weak or governments are sympathetic. We seek to drain these swamps. Through international and domestic legislation and strengthened law enforcement, the United States seeks to limit the room in which terrorists can move, plan, raise funds, and operate. Our goal is to eliminate terrorist safehavens, dry up their sources of revenue, break up their cells, disrupt their movements, and criminalize their behavior. We work closely with other countries to increase international political will to limit all aspects of terrorists' efforts.

U.S. counterterrorist policies are tailored to combat what we believe to be the shifting trends in terrorism. One trend is the shift from well-organized, localized groups supported by state sponsors to loosely organized, international networks of terrorists. Such a network supported the failed attempt to smuggle explosives material and detonating devices into Seattle in December. With the decrease of state funding, these loosely networked individuals and groups have turned increasingly to other sources of funding, including private sponsorship, narcotrafficking, crime, and illegal trade. This shift parallels a change from primarily politically motivated terrorism to terrorism that is more religiously or ideologically motivated. Another trend is the shift eastward of the locus of terrorism from the Middle East to South Asia, specifically Afghanistan. As most Middle Eastern governments have strengthened their counterterrorist response, terrorists and their organizations have sought safehaven in areas where they can operate with impunity.

U.S. Policy Tenets

Our policy has four main elements:
  • First, make no concessions to terrorists and strike no deals.
  • Second, bring terrorists to justice for their crimes.
  • Third, isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism to force them to change their behavior.
  • Fourth, bolster the counterterrorist capabilities of those countries that work with the United States and require assistance.

The U.S. Government uses two primary legislative tools--the designations of state sponsors and of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)--as well as bilateral and multilateral efforts to implement these tenets.

State Sponsors

After extensive research and intelligence analysis, the Department of State designates certain states as sponsors of terrorism in order to enlist a series of sanctions against them for providing support for international terrorism. Through these sanctions, the United States seeks to isolate states from the international community, which condemns and rejects the use of terror as a legitimate political tool. This year the Department of State has redesignated the same seven states that have been on the list since 1993: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.

The designation of state sponsors is not permanent, however. In fact, a primary focus of US counterterrorist policy is to move state sponsors off the list by delineating clearly what steps these countries must take to end their support for terrorism and by urging them to take these steps.

As direct state sponsorship has declined, terrorists increasingly have sought refuge wherever they can. Some countries on the list have reduced dramatically their direct support of terrorism over the past years--and this is an encouraging sign. They still are on the list, however, usually for activity in two categories: harboring of past terrorists (some for more than 20 years) and continuing their linkages to designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Cuba is one of the state sponsors that falls in this category.

The harboring of past terrorists, although not an active measure, is still significant in terms of US policy. International terrorists must know unequivocally that they cannot seek haven in states and "wait out" the period until international pressure diminishes. The US Government encourages all state sponsors to terminate all links to terrorism--including harboring old "Cold War terrorists"--and join the international community in observing zero tolerance for terrorism. Of course, if a state sponsor meets the criteria for being dropped from the terrorism list, it will be removed--notwithstanding other differences we may have with a country's other policies and actions.

There have been encouraging signs recently suggesting that some countries are considering taking steps to distance themselves from terrorism. North Korea has made some positive statements condemning terrorism in all its forms. We have outlined clearly to the Government of North Korea the steps it must take to be removed from the list, all of which are consistent with its stated policies. A Middle East peace agreement necessarily would address terrorist issues and would lead to Syria being considered for removal from the list of state sponsors.

In addition to working to move states away from sponsorship, the Department of State constantly monitors other states whose policies and actions increase the threat to US citizens living and working abroad.

Areas of Concern

The primary terrorist threats to the United States emanate from two regions, South Asia and the Middle East. Supported by state sponsors, terrorists live in and operate out of areas in these regions with impunity. They find refuge and support in countries that are sympathetic to their use of violence for political gain, derive mutual benefit from harboring terrorists, or simply are weakly governed. The United States will continue to use the designations of state sponsors and Foreign Terrorist Organizations, political and economic pressure, and other means as necessary to compel those states that allow terrorists to live, move, and operate with impunity and those who provide financial and political patronage for terrorists to end their direct or indirect support for terrorism.

In South Asia the major terrorist threat comes from Afghanistan, which continues to be the primary safehaven for terrorists. While not directly hostile to the United States, the Taliban, which controls the majority of Afghan territory, continues to harbor Usama Bin Ladin and a host of other terrorists loosely linked to Bin Ladin, who directly threaten the United States and others in the international community. The Taliban is unwilling to take actions against terrorists trained in Afghanistan, many of whom have been linked to numerous international terrorist plots, including the foiled plots in Jordan and Washington State in December 1999. Pakistan continues to send mixed messages on terrorism. Despite significant and material cooperation in some areas--particularly arrests and extraditions--the Pakistani Government also has tolerated terrorists living and moving freely within its territory. Pakistan's government has supported groups that engage in violence in Kashmir, and it has provided indirect support for terrorists in Afghanistan.

In the Middle East, two state sponsors--Iran and Syria--have continued to support regional terrorist groups that seek to destroy the Middle East peace process. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) continue to provide training, financial, and political support directly to Lebanese Hizballah, HAMAS, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives who seek to disrupt the peace process. These terrorist organizations, along with others, are based in Damascus, a situation that the Syrian Government made little effort to change in 1999. The Syrian Government--through harboring terrorists, allowing their free movement, and providing resources--continued to be a crucial link in the terrorist threat emanating from this region during the past year. Lebanon also was a key--although different--link in the terrorist equation. The Lebanese Government does not exercise control over many parts of its territory where terrorist groups operate with impunity, often under Syrian protection, thus leaving Lebanon as another key safehaven for Hizballah, HAMAS, and several other groups the United States has designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)

Secretary Albright in October designated 28 Foreign Terrorist Organizations, dropping three from the previous list (issued in 1997) and adding one. The removal or addition of groups shows our effort to maintain a current list that accurately reflects those groups that are foreign, engage in terrorist activity, and threaten the security of U.S. citizens or the national security of the United States. The designations make members and representatives of those groups ineligible for U.S. visas and subject to exclusion from the United States. U.S. financial institutions are required to block the funds of those groups and of their agents and to report the blocking action to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Additionally, it is a criminal offense for US persons or persons within U.S. jurisdiction knowingly to provide material support or resources to such groups.

As in the case of state sponsorship, the goal of US policy is to eliminate the use of terrorism as a policy instrument by those organizations it designates as FTOs. Organizations that cease to engage in terrorist-related activities will be dropped from the list.

A complete list of the designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations is included in Appendix B.

U.S. Diplomatic Efforts

In addition to continuing our cooperation with close allies and friends, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, and Japan, we made significant progress on our primary policy objectives with other key governments and organizations. In 2000 we began a bilateral counterterrorist working group with India, and we look forward to increasing US-Indian counterterrorist cooperation in the years ahead.

We worked closely with the Group of Eight (G-8) states and reached a common agreement about the threat that Iran's support for terrorist groups poses to the Middle East peace process. In the meeting in November of counterterrorist experts the G-8 representatives agreed that the Iranian Government had increased its activities and support for HAMAS, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hizballah with the aim of undermining the Middle East peace process. We explored with G-8 partners ways to exert influence on the Iranian Government to end its sponsorship of those groups.

In 1999 we also expanded our discussions with Russia and initiated dialogues with key Central Asian states, the Palestinian Authority, and other states eager to cooperate with the United States and strengthen their ability to counter terrorist threats.

The United States worked closely with the Government of Argentina and other hemispheric partners to bring about the creation of CICTE, the Organization of American States' (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Counterterrorism. As the first chair of CICTE, the United States worked with other OAS members to develop new means to diminish the terrorist threat in this hemisphere.

This past summer the United States also hosted an important multilateral conference that brought together senior counterterrorist officials from more than 20 countries, primarily from the Middle East, Central Asia, and Asia. The conference promoted international cooperation against terrorism, the sharing of information on terrorist groups and countermeasures, and the discussion of policy choices.

After President Clinton issued an Executive Order in July levying sanctions against the Taliban for harboring terrorist suspect Usama Bin Ladin, the United Nations in October overwhelmingly passed Security Council Resolution 1267, which imposed a similar set of sanctions against the Taliban.

On 8 December the UN General Assembly also adopted the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, which grew out of the G-8's initiative to combat terrorist financing and was drafted and introduced by France. The convention fills an important gap in international law by expanding the legal framework for international cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and extradition of persons who engage in terrorist financing.

The United States conducts a successful program to train foreign law enforcement personnel in such areas as airport security, bomb detection, maritime security, VIP protection, hostage rescue, and crisis management. To date, we have trained more than 20,000 representatives from over 100 countries. We also conduct an active research and development program to adapt modern technology for use in defeating terrorists.


The United States continues to make progress in fighting terrorism. The policy and programs of the past 20 years have reduced dramatically the role of state sponsors in directly supporting terrorism. The threat is shifting, and we are responding accordingly. It is our clear policy goal to get all seven countries and 28 FTOs out of the terrorist business completely. We seek to have all state sponsors rejoin the community of nations committed to ending the threat. We must redouble our efforts, however, to "drain the swamp" in other countries--whether hostile to the United States or not--where terrorists seek to find safehaven for their planning and operations.

Terrorism will be with us for the foreseeable future. Some terrorists will continue using the most popular form of terrorism--the truck or car bomb--while others will seek alternative means to deliver their deadly message, including weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or cyber attacks. We must remain vigilant to these new threats, and we are preparing ourselves for them.

All terrorists--even a "cyber terrorist"--must occupy physical space to carry out attacks. The strong political will of states to counter the threat of terrorism remains the crucial variable of our success.


Adverse mention in this report of individual members of any political, social, ethnic, religious, or national group is not meant to imply that all members of that group are terrorists. Indeed, terrorists represent a small minority of dedicated, often fanatical, individuals in most such groups. It is those small groups--and their actions--that are the subject of this report.

Furthermore, terrorist acts are part of a larger phenomenon of politically inspired violence, and at times the line between the two can become difficult to draw. To relate terrorist events to the larger context and to give a feel for the conflicts that spawn violence, this report will discuss terrorist acts as well as other violent incidents that are not necessarily international terrorism.

Ambassador Michael A. Sheehan
Coordinator for Counterterrorism

Legislative Requirements

This report is submitted in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(a), which requires the Department of State to provide Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of Section (a)(1) and (2) of the Act. As required by legislation, the report includes detailed assessments of foreign countries where significant terrorist acts occurred and countries about which Congress was notified during the preceding five years pursuant to Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (the so-called terrorist list countries that repeatedly have provided state support for international terrorism). In addition, the report includes all relevant information about the previous year's activities of individuals, terrorist organizations, or umbrella groups known to be responsible for the kidnapping or death of any U.S. citizen during the preceding five years, and groups known to be financed by state sponsors of terrorism.

In 1996, Congress amended the reporting requirements contained in the above-referenced law. The amended law requires the Department of State to report on the extent to which other countries cooperate with the United States in apprehending, convicting, and punishing terrorists responsible for attacking US citizens or interests. The law also requires that this report describe the extent to which foreign governments are cooperating, or have cooperated during the previous five years, in preventing future acts of terrorism. As permitted in the amended legislation, the Department is submitting such information to Congress in a classified annex to this unclassified report.


No one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. For the purposes of this report, however, we have chosen the definition of terrorism contained in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d). That statute contains the following definitions:
  • The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant (1) targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

  • The term "international terrorism" means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country.

  • The term "terrorist group" means any group practicing, or that has significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism.

The U.S. Government has employed these definitions of terrorism for statistical and analytical purposes since 1983.

Domestic terrorism is a more widespread phenomenon than international terrorism. Because international terrorism has a direct impact on US interests, it is the primary focus of this report. Nonetheless, the report also describes, but does not provide statistics on, significant developments in domestic terrorism.


(1) For purposes of this definition, the term "noncombatant" is interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who at the time of the incident are unarmed or not on duty. For example, in past reports we have listed as terrorist incidents the murders of the following US military personnel: Col. James Rowe, killed in Manila in April 1989; Capt. William Nordeen, U.S. defense attache killed in Athens in June 1988; the two servicemen killed in the La Belle discotheque bombing in West Berlin in April 1986; and the four off-duty U.S. Embassy Marine guards killed in a cafe in El Salvador in June 1985. We also consider as acts of terrorist attacks on military installations or on armed military personnel when a state of military hostilities does not exist at the site, such as bombings against U.S. bases in Europe, the Philippines, or elsewhere.

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