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Background Information on Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Released by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
October 8, 1999
Compiled every 2 years
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
Armed Islamic Group (GIA)
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
Gama'a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group, IG)
HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)
Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM)
Hizballah (Party of God)
Japanese Red Army (JRA)
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE)
Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK, MKO, NCR, and many others)
National Liberation Army (ELN)
Palestine Islamic Jihad-Shaqaqi Faction (PIJ)
Palestine Liberation Front-Abu Abbas Faction (PLF)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17 November)
Revolutionary People's Liberation Army/Front (DHKP/C)
Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA)
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL)
Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)
Definition of Terrorist Activity Used in These Designations
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) a.k.a. Black September, the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the Arab Revolutionary Council, the Arab Revolutionary Brigades, the Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims
Description: International terrorist organization led by Sabri al-Banna. Split from PLO in 1974. Made up of various functional committees, including political, military, and financial.
Activities: Has carried out terrorist attacks in 20 countries, killing or injuring almost 900 persons. Targets include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, moderate Palestinians, the PLO, and various Arab countries. Major attacks included the Rome and Vienna airports in December 1985, the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul and the Pan Am Flight 73 hijacking in Karachi in September 1986, and the City of Poros day-excursion ship attack in July 1988 in Greece. Suspected of assassinating PLO deputy chief Abu Iyad and PLO security chief Abu Hul in Tunis in January 1991. ANO assassinated a Jordanian diplomat in Lebanon in January 1994 and has been linked to the killing of the PLO representative there. Has not attacked Western targets since the late 1980s.
Strength: Several hundred plus militia in Lebanon and limited overseas support structure.
Location/Area of Operation: Al-Banna may have relocated to Iraq in December 1998, where the group maintains a presence. Has an operational presence in Lebanon in the Bekaa Valley and several Palestinian refugee camps in coastal areas of Lebanon. Also has a presence in Sudan and Syria, among others. Has demonstrated ability to operate over wide area, including the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.
External Aid: Has received considerable support, including safehaven, training, logistic assistance, and financial aid from Iraq, Libya, and Syria (until 1987), in addition to close support for selected operations.
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) a.k.a. Al Harakat Al Islamiyya
Description: Smallest and most radical of the Islamic separatist groups operating in the southern Philippines. Split from the Moro National Liberation Front in 1991 under the leadership of Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani, who was killed in a clash with Philippine police on 18 December 1998. Some members have studied or worked in the Middle East and developed ties to Arab mujahidin while fighting and training in Afghanistan.
Activities: Uses bombs, assassinations, kidnappings, and extortion payments to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, areas in the southern Philippines heavily populated by Muslims. Raided the town of Ipil in Mindanao in April 1995, the group's first large-scale action. Suspected of several small-scale bombings and kidnappings in 1998.
Strength: Unknown, but believed to have about 200 members.
Location/Area of Operation: The ASG operates in the southern Philippines and occasionally in Manila.
External Aid: Probably receives support from Islamic extremists in the Middle East and South Asia.
Armed Islamic Group (GIA) a.k.a. Groupement Islamique Arme, AIG, Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah al-Musallah
Description: An Islamic extremist group, the GIA aims to overthrow the secular Algerian regime and replace it with an Islamic state. The GIA began its violent activities in early 1992 after Algiers voided the victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS)--the largest Islamic party--in the first round of legislative elections in December 1991.
Activities: Frequent attacks against civilians, journalists, and foreign residents. In the last several years the GIA has conducted a terrorist campaign of civilian massacres, sometimes wiping out entire villages in its area of operations and frequently killing hundreds of civilians. Since announcing its terrorist campaign against foreigners living in Algeria in September 1993, the GIA has killed more than 100 expatriate men and women--mostly Europeans--in the country. Uses assassinations and bombings, including car bombs, and it is known to favor kidnapping victims and slitting their throats. The GIA hijacked an Air France flight to Algiers in December 1994, and suspicions centered on the group for a series of bombings in France in 1995.
Strength: Unknown, probably several hundred to several thousand.
Location/Area of Operation: Algeria.
External Aid: Algerian expatriates and GIA members abroad, many of whom reside in Western Europe, provide some financial and logistic support. In addition, the Algerian Government has accused Iran and Sudan of supporting Algerian extremists and severed diplomatic relations with Iran in March 1993.
Aum Shinrikyo a.k.a. Aum Supreme Truth, A.I.C. Sogo Kenkyusho, A.I.C. Comprehensive Research Institute
Description: A cult established in 1987 by Shoko Asahara, Aum aims to take over Japan and then the world. Its organizational structure mimicks that of a nation-state, with "finance," "construction," and "science and technology" ministries. Approved as a religious entity in 1989 under Japanese law, the group ran candidates in a Japanese parliamentary election in 1990. Over time, the cult began to emphasize the imminence of the end of the world and stated that the United States would initiate "Armageddon" by starting World War III with Japan. The Japanese Government revoked its recognition of Aum as a religious organization in October 1995, but in 1997 a government panel decided not to invoke the Anti-Subversive Law against the group, which would have outlawed the cult.
Activities: On 20 March 1995 Aum members simultaneously released sarin nerve gas on several Tokyo subway trains, killing 12 persons and injuring up to 6,000. The group was responsible for other mysterious chemical incidents in Japan in 1994. Its efforts to conduct attacks using biological agents have been unsuccessful. Japanese police arrested Asahara in May 1995, and he remained on trial facing seventeen counts of murder at the end of 1998. In 1997 and 1998 the cult resumed its recruiting activities in Japan and opened several commercial businesses. Maintains an Internet homepage that indicates Armageddon and anti-US sentiment remain a part of the cult's world view.
Strength: At the time of the Tokyo subway attack, the group claimed to have 9,000 members in Japan and up to 40,000 worldwide. Its current strength is unknown.
Location/Area of Operation: Operates in Japan, but previously had a presence in Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, the former Yugoslavia, and the United States.
External: Aid None.
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) a.k.a Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna
Description: Founded in 1959 with the aim of establishing an independent homeland based on Marxist principles in Spain's Basque region and the southwestern French provinces of Labourd, Basse-Navarra, and Soule.
Activities: Primarily bombings and assassinations of Spanish Government officials, especially security and military forces, politicians, and judicial figures. In response to French operations against the group, ETA also has targeted French interests. Finances its activities through kidnappings, robberies, and extortion. Has killed more than 800 persons since it began lethal attacks in the early 1960s; responsible for murdering 6 persons in 1998. ETA declared a "unilateral and indefinite" cease-fire on 17 September 1998.
Strength: Unknown; may have hundreds of members, plus supporters.
Location/Area of Operation: Operates primarily in the Basque autonomous regions of northern Spain and southwestern France, but also has bombed Spanish and French interests elsewhere.
External: Aid Has received training at various times in the past in Libya, Lebanon, and Nicaragua. Some ETA members allegedly have received sanctuary in Cuba. Also appears to have ties to the Irish Republican Army through the two groups' legal political wings.
Gama'a al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Group, IG) a.k.a. al-Gama'at, Islamic Gama'at, Egyptian al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya, GI
Description: Egypt's largest militant group, active since the late 1970s; appears to be loosely organized. Has an external wing with a worldwide presence. Signed Usama Bin Ladin's fatwa in February 1998 calling for attacks against US civilians but publicly has denied that it supports Bin Ladin. Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman is al-Gama'at's preeminent spiritual leader, and the group publicly has threatened to retaliate against US interests for his incarceration. Primary goal is to overthrow the Egyptian Government and replace it with an Islamic state.
Activities: Armed attacks against Egyptian security and other government officials, Coptic Christians, and Egyptian opponents of Islamic extremism. Al-Gama'at has launched attacks on tourists in Egypt since 1992, most notably the attack in November 1997 at Luxor that killed 58 foreign tourists. Also claimed responsibility for the attempt in June 1995 to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Strength: Unknown, but probably several thousand hardcore members and another several thousand sympathizers.
Location/Area of Operation: Operates mainly in the Al Minya, Asyu't, Qina, and Soha Governorates of southern Egypt. Also appears to have support in Cairo, Alexandria, and other urban locations, particularly among unemployed graduates and students. Has a worldwide presence, including in the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, and Austria.
External Aid: Unknown. The Egyptian Government believes that Iranian, Sudanese, and Afghan militant groups support the IG.
HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) a.k.a. Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, Students of Ayyash, Students of the Engineer, Yahya Ayyash Units, Izz Al-Din Al-Qassim Brigades, Izz Al-Din Al-Qassim Forces, Izz Al-Din Al-Qassim Battalions, Izz al-Din Al Qassam Brigades, Izz al-Din Al Qassam Forces, Izz al-Din Al Qassam Battalions
Description: Formed in late 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Various HAMAS elements have used both political and violent means, including terrorism, to pursue the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel. Loosely structured, with some elements working clandestinely and others working openly through mosques and social service institutions to recruit members, raise money, organize activities, and distribute propaganda. HAMAS's strength is concentrated in the Gaza Strip and a few areas of the West Bank. Also has engaged in peaceful political activity, such as running candidates in West Bank Chamber of Commerce elections.
Activities: HAMAS activists, especially those in the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have conducted many attacks--including large-scale suicide bombings--against Israeli civilian and military targets, suspected Palestinian collaborators, and Fatah rivals.
Strength: Unknown number of hardcore members; tens of thousands of supporters and sympathizers.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily the occupied territories, Israel, and Jordan.
External Aid: Receives funding from Palestinian expatriates, Iran, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states. Some fundraising and propaganda activity take place in Western Europe and North America.
Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM) a.k.a. Harakat ul-Ansar, HUA, Al-Hadid, Al-Hadith, Al-Faran
Description: Formerly the Harakat ul-Ansar, which was designated a foreign terrorist organization in October 1997. HUM is an Islamic militant group based in Pakistan that operates primarily in Kashmir. Leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil has been linked to Bin Ladin and signed his fatwa in February 1998 calling for attacks on US and Western interests. Operates terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan and suffered casualties in the US missile strikes on Bin Ladin-associated training camps in Khowst in August 1998. Fazlur Rehman Khalil subsequently said that HUM would take revenge on the United States.
Activities: Has conducted a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Kashmir. Linked to the Kashmiri militant group al-Faran that kidnapped five Western tourists in Kashmir in July 1995; one was killed in August 1995, and the other four reportedly were killed in December of the same year.
Strength: Has several thousand armed supporters located in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, and India's southern Kashmir and Doda regions. Supporters are mostly Pakistanis and Kashmiris, and also include Afghans and Arab veterans of the Afghan war. Uses light and heavy machineguns, assault rifles, mortars, explosives, and rockets.
Location/Area of Operation: Based in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, but members conduct insurgent and terrorist activities, primarily in Kashmir. The HUM trains its militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
External Aid: Collects donations from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf and Islamic states and from Pakistanis and Kashmiris. The source and amount of HUA's military funding are unknown.
Hizballah (Party of God) a.k.a. Islamic Jihad, Islamic Jihad Organization, Revolutionary Justice Organization, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, Organization of Right Against Wrong, Ansar Allah, Followers of the Prophet Muhammed
Description: Radical Shia group formed in Lebanon; dedicated to creation of Iranian-style Islamic republic in Lebanon and removal of all non-Islamic influences from the area. Strongly anti-West and anti-Israel. Closely allied with, and often directed by, Iran but may have conducted operations that were not approved by Tehran.
Activities: Known or suspected to have been involved in numerous anti-US terrorist attacks, including the suicide truck bombing of the US Embassy and US Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983 and the US Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984. Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping and detention of US and other Western hostages in Lebanon. The group also attacked the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992.
Strength: Several thousand.
Location/Area of Operation: Operates in the Bekaa Valley, the southern suburbs of Beirut, and southern Lebanon. Has established cells in Europe, Africa, South America, North America, and elsewhere.
External Aid: Receives substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran and Syria.
Japanese Red Army (JRA) a.k.a. Anti-Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB), Nippon Sekigun, Nihon Sekigun, the Holy War Brigade, the Anti-War Democratic Front
Description: An international terrorist group formed around 1970 after breaking away from Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction. Led by Fusako Shigenobu, believed to be in Syrian-garrisoned area of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Stated goals are to overthrow Japanese Government and monarchy and help foment world revolution. Organization unclear but may control or at least have ties to Anti-Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB). Also may have links to Antiwar Democratic Front, an overt leftist political organization in Japan. Details released following arrest in November 1987 of leader Osamu Maruoka indicate that JRA may be organizing cells in Asian cities, such as Manila and Singapore. Has had close and longstanding relations with Palestinian terrorist groups--based and operating outside Japan--since its inception.
Activities: During the 1970s JRA conducted a series of attacks around the world, including the massacre in 1972 at Lod Airport in Israel, two Japanese airliner hijackings, and an attempted takeover of the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. In April 1988, JRA operative Yu Kikumura was arrested with explosives on the New Jersey Turnpike, apparently planning an attack to coincide with the bombing of a USO club in Naples and a suspected JRA operation that killed five, including a US servicewoman. Kikumura was convicted of these charges and is serving a lengthy prison sentence in the United States. In March 1995, Ekita Yukiko, a longtime JRA activist, was arrested in Romania and subsequently deported to Japan. Eight others have been arrested since 1996, but leader Shigenobu remains at large.
Strength: About eight hardcore members; undetermined number of sympathizers.
Location/Area of Operation: Location unknown, but possibly based in Syrian-controlled areas of Lebanon.
External Aid: Unknown.
al-Jihad a.k.a. Egyptian al-Jihad, New Jihad, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Jihad Group
Description: Egyptian Islamic extremist group active since the late 1970s. Appears to be divided into two factions: one led by Ayman al-Zawahiri--who currently is in Afghanistan and is a key leader in terrorist financier Usama Bin Ladin's new World Islamic Front--and the Vanguards of Conquest (Talaa' al-Fateh) led by Ahmad Husayn Agiza. Abbud al-Zumar, leader of the original Jihad, is imprisoned in Egypt and recently joined the group's jailed spiritual leader, Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman, in a call for a "peaceful front." Primary goal is to overthrow the Egyptian Government and replace it with an Islamic state. Increasingly willing to target US interests in Egypt.
Activities: Specializes in armed attacks against high-level Egyptian Government officials. The original Jihad was responsible for the assassination in 1981 of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Appears to concentrate on high-level, high-profile Egyptian Government officials, including cabinet ministers. Claimed responsibility for the attempted assassinations of Interior Minister Hassan al-Alfi in August 1993 and Prime Minister Atef Sedky in November 1993. Has not conducted an attack inside Egypt since 1993 and never has targeted foreign tourists there. Has threatened to retaliate against the United States, however, for its incarceration of Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman and, more recently, for the arrests of its members in Albania, Azerbaijan, and the United Kingdom.
Strength: Not known, but probably several thousand hardcore members and another several thousand sympathizers among the various factions.
Location/Area of Operation: Operates in the Cairo area. Has a network outside Egypt, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and Sudan.
External Aid: Not known. The Egyptian Government claims that Iran, Sudan, and militant Islamic groups in Afghanistan--including Usama Bin Ladin--support the Jihad factions. Also may obtain some funding through various Islamic nongovernmental organizations.
Kach a.k.a. the Repression of Traitors, Dikuy Bogdim, DOV, the State of Judea, the Committee for the Safety of the Roads, the Sword of David, Judea Police, Forefront of the Idea, The Qomemiyut Movement, The Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea
Kahane Chai a.k.a. Kahane Lives, the Kfar Tapuah Fund, The Judean Voice, The Judean Legion, The Way of the Torah, The Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea, KOACH
Description: Stated goal is to restore the biblical state of Israel. Kach (founded by radical Israeli-American rabbi Meir Kahane) and its offshoot Kahane Chai, which means "Kahane Lives," (founded by Meir Kahane's son Binyamin following his father's assassination in the United States) were declared to be terrorist organizations in March 1994 by the Israeli Cabinet under the 1948 Terrorism Law. This followed the groups' statements in support of Dr. Baruch Goldstein's attack in February 1994 on the al-Ibrahimi Mosque--Goldstein was affiliated with Kach--and their verbal attacks on the Israeli Government.
Activities: Organize protests against the Israeli Government. Harass and threaten Palestinians in Hebron and the West Bank. Have threatened to attack Arabs, Palestinians, and Israeli Government officials. Claimed responsibility for several shootings of West Bank Palestinians that killed four persons and wounded two in 1993.
Location/Area of Operation: Israel and West Bank settlements, particularly Qiryat Arba' in Hebron.
External Aid: Receives support from sympathizers in the United States and Europe.
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) a.k.a. Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan
Description: Established in 1974 as a Marxist-Leninist insurgent group primarily composed of Turkish Kurds. In recent years has moved beyond rural-based insurgent activities to include urban terrorism. Seeks to establish an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, where the population is predominantly Kurdish.
Activities: Primary targets are Turkish Government security forces in Turkey but also has been active in Western Europe against Turkish targets. Conducted attacks on Turkish diplomatic and commercial facilities in dozens of West European cities in 1993 and again in spring 1995. In an attempt to damage Turkey's tourist industry, the PKK has bombed tourist sites and hotels and kidnapped foreign tourists.
Strength: Approximately 10,000 to 15,000. Has thousands of sympathizers in Turkey and Europe.
Location/Area of Operation: Operates in Turkey, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
External Aid: Has received safehaven and modest aid from Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The Syrian Government claims to have expelled the PKK from its territory in October 1998.
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) a.k.a. Tamil Tigers, Ellalan Force. Known front organizations: World Tamil Association (WTA), World Tamil Movement (WTM), the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils (FACT), the Sangillan Force
Description: The most powerful Tamil group in Sri Lanka, founded in 1976. Uses overt and illegal methods to raise funds, acquire weapons, and publicize its cause of establishing an independent Tamil state. Began its armed conflict with the Sri Lankan Government in 1983 and relies on a guerrilla strategy that includes the use of terrorist tactics.
Activities: Has integrated a battlefield insurgent strategy with a terrorist program that targets not only key government personnel in the countryside but also senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders in Colombo. LTTE political assassinations and bombings have become commonplace, including suicide attacks against Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993 and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. Has refrained from targeting Western tourists out of fear that foreign governments would crack down on Tamil expatriates involved in fundraising activities abroad. Prefers to attack vulnerable government facilities and withdraw before reinforcements arrive.
Strength: Approximately 10,000 armed combatants in Sri Lanka; about 3,000 to 6,000 form a trained cadre of fighters. The LTTE also has a significant overseas support structure for fundraising, weapons procurement, and propaganda activities.
Location/Area of Operation: Controls most of the northern and eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka and has conducted operations throughout the island. Headquartered in the Jaffna peninsula, LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has established an extensive network of checkpoints and informants to keep track of any outsiders who enter the group's area of control.
External Aid: The LTTE's overt organizations support Tamil separatism by lobbying foreign governments and the United Nations. Also uses its international contacts to procure weapons, communications, and bombmaking equipment. Exploits large Tamil communities in North America, Europe, and Asia to obtain funds and supplies for its fighters in Sri Lanka. Some Tamil communities in Europe also are involved in narcotics smuggling.
Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO) a.k.a. Mujahedin-e Khalq, the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA, the militant wing of the MEK), People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), National Council of Resistance (NCR), Organization of the People's Holy Warriors of Iran, Sazeman-e Mujahedin-e Khalq-e Iran, Muslim Iranian Student's Society (front organization used to garner financial support)
Description: Formed in the 1960s by the college-educated children of Iranian merchants, the MEK sought to counter what it perceived as excessive Western influence in the Shah's regime. Following a philosophy that mixes Marxism and Islam, has developed into the largest and most active armed Iranian dissident group. Its history is studded with anti-Western activity, and, most recently, attacks on the interests of the clerical regime in Iran and abroad.
Activities: Worldwide campaign against the Iranian Government stresses propaganda and occasionally uses terrorist violence. During the 1970s the MEK staged terrorist attacks inside Iran and killed several US military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. Supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran. In April 1992 conducted attacks on Iranian embassies in 13 different countries, demonstrating the group's ability to mount large-scale operations overseas. Recent attacks in Iran include three explosions in Tehran in June 1998 that killed three persons and the assassination of Asadollah Lajevardi, the former director of the Evin Prison.
Strength: Several thousand fighters based in Iraq with an extensive overseas support structure. Most of the fighters are organized in the MEK's National Liberation Army (NLA).
Location/Area of Operation: In the 1980s the MEK's leaders were forced by Iranian security forces to flee to France. Most resettled in Iraq by 1987. In the mid-1980s did not mount terrorist operations in Iran at a level similar to its activities in the 1970s. In recent years has claimed credit for a number of operations in Iran.
External Aid: Beyond support from Iraq, the MEK uses front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities.
National Liberation Army (ELN) a.k.a. the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional
Description: Pro-Cuban, anti-US guerrilla group formed in January 1965. Primarily rural based, although has several urban fronts, particularly in the Magdalena Medio region. Entered peace talks with Colombian Civil Society in mid-1998 and was preparing to participate in a national convention in early 1999.
Activities: Conducted weekly assaults on oil infrastructure (typically pipeline bombings) and has inflicted massive oil spills. Extortion and bombings against US and other foreign businesses, especially the petroleum industry. Annually conducts several hundred kidnappings for profit, including foreign employees of large corporations. Forces coca and opium poppy cultivators to pay protection money and attacks government efforts to eradicate these crops.
Strength: Approximately 3,000-5,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of active supporters.
Location/Area of Operation: Colombia, border regions of Venezuela.
External Aid: None.
Palestine Islamic Jihad-Shaqaqi Faction a.k.a. PIJ-Shaqaqi Faction, PIJ-Shallah Faction, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Islamic Jihad of Palestine, Islamic Jihad in Palestine, Abu Ghunaym Squad of the Hizballah Bayt Al-Maqdis
Description: Originated among militant Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s; a series of loosely affiliated factions rather than a cohesive group. Committed to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel through holy war. Because of its strong support for Israel, the United States has been identified as an enemy of the PIJ. Also opposes moderate Arab governments that it believes have been tainted by Western secularism.
Activities: Has threatened to retaliate against Israel and the United States for the murder of PIJ leader Fathi Shaqaqi in Malta in October 1995. Conducted suicide bombings against Israeli targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel. Has threatened to attack US interests in Jordan.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily Israel and the occupied territories and other parts of the Middle East, including Jordan and Lebanon. The largest faction is based in Syria.
External Aid: Receives financial assistance from Iran and limited assistance from Syria.
Palestine Liberation Front-Abu Abbas Faction a.k.a. the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), PLF-Abu Abbas
Description: Broke away from the PFLP-GC in mid-1970s. Later split again into pro-PLO, pro-Syrian, and pro-Libyan factions. Pro-PLO faction led by Muhammad Abbas (Abu Abbas), who became member of PLO Executive Committee in 1984 but left it in 1991.
Activities: The Abu Abbas-led faction has conducted attacks against Israel. Abbas's group also was responsible for the attack in 1985 on the cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of US citizen Leon Klinghoffer. A warrant for Abu Abbas's arrest is outstanding in Italy.
Strength: At least 50.
Location/Area of Operation: PLO faction based in Tunisia until Achille Lauro attack. Now based in Iraq.
External Aid: Receives support mainly from Iraq. Has received support from Libya in the past.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) a.k.a. the Red Eagles, the Red Eagle Group, the Red Eagle Gang, the Halhul Gang, the Halhul Squad
Description: Marxist-Leninist group founded in 1967 by George Habash as a member of the PLO. Joined the Alliance of Palestinian Forces (APF) to oppose the Declaration of Principles signed in 1993 and has suspended participation in the PLO. Broke away from the APF, along with the DFLP, in 1996 over ideological differences. Has made limited moves toward merging with the DFLP since the mid-1990s.
Activities: Committed numerous international terrorist attacks during the 1970s. Since 1978 has conducted numerous attacks against Israeli or moderate Arab targets, including killing a settler and her son in December 1996.
Strength: Some 800.
Location/Area of Operation: Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and the occupied territories.
External Aid: Receives most of its financial and military assistance from Syria and Libya.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)
Description: Split from the PFLP in 1968, claiming it wanted to focus more on fighting and less on politics. Violently opposed to Arafat's PLO. Led by Ahmad Jabril, a former captain in the Syrian Army. Closely tied to both Syria and Iran.
Activities: Has conducted numerous cross-border terrorist attacks into Israel using unusual means, such as hot-air balloons and motorized hang gliders.
Strength: Several hundred.
Location/Area of Operation: Headquartered in Damascus with bases in Lebanon and cells in Europe.
External Aid: Receives logistic and military support from Syria and financial support from Iran.
al-Qa'ida a.k.a. al Qaeda, "the Base," the Islamic Army, the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, the Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places, the Usama Bin Laden Network, the Usama Bin Laden Organization, Islamic Salvation Foundation, The Group for the Preservation of the Holy Sites.
Description: Established by Usama Bin Ladin about 1990 to bring together Arabs who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. Helped finance, recruit, transport, and train Sunni Islamic extremists for the Afghan resistance. Current goal is to "reestablish the Muslim State" throughout the world. Works with allied Islamic extremist groups to overthrow regimes it deems "non-Islamic" and remove Westerners from Muslim countries. Issued statement under banner of "The World Islamic Front for Jihad Against The Jews and Crusaders" in February 1998, saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill US citizens, civilian or military, and their allies everywhere.
Activities: Conducted the bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, on 7 August that killed at least 301 persons and injured more than 5,000 others. Claims to have shot down US helicopters and killed US servicemen in Somalia in 1993 and to have conducted three bombings targeted against the US troop presence in Aden, Yemen in December 1992. Linked to plans for attempted terrorist operations, including the assassination of the Pope during his visit to Manila in late 1994; simultaneous bombings of the US and Israeli Embassies in Manila and other Asian capitals in late 1994; the midair bombing of a dozen US trans-Pacific flights in 1995; and a plan to kill President Clinton during a visit to the Philippines in early 1995. Continues to train, finance, and provide logistic support to terrorist groups that support these goals.
Strength: May have from several hundred to several thousand members. Also serves as the core of a loose umbrella organization that includes many Sunni Islamic extremist groups, including factions of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Gama'at al-Islamiyya, and the Harakat ul-Mujahidin.
Location/Area of Operation: The Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam underscore al-Qa'ida's global reach. Bin Ladin and his key lieutenants reside in Afghanistan, and the group maintains terrorist training camps there.
External Aid: Bin Ladin, son of a billionaire Saudi family, is said to have inherited around $300 million that he uses to finance the group. Al-Qa'ida also maintains money-making businesses, collects donations from like-minded supporters, and illicitly siphons funds from donations to Muslim charitable organizations.
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) a.k.a. Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia
Description: The largest, best-trained, and best-equipped insurgent organization in Colombia. Established in 1964 as a rural-based, pro-Soviet guerrilla army. Organized along military lines and includes several urban fronts. Has been anti-United States since its inception. The FARC agreed in 1998 to enter into preliminary peace talks with the Colombian Government. The Pastrana administration demilitarized five large rural municipalities to meet FARC conditions for peace talks. (President Pastrana traveled to this area on 7 January 1999 to inaugurate peace talks with guerrilla leaders, although the FARC's senior-most leader failed to attend.)
Activities: Armed attacks against Colombian political, economic, military, and police targets. Many members pursue criminal activities, carrying out hundreds of kidnappings for profit annually. Foreign citizens often are targets of FARC kidnappings. Group has well-documented ties to narcotics traffickers, principally through the provision of armed protection for coca and poppy cultivation and narcotics production facilities, as well as through attacks on government narcotics eradication efforts. Also began in 1998 a bombing campaign against oil pipelines.
Strength: Approximately 8,000-12,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of supporters, mostly in rural areas.
Location/Area of Operation: Colombia, with occasional operations in border areas of Venezuela, Panama, Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador.
External Aid: None.
Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17 November) a.k.a. Epanastatiki Organosi 17 Noemvri
Description: Radical leftist group established in 1975 and named for the student uprising in Greece in November 1973 that protested the military regime. Anti-Greek establishment, anti-US, anti-Turkey, anti-NATO, and committed to the ouster of US bases, removal of Turkish military presence from Cyprus, and severing of Greece's ties to NATO and the European Union (EU). Possibly affiliated with other Greek terrorist groups.
Activities: Initial attacks were assassinations of senior US officials and Greek public figures. Added bombings in 1980s. Since 1990 has expanded targets to include EU facilities and foreign firms investing in Greece and has added improvised rocket attacks to its methods.
Strength: Unknown, but presumed to be small.
Location/Area of Operation: Athens, Greece.
External Aid: Unknown.
Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front a.k.a. Devrimci Sol (Revolutionary Left), Dev Sol, Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi (DHKP/C), Dev Sol Silahli Devrimci Birlikleri, Dev Sol SDB, Dev Sol Armed Revolutionary Units
Description: Originally formed in 1978 as Devrimci Sol, or Dev Sol, a splinter faction of the Turkish People's Liberation Party/Front. Renamed in 1994 after factional infighting, it espouses a Marxist ideology and is virulently anti-US and anti-NATO. Finances its activities chiefly through armed robberies and extortion.
Activities: Since the late 1980s has concentrated attacks against current and retired Turkish security and military officials. Began a new campaign against foreign interests in 1990. Assassinated two US military contractors and wounded a US Air Force officer to protest the Gulf war. Launched rockets at US Consulate in Istanbul in 1992. Assassinated prominent Turkish businessman in early 1996, its first significant terrorist act as DHKP/C.
Location/Area of Operation: Conducts attacks in Turkey--primarily in Istanbul--Ankara, Izmir, and Adana. Raises funds in Western Europe.
External Aid: Unknown.
Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA) a.k.a. Epanastatikos Laikos Agonas, Revolutionary Popular Struggle, Popular Revolutionary Struggle, June 78, Organization of Revolutionary Internationalist Solidarity, Revolutionary Nuclei, Revolutionary Cells, Liberation Struggle
Description: Extreme leftist group that developed from opposition to the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974. Formed in 1971, ELA is a self-described revolutionary, anti-capitalist, and anti-imperialist group that has declared its opposition to "imperialist domination, exploitation, and oppression"; Strongly anti-US and seeks the removal of US military forces from Greece.
Activities: Since 1974 has conducted bombings against Greek Government and economic targets as well as US military and business facilities. In 1986 stepped up attacks on Greek Government and commercial interests. Raid on a safehouse in 1990 revealed a weapons cache and direct contacts with other Greek terrorist groups, including 1 May and Revolutionary Solidarity. In 1991, ELA and 1 May claimed joint responsibility for over 20 bombings. Greek police believe they have established a link between the ELA and the Revolutionary Organization 17 November.
Location/Area of Operation: Greece.
External Aid: No known foreign sponsors.
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL) a.k.a. Partido Comunista del Peru en el Sendero Luminoso de Jose Carlos Mariategui (Communist Party of Peru on the Shining Path of Jose Carlos Mariategui), Partido Comunista del Peru (Communist Party of Peru), PCP, Socorro Popular del Peru (People's Aid of Peru), SPP, Ejercito Guerrillero Popular (People's Guerrilla Army), EGP, Ejercito Popular de Liberacion (People's Liberation Army), EPL
Description: Larger of Peru's two insurgencies, SL is among the world's most ruthless guerrilla organizations. Formed in the late 1960s by then university professor Abimael Guzman. Stated goal is to destroy existing Peruvian institutions and replace them with peasant revolutionary regime. Also wants to rid Peru of foreign influences. Guzman's capture in September 1992 was a major blow, as were arrests of other SL leaders in 1995, defections, and Peruvian President Fujimori's amnesty program for repentant terrorists.
Activities: Has engaged in particularly brutal forms of terrorism, including the indiscriminate use of bombs. Conducted fewer attacks in 1998, generally limited to rural areas. Almost every institution in Peru has been a target of SL violence. Has bombed diplomatic missions of several countries in Peru, including the US Embassy. Conducts bombing campaigns and selective assassinations. Has attacked US businesses since its inception. Involved in cocaine trade.
Strength: Approximately 1,500 to 2,500 armed militants; larger number of supporters, mostly in rural areas.
Location/Area of Operation: Rural based, with few violent attacks in the capital.
External Aid: None.
Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) a.k.a. Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru
Description: Traditional Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement formed in 1983. Aims to rid Peru of imperialism and establish Marxist regime. Has suffered from defections and government counterterrorist successes in addition to infighting and loss of leftist support.
Activities: Bombings, kidnappings, ambushes, assassinations. Previously responsible for large number of anti-US attacks; recent activity has dropped off dramatically. Most members have been jailed. Nonetheless, in December 1996, 14 MRTA members overtook the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Lima during a diplomatic reception, capturing hundreds. Government forces stormed the residence in April, 1997 rescuing all but one of the remaining hostages. Has not conducted a significant terrorist operation since then.
Strength: Believed to have fewer than 100 remaining members.
Location/Area of Operation: Peru.
External Aid: None.
Definition of Terrorist Activity Used in These Designations
- "(ii)TERRORIST ACTIVITY DEFINED--As used in this Act, the term "terrorist activity" means any activity which is unlawful under the laws of the place where it is committed (or which, if committed in the United States, would be unlawful under the laws of the United States or any State) and which involves any of the following":
- "(I) The highjacking or sabotage of any conveyance (including an aircraft, vessel, or vehicle)."
- "(II) The seizing or detaining, and threatening to kill, injure, or continue to detain, another individual in order compel a third person (including a governmental organization) to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the individual seized or detained."
- "(III) A violent attack upon an internationally protected person (as defined in section 1116(b)(4) of title 18, United States code) or upon the liberty of such a person."
- "(IV) An assassination."
- "(V) The use on any--"
- "(a) biological agent, chemical agent, or nuclear weapon or device," or
- "(b) explosive or firearm (other than for mere personal monetary gain), with intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property."
- "(VI) A threat, attempt, or conspiracy to do any of the foregoing."
- "(iii) ENGAGE IN TERRORIST ACTIVITY DEFINED.-As used in the Act, the term "engage in terrorist activity" means to commit, in an individual capacity or as a member of an organization, an act of terrorist activity or an act which the actor knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support to any individual, organization, or government in conducting a terrorist activity at any time, including any of the following acts":
- "(I) The preparation or planning of a terrorist activity."
- "(II) the gathering of information on potential targets for terrorist activity."
- "(III) The providing of any type of material support, including a safe house, transportation, communication, funds, false identification, weapons, explosives, or training, to any individual the actor knows or has reason to believe has committed or plans to commit a terrorist activity."
- "(IV) The soliciting of funds or other things of value for terrorist activity of for any terrorist organization."
- "(V) The solicitation of any individual for membership in a terrorist organization, terrorist government, or to engage in a terrorist activity."