30 April 2003
Seven Nations Cited as Sponsors of Terror in State Department
(Iran remains most active state sponsor, U.S. report says) (2980)
The seven designated state sponsors of terrorism did not take the
necessary steps in 2002 to disassociate themselves fully from their
ties to terrorism, according to the Department of State's annual
international terrorism report.
The "Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2002" report, released April 30,
identifies Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan as
state sponsors of terrorism.
"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," the report says.
The designation of state sponsors of terrorism is a mechanism for
isolating nations that use terrorism as a means of political
expression, according to the report. Countries on the list, which has
remained unchanged since Sudan was added in 1993, are subject to a
variety of U.S. trade, aid and financial sanctions.
"State sponsors of terrorism impede the efforts of the United States
and the international community to fight terrorism," the report says.
"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 report cites Iran as the most active state sponsor. "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," the report says.
Following is the text of the report's overview of state-sponsored
U.S. Department of State
April 30, 2003
Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002
Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
Despite significant pressure from the U.S. Government, the seven
designated state sponsors of terrorism -- Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya,
North Korea, Syria, and Sudan -- did 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 safe haven and transit to some Palestinian
rejectionist groups. Suspended U.N. sanctions against Libya remained
in place, as Libya again failed to comply with U.N. 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, others -- notably
Iraq, Iran, and North Korea -- have done little to comply. Iraq,
through its intelligence service, prepared for possible attacks
against Western targets and was a safe haven, 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 safe haven in Iran.
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
Although Cuba signed and ratified all 12 international
counterterrorism conventions in 2001, it has remained opposed to the
U.S.-led Coalition prosecuting the war on global terrorism and has
been actively critical of many associated U.S. policies and actions.
On repeated occasions, for example, Cuba sent agents to U.S. missions
around the world who provided false leads designed to subvert the
post-September 11 investigation. Cuba did not protest the use of the
Guantanamo Bay base to house enemy combatants from the conflict in
In 2002, Cuba continued to host several terrorists and U.S. fugitives.
Havana permitted up to 20 Basque Fatherland and Liberty members to
reside in Cuba and provided some degree of safe haven and support to
members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
and National Liberation Army (ELN) groups. Bogotá was aware of the
arrangement and apparently acquiesced; it has publicly indicated that
it seeks Cuba's continued mediation with ELN agents in Cuba.
An accused Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons expert and longtime
resident of Havana went on trial in Colombia in 2002. He had been
caught a year earlier in Colombia with two other IRA members and
detained for allegedly training the FARC in advanced use of
explosives. Some U.S. fugitives continued to live on the island.
Iran remained 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.
Iran's 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 safe haven 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 Iran's formidable security
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 groups -- notably HAMAS, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and
the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command --
with funding, safe haven, training, and weapons. Tehran also
encouraged Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionist groups to
coordinate their planning and to escalate their terrorist activities
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 to terrorism.
State Sponsor: Implications
Designating countries that repeatedly support international terrorism
(i.e., placing a country on the "terrorism list") imposes four main
sets of U.S. Government sanctions:
1. A ban on arms-related exports and sales.
2. Controls over exports of dual-use items, requiring 30-day
congressional notification for goods or services that could
significantly enhance the terrorist list country's military capability
or ability to support terrorism.
3. Prohibitions on economic assistance.
4. Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions,
-- Requiring the United States to oppose loans by the World Bank and
other international financial institutions.
-- Lifting the diplomatic immunity to allow families of terrorist
victims to file civil lawsuits in U.S. courts.
-- Denying companies and individuals tax credits for income earned in
terrorist list countries.
-- Denial of duty-free treatment for goods exported to the United
-- Authority to prohibit any U.S. person from engaging in a financial
transaction with a terrorist-list government without a Treasury
-- Prohibition of Defense Department contracts above $100,000 with
companies controlled by terrorist-list states.
Iraq planned 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 U.S. and Israeli targets. The IIS also
threatened dissidents in the Near East and Europe and stole records
and computer files detailing anti-regime activity. In December 2002,
the press claimed Iraqi intelligence killed Walid al-Mayahi, a Shi'a
Iraqi refugee in Lebanon and member of the Iraqi National Congress.
Iraq was a safe haven, 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 organizations -- Iranian 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 attacks.
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 Kurdistan -- where the IIS operates -- is 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 Saddam's regime. In the past year, al-Qaida operatives
in northern Iraq concocted suspect chemicals under the direction of
senior al-Qaida associate Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi and tried to smuggle
them into Russia, Western Europe, and the United States for terrorist
Iraq is a party to five of the 12 international conventions and
protocols relating to terrorism.
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 "heretics" -- a likely reference to Libyan
extremists allied with al-Qaida and opposed to his regime -- as
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 clients.
Libya's past record of terrorism continued to hinder Qadhafi's efforts
to shed Libya's pariah status in 2002. In March, a Scottish appellate
court upheld the conviction -- originally returned in January 2001 --
of 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 year's end it had
not been concluded.
Despite progress toward the payment of appropriate compensation, at
year's end Libya had yet to comply with the remaining U.N. Security
Council requirements related to Pan Am Flight 103, necessary for the
permanent lifting of U.N. sanctions, including accepting
responsibility for the actions of its officials.
In October, lawyers representing the seven U.S. citizens who died in
the bombing of UTA Flight 772 in 1989 -- for which a French court
convicted six Libyans in absentia in 1999 -- filed 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
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) response to
international efforts to combat terrorism was disappointing throughout
2002, although in a statement released after the September 11 attacks,
the DPRK had reiterated its public policy of opposing terrorism and
any support for terrorism. In 2001, following the September 11
attacks, it also signed the U.N. Convention for the Suppression of the
Financing of Terrorism and became a party to the Convention Against
the Taking of Hostages.
Despite the urging of the international community, however, North
Korea did not take substantial steps to cooperate in efforts to combat
terrorism. Its initial and supplementary reports to the U.N.
Counterterrorism Committee on actions it had undertaken to comply with
its obligations under UNSCR 1373 were largely uninformative and
non-responsive. It did not respond to previous U.S. proposals for
discussions on terrorism and did not report any efforts to freeze
without delay funds and other financial assets or economic resources
of persons who commit, or attempt to commit, terrorist acts that UNSCR
1373, among other things, requires all states to do.
North Korea is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since
1987. It has sold weapons to several terrorist groups, however, even
as it reiterated its opposition to all forms of international
terrorism. Pyongyang also has provided safe haven to several Japanese
Red Army members who participated in the hijacking of a Japanese
Airlines flight to North Korea in 1970.
Pyongyang continued to sell ballistic missile technology to countries
designated by the United States as state sponsors of terrorism,
including Syria and Libya.
North Korea is a party to six of the 12 international conventions and
protocols relating to terrorism.
Sudan was cooperating with U.S. counterterrorism efforts before 11
September 2001, which included a close relationship with various U.S.
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 1983 -- a U.S. policy priority that
parallels the U.S. objective of having Sudan deny safe haven to
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 Sudan's 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 U.N. 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 U.N. Security Council to encourage
international support for Palestinian national aspirations and
denounce Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories as "state
The Syrian government has repeatedly assured the United States that it
will take every possible measure to protect U.S. citizens and
facilities from terrorists in Syria. In times of increased threat, it
has increased police protection around the U.S. Embassy. During the
past five years, there have been no acts of terrorism against U.S.
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 to terrorism.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)