The Near East region remained one of the most active in terms of terrorist activity in 2011. Many countries across the region experienced increased instability as a result of the events of the Arab Awakening, and some terrorists attempted to exploit this situation. This was of particular concern as it related to loose munitions from Libyan stocks and the threat of terrorists obtaining Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), which could pose significant risks to regional security and civil aviation.
Multiple terrorist organizations displayed the capability and intent to strike at targets across the region and to garner influence in states undergoing political transitions. Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula gained more physical territory in Yemen as the result of the political turmoil. Al-Qa'ida in Iraq – even with diminished leadership and capabilities – continued to conduct attacks across Iraq, while Shia militants largely ceased attacks but continued to threaten U.S. targets in Iraq. Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) conducted attacks against Algerian government targets and undertook kidnappings elsewhere to extort ransoms. Hizballah in Lebanon remained a significant threat to the stability of Lebanon and the broader region. In Israel and the Palestinian territories, several groups maintained the capability to launch attacks and acquired sophisticated weaponry from outside the country.
Iran (see Chapter 3, State Sponsors of Terrorism ), continued to be the world's leading sponsor of terrorist activity. In addition to engaging in its own terrorist plotting, the Iranian government continued to provide financial, material, and logistical support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East. Despite its pledge to support the stabilization of Iraq, Iran continued to provide lethal support, including weapons, training, funding, and guidance, to Iraqi Shia militant groups targeting U.S. and Iraqi forces.
Governments across the region improved their own counterterrorism capabilities despite these persistent threats, effectively disrupting the activities of a number of terrorists. The Iraqi government displayed increased capability and efficacy in pursuing multiple Sunni extremist groups. Though AQIM's presence and activity in the Sahel remains worrisome, the group's isolation in Algeria grew as Algeria increased its already substantial efforts to target the group.
While Saudi Arabia remained vulnerable because of the increased instability in Yemen, its efforts to put an end to domestic terrorist activity remained resolute; the Saudi government displayed professionalism in tactical counterterrorism operations and counterterrorist finance. Israel and the Palestinian Authority also worked to diminish the threat posed by various Palestinian terrorist groups and Hizballah, including stopping weapons smuggling in and around Gaza and suicide bombers attempting to attack Israel via Gaza and the West Bank.
Overview: In 2011, al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) remained a significant security threat, primarily in the mountainous areas east of Algiers and in the vast desert regions of the south, near countries on Algeria's southern border: Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. AQIM largely targeted Algerian security forces, but civilians were also wounded or killed collaterally. Algerian security forces isolated AQIM in the north and decreased the number of successful terrorist attacks, but AQIM continued to execute suicide attacks, attacks using improvised explosive devices (IED), and ambushes in the non-urban areas outside Algiers. Kidnapping Westerners in remote areas continued during the year as AQIM held hostages with the goal of receiving lucrative ransom payments. Algerian officials cited links between AQIM and other African terrorist groups, such as al-Shabaab and Boko Haram, and also noted criminal links between AQIM and narcotraffickers in the Sahel.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: AQIM engaged in notable terrorist activities in non-urban areas, including the first major terrorist attack in Western Algeria since July 2009, the first kidnapping of a foreigner in southern Algeria since 2003. The group's repeated attempts to move weapons from Libya into northern Mali and southern Algeria were partially stymied by joint Algerian and Nigerien border security operations. As in years past, Algeria experienced a spike in terrorist incidents during the summer and just prior to the start of Ramadan, which began August 1.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Algerian security forces, primarily gendarmerie troops under the Ministry of National Defense – conducted periodic sweep operations in the Kabylie region southeast of the capital in order to capture groups of AQIM fighters. Algerian law enforcement agencies cooperated with the United States and other foreign governments to prevent terrorist attacks against foreigners.
Over the course of the year, press reports indicated that security forces killed or captured approximately 800 suspected terrorists. In April, soldiers killed seven terrorists and arrested two during a military operation on the southeastern border with Libya. Algeria closed that border in September and sent thousands of security forces to secure it and prevent weapons smuggling. Authorities recovered 11 automatic weapons from the terrorists.
Algeria continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program. Plans were made to expand existing capacity building cooperation for skills in investigations, forensics, and border security.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Algeria is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body, and hosted one of the 2011 plenary sessions. The Government of Algeria was reviewing its 2005 Anti-Money Laundering/Counterterrorist Financing (AML/CTF) law to determine amendments necessary in order to comply with FATF Recommendations. As a result, Algeria was working on elements of an Action Plan it drafted with the FATF as part of the International Cooperation Review Group process. Algeria has examined the deficiencies in its Financial Intelligence Unit and is working to improve analytical and resource capacity there as well.
In early 2011, Algeria rescinded a July 2010 presidential decree that mandated that all financial transactions over U.S. $6,670 be conducted by credit card, check, or other non-cash method in an effort to increase financial transparency, track illegal financing of terrorism, and reduce the possibility of corruption.
Algeria had no specific legislation to freeze terrorist assets but maintained that its ratification of international terrorist financing conventions gave it the authority to do so. Brokerage institutions and insurance companies were not covered under AML/CTF law. The MENAFATF report cited no clear legal obligation requiring financial institutions to include information on transaction originators. The report also noted that Algeria's Central Bank did not routinely circulate lists to financial institutions.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Algeria is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). In November, Algeria co-chaired and hosted the first meeting of the GCTF's Sahel Working Group; foreign ministry officials from more than 30 countries and international organizations met and discussed border control, law enforcement, and countering terrorist financing.
Algeria hosted a partnership conference in September for foreign ministry and defense officials from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, who were joined by counterterrorism and development officials from 20 other countries and international organizations to discuss law enforcement and development issues in the region. The presidents of Mali and Mauritania made state visits to Algeria in October and December, respectively, to discuss security and economic issues.
These efforts were in addition to the combined military command center in Tamanrasset (in southern Algeria) and the intelligence sharing center in Algiers that housed representatives from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Algeria carried out periodic counterterrorism consultations with the United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States through standing bilateral contact groups.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Algerian government enlisted religious scholars and former terrorists to appear on its Radio Quran radio station to appeal directly to terrorists active in the mountains. Programs featured Islamic scholars from Algeria and Gulf countries who argued against the doctrines used by AQIM to justify terrorist operations. Former Algerian terrorists appealed to terrorists to stop fighting and surrender to Algerian authorities. Other radio programs instructed listeners in various aspects of Islamic law. Algerian newspapers reported that the radio appeals played a major role in convincing scores of terrorists to lay down their arms and take advantage of government amnesty. (Under the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, the Algerian government has offered amnesty to terrorists who surrender and who have not committed major terrorist acts.)
The government had the authority to prescreen and approve sermons before they are delivered during Friday prayers. In practice, each province and county employed religious officials to review sermon content. The Ministry of Religious Affairs' educational commission is responsible for establishing policies for hiring teachers at Quranic schools and ensuring that all imams are well-qualified and followed governmental guidelines aimed at stemming violent extremism. The government also has youth outreach programs through the Muslim Scouts.
Overview: Bahrain enhanced its internal capacity and active support of regional and international counterterrorism issues against the backdrop of a turbulent year: mass protests began in February calling for political reform and expanded civil rights for members of the Shia majority. Bahrain was six years into a transformation program that has taken the kingdom's security services from a colonial force focused on population control to a modern Western-style organization capable of both preventing and responding to terrorist attacks. The government worked to enhance border control capability, contribute manpower to international counterterrorism operations, participate in international technical training, and realign internal responsibilities. Bahraini-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation was strong, especially on the investigations of several suspected domestic terrorist incidents, and Bahrain continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: On November 12, the Ministry of Interior announced that five Bahraini men were arrested and accused of forming a terrorist cell that sought to target the King Fahd (Bahrain-Saudi) Causeway, the Ministry of Interior headquarters, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Manama, and prominent individuals. Four of the suspects were arrested in Qatar and handed over to Bahraini authorities on November 4; a fifth suspect was later arrested. The Bahraini Public Prosecutor said that investigators found evidence that the five men had been trained and financed by Iranian groups and led by two London-based Bahraini extremists. On November 23, a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) was found on the side of a road outside the royal Safriya Palace. Preliminary Ministry of Interior lab results were inconclusive, and U.S. analysis of the device was still ongoing at year's end. No claims of responsibility were made. On December 4, an IED was detonated under a vehicle in the vicinity of the British Embassy in Manama. There were no injuries or casualties, and no claims of responsibility were made. Bahraini, U.S., and UK authorities were investigating the incident at year's end.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: In November, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry released a report that found that a number of government institutions, including the Bahrain National Security Agency (BNSA), had committed human rights abuses during political and civil unrest in early 2011. King Hamad amended the BNSA charter to revoke the agency's arrest and detention authorities. As a result, BNSA was no longer positioned to take aggressive action against individuals known or suspected of involvement in terrorism. BNSA, as of the end of the year, was in the process of establishing an agreement with Bahrain's Ministry of Interior to conduct arrest and detention operations of designated targets.
On February 21, King Hamad suspended the trial of 25 Bahraini citizens who had been charged under the counterterrorism law; on February 22, he ordered their release. Their arrests and prosecutions had been criticized by local and international human rights organizations as political in nature.
On November 13, the public prosecutor announced that five Bahraini citizens were being charged with the formation of a terrorist group for the purpose of nullification of the provisions of the constitution and law, in addition to other charges. However, the prosecutor did not make it clear whether they would be specifically charged under the counterterrorism law. The investigation was ongoing at year's end.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Bahrain is a member of the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In 2011, there were no public prosecutions of terrorist finance cases. Ministry of Interior officials from the Financial Intelligence Unit attended a U.S.-sponsored conference in Riyadh in August and the “Gulf-European Symposium on Combating Terrorist Financing” in Poland in November. There were no specific timetables or plans adopted by Bahrain related to counterterrorist finance.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional And International Cooperation: Bahrain worked closely and cooperatively with international partners throughout the region. Since formally endorsing the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism in March 2008, Bahrain has proactively worked to expand air, sea, and causeway border control points.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Government of Bahrain's efforts to counter radicalization and violent extremism were spearheaded by the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs (MJIA). The MJIA organized regular workshops and seminars for imams from both the Sunni and Shia sects, and expanded its international scholarship program to include religious schools in Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. It also undertook an annual review of schools' Islamic Studies curricula to evaluate interpretations of religious texts.
Overview: Egyptian security services wrestled with a significantly different political and security environment and experienced some loss of capacity after the January 25, 2011 revolution, creating a potentially more permissive operating environment for terrorist groups. In addition to reduced numbers and low morale, the security services must now operate within a new, ill-defined legal framework. Egyptian officials expressed confidence that the new National Security Sector (NSS), which replaced the Interior Ministry State Security (SSIS), will adequately perform its national security function in intelligence and preventive security. Egypt's Northern Sinai region remained a base for smuggling arms and explosives into Gaza, as well as a transit point for Palestinian extremists. The smuggling of humans, weapons, cash, and other contraband through the Sinai into Israel and Gaza created criminal networks with possible ties to terrorist groups in the region. The smuggling of weapons from Libya through Egypt has increased since the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime. While it remained opposed to violent extremism, the Egyptian government focused its post-revolution efforts on protecting official installations, restoring basic security, and trying to recapture extremists and criminals who escaped from prison.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: In January, a suicide bomber attacked a Coptic Church in Alexandria, killing 23 people. In August, gunmen operating out of Sinai launched an attack near Eilat, killing eight Israelis. While responding to the incident, Israeli soldiers killed six Egyptian border police. The Sinai gas pipeline to Israel was bombed 10 times, forcing production shutdowns. A group calling itself Ansar al-Jihad claimed responsibility for the Eilat attack and two of the pipeline attacks. No one claimed responsibility for the Coptic Church attack.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: In September, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces announced that the Emergency Law would continue to be applied until June 2012 and amended the law to include new violations such as “attacks on freedom of work,” “blocking traffic or closing roads,” and “intentionally publishing or broadcasting false news and rumors.” The Emergency Law allows arrest without a warrant and detention of an individual without charge for as long as 30 days, after which a detainee may demand a court hearing in order to challenge the legality of a detention order. A detainee may resubmit a motion for a hearing at one-month intervals thereafter; however, there is no limit to the detention period if a judge continues to uphold the order or if the detainee fails to exercise the right to a hearing, and there is no possibility of bail.
Egypt maintained its strengthened airport and port security measures and security for the Suez Canal. The United States provided technical assistance to Egypt in an effort to ensure that the Rafah border crossing with Israel was used only for the peaceful and legal movement of people and goods.
In April, an Egyptian state security court released 16 members of the Zeitun cell (a group of 25 people accused of forming a terrorist cell to target tourists and Christians) and continued prosecution of the remaining nine. In December, the court adjourned the trial until March 19, 2012. The Zeitun cell was charged with robbing and murdering a Coptic Christian jeweler to fund terrorist activities, conducting the February 2009 Khan El Khalili bombing, and having ties with al-Qa'ida.
Egypt continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA training and equipment grants for Egypt were tailored to meet objectives and needs specific to Egypt amid the country's evolving political landscape.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Egypt is a member of the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Egypt's terrorist finance regulations were in line with relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions. Egypt regularly informed its own financial institutions of any individuals or entities that are designated by the UN 1267/1989 and 1988 sanctions committees, and Egypt's Code of Criminal Procedures and Penal Code adequately provided for the freezing, seizure, and confiscation of assets related to terrorism.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Egypt is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and, together with the United States, co-chaired its Rule of Law and Justice Committee. Egypt participated in the Arab League's Counterterrorism Committee, and assisted states in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia in building counterterrorism capacity.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Ministry of Awqaf (Endowments) is legally responsible for issuing guidance to imams throughout Egypt, including how to avoid extremism in sermons. Al-Azhar University cooperated with Cambridge University on a training program for imams that promoted moderate Islam, interfaith cooperation, and human rights.
Overview: Iraqi security forces made progress combating al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), Sunni insurgent organizations, and Shia extremist groups. In 2011, overall violence was down from previous years, despite the persistent threat of car bombs, road-side bombs, and indirect fire from armed groups and terrorists. The Iraqi government improved its ability to provide internal security for the country, and Iraqi counterterrorism forces successfully secured multiple large public religious gatherings and improved their ability to conduct operations without U.S. support. The government concentrated its counterterrorism efforts against AQI and Sunni-affiliated terrorist organizations. Security forces in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region were especially effective in preventing terrorist attacks. Despite this progress, terrorist bombings and other attacks continued to occur.
The departure of U.S. military forces from Iraq continued through the last quarter of 2011, with the last troops departing in mid-December. The drawdown poses opportunities and challenges to Iraq's counterterrorism efforts. Iraqi leaders sought to use the U.S. withdrawal to urge extremist groups to renounce violence and join the political process. The departure of U.S. forces also affects the scope of Iraq-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation, with programs now being directed through the embassy and more narrowly focused on intelligence and technical support, as is consistent with our relations with other countries in the region.
AQI remained capable of large-scale coordinated attacks and conducted numerous high-profile suicide and car bombings on government and civilian targets, aiming to increase tensions among Iraq's diverse ethnic and sectarian elements and undercut public confidence in the government's capacity to provide security. AQI operated primarily in regions with majority Sunni Arab populations, but it also conducted successful attacks in Shia-majority areas. AQI aggressively sought to recruit members of the Sons of Iraq (SOI) forces and attacked SOI members who refused to cooperate.
Shia extremist groups conducted multiple attacks, focusing on Iraqi and U.S. government targets, although attacks against the United States abated beginning in June. Iran continued to provide lethal support to a variety of Shia extremist organizations, including Kataib Hizballah (KH), Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), and the Sadrist Promised Day Brigades. These groups operated primarily in majority-Shia regions, but they also conducted attacks in areas with mixed populations. The Iraqi government tried to bring these groups into the political process and urged them to renounce violence.
Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqah al-Naqshabandiyah (JRTN), a Sunni nationalist insurgent group with links to the former Baath Party, also continued attacks during the year. JRTN largely targeted Iraqi and U.S. forces in northern Iraq.
Inflows of foreign fighters linked to AQI and Sunni extremist groups decreased. Members of Shia extremist groups enjoyed relative freedom of movement traveling to and from Iran.
Terrorist tactics evolved during the year. AQI continued to conduct numerous suicide bombings and was able to mount multiple coordinated attacks on several occasions, while Shia extremist groups used rockets and mortars to attack Iraqi and U.S. government sites. Terrorists increasingly used assassinations to target government officials and tribal leaders. On two occasions, KH and AAH conducted deadly attacks on U.S. sites using improvised rocket-assisted munitions.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: Terrorist organizations conducted numerous attacks throughout Iraq. The deadliest involved suicide bombings and targeted security forces, government buildings, and religious gatherings.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Government of Iraq took several steps to improve border security. Iraq continued to install, repair, and improve inspection equipment at ports of entry. The government also expanded the number of ports of entry with the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) biometric data capture, but continued to face challenges linking border security systems. Iraq, with U.S. support, took initial steps to implement the International Maritime Organization's International Ship and Port Facility Security code to improve security for seaports and offshore oil terminals. Iraq also remained an important partner nation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program, which began to shift its focus from training Iraqi Federal Police and Kurdish Regional Government officers in protection of national leadership skills to a broader set of counterterrorism goals.
Iraq's major counterterrorism organizations made progress in investigating cases and arresting terrorists but continued to suffer from a lack of interagency coordination and inadequate cooperation between investigators, prosecutors, and the judiciary. The Major Crimes Task Force, which was composed of U.S. criminal law enforcement agencies, helped train Iraqi government criminal justice and counterterrorism entities to improve their ability to respond to terrorism and violent criminal cases.
Iraq continued to face significant challenges moving criminal cases from arrest to trial. The government carried out few investigations of alleged sectarian-based crimes. While Iraqi security forces made numerous high-profile public arrests of suspected terrorists during the year, arrests following a murder or other crimes remained rare. Iraqi law enforcement officials, with U.S. training support, improved their investigative skills such as forensic evidence collection.
On October 26, an Iraqi court convicted a former Iraqi army sergeant and sentenced him to life for the 2007 murder of two U.S. soldiers. Despite political pressure, the investigative judge conducted a thorough investigation and took ballistics evidence and the testimony of U.S. witnesses into account.
Political influence over the judiciary remained a challenge. Judges investigating and adjudicating terrorism cases faced threats to their personal safety and that of their families. Some terrorism cases were dismissed due to actual or implied threats, and it was reported that some judges made politically motivated decisions.
Countering Terrorist Finance : Iraq's Anti-Money Laundering/Counterterrorist Finance (AML/CTF) legislation is Coalition Provisional Order Number 93. There has never been a prosecution under this statute. Iraq continued to track and identify overseas assets belonging to members of the former regime and linked to terrorist financing. As of December, Iraq had seized and recovered over U.S. $200 million of these funds since 2003. The Iraqi government continued to improve its ability to track and identify funds stolen and transferred outside Iraq.
Although money exchangers and transmitters were required to be licensed by the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), the level of supervision and enforcement was minimal. Money exchangers and transmitters were not required to report suspicious transactions to the CBI. The CBI provided inadequate AML/CTF training to regulators and operators of money exchangers and transmitters. The Iraqi Money Laundering Reporting Office did not have the capacity to oversee and train banks and money exchangers and transmitters on AML/CTF issues. In 2011, Iraq implemented a non-governmental organization (NGO) statute that the legislature passed in 2010. The law provides for the auditing of NGOs and specifies financial reporting requirements. However, the law only requires NGOs to submit an annual “detailed description of the sources of funds” and does not specifically provide for oversight of NGO financing to detect money laundering or terrorist finance.
Regional and International Cooperation: Iraq, Turkey, and the United States continued a trilateral security dialogue as part of ongoing efforts to combat the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the region. Iraqi leaders, including those of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, held multiple meetings with Turkish counterparts to discuss counter-PKK cooperation.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism : In public statements, Iraqi leaders routinely denounced terrorism. The Iraqi government took steps to bring certain Shia extremist groups into the political process. Within the Iraqi correctional system, a few individual prison wardens successfully implemented localized de-radicalization and reintegration programs for detainees. However, the government did not have a centralized terrorist rehabilitation program.
ISRAEL, WEST BANK, AND GAZA
Overview: Israel was a resolute counterterrorism partner in 2011. Israel faced terrorist threats from Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), particularly from Gaza but also from the West Bank, and from Hizballah in Lebanon. Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist organizations continued rocket and mortar attacks into Israeli territory, and skirmished along the security fence surrounding Gaza. The Government of Israel responded to these terrorist threats with operations directed at terrorist leaders, infrastructure, and activities such as rocket launching. Arms smuggling increased from Iran through Egypt into Gaza to Palestinian terrorist organizations. Israeli officials were concerned about the smuggling of weapons from Libya into Gaza. Israeli law enforcement agencies and courts arrested and sentenced a number of terrorist suspects. An August 18 series of shooting and suicide attacks on cars and buses in southern Israel by terrorists who entered Israel from the Sinai killed eight, injured approximately 40, and were the most significant acts of terrorism since 2008.
Israeli government officials continued to assert that Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 helped achieve a level of deterrence, as the number of rocket and mortar launches decreased in comparison with years prior. However, the number of rocket and mortar launches in 2011 increased significantly from the number of launches in both 2009 and 2010. The rocket attacks demonstrated technological advancements, allowing groups to indigenously manufacture and stockpile rockets at a low cost. In addition, Iran increased the provision of medium-range rockets and unsuccessfully tried to smuggle an anti-ship cruise missile into Gaza. Israeli experts maintained that Hamas successfully smuggled long-range rockets from the Sinai Peninsula through tunnels into Gaza and subsequently began producing rockets in Gaza capable of striking Tel Aviv suburbs. The Government of Israel deployed the Iron Dome missile defense system in Israel's south, and it successfully intercepted some projectiles launched from Gaza.
Northern Border: Israeli security officials remained concerned about the terrorist threat posed to Israel from Hizballah and its Iranian patron, arguing that Iran, primarily through the efforts of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), continued to transfer arms to Hizballah in Lebanon. Also, in light of the unrest in Syria, Israeli officials were concerned about proliferation of conventional and non-conventional weapons from Syria to terrorist organizations. Israeli politicians and security officials pointed to Hizballah's efforts to rebuild and re-arm following the 2006 Lebanon War as evidence that Hizballah remained a threat to Israel. Israeli government officials indicated Hizballah possessed as many as 45,000 rockets and missiles, some of which were capable of striking Israeli population centers, including Tel Aviv. On November 29, three rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, causing moderate damage but no injuries.
West Bank: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel Securities Authority (ISA) continued to conduct operations in the West Bank, in part to maintain pressure on Palestinian terrorist organizations and their supporters. Overall, Israeli security services continued the trend of relaxing movement and access measures in the West Bank.
2011 Terrorist Incidents : Israel faced a variety of terrorist attacks and threats in 2011, including shootings, stabbings, a suicide bombing, rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, and skirmishes along the security fence surrounding Gaza. Rocket and mortar fire emanating from Gaza was the most prevalent form of attack by Palestinian terrorist organizations and continued throughout 2011. The two most intense periods of fire were from April 8-11, when Palestinian groups launched approximately 140 rockets and mortars at Israel, and from August 18-25, when groups fired approximately 400 rockets and mortars, killing one and injuring 27. The Government of Israel held Hamas, as the dominant organization in effective control of Gaza, responsible for all rocket and mortar attacks emanating from Gaza, although the majority of such attacks were conducted by PIJ, the Popular Resistance Committees, and other groups inside Gaza. Following such attacks, the Israeli g overnment forces targeted sites where terrorists were launching indirect-fire attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces. Terrorist organizations continued to target Israel with rocket and mortar fire from various locales throughout Gaza. From January 1, 2011 to November 15, 2011, 716 projectiles fired from Gaza landed in Israel, according to the Israeli government.
Terrorist incidents included:
Legislation and Law Enforcement: In February, the Knesset passed a bill that withholds the salary and pensions of any Knesset member suspected or convicted of committing a terrorist attack. In March, the Knesset passed Amendment 40 to the Budget Principles Law, which mandates the reduction or denial of state funding to an organization that practices incitement to terrorism, or supports armed struggle or terrorism against Israel. In August, the Knesset passed Amendment 40 to the Prison Ordinance of 2011, which empowers courts to suspend attorney access to a terrorist suspect for up to 12 months in cases where suspicion exists that the meeting between the attorney and suspect might be used to coordinate a terrorist attack. The former law authorized suspension of attorney access to a detained suspect for several periods of 21 days up to a maximum total period of three months.
On the law enforcement front, the ISA and Israel National Police (INP) continued to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement agencies on cases involving U.S. citizens killed in terrorist attacks, as well as other counterterrorism initiatives of mutual interest.
The Israel Airports Authority implemented a biometric security system for outbound passengers at Ben Gurion International Airport.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Israel had active observer status in the Council of Europe's Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money-laundering Measures, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The Israeli Financial Intelligence Unit, known as the Money-Laundering Prohibition Authority, is a member of the Egmont Group. Israel's counterterrorist finance regime continued to improve, and the well-regulated Israeli banking industry worked to address suspected terrorist activity. Financing of Hamas through charitable organizations remained a concern for Israeli authorities, as did funding Hizballah through charities and criminal organizations.
Regional and International Security Cooperation: In February, Israel signed a two-year agreement with the Organization of American States' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) to cooperate on counter-radicalization, counterterrorist financing, and aviation security. In implementation of the agreement, Israel held an aviation security seminar in September for CICTE in the Bahamas. In March, Israel participated in the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force conference in Ethiopia. Through the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, Israel worked with Kenya and Uganda promoting such issues as border security, countering radicalization, and the “safe cities“ concept (a network of cameras sending live footage to a 24-hour monitoring center). Israel also explored areas of counterterrorism cooperation with the Central Asian republics and the Economic Community of West African States.
Israel joined North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, and was active in the NATO crisis response, consequence management, and civil emergency planning working groups. Israel participated in the European Union (EU) Security Research Initiative to promote technological developments for counterterrorism purposes. Israel also engaged with the EU on transportation and aviation security efforts, including container security. Israelis participated in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Action against Terrorism Unit, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the Megaports Initiative, and was an observer in the Gaza Counter Arms Smuggling Initiative.
Israel conducted strategic dialogues, including counterterrorism discussions, with Germany, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, India, Russia, and the United States. Bilaterally, Israel participated in the annual U.S.-Israel Joint Counterterrorism Group. Israel conducted counterterrorism workshops in Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia tailored to those countries' needs and capabilities.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism : The Israeli government condemned an October 3 attack on a mosque in Tuba-Zangariya, which was set on fire and defaced with Hebrew graffiti. On October 4, President Peres visited the mosque and stressed the importance of religious tolerance.
The Palestinian Territories: West Bank and Gaza
Overview: The Palestinian Authority (PA) continued its counterterrorism efforts. Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade remained present in the West Bank, although the improved capacity of PA Security Forces (PASF) constrained those organizations' ability to carry out attacks inside or from the West Bank.
Palestinian militants killed Israelis in several attacks inside the West Bank. Militants also launched indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks against Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza. Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents, property, and places of worship in the West Bank continued.
The primary PASF operating in the West Bank were the Palestinian Civil Police, the National Security Force, the Preventive Security Organization, the General Intelligence Service, the Presidential Guard, and the Civil Defense. Based on the payroll numbers available, PASF forces numbered approximately 28,000 in total. Much of the PASF were under the interior minister's operational control and followed the prime minister's guidance, while others reported directly to the PA president. Israeli authorities, among others, noted continuing improvements in the capacity and performance of PASF as a leading contributor to the improved security environment in the West Bank. According to IDF statistics, there was a 96 percent reduction in the number of terrorist incidents in the West Bank over the past five years.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad consistently reiterated their commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties. They continued to support a security program involving disarmament of fugitive militants, arresting members of terrorist organizations, and gradually dismantling armed groups in the West Bank.
In September, during rallies throughout the West Bank in support of the Palestinian bid for membership in the United Nations (UN), PASF were on high alert for terrorists or other spoilers who could have upset the peaceful nature of the protests. Despite a turnout numbering in the tens of thousands, events remained largely peaceful, although some clashes occurred between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
In December, well-publicized Israeli settler attacks on IDF personnel and an IDF military base in the West Bank sparked a public debate in Israel on the phenomena of settler violence; political and security officials pledged to implement several steps to curb and punish these violent attacks. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak labeled settler acts as having “the characteristic of homegrown terror;” several months earlier, IDF Head of Central Command Avi Mizrahi labeled attacks against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank as “terror” and ordered the administrative deportation of a dozen Israeli settlers from the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. In 2011, a total of ten Palestinian mosques in the West Bank and Jerusalem were vandalized or set on fire in attacks that Israeli authorities believed were perpetrated by settlers, up from six such incidents in 2010 and one in 2009.
Hamas continued to consolidate its control over Gaza, eliminating or marginalizing potential rivals. Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza continued to smuggle weapons, cash, and other contraband into Gaza through an extensive network of tunnels from Egypt. Gaza remained a base of operations for several terrorist organizations besides Hamas, such as PIJ; Salafist splinter groups, such as Jund Ansar Allah and the Army of Islam; and clan-based criminal groups that engaged in or facilitated terrorist attacks. In October, Israel and Hamas announced the conclusion of a deal which saw the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Some Palestinians perceived the terms of the release as a victory for Hamas and a defeat for the strategy of negotiations and non-violence.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: There were multiple acts of violence conducted by different sub-state actors in the West Bank, both Israeli and Palestinian. Palestinian militants launched indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks at Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza. Attacks included:
Legislation and Law Enforcement: PASF detained terrorists in the West Bank, and PA authorities tried some detainees in military courts. Despite factional reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah, PASF personnel continued to detain Hamas elements in operations often protested by Hamas officials.
No progress was made in apprehending, prosecuting, or bringing to justice the perpetrators of the October 2003 attack on a U.S. embassy convoy in Gaza that killed three U.S. government contractors and critically injured a fourth.
The primary limitation on PA counterterrorism efforts in Gaza remained Hamas' continued control of the area and the resulting inability of PASF to operate there. Limitations on PA counterterrorism efforts in the West Bank included restrictions on the movement and activities of PASF in and through areas of the West Bank for which the Israeli government retained responsibility for security under the terms of Oslo-era agreements. The limited capacity of the PA's civilian criminal justice system also hampered PA counterterrorism efforts.
The PA continued to lack modern forensic capability. The Canadian International Development Agency, through the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, announced a multi-year project to initiate forensic criminal capacity within Palestinian law enforcement.
Countering Terrorist Finance: In 2011, the PA increased its capacity to detect, analyze, and interdict suspicious financial activity. The Palestinian equivalent of a Financial Intelligence Unit, known as the Financial Follow-up Unit, continued to build its capacity. The Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA) maintained a staff of roughly 80 in Gaza to conduct on-site bank examinations, including audits of bank compliance with the PA's 2007 Anti-Money Laundering decree. The PMA is an observer to the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and was working to become a member of both that organization and the Egmont Group. It was also drafting criminal terrorist financing legislation, although a non-functioning legislative branch made it difficult to pass counterterrorist financing laws. The PA Interior and Awqaf and Religious Affairs Ministries monitored the charitable sector for signs of abuse by terrorist organizations.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The PA continued its efforts to monitor and control the content of Friday sermons delivered in mosques in the West Bank to ensure that they did not endorse incitement to violence.
Overview: In 2011, Jordan remained a steadfast counterterrorism partner. In addition to its diplomatic and political assistance to the Israel-Palestinian peace process, Jordan assisted the Palestinian Authority's continued development of state institutions through its law enforcement training programs at the Jordan International Police Training Center (JIPTC). JIPTC-trained forces continued to earn the respect of regional actors for their success in maintaining security in the West Bank.
The Jordanian government further developed its counterterrorism capabilities and improved its capacity. At the same time, the political reform process in Jordan has initiated an open discussion of the country's security institutions, and Jordan wrestled with the challenge of making its security organizations more transparent while maintaining their effectiveness.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Jordan remained committed to securing its borders and to denying terrorists safe haven within the country for attacks against its neighbors. Jordan completed the first phase of the Jordan Border Security Program (JBSP), a sophisticated package of sensors and barriers to help improve situational awareness and prevent illicit infiltration into Jordan or unauthorized transit out of the country. The JBSP was placed along the country's northern border with Syria, an area that has historically proven highly vulnerable to terrorist and criminal infiltration.
Jordan remained a critical partner nation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, which also supported an expansion of the capacity of the JIPTC to provide tactical skills training courses for up to 40 ATA partner nations.
Although they faced steady domestic demonstrations throughout the country, Jordanian security services remained alert to potential terrorist threats and quickly countered identified threats. As a result of their vigilance, several planned attacks were disrupted prior to execution.
The State Security Court (SSC) is Jordan's primary judicial body for addressing national security threats. The SSC was the topic of intense public discussion and parliamentary debate because SSC proceedings were closed to the public, and some civil society organizations consider their procedures opaque. Although there was discussion of restricting the court's purview, which included certain financial and narcotics offenses, the court has retained its jurisdiction over terrorism issues. Several significant cases were adjudicated during the course of the year; for example:
The Arab Awakening encouraged Sunni extremist elements in Jordan to demonstrate openly and publicly express their political positions; their main demand has been the release of imprisoned members of the movement, and the Jordanian government did grant various forms of amnesties or pardons to a number of movement members. In April, Sunni extremist marchers clashed with police in the city of Zarqa, resulting in dozens of injuries, primarily to the unarmed police officers monitoring the initial protest march. This was followed by a crackdown that resulted in the arrests of over 170 people who were accused of either direct participation in the violence or of having ordered the confrontation with the authorities. At year's end, charges had been reduced or dismissed against many of those initially detained, but several dozen participants were still detained pending charges in the State Security Court.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Jordan is a member of Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and actively volunteers to host training events and activities.
Regional and International Cooperation: Jordan is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum.
Countering Violent Extremism: Jordan has sought to confront and weaken the violent ideology that underpins al-Qa'ida and other radical organizations. Jordanian prisons have a religiously-based de-radicalization program that seeks to engage extremist inmates and bring them back into the peaceful mainstream of their faith. Based upon the individual needs of the inmate, this program can include basic literacy classes, employment counseling, and theological instruction.
The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, under the patronage of Prince Ghazi bin-Mohammad, is Jordan's most important center promoting religious tolerance and coexistence. This institute continued its sponsorship of a series of ecumenical events promoting interfaith dialogue, which are known collectively as the “A Common Word” series (after the letter written by Prince Ghazi to Pope Benedict XVI and signed by hundreds of moderate Islamic scholars and imams).
Overview: Kuwait lacked legal provisions that dealt specifically with terrorism and terrorist financing, although the government sought to counter terrorism and violent extremism, notably through other legal statutes and official statements.
On July 16, Kata'ib Hizballah (KH) in Iraq threatened to attack workers building Mubarak al-Kabir port on Bubiyan Island. In subsequent public threats, the KH also named the Kuwaiti National Assembly building in Kuwait City as a possible target for rocket attacks.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: As a result of the Government of Kuwait's lack of a clear legal framework for prosecuting terrorism-related crimes, it often resorted to other legal statutes to try suspected terrorists, which hampered enforcement efforts.
In April, the government introduced biometric fingerprinting at Kuwait International Airport, and announced plans to extend the system to land and sea entry points. On July 18, the Ministry of Interior announced plans to install retina-scanning capabilities at ports of entry and to create a system to link border crossing information to visa submissions at embassies abroad.
On April 27, Kuwait's criminal court reaffirmed the 2005 guilty verdict against Ahmad Abdullah Mohammad al-Otaibi for his participation in the murder of two security officers during a January 2005 clash between the Peninsula Lions violent extremist group and security forces.
On July 18, United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1267 designee Mubarak al-Bathali was sentenced to three years in prison for threatening to kill a Shia member of parliament, incitement, and other charges. On September 5, an appeals court upheld that conviction but reduced the sentence to six months. While serving that sentence, al-Bathali was convicted on September 25 over remarks made on Twitter against Shia Muslims and was sentenced to three months hard labor. On November 28, the second sentence was upheld but the sentence reduced to one week, to be served concurrently with the July 18 sentence.
On November 27, local media reported that security services had arrested three Kuwaiti military officials on suspicion of links with a terrorist cell plotting to attack embassies in Bahrain and Qatar, as well as the King Fahd Causeway connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Kuwait is a member of the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body, and hosted a plenary meeting of that body in 2011. Kuwait's 2011 mutual evaluation report found Kuwait deficient in 37 of FATF's Forty plus Nine Recommendations. Kuwait lacked legislation that criminalized terrorist financing. While Kuwait has an anti-money laundering law and has had some successful money laundering prosecutions, numerous attempts to pass a comprehensive anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance law have failed in Parliament. The entity that Kuwait calls its Financial Intelligence Unit is not an autonomous national entity responsible for receipt, analysis, and dissemination of reports.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MoSAL) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) continued monitoring and supervising charities, including enforcing the ban on cash donations, except during Ramadan, implementing an enhanced receipt system for Ramadan cash donations, and coordinating closely with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to monitor and prosecute fraudulent charities. During its 2011 Ramadan audit, MoSAL reported no violations, and despite more stringent collection regulations, reported an increase in donations. MFA and MoSAL also worked closely with recipient governments, conducting foreign site visits and audits of selected foreign projects funded by Kuwaiti charities. MoSAL suspended registering additional family-based charities ( mabara ) as it prepared additional regulations for those entities.
Regional and International Cooperation: As in previous years, the Kuwaiti Armed Forces, National Guard, and the Ministry of Interior conducted a number of exercises aimed at responding to terrorist attacks, including joint exercises with regional and international partners.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Kuwaiti officials used the occasion of Usama bin Ladin's death as an opportunity to reiterate Kuwait's commitment to fighting terrorism. Prominent politicians said the event was a chance for Muslims to retake the message of Islam from terrorist organizations, who had distorted religious teachings, and instead promote moderation and tolerance. Responding to limited calls to eulogize the terrorist leader, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs instructed mosques that no such funerary events should be held.
Overview: The Lebanese government – despite the continuous political crisis, the formation of a new government dominated by the Syria/Hizballah-aligned March 8 coalition, and the looming threat of a spillover of sectarian violence from Syria – continued to build its counterterrorism capacity and to cooperate with U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Lebanese authorities increased efforts to disrupt suspected Sunni terrorist cells before they could act, arrested numerous suspected al-Qa'ida (AQ)-affiliated militants and Palestinian violent extremists, and uncovered several weapons caches. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), in particular, were credited with capturing wanted terrorist fugitives and containing sectarian violence.
On January 12, Hizballah and its March 8 allies withdrew their ministers from then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri's national unity cabinet and forced its collapse over issues related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is investigating the February 14, 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hizballah continued to object to the STL, which indicted four Hizballah members in July for collaborating in the killing of Hariri and 22 other individuals. In August, Lebanese authorities notified the STL that they were unable to serve the accused with the indictments or personally arrest them. On November 30, Prime Minister Mikati announced that the government had paid $32 million to the STL, thereby meeting its funding obligations towards the Tribunal through 2011.
Hizballah, with deep roots among Lebanon's Shia community, remained the most prominent and influential terrorist group in Lebanon. Several other terrorist organizations remained active in Lebanon. Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC), Asbat al-Ansar, Fatah al-Islam, Fatah al-Intifada, Jund al-Sham, the Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and several other splinter groups all operated within Lebanon's borders, though primarily out of Lebanon's 12 Palestinian refugee camps. The LAF did not have a daily presence in the camps, but it occasionally conducted operations in the camps to combat terrorist threats. In November, United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reported that there has been no progress in efforts to dismantle military bases maintained by the PFLP-GC and Fatah al-Intifada; all but one of these bases are located along the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Over the course of the year, reports surfaced of weapons smuggling into Syria from Lebanon, and from Syria and Iran to Hizballah and other militant groups in Lebanon.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: Unlike recent years, there were no high-profile killings by terrorist groups in 2011. Hizballah and other extremist groups maintained weapons outside the control of the Lebanese government, and there were reports of armed clashes between its members and those of other groups. Incidents included:
Legislation and Law Enforcement: There were no new laws passed in 2011 exclusively pertaining to terrorism. Lebanon has a Megaports and Container Security Initiative program, and participated in six Export Control and Related Border Security programs. Lebanon also continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program. Lebanon did not have biometric systems in place at points of entry into the country. Lebanese passports were machine readable, and the government was considering the adoption of biometric passports. The Directorate of General Security, under the Ministry of Interior, controls immigration and passports and uses an electronic database to collect biographic data of travelers at all points of entry. The government maintained bilateral agreements for information sharing with Syria. Corruption was a factor influencing all aspects of society, including law enforcement.
In August, nine members of Fatah al-Islam, who had never been officially charged, were released from Roumieh prison after being captured during the 2007 clashes with the LAF at Nahr el-Bared.
In September, Internal Security Forces (ISF) conducted an operation against the kidnappers of the Estonian cyclists, killing two and arresting four suspects of the kidnapping. In November, Syrian caught the alleged kingpin behind the kidnapping who was trying to flee Lebanon and handed him to Lebanese security officials.
Lebanese authorities maintained that the amnesty for Lebanese individuals involved in acts of violence during the 1975-90 civil wars prevented the government from prosecuting terrorist cases of concern to the United States.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Lebanon is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Lebanon's Financial Intelligence Unit is the Special Investigation Commission (SIC), an independent legal entity empowered to investigate suspicious financial transactions, lift banking secrecy, and freeze assets. The SIC is a member of the Egmont Group. Between December 2010 and October 2011, the SIC investigated 151 allegations of money laundering and terrorist finance activities and sent seven allegations to the Office of the Prosecutor General for prosecution. The ISF received 22 INTERPOL and 49 SIC requests to investigate money laundering and terrorist financing activities but made no subsequent arrests or prosecutions. Although the number of filed suspicious transaction reports and subsequent money laundering investigations coordinated by the SIC steadily increased over the years, prosecutions and convictions were still lacking. The SIC referred requests for designation or asset freezes regarding Hizballah and affiliated groups to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the Lebanese government did not require banks to freeze these assets, because it does not consider Hizballah a terrorist organization.
The SIC issued a number of circulars amending the regulations on the control of financial and banking operations for countering money laundering and terrorist finance; all deal with exchange institutions and/or transactions with exchange institutions, or the cross-border transportation of cash, metal coins, and bullion. Exchange houses were allegedly used to facilitate money laundering, including by Hizballah. Financial institutions are required to keep records of transactions for five years.
In principle, the Ministry of Interior is responsible for monitoring the finances of all registered Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), but it was inconsistent in the application of its controls, particularly in cases involving politically sensitive groups such as Hizballah. The SIC and the Banking Control Commission (BCC), an independent authority that has oversight over banks and financial institutions, maintained an additional and generally more effective layer of scrutiny for those NGOs that utilize the Lebanese banking system. Although they do not regulate, monitor, or supervise NGOs and non-profit organizations directly, they exercised control over their finances by monitoring their transactions and transfers to and from their accounts. This level of scrutiny only applied to NGOs that utilize the Lebanese banking system; however, several NGOs have acquired non-financial institution licenses from the Central Bank, which also places them under the supervision of the BCC and the SIC.
Regional and International Cooperation: Lebanon continued to voice its commitment to fulfilling relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including 1559, 1680, and 1701. Lebanon is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and subscribes to the OIC's Convention on Combating International Terrorism. In January, Lebanon participated in an OIC conference in Saudi Arabia on the role of the Internet in countering terrorism and extremism. The LAF conducted counterterrorism training exercises with the Jordanian Armed Forces in Jordan.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Lebanon worked with donor countries and international organizations to provide development assistance in Palestinian refugee camps and to provide economic and social opportunities to counter extremism in the camps. The LAF expanded public relations campaigns to bolster its presence and counter Hizballah propaganda throughout the country, particularly in southern Lebanon. There were no programs to rehabilitate and/or reintegrate terrorists into mainstream society.
Overview: Fighting between the Qadhafi loyalists and the rebels consumed most of the country throughout 2011. Loose munitions from Libyan stocks – in particular, the threat of terrorists obtaining Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), which could pose significant risks to regional security and civil aviation, become a significant international issue. The United States funded civilian technical specialists to work in Libya to account for MANPADS stock, but it was unclear how many MANPADS remained and where they were located. Press accounts indicated that al-Qa'ida (AQ) leader Zawahiri dispatched AQ fighters to eastern Libya.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: In previous years, Libya maintained long-standing legislation that was used to counter terrorism and terrorist financing; however, the government was not fully operable during the reporting period. The interim government has expressed its support to maintain existing legislation in the realm of terrorism and sought to cooperate with the international community on information sharing and border security.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Libya is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. However, Libya has yet to undergo a mutual evaluation assessment. (Libya's mutual evaluation assessment was scheduled for March 2011, but was cancelled because of the conflict.) A fter the fall of the Qadhafi regime, there was little information or reliable data on the scope of Libya's anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance countermeasures, including investigations, asset forfeiture, prosecutions, and convictions. Libya's Financial Intelligence Unit was set up under the Qadhafi regime and has retained its Qadhafi-era Director.
Overview: The Moroccan government continued its comprehensive counterterrorism strategy of vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation, and counter-radicalization policies. The investigation of the April Marrakech bombing and indications from Moroccan authorities' disruptions and investigations of other groups supports previous analysis that Morocco's terrorist threat stemmed largely from the existence of numerous small independent extremist cells. These groups remained isolated from one another, small in size, limited in capabilities, and had limited international connections. The Government of Morocco's counterterrorism efforts have effectively reduced the threat, but the Marrakech bombing underscored the need for continued vigilance.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: On April 28, Morocco suffered its worst terrorist attack since 2003, when Adil el-Atmani detonated a 15 kilogram explosive device at the Argana Restaurant in Marrakech. The attack at the café, popular among tourists, killed 15 foreign nationals and two Moroccans, and injured more than 25 others. El-Atmani used an ammonium-based explosive device that he detonated with a cell phone. Hakim el-Dah and seven others helped el-Atmani plan and carry out the attack. The cell was not connected to any organized terrorist groups, but the Ministry of Interior described el-Atmani as a Salafist and an admirer of al-Qa'ida (AQ).
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Morocco aggressively targeted and dismantled terrorist cells within the kingdom by leveraging intelligence collection and police work, and collaborating with regional and international partners. Morocco continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program. Morocco's counterterrorism efforts led to the following disruptions of alleged terrorist cells:
While there were diminishing reports of Moroccans either preparing to go or going to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia to receive training from AQ-linked facilitators and/or to conduct attacks, the government remained concerned about veteran Moroccan terrorists returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya to conduct terrorist attacks at home, and about Moroccans who were radicalized during their stays in Western Europe, such as those connected with the 2004 Madrid train bombings.
The Government of Morocco made public commitments that the struggle against terrorism would not be used to deprive individuals of their rights and emphasized adherence to human rights standards and increased law enforcement transparency as part of its approach. Demonstrating this commitment, the government's investigation of the April bombing was conducted professionally and transparently. In contrast with its response to the 2003 Casablanca bombings, security services did not carry out mass arrests, and the Ministry of Interior granted the media unprecedented access to cover the aftermath of the attack.
In addition, the Moroccan government continued to provide more access for defense lawyers and more transparent court proceedings than in previous years. Moroccan counterterrorism laws were effective in leading to numerous convictions and the upholding of convictions of multiple terrorism suspects, as noted below:
Countering Terrorist Finance: Morocco is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body, and in July, joined the Egmont Group. In January, Morocco adopted legislation to strengthen the definition of the terrorist financing provisions of the criminal code. The new law extended courts' powers to prosecute money laundering crimes committed within the country and abroad, and expanded the list of people and organizations obliged to report on suspicious financial activities. Morocco was publicly identified by the FATF in February 2010 for strategic anti-money laundering/counterterrorism finance deficiencies. Morocco committed to an action plan with the FATF to address these deficiencies and has made significant progress.
Regional and International Cooperation: Morocco is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). Morocco maintained cooperative relationships with European and African partners by sharing information, conducting joint operations, and participating in training maneuvers. Morocco was also a partner nation in the Global Initiative to Counter Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and hosted a GICNT radiological response exercise in March and an Africa outreach meeting in November. Morocco was a Mediterranean Dialogue partner of the European Union's (EU) Barcelona Process and a major non-NATO ally.
While Morocco and Algeria are members of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and GCTF, the level of bilateral cooperation on counterterrorism between the two countries did not improve. Algeria and Morocco's political disagreement over the Western Sahara remained an impediment to deeper counterterrorism cooperation.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: In the past decade, and specifically following the Casablanca (2003) and Madrid (2004) terrorist bombings, Morocco has increasingly focused on countering youth radicalization, upgrading places of worship, modernizing the teaching of Islam, and strengthening the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (MEIA). The MEIA has developed an educational curriculum for Morocco's nearly 50,000 imams to advance tolerance and anti-extremism, which are inherent to the Maliki rite of Sunni Islam (the dominant form of Islam in the country). Additionally, the Moroccan Council of Ulema for Europe and the Minister Delegate for Moroccans Living Abroad also worked to promote a tolerant, peaceful Islam among Moroccan expatriate communities in Europe.
To counter what the Government of Morocco perceived as the dangerous importation of violent extremist ideologies, it has developed a multi-component strategy aimed at strengthening the theological and intellectual credibility of Morocco's tolerant Maliki Islamic legal tradition. In addition, Morocco has accelerated its rollout of education and employment options for youth and expansion of legal rights and political empowerment for women. The U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State both fund a suite of programs aimed at establishing better governance of Moroccan prisons, improving prison conditions, and rehabilitating and reintegrating convicts into society.
Annually during Ramadan, the king hosts a series of religious lectures, inviting Muslim speakers from around the world to promote moderate and peaceful religious interpretations.
Overview: Oman is an important regional counterterrorism ally and was actively involved in preventing terrorists from conducting attacks and using the country for safe haven or transport. Several suspected violent extremists continued to attempt to cross the border illegally into Oman from Yemen. The Omani government actively sought training and equipment from the United States and other militaries, and relevant commercial entities to support its efforts to control its land and maritime borders. Oman used U.S. security assistance to enhance nighttime operational capabilities on its maritime and land borders.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: In 2011, the Government of Oman procured 18 sets of biometrics equipment for the Royal Oman Police Coast Guard and Royal Army of Oman units that patrol Oman's borders and coastline. In addition, Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) training included a legal and regulatory advisor to Muscat, who consulted with members of the Omani government and the private sector on the best route for Oman to take to adopt comprehensive strategic trade controls in accordance with international standards. EXBS also offered training for Omani Customs and Airport Security Officials on identifying contraband hidden in air cargo and identifying smugglers of contraband. Oman participated in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Oman is a member of the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Its mutual evaluation report on its Anti-Money Laundering/Counterterrorist Finance regime was adopted and published in July. On October 23, Royal Decree 104/2011 was issued, and Oman then ratified and became party to the International Convention for Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: As a result of a stringent visa and sponsorship regime, Qatar regularly refused entry to and deported foreign residents suspected of extremist sympathies. Qatari authorities implemented biometric scans for most immigration entries and exits.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Qatar was a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. It received positive MENAFATF reaction to improvements made in its banking/financial sector and regulatory and enforcement framework in early 2011. Qatar had a Financial Information Unit (FIU) in its Central Bank, and local banks worked with the Central Bank and the FIU. However, significant work remains to fully implement laws and policies regarding freezing terrorist assets without delay, financial regulation, and the investigation and prosecution of terrorist financers. Qatari authorities recorded several prosecutions for money laundering but none for terrorist finance. The Government of Qatar has made progress on strengthening its oversight of foreign financial activities of Qatari non-governmental organizations.
Regional and International Cooperation: Qatar is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Qatari government authorities were recognized as regional leaders in improving educational standards and curricula, which included civic instruction that criticized violent extremist views.
Overview: The Government of Saudi Arabia continued to build and augment its capacity to counter terrorism and extremist ideologies. Saudi authorities launched a number of public trials of suspected terrorists, supporters, and financiers; arrested numerous other suspected terrorists, including those aligned with al-Qa'ida (AQ); disrupted alleged terrorist plots; and continued to implement improved border security measures. Senior Saudi leaders – including members of the royal family, government officials, and religious figures – made public comments condemning terrorist acts and criticizing extremist ideology.
Saudi security officials indicated that terrorist groups continued to plan attacks inside the Kingdom against targets of Western interest and residential compounds, as well as targets of oil, transport, aviation, and military importance. Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was the primary terrorist threat against the Kingdom. Many of AQAP's activities and efforts have been thwarted by aggressive Saudi government counterterrorism programs. Efforts to combat the terrorist threat have been complicated by ongoing instability in Yemen, which has provided AQAP an opportunity to recruit members, solicit funds, and plan attacks on Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia maintained a robust counterterrorism relationship with the United States.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Saudi Arabia continued its efforts to track, arrest, and prosecute terrorists within the Kingdom. In January, Saudi authorities announced the arrest of 765 people during the previous Hijri year (between December 18, 2009, and December 6, 2010) for involvement in terrorist activities. According to the governmental Human Rights Commission, 4,662 suspected terrorists remained in detention as of December 25. The Ministry of Interior improved border security measures, including installation of biometric scanners at entry points throughout the Kingdom; thermal imaging systems; motion detectors and electronic-sensor fencing along the borders with Iraq, Yemen, and Jordan; and a dedicated 15,000-troop armed border patrol.
Starting in May, special criminal courts conducted trials of a number of suspected terrorists; media and local human rights observers were allowed to observe proceedings in these first-ever public terrorism trials. In October, one of the special criminal courts sentenced a Saudi woman to 15 years in prison for providing shelter to terrorists; dubbed “Lady al-Qa'ida” by the local press, the defendant was the first Saudi woman to be convicted for links to AQ. In November, another special criminal court convicted a group of 16 men of terrorism, sedition, and other crimes, and sentenced the defendants to prison terms ranging from five to 30 years. At the end of the year, trials were ongoing in the case of 11 defendants accused of participating in a 2004 terrorist attack on the Red Sea port of Yanbu, and in the case against 85 defendants belonging to the AQAP-affiliated Dandani cell (named after founder Turki al-Dandani and believed to be responsible for establishing terrorists cells throughout the country). The 85 defendents were accused of planning and executing attacks on residential compounds in Riyadh in 2003.
Countering Terrorist Finance : Saudi Arabia is a member of the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The Saudi Arabian Financial Intelligence Unit, or SAFIU, is a member of the Egmont Group. The Saudi Arabian government provided special training programs for bankers, prosecutors, judges, customs officers, and other officials from government departments and agencies. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, the main coordination point on anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance, issued standing instructions to all Saudi financial institutions to comply with international standards.
Regional and International Cooperation: Saudi Arabia is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. The Saudi government pledged U.S. $10 million over the next three years to help fund the UN Center for Counter Terrorism. Saudi Arabia is a partner nation in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the Proliferation Security Initiative. It is also a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), itself a member of the FATF.
Saudi government officials issued statements encouraging enhanced cooperation among GCC and Arab League states on counterterrorism issues, and the Saudi government hosted international counterterrorism conferences on subjects ranging from countering extremist ideology to counterterrorist financing.
Saudi security professionals regularly participated in joint programs throughout the world, including in Europe and the United States. The Naif Arab University for Security Sciences (based in Riyadh) and the Arab League's Council of Interior Ministers jointly organized a course in Tunisia on countering terrorism, covering topics such as terrorist cells, the contradiction of justifications for terrorism with Islamic law, and the Saudi experience in counterterrorism. Saudi Arabia has security-related bilateral agreements including counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, India, Iran, Turkey, Senegal, Pakistan, Tunisia, Oman, Morocco, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, and Sudan.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Saudi government focused on public awareness campaigns and conducted outreach, counter-radicalization, and rehabilitation programs. Some of these efforts involved seminars that refuted radical Islamic interpretation and ideology. Public awareness campaigns were aimed at reinforcing the values of the Islamic faith and educating Saudi citizens about the dangers of extremism and terrorism. Methods used included advertisements and programs on television, in schools and mosques, and at sporting events. The government also issued statements condemning individual terrorists and denouncing terrorist attacks across the world, including attacks in Alexandria, Egypt; and in Marrakech, Morocco; in January and May, respectively.
As part of its outreach program, neighborhood police units engaged and worked directly with community members, encouraging citizens to provide tips and information about potential terrorist activity. The Saudi government offered rewards for information on suspected terrorists, which resulted in multiple arrests of AQAP militants and supporters.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs continued to re-educate imams, prohibiting them from incitement, and monitored mosques and religious education. We refer you to the Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report ( http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/ ) for further information on Saudi Arabia's educational curricula, including textbooks used in religious training.
Overview: The principal focus of Tunisian government counterterrorism efforts was on securing its territory, especially in light of the armed conflict in neighboring Libya and the potential for infiltration of extremists based in Algeria. Since the fall of the Qadhafi regime in September, the transitional Libyan government has struggled to impose order on its side of the Tunisian border. Competing militia elements – some of which engaged in banditry – vied for control of border posts and on several occasions exchanged fire with Tunisian security forces. A flow of small arms from Libya into Tunisia in autumn 2011 raised particular concern. In addition, there were numerous arrests by Tunisian security forces of Libyans who possessed guns and ammunition apparently intended for sale inside Tunisia. Such instability along the border prompted the Tunisian government to close it to entry from Libya on November 30, pending an assertion of authority by the Libyan Transitional National Council. Tunisia reopened the border on December 22.
Along with the reemergence after the Tunisian revolution of moderate Islamist groups, hard-line Salafist groups, although numerically small, have made their presence felt with aggressive demonstrations. Some of the demonstrations included violent incidents, such as the fire-bombing of the home of the owner of a TV station in retaliation for the station's broadcast of an allegedly blasphemous film and the storming of a progressive café and theater in downtown Tunis.
On January 31, arsonists attacked a Jewish burial and pilgrimage site in southern Tunisia, which was widely reported in the press as an attack on a synagogue. The Tunisian government and Jewish community leaders condemned the attacks against Tunisia's Jewish community. Tunisian President Marzouki has reached out to the Christian and Jewish communities.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The January revolution that toppled the Ben Ali regime precipitated unprecedented challenges for Tunisia's security forces. In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, Tunisia's police and National Guard, viewed by the public as compromised by their role as enforcers for Ben Ali, came under acute strain. In rural areas and in city centers, Tunisia's military stepped in to back up the police and the National Guard, and to fill the security void left by Ben Ali's departure. New demands on the security forces drew resources away from the established border-protection regime. The escalation of the conflict in Libya, and the inflow of significant numbers of Libyans and third-country nationals seeking shelter in Tunisia, further augmented demands on security forces across Tunisia.
Tunisia restarted its participation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program in June 2011; it had last participated in the ATA program in 2005. ATA training and equipment grants for Tunisia were tailored to meet objectives and needs specific to Tunisia amid the country's evolving political landscape.
Security on Tunisia's western border with Algeria was degraded, and several violent incidents apparently involving Algerians linked to al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) occurred in Tunisia. On the eastern border, armed Libyan rebels fighting the Qadhafi regime frequently moved across the frontier and were occasionally pursued into Tunisia by pro-Qadhafi forces.
Human rights groups assessed that terrorism trials under the previous regime relied on excessive pretrial detainment, denial of due process, and weak evidence. Thousands of prisoners, some convicted of terrorism charges, benefitted from a government amnesty intended for political prisoners in the first half of the year. Senior members of the Ben Ali regime, including the former interior minister and chief of presidential security, were detained and awaiting trial on various charges.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Tunisia is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Tunisia's interagency Financial Intelligence Unit, the Tunisian Financial Analysis Commission (CTAF), is headed by the governor of the Central Bank and includes representation from the Ministry of Finance, Customs General Directorate, National Post Office, Council of Financial Markets, Insurance General Committee, Ministry of Interior, and “an expert specialized in the fight against financial infringements.” These interagency representatives are not analysts, and CTAF suffered from a general shortage of analytical staff as well as a lack of training for staff already in place.
Regional and International Cooperation: In December, Tunisia participated in a Maghreb-European defense meeting of the “5 plus 5” group that focused on AQIM activities, including weapons-smuggling activities from the recent conflict in Libya and AQIM's abduction of European hostages in the Sahel region of the Sahara.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Overview: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government improved border security measures and renewed its efforts to counter terrorist financing. In December, the UAE agreed to implement the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Immigration Advisory Program at Abu Dhabi Airport. Prominent officials and religious leaders continued to publicly criticize extremist ideology.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The UAE participated in the Megaports and Container Security Initiative (CSI); on average, approximately 250 bills of lading were reviewed each week, resulting in about 25 non-intrusive inspections per month of U.S.-bound containers. Examinations were conducted jointly with Dubai Customs officers, who shared information on transshipments from high-risk areas, including those originating in Iran.
In 2011, memoranda of cooperation signed in 2010 between the UAE Ministry of Interior and the Abu Dhabi Customs Authority with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) went into effect. These agreements facilitated ICE assistance to provide technical support and instruction in the establishment of two separate training academies to further build Emirati Customs and Police capacity. The Abu Dhabi Customs Academy established last year now hosts six retired ICE and Customs and Border Protection instructors. The academies trained nearly a thousand personnel in 2011.
Countering Terrorist Finance: The UAE continued efforts to strengthen its institutional capabilities to counter terrorist financing, but challenges remain. It is a member of the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and chairs the Training Working Group. Its Financial Intelligence Unit, the Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit ( AMLSCU) in the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates , is a member of the Egmont Group. The Mutual Evaluation Report recommended that authorities amend the federal anti-money laundering law and increase dedicated resources available to the AMLSCU, which has supervisory authority over hawala . Although the UAE has taken important steps to address hawala remittances and was in the process of implementing a new hawala law that will monitor remittances performed through alternative channels, the AMLSCU staff was overwhelmed by the number of remittances. Additionally, the UAE has not yet mandated formal registration with the Central Bank for hawala .
The UAE Central Bank provided training programs to financial institutions on money laundering and terrorist financing. The United States and the UAE continued working together to strengthen efforts to combat bulk cash smuggling (BCS), in particular from countries at higher risk of illicit finance activity, and have stressed the importance of countering BCS to other countries in the region. However, BCS to the UAE remains a serious problem.
Regional and International Cooperation: The UAE is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). At the GCTF launch in September, the UAE indicated its intention to open the first-ever international center for training, dialogue, research and collaboration on countering violent extremism (CVE) in Abu Dhabi in the fall of 2012 . The UAE and United Kingdom co-chair the GCTF CVE Working Group.
In December, law enforcement agencies from over 20 countries attended a Global Police Chiefs Symposium hosted by the UAE.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: In order to prevent extremist preaching in UAE mosques, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments provided guidelines for all Friday sermons and monitored compliance. The UAE worked to keep its education system free of radical influences and emphasized social tolerance and moderation. Also, the UAE has a cyber-crime law criminalizing the use of the Internet by terrorist groups to “promote their ideologies and finance their activities.”
Overview: Yemen experienced significant political instability throughout the year, which reduced the Yemeni government's ability to address potential terrorist safe havens. Yemeni security forces struggled to project power beyond Sanaa and other major cities, which allowed al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and other extremist groups to expand their influence in Yemen.
AQAP suffered significant losses in 2011, including the deaths of AQAP leader Anwar al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, Ammar al-Wa'ili, and hundreds of militants and their commanders in Abyan. The Yemeni government launched large-scale operations against AQAP in the country's south, including the deployment of U.S.-trained and equipped counterterrorism forces. Despite successes in disrupting some operations, AQAP has continued to carry out attacks against Yemeni government targets , foreigners, and the Houthi movement in the north.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: AQAP carried out attacks throughout Yemen, using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), ambushes, and car bombs against government, civilian, and foreign targets, particularly in the south. The list below does not include all of the almost daily engagements that began in May between entrenched AQAP fighters in and around the Abyan governorate cities of Zinjibar and Ja'ar, and Yemeni security forces. Attacks included:
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The opposition walked out of Parliament in November 2010, and the body did not reconvene until December 2011. Accordingly, no progress was made on a package of counterterrorism laws first introduced in 2008. As a result, the Yemeni government lacked a clear legal framework for prosecuting terrorism-related crimes, often having to resort to charging suspects with “membership in an armed gang,” which hampered law enforcement efforts.
The Yemeni government continued to face legal, political, and logistical hurdles, hindering effective detention and rehabilitation programming for Guantanamo returnees. The government also lacked a legal framework to hold former Guantanamo detainees for more than a short period of time.
There were a number of arrests of terrorist suspects in 2011, primarily in the south of Yemen. However, the almost complete paralysis of the Yemeni justice system during the political unrest that gripped the country for most of the year, left many traditional law enforcement counterterrorism responsibilities to the Yemeni military.
Countering Terrorism Finance: Yemen is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In January 2010, Yemen enacted its first comprehensive anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing (AML/CTF) law, however little progress was made with its implementation, because of political instability. As a result, the overall regulatory environment hindered AML/CTF work, with 11 different ministries involved in the issue and limited coordination between them. Yemen was publicly identified by the FATF in February 2010 for strategic AML/CTF deficiencies and committed to an action plan with the FATF to address these weaknesses. In October 2011, the FATF determined that Yemen's progress in implementing this action plan had been insufficient and that it needed to take adequate action to address its main deficiencies. There were concerns about bulk cash smuggling, because of lax enforcement by custom officials of the Yemeni law requiring travelers to report any amount of money over U.S. $15,000 brought into or out of the country. There were also reliable reports of Yemeni banks shipping suitcases of money out of the country on commercial flights because they were unable to make wire transfers to regional banks.
Regional and International Cooperation: The Government of Yemen was largely focused on internal political issues and did not match its past limited regional and international engagement on counterterrorism.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Official media published messages from President Saleh and other high-level officials and opinion leaders denigrating violent extremism and AQAP. At the same time, opposition figures, some of whom are now members of the new National Consensus Government, also publicly discussed their commitment to combating AQAP and other violent extremist groups. However, Yemeni government messaging often intentionally blurred the line between terrorist organizations and political opposition groups, regularly making unsubstantiated claims that the opposition, particularly the Islamist Islah party, had ties to AQAP. The government also often identified the Hirak or Southern Mobility Movement and the Houthi movement in the north as “violent extremist” organizations.