State Sponsors of Terrorism

State Sponsors of Terrorism

"State Sponsors of Terrorism" is a designation applied by the United States Department of State to nations who are designated by the Secretary of State "to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism." [] Inclusion on the list imposes strict sanctions.

The list began on December 29, 1979 with Libya, Iraq, South Yemen, and Syria.

Countries currently on the list


According to the US, Cuba has a history of supporting revolutionary movements in Latin America and Africa. "Havana openly advocates armed revolution as the only means for leftist forces to gain power in Latin America, and the Cubans have played an important role in facilitating the movement of men and weapons into the region. Havana provides direct support in the form of training, arms, safe havens, and advice to a wide variety of guerrilla groups. Many of these groups engage in terrorist operations." Cuba "encouraged terrorism in the hope of provoking indiscriminate violence and repression, in order to weaken government legitimacy and attract new converts to armed struggle" In 1992, after the Soviet collapse, Fidel Castro stressed that his country’s support for insurgents abroad was a thing of the past. [ CRS Report] ]

According to Country Reports on Terrorism: April 30, 2007 [] :

:Cuba continued to publicly oppose the U.S.-led Coalition prosecuting the War on Terror. To U.S. knowledge, Cuba did not attempt to track, block, or seize terrorist assets, although the authority to do so is contained in Cuba's Law 93 against Acts of Terrorism, as well as Instruction 19 of the Superintendent of the Cuban Central Bank. No new counterterrorism laws were enacted, nor were any executive orders or regulations issued in this regard. To date, the Cuban government had not undertaken any counterterrorism efforts in international and regional fora or taken action against any designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The Government of Cuba provided safe haven to members of ETA, FARC, and the ELN, and maintained close relationships with other state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran. The Cuba-Iran Joint Commission met in Havana in January.

:The Cuban government continued to permit U.S. fugitives to live legally in Cuba and is unlikely to satisfy U.S. extradition requests for terrorists harbored in the country. The United States periodically requested that the government return wanted fugitives, and Cuba continued to be non-responsive. The Cuban regime publicly demanded the return to Cuba of five of its agents convicted of espionage in the United States. The five were variously accused of being foreign intelligence agents and infiltrating U.S. military facilities, but the Cuban government continued to refer to these individuals as heroes in the fight against terrorism. One was accused of conspiracy to murder for his role in the Cuban Air Force's shooting down of two small civilian planes. Cuba has stated, however, that it will no longer provide safe haven to new U.S. fugitives who may enter Cuba.

:Although Cuba did not extradite suspected terrorists during the year, the government demanded that the United States surrender Luis Posada Carriles, whom it accused of plotting to kill Castro and bombing a Cubana Airlines plane in 1976, which resulted in more than 70 deaths. Posada Carriles remained in U.S. custody. Cuba also asked the United States to return three Cuban-Americans implicated in the same cases.

Two footnotes state:

:U.S. fugitives range from convicted murderers, two of whom killed police officers, to numerous hijackers. Most of those fugitives entered Cuba in the 1970s. In previous years, the Government of Cuba responded to requests to extradite U.S. fugitives by stating that approval would be contingent upon the U.S. returning wanted Cuban criminals.

:During September, a U.S. fugitive sequestered his son, stole a plane at a local airport in the Florida Keys, and landed illegally in Varadero, east of Havana. American Interests Section efforts resulted in a visit to the male individual and his son in Varadero. After several meetings between the aforementioned USINT Offices and Cuban government officials, the son was returned in October to his mother in Mexico, who had legal custody. Simultaneously, the father was returned to the United States via charter flight to Miami, where he is being prosecuted. The stolen private plane was later returned to the United States. This was the first instance in which the Cuban government permitted the return of a fugitive from U.S. justice.

Added in 1982 though no official explanation was provided. A 2003 report contended that Cuba supported terrorist groups during the period it was added to the report. Conversely, Cuba has accused the United States of supporting, sponsoring and initiating terrorism against Cuba since 1961. Those who oppose Cuba's retention on the list contend that Cuba has made repeated offers to the United States since 2001 for a bilateral agreement to fight international terrorism, but the United States has not responded. Critics also argue that domestic political considerations are responsible and question many of the allegations made in the State department report. Historian of Cuba, Wayne Smith and Anya K. Landau, write that while "none of the reasons given by the Bush administration for maintaining Cuba on the terrorist list withstand the most superficial examination", it is domestic political calculations that are primarily at the root of the U.S. government's position. []


Added in 1984.

According to Country Reports on Terrorism: April 30, 2007 [] ::The US states that Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism. Its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) were directly involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts and continued to exhort a variety of groups, especially Palestinian groups with leadership cadres in Syria and Lebanese Hizballah, to use terrorism in pursuit of their goals.

:Iran maintained a high-profile role in encouraging anti-Israeli terrorist activity, rhetorically, operationally, and financially. Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ahmadi-Nejad praised Palestinian terrorist operations, and Iran provided Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups - notably HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command - with extensive funding, training, and weapons.

:Iran continued to play a destabilizing role in Iraq, which appeared to be inconsistent with its stated objectives regarding stability in Iraq. Iran provided guidance and training to select Iraqi Shia political groups, and weapons and training to Shia militant groups to enable anti-Coalition attacks. Iranian government forces have been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anti-Coalition attacks by providing Shia militants with the capability to build IEDs with explosively formed projectiles similar to those developed by Iran and Lebanese Hizballah. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard was linked to armor-piercing explosives that resulted in the deaths of Coalition Forces. The Revolutionary Guard, along with Lebanese Hizballah, implemented training programs for Iraqi militants in the construction and use of sophisticated IED technology. These individuals then passed on this training to additional militants in Iraq.

:Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior AQ members it detained in 2003, and it has refused to publicly identify these senior members in its custody. Iran has repeatedly resisted numerous calls to transfer custody of its AQ detainees to their countries of origin or third countries for interrogation or trial. Iran also continued to fail to control the activities of some al-Qaida members who fled to Iran following the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.


Added in 1993.

According to Country Reports on Terrorism: April 30, 2007 [] :

:The Sudanese government was a strong partner in the War on Terror and aggressively pursued terrorist operations directly involving threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan. In recent months, Usama Bin Laden and other senior al-Qaida leaders have called for the expansion of AQ's presence in Sudan in response to possible deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur. This has led to speculation that some individuals with varying degrees of association with AQ have taken steps to establish an operational network in Darfur, but there were no indications that AQ affiliated extremists were active there.

:With the exception of HAMAS, the Sudanese government did not openly support the presence of extremist elements in Sudan. The Sudanese government took steps to limit the activities of these organizations. For example, Sudanese officials welcomed HAMAS members as representatives of the Palestinian Authority (PA), but limited their activities to fundraising. The Sudanese government also worked to disrupt foreign fighters from using Sudan as a logistics base and transit point for Jihadists going to Iraq. There was some evidence to suggest that individuals who were active participants in the Iraqi insurgency have returned to Sudan and were in a position to use their expertise to conduct attacks within Sudan or to pass on their knowledge.

:The Lords Resistance Army (LRA) continued to be a threat to Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Southern Sudan. The Government of Southern Sudan worked to mediate peace between the LRA and the Government of Uganda and sought to curb LRA raids, but achieved little tangible progress. Although LRA attacks declined significantly, renewed violence remains a threat. Formal negotiations commenced in Juba in July 2006. The LRA continued to stall the talks, however, most recently with demands for a change of venue and a halt to all Ugandan People's Defense Forces activity in southern Sudan. Both parties signed a Cessation of Hostilities agreement in August 2006 identifying areas where the LRA could assemble for the negotiations without fear of being attacked by the Ugandan People's Defense Forces.


According to Country Reports on Terrorism: April 30, 2007 [] :

:The Syrian government continued to provide political and material support to Hezbollah and political support to Palestinian terrorist groups. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), HAMAS, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), among others, base their external leadership in Damascus. The Syrian government insisted that the Damascus-based groups undertake only political and informational activities, but Palestinian groups with leaders in Syria have claimed responsibility for anti-Israeli terrorist acts.

:Syria's public support for the Palestinian groups varied, depending on its national interests and international pressure. In April, visiting PA Foreign Minister Zahar (HAMAS) met with Damascus-based Palestinian leaders and attended a rally at the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp alongside HAMAS Political Bureau Chief Khalid Mish'al and representatives of other terrorist groups and Hizballah. In July, Mish'al held a highly publicized press conference under tight security at a Damascus hotel, expressing gratitude for Syria's unconditional support to the Palestinian cause.

:The Government of Syria has not been implicated directly in an act of terrorism since 1986, although preliminary findings of a UN investigation into the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri indicated a strong likelihood of official Syrian involvement. That investigation remains in process.

:On September 12, four Syrian nationals with alleged Islamist ties used grenades, guns, and a small truck bomb to launch an attack against the U.S. embassy in Damascus. All four of the assailants were killed as was a Syrian security officer who responded to the attack. In the incident's aftermath, the Syrian government enhanced security for the embassy and American personnel in Syria, although it declined to provide the embassy with the findings of its internal investigation into the attack. Damascus repeatedly assured the United States that it will take every possible measure to protect U.S. citizens and facilities in Syria, but at the same time has not taken the measures considered necessary by the United States.

:In 2004-2005, Syria upgraded physical security conditions on the border and began to give closer scrutiny to military-age Arab males entering Syria. (Visas are still not required for citizens of Arab countries.) It also highlighted the repatriation of more than 1,200 foreign extremists and the arrest of more than 4,000 Syrians trying to go to Iraq to fight. In November, Syria's foreign minister announced the resumption of diplomatic relations with Iraq after a 25-year rupture, and, a month later, the Syrian and Iraqi Ministers of Interior signed a five-year memorandum of understanding to boost, among other things, joint efforts to control the borders and combat terrorism.

:As in recent years, Damascus highlighted in Syrian government-controlled press, information about clashes on Syrian territory with terrorist groups, particularly with the Jund a-Sham group. Separately, in November, security agents on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon engaged in a gun battle with a Syrian Islamic militant from the Tawhid and Jihad group. The militant, who was trying to use fake documents to cross into Lebanon, subsequently blew himself up with a hand grenade.

Countries that have been removed


Iraq was removed from the list in 1982 to make it eligible for U.S. military technology while it was fighting Iran in the Iran–Iraq War; it was put back on in 1990 following its invasion of Kuwait. It has since been removed following the 2003 invasion. The State Department's reason for including Iraq was that it provided bases to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and the Abu Nidal organization (ANO). Following the invasion, U.S. sanctions applicable to "state sponsors of terrorism" against Iraq were suspended on 7 May 2003 and President Bush announced the removal of Iraq from the list on 25 September 2004.


On May 15, 2006, the United States announced that Libya will be removed from the list after a 45-day wait period. [] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explained that this was due to "...Libya's continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism,". []
Afghanistan has never been on the list, although a 2001 report from the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism declared that "Taliban-controlled Afghanistan remains a primary hub for terrorists." [] This is because the United States did not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

North Korea

On June 26, 2008, President George W. Bush announced that he would remove North Korea from the list. On October 11, the country was officially removed from the list for meeting all nuclear inspection requirements.

The North was initially added in 1988 because it sold weapons to terrorist groups and gave asylum to Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction members. The country is also responsible for the Rangoon bombing and the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858.

According to Country Reports on Terrorism: April 30, 2007 [] :

:The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987. The DPRK continued to harbor four Japanese Red Army members who participated in a jet hijacking in 1970. The Japanese government continued to seek a full accounting of the fate of the 12 Japanese nationals believed to have been abducted by DPRK state entities; five such abductees have been repatriated to Japan since 2002. In the February 13, 2007 Initial Actions Agreement, the United States agreed to "begin the process of removing the designation of the DPRK as a state-sponsor of terrorism."

Terrorology specialist Gus Martin, writes in his university-level textbook,Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, perspectives and issues that “it is important to note that the State Department’s list includes countries that have significantly reduced their involvement in terrorism, such as North Korea and Cuba. For example North Korea was at one time quite active in attacking South Korean interests. In November 1987, North Korean operatives apparently destroyed Korean Airlines Flight 858, which exploded in Myanmar (Burma), The North Korea government has since renounced its sponsorship of terrorism.” [Martin, Gus, Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, perspectives and issues, Sage Publications, 2006,83]

South Yemen

South Yemen was dropped from the list in 1990 after it merged with the Yemen Arab Republic ("North Yemen"). It had been branded a terrorism sponsor due to its support for several left-wing terrorist groups.


The sanctions which the US imposes on countries on the list are::1. A ban on arms-related exports and sales.:2. Controls over exports of dual-use items, requiring 30-day Congressional notification for goods or services that could significantly enhance the terrorist-list country's military capability or ability to support terrorism.:3. Prohibitions on economic assistance.:4. Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions, including:::Requiring the United States to oppose loans by the World Bank and other international financial institutions;::Lifting diplomatic immunity to allow families of terrorist victims to file civil lawsuits in U.S. courts;::Denying companies and individuals tax credits for income earned in terrorist-listed countries;::Denial of duty-free treatment of goods exported to the United States;::Authority to prohibit any U.S. citizen from engaging in a financial transaction with a terrorist-list government without a Treasury Department license; and::Prohibition of Defense Department contracts above $100,000 with companies controlled by terrorist-list states. []

Terrorist safe havens

The U.S. Country Reports on Terrorism also describes "Terrorist safe havens" which "are defined in this report as ungoverned, under-governed, or ill-governed areas of a country and non-physical areas where terrorists that constitute a threat to U.S. national security interests are able to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate in relative security because of inadequate governance capacity, political will, or both. Physical safe havens provide security for terrorist leaders, allowing them to plan acts of terrorism around the world." []

ee also

* State terrorism and the United States
* Axis of evil
* Outposts of tyranny
* United States embargoes
* U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations



* [ State Department: Terrorist Nations]
* [ State Department: Country Reports on Terrorism]

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