Major Terrorist Groups


This page is essentially a mirror of the U.S. Department of State's 1996 Patterns of Global Terrorism; Appendix B with minor updates. It contains background information on major terrorist groups that have been active recently, listed in alphabetical order.


Abu Nidal organization (ANO)

a.k.a.: Fatah Revolutionary Council, Arab Revolutionary Council, Arab Revolutionary Brigades, Black September, and Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims

Description
International terrorist organization led by Sabri al-Banna. Split from PLO in 1974. Made up of various functional committees, including political, military, and financial.

Activities
Has carried out terrorist attacks in 20 countries, killing or injuring almost 900 persons. Targets include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, moderate Palestinians, the PLO, and various Arab countries. Major attacks included the Rome and Vienna airports in December 1985, the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul, the Pan Am Flight 73 hijacking in Karachi in September 1986, and the City of Poros day-excursion ship attack in July 1988 in Greece. Suspected of assassinating PLO deputy chief Abu Iyad and PLO security chief Abu Hul in Tunis in January 1991. ANO assassinated a Jordanian diplomat in Lebanon in January 1994 and has been linked to the killing of the PLO representative there. Has not attacked Western targets since the late 1980s.

Strength
Several hundred plus militia in Lebanon and overseas support structure.

Location/Area of Operation
Currently headquartered in Libya with a presence in Lebanon in the Al Biqa' (Bekaa Valley) and also several Palestinian refugee camps in coastal areas of Lebanon. Also has a presence in Sudan. Has demonstrated ability to operate over wide area, including the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.

External Aid
Has received considerable support, including safehaven, training, logistic assistance, and financial aid from Iraq and Syria (until 1987); continues to receive aid from Libya, in addition to close support for selected operations.


Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)

Description
Islamic extremist group operating in the southern Philippines led by Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani. Split from the Moro National Liberation Front in 1991.

Activities
Uses bombs, assassinations, kidnappings for ransom, and extortion payments from companies and businessmen in its efforts to promote an Iranian-style Islamic state in Mindanao, an island in the southern Philippines heavily populated by Muslims. Staged a raid on the town of Ipil in Mindanao in April 1995, the group's first large-scale action.

Strength
About 200 members, mostly younger Muslims, many of whom have studied or worked in the Gulf states, where they were exposed to radical Islamic ideology.

Location/Area of Operation
The ASG operates in the southern Philippines, and occasionally in Manila.

External Aid
Probably has ties to Islamic extremists in the Middle East.

Al-Jihad

(see under J)


Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB)

Description
The ABB, the urban hit squad of the Communist Party of the Philippines, was formed in the mid-1980s.

Activities
The ABB is responsible for more than 100 murders and is believed to have been involved in the 1989 murder of US Army Col. James Rowe in the Philippines. Although reportedly decimated by a series of arrests in late 1995, the June 1996 murder of a former high-ranking Philippine official, claimed by the group, demonstrates that it still maintains terrorist capabilities.

Strength
Unknown.

Location/Area of Operation
Operates exclusively in Manila.

External Aid
Unknown.


Armed Islamic Group (GIA)

Description
An Islamic extremist group, the GIA aims to overthrow the secular Algerian regime and replace it with an Islamic state. The GIA began its violent activities in early 1992 after Algiers voided the victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS)--the largest Islamic party--in the first round of December 1991 legislative elections.

Activities
Frequent attacks against regime targets--particularly security personnel and government officials--civilians, journalists, teachers, and foreign residents. Since announcing its terrorist campaign against foreigners living in Algeria in September 1993, the GIA has killed about 100 expatriate men and women--mostly Europeans--in the country. The GIA uses assassinations and bombings, including car bombs, and it is known to favor kidnapping victims and slitting their throats. The GIA hijacked an Air France flight to Algiers in December 1994, and suspicions centered on the group for a series of bombings in France in 1995 and one there in late 1996.

Strength
Unknown, probably several hundred to several thousand.

Location/Area of Operation
Algeria.

External Aid
Algerian expatriates, many of whom reside in Western Europe, provide some financial and logistic support. In addition, the Algerian Government has accused Iran and Sudan of supporting Algerian extremists, and severed diplomatic relations with Iran in March 1993.


Aum Supreme Truth (Aum)

a.k.a.: Aum Shinrikyo

Description
A cult established in 1987 by Shoko Asahara, Aum aims to take over Japan and then the world; its organizational structure mimics that of a nation-state, with "ministries" and a "pope secretariat." Followers are controlled by a mix of charismaticism and coercion. Approved as a religious entity in 1989 under Japanese law, the group was active in local Japanese elections in 1990. Disbanded as a religious organization under Japanese law in October 1995.

Activities
On 20 March 1995 Aum members carried six packages onto Tokyo subway trains and punctured the packages with umbrella tips, releasing deadly sarin gas that killed 12 persons and injured more than 5,000. Japanese police arrested Asahara in May 1995 and he was on trial as 1996 ended. Several key Aum figures remain at large. The group may have perpetrated other crimes before the March 1995 attack and apparently planned future attacks.

Strength
At the time of the Tokyo subway attack, the group claimed to have 9,000 members in Japan and up to 40,000 worldwide. Its current strength is unknown.

Location/Area of Operation
In addition to Japan, the group has maintained a presence in Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, the former Yugoslavia, and the United States.

External Aid
None.


Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)

Description
Founded in 1959 with the aim of creating an independent homeland in Spain's Basque region. Has muted commitment to Marxism.

Activities
Chiefly bombings and assassinations of Spanish Government officials, especially security and military forces as well as judicial figures. In response to French operations against the group, ETA also has targeted French interests. Finances its activities through kidnappings, robberies, and extortion. In 1995 Spanish and French authorities foiled an ETA plot to kill King Juan Carlos in Majorca.

Strength
Unknown; may have hundreds of members, plus supporters.

Location/Area of Operation
Operates primarily in the Basque autonomous regions of northern Spain and southwestern France but also has bombed Spanish and French interests elsewhere.

External Aid
Has received training at various times in Libya, Lebanon, and Nicaragua. Also appears to have close ties to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) through the two groups' political wings.


Chukaku-Ha (Nucleus or Middle Core Faction)

Description
An ultraleftist/radical group with origins in the fragmentation of the Japanese Communist Party in 1957. Largest domestic militant group; has political arm plus small, covert action wing called Kansai Revolutionary Army. Funding derived from membership dues, sales of its newspapers, and fundraising campaigns.

Activities
Participates in street demonstrations and commits sporadic attacks using crude rockets and incendiary devices usually designed to cause property damage rather than casualties. Protests Japan's imperial system, Western imperialism, and events like the Gulf war and the expansion of Tokyo's Narita airport. Has launched rockets at a US military facility.

Strength
3,500.

Location/Area of Operation
Japan.

External Aid
None known.


Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)

Description
Marxist group that split from the PFLP in 1969. Believes Palestinian national goals can be achieved only through revolution of the masses. Opposes the Declaration of Principles (DOP) signed in 1993. In early 1980s occupied political stance midway between Arafat and the rejectionists. Split into two factions in 1991, one pro-Arafat and another more hardline faction headed by Nayif Hawatmah (which has suspended participation in the PLO).

Activities
In the 1970s carried out numerous small bombings and minor assaults and some more spectacular operations in Israel and the occupied territories, concentrating on Israeli targets. Involved only in border raids since 1988, but continues to oppose the Israel-PLO peace agreement.

Strength
Estimated at 500 (total for both factions).

Location/Area of Operation
Syria, Lebanon, and the Israeli-occupied territories; attacks have taken place entirely in Israel and the occupied territories.

External Aid
Receives financial and military aid from Syria and Libya.

Devrimci Sol (Revolutionary Left)

a.k.a.: Dev Sol (see Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front, DHKP/C)

ELA

(see Revolutionary People's Struggle)

ELN

(see National Liberation Army)

ETA

(see Basque Fatherland and Liberty)

FARC

(see Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)

FPMR

(see Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front)


al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group, IG)

Description
An indigenous Egyptian Islamic extremist group active since the late 1970s; appears to be loosely organized with no single readily identifiable operational leader. Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman is the preeminent spiritual leader. Goal is to overthrow the government of President Hosni Mubarak and replace it with an Islamic state.

Activities
Armed attacks against Egyptian security and other government officials, Coptic Christians, and Egyptian opponents of Islamic extremism. The group also has launched attacks on tourists in Egypt since 1992. Al-Gama'at claimed responsibility for the attempt in June 1995 to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Strength
Not known, but probably several thousand hardcore members and another several thousand sympathizers.

Location/Area of Operation
Operates mainly in the Al Minya, Asyut, and Qina Governorates of southern Egypt. It also appears to have support in Cairo, Alexandria, and other urban locations, particularly among unemployed graduates and students.

External Aid
Not known. Egyptian Government believes that Iran, Sudan, and Afghan militant Islamic groups support the group.


HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)

Description
HAMAS was formed in late 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Various elements of HAMAS have used both political and violent means, including terrorism, to pursue the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel. HAMAS is loosely structured, with some elements working openly through mosques and social service institutions to recruit members, raise money, organize activities, and distribute propaganda. Militant elements of HAMAS, operating clandestinely, have advocated and used violence to advance their goals. HAMAS's strength is concentrated in the Gaza Strip and a few areas of the West Bank. It also has engaged in peaceful political activity, such as running candidates in West Bank Chamber of Commerce elections.

Activities
HAMAS activists, especially those in the Izz el-Din al-Qassem Forces, have conducted many attacks against Israeli civilian and military targets, suspected Palestinian collaborators, and Fatah rivals.

Strength
Unknown number of hardcore members; tens of thousands of supporters and sympathizers.

Location/Area of Operation
Primarily the occupied territories, Israel, and Jordan.

External Aid
Receives funding from Palestinian expatriates, Iran, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states. Some fundraising and propaganda activity take place in Western Europe and North America.


The Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA)

Description
HUA, an Islamic militant group that seeks Kashmir's accession to Pakistan, was formed in October 1993 when two Pakistani political activist groups, Harakat ul-Jihad al-Islami and Harakat ul-Mujahedin, merged. According to the leader of the alliance, Maulana Saadatullah Khan, the group's objective is to continue the armed struggle against nonbelievers and anti-Islamic forces.

Activities
Has carried out a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Kashmir. The HUA also supports Muslims in Indian-controlled Kashmir with humanitarian and military assistance. It has been linked to the Kashmiri militant group Al-Faran that has held four Western hostages in Kashmir since July 1995. There is no evidence that HUA ordered the kidnapping.

Strength
The Harakat ul-Ansar has several thousand armed members located in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, and in the southern Kashmir and the Doda regions of India. The HUA uses light and heavy machineguns, assault rifles, mortars, explosives, and rockets. Membership is open to all who support the HUA's objectives and are willing to take the group's 40-day training course. It has a core militant group of about 300, mostly Pakistanis and Kashmiris, but includes Afghans and Arab veterans of the Afghan war.

Location/Area of Operation
The HUA is based in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, but HUA members have participated in insurgent and terrorist operations in Kashmir, Burma, Tajikistan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The HUA is actively involved in supporting Muslims in Indian-controlled Kashmir with humanitarian and military assistance. The HUA's Burma branch, located in the Arakan Mountains, trains local Muslims in weapons handling and guerrilla warfare. In Tajikistan, HUA members have served with and trained Tajik resistance elements. The first group of Harakat militants entered Bosnia in 1992.

External Aid
The HUA collects donations from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf and Islamic states to purchase relief supplies, which it distributes to Muslims in Tajikistan, Kashmir, and Burma. The source and amount of HUA's military funding are unknown but are believed to come from sympathetic Arab countries and wealthy Pakistanis and Kashmiris.


Hizballah (Party of God)

a.k.a.: Islamic Jihad, Revolutionary Justice Organization, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, and Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine

Description
Radical Shia group formed in Lebanon; dedicated to creation of Iranian-style Islamic republic in Lebanon and removal of all non-Islamic influences from area. Strongly anti-West and anti-Israel. Closely allied with, and often directed by, Iran, but may have conducted rogue operations that were not approved by Tehran.

Activities
Known or suspected to have been involved in numerous anti-US terrorist attacks, including the suicide truck bombing of the US Embassy and US Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983 and the US Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984. Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping and detention of US and other Western hostages in Lebanon. The group also attacked the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992.

Strength
Several thousand.

Location/Area of Operation
Operates in the Bekaa Valley, the southern suburbs of Beirut, and southern Lebanon. Has established cells in Europe, Africa, South America, North America, and elsewhere.

External Aid
Receives substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran.


Irish Republican Army (IRA)

a.k.a.: Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), The Provos

Description
Radical terrorist group formed in 1969 as clandestine armed wing of Sinn Fein, a legal political movement dedicated to removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland. Has a Marxist orientation. Organized into small, tightly knit cells under the leadership of the Army Council.

Activities
Bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, extortion, and robberies. Before its 1994 cease-fire, targets included senior British Government officials, British military and police in Northern Ireland, and Northern Irish Loyalist paramilitary groups. Since breaking its cease-fire in February 1996, IRA's operations have included bombing campaigns against train and subway stations and shopping areas on mainland Britain, British military and Royal Ulster Constabulary targets in Northern Ireland, and a British military facility on the European continent.

Strength
Several hundred, plus several thousand sympathizers.

Location/Area of Operation
Northern Ireland, Irish Republic, Great Britain, and Europe.

External Aid
Has received aid from a variety of groups and countries and considerable training and arms from Libya and, at one time, the PLO. Also is suspected of receiving funds and arms from sympathizers in the United States. Similarities in operations suggest links to ETA.

Islamic Resistance Movement

(see HAMAS)


Jamaat ul-Fuqra

Description
Jamaat ul-Fuqra is an Islamic sect that seeks to purify Islam through violence. Fuqra is led by Pakistani cleric Shaykh Mubarik Ali Gilani, who established the organization in the early 1980s. Gilani now resides in Pakistan, but most Fuqra cells are located in North America. Fuqra members have purchased isolated rural compounds in North America to live communally, practice their faith, and insulate themselves from Western culture.

Activities
Fuqra members have attacked a variety of targets that they view as enemies of Islam, including Muslims they regard as heretics and Hindus. Attacks during the 1980s included assassinations and firebombings across the United States. Fuqra members in the United States have been convicted of criminal violations, including murder and fraud.

Strength
Unknown.

Location/Area of Operation
North America, Pakistan.

External Aid
None.


Japanese Red Army (JRA)

a.k.a.: Anti-Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB)

Description
An international terrorist group formed around 1970 after breaking away from Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction. Now led by Fusako Shigenobu, believed to be in Syrian-garrisoned area of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Stated goals are to overthrow Japanese Government and monarchy and to help foment world revolution. Organization unclear but may control or at least have ties to Anti-Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB). Details released following arrest in November 1987 of leader Osamu Maruoka indicate that JRA may have been organizing cells in Asian cities, such as Manila and Singapore. Has had close and longstanding relations with Palestinian terrorist groups--based and operating outside Japan--since its inception.

Activities
During the 1970s JRA carried out a series of attacks around the world, including the massacre in 1972 at Lod Airport in Israel, two Japanese airliner hijackings, and an attempted takeover of the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. In April 1988 JRA operative Yu Kikumura was arrested with explosives on the New Jersey Turnpike, apparently planning an attack to coincide with the bombing of a USO club in Naples, a suspected JRA operation that killed five, including a US servicewoman. He was convicted of these charges and is serving a lengthy prison sentence in the United States. Several other hardcore members have been arrested around the world in recent years, some of whom have been deported to Japan.

Strength
About 15 hardcore members; undetermined number of sympathizers.

Location/Area of Operation
Based in Syrian-controlled areas of Lebanon; often transits Damascus.

External Aid
Unknown.


al-Jihad

a.k.a.: Jihad Group, Vanguards of Conquest, Talaa' al-Fateh, International Justice Group, World Justice Group

Description
An Egyptian Islamic extremist group active since the late 1970s; appears to be divided into at least two separate factions: remnants of the original Jihad led by Abbud al-Zumar, currently imprisoned in Egypt, and a faction calling itself Vanguards of Conquest (Talaa' al-Fateh). The Vanguards of Conquest appears to be led by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is currently outside Egypt; his specific whereabouts are unknown. Like al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya, the Jihad factions regard Sheikh Umar Abd-al Rahman as their spiritual leader. The goal of all Jihad factions is to overthrow the government of President Hosni Mubarak and replace it with an Islamic state.

Activities
Specializes in armed attacks against high-level Egyptian Government officials. The original Jihad was responsible for the assassination in 1981 of President Anwar Sadat. Unlike al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya, which mainly targets mid- and lower-level security personnel, Coptic Christians, and Western tourists, al-Jihad appears to concentrate primarily on high-level, high-profile Egyptian Government officials, including cabinet ministers. Claimed responsibility for the attempted assassinations of Interior Minister Hassan al-Alfi in August 1993 and Prime Minister Atef Sedky in November 1993.

Strength
Not known, but probably several thousand hardcore members and another several thousand sympathizers among the various factions.

Location/Area of Operation
Operates mainly in the Cairo area. Also appears to have members outside Egypt, probably in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan.

External Aid
Not known. The Egyptian Government claims that Iran, Sudan, and militant Islamic groups in Afghanistan support the Jihad factions.


Kach and Kahane Chai

Description
Stated goal is to restore the biblical state of Israel. Kach (founded by radical Israeli-American rabbi Meir Kahane) and its offshoot Kahane Chai, which means "Kahane Lives," (founded by Meir Kahane's son Binyamin following his father's assassination in the United States) were declared to be terrorist organizations in March 1994 by the Israeli Cabinet under the 1948 Terrorism Law. This followed the groups' statements in support of Dr. Baruch Goldstein's attack in February 1994 on the al-Ibrahimi Mosque--Goldstein was affiliated with Kach--and their verbal attacks on the Israeli Government.

Activities
Organize protests against the Israeli Government. Harass and threaten Palestinians in Hebron and the West Bank. Groups have threatened to attack Arabs, Palestinians, and Israeli Government officials. They also claimed responsibility for several shooting attacks on West Bank Palestinians in which four persons were killed and two were wounded in 1993.

Strength
Unknown.

Location/Area of Operation
Israel and West Bank settlements, particularly Qiryat Arba' in Hebron.

External Aid
Receives support from sympathizers in the United States and Europe.

Khmer Rouge

(see The Party of Democratic Kampuchea)


Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

Description
Established in 1974 as a Marxist-Leninist insurgent group primarily composed of Turkish Kurds. In recent years has moved beyond rural-based insurgent activities to include urban terrorism. Seeks to set up an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, where there is a predominantly Kurdish population.

Activities
Primary targets are Turkish Government security forces in Turkey but also has been active in Western Europe against Turkish targets. Conducted attacks on Turkish diplomatic and commercial facilities in dozens of West European cities in 1993 and again in spring 1995. In an attempt to damage Turkey's tourist industry, the PKK has bombed tourist sites and hotels and has kidnapped foreign tourists.

Strength
Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 guerrillas. Has thousands of sympathizers in Turkey and Europe.

Location/Area of Operation
Operates in Turkey, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

External Aid
Receives safehaven and modest aid from Syria, Iraq, and Iran.


The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

Other known front organizations: World Tamil Association (WTA), World Tamil Movement (WTM), the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils (FACT), the Ellalan Force

Description
Founded in 1976, the LTTE is the most powerful Tamil group in Sri Lanka and uses overt and illegal methods to raise funds, acquire weapons, and publicize its cause of establishing an independent Tamil state. The LTTE began its armed conflict with the Sri Lankan Government in 1983 and relies on a guerrilla strategy that includes the use of terrorist tactics.

Activities
The LTTE has integrated a battlefield insurgent strategy with a terrorist program that targets not only key personnel in the countryside but also senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders in Colombo. Political assassinations have included former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993. The LTTE has refrained from targeting Western tourists out of fear that foreign governments would crack down on Tamil expatriates involved in fundraising activities abroad.

Strength
Approximately 10,000 armed combatants in Sri Lanka; about 3,000 to 6,000 form a trained cadre of fighters. Also has a significant overseas support structure for fundraising, weapons procurement, and propaganda activities.

Location/Area of Operation
The LTTE controls most of the northern and eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka but has conducted operations throughout the island. Headquartered in the Jaffna Peninsula, LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has established an extensive network of checkpoints and informants to keep track of any outsiders who enter the group's area of control. The LTTE prefers to attack vulnerable government facilities, then withdraw before reinforcements arrive.

External Aid
The LTTE's overt organizations support Tamil separatism by lobbying foreign governments and the United Nations. The LTTE also uses its international contacts to procure weapons, communications, and bomb-making equipment. The LTTE exploits large Tamil communities in North America, Europe, and Asia to obtain funds and supplies for its fighters in Sri Lanka. Information obtained since the mid-1980s indicates that some Tamil communities in Europe are also involved in narcotics smuggling. Tamils historically have served as drug couriers moving narcotics into Europe.


Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR)

Description
Originally the FPMR was founded in 1983 as the armed wing of the Chilean Communist Party and was named for the hero of Chile's war of independence against Spain. The group splintered into two factions in the late 1980s, and one faction became a political party in 1991. The dissident wing FPMR/D is Chile's only remaining active terrorist group.

Activities
FPMR/D attacks civilians and international targets, including US businesses and Mormon churches. In 1993 FPMR/D bombed two McDonald's restaurants and attempted to bomb a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Successful government counterterrorist operations have significantly undercut the organization. The FPMR staged an escape from prison using a helicopter, however, in December 1996.

Strength
Now believed to have between 50 and 100 members.

Location/Area of Operation
Chile.

External Aid
None.


Morazanist Patriotic Front (FPM)

Description
A radical, leftist terrorist group that first appeared in the late 1980s. Attacks made to protest US intervention in Honduran economic and political affairs.

Activities
Attacks on US, mainly military, personnel in Honduras. Claimed responsibility for attack on a bus in March 1990 that wounded seven US servicemen. Claimed bombing of Peace Corps office in December 1988; bus bombing that wounded three US servicemen in February 1989; attack on US convoy in April 1989; and grenade attack that wounded seven US soldiers in La Ceiba in July 1989.

Strength
Unknown, probably relatively small.

Location/Area of Operation
Honduras.

External Aid
Had ties to former Government of Nicaragua and possibly Cuba.


Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO)

a.k.a.: The National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA, the militant wing of the MEK), the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), National Council of Resistance (NCR), Muslim Iranian Student's Society (front organization used to garner financial support)

Description
Formed in the 1960s by the college-educated children of Iranian merchants, the MEK sought to counter what is perceived as excessive Western influence in the Shah's regime. In the 1970s the MEK concluded that violence was the only way to bring about change in Iran. Since then, the MEK--following a philosophy that mixes Marxism and Islam--has developed into the largest and most active armed Iranian dissident group. Its history is studded with anti-Western activity, and, most recently, attacks on the interests of the clerical regime in Iran and abroad.

Activities
The MEK directs a worldwide campaign against the Iranian Government that stresses propaganda and occasionally uses terrorist violence. During the 1970s the MEK staged terrorist attacks inside Iran to destabilize and embarrass the Shah's regime; the group killed several US military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. The group also supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran. In April 1992 the MEK carried out attacks on Iranian embassies in 13 different countries, demonstrating the group's ability to mount large-scale operations overseas.

Strength
Several thousand fighters based in Iraq with an extensive overseas support structure. Most of the fighters are organized in the MEK's National Liberation Army (NLA).

Location/Area of Operation
In the 1980s the MEK's leaders were forced by Iranian security forces to flee to France. Most resettled in Iraq by 1987. Since the mid-1980s the MEK has not mounted terrorist operations in Iran at a level similar to its activities in the 1970s. Aside from the National Liberation Army's attacks into Iran toward the end of the Iran-Iraq war, and occasional NLA cross-border incursions since, the MEK's attacks on Iran have amounted to little more than harassment. The MEK has had more success in confronting Iranian representatives overseas through propaganda and street demonstrations.

External Aid
Beyond support from Iraq, the MEK uses front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities.

MRTA

(see Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement)


National Liberation Army (ELN)--Bolivia

includes Nestor Paz Zamora Commission (CNPZ)

Description
ELN claims to be resuscitation of group established by Che Guevara in 1960s. Includes numerous small factions of indigenous subversive groups, including CNPZ, which is largely inactive today.

Activities
ELN and CNPZ have attacked US interests in the past but more recently has focused almost exclusively on Bolivian domestic targets.

Strength
Unknown; probably fewer than 100.

Location/Area of Operation
Bolivia.

External Aid
None.


National Liberation Army (ELN)--Colombia

Description
Rural-based, anti-US, Maoist-Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group formed in 1963. Attempted peace talks with the government ended in May 1992.

Activities
Periodically kidnaps foreign employees of large corporations and holds them for large ransom payments. Conducts frequent assaults on oil infrastructure and has inflicted major damage on pipelines. Extortion and bombings against US and other foreign businesses, especially the petroleum industry. Forces coca and opium poppy cultivators to pay protection money and attacks the government's efforts to eradicate these crops.

Strength
At least 3,000 combatants.

Location/Area of Operation
Colombia, border regions of Venezuela.

External Aid
None.


New People's Army (NPA)

Description
The guerrilla arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), an avowedly Maoist group formed in December 1969 with the aim of overthrowing the government through protracted guerrilla warfare. Although primarily a rural-based guerrilla group, the NPA has an active urban infrastructure to carry out terrorism; uses city-based assassination squads called sparrow units. Derives most of its funding from contributions of supporters and so-called revolutionary taxes extorted from local businesses.

Activities
NPA is in disarray because of a split in the CPP, a lack of money, and successful government operations. With the US military gone from the country, NPA has engaged in urban terrorism against the police, corrupt politicians, and drug traffickers.

Strength
Several thousand.

Location/Area of Operation
Philippines.

External Aid
Unknown.


The Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

Description
The PIJ, which originated among militant Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s, is a series of loosely affiliated factions rather than a cohesive group. The PIJ is committed to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel through holy war. Because of its strong support for Israel, the United States has been identified as an enemy of the PIJ. The PIJ also opposes moderate Arab governments that it believes have been tainted by Western secularism.

Activities
PIJ militants have threatened to retaliate against Israel and the United States for the murder of PIJ leader Fathi Shaqaqi in Malta in October 1995. It has carried out suicide bombing attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel. The PIJ has threatened to attack US interests in Jordan.

Strength
Unknown.

Location/Area of Operation
Primarily Israel and the occupied territories and other parts of the Middle East, including Jordan and Lebanon. The largest faction is based in Syria.

External Aid
Probably receives financial assistance from Iran and possibly some assistance from Syria.


Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)

Description
Terrorist group that broke away from the PFLP-GC in mid-1970s. Later split again into pro-PLO, pro-Syrian, and pro-Libyan factions. Pro-PLO faction led by Muhammad Abbas (Abu Abbas), who became member of PLO Executive Committee in 1984 but left it in 1991.

Activities
The Abu Abbas-led faction has carried out attacks against Israel. Abbas's group was also responsible for the attack in 1985 on the cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of US citizen Leon Klinghoffer. A warrant for Abu Abbas's arrest is outstanding in Italy.

Strength
At least 50.

Location/Area of Operation
PLO faction based in Tunisia until Achille Lauro attack. Now based in Iraq.

External Aid
Receives logistic and military support mainly from PLO, but also from Libya and Iraq.


Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)

On 9 September 1993, in letters to Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and Norwegian Foreign Minister Holst, PLO Chairman Arafat committed the PLO to cease all violence and terrorism. On 13 September 1993, the Declaration of Principles between the Israelis and Palestinians was signed in Washington, DC. We have no information that any PLO element under Arafat's control was involved in terrorism from that time through 1995. (There were two incidents in 1993 in which the responsible individuals apparently acted independently.) One group under the PLO umbrella, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), suspended its participation in the PLO in protest of the agreement and continues its sporadic campaign of violence. The US Government continues to monitor closely PLO compliance with its commitment to abandon terrorism and violence.


The Party of Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge)

Description
Communist insurgency that is trying to destabilize the Cambodian Government. Under Pol Pot's leadership, the Khmer Rouge conducted a campaign of genocide in which more than 1 million people were killed during its four years in power in the late 1970s. Although there were large-scale defections from the Khmer Rouge to Cambodian Government forces in 1996, the group still may be considered dangerous.

Activities
The Khmer Rouge now is engaged in a low-level insurgency against the Cambodian Government. Although its victims are mainly Cambodian villagers, the Khmer Rouge has occasionally kidnapped and killed foreigners traveling in remote rural areas.

Strength
One to two thousand.

Location/Area of Operation
Operates in outlying provinces in Cambodia, particularly in pockets along the Thailand border.

External Aid
None.

PKK

(see Kurdistan Workers' Party)


Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)

Description
Marxist-Leninist group founded in 1967 by George Habash as a member of the PLO. Advocates a Pan-Arab revolution. Opposes the Declaration of Principles signed in 1993 and has suspended participation in the PLO.

Activities
Committed numerous international terrorist attacks during the 1970s. Since 1978 PFLP has carried out numerous attacks against Israeli or moderate Arab targets, including the killing of a settler and her son in December 1996.

Strength
Some 800.

Location/Area of Operation
Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and the occupied territories.

External Aid
Receives most of its financial and military assistance from Syria and Libya.


Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)

Description
Split from the PFLP in 1968, claiming that it wanted to focus more on fighting and less on politics. Violently opposed to Arafat's PLO. Led by Ahmad Jibril, a former captain in the Syrian Army. Closely allied with, supported by, and probably directed by Syria.

Activities
Has carried out numerous cross-border terrorist attacks into Israel using unusual means, such as hot-air balloons and motorized hang gliders.

Strength
Several hundred.

Location/Area of Operation
Headquartered in Damascus, bases in Lebanon, and cells in Europe.

External Aid
Receives logistic and military support from Syria, its chief sponsor; financial support from Libya; safehaven in Syria. Receives support also from Iran.

Provisional Irish Republican Army

(see Irish Republican Army)


Red Army Faction (RAF)

Description
The small and disciplined RAF succeeded the Baader-Meinhof Gang, which originated in the student protest movement in the 1960s. Ideology is an obscure mix of Marxism and Maoism; committed to armed struggle. Organized into hardcore cadres that carry out terrorist attacks and a network of supporters who provide logistic and propaganda support. The group has survived despite numerous arrests of top leaders over the years.

Activities
Bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, and robberies. With decline of world Communism, has had trouble recruiting replacements for jailed members. Now concentrating on domestic targets, particularly officials involved in German or European unification and German security and justice officials. RAF has targeted US and NATO facilities in the past, including during the Gulf war.

Strength
10 to 20, plus several hundred supporters.

Location/Area of Operations
Germany.

External Aid
Self-sustaining, but during Baader-Meinhof period received support from Middle Eastern terrorists. East Germany gave logistic support, sanctuary, and training during the 1980s.


Red Brigades (BR)

Description
Formed in 1969, the Marxist-Leninist BR seeks to create a revolutionary state through armed struggle and to separate Italy from the Western Alliance. In 1984 split into two factions: the Communist Combatant Party (BR-PCC) and the Union of Combatant Communists (BR-UCC).

Activities
Original group concentrated on assassination and kidnapping of Italian Government and private-sector targets; it murdered former Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978. Extreme leftist sympathizers have carried out several small-scale terrorist attacks to protest the presence and foreign policies of both the United States and NATO; it kidnapped US Army Brig. Gen. James Dozier in 1981 and claimed responsibility for murdering Leamon Hunt, US chief of the Sinai Multinational Force and Observer Group, in 1984. With limited resources and followers to carry out major terrorist acts, the group is mostly out of business.

Strength
Probably fewer than 50, plus an unknown number of supporters.

Location/Area of Operation
Based and operates in Italy. Some members probably living clandestinely in other European countries.

External Aid
Currently unknown; original group apparently was self-sustaining but probably received weapons from other West European terrorist groups and from the PLO.


Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)

Description
The largest, best trained, and best equipped guerrilla organization in Colombia. Established in 1966 as military wing of Colombian Communist Party. Goal is to overthrow government and ruling class. Organized along military lines; includes at least one urban front. Has been anti-US since its inception.

Activities
Armed attacks against Colombian political and military targets. Many members pursue criminal activities, carrying out kidnappings for profit and bank robberies. Foreign citizens often are targets of FARC kidnappings. Group traffics in drugs and has well-documented ties to narcotraffickers.

Strength
Approximately 7,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of supporters, mostly in rural areas.

Location/Area of Operation
Colombia, with occasional operations in Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador.

External Aid
None.


Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17 November)

Description
A radical leftist group established in 1975 and named for the November 1973 student uprising in Greece protesting the military regime. The group is anti-Greek establishment, anti-US, anti-Turkey, anti-NATO; committed to the ouster of US bases, removal of Turkish military presence from Cyprus, and severing of Greece's ties to NATO and the European Union (EU). Organization is obscure, possibly affiliated with other Greek terrorist groups.

Activities
Initial attacks were assassinations of senior US officials and Greek public figures. Added bombings in 1980s. Since 1990, has expanded targets to include EU facilities and foreign firms investing in Greece and has added improvised rocket attacks to its methods.

Strength
Unknown, but presumed to be small.

Location/Area of Operation
Athens, Greece.

External Aid
Unknown.


Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)

a.k.a.: Devrimci Sol (Revolutionary Left), Dev Sol

Description
Originally formed in 1978 as Devrimci Sol, or Dev Sol, it was a splinter faction of the Turkish People's Liberation Party/Front. Renamed in 1994 after factional infighting, it still espouses a Marxist ideology and is virulently anti-US and anti-NATO. The group finances its activities chiefly through armed robberies and extortion.

Activities
Since the late 1980s has concentrated attacks against current and retired Turkish security and military officials. Began a new campaign against foreign interests in 1990. Protesting the Gulf war, it assassinated two US military contractors and wounded a US Air Force officer. Launched rockets at US Consulate in Istanbul in 1992. Assassinated prominent Turkish businessman in early 1996, its first significant terrorist act as DHKP/C.

Strength
Unknown.

Location/Area of Operation
Carries out attacks in Turkey, primarily in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Adana. Conducts fundraising operations in Europe.

External Aid
Possible training support from radical Palestinians.


Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA)

Description
An extreme leftist group that developed out of the opposition to the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974. Formed in 1971, the ELA is a self-described revolutionary, anti-capitalist, and anti-imperialist group, which has declared its opposition to "imperialist domination, exploitation, and oppression." The ELA is strongly anti-US and seeks the removal of US military forces from Greece.

Activities
Since 1974 the group has carried out bombings against Greek government and economic targets as well as US military and business facilities. In 1986 the group stepped up attacks on Greek Government and commercial interests. In November 1990 a raid on a safehouse revealed a weapons cache and direct contacts with other Greek terrorist groups, including 1 May and Revolutionary Solidarity. During 1991 ELA and 1 May claimed joint responsibility for more than 20 bombings. Greek police believe they have established a link between the ELA and the Revolutionary Organization 17 November.

Strength
Unknown.

Location/Area of Operation
Greece.

External Aid
No known foreign sponsors.


Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path, SL)

Description
Larger of Peru's two insurgencies, SL is among the world's most ruthless guerrilla organizations. Formed in the late 1960s by then university professor Abimael Guzman. Stated goal is to destroy existing Peruvian institutions and replace them with peasant revolutionary regime. Also wants to rid Peru of foreign influences. Guzman's capture in September 1992 was a major blow, as were arrests of other SL leaders in 1995, defections, and President Fujimori's amnesty program for repentant terrorists.

Activities
Engages in particularly brutal forms of terrorism, including the indiscriminate use of bombs. Almost every institution in Peru has been a target of SL violence. Has bombed diplomatic missions of several countries in Peru, including the US Embassy. Carries out bombing campaigns and selective assassinations. Has attacked US businesses since its inception. Involved in cocaine trade.

Strength
Approximately 1,500 to 2,500 armed militants; larger number of supporters, mostly in rural areas.

Location/Area of Operation
Rural based, with some terrorist attacks in the capital.

External Aid
None.

17 November

(see Revolutionary Organization 17 November)


Sikh Terrorism

Description
Sikh terrorism is sponsored by expatriate and Indian Sikh groups who want to carve out an independent Sikh state called Khalistan (Land of the Pure) from Indian territory. Active groups include Babbar Khalsa, Azad Khalistan Babbar Khalsa Force, Khalistan Liberation Front, and Khalistan Commando Force. Many of these groups operate under umbrella organizations, the most significant of which is the Second Panthic Committee.

Activities
Sikh attacks in India are mounted against Indian officials and facilities, other Sikhs, and Hindus; they include assassinations, bombings, and kidnappings. These attacks have dropped markedly since 1992, as Indian security forces have killed or captured a host of senior Sikh militant leaders. Total civilian deaths in Punjab have declined more than 95 percent since more than 3,300 civilians died in 1991. The drop results largely from Indian Army, paramilitary, and police successes against extremist groups.

Strength
Unknown.

Location/Area of Operation
Northern India, Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America.

External Aid
Sikh militant cells are active internationally and extremists gather funds from overseas Sikh communities. Sikh expatriates have formed a variety of international organizations that lobby for the Sikh cause overseas. Most prominent are the World Sikh Organization and the International Sikh Youth Federation.


Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)

Description
Traditional Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement formed in 1983. Objective remains to rid Peru of imperialism and establish Marxist regime. Has suffered from defections and government counterterrorist successes in addition to infighting and loss of leftist support.

Activities
Bombings, kidnappings, ambushes, assassinations. Previously responsible for large number of anti-US attacks; recent activity has dropped off dramatically. Most members have been jailed. Nevertheless, in December 1996 some 23 MRTA members took over the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Lima during a diplomatic reception, capturing hundreds of hostages. Peruvian commandos stormed the residence in April of 1997 rescuing all but one hostage and killing all terrorists.

Strength
Unknown; greatly diminished in recent years.

Location/Area of Operation
Peru.

External Aid
None.

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