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Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1993
Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
 
Department of State Publication 10136
Office of the Secretary of State
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Released April 1994


Introduction

...
International terrorism would not have flourished as it has during the past few decades without the funding, training, safehaven, weapons, and logistic support provided to terrorists by sovereign states. For this reason, a primary aim of our counterterrorism policy has been to apply pressure to such states to cease and desist in that support and to make them pay the cost if they persist. We do this by publicly identifying state sponsors and by imposing economic, diplomatic, and sometimes military sanctions. Seven nations are designated as states that sponsor international terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
...
Iran remains the most dangerous sponsor and the greatest source of concern to US policymakers. While Americans are no longer held hostage by Iranian surrogates, that government continues to kill dissidents and other enemies wherever it can find them. It continues to fund and train extremists who seek to overthrow friendly and secular governments, such as Egypt and Tunisia. Iran is totally opposed to the Middle East peace process, and it arms and funds those who share that view. The fatwa against Salman Rushdie remains in effect; there is a strong possibility that the attempted murder in October of the Norwegian publisher of Rushdie's book is connected to the fatwa.


Iran

Iran again was the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 and was implicated in terrorist attacks in Italy, Turkey, and Pakistan. Its intelligence services support terrorist acts--either directly or through extremist groups--aimed primarily against opponents of the regime living abroad. Although neither Iran nor its surrogate Hizballah has launched an attack on US interests since 1991, Iran still surveils US missions and personnel. Tehran's policymakers view terrorism as a valid tool to accomplish their political objectives, and acts of terrorism are approved at the highest levels of the Iranian Government. During the year, Iranian- sponsored terrorist attacks were less frequent in Western Europe and the Middle East, favored venues of the past, but were more frequent in other areas, especially Turkey and Pakistan.

Iranian intelligence continues to stalk members of the Iranian opposition in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Despite Tehran's attempts to distance itself from direct involvement in terrorist acts, Iran has been linked to several assassinations of dissidents during the past year. Iran was probably responsible for the assassination of at least four members of one opposition group, the Iraq-based Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK): one in Italy in March, a second in Pakistan in June in which a bystander was also killed, and two in Turkey in August. The body of a MEK member who was abducted in Istanbul at the end of 1992 has still not been found. In January, the body of another Iranian dissident who had been kidnapped in Istanbul several months before was found. All of the murders were carried out by professional assassins; no arrests have been made.

Iranian intelligence agents are under arrest in Germany and France for their links to murders of Iranian dissidents. One Iranian, identified by German prosecutors as an Iranian intelligence agent, is being tried with four Lebanese Hizballah members for their roles in the murder of three Iranian Kurdish dissidents in Berlin in September 1992. France arrested two Iranians in November 1992 for the murder of MEK leader Kazein Rajavi in Geneva in 1990; on 30 December, France expelled them to Iran, despite an extradition request from Switzerland. They had been in Europe as part of a hit team to assassinate one or more unidentified Iranian dissidents. The French Government explained that it was pursuing French national interests. A French magistrate investigating the killings of former Iranian Prime Minister Shahpur Bakhtiar and an assistant near Paris in 1991 has linked the murder to Iranian intelligence. Three men are being held in French prisons in connection with the murders, including a nephew of President Rafsanjani who was an employee of the Iranian Embassy, and a nephew of the late Ayatollah Khomeini who was an Iranian radio correspondent. French authorities have issued arrest warrants for several other men.

Iranian leaders continue to defend the late Ayatollah Khomeini's 1989 fatwa, which condemned British author Salman Rushdie for blasphemy and called for his death. In February, on the fourth anniversary of the decree, Iran's current spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared that the death sentence must and will be carried out, no matter the consequences. To demonstrate its support, the Iranian Parliament also passed a resolution endorsing the fatwa and calling for Rushdie's death. An Iranian foundation that has offered a reward of more than $2 million for killing Rushdie has warned that Muslims will also take revenge on anyone who supports Rushdie. In Beirut, Hizballah vowed to carry out the decree. In Oslo, an unknown assailant shot and seriously wounded the Norwegian publisher of The Satanic Verses in October. In Turkey in July, 37 persons died in a fire set by anti-Rushdie demonstrators during a violent three-month-long campaign to prevent a Turkish magazine from publishing excerpts of Rushdie's book. At the start of the campaign, the Iranian Ambassador to Turkey proclaimed that the fatwa against Rushdie also applied in Turkey. Fundamentalists, including Turkish Hizballah groups, issued death threats to the journal's officials, distributors, and vendors and attacked printing facilities, distribution vehicles, and sales kiosks, injuring several workers. Iran is also the world's preeminent sponsor of extremist Islamic and Palestinian groups, providing funds, weapons, and training. The Lebanese Hizballah, Iran's most important client, was responsible for some of the most lethal acts of terrorism of the last decade, including the 1992 car bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina. In 1993, Hizballah concentrated on guerrilla operations in southern Lebanon, including rocket attacks on civilians in northern Israel, and simultaneously boosted its political influence in the Lebanese parliament. Hizballah has also continued its efforts to develop a worldwide terrorist infrastructure.

Iran supports many other radical organizations that have resorted to terrorism, including the PIJ, the PFLP-GC, and HAMAS. Iranian leaders have worked to develop a rejectionist front, comprising Hizballah and 10 Palestinian groups based in Damascus, to counter the Middle East process.

An Iranian-backed Turkish group, Islamic Action--also referred to as the Islamic Movement Organization--is suspected by Turkish authorities in the car bombing of a prominent Turkish journalist in Istanbul in January and an assassination attempt on a Turkish Jewish businessman a few days later. In February, three members of an Iranian-backed radical Islamic group, possibly Islamic Action, were convicted for the bombing of an Istanbul synagogue almost a year earlier. It is unclear whether the group, some of whose members were arrested by Turkish police, were involved in the anti-Rushdie campaign in Turkey or linked to any of the several hundred murders of secular Kurdish activists in eastern Turkey that have been blamed on so-called Turkish Hizballah groups.

Tehran continues to support and provide sanctuary for the PKK, which was responsible for hundreds of deaths in Turkey during the year.

Iran has become the main supporter and ally of the fundamentalist regime in Sudan. Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps provide training for the Sudanese military. The Iranian Ambassador to Khartoum was involved in the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and played a leading role in developing Hizballah in the 1980s. Khartoum has become a key venue for Iranian contact with Palestinian and North African extremists.

The opposition group MEK launched several attacks into Iran from Iraq in 1993, mostly on oil refineries and pipelines in southwestern Iran. Two guards were killed in an attack on a communications facility of the national oil company in Kermanshah in May. In December, the MEK admitted that it killed a Turkish diplomat in Baghdad, claiming he was mistaken for an Iranian official.

 

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Ali Neshat

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