Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1995
Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
Author: U.S. Department of State
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Released April 1996
The United States and its allies continue to focus on
raising the costs for governments that support, tolerate, and engage in
international terrorism. It is widely recognized that state support for
terrorist groups enhances their capabilities and makes law enforcement
efforts to counter terrorism more difficult. To pressure states to stop such
support, US law imposes trade and other restrictions on countries determined
by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of
international terrorism by supporting, training, supplying, or providing
safehaven to known terrorists.
The United States currently lists Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya,
North Korea, Sudan, and Syria as state supporters of terrorism. The list is
sent annually to Congress, although countries can be added or removed at any
time circumstances warrant.
Iran continued in 1995 to be the world's most active
supporter of international terrorism. Although Tehran tried to project a
moderate image in the West, it continued to assassinate dissidents abroad
and maintained its support and financing of groups that pose a threat to US
citizens. Iranian authorities reaffirmed the validity of the death sentence
imposed on British author Salman Rushdie, although some Iranian officials
claimed that the Government of Iran would not implement the fatwa. No
specific acts of terrorism attributed to the Iranian-backed Lebanese
Hizballah in 1995 were on the scale of the July 1994 bombing of a Jewish
cultural center in Buenos Aires, which is believed to have been perpetrated
by Hizballah. Hizballah continued attempts to undermine the Middle East
peace process and oppose Western interests throughout the Middle East. Iran
also supports other radical organizations that commit terrorism in
opposition to the peace process, including HAMAS, the Palestine Islamic
Jihad (PIJ), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General
Command (PFLP-GC). It also provides safehaven to the Kurdistan Workers'
Party (PKK), a terrorist group fighting for an independent Kurdish state
that carried out numerous terrorist acts in 1995 against Turkish interests.
Iran remains the premier state sponsor of international
terrorism and is deeply involved in the planning and execution of terrorist
acts both by its own agents and by surrogate groups. This year Tehran
escalated its assassination campaign against dissidents living abroad; there
were seven confirmed Iranian murders of dissidents in 1995, compared with
four in 1994. Iranian antidissident operations concentrated on the regime's
main opposition group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), and the Kurdish
Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI).
Leaders of Iranian dissident groups are the most frequent
victims of Iranian intelligence and terrorist operations. In 1995 most
antidissident attacks were conducted in Iraq, in contrast to prior years'
worldwide operations. Attacks on Iranian dissidents in Iraq during the year
included the shooting deaths on 17 May of two MEK members in Baghdad, the
murder on 5 June of two members of the Iranian Kurdish "Toilers" Party (Komelah)
in Sulaymaniyah, and the killing of three MEK members in Baghdad on 10 July.
The shooting death in Paris on 17 September of Hashem Abdollahi, son of the
chief witness in the trial of 1994 that convicted two Iranians for murdering
former Iranian Prime Minister Bakhtiar in 1991, may have been an
Sendar Hosseini, a suspect in the 1994 murder of
dissident Osman Muhammed Amini in Copenhagen, Denmark, was arrested by
Italian police in Bibione, Italy.
Iran provides arms, training, and money to Lebanese
Hizballah and several Palestinian extremist groups that use terrorism to
oppose the Middle East peace process. Tehran, which is against any
compromise with or recognition of Israel, continued in 1995 to encourage
Hizballah, HAMAS, the PIJ, the PFLP-GC, and other Palestinian rejectionist
groups to form a coordinated front to resist Israel and thepeace process
through violence and terrorism.
Hizballah, Iran's closest client, remains the leading
suspect in the July 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israel Mutual Association
(AMIA) in Buenos Aires that killed at least 96 persons. This operation was
virtually identical to the one conducted in March 1992 against the Israeli
Embassy in Buenos Aires, for which Hizballah claimed responsibility.
Iran also gives varying degrees of assistance to an
assortment of radical Islamic and secular groups from North Africa to
Central Asia. For example, Tehran continued to offer the Kurdistan Workers'
Party (PKK) safehaven in Iran. Seeking to establish a Kurdish state in
southeastern Turkey, the PKK in 1995 launched numerous attacks in Europe and
continued its violent campaign against Turkish tourism, including attacks on
tourist spots frequented by Westerners. Tehran also provided some support to
Turkish Islamic groups that have been blamed for attacks against Turkish
secular and Jewish figures.
Iranian authorities reaffirmed the validity of the death
sentence imposed on British author Salman Rushdie, although some Iranian
officials claimed that the Government of Iran would not implement the fatwa.
Tehran, however, continued to mount a propaganda campaign against Rushdie.
In February - the sixth anniversary of the judgment - Iran's official news
agency IRNA reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmoud Vaezi "underlined
the need for the implementation of the fatwa against the author of the
blasphemous book The Satanic Verses." Vaezi in May declared that "the fatwa
issued by the late Imam [Khomeini] could neither be revoked nor changed by
Despite increasing Iranian support for extremist groups
and involvement in terrorist operations, PresidentRafsanjani continued to
project publicly a "moderate" image of Iran to Western European countries
and Japan to facilitate the expansion of its relations with them. This quest
for respectability probably explains why Iran reduced its attacks in Europe
last year; Tehran wants to ensure access to Western capital and markets.
Iran continued to view the United States as its principal
foreign adversary, supporting groups such as Hizballah that pose a threat to
US citizens. Because of Tehran's and Hizballah's deep antipathy toward the
United States, US missions and personnel abroad continue to be at risk.