Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1996
Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
Department of State Publication 10687
Office of the Secretary of State
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Released April 1997
The United States actively promotes international
cooperation in condemning state sponsorship of terrorism and in bringing
maximum pressure to bear against state sponsors. The Secretary of State has
designated seven countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq,
Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
Although US and international pressure has led to a
decline in active state sponsorship of terrorism in recent years, more can
and should be done to restrain those states that engage in terrorism
themselves, or assist terrorists by providing sanctuary, arms, training,
logistic support, financial backing, or diplomatic facilities. A range of
bilateral and multilateral sanctions are in place to discourage these
countries from continuing their support for international terrorism.
Iran, the most active state sponsor of terrorism today,
continues to provide direction and support to terrorist groups, including
Hizballah in Lebanon. Iran continues to assassinate dissidents abroad and
also provides support to other terrorist groups that oppose Israel and the
Middle East peace process. Iran has not withdrawn the fatwa against the life
of Salman Rushdie.
Iran remained the premier state sponsor of terrorism in
1996. It continued to be involved in the planning and execution of terrorist
acts by its own agents and by surrogates such as Lebanese Hizballah and
continued to fund and train known terrorist groups.
Tehran conducted at least eight dissident assassinations
outside Iran in 1996. In May 1996 Reza Mazlouman, a government official
under the Shah, was murdered in Paris by an Iranian resident of Germany with
alleged ties to Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). The
suspect was extradited to France by Germany. Seven other dissidents were
assassinated by Iran in 1996 in Turkey and northern Iraq. Iran's primary
targets are members of the regime's main opposition groups, the Mujahedin-e
Khalq (MEK) and the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), as well as
former officials of the late Shah's government who speak out against the
Iran continued to provide support-including money,
weapons, and training-to a variety of terrorist groups, such as Hizballah,
HAMAS, and the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ). It continued to oppose any
recognition of Israel and to encourage violent rejection of the Middle East
peace process. For example, Iranian Vice President Habibi met with HAMAS
leaders in Damascus and praised their successful efforts immediately
following the February bombings in Israel. HAMAS claimed responsibility for
two more bombings in Israel the following week.
During a routine customs inspection of an Iranian vessel
in Antwerp in March, Belgian authorities discovered a disassembled
mortar-like weapon hidden in a shipment of pickles. The shipment was
consigned to an Iranian merchant living in Germany. Iranian dissidents claim
that the mortar was intended for use in an assassination attempt against
Iranian exiles in Europe.
Testimony in the three-year-long trial of an Iranian and
four Lebanese for the Iran-sponsored killing of Iranian Kurdish dissidents
in Berlin's Mykonos restaurant in 1992 concluded in late 1996. German
authorities issued an arrest warrant in March for Ali Fallahian, Iran's
Intelligence Minister. In the fall, former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani
Sadr and two other witnesses testified against Iran. In final statements in
late November, German prosecutors charged Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei
and Iranian President Rafsanjani with approving the operation. (Guilty
verdicts for four of the accused were announced in April 1997.)
Iranian leaders have consistently denied being able to
revoke the fatwa against Salman Rushdie's life, in effect for nearly eight
years, claiming that revocation is impossible because the author of the
fatwa is deceased. There is no indication that Tehran is pressuring the 15
Khordad Foundation to withdraw the $2 million reward it is offering to
anyone who will kill Rushdie.
In addition, Iran provides safehaven to elements of the
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Turkish separatist group that has
conducted numerous terrorist attacks in Turkey and throughout Europe.
Although Turkey and Iran agreed to a joint operation in mid-October to
remove the PKK from the border region, Iran reportedly failed to cooperate
in a meaningful way.
Iran's terrorist network in the Persian Gulf remained
active in 1996. The Government of Bahrain announced in June the discovery of
a local Hizballah group of Bahraini Shiites who had been trained and
sponsored by Iran in an effort to overthrow the ruling al-Khalifa family.