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Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998
Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
 

Department of State Publication 10610
Office of the Secretary of State
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Released April 1999


Introduction


US Policy:

The United States has developed a counterterrorism policy that has served us well over the years and was advanced aggressively during 1998:

    First, make no concessions to terrorists and strike no deals.
    Second, bring terrorists to justice for their crimes.
    Third, isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism to force them to change their behavior.

      The Secretary of State has designated seven countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya,  North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. In addition, the US Government certified an eighth country--Afghanistan--as not fully cooperating with US antiterrorism efforts.

    Fourth, bolster the counterterrorism capabilities of those countries that work with the United States and require assistance.

This last element is especially important in light of the evolving threat from transnational terrorist groups. These loosely affiliated organizations operate more independently of state sponsors, although those relationships still exist. They are highly mobile and operate globally, raising large amounts of money, training in various countries, and possessing sophisticated technology. The United States must continue to work together with like-minded nations to close down these terrorist networks wherever they are found and make it more difficult for them to operate any place in the world. 


Iran

Iran in 1998 continued to be involved in the planning and execution of terrorist acts. Tehran apparently conducted fewer antidissident assassinations abroad in 1998 than in 1997. Tehran continued, however, to support a variety of groups that use terrorism to pursue their goals. Despite Iranian public statements condemning certain terrorist acts or expressing sympathy for Kenyan and Tanzanian victims of the August 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Iranian support for terrorism remains in place.

Tehran is reported to have conducted several assassinations outside Iran during 1998. In June the "League of the Followers of the Sunna" accused Iranian intelligence agents of murdering an Iranian Sunni cleric, Shaikh Nureddin Ghuraybi, in Tajikistan. In September the leaders of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a virulently anti-Shia sectarian group, accused Iran of responsibility for the murders of two of the organization's leaders, Allama Shoaib Nadeem and Maulana Habibur Rehman Siddiqui. In late November the National Council of Resistance claimed that the Iranian regime had kidnapped and killed Reza Pirzadi in Pakistan. Pirzadi was described as a warrant officer who had been released from prison in Iran in 1996.

Members of Iran's Ministry of Security and Intelligence (MOIS) may have conducted five mysterious murders of leading writers and political activists in Iran. Late in the year, Tehran announced the discovery of an operational cell within the MOIS that it alleged operated without the knowledge of senior government officials. Tehran reportedly arrested the cell's members.

The Iranian Government stated publicly that it would take no action to enforce the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, a British citizen, which has been in effect since 1989. The Iranian Government's assurance led the UK Government to upgrade its diplomatic relations with Iran. Tehran stated, however, that revoking the fatwa is impossible since its author is deceased. Moreover, the Iranian Government has not required the Fifteen Khordad Foundation to withdraw its reward for executing the fatwa on Rushdie, and in November the Foundation increased its offer to $2.8 million.

Iran continued to provide support to a variety of terrorist groups, including the Lebanese Hizballah, HAMAS, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which oppose the Middle East peace process through violence. Iran supports these groups with varying amounts of training, money, and/or weapons.

In March, a US district court ruled that Iran should pay $247 million to the family of Alisa Flatow, a US citizen killed in a PIJ bomb attack in Gaza in April 1995. The court ruled that Iran was responsible for her death because it provided funding to the PIJ, which claimed responsibility for the act. Palestinian sources said Iran supported the PIJ's claimed attack in Jerusalem in early November 1998, in which two suicide bombers injured some 21 persons.

Iran still provides safehaven to elements of the PKK, a Turkish separatist group that has conducted numerous terrorist attacks in Turkey and on Turkish targets in Europe.

Iran also provides support to North African groups. In an interview in April 1998, former Iranian president Bani Sadr accused Tehran of training Algerian fighters, among others.

Tehran accurately claims it also is a victim of terrorism. In 1998 several high-ranking members of the Iranian Government were attacked and at least two were killed in attacks claimed by the terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The MEK claimed responsibility for the killing on 23 August of Asadollah Lajevardi, the former director of Tehran's Evin Prison. It also claimed responsibility for the deaths in June of several persons, including Haj Hassan Salehi, allegedly a torturer at the prison, during a bombing attack on the Revolutionary Prosecutor's Office in Tehran.

Mohsen Rafiqdust, head of the Foundation for the Oppressed and Disabled, escaped an attack on his life on 13 September. He said counterrevolutionary elements had embarked on efforts to make the country insecure.

At least nine Iranian diplomatic and associated personnel died when unknown persons invaded the Iranian Consulate in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, in early August during the Taliban takeover of that city. The Taliban denied responsibility for the deaths.

 

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