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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
1996 APRIL: PATTERNS OF GLOBAL TERRORISM, 1995

Office of the Secretary
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Philip C. Wilcox, Jr.


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ASIA OVERVIEW


CONTENTS


Introduction

The most serious terrorist attack in Asia in 1995 was the nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in March carried out by the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo. The attack - the first large-scale use of chemical agents by terrorists - apparently was meant to destabilize Japan and pave the way for the cult to seize control of the nation. The attack killed 12, injured thousands, and damaged Japan's sense of security. Japanese authorities have since arrested the leaders of Aum Shinrikyo and suppressed the organization. The Khmer Rouge murdered a US tourist in Cambodia in January, the only terrorist-related death of a US citizen in East Asia last year.

The East Asia/Pacific region was also the locale of a plot, discovered by the Philippine Government, by Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and his accomplices to assassinate the Pope and plant bombs on US airliners flying over the Pacific.

In the South Asia region, the continued presence of Islamic militant training camps in Afghanistan contributed to terrorist incidents in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, and South Asia. Camps are supported by nearly all Afghan factions, and the nominal Rabbani government does not exercise control or authority over much of Afghanistan. The Rabbani regime has been accused by the Government of Pakistan of sponsoring a spate of bombings and assassinations in the Peshawar area in late October and early November.

A group of Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri terrorists kidnapped six Westerners in Indian-held Kashmir in July, demanding the release of militants belonging to the Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA), a militant group based in Pakistan. One hostage was killed and another escaped. Other Kashmiri groups claimed responsibility for bombings at Republic Day celebrations in Kashmir in January and at the office of the BBC correspondant in Kashmir in September. Credible reports continue to indicate official Pakistani support for militant groups fighting in Kashmir, including some groups that engage in terrorism, such as the HUA. The Sikh terrorist group, Babbar Khalsa, assassinated the Punjab Chief Minister in August.

Two US Consulate employees were assassinated in Karachi in March. The Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad was destroyed by a bomb in November, and three Egyptian groups claimed responsibility. In February, Pakistan extradited Ramzi Yousef, alleged mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, to the United States.


Afghanistan

Afghanistan, which lacks an effective or recognized central government, remained a training ground for Islamic militants and terrorists in 1995. Nearly all of the factions competing for political power, including the nominal government in Kabul led by Burhanuddin Rabbani, are involved to some extent in harboring or facilitating camps that have trained terrorists from many nations who have been active in worldwide terrorist activity. Terrorists who trained in camps in Afghanistan perpetrated attacks in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, and South Asia, including the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia in June, bombings in France by Algerian militants, and the Manila-based plot to attack Western interests. Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, suspected of involvement in this plot as well as the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, is linked to Afghan training. The group that claimed responsibility for the bombing in November of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, also has extensive ties to the Afghan network.

Individuals who trained in Afghanistan in 1995 were involved in wars or insurgencies in Kashmir, Tajikistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, and the Philippines. In Tajikistan, the government claimed in May to have arrested a group of Afghan-trained Tajiks who were responsible for attacking a bus carrying Russian border guards in Dushanbe in February. Manila claims that veterans of Afghan camps are working with Philippine opposition groups that attacked and destroyed a village in April.

The Rabbani regime in Kabul has done little to curb the training of foreign militants. Indeed, one regime backer, Abd al-Rasul Sayyaf, continues to harbor and train potential terrorists in his camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan; the Government of Pakistan raided his facilities near Peshawar in November after the bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad. The Rabbani regime did arrest foreign militants from camps run by other factions. Many remain in jail in Kabul, but some have been released.

Kabul has been accused by Islamabad of sponsoring a spate of bombings in the Peshawar area in late October and early November. Pakistani authorities claim to have arrested one Afghan in connection with the first bombing incident. The Taliban, an Afghan opposition movement that Kabul has accused Islamabad of supporting, forced a privately chartered Russian-flagged transport aircraft from Tatarstan to land on 3 August, and the seven-man crew was still held hostage in Qandahar at year's end. The Taliban has claimed that the crew members are prisoners of war, since the aircraft was carrying munitions for the Kabul regime. The group has demanded that, in exchange for the crew, Russia cease its aid to Kabul and provide information on thousands of Afghans who the Taliban claim have been missing since the Afghan-Soviet war.


Cambodia

The Khmer Rouge (KR) continued to decline in strength, relying on rural banditry and terror to support its policy of undermining the duly elected government. The KR threat was strongest in the north and west, particularly along the Thai border. However, in this region there is no official US presence and only a small number of US citizens or other Westerners, who work mostly with the UN and NGOs. Nevertheless, on 15 January a group of bandits, believed to have included Khmer Rouge, killed a US citizen, Susan Ginsburg Hadden, wounded her husband, and killed her Cambodian guide while the victims were touring temple areas near Angkor Wat. Several people were tried and sentenced to 15-to-20- year prison terms in connection with the killings. The government also followed up on past KR atrocoties; six Khmer Rouge were sentenced to 15- year terms (five in absentia) for the murders of two Britons and an Australian in April 1994.

India

India continues to face significant security problems as a result of insurgencies in Kashmir and the northeast. A group of Kashmiri and non- Kashmiri terrorists kidnapped six Westerners - two US citizens, two Britons, a German, and a Norwegian - hiking near Srinagar, Kashmir, in July. The Norwegian hostage was beheaded, one US citizen escaped, and the others - still held captive at year's end - have been threatened with execution if India does not release several prisoners belonging to the Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA), a militant group headquartered in Pakistan.

Bombings claimed by Kashmiri groups occurred throughout the year, including explosions in a stadium in Kashmir during Republic Day festivities on 26 January. The targets were primarily Indian Government officials, military offices, and infrastructure facilities, but most of those killed and wounded were civilians. Kashmiri terrorists also targeted journalists in Srinagar. An AFP correspondent in Srinagar was killed on 7 September by a package bomb intended for the BBC correspondent. There are credible reports of official Pakistani support for militants fighting in Kashmir, including for the groups that claimed responsibility for the bombings.

In October, India signed an intelligence-sharing agreement with Egypt to combat international terrorism and organized crime.

The Government of India has been largely successful in controlling the Sikh separatist movement in Punjab State, but Sikh groups committed several acts of terrorism in India in 1995. The Babbar Khalsa group assassinated the Punjab Chief Minister outside his offices in Chandigarh on 31 August. Another Sikh group, the Khalistan Liberation Force, claimed responsibility for the bombing of three civilian targets in New Delhi and Panjpit on 26 September. Indian authorities suspect that the same Sikh group is responsible for a bombing in New Delhi on 21 November, which was claimed by both Sikh and Kashmiri groups. India claims that Pakistan harbors and supports Sikh militant groups. Pakistan claims that India supports a Pakistani separatist group in Sindh Province, which Islamabad claims has carried out terrorist attacks in Karachi.


Japan

In 1995, Japan suffered the world's first large-scale terrorist chemical gas attack when a Japanese religious cult, Aum Shinrikyo or Aum Supreme Truth, attacked the Tokyo subway system on 20 March. Five subway trains were simultaneously attacked, killing 12 persons and sending about 5,500 to area hospitals for treatment of symptoms of chemical poisoning from sarin gas. Foreigners, including two US citizens, one Swiss, one Irishman, and two Australians, were among those who sought treatment for chemical exposure. After an investigation, the Japanese police also charged the Aum for the sarin gas attack on June 1994 in Matsumoto that killed seven and injured about 500. Most of the suspected perpetrators of the gas attack and most of the group's leaders - including its founder Shoko Asahara - have been arrested and are awaiting trial.

On 15 November, an unknown perpetrator placed explosives on a powerline pylon, causing minor damage but no injury or power outage to a US military housing complex near Tokyo, five days before President Clinton was scheduled to visit the city.


Pakistan

Two US employees of the US Consulate in Karachi were killed by unknown gunmen on 8 March. On 19 November, the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad was destroyed by a car bomb, for which three Egyptian militant opposition groups claimed responsibility. Pakistan continues to experience terrorist-related violence as a result of domestic conflicts and instability in Afghanistan. Pakistan claimed that the current Afghan regime was behind a spate of bombings and assassinations in the Peshawar area in October and November. Pakistan claims that India provides support for separatists in Sindh Province, especially in Karachi, where terrorism and other violence resulted in over 100 deaths each month during 1995.

Pakistan took steps in 1995 to curb the activities of Afghan mujahedin and sympathetic Arabs and Pakistanis in the Pakistani regions that border Afghanistan. In February, Pakistan arrested and extradited to the United States Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, suspected of masterminding the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and a plot against US airlines in East Asia in 1995. Pakistan's discovery through subsequent investigations that Yousef had plotted to assassinate Prime Minister Bhutto led to arrests of his associates throughout Pakistan. Islamabad also undertook a partial crackdown in several Pakistani cities on nongovernmental organizations suspected of aiding militant organizations and terrorists. Under an extradition treaty with Egypt signed in late 1994, Pakistan returned to Egypt several suspected terrorists before the Egyptian Embassy bombing. As a result of this bombing, Pakistan rounded up suspects and their associates in several Pakistani cities, including a refugee camp in Pakistan run by Afghan leader Abd al-Rasul Sayyaf.

The Government of Pakistan acknowledges that it continues to give moral, political, and diplomatic support to Kashmiri militants but denies allegations of other assistance. There continued to be credible reports in 1995, however, of official Pakistani support to militants fighting in Kashmir, including Pakistani, Afghan, and Arab nationals, some of whom engage in terrorism. One Pakistan-backed group, Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA), is believed to be linked to Al-Faran, the group that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping in July in Kashmir of two US citizens, two Britons, a German, and a Norwegian. One US citizen escaped. The Norwegian was later beheaded, and at year's end the other hostages were still being held. In October there were reports that HUA was involved in an arms-smuggling ring with Pakistani military officers accused of plotting to overthrow the Bhutto government. Other Pakistan-backed groups claimed responsibility for numerous bombings in Kashmir, including one against foreign journalists.


Philippines

The Philippine Government continued its efforts to negotiate a settlement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF); its cease- fire with the group mostly was observed while the talks continued. Other Islamists and leftist groups, however, continued to use terrorism to achieve their aims.

On 6 January, Philippine police in Manila discovered a plot by foreign Islamic extremists to place bombs on US airliners flying over the Pacific. They also made plans to assassinate the Pope, who was about to visit the Philippines, and to attack foreign embassies. The plots were directed by Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the alleged mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing in New York City in February 1993. Yousef escaped but was later arrested in Pakistan and extradited to the United States. Abdul Hakim Murad, another suspected conspirator, was arrested by Philippine officials and handed over to the United States.

On 26 March the leftist Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB) hurled a grenade at the Singapore Airlines offices in Manila, damaging an armored car in the parking lot of an adjacent bank. The group claimed the attack was to show its displeasure with Singapore's decision to execute a Philippine maid who had pleaded guilty to murder.

In December threats from the Abu Sayyaf Group led Philippine authorities to arrest 30 Filipinos and foreigners allegedly engaged in plans to carry out terrorist attacks in Manila. In response to Abu Sayyaf and ABB activities, the Philippine Government urged passage of legislation designed to facilitate police counterterrorist operations. Public opposition to the legislation, however, makes quick passage unlikely.

Also in December, the ABB carried out three ambushes, resulting in the death of a prominent Philippine-Chinese industrialist, his driver, and a small boy. ABB claimed the attacks were in response to labor violations at factories owned by the murdered industrialist and others. President Ramos called the attacks "a declaration of war" and ordered police to high alert, resulting in the arrest of a number of ABB operatives.


Sri Lanka

The separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continued to plague the government in 1995, with insurgency and terrorism directed against senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders, economic infrastructure-related facilities, and civilians. The LTTE withdrew from government-initiated peace talks in April and renewed its attacks. The government then launched the largest offensive of the 12-year war. Although the LTTE suffered heavy casualties, and at least temporarily lost its main base on the Jaffna Peninsula, it continued to pose a serious terrorist threat. In October, in their first attack on Sri Lanka's economic infrastructure in several years, the Tigers attacked oil and natural gas storage facilities in the Colombo suburbs and significantly reduced Sri Lanka's oil storage capability. The Tigers also conducted or planned suicide bombings against Indian Prime Minister Rao, Sri Lankan Army headquarters, other senior military and government officials, and government offices in Colombo.

The LTTE has refrained from targeting Western tourists possibly out of fear that foreign governments would crack down on Tamil expatriates involved in fundraising activities abroad. In July, however, the Ellalan Force, an LTTE front group, exploded bombs in Colombo's zoological gardens, in a park, and on a beach frequented by tourists; there were no casualties. They intended to damage the tourist trade rather than to harm foreigners. These attacks followed a threat by the Ellalan Force to carry out bomb strikes in Colombo unless the government agreed to investigate the military's alleged use of civilians as human shields.


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