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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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MIDDLE EAST OVERVIEW


CONTENTS


Introduction

The deadliest terrorist attack against US interests in the Middle East since the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut took place on 13 November in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A vehicle bomb badly damaged the headquarters of the Office of the Program Manager/Saudi Arabian National Guard (OPM/SANG), a military training mission. Seven persons, including five US citizens, were killed and 42 were wounded. Several shadowy groups, including the "Islamic Movement for Change," claimed responsibility for the incident. Saudi Arabian authorities are aggressively investigating the incident in close cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Fatalities from extremist violence in Egypt rose slightly above 1994 totals. Nevertheless, Egyptian authorities continued a successful crackdown against extremists, arresting some important leaders and confining violence to upper Egypt. In November, al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Group or IG) renewed efforts to target Egypt's tourist industry. In two shooting attacks against trains traveling through Qina and Al Minya Governorates in upper Egypt, two Europeans and 10 Egyptians were wounded.

For the first time, Egyptian extremists extended their campaign of violence outside Egypt's borders. The IG claimed responsibility for an assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia in June, and in November the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was bombed, killing 16 and wounding 60. Both the IG and the Jihad Group claimed responsibility for this attack.

In Algeria widespread terrorism continued the trend of recent years. Armed insurgents turned increasingly to the use of indiscriminate bombings in their offensive against the government, deemphasizing their reliance on military-style attacks on Algerian security units. While attacks against foreigners in Algeria decreased overall, Islamic militants expanded their offensive to include targets overseas and US targets in Algeria. In November, Islamic militants set fire to a US Embassy warehouse; this was consistent with threats against foreign - including US - interests in Algeria issued by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). The same group is suspected of responsibility for the murder in Paris in July of a prominent activist from the Islamic Salvation Front - another Algerian Islamist opposition group - as well as a bombing campaign in Paris that killed eight persons and wounded scores.

Elsewhere in North Africa, incidents of terrorist violence were low. Tunisian authorities maintained effective control of the internal security situation and, in particular, closely followed the activities of the Tunisian Islamic Front, which claimed responsibility for the murders of four policemen and has warned all foreigners to leave Tunisia. In Morocco, an Egyptian detonated a bomb in the consular section of the Russian Embassy, evidently to protest Russian policy in Chechnya. Islamic extremists continued efforts to smuggle weapons through Morocco into Algeria to support extremists there.

In Israel and the occupied territories/Palestinian autonomous areas, incidents of political violence and terrorism continued to plague the Palestinian-Israeli peaceprocess. On 4 November, a Jewish Israeli extremist assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at a propeace rally in Tel Aviv. In subsequent statements the assassin said he acted to protest Rabin's peace process policies.

The overall number of anti-Israeli attacks declined to 33 in 1995 from 79 in 1994 due to a change in the nature of attacks, that is, less frequent but more lethal suicide bombings. Casualty figures thus remained high, with 45 Israeli soldiers and civilians killed, two US civilians killed, and nearly 280 persons wounded in 1995, compared to 55 persons killed and more than 150 wounded in the previous year. The Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) and the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) claimed responsibility for most of these attacks, including several devastating suicide bombings. Chairman Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) launched a campaign to crack down on Islamic militants while at the same time initiating political dialogue with HAMAS to bring it into the political process. HAMAS announced a temporary suspension of military activities in August while engaging in talks with the PA; there were no major HAMAS attacks against Israelis through the end of 1995.

Lebanon witnessed small improvements in the internal security situation during the year, including in Beirut. Despite government efforts to extend its control, however, many parts of the country remained outside the central government's authority. The terrorist organization Hizballah has yet to be disarmed and still operates freely in several areas of the country, particularly the south. Incidents of internal political violence continued to trouble many parts of the country.


Algeria

The security situation in Algeria did not improve substantially in 1995. Accurate casualty figures are difficult to acquire, but as many as 50,000 Algerians - militants, security personnel, and civilians - have died as a result of the nearly four-year-old insurgency. Islamic extremists slowed their attacks against foreign nationals inside Algeria in 1995, but suspicions centered on the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) for a series of terrorist attacks in France in July, September, and October.

Last year extremists carried out their first attack against a US target in Algeria since Islamic militants began targeting foreigners in 1993. On 9 November, Islamic extremists set fire to a warehouse belonging to the US Embassy. The militants threatened the life of the Algerian security guard because he was working for the United States, and they specifically demanded to know whether there were any US citizens present. The GIA probably carried out the attacks. The group had threatened to strike US and other foreign targets in Algeria, and the modus operandi of the attack was consistent with past GIA operations against foreign facilities.

The GIA was responsible for the deaths of 31 foreigners in Algeria in 1995, compared to at least 64 in 1994. Most of the foreigners killed were "soft targets," such as teachers and nuns. From July to October a terrorist bombing campaign in France began against civilian targets, killing eight persons and wounding 160. Suspicion centered on the GIA as a protest of French support for Algiers. Suspicion also focused on the GIA for the death of FIS leader Abdelbaki Sahraoui in Paris in July; the group earlier had published Sahraoui's name in a list of FIS members marked for death due to their conciliatory posture toward negotiating with the Algerian regime.

Algerian militants changed their tactics slightly in 1995, relying more heavily on the use of homemade bombs - especially car bombs - and decreasing their reliance on more traditional military-style attacks on Algerian security units. The GIA claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing of a police headquarters in downtown Algiers in January that killed more than 40 persons. Insurgents stepped up attacks on infrastructure targets this year, disabling bridges and electric power facilities throughout the country. In May, GIA commandos attacked foreign workers along a newly constructed gas pipeline, killing five. The GIA continued its attacks against civilian targets, killing women for refusing to wear the hidjab, intellectuals, and others it perceived as "cooperating" with the regime and "spreading Western influence." Over 25 journalists were killed in 1995, making Algeria the most dangerous place in the world for practitioners of this profession.

Violence in Algeria slowed significantly in the weeks before the presidential election on 16 November, primarily because of extraordinary measures employed by the security services. As these security measures were relaxed, however, Algeria's fragmented Islamic movement continued to attack foreigners; two Latvian sailors were shot within two weeks after the elections.


Egypt

Fatalities from Islamic extremist violence rose slightly in 1995, with the number of victims - including noncombatants and police - and extremists killed increasing from 286 in 1994 to 375 in 1995. Violence primarily was confined to provinces in upper Egypt; there were no attacks in Cairo or urban areas further north.

Al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group or IG) continued to be the most active Islamic extremist organization in Egypt in 1995. All attacks occurred in upper Egypt, with much of the violence shifting from Asyu't - the previous center of conflict - to Al Minya Governorate, specifically around Mallawi. Some attacks also occurred in Qina Governorate. Police and security elements were the focus of many attacks. The IG also is believed to have been the culprit in the deaths of at least 28 Coptic Christians and at least 20 Muslims alleged to be police informants. In November, the IG also resumed its efforts to damage Egypt's tourist industry, claiming responsibility for two shooting attacks that month against trains traveling through Qina and Al Minya Governorates to tourist sites in upper Egypt. Two Europeans and 10 Egyptians were wounded in the attacks. The IG claims of responsibility were accompanied by warnings for all foreign tourists to leave the country.

Egypt has stepped up its counterterrorist campaign, preventing Islamic extremists from carrying out attacks in Cairo and other urban areas to the north. A police sweep in Al Minya in September resulted in the arrest of a key leader of the IG's military wing, who had been sought since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

During 1995, Egyptian Islamic extremist groups took their campaign of violence outside Egypt for the first time. The IG claimed responsibility for an assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia on 26 June. The IG also took responsibility for a car bombing in Rijeka, Croatia, in October that injured 29 Croatian nationals and killed the car's driver. The IG accused the Croatian Government of having arrested a visiting Gama'at member who had been living in Denmark. Both the IG and the Jihad Group claimed responsibility for the bombing on 19 November of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. Sixteen persons were killed in the attack and another 60 were injured. The previously unknown International Justice Group also took responsibility for the bombing in Pakistan, as well as for the shooting death of an Egyptian diplomat in Geneva on 13 November.


Israel and the Occupied Territories/Palestinian Autonomous Areas

Yigal Amir, a Jewish extremist associated with the little-known "Fighting Jewish Organization" (EYAL), assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at a propeace rally in Tel Aviv on 4 November. Amir claimed to have acted alone, but Israeli security forces charged several other alleged conspirators. Israel also stepped up its investigations of EYAL and other extremist groups that may have had a hand in the murder. Kach and Kahane Chai - which Israel outlawed as terrorist groups after the Hebron massacre in February 1994 - remained active in 1995, though they maintained lower profiles.

The overall number of anti-Israeli attacks instigated by Palestinians declined to 33 in 1995 from 79 in 1994 due to a change in the nature of attacks, that is, to less frequent but more lethal suicide bombings. Casualty figures remained high, with 45 Israeli soldiers and civilians and two US citizens killed and nearly 280 persons wounded in 1995, compared to 55 persons killed and more than 150 wounded the previous year. The increased lethality of the attacks was due mainly to Palestinian extremist groups' increased use of suicide bombings, which killed 39 and wounded 252.

The Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) conducted five major anti- Israeli attacks in 1995 as part of its campaign to derail the peace process. The group claimed responsibility for three devastating suicide bombings, including the bombing on 21 August of a bus in Jerusalem's Ramat Eshkol neighborhood that resulted in the death of a US citizen, Joan Davenny, and three Israelis, and the wounding of more than 100 civilians. Following that operation, HAMAS temporarily suspended its military activities and entered into talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), in which HAMAS discussed the possibility of ending anti- Israeli attacks and participating in the Palestinian elections on 20 January 1996. There were no major HAMAS attacks against Israelis from the August suicide bus bombing through the end of 1995.

Other Palestinian groups that reject the peace process also attacked Israelis. The Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)-Shaqaqi Faction claimed responsibility for five suicide bombings that killed a total of 29 persons and wounded 107. One bus bombing on 9 April killed a US citizen, Alisa Flatow, and seven Israelis and wounded 41 other persons. Although the group suffered a strong blow when its leader, Fathi Shaqaqi, was assassinated in Malta on 26 October, it remained capable of striking at Israeli targets. On 2 November, the PIJ carried out two suicide bomb attacks against Israeli targets in Gaza to retaliate for Shaqaqi's murder, which the group believes Israel sponsored. No Israelis were killed in the attacks. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also claimed responsibility for several attacks against Israelis that occurred outside Palestinian Authority (PA) held areas in the West Bank.

The PA increased its effort to rein in Palestinian violence against Israelis in 1995. The PA security apparatus stepped up its campaign to register and confiscate weapons, thwart terrorist plots, and convict Palestinians responsible for anti-Israeli acts. The PA thwarted a PIJ attack planned for 10 June. In August, the Palestinian Police Force arrested a HAMAS terrorist who was preparing a bomb to be set off in Israel. Arafat and other senior PA officials regularly condemned acts of terrorism as they occurred, especially the Rabin assassination.

Israel's vigilant border security appeared to effectively prevent infiltrations from Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Israeli troops on 12 August, for instance, captured a heavily armed guerrilla attempting to infiltrate into Israel from Jordan. Hizballah and Palestinian rejectionist groups continued to launch occasional - nine times in 1995 - Katyusha rocket salvos into northern Israel from southern Lebanon. The most serious rocket attacks occurred in November, when militants in Lebanon fired 30 to 40 Katyushas into northern Israel over a two-day period, wounding six Israeli civilians.


Jordan

Jordanian security and police closely monitor secular and Islamic extremists inside the country, detaining individuals suspected of involvement in violent acts aimed at destabilizing the government or its relations with other states. Jordanian authorities detained dozens of persons in terrorist-related cases in 1995, including six members of the Islamic Renewal Movement planning to attack foreign interests and two individuals suspected of shooting a French diplomat in February. In late July, Jordan arrested a suspect in the World Trade Center bombing, pursuant to a request from the United States, and rendered him to US law enforcement authorities in early August.

Jordan's peace treaty with Israel - signed on 26 October 1994 - commits the two parties to cooperate against terrorism. Amman maintains tight security along its border with Israel and has stopped individuals attempting to infiltrate into the West Bank.

Several Palestinian rejectionist groups maintain a closely watched presence in Jordan, including the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), and the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS). The government in April warned HAMAS spokesman Ibrahim Ghawsha, a Jordanian citizen, not to issue statements supportive of anti-Israeli violence, as this was in violation of Jordanian law. Under that law, Jordan expelled two senior HAMAS leaders in May for making inflammatory statements against Israel. The two did not hold Jordanian citizenship.


Lebanon

There was incremental improvement in the Lebanese security environment in 1995 as the Lebanese Government struggled to expand its authority throughout the country. The situation in the Beirut metropolitan area is somewhat improved but remains dangerous. Large sections of Lebanon, however, remain effectively beyond the central government's control. There is a risk to Westerners, in particular, in uncontrolled areas such as in the south and the Al Biqa' (Bekaa Valley). An unknown number of Lebanese civilians were killed, injured, or displaced in the fighting in southern Lebanon this year.

While the government has limited the activities of many violent individuals and groups in Lebanon, the terrorist organization Hizballah has yet to be disarmed and continues to operate as a separate polity within the country. For example, Hizballah has announced that it will operate a separate judicial system based on Islamic jurisprudence within areas under its direct control.

Hizballah's animosity toward the United States continues. In its public rhetoric, the group routinely denounces the United States. In March, Hizballah leader Fadlallah stated that Hizballah "continue(s) to oppose US policy everywhere." Hizballah also continues to make public statements condemning the Middle East peace process.

Militia personnel in February kidnapped two individuals and held them for four days before releasing them. Thousands of people seized during the Lebanese Civil War remain unaccounted for.

Ahmad al-Assad'ad, the son of former Lebanese Parliament speaker Kamel al-Assad'ad, apparently escaped injury on 3 July when handgrenades were thrown at him during a rally in Nabatiyah in southern Lebanon.

In August gunmen shot and killed Shaykh Nizar al-Halbi, the chairman of the Sunni fundamentalist group "Islamic Charitable Projects Association," as he left his home in a West Beirut neighborhood. A group calling itself the "Usama Kassass Organization" claimed responsibility. Two suspects subsequently were arrested.

A car bombing in Jibshit killed a local Hizballah security official in November. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

In December, Lebanese security forces reportedly broke up a terrorist ring operating in northern Lebanon. This ring was planning to begin a violent campaign of assassinations and bombings that month.

There were developments in several terrorism trials. In May, the Judicial Council trying Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Ja'ja on charges of domestic terrorism - for the bombing in February 1994 of a Maronite Church in Zuq Mikha'il that killed 11 and wounded 59 - issued an indefinite continuance (Sine Die) that suspended the trial. A second defendant, Lebanese Forces Deputy Commander Fu'ad Malik, was granted bail on 17 May for medical reasons. Ja'ja remains imprisoned for the assassination of Dany Chamoun, a political rival, in 1990.

In June, Lebanon's Permanent Military Court sentenced (in absentia) two defendants to death for the Beirut car bombing in December 1994 that killed Hizballah member Fu'ad Mughniyah and two others. Two other defendants received prison sentences.

By the end of the year, following a number of postponements, a Lebanese court was set to proceed with the trial of three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) for the murders in 1976 of US Ambassador to Lebanon Francis E. Meloy and US diplomat Robert 0. Waring.

Several Palestinian groups that use terrorism to express their opposition to the Middle East peace process maintain an active presence in Lebanon. These include the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). These organizations conduct terrorist training in southern Lebanon.


Morocco

There were few terrorist-related incidents in Morocco in 1995. The first terrorist attack against a foreign diplomat in Morocco since 1985 occurred on 28 February, however, when an Egyptian citizen detonated a bomb strapped to his body at the consular department of the Russian Embassy. Although Moroccan officials initially suspected that the bomber had ties to Islamic militants, subsequent investigations led Moroccan officials to believe that the man was acting alone, and that the attack was carried out to demonstrate his solidarity with the Chechen people.

Islamic extremists in Morocco continued their efforts to smuggle weapons into Algeria to support Islamic opposition elements there. In mid- October, Moroccan authorities arrested 16 persons in the eastern province of Oujda whom the Moroccans alleged were transporting weapons to Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front. Four of those arrested were Algerians, strengthening the government claims that the arms were intended for Algerian insurgents.


Saudi Arabia

On 13 November, a car bomb exploded outside the Riyadh headquarters of the Office of the Program Manager/Saudi Arabian National Guard (OPM/SANG). Seven persons died in the blast, five of whom were US citizens, and 42 were injured. At least three groups claimed responsibility for the attack, including the Islamic Movement for Change, the Tigers of the Gulf, and the Combatant Partisans of God. The Saudi Government is aggressively investigating this attack with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Tunisia

Tunis maintained effective control of the security situation in 1995, paying special attention to Islamic dissidents, but did not prosecute any individuals for specific acts of terrorism. In May the extremist Tunisian Islamic Front (FIT) issued a warning that all foreigners in Tunisia should leave, but it did not follow up with any concrete threats or attacks. The group also claimed responsibility for a number of operations in Tunisia, including the murders of four policemen. Tunisian authorities have not confirmed or denied the claims.

There are allegations that the FIT is working in conjunction with the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA), and that its members may be training in GIA camps. Several Tunisians were taken into custody in 1995 for alleged involvement with the GIA network in Europe. The FIT claimed responsibility for an attack in February against a Tunisian border post on the Tunisia-Algeria border in which seven border guards were killed, but some officials blame the GIA - possibly in conjunction with the FIT - for the attack. As of 31 December, there were no similar incidents.


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