Patterns of Global Terrorism. Editor: Anna Sabasteanski. Volume 1, Berkshire Publishing, 2005.
The Year in Review
One of the largest one-year decreases in the number of international terrorist incidents since the United States began keeping such statistics in 1968 occurred in 1992. International terrorist attacks declined during 1992 to 361, the lowest level in 17 years. This is roughly 35 percent fewer than the 567 incidents recorded in 1991, a figure that was inflated by a spate of low-level incidents at the time of the Gulf war. During 1992, US citizens and property remained the principal targets throughout the world; nearly 40 percent of the 361 International terrorist attacks during the year were directed at US targets.
US casualties from acts of terrorism were the lowest ever. Two Americans were killed, and one was wounded during 1992, as opposed to seven dead and 14 wounded the previous year:
- On 8 January 1992 naturalized US citizen Jose Lopez was kidnapped by members of the National Liberation Army in Colombia and subsequently killed.
- On 10 June, Sgt. Owell Hernandez was killed in Panama when the US Army vehicle he was driving was raked by automatic gunfire from a passing car. Another American serviceman in the vehicle was wounded. No group claimed responsibility. This attack occurred just before the visit of President Bush to Panama.
The one “spectacular” international terrorist attack during the year occurred on 17 March when a powerful truck bomb destroyed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The blast leveled the Embassy and severely damaged a nearby church, school and retirement home. Twenty-nine persons were killed and 242 wounded. Islamic Jihad, a cover name for the Iranian-sponsored group Hizballah, publicly claimed responsibility for the attack and, to authenticate the claim, released a videotape of the Israeli Embassy taken during surveillance before the bombing. There is mounting evidence of Iranian Government responsibility for this act of terrorism.
As was the case during the preceding three years, Latin America saw more terrorism in 1992 than any other region. Antiforeign attacks in that region were predominantly against American targets. Leftwing terrorism, particularly in Europe, is in decline but ethnic and separatist groups in Europe, Latin America, South Asia, and the Middle East remained active last year.
The deadly Peruvian terrorist group Sendero Luminoso was dealt a major blow in September when security forces in Lima captured the group’s founder, Abimael Guzman, and many of its high command. Guzman was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for his terrorist crimes.
None of the traditional state sponsors of terrorism has completely abandoned the terrorist option, especially against dissidents, nor severed ties to terrorist surrogates. Iraq’s international terrorist infrastructure was largely destroyed by the Coalition’s counterterrorist actions during that war. Since Operation Desert Storm, however, Saddam has used terrorism to punish regime opponents and to intimidate UN and private humanitarian workers. The Iranian regime has practiced state terrorism since it took power in 1979; it is currently the deadliest state sponsor and has achieved a worldwide reach.
There were fewer deaths caused by international terrorism during 1992, 93 [versus] 102 in 1991, but many more persons were wounded, 636 [versus] 242. The single bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina accounted for about 40 percent of all those wounded in terrorist attacks in 1992.
Ten international terrorist incidents occurred in Africa in 1992, up from the three incidents in 1991. However, political violence in Sub-Saharan Africa continued to be a major problem. A promising outlook in Angola seemed ready to dissipate at year’s end, as government and its main rival, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), fell out over the results of presidential elections. Civil war in Liberia and violent anarchy in Somalia spilled over into neighboring countries. The Government of Sudan persisted in harboring representatives of Mideast terrorist groups.
Four terrorist incidents occurred in 1992 in the oil-producing Angolan enclave of Cabinda. In the most serious incident, three Angolan local employees of Chevron oil were killed in December by insurgents of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC). FLEC had earlier attacked and set on fire buses used by Chevron to transport employees. FLEC factions also were responsible for the separate kidnappings of three Portuguese construction workers and two French citizens and their Angolan guides. FLEC seeks independence for Cabinda and has targeted Western oil companies because of commercial relations with the Luanda government.
In 1992 the Government of Sudan continued a disturbing pattern of relationships with international terrorist groups. Sudan’s increasing support for radical Arab terrorist groups is directly related to the extension of National Islamic Front (NIF) influence over the Government of Sudan. Elements of the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), the Palestinian Islamic Movement (HAMAS), and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist organizations continue to find refuge in Sudan.
There is no evidence that the Government of Sudan conducted or sponsored a specific terrorist attack in the past year, and the government denies supporting any form of terrorist activity. Increasing NIF criticism of the West and Sudanese Government actions, however, such as the execution of two Sudanese US Government employees in the southern city of Juba, indicate a hardening of Sudanese attitudes that may reflect mounting sympathy to Islamic radicals and terrorists and disregard for US concerns.
Sudan continues to strengthen its ties to Iran, a leading state sponsor of terrorism. Following Iranian President Rafsanjani’s December 1991 visit to Khartoum, a high-level Sudanese military delegation visited Tehran during the summer of 1992 to seek increased support for the government’s campaign against insurgents in the south. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps personnel are involved in training the NIF-controlled national militia, the Peoples Defense Forces (PDF), which is used as an adjunct to the Sudanese Armed Forces.
Incidents of international terrorism in Asia continued to decline from 48 in 1991 to 13 in 1992. This decrease was primarily a result of the improving political climate in the Philippines. Acts of international terrorism in Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea have been infrequent when compared to the level of attacks in many Latin American and European countries. North Korea remains on the list of nations that sponsor terrorism but appears disinclined to pursue a terrorist agenda. As witnessed during the Gulf war, Middle Eastern state sponsors of terrorism—particularly Iran, Iraq, and Libya—may consider Asia an increasingly attractive region as other areas, particularly Europe, intensify their security efforts.
Internal violence and terrorism by Sikh and Kashmiri separatists in India and Tamil insurgents in Sri Lanka continued in 1992, resulting in death and injury to thousands of civilians and potentially placing Americans at risk as targets of opportunity, convenience, or mischance.
Although widespread violence occurred throughout Afghanistan in 1992, there was only one act of international terrorism there, directed at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In April a Red Cross employee from Iceland en route to the ICRC field post at Sheikhabad was shot in the back. The assailant was captured and claimed that he had been directed by his “mullah” to kill non-Muslims. In late November, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Islamic opposition party, Hezb-I-Islami, threatened to execute ex-Soviet POW’s held by the Hezb-I-Islami and to attack Russian citizens, claiming that Moscow was continuing to interfere in Afghanistan.
The Governments of Algeria, Egypt, and Tunisa have repeatedly claimed that members of Islamic opposition groups received training in Afghanistan while fighting with mujahedin, and may continue to receive some support. These governments claim that these fundamentalists are now using their acquired skills to undertake terrorist attacks in their own countries.
The level of internal violence and terrorism continued at a high rate throughout 1992, as Kasmiri, Punjabi, and Assamese separatists conducted attacks as part of their ongoing efforts to win independence for their states.
Jammu and Kashmir and the Punjab are the two areas hardest hit by terrorist violence. More than 4,000 civilians are believed to have died in 1992 as result of the violence in these two areas. Kashmiri and Sikh militants carried out repeated attacks against civilian targets, such as buses, trains, and marketplaces. In one of the deadliest attacks, a bomb exploded on a bus in Jammu in September, killing 11 passengers. In addition, these militants kidnapped and attacked security officials and their families. Some 3,500 militants and security officials also have been killed. There are credible reports of support by the Government of Pakistan for Kashmiri militants and some reports of support for Sikh separatists.
In Assam, the Bodo Security Force (BSF) stepped up its violent campaign, and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) resorted to kidnappings and extortion. The ULFA threatened a French multinational corporation, demanding either $1.7 million or the company’s departure.
In addition to numerous incidents of domestic terrorism, three attacks on India in 1992 involved foreign nationals:
- On 31 March an unidentified assailant threw a grenade while inside a British Broadcasting Corporation office. There was some damage to the office, but no injuries.
- On 23 April a bomb exploded in a New Delhi hotel, injuring 13 foreign tourists. No claim was made by any group for the attack.
- On 5 May two assailants attempted to assassinate a Kuwaiti diplomat in New Delhi.
Indian security captured two top Sikh leaders in July, including the notorious Manjit Singh, alias Lal Singh, allegedly involved in the 1985 downing of an Air India 747 that killed 329 people. Lal Singh was wanted also in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada for his role in supporting Sikh terrorism overseas.
Japan’s largest indigenous radical leftist organization, the 3,500-man Chukaku-ha (middle-Core Faction), carried out low-level attacks throughout 1992. The group’s operations were designed to win publicity for its policy positions and, generally, not to cause casualties. Chukaku-ha is opposed to the imperial system and Japan’s more active foreign policy in Asia, especially Tokyo’s deployment of military forces overseas.
Chukaku-ha was particularly active in September and October, when it carried out a series of rocket attacks and bombings to protest the dispatch of Japanese peacekeeping troops to Cambodia and to declare its opposition to the Emperor’s visit to China in late October. The group’s attacks included the firing of improvised rockets at the home of Defense Agency Director General Miyashita. Chukaku-ha also claimed responsibility for explosions near the house of Japanese parliamentarian Takashi Inoue, the Chairman of the Upper House Steering Committee. The committee had approved a law allowing Japanese Self-Defense Forces to be deployed overseas. There were no injuries and only minor damage in these incidents.
Regarding rightwing terrorism, on 8 January an incendiary device was discovered outside an apartment on the US Embassy housing compound in Tokyo at the time of the incident. The vociferously anti-American extremist group Issuikai (One Water Society) may have been responsible. It had branded Bush a “war criminal,” and, in December 1991, threatened to attack the US Embassy. On 25 August, another rightwing group set fire to a truck outside Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa’s official residence.
The Japanese Red Army (JRA) remained dormant in 1992. In March an Italian court sentenced in absentia JRA member Junzo Okudaira to life imprisonment for the 14 April 1988 bombing of the USO Club in Naples. An American servicewoman and four Italians were killed in that attack. The court cleared JRA leader Fusako Shigenobu of charges related to the bombing. On 10 November the Tokyo High Court upheld the conviction of JRA member Hiroshi Sensui on charges of illegally obtaining a counterfeit passport. He is imprisoned in Japan.
Since the fall of the Najibullah regime in Kabul in the spring of 1992, the level of violent incidents in Pakistan related to Afghan activities has dropped markedly. Assassinations and disappearances of Afghans, however, including personnel employed by US Agency for International Development funded programs and US private organizations, continued to occur in the North-West Frontier Province in 1992:
- On 9 January an Afghan working for the UN’s Operation Salam mine awareness program was shot and killed outside his home in Peshawar.
- On 14 June a Japanese engineer working for the United Nations was killed in Peshawar.
There were numerous domestic terrorist incidents in Pakistan throughout 1992, mostly bombings.
The Government of Pakistan acknowledges that it continues to give moral, political, and diplomatic support to Kashmiri militants but denies allegations of other assistance. However, there were credible reports in 1992 of official Pakistani support for Kashmiri militants who undertake acts of terrorism in Indian-controlled Kashmir, as well as some reports of support to Sikh militants engaged in terrorism in Indian Punjab.
There were no terrorist attacks by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its military wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), against US interests in 1992. In September, Manila legalized the CPP, which over the past several years had carried out assassinations of both US and Philippine officials.
Moreover, American hostages held by the Communists were freed during the year. In late June, the NPA unconditionally released Arvey Drown, who was abducted in Cagayan Province in October 1990. The NPA previously had demanded a government cease-fire in the province as a precondition for the release of Drown.
After his inauguration in June, President Ramos took a series of steps to end the Philippine Communists’ 23-year-old insurrection. The government legalized the CPP, repealed the antisubversive act—which made membership in the CPP a crime—and released ranking imprisoned Communists, including Romulo Kintanar, the chief of the NPA. Ongoing trials of NPA detainees were also suspended. At year’s end, government efforts to reconcile with the Communists were continuing.
Some Communists, however, continued to threaten American interests. In November, Felipe Marcial, an official of the Communists’ National Democratic Front, said that the American military personnel remaining in the Philippines after 31 December would be treated as “occupation troops” and targeted by “revolutionary forces.”
Dissident Communists also posed a threat to foreign interests in the Philippines. The Red Scorpion Group (RSG)—a gang composed of some former New People’s Army members and criminal elements—kidnapped American businessman Michael Barnes in Manila on 17 January. The group demanded a $20 million ransom. On 18 March, Barnes was rescued when Philippine police launched multiple raids on the RSG’s safehouses. In November, RSG leader Alfredo de Leon publicly threatened to bomb embassies in Manila.
In the southern Philippines, American missionary Augustine Fraszczak was kidnapped in October on Basilan Island and freed in late December. Two other American missionaries were kidnapped and subsequently freed in March. The motives for these kidnappings remain uncertain. While there are many criminal bands operating in this area of the Philippines, the separatist Muslim Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) also remains active. The MNLF denied involvement in these kidnappings.
Sri Lanka continues to be the scene of widespread violence. The separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continued to conduct terrorist acts throughout 1992. Its campaign included targeting civilians, government figures, and public utilities. The LTTE also continued to massacre hundreds of Sinhalese and Muslim villagers in the north and east to drive them from what it calls the Tamil Homeland.
In November an LTTE suicide guerrilla assassinated Sri Lanka’s Navy commander by riding his motorcycle close to the officer’s car and blowing it up with a powerful bomb.
The Sri Lankan Government has been unable to respond to India’s request that it extradite LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran, accused of ordering the May 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Prabhakaran remains at large. However, Sri Lankan officials continued to cooperate with Indian requests for assistance in the investigation. Two senior LTTE officials were indicted by India for their involvement in the assassination.
Two serious attacks occurred in Thailand in 1992:
- On 13 August a bomb blast at the Hat Yai railway station in southern Thailand killed three people and wounded over 70 others. Although an unsigned letter bearing the logo of the separatist Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO) was found on the scene, the group denied involvement and blamed a dissident faction for the attack. Some observers claim the attack was aimed at an antimilitary politician, who spoke at the site later the same day.
- On 18 October a bomb exploded on the compound of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok. The bomb, containing a half pound of TNT, caused minimal property damage and no injuries. Although Burmese student dissidents may have been responsible—the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok was bombed by dissidents in July and October 1990—some Thai politicians suggested the attack may have been an attempt by regime opponents to embarrass the government.
European countries experienced a relatively low level of international terrorism during 1992. The major events in Europe this year—the Olympics in Albertville and Barcelona, the World’s Fair in Seville, and ceremonies marking the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage to America—passed virtually without incident. Leftwing terrorist groups, with the exception of Dev Sol in Turkey, were relatively quiet, and Germany’s Red Army Faction renounced terrorism altogether, although it my be premature to write the group’s obituary. Separatist groups, particularly the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey and the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), intensified their attacks on government targets, however, and showed increasing disregard for civilian casualties.
There is a danger that ethnic violence could turn to terrorism in Western and Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet republics as ethnic conflicts and rivalries emerge. European police and security services have taken measures to try to reduce the chances for terrorist organizations or their state sponsors to move agents, weapons, and funds from one country to another as a result of EC 92 initiatives to produce a borderless Europe. Violence against foreigners, which increased dramatically in some countries in 1992, particularly Germany, suggests that Western Europe may increasingly experience rightwing terrorism as European integration and international migration expand.
No Americans died as a result of terrorist attacks in Europe this year, as compared to four in 1991.
Germany had 28 incidents of international terrorism in 1992, one fewer than in 1991. Those that occurred involved third-country nationals such as the September assassinations of four Kurdish dissidents in Berlin and probably the August murder of a dissident Iranian poet in Bonn.
The Red Army Faction (RAF) in Germany has not adapted its leftist ideology to the post-Cold War world and has essentially abandoned its commitment to violent attacks against the German state and economy. The group has apparently not been able to recruit replacements for its aging, imprisoned members. It has not launched an attack since firing on the US Embassy in Bonn in February 1991. In April 1992, RAF leaders announced a cease-fire, demanding in return the release of imprisoned terrorists, improved treatment for remaining RAF inmates, and German Government flexibility on a variety of social issues.
Two German relief workers (Kemptner and Struebig), the last of the Western hostages held in Lebanon, were released on 17 June 1992 after three years of captivity.
Their abductors continue to press for release from German prisons of fellow Hizballah members Mohammed Ali Hammadi and his brother Abbas Ali Hammadi. Mohammed Ali Hammadi, imprisoned for the murder of an American, air piracy, hostage taking, aggravated battery, illegal importation of explosives, and forgery, is serving a life sentence. Abbas Ali Hammadi was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment for plotting the kidnapping of two West Germans in the hope of forcing the release of his brother. The German Government has refused to yield to terrorist demands.
Rightwing sentiment increased in Western Europe during 1992. The greatest risk of rightwing violence resembling terrorism in 1992 was in Germany, where skinheads and neo-Nazis committed more than 2,000 attacks on foreigners; these included firebombings and brutal assaults resulting in the deaths of at least 17 people. Extreme rightwing leaders have capitalized on dissatisfaction with mainstream political parties, high unemployment rates, the arrival of hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Third World, and latent xenophobia. Thus far, neither the skinheads nor the neo-Nazis have organized beyond the local level, and they have not joined forces with nationally organized far-right political parties. They have apparently had some contact with members of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
Although it did not attack any US target in 1992, the Greek Revolutionary Organization 17 November still poses a serious threat to US citizens. Its operations during 1992 were more reckless and less well planned than in the past, increasing the risk of incidental injury. In July, for the first time, the group killed a bystander in the course of a rocket attack in downtown Athens on the Greek Finance Minister. In late November, authorities arrested one of Greece’s most wanted terrorists—a suspected member of the “Anti-State Struggle” organization who may be linked to 17 November. The group continued to attack official Greek targets, including the shooting in December of a Greek parliamentarian and the bombings of tax offices.
Incidents of international terrorism in Spain fell sharply. Neither of the country’s major terrorist groups—Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) or the First October Antifascist Resistance Group (GRAPO)—mounted attacks in Spain during the Barcelona Olympics or the Seville World’s Fair.
ETA suffered a severe setback early in 1992 when Spanish and French police arrested three of its top leaders and more than 100 terrorists and collaborators, thereby disrupting its financial and logistic infrastructure. Midlevel leaders and several experienced terrorists remain at large, however, and ETA claimed responsibility for several attacks against Spanish officials and against Spanish and French interests in France and Italy. The preferred ETA targets continue to be Spanish business interests, National Police Guardia Civil, and the military, but not foreign nationals.
GRAPO carried out several low-level bombings against Spanish targets this year. Fernando Silva Sande, one of its key leaders, escaped from prison in March and remains at large. Although GRAPO is opposed to Spanish membership in NATO and to the US military presence in Spain, it did not attack US or NATO targets in 1992. In December paramilitary police arrested Laureano Ortega Ortega, leader of the group’s last known operational cell in Spain.
Among European groups, the Turkish revolutionary leftist group Dev Sol remains the major terrorist threat to Americans. US military personnel and commercial facilities are prime targets. The group tried to assassinate a US religious hospital administrator with a car bomb in Istanbul in July and also attacked the US Consulate General in Istanbul twice, in April and July. Dev Sol currently is recovering from the arrests of a number of its leaders and raids on several safe-houses in the spring and summer of 1992.
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) poses a growing threat to US personnel and facilities in Turkey, even though the group is not targeting Americans directly. It started as a rural-based insurgency but over the last year has increased operations in major cities such as Istanbul, Adana, and Izmir as well as in the Anatolia tourist region. In the summer and fall of 1992, the PKK launched six attacks on Turkish/Western joint-venture oil facilities in southeastern Turkey, fire bombed several commuter ferries, burned three passenger trains and derailed a fourth, and probably was responsible for firing at a Turkish airliner departing from Adana. Although no deaths resulted, such attacks markedly increase the chances of random injury to US citizens. The Turkish military campaign against the PKK in Iraq and Turkey killed hundreds of guerillas but did not deal a fatal blow to the group.
The shadowy Turkish Islamic Jihad remains a threat to US interests in Turkey. The group has claimed responsibility for eight operations since 1985, including car-bomb attacks that killed a US serviceman in October 1991 and an Israeli diplomat in March 1992. The group appears to be comprised of local fundamentalists sympathetic to Tehran. All of its targets have been external enemies of the Iranian regime.
In 1992, as in 1991, there were no incidents of international terrorism in the United Kingdom. Sectarian violence, however, produced 84 terrorist-related deaths, only slightly fewer than the 94 in 1991. For the first time in the 24-year-old conflict, victims (38) of Protestant loyalist attacks exceeded those (34) of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). There have been 3,029 sectarian terrorist-related deaths since 1969.
The Strand talks aimed at bringing together all parties on the Northern Ireland question ended in November with the fall of the Irish Government. Nevertheless, while the talks have not provided any major breakthroughs, all parties appear interested in pursuing them.
The PIRA remains by far the most active and lethal terrorist group in Western Europe. In April, following the British election, it exploded a van bomb—the largest ever detonated on the British mainland—in London’s financial district, killing three people and wounding more than 90 others, including one American. The amount of property damage caused by this single attack is estimated to be $1.5 billion. The PIRA launched a bombing spree in London against train stations, hotels, and shopping areas in the autumn of 1992—16 attacks in October alone—that resembled its terror campaign of the mid-1970s. The latest round would have been even more devastating had police not found and defused three bombs loaded in abandoned vans; two of the three contained over 1 ton of explosives each. British insurance companies announced at the end of the year that terrorism riders on building insurance would be dropped because of the large costs of bomb damage.
During 1992 regions of the former Yugoslavia were convulsed by ethnic and religious conflict. The death toll in this violence was great, and the range of human rights abuses, horrific crimes, and atrocities against civilians was more extensive than any similar situation in Europe since World War II. The US Government has consistently condemned this violence and kept under close scrutiny the possible international terrorist dimension of the situation.
Former Soviet Union
In the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, there were activities traditionally associated with terrorism—such as bombings, kidnappings, and hijackings. They generally have been related to civil wars and have not been directed against foreign interests. The potential for ethnic-based terrorism is growing as national groups assert themselves following decades of Communist-imposed “peaceful coexistence.” Moreover, the Central Asian region in particular offers potentially fertile ground for some Middle Eastern groups, particularly Iran-supported Hizballah, to operate or seek recruits.
Latin American Overview
Although Latin America was again the leading region for International terrorist incidents, with 142 attacks reported against foreign interests, this number was far below the record 230 attacks in 1991. The bombing of Israel’s Embassy in Buenos Aires was a troubling intrusion of Middle Eastern violence and the single most lethal terrorist event of the year. As in previous years, however, international incidents comprised only a small percentage of the total number of terrorist operations. In Peru and Colombia, where problems are greatest, terrorist insurgents and narcotraffickers focused their operations on domestic targets—government institutions and personnel, economic infrastructure, and security forces. The great majority of international incidents occurred in South America, with only a few isolated attacks in Central America and the Caribbean. The only two American deaths during 1992 in acts of international terrorism occurred in Latin America.
There have been notable counterterrorism successes in Latin America in 1992, particularly in Peru and Bolivia, where insurgent groups suffered major blows with the capture of top leaders. Insurgent groups have steadily become more isolated politically in Colombia, as a violence-weary public supported stronger counterterrorism measures. Virtually all Latin American terrorist groups had plans for violent protest of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage to the New World. Increased security and low-key commemorations in many countries, however, resulted in relatively few, mostly symbolic, incidents. Spanish-affiliated banks, businesses, and diplomatic premises were the most frequently targeted during the commemorative period.
Relatively free of terrorist problems in recent years, Argentina was the site of the single most destructive terrorist act in Latin America in 1992. On 17 March a car bomb virtually destroyed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people and injuring 242. The Islamic Jihad organization, an arm of the Lebanese Hizballah, took responsibility for the attack, claiming it was in retaliation for the Israeli attack that killed Hizballah leader Sheikh Musawi in February. When the authenticity of this claim was questioned, the group responded by releasing a videotape of the Israeli Embassy taken during surveillance before the bombing. The bombing focused attention on Hizballah activity in Latin America, where communities of recent Shiite Muslim émigrés in the remote border areas of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay could provide cover for international terrorists.
Several relatively unsophisticated terrorist groups continue to operate in Bolivia. However, the Bolivian Government’s improvements in counterterrorism programs over the past two years resulted in significant successes in the effort to counter these.
Government counterterrorist forces captured the current leaders of the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army (EGTK), one of Bolivia’s indigenous Indian-based terrorist groups, severely affecting the organization. Also apprehended was one of the remaining perpetrators of the Zarate Willka Liberation Armed Forces (FALZW) attacks on Secretary of State Shultz’s La Paz motorcade in 1988 and of the murder of two Mormon missionaries in 1989. The captured terrorist’s testimony assisted government prosecutors in deflating attempts to overturn the lengthy sentences for those FALZW members already in prison. The government also moved forward with the trial of the Commission Nestor Paz Zamora (CNPZ) terrorists who attacked the US Marine House in 1990.
The National Liberation Army (ELN), thought to contain elements of several Bolivian radical groups, resurfaced and claimed responsibility for several minor bombings of government buildings and power pylons. Two attacks on Mormon churches were claimed by the EGTK.
Reports of increased cooperation between Peruvian terrorists and the EGTK and ELN in the border regions raised concerns in both countries, and the Bolivian and Peruvian Governments pledged cooperation in combating terrorism. Terrorist groups have attempted to exploit public resentment at the US role in counternarcotics efforts, but there is only fragmentary evidence of cooperation between Bolivian guerrillas and narcotraffickers.
While terrorist organizations have steadily lost their popular appeal as Chile solidifies its return to democracy, some old-line leftwing groups remain active and continue to present a limited terrorist threat. There were 39 international terrorist incidents in Chile in 1992, down from 52 in 1991, with the Manuel Rodriguez Patriot Front (FPMR) and the Latauro Youth Movement (MJL) the groups deemed responsible for these and the vast majority of domestic terrorist attacks. Virtually all of these attacks were minor, resulting almost exclusively in property damages only.
The Communist-affiliated FPMR generally sought to attack Chilean targets, particularly government buildings and banks, as well as politicians and members of the uniformed national police, the Carabineros. The MJL claimed responsibility for 27 attacks throughout Chile, as well as bank robberies and extortions of local businesses. Virtually all the attacks on Mormon churches were small-scale bombings that caused minor property damage and no serious physical injuries. Both groups carried out low-level, largely symbolic bombings of foreign interests to protest the Columbus anniversary celebrations in October, including the bombing of the Abraham Lincoln memorial near the US Embassy.
There were 68 international terrorist incidents in Colombia in 1992, five more than in 1991. This is the largest number of terrorist incidents in any nation. Even with this large number of incidents, international terrorism was overshadowed by the marked increase in domestic violence in the latter half of the year. Continued terrorism by the Colombian guerrilla organizations, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the umbrella group the Simon Bolivar Guerrilla Coordinator (CGSB) was compounded by narcotraffickers seeking to prevent the recapture of Medellin narcotics kingpin Pablo Escobar, who escaped from prison in July.
The wave of terrorism began in earnest in October and showed no signs of abating as the year ended. Most disturbing was evidence that the ELN, possibly assisted by narcoterrorists, had developed sufficient urban infrastructure to carry out a sustained terrorist offensive in Bogota. In December a series of hotel bombings, including some tourist hotels frequented by foreigners, raised concerns that foreign visitors would become victims of random violence.
In addition to the largely symbolic foreign targets attacked during the Columbus anniversary in October, there were nearly 50 attacks on the oil pipeline jointly owned by Ecopetrol of Colombia and a consortium of US and West European countries, a traditional Colombian guerilla target. There were also six reported cases of international kidnapping. Two kidnap victims, one US and one British citizen were killed by their captors. The American, naturalized US citizen Jose Lopez, was kidnapped on 8 January by members of the National Liberation Army at his place of work. He was subsequently killed, although his kidnappers withheld this information until after the family had paid ransom.
Peace talks convened in Mexico between the guerrillas, and the government of President Cesar Gaviria foundered in May on Gaviria’s demand of a universal cease-fire before negotiations could progress. After the ELN admitted that a kidnapped senior Colombian politician had died even before formal negotiations began, the government suspended peace talks indefinitely. The guerrillas, slipping drastically in public opinion, reverted to violence and economic sabotage and demanded regional cease-fires that would permit them freedom of action. President Gaviria chose to press the guerrillas militarily and ruled out an early return to negotiations without some concrete sign that the guerrillas would negotiate in good faith.
President Gaviria’s task was complicated by an increase in narcotics-related violence in late 1992 as the government heightened efforts to recapture Escobar. Narcotrafficker assassinations of Colombian National Police personnel increased dramatically, especially in October and November. As the hunt continued, President Gaviria expressed concern that Escobar had attempted an alliance with the guerrillas, particularly the ELN. Although there is no evidence of a formal alliance, traffickers and guerrillas may be exchanging information and occasionally supporting one another’s attacks. At a minimum, guerrillas have used government preoccupation with Escobar to expand their own operations.
President Gaviria used the public’s antipathy toward violence as a strong mandate to exert force against both guerrillas and traffickers. The president has publicly insisted on unconditional surrender for Escobar and has refused any concessions to guerrillas as long as violence continues unabated. However, both Colombian military and police resources have been stretched by the requirements of the two-front war. Judicial reforms, such as the July decree establishing “faceless judges” for terrorist and narcotics offenses, may eventually prove effective. In September, however, one such jurist in Medellin was gunned down in broad daylight by narcotraffickers.
One of two American fatalities from terrorism in Latin America in 1992 occurred in Panama just before a visit by President Bush in June. On 10 June, Sgt. Owell Hernandez was killed in Panama when the US Army vehicle he was driving was raked by automatic gunfire from a passing car. Anti-US forces associated with the former Noriega regime have attacked US interests and are believed responsible for the fatal shooting, as well as two other low-level bombings at American military installations in Panama in 1992.
Terrorists operate under a variety of names in Panama, and it is likely that the so-called M-20 group that has claimed many of the bombings is actually made up of adherents of various terrorist groups. Although small and lacking widespread popular support, these groups contain a high proportion of trained ex-military personnel. Access to arms and explosives in Panama makes these groups potential threats to US interests.
Guerrillas of the Maoist Peruvian Communist Party, commonly known as Sendero Luminoso (SL), and the Cubanstyle Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) continued to make Peru the most dangerous country in South America in 1992. Peruvians suffered by far the most, with a large number of terrorist attacks of various origins claiming many civilian lives. There were 13 attacks against foreign interests in Peru, chiefly in Lima, down from 59 in 1991. Targets included embassies, banks and international businesses. SL was responsible for most of the incidents, as the group mounted its most serious threat yet to the government. In well-planned urban campaigns in February, May, and July, Sendero used “armed strikes” against public transportation, assassinations, and car bombings to sap public morale and give weight to its claim of having reached a position of strategic equally with the government. In one of its boldest attacks, SL terrorists set off a massive car bomb at the American Ambassador’s residence in February. The blast killed three Peruvian policemen and caused extensive damage to the residence.
During 1992 two foreign deaths were attributed to SL, an Italian priest killed in August and a Yugoslav engineer in September. These were the first terrorism-related deaths of foreigners in over a year.
President Alberto Fujimori’s decision to suspend constitutional government in Peru on 5 April was in large part a result of frustration with the government’s difficulty in countering terrorist successes. The President quickly proceeded with a number of stiff antiterrorism measures, including new judicial procedures and a revamping of intelligence on terrorist groups. Human rights abuses by government counterterrorist and counternarcotics forces continue, albeit less frequently. A series of government successes, including the shutting down of SL’s newspaper, the recapture of terrorist-controlled Canto Grande prison in Lima, and the capture of some key Sendero urban operatives, was countered by renewed SL car-bomb onslaughts in late May and mid-July, when a bomb in the upscale Miraflores district of Lima killed at least 18 Peruvians and injured more than 100.
Peru’s counterterrorist forces responded on 12 September with the stunning capture in Lima of Sendero founder and leader Abimael Guzman. Many members of SL’s high command were captured with Guzman or in the wake of his arrest. Quick trials and convictions of Guzman and other terrorist leaders boosted the morale of both the security forces and the public. Throughout the last quarter of 1992, Peruvian counterterrorism forces kept the pressure on SL, netting more leaders and hundreds of rank-and-file cadres. Sendero’s efforts to disrupt elections for a new constituent assembly in November were largely thwarted.
The capture of Guzman and most of the leadership dealt Sendero’s prospects for victory a major blow. Although SL has lost some of its ability to intimidate and destabilize, it has continued car bombings and assassinations throughout the country. Guzman’s exhortation after his capture for a renewed war against imperialism was interpreted by some as a call for SL to intensify attacks on foreign targets. In late December, Sendero attacked several foreign embassies, hitting the Chinese twice, to mark the centenary of the birth of Mao Tse-Tung. In the countryside, government counterinsurgency forces are stretched thin, and SL units continue to operate freely in many areas. Sendero has a relatively secure base area in the coca-growing region of the Huallaga River Valley and exploits the drug trade in various ways to finance group operations.
The government has had even greater success in combating MRTA, which had been weakened by internal splits and the declining appeal of Cuban-style Marxism. In June security forces recaptured MRTA leader Victor Polay, who had escaped prison in July of 1991. MRTA urban terrorists, who in the past were considered more dangerous to foreign interests than SL, operated at a greatly reduced level in 1992. In 1991 the group was suspected in the majority of the 34 attacks against US interests, but in 1992 it attempted only two low-level attacks. An October mortar attack on the US Ambassador’s residence and a November attack on a US Embassy warehouse caused little damage and no casualties.
Middle Eastern Overview
There were 79 international terrorist incidents in the Middle East during 1992, the same number of incidents that occurred the previous year. Most of the 1991 incidents were low-level attacks in Lebanon and elsewhere; many of these were related to the Gulf war and the Israeli self-declared security zone on southern Lebanon. The bulk of attacks in 1992 were Iraqi-sponsored attacks against UN personnel working in Iraq.
Iran’s ongoing state sponsorship of terrorism, including its efforts to build closer ties to non-Shia terrorist groups, poses significant threats in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Latin America. Iranian-backed Lebanese militants claimed responsibility for one of the year’s terrorist “spectaculars”—the March 1992 car-bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, in which 29 people died and 242 were injured. Hizballah was responsible for several rocket attacks into areas near Israel’s northern border. The trial in Amman of two Jordanian parliamentarians brought forth charges that Iran was supporting sedition against the terrorism aimed at disrupting the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Continued sanctions and international isolation of Iraq hampered Saddam’s regime’s ability to conduct acts of international terrorism during 1992. Nevertheless, the Iraqis were able to carry out the brazen murder of a defecting Iraqi nuclear scientist on the streets of Amman late in the year. Iraq continued to provide its traditional support and safehaven to terrorist Palestinian elements such as Palestine Liberation Front leader Abu Abbas. In addition to its support for international terrorism, the Iraqi regime was also responsible for numerous attacks on UN and humanitarian relief personnel working in Iraq pursuant to the Security Council resolutions.
There has been no evidence of direct Syrian Government involvement in terrorist acts since 1986, but Syria continues to provide support and safehaven to Arab and non-Arab terrorist organizations in Syria and in parts of Lebanon in which Syrian troops are deployed.
In defiance of UN resolutions demanding that support cease, Libya continued to sponsor international terrorism during 1992. Tripoli has defied international demands that those believed responsible for the bombings of Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772 be handed over for trial. Qaddafi’s regime made partial moves to close some terrorist training camps but still provides support and safehaven to such notorious terrorists as Abu Nidal.
The year saw a marked increase in domestic terrorism in Egypt, as Islamic radical elements expanded their antigovernment campaign by targeting foreign tourists in addition to Egyptian Coptic Christians and security officials. Among the most serious incidents was an attack in October on a tourist bus, which left a British woman dead and two other people injured; a similar attack on a bus of German tourists wounded five. The Egyptian Government cited support offered the radicals by Iran and Sudan as a contributing factor in the violence.
The terrorism picture in North Africa is mixed; the over-all situation in Tunisia improved, but Algeria suffered from a rash of terrorist attacks, including the bloody 26 August explosion at Algiers Airport that resulted in 12 deaths. Lesser bomb attacks were directed against the offices of foreign airlines. In both countries, the governments contend that Sudan and Iran are providing support to organizations responsible for the attacks.
International terrorism by Palestinian groups decreased from 17 incidents in 1991 to three incidents in 1992. Much of the decrease can be attributed to restrictions placed on the activities of these groups by Syria and Libya. However, internecine struggles between Palestinian groups—particularly in Lebanon between PLO elements and the Abu Nidal organization (ANO)—generated significant violence.
The year also witnessed a considerable upsurge in violence carried out by the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS). In addition to a number of lethal attacks against Israeli military targets, elements of the group were also responsible for the terrorist abduction and murder of an off-duty Israeli border policeman near Tel Aviv and have claimed responsibility for the murder of an Israeli merchant in Gaza. Over the course of the year, HAMAS’s antimilitary and terrorist operations displayed a new daring and sophistication.
Yemen witnessed an upsurge of terrorism in 1992, as a spate of bombs that the Government of Yemen believes were planted by an Islamic extremist group were aimed at both Yemeni and foreign targets. Bombings at a hotel and a hotel parking lot in Aden in December killed one person and injured several others.
Political violence in Algeria increased rapidly after the Algerian Government suspended in January 1992 the second round of elections, which the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was poised to win. The FIS was outlawed as a political party in March 1992. The fundamentalists’ attacks have focused primarily on official and military targets, but some have also been directed at civilian and Western interests. President Boudiaf was assassinated in June 1992 by a security official whom the official inquiry described as having Islamist sympathies. The Government of Algeria has consistently attributed terrorist violence to the FIS and prosecuted alleged FIS members for terrorist activity. Regime repression has split the FIS into a number of militant independent cells that have gone underground, become more violent, and generally do not appear to be operating under any central command and control structure. The growing popular discontent with the government and the economy is broadening the appeal of these militants. Algerian officials, including Prime Minister Belaid Abdesselam, have pointed to a “foreign hand” behind terrorist activity but have offered no evidence. Algeria ordered Tehran to reduce its diplomatic staff to “symbolic” levels in November because of its belief that Tehran supported Algerian fundamentalists.
The number and sophistication of terrorist attacks in Algeria gradually increased during 1992, moving from primitive black-powder explosives to more complex devices such as car bombs. In January, bombs that were thrown at the US Embassy and French Consulate in Algiers were improvised, low-yield devises. By contrast, a timer-triggered, high-explosive device was used in the bombing of Boumedienne International Airport in August, which resulted in 12 deaths. Militant elements of the FIS as well as other Islamic opposition groups have also shown an improving capability to coordinate their attacks nationwide. For example, they attempted to bomb two Western airline offices at virtually the same time as the Boumedienne Airport bombing. The first use of a car bomb occurred on 31 October near an Algiers shopping area and resulted in at least three injuries.
The Algerian Government’s response to the challenge to its authority in 1992 included a number of military-style operations, launched in May and June, against armed extremist groups operating southeast of Algiers and the creation in September of elite military units specifically charged with antiterrorist responsibilities. In October, Algiers promulgated a strict antiterrorist law that sharply increased the penalties for “terrorist” crimes and expanded the number of special antiterrorist courts. In the new law, Algiers has defined terrorism in very broad terms that cover most antiregime activity. Despite these measures—which also included mass arrests and the creation of detention camps for detainees—the number of attacks against regime targets had not diminished by year’s end.
In 1992, the government continued to allow radical Palestinian groups that have been associated with terrorism to maintain a presence in Algeria. In April, the regime issued a statement condemning terrorism but questioned the legality of the sanctions imposed on Libya under UN Security Council Resolutions 731 and 748. The government has abided by most provisions of Resolution 748 but has not reduced the level of Libyan diplomatic representation, as required by the resolution.
Egypt suffered a marked increase in terrorism in 1992, although there were no terrorist attacks against Americans or US interests. In May, Islamic extremists added foreign tourists to their other targets—Egyptian officials, Egyptian Coptic Christians, and secularist Egyptian Muslims—in a campaign of attacks against the Mubarak government. Most attacks have occurred in central and southern Egypt. Among the most serious incidents were the 21 October shooting attack on a tourist bus near Dayrut, which killed one British tourist and wounded two others; the 2 November shooting attack on a bus carrying 55 Egyptian Coptic Christians near Al Minya, which wounded 10 people; and the 12 November attack on another tourist bus near Qena, which wounded five German tourists and one Egyptian. In addition, Dr. Fara Foda, a prominent Egyptian politician and a strong opponent of Islamic extremism, was assassinated on 8 June in Cairo by Islamic extremists.
Most of the attacks in 1992 were perpetrated by the al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya extremist group, which was also responsible for the assassination of People’s Assembly speaker al-Mahgoub in October 1990. This group seeks the violent overthrow of the Egyptian government and has targeted the tourist industry, Egypt’s second-largest earner of foreign exchange, as well as Egyptian officials and Christians. Sheikh Omar Abdurrahman, a senior leader in the al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya movement, has been in the United States since 1990. US authorities are moving expeditiously with the aim of ensuing the Sheikh’s departure from this country. Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya is basically indigenous but receives support from Sudan and possibly Iran and has established ties to other militant Islamic movements.
The Egyptian Government has responded to the upsurge in terrorism with a series of tough law-and-order measures. After the assassination of Farag Foda, Egypt’s People’s Assembly in July passed wide-ranging, antiterrorist amendments to the penal code, including instituting the death penalty or life imprisonment for convicted terrorists and expanding police detention powers. The government has used these new laws to launch a massive security crackdown, primarily in southern Egypt and parts of Cairo, resulting in the detention of hundreds of suspected members of al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and other extremist organizations. On 3 December, moreover, an Egyptian military court handed down death sentences to eight Muslim extremists, seven of whom were sentenced in absentia, for plotting the violent overthrow of the government. The court also gave prison sentences ranging from one year to life imprisonment to 31 other extremists.
The Egyptian Government cooperates with the United States and other countries in counterterrorism programs and has taken steps to strengthen its capabilities. It has publicly supported broader international efforts to combat terrorism, including improved intelligence sharing, strengthened counterterrorism protocols, and increased counterterrorism assistance to developing countries. Although there has been no reduction of Libya’s diplomatic presence in Egypt, or vice versa, as mandated by UN sanctions in effect against Libya as of December, Cairo had not designated an ambassador to Libya as of December 1992 and has observed the civil air and arms sanctions.
Israel and the Occupied Territories
There was a sharp increase in terrorism and violence in Israel and the occupied territories at the end of 1992. The kidnapping and murder of an off-duty Israeli border guard by HAMAS—the Islamic Resistance Movement in the occupied territories—from a Tel Aviv suburb in mid-December resulted in a crackdown on Palestinian Islamic extremists, which included the deportation of over 400 suspected members and sympathizers of HAMAS and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to a remote hillside in southern Lebanon. The slaying of the border guard was part of a larger overall trend by HAMAS militants toward increasingly bold operations against Israeli security forces, which included ambushes of military units in Gaza and Hebron in early December that killed four soldiers. Many such operations, including the murder of an elderly merchant in the Gaza Strip in May, were attributed to the military arm of HAMAS, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Forces.
In 1992, Israel carried out major counterterrrorist operations against Hizballah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In February, an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) helicopter unit killed Hizballah’s leader, Abbas Musawi, his wife, and six-year-old child in southern Lebanon. In mid-September, Shin Bet—the internal security service—and the IDF captured the reputed head of the PFLP in the occupied territories, Ahmad Qattamash and seized the group’s regional archives. Qattamash has been charged with “providing services to an illegal organization” but not with terrorist activity. In addition to the deportations to Lebanon, during 1992 Shin Bet and the IDF detained more than 1,000 people accused of being members of HAMAS, the PIJ, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and the PFLP in several roundups in the occupied territories. According to the Government of Israel, Israeli authorities interrogate approximately 3,000 persons a year on suspicion of involvement in, or support for, terrorism.
Because of stepped-up border security by Israeli, Egyptian, and Jordanian forces, there were only seven guerrilla infiltration attempts from Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt in 1992, as compared to more than 20 in 1991. Two of the attempts in 1992 were seaborne operations, including an attempt near Eilat in May in which one Israeli was killed. The infiltrators were linked to Fatah, the PIJ, and the DFLP. In most cases, the infiltrators failed to penetrate the Israeli border, and the precise intended targets were not clear. Nonetheless, Israeli communities along the border with Lebanon, as well as IDF and Army of South Lebanon units deployed in the security zone, remained vulnerable to paramilitary attacks from Syrian- and Iranian-backed militants based in southern Lebanon. Without apparent regard for the nature of the target, Hizballah fired rocket volleys into Israel and the security zone several times in 1992.
Israeli personnel and facilities were the targets of two terrorist attacks outside Israel in 1992, both in the aftermath of the killing of Sheikh Abbas Musawi. In March, suspected Hizballah members detonated a car bomb in front of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. Twenty-nine people were killed, more than 240 were wounded, and the building was destroyed. Also in March, a security officer at the Israeli Embassy in Ankara was killed by a bomb placed beneath his car; Iranian-backed Turkish fundamentalists are the leading suspects in the attack.
In 1992, Israel conducted no significant prosecutions of international terrorists, and it neither carried out nor requested any extraditions for terrorism. Israel’s highest court upheld the deportation to Lebanon of Palestinian fundamentalists alleged to support terrorism. On 2 December, a bill to repeal the provision of the 1948 Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance that forbids contact with groups defined by Israel as terrorist passed a first reading in the Israeli parliament.
Intra-Palestinian violence in the occupied territories—mostly between Fatah and HAMAS—increased overall during 1992. The number of incidents rose in Gaza and declined somewhat in the West Bank. Nearly 200 Palestinians were killed by other Arabs in the occupied territories in 1992, as compared with some 140 in 1991.
Israeli authorities believe Jewish extremists were responsible for several anti-Palestinian and anti-US incidents in 1992. The Hashmona’im organization attempted to shoot at the house of the Mayor of Bethlehem in February. Members of the Kach party tried to assault Palestinian negotiator Faisal Husseini in a Jerusalem courtroom in May and may have been responsible for a grenade attack on a Jerusalem market in November. In addition, Jewish extremists attacked Palestinians in Jerusalem and the occupied territories many times in 1992. Israeli security and police increased their surveillance of Kach and other extreme right factions such as Hashmona’im and Gideon’s Sword.
The principal terrorism-related events in Jordan in 1992 were the December assassination of an Iraqi nuclear scientist on the streets of Amman and the conviction and subsequent royal pardon of two Jordanian legislators for involvement with a subversive Muslim group, Shabab al-Nafer al-Islami (Vanguard of the Islamic Youth). During the trial of the two in October, prosecutors alleged that the Vanguard planned to attack the US, British, and French Embassies in Amman and conduct cross-border raids into the West Bank. Jordanian authorities also charged that the Vanguard received funding from Iran via the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). In mid-November, a state security court convicted the legislators on several counts of criminal antiregime activity and sentenced them to 20 years at hard labor. A few days later, King Hussein granted a general pardon to prisoners convicted of political crimes in Jordan, and the two were released.
Jordanian security and police closely monitor secular and Islamic extremists inside the country and detain individuals suspected of involvement in violent acts aimed at destabilizing the government or its relations with neighboring states. Besides the crackdown on the Vanguard, Jordanian police in late November closed a PFLP-GC office in Amman and arrested several group members on charges of subversive activity. Islamic militants suspected of instigating violence have also been targeted for special scrutiny by Jordanian authorities. Security services cracked down on the fundamentalist Muhammad’s Army in 1991, and no successor group of the same stature emerged in 1992. In addition, Jordan has tightened security along its border with Israel and last year interdicted several armed infiltration operations claimed by, or attributed to, factions of Arafat’s Fatah or the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
Jordan continues to recognize the “State of Palestine.” It hosts a Palestinian “embassy” as well as offices of Fatah and such PLO “rejectionists” as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. HAMAS—the Islamic Resistance Movement in the occupied territories—has an office in Amman. In addition, some extremist Palestinian groups with a history of anti-Western terrorist activity—including the PFLP-GC, Abu Abbas’s faction of the Palestine Liberation Front, and some elements of the PIJ—maintain a presence in Jordan.
There were several minor terrorist incidents in Kuwait in 1992. On 26 June, a bomb blast at the residence of the Dean of Kuwait University’s medical faculty killed the dean’s gardener. In July, Kuwaiti police arrested a group of so-called freelance criminals and charged them with responsibility for the bombing. A trial date for the suspects has not been set. On 9 and 11 December, bombs exploded in a suburb of Kuwait City, causing damage to a video store and three nearby shops, but not injuries. No one claimed responsibility for the blast, although video shops in Kuwait have been targets of Islamic extremists.
Kuwait maintained its firm antiterrorist policy through 1992. Regarding Pan Am Flight 103, Kuwait complied with UN Security Council Resolution 748—which mandated a “significant reduction” in Libya’s diplomatic presence—by expelling two Libyan diplomats during the summer. Kuwait also rejected Tripoli’s request to reopen the Libyan Arab Airlines office.
In 1992 the number of international terrorist incidents in Lebanon dropped to a total of six as compared to 32 in 1991. The attacks resulted in two people killed and 10 wounded. Late in 1992, one Nepalese soldier—attached to the United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL)—and one Israeli boy were killed in Hizballah rocket attacks on UN positions and Northern Israel. Ten other people were wounded in 1992 terrorist operations that included car bombings, shootings, and rocket attacks.
During 1992, Lebanon’s central government continued to extend its authority beyond the Beirut and Tripoli areas to parts of the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley. In late July, the Lebanese Armed Forces, apparently with Syrian approval, reclaimed the Haykh Abdallah Barracks, a military training facility occupied by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah fighters since 1982; late in the year, government authority was also extended into Beirut’s southern suburbs. The Lebanese Government, however, has not taken steps necessary to disarm Hizballah or to expand its authority into areas of southern Lebanon controlled by Hizballah or the Israeli-backed southern Lebanon Army (SLA). Syria continues to maintain a sizable military presence in northern and eastern Lebanon, and Israel continues to occupy a self-declared security zone in the south.
An Israeli Defense Forces helicopter unit ambushed a Hizballah convoy in southern Lebanon on 16 February, killing the group’s leader, Abbas Musawi, his wife, and six-year-old son. On 17 March, Islamic Jihad—a covername for Hizballah—publicly claimed responsibility for car bombing Israel’s Embassy in Argentina in retaliation for the killing of Musawi. The attack killed 29 persons and injured more than 240 others. Islamic Jihad released a videotape of the Embassy taken before the bombing to authenticate its claim to have conducted Hizballah’s first attack outside Lebanon since 1988.
In 1992, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Libya continued to provide varying degrees of financial, military, and logistic support to terrorist groups based in Lebanon. In addition to the radical Shia group, Hizballah—which was legally recognized as a political party during the year and won eight of 128 seats in Lebanese parliamentary elections in August and September—several radical Palestinian groups have training facilities in Lebanon. These include the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Abu Nidal organization (ANO). Several non-Palestinian groups—such as Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Revolutionary Left (Dev Sol)—also maintain facilities in Lebanon. Most of these groups are based in the Bekaa Valley.
The detention of Western hostages in Lebanon came to an end in 1992 with the release in June of two German relief workers who were abducted in 1989. The Freedom Strugglers—probably a covername for Iranian-backed Hizballah—announced on 15 June that the Germans would be released because of Iranian and Syrian efforts to “resolve the issue” of Mohammed and Abbas Hammadi, Hizballah terrorists imprisoned in Germany. The fate of several Israeli military personnel missing in Lebanon remains unknown.
No terrorist attacks or legal prosecutions related to terrorism took place in Saudi Arabia in 1992, and Sunni and Shia extremists who oppose the Saudi monarchy do not now pose a significant terrorist threat. The annual pilgrimage to Mecca—the hajj—passed relatively peacefully in 1992. Nonetheless, the government continues to be concerned about the possibility of terrorist acts against Saudi interests inside the Kingdom, particularly about attacks sponsored by Iraq or Iran. Outside Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen was held hostage inside his Embassy in Sanaa for 18 hours in April by a Yemeni citizen. The Saudi and Yemeni Governments cooperated closely to resolve the incident, which ended when a Yemeni security officer overwhelmed the terrorist.
The Saudi Government has cooperated against terrorism in several areas. The Saudis, for example, refused to give landing clearances to an Ethiopian relief plane that was hijacked in Djibouti in July. Saudi Arabia has not resumed financial aid to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since the end of the Gulf war, although the Saudi Government provides the PLO with the proceeds of a tax on the income of Palestinians living in the kingdom. Some private Saudis probably provide funds to the PLO, HAMAS, and other Palestinian and fundamental groups throughout the region. The same is true regarding private Saudi support for other groups, including elements in Somalia and Sudan. Riyadh decries acts of terrorism committed in the name of the Palestine cause, but it nonetheless considers the cause to be legitimate as a movement of national liberation and as resistance to Israeli military occupation.
There has not been any reduction, however, in the small Libyan diplomatic presence in Saudi Arabia, as mandated in the UN resolutions imposing sanctions against Libya. Libya has six diplomats in Saudi Arabia, four in Riyadh, and two in Jeddah. Saudi Arabia is represented in Libya by one Second Secretary.
There were no terrorist attacks or incidents in Tunisia in 1992. The Tunisian Government has consistently claimed that Tunisian Islamic extremists, particularly members of the an-Nahda party, have used, or plotted to use, terrorist methods and that they are supported and financed by foreign governments, especially Iran and Sudan. At the end of August 1992. Tunisian military courts, after public trials in which there were allegations of serious irregularities, pronounced verdicts against 279 alleged an-Nahda supporters accused in 1991 of plotting to assassinate Tunisian Government leaders and overthrow the government. The courts sentenced 265 defendants to prison terms ranging from one year to life; 14 were acquitted. Party leader Rachid Ghannouchi—who is seeking political asylum in United Kingdom—was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia. Tunisia has joined the Governments of Egypt and Algeria in calling on Iran and Sudan to stop supporting Islamic radicals across the Maghreb.
The Tunisian Government maintained a strong antiterrorism policy in 1992. Tunis condemned the August 1992 airport bombing in Algiers, as well as terrorist attacks against Western tourists in Egypt. The government continues to enforce the UN sanctions severing airlinks to Libya in connection with the bombings of Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772, although Tunisia had not complied with the UN requirement to reduce significantly the Libyan diplomatic presence in Tunis.
Tunisia continues to serve as the location of the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The Tunisian Government abides by the 1982 PLO-Tunisian agreement that allowed the PLO to establish itself in Tunisia and restricts access to Tunisia to include only those Palestinians it identifies as nationalists rather than terrorists. Tunis provides no training sites, training assistance, or support to terrorist organizations.
A series of assassinations and bombings by unknown perpetrators took place in Yemen in 1992. On 26 April, the Yemeni Justice Minister was wounded by an unknown gunman while being driven in his car in Sanaa. The Minister subsequently recovered from his wounds. On 14 June, the brother of Yemeni Prime Minister Haydar Abu Bakr al-‘Attas was shot and killed by unknown assailants in the city of Al Mukalla. On 20 June, an advisor to the Minister of Defense was shot and killed in Sanaa, apparently in an altercation with Yemeni security forces. In August and September, there was a series of bomb blasts at the homes or offices of leading Yemeni political figures in Sanaa.
Foreign interests have also been the targets of bombing attacks. On 23 September, a minor bomb explosion occurred behind the US Embassy. On 29 October, a bomb was detonated outside the wall of the German Embassy, and, on 9 November, another small bomb exploded just outside the perimeter wall of the US Embassy in Sanaa. There were no reported injuries in any of these bombings, and property damage in all cases appeared to be slight. Finally, there were two explosions in Aden on 29 December, one at a hotel and one at a hotel parking lot, which killed one person and injured several others. Although there were no US casualties, the explosion in the parking lot was near a hotel that billeted US military personnel involved in the airlift for Operation Rescue in Somalia. US personnel stationed in Aden were withdrawn from Yemen on 31 December.
Little information is available on what organizations or individuals were responsible for these incidents. In press reports, Yemeni authorities have accused the Yemeni Islamic Jihad members of the hotel bombing and other attacks. Known Islamic Jihad members were arrested at the end of the year.
A Yemeni citizen held the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen hostage inside the Saudi Embassy in Sanaa for 18 hours on 19 and 20 April. The kidnapper reportedly demanded a $1 million ransom. The situation was resolved when a Yemeni security official overpowered the extremist and freed the Ambassador. AYemeni court in October sentenced the kidnapper to three years in prison. The kidnapper apparently was acting on his own and was not part of a larger group or organization.
Yemeni officials frequently have announced their commitment to cutting ties to terrorist groups. Sanaa reportedly is narrowing criteria and tightening procedures for issuing passports to non-Yemenis, including Palestinians. A few terrorist groups, however, continue to maintain a presence in Yemeni territory, probably with the assistance of Yemeni officials from the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) regime.