Faces of Modern Terrorism
The Fear Factor
Defining Terrorism
The Psychology of a Terrorist
Hot Spots
Al Qaeda and the jihadists
Rise of the Islamic State
Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO's)
Domestic Terrorism
Combating Extremism

Are we safe? Terrorism, and stories of atrocities around the world seems to dominate the 24-hour news cycles on a daily basis, with news of beheadings, suicide bombings and kidnappings becoming almost commonplace. And as the threats and warnings made against the United States appear real and immediate, you have to wonder how bad things will get.

Americans have been, until 9/11, spared the sufferings felt by innocents in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa. But now, knowing that disaffected Americans have joined ISIS and are likely to have hatdched terrorist plots, the fear is hitting home.

Interviews about fear of terrorism, with 1,014 adult Americans were conducted by telephone by ORC International on September 5-7, 2014. The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

For the full results, use the link provided above, but some of the results were quite illuminating. To wit: The survey question, “How worried are you that you, or someone in your family, will become a victim of terrorism?” had been asked since 2006. Look at how the “very worried” fear has grown since 2006:

Is that fear misplaced? We don’t think so. When someone says it’s ridiculous for grown men and women to be cowering in fear over ISIS, that’s not to say that there isn’t a danger of retaliatory terrorist attacks in America. In fact, the possibility of retaliatory strikes, especially here on American soil, is a virtual certainty. You cannot go out and bomb people and not expect that the survivors aren’t going to retaliate. And one of the ways people retaliate against powerful armies is by initiating terrorist strikes against their citizens.

There are many definitions of terrorism, but we’ll go along with a definition by Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist, and a government counterterrorism consultant. According to his definition, terrorism is defined by the nature of the incident, not by the identity of the perpetrators. The fundamentals of terrorism include:

  • “Violence or the threat of violence;
  • “Calculated to create fear and alarm;
  • “Intended to coerce certain actions;
  • “Motive must include a political objective;
  • “Generally directed against civilian targets; and
  • “It can be [carried out by] a group or an individual.”

Essentially, terrorism can be summarized as violent acts that are “calculated to create an atmosphere of fear and alarm to coerce others into actions they would not otherwise undertake, or refrain from actions they desired to take.”

Regular criminal acts are not counted as terrorism. So, while drug-trafficking conducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) is not counted as terrorism, FARC’s attacks against Colombian citizens are.

Although the subject of this mini course is the Face of Modern Terrorism, truth is, terrorism is nothing new to America.

Picture, if you will, a typical lunch hour rush on Wall Street, 1920. A non-descript man driving a cart pressed an old horse forward stopped the animal and its heavy load in front of the U.S. Assay Office, across from the J. P. Morgan building in the heart of Wall Street. The driver got down and quickly disappeared into the crowd.

Minutes later, the cart exploded into a hail of metal fragments—immediately killing more than 30 people and injuring some 300. The carnage was horrific, and the death toll kept rising as the day wore on and more victims succumbed.

Who was responsible? Terrorism wasn’t even a word then. In the beginning it wasn’t obvious that the explosion was an intentional act. Crews cleaned the damage up overnight, including physical evidence that today would be crucial to identifying the perpetrator. By the next morning Wall Street was back in business.

Conspiracy theories abounded, but the New York Police and Fire Departments, the Bureau of Investigation (the FBI’s predecessor), and the U.S. Secret Service were on the job. The Bureau interviewed hundreds of people who had been around the area before, during, and after the attack, but developed little information of value. The few recollections of the driver and wagon were vague and virtually useless. The NYPD was able to reconstruct the bomb and its fuse mechanism, but there was much debate about the nature of the explosive, and all the potential components were commonly available.

Based on bomb attacks over the previous decade, the Bureau initially suspected followers of the Italian Anarchist Luigi Galleani. But the case couldn’t be proved, and the anarchist had fled the country. In the end, the bombers were not identified. The best evidence and analysis since that fateful day of September 16, 1920, suggests that the Bureau’s initial thought was correct—that a small group of Italian Anarchists were to blame. But the mystery remains.

For the young Bureau, the bombing became one of the earliest terrorism cases—and not the last, unfortunately, to involve the city of New York. As the decades passed, the threat from terrorism would grow and change, with different actors and causes coming and going from the scene.

In more modern times, and with the advent of the jihadist movement, see chapter 4…there have been attacks all over the world. According to the Heritage Foundation’s “Solution 2014.”

  • From 1970 to 2011, there were 104,689 terrorist incidents worldwide. Terrorism directed at the United States homeland accounted for 2.3 percent of these attacks.
  • At least 60 terrorist plots targeting the United States have been foiled since 9/11, largely prevented by U.S. law enforcement. The top five post-9/11 domestic targets include the U.S. Military (16 plots); New York City (14 plots); mass gatherings (nine plots); mass transit (eight plots); and critical infrastructure and Washington, D.C. (six plots each).
  • After 9/11 until the end of 2011, the non-Western world—everywhere besides Western Europe and the Western Hemisphere—experienced 28,904 terrorist attacks. Of these, nearly 60 percent (17,153) targeted private, infrastructural, educational, media, or religious individuals and institutions.
  • As of July 15, 2013, 603 detainees from Guantanamo Bay have been transferred: 532 detainees pre-January 22, 2009, and 71 detainees post-January 22, 2009. Of those transfers, 100 (16.6 percent) have been confirmed as re-engaging in terrorist activity. In total, 164 detainees are still held at Guantanamo Bay.
  • U.S. citizens are being recruited to join al-Qaida and its affiliates. At least 10 Americans have joined jihadists in Syria, and between 2007 and 2010, over 40 Americans travelled abroad to join Somalia’s al-Shabaab.

The scope and breath of modern day terrorism is overwhelming. But to save ourselves from an enemy we must understand and recognize who we are dealing with. So, what makes a terrorist?

Leading politicians and scholars have argued that poverty and lack of education breed terrorism, despite the wealth of evidence showing that most terrorists come from middle-class, and often college-educated, backgrounds. Not all terrorists are jihadists (note the Oklahoma City bombing), but jihadists, who make up only about 5 percent of the muslim population worldwide, have done the most damage over the last 10 years and so have built up their armies of followers. Islamist terrorists and their supporters are shown by study after study to be better-off, better-educated, and have better opportunities than most others in their societies.

Perhaps the most chilling findings come from Sagemen, who studied 400 Al Qaeda members and found that "the vast majority–90 percent–came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5-6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways." So Al Qaeda and other violent jihadist movements are not best understood in the Marxian discourse of class struggle. The question isn’t money. It’s identity.

Terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman explains that from the bombers of 9/11 to Boston’s Tsarnaev brothers, everyone asks the question: why? Why would these men kill? Why would these men aim for such destruction? We know there is no one path to radicalization. The reasons why someone picks up a gun or blows themselves up are ineluctably personal, born variously of grievance and frustration; religious piety or the desire for systemic socio-economic change; and yet, though there is no universal terrorist personality, nor has a single, broadly applicable profile ever been produced, there are things we do know:

  • Terrorists are generally motivated by a profound sense of (albeit, misguided) altruism; deep feelings of self-defense; and, if they are religiously observant or devout, an abiding, even unswerving, commitment to their faith and the conviction that their violence is not only theologically justified, but divinely commanded.
  • All terrorists fundamentally believe they are serving a “good” cause designed to achieve a greater good for a wider constituency—whether real or imagined—which the terrorist and his organization or cell purport to represent. Indeed, it is this sense of self-righteous commitment and self-sacrifice that that draws people into terrorist groups, and helps them justify the violence they commit. The terrorist virtually always sees himself as a reluctant warrior: cast perpetually on the defensive and forced to take up arms to protect himself and his community. They see themselves as driven by desperation——and lacking any viable alternative—to violence against a repressive state, a predatory rival ethnic or nationalist group, or an unresponsive international order.

Religion only serves as one more justification—particularly in the case of suicide terrorism. In the case of Muslims, although the Quran forbids both suicide and the infliction of wanton violence, pronouncements have also been made by radical Muslim clerics, and in some instances have been promulgated as fatwas (Islamic religious edicts), affirming the legitimacy of violence in defense of defenseless peoples and to resist the invasion of Muslim lands. Radical Islamist terrorist movements have thus created a recruitment and support mechanism of compelling theological incentives that sustains their violent campaigns.

Now we have the Tsarnaev brothers products of centuries-long conflict between Russia and Chechnya. We have seen life-long devout Muslims as well as recent converts—including one Philadelphia suburban housewife who touted her petite stature and blonde hair and blue eyes as being so atypical of the stereotypical terrorist so as to defy any efforts at profiling. They come from every walk of life, from marginalized people working in menial jobs, some with long criminal records or histories of juvenile delinquency, to people from solidly middle and upper-middle class backgrounds with university and perhaps even graduate degrees and prior passions for cars, sports, rock music and other completely secular, material interests.

The spectrum of British jihadis over the past decade illustrates the panoply of individuals attracted to terrorism. Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber,” was a career criminal who dropped out of high school and converted to Islam while in prison before he was recruited to al Qaeda. But Omar Khyam, the mastermind behind a 2004 bombing plot of a shopping mall outside London, was the son of a wealthy businessman and grew up in a comfortable, upper-middle-class environment. And Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the al Qaeda operative responsible for the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, attended an exclusive (e.g., expensive) private school.

The common element in the radicalization process reflects these individuals’ deep commitment to their faith—often recently re-discovered; their admiration of terrorist movements or leading terrorist figures who they see as having struck a cathartic blow for their creed’s enemies wherever they are and whomever they might be; hatred of their adopted homes, especially if in the United States and the West; and, a profoundly shared sense of alienation from their host countries.

One of the leading global risks analytics firms in the world, Maplecroft, just recently released its latest Terrorism and Security dashboard, which tracks terrorist attacks over the past 12-month period prior to July 1, 2013. The results, as you can see, are bleak. To make matters worse, given the date of the study, it does not include the terror perpetrated by ISIS operatives from July to the present.

Over the past year, fatalities from acts of terrorism rose by 30% to a recorded 18,668 deaths. During the same 12-month period, 9,471 attacks were recorded — an average of 26 a day.

Iraq had the most recorded terrorist attacks within the time frame, with 3,158. Iraq is currently staving off a Sunni rebellion led by ISIS militants and a full-scale sectarian civil war. ISIS controls oil and gas infrastructure in Iraq. A coalition, led by the U.S. and other countries is attempting to stop their advance and destroy the movement through targeted airstrikes. It is not clear that airstrikes alone can stop ISIS.

Despite the number of attacks in Iraq, Nigeria was the site of the deadliest terror attacks in the world. The Islamic militant group Boko Haram has intensified violence throughout the country and has struck in the key cities of Abuja and Lagos. Boko Haram kills an average of 24 people per attack.

The highest increase in terrorist attacks worldwide took place in China, Egypt, Libya, and Kenya. With the exception of China, the increase in attacks has significantly affected each country's economy.

Libya has found itself incapable of capitalizing on its vast oil fields as rival militias and terrorist organizations have blockaded ports, limited oil exports, and damaged state infrastructure. Meanwhile, tourism, a major source of revenue in both Egypt and Kenya, has taken a nose-dive as both countries struggle to provide security.

Although terrorist attacks have only had a negligible impact on China's economy, that impact is likely to increase. China is exploring methods of hydrocarbon extraction in the restive province of Xinjiang, which is home to China's Uyghur minority, which faces heavy discrimination.

Worryingly for investors, the high-growth economies of Colombia, Nigeria, the Philippines, India, and Thailand are all listed as being at "high" or "extreme" risk of further terrorist attacks. “The dynamic nature of terrorism means individual events are impossible to predict,” Maplecroft CEO Alyson Warhurst said in a press release. “However, up-to-date global intelligence on the intensity, frequency, precise location, and type of attacks can help organizations to make informed decisions relating to market entry, security measures for in-country operations, duty of care obligations, supply chain continuity and risk pricing.”

If you’re talking about modern day terrorism, you need to begin with Al-Qaida. The al-Qaida-led Islamist social movement consists of several thousand members (out of a worldwide Muslim population of more than one billion). It is composed of social networks that mobilize people to resort to terrorism. These networks may become formal organizations, like al-Qaida or its Indonesian affiliate, Jemaah Islamiyah, depending on shifting circumstances.

Moreover, while al-Qaida "Central" is currently headquartered along the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, its "social movement has spread far beyond the original organization. This makes them even more dangerous because as a social movement it has dramatically grown beyond its organizational origins.

Today's al-Qaida (and the social movements it has spawned, see Chapter 7) is the product of three historical waves. The first consisted of the "old guard," the veterans of the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan who joined Usama bin Laden in forming the core of al-Qaida "Central" in the 1980s.

The second wave joined al-Qaida in the 1990s after training in its camps in Afghanistan. Al-Qaida "Central" was predominant during this phase, closely directing its operations around the world.

The third wave, however, is the post-2001 generation of radicals, who joined al-Qaida following the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the U.S.-led invasion in Iraq. Although it lost its safe haven and training facilities in Afghanistan, the al-Qaida-led social movement is even more pervasive because of its global reach as well as its links to al-Qaida "Central" along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

Furthermore, the organization has had great success on the Internet, where it has radicalized a new generation of activists, including many among second-generation Muslim immigrants in Europe and North America. This was the group, for example, that carried out the suicide attacks against London's transportation system in July 2005. How are the members of al-Qaida's third wave mobilized into becoming "warriors for Islam?" they view themselves, rightly or wrongly, as "heroes, fighting for justice and fairness" to transform their societies.

ISIS, short for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, is a Sunni jihadist group whose unexpected and sudden takeover of of Mosul, Tikrit and extensive swaths of Iraqi territory triggered a new crisis, complete with atrocities targeting Iraqi army soldiers and volunteers.

Known in Arabic as Da'ash, it grew out of the Islamic State in Iraq, an al-Qaida affiliate which, in turn, came into existence after the 2003 US-led invasion. The leader or emir (prince) of Isis is a 43-year-old Sunni, known by his nom de guerre as Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi. His real name is Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai and he was actually held prisoner by US forces from 2005 to 2009.

U.S. military sources have quoted him as saying when he was released from Camp Bucca in Iraq: "I'll see you guys in New York." According to some accounts he was radicalized by his experience of captivity. He studied at the University of Baghdad, and was listed as a terrorist by the UN in 2011.

It is a measure of Baghdadi's success and charisma that Isis has become the group of choice for thousands of foreign would-be fighters who have flocked to his banner. Late last year, he announced the creation of a new group that would be merged with a rival al-Qaida affiliate active in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra. That was disputed both by Nusra and Osama bin Laden's successor as the leader of al-Qaida "central", the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri. Baghdadi, who has been described as more extreme than Bin Laden, refused an order from Zawahiri to focus the group's efforts in Iraq and leave Syria alone.

What follows is a map of the planned Caliphate, the Islamic State as envisioned in an image tweeted by members of ISIS.

Last February, al-Qaida disavowed ISIS, saying it was "in no way connected to it", that it had not been informed of its creation, and was not responsible for its actions. Isis was deemed too extreme for al-Qaida.

In the areas of Syria it controls, Isis has set up courts, schools and other services, flying its black jihadi flag everywhere. In Raqqa, it even started a consumer protection authority for food standards. It has established a reputation for extreme brutality, carrying out crucifixions, beheadings and amputations.

Estimates of Isis numbers range from 7,000 to 10,000.

Its rank and file members are drawn from fighters who were previously with al-Qaida, some former Ba'athists and soldiers of the Saddam-era army. What is far harder to know is how much support the group has from Iraq's wider Sunni community, the people who lost their power and influence when Saddam was overthrown.

Isis now presents itself as an ideologically superior alternative to al-Qaida within the jihadi community. As such, it has increasingly become a transnational movement with immediate objectives far beyond Iraq and Syria.

Although al-Qaida and ISIS dominate the news, the U.S. State Department has its eyes firmly focused on many other groups, which they refer to as FTOs. Some have been around for decades; others are spinoff groups or copycat groups of al-Qaida. What follows is a comprehensive list of those groups and short descriptions of each.

Aliases: Abdullah Azzam Brigades; Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades; Yusuf al-’Uyayri Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades
Description: The Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 30, 2012. The group is divided into two branches: the Arabian Peninsula-based Yusuf al-’Uyayri Battalions of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, named after the now-deceased founder of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula; and the Lebanon-based Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades, named after Ziad al Jarrah, a Lebanese citizen who was one of the masterminds of the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Activities: AAB has relied primarily on rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, and is responsible for numerous rocket attacks fired into Israeli territory from Lebanon.
Strength: Unknown
Location: AAB is based in both Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula.
Aliases: ANO; Arab Revolutionary Brigades; Arab Revolutionary Council; Black September; Fatah Revolutionary Council; Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) was founded by Sabri al-Banna (aka Abu Nidal) after splitting from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1974. In August 2002, Abu Nidal died in Baghdad.
Activities: The ANO has carried out terrorist attacks in 20 countries, killing or injuring almost 900 persons. It has not staged a major attack against Western targets since the late 1980s and was expelled from its safe haven in Libya in 1999.
Strength: Current strength is unknown.
Location: ANO associates are presumed present in Lebanon.
Aliases: al Harakat al Islamiyya (the Islamic Movement)
Description: The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. ASG is the most violent of the terrorist groups operating in the Philippines and claims to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.
Activities: The ASG engages in kidnappings for ransom, bombings, beheadings, assassinations, and extortion. Philippine police captured or killed a number of ASG leaders in 2012.
Strength: ASG is estimated to have 400 members.
Location: The ASG operates primarily in the provinces of the Sulu Archipelago, namely Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. The group also operates on the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Aliases: al-Aqsa Martyrs Battalion
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB) is composed of an unknown number of small cells of Fatah-affiliated activists that emerged at the outset of the al-Aqsa Intifada, in September 2000.
Activities: AAMB employed primarily small-arms attacks against Israeli military personnel and settlers as the intifada spread in 2000, but by 2002 turned increasingly to suicide bombings against Israeli civilians inside Israel.
Strength: A few hundred members.
Location: Most of AAMB’s operational activity is in Gaza but the group also planned and conducted attacks inside Israel and the West Bank. The group also has members in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Aliases: Ansar al-Sunna; Ansar al-Sunna Army; Devotees of Islam; Followers of Islam in Kurdistan; Helpers of Islam; Jaish Ansar al-Sunna; Jund al-Islam; Kurdish Taliban; Kurdistan Supporters of Islam; Partisans of Islam; Soldiers of God; Soldiers of Islam; Supporters of Islam in Kurdistan
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 22, 2004, Ansar al-Islam’s (AI’s) goals include expelling western interests from Iraq and establishing an independent Iraqi state based on Sharia law.
Activities: AI has conducted attacks against a wide range of targets including Iraqi government and security forces, and U.S. and Coalition Forces. AI has conducted numerous kidnappings, executions, and assassinations of Iraqi citizens and politicians. The group has either claimed responsibility or is believed to be responsible for attacks in 2011 that killed 24 and wounded 147.
Strength: AI is considered one of the largest Sunni terrorist groups in Iraq.
Location: Primarily northern Iraq, but also maintains a presence in western and central Iraq.
Aliases: Jaysh al-Islam; Jaish al-Islam
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 19, 2011, the Army of Islam (AOI) is a Gaza-based terrorist organization founded in late 2005 responsible for numerous terrorist acts against the Governments of Israel and Egypt, as well as American, British, and New Zealander citizens. AOI has previously worked with Hamas and is attempting to develop closer al-Qaida contacts.
Activities: AOI’s terrorist acts include a number of rocket attacks on Israel, the 2006 kidnapping of two journalists in Gaza (an American and a New Zealander), and the 2007 kidnapping of a British citizen, journalist Alan Johnston, in Gaza.
Strength: Membership is estimated in the low hundreds.
Location: Gaza, with attacks in Egypt and Israel.
Aliases: Asbat al-Ansar; Band of Helpers; Band of Partisans; League of Partisans; League of the Followers; God’s Partisans; Gathering of Supporters; Partisan’s League; AAA; Esbat al-Ansar; Isbat al-Ansar; Osbat al-Ansar; Usbat al-Ansar; Usbat ul-Ansar
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002, Asbat al-Ansar is a Lebanon-based Sunni extremist group composed primarily of Palestinians with links to al-Qa’ida (AQ) and other Sunni extremist groups.
Activities: In the mid-1990s, the group assassinated Lebanese religious leaders and bombed nightclubs, theaters, and liquor stores. The group has also plotted against foreign diplomatic targets.
Strength: The group has fewer than 2,000 members.
Location: The group’s primary base of operations is the Ain al-Hilwah Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon in southern Lebanon.
Aliases: A.I.C. Comprehensive Research Institute; A.I.C. Sogo Kenkyusho; Aleph; Aum Supreme Truth
Description: Aum Shinrikyo (AUM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Jailed leader Shoko Asahara established AUM in 1987, and the organization received legal status in Japan as a religious entity in 1989. The Japanese government revoked its recognition of AUM as a religious organization following AUM’s deadly 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo.
Activities: In March 1995, AUM members simultaneously released the chemical nerve agent sarin on several Tokyo subway trains, killing 12 people and causing up to 6,000 to seek medical treatment.
Strength: According to a study by the Japanese government issued in December 2009, AUM membership in Japan is approximately 1,500 with another 200 in Russia.
Location: AUM’s principal membership is located in Japan; a residual branch of about 200 followers live in Russia.
Aliases: ETA; Askatasuna; Batasuna; Ekin; Euskal Herritarrok; Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna; Herri Batasuna; Jarrai-Haika-Segi; K.A.S.; XAKI
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) was founded in 1959 with the aim of establishing an independent homeland based on Marxist principles.
Activities: ETA primarily has conducted bombings and assassinations. Targets typically have included Spanish government officials, businessmen, politicians, judicial figures, and security and military forces, but the group has also targeted journalists and tourist areas.
Strength: Estimates put ETA membership, of those who have not been captured by authorities, at fewer than 100. Spanish and French prisons together hold approximately 750 ETA members.
Location: ETA operates primarily in the Basque autonomous regions of northern Spain and southwestern France, but has attacked Spanish and French interests elsewhere. The group also maintains a low profile presence in Cuba and Venezuela.
Aliases: CPP/NPA; Communist Party of the Philippines; the CPP; New People’s Army; the NPA
Description: The Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on August 9, 2002. The military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA), is a Maoist group formed in March 1969 with the aim of overthrowing the government through protracted guerrilla warfare.
Activities: The CPP/NPA primarily targeted Philippine security forces, government officials, local infrastructure, and businesses that refused to pay extortion, or “revolutionary taxes.”
Strength: The Philippines government estimates there are 4,000 members.
Location: The CPP/NPA operates in rural Luzon, Visayas, and parts of northern and eastern Mindanao. There are also cells in Manila and other metropolitan centers.
Aliases: Continuity Army Council; Continuity IRA; Republican Sinn Fein
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on July 13, 2004, the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) is a terrorist splinter group formed in 1994 as the clandestine armed wing of Republican Sinn Fein; it split from Sinn Fein in 1986.
Activities: CIRA has been active in Belfast and the border areas of Northern Ireland, where it has carried out bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, extortion, and robberies.
Strength: Membership is small, with possibly fewer than 50. Police counterterrorism operations have reduced the group’s strength.
Location: Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Aliases: al-Gama’at; Egyptian al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya; GI; Islamic Gama’at; IG; Islamic Group
Description: Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Once Egypt’s largest militant group, IG was active in the late 1970s, but is now a loosely organized network.
Activities: In the 1990s, IG conducted armed attacks against Egyptian security, other government officials, and Coptic Christians. IG claimed responsibility for the June 1995 assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Strength: At its peak, IG likely commanded several thousand core members and a similar number of supporters.
Location: The IG maintained an external presence in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran, the UK, Germany, and France. The IG terrorist presence in Egypt was minimal due to the reconciliation efforts of former local members.
Aliases: the Islamic Resistance Movement; Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya; Izz al-Din al Qassam Battalions; Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades; Izz al-Din al Qassam Forces; Students of Ayyash; Student of the Engineer; Yahya Ayyash Units; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Brigades; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Forces; Izz al-Din al-Qassim Battalions
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Hamas possesses military and political wings and came into being in late 1987 at the onset of the first Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The armed element, called the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, conducts anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings against civilian targets inside Israel.
Activities: Prior to 2005, Hamas conducted numerous anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings, rocket launches, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, and shootings. Hamas has not directly targeted U.S. interests, though U.S. citizens have died and been injured in the group’s attacks.
Strength: Several thousand Gaza-based operatives with varying degrees of skills are in its armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, along with its reported 9,000-person Hamas-led paramilitary group known as the “Executive Force.”
Location: Hamas has a presence in every major city in the West Bank and Gaza.
Aliases: HQN
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 19, 2012, the Haqqani Network (HQN) has its roots in an offensive formed in the late 1970s, around the time of the former Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
Activities: HQN has planned and carried out a number of significant attacks against U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, as well as Afghan government targets and civilians. HQN’s most notorious attacks include a January 2008 attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul, during which the attackers killed eight individuals, including one U.S. citizen. HQN was also behind the June 2009 kidnapping of Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier in the U.S. Army, who remained in captivity throughout 2012.
Strength: HQN is believed to have several hundred core members, but it is estimated that the organization is also able to draw upon a pool of upwards of 10,000 fighters with varying degrees of affiliation.
Location: HQN is active along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and across much of southeastern Afghanistan. The group’s leadership maintains a power base in Miram Shah, North Waziristan, Pakistan.
Aliases: HUJI, Movement of Islamic Holy War; Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami; Harkat-al-Jihad-ul Islami; Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami; Harakat ul Jihad-e-Islami; Harakat-ul Jihad Islami
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on August 6, 2010, Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) was founded in 1980 in Afghanistan to fight against the former Soviet Union. Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the organization re-focused its efforts on India.
Activities: HUJI has been involved in a number of terrorist attacks in recent years. On March 2, 2006, a HUJI leader was behind the suicide bombing of the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy, and injured 48 others.
Strength: HUJI has an estimated strength of several hundred members.
Location: HUJI’s area of operation extends throughout South Asia, with its terrorist operations focused primarily in India and Afghanistan. Some factions of HUJI conduct attacks within Pakistan.
Aliases: HUJI-B, Harakat ul Jihad e Islami Bangladesh; Harkatul Jihad al Islam; Harkatul Jihad; Harakat ul Jihad al Islami; Harkat ul Jihad al Islami; Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami; Harakat ul Jihad Islami Bangladesh; Islami Dawat-e-Kafela; IDEK
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 5, 2008, Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) was formed in April 1992 by a group of former Bangladeshi Afghan veterans to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh.
Activities: In December 2008, three HUJI-B members were convicted for the May 2004 grenade attack that wounded the British High Commissioner in Sylhet, Bangladesh.
Strength: HUJI-B leaders claim that up to 400 of its members are Afghan war veterans, but its total membership is unknown.
Location: The group operates primarily in Bangladesh and India. HUJI-B trains and has a network of madrassas in Bangladesh.
Aliases: HUM; Harakat ul-Ansar; HUA; Jamiat ul-Ansar; JUA; al-Faran; al-Hadid; al-Hadith; Harakat ul-Mujahidin
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM) seeks the annexation of Indian Kashmir and the expulsion of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan.
Activities: HUM has conducted a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Kashmir. It is linked to the Kashmiri militant group al-Faran, which kidnapped five Western tourists in Kashmir in July 1995; the five reportedly were killed later that year.
Strength: HUM has several hundred armed supporters located in Pakistan-administered Kashmir; India’s southern Kashmir and Doda regions; and in the Kashmir valley.
Location: Based in Muzaffarabad, Rawalpindi, and several other cities in Pakistan, HUM conducts insurgent and terrorist operations primarily in Kashmir and Afghanistan. HUM trains its militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Aliases: the Party of God; Islamic Jihad; Islamic Jihad Organization; Revolutionary Justice Organization; Organization of the Oppressed on Earth; Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine; Organization of Right Against Wrong; Ansar Allah; Followers of the Prophet Muhammed
Description: Hizballah was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Lebanese-based radical Shia group takes its ideological inspiration from the Iranian revolution and the teachings of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.
Activities: Hizballah’s terrorist attacks have included the suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983; the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in 1984; and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which a U.S. Navy diver was murdered.
Strength: Several thousand supporters and members.
Location: Hizballah is based in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon. However, the group is capable of operating around the globe.
Aliases: Indian Mujahidin; Islamic Security Force-Indian Mujahideen (ISF-IM)
Description: The Indian Mujahedeen (IM) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 19, 2011. An India-based terrorist group with significant links to Pakistani-based terrorist organizations, IM has been responsible for dozens of bomb attacks throughout India since 2005, and has caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians.
Activities: IM’s primary method of attack is multiple coordinated bombings in crowded areas against economic and civilian targets to maximize terror and casualties.
Strength: Estimated to have several thousand supporters and members.
Location: India
Aliases: Islamic Jihad Group; Islomiy Jihod Ittihodi; al-Djihad al-Islami; Dzhamaat Modzhakhedov; Islamic Jihad Group of Uzbekistan; Jamiat al-Jihad al-Islami; Jamiyat; The Jamaat Mojahedin; The Kazakh Jama’at; The Libyan Society
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on June 17, 2005, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) is a Sunni extremist organization that splintered from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in the early 2000s and is currently based in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Activities: The IJU primarily operates against American and ISAF Forces in Afghanistan and continues to pose a threat to Central Asia. The group claimed responsibility for attacks in March and April 2004, targeting police at several roadway checkpoints and at a popular bazaar, killing approximately 47 people, including 33 IJU members, some of whom were suicide bombers.
Strength: 100-200 members.
Location: Based in Pakistan, IJU members are also scattered throughout Central Asia, Europe, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Aliases: IMU
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 25, 2000, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s (IMU) goal is to overthrow the Uzbek government and establish an Islamic state.
Activities: Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, the IMU has been predominantly focused on attacks against U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan.
Strength: 200-300 members
Location: IMU militants are located in South Asia, Central Asia, and Iran.
Aliases: the Army of Mohammed; Mohammed’s Army; Tehrik ul-Furqaan; Khuddam-ul-Islam; Khudamul Islam; Kuddam e Islami; Jaish-i-Mohammed
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 26, 2001, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) is based in Pakistan.
Activities: JEM continued to operate openly in parts of Pakistan despite the 2002 ban on its activities. JEM claimed responsibility for several suicide car bombings in Kashmir, including an October 2001 suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly building in Srinagar that killed more than 30 people.
Strength: JEM has at least several hundred armed supporters – including a large cadre of former Harakat ul-Mujahideen members – located in Pakistan, India’s southern Kashmir and Doda regions, and in the Kashmir Valley.
Location: Kashmir in India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, particularly southern Punjab.
Aliases: JAT; Jemmah Ansharut Tauhid; Jem’mah Ansharut Tauhid; Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid; Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid; Laskar 99
Description: The Department of State designated Indonesia-based group Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 13, 2012. JAT formed in 2008, seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia, and has carried out numerous attacks on Indonesian government personnel, police, military, and civilians.
Activities: JAT has conducted multiple attacks targeting civilians and Indonesian officials, resulting in the deaths of several Indonesian police. JAT has robbed banks and carried out other illicit activities to fund the purchase of assault weapons, ammunition, explosives, and bomb-making materials.
Strength: JAT is estimated to have several thousand supporters and members.
Location: JAT is based in Indonesia with suspected elements in Malaysia and the Philippines.
Aliases: Jemaa Islamiyah; Jema’a Islamiyah; Jemaa Islamiyya; Jema’a Islamiyya; Jemaa Islamiyyah; Jema’a Islamiyyah; Jemaah Islamiah; Jemaah Islamiyah; Jema’ah Islamiyah; Jemaah Islamiyyah; Jema’ah Islamiyyah; JI
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 23, 2002, Jemaah Islamiya (JI) is a Southeast Asia-based terrorist group co-founded by Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and Abdullah Sungkar that seeks the establishment of an Islamic caliphate spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the southern Philippines.
Activities: In December 2001, Singaporean authorities uncovered a JI plot to attack U.S., Israeli, British, and Australian diplomatic facilities in Singapore. Other significant JI attacks include the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed more than 200, including seven U.S. citizens.
Strength: Estimates of total JI members vary from 500 to several thousand.
Location: JI is based in Indonesia and is believed to have elements in Malaysia and the Philippines.
Aliases: People’s Resistance Movement of Iran (PMRI); Jonbesh-i Moqavemat-i-Mardom-i Iran; Popular Resistance Movement of Iran; Soldiers of God; Fedayeen-e-Islam; Former Jundallah of Iran; Jundullah; Jondullah; Jundollah; Jondollah; Jondallah; Army of God (God’s Army); Baloch Peoples Resistance Movement (BPRM)
Description: Jundallah was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 4, 2010. Since its inception in 2003, Jundallah, which operates primarily in the province of Sistan va Balochistan of Iran, has engaged in numerous attacks, killing and maiming scores of Iranian civilians and government officials.
Activities: In March 2006, Jundallah attacked a motorcade in eastern Iran, which included the deputy head of the Iranian Red Crescent Security Department, who was then taken hostage. The Governor of Zahedan, his deputy, and five other officials were wounded; seven others were kidnapped; and more than 20 were killed in the attack.
Strength: Reports of Jundallah membership vary from 500 to 2,000.
Location: Throughout Sistan va Balochistan province in southeastern Iran and the greater Balochistan area of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Aliases: American Friends of the United Yeshiva; American Friends of Yeshivat Rav Meir; Committee for the Safety of the Roads; Dikuy Bogdim; DOV; Forefront of the Idea; Friends of the Jewish Idea Yeshiva; Jewish Legion; Judea Police; Judean Congress; Kach; Kahane; Kahane Lives; Kahane Tzadak; Kahane.org; Kahanetzadak.com; Kfar Tapuah Fund; Koach; Meir’s Youth; New Kach Movement; Newkach.org; No’ar Meir; Repression of Traitors; State of Judea; Sword of David; The Committee Against Racism and Discrimination (CARD); The Hatikva Jewish Identity Center; The International Kahane Movement; The Jewish Idea Yeshiva; The Judean Legion; The Judean Voice; The Qomemiyut Movement; The Rabbi Meir David Kahane Memorial Fund; The Voice of Judea; The Way of the Torah; The Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea; Yeshivat Harav Meir
Description: Kach – the precursor to Kahane Chai – was founded by radical Israeli-American Rabbi Meir Kahane, with the goal of restoring Greater Israel, which is generally used to refer to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Activities: Kahane Chai has harassed and threatened Arabs, Palestinians, and Israeli government officials, and has vowed revenge for the death of Binyamin Kahane and his wife.
Strength: Kahane Chai’s core membership is believed to be fewer than 100.
Location: Israel and West Bank settlements, particularly Qiryat Arba in Hebron.
Aliases: Hizballah Brigades; Hizballah Brigades in Iraq; Hizballah Brigades-Iraq; Kata’ib Hezbollah; Khata’ib Hezbollah; Khata’ib Hizballah; Khattab Hezballah; Hizballah Brigades-Iraq of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Kata’ib Hizballah Fi al-Iraq; Katibat Abu Fathel al-A’abas; Katibat Zayd Ebin Ali; Katibut Karbalah
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on July 2, 2009, Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) was formed in 2006 and is a radical Shia Islamist group with an anti-Western outlook and extremist ideology that has conducted attacks against Iraqi, U.S., and Coalition targets in Iraq.
Activities: KH has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks since 2007, including improvised explosive device bombings, rocket propelled grenade attacks, and sniper operations. In 2007, KH gained notoriety with attacks on U.S. and Coalition Forces in Iraq.
Strength: Membership is estimated at 400 individuals.
Location: KH’s operations are predominately Iraq-based.
Aliases: the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress; the Freedom and Democracy Congress of Kurdistan; KADEK; Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan; the People’s Defense Force; Halu Mesru Savunma Kuvveti; Kurdistan People’s Congress; People’s Congress of Kurdistan; KONGRA-GEL
Description: Founded by Abdullah Ocalan in 1978 as a Marxist-Leninist separatist organization, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The group, composed primarily of Turkish Kurds, launched a campaign of violence in 1984.
Activities: In the early 1990s, the PKK moved beyond rural-based insurgent activities to include urban terrorism. Primary targets have been Turkish government security forces, local Turkish officials, and villagers who oppose the organization in Turkey.
Strength: Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 members; 3,000 to 3,500 are located in northern Iraq.
Location: The PKK operate primarily in Turkey, Iraq, and Europe.
Aliases: al Mansooreen; Al Mansoorian; Army of the Pure; Army of the Pure and Righteous; Army of the Righteous; Lashkar e-Toiba; Lashkar-i-Taiba; Paasban-e-Ahle-Hadis; Paasban-e-Kashmir; Paasban-i-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Kashmir; Jamaat-ud-Dawa, JUD; Jama’at al-Dawa; Jamaat ud-Daawa; Jamaat ul-Dawah; Jamaat-ul-Dawa; Jama’at-i-Dawat; Jamaiat-ud-Dawa; Jama’at-ud-Da’awah; Jama’at-ud-Da’awa; Jamaati-ud-Dawa; Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq; Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation; FiF; Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation; Falah-e-Insaniyat; Falah-i-Insaniyat; Falah Insania; Welfare of Humanity; Humanitarian Welfare Foundation; Human Welfare Foundation
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on December 26, 2001, Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) is one of the largest and most proficient of the traditionally anti-India-focused militant groups.
Activities: LeT has conducted a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Jammu and Kashmir since 1993; several high profile attacks inside India; and operations against Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. The group uses assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, explosives, and rocket-propelled grenades.
Strength: The size of LeT is unknown, but it has several thousand members in Azad Kashmir and Punjab in India; Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Provinces in Pakistan; and in the southern Jammu, Kashmir, and Doda regions. Most LeT members are Pakistanis or Afghans and/or veterans of the Afghan wars.
Location: LeT has global connections and a strong operational network throughout South Asia. LeT maintains a number of facilities, including training camps, schools, and medical clinics in Pakistan.
Aliases: Army of Jhangvi; Lashkar e Jhangvi; Lashkar-i-Jhangvi
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 30, 2003, Lashkar I Jhangvi (LJ) is the militant offshoot of the Sunni Deobandi sectarian group Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan. LJ focuses primarily on anti-Shia attacks and other attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Activities: LJ specializes in armed attacks and bombings and has admitted responsibility for numerous killings of Shia religious and community leaders in Pakistan.
Strength: Assessed in the low hundreds.
Location: LJ is active primarily in Punjab, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Karachi, and Baluchistan.
Aliases: Ellalan Force; Tamil Tigers
Description: Founded in 1976 and designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) became a powerful Tamil secessionist group in Sri Lanka.
Activities: Though the LTTE has been largely inactive since its military defeat in Sri Lanka in 2009, in the past the LTTE was responsible for an integrated battlefield insurgent strategy that targeted key installations and senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders.
Strength: Exact strength is unknown.
Location: Sri Lanka and India
Aliases: LIFG
Description: The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 17, 2004. In the early 1990s, LIFG emerged from the group of Libyans who had fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan and pledged to overthrow Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi. In the years following, some members maintained an anti-Qadhafi focus and targeted Libyan government interests.
Activities: LIFG has been largely inactive operationally in Libya since the late 1990s when members fled predominately to Europe and the Middle East because of tightened Libyan security measures. In early 2011, in the wake of the Libyan revolution and the fall of Qadhafi, LIFG members created the LIFG successor group, the Libyan Islamic Movement for Change (LIMC), and became one of many rebel groups united under the umbrella of the opposition leadership known as the Transitional National Council.
Strength: Unknown
Location: Since the late 1990s, many members have fled to southwest Asia, and European countries, particularly the UK.
Aliases: Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain; GICM
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 11, 2005, the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) is a transnational terrorist group centered in the Moroccan diaspora communities of Western Europe. Its goals include establishing an Islamic state in Morocco.
Activities: GICM members were believed to be among those responsible for the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 people. GICM members were also implicated in the recruitment network for Iraq, and at least one GICM member carried out a suicide attack against Coalition Forces in Iraq.
Strength: Much of GICM’s leadership in Morocco and Europe has been killed, imprisoned, or is awaiting trial.
Location: Morocco, Western Europe, and Afghanistan.
Aliases: ELN; Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional
Description: The National Liberation Army (ELN) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The ELN is a Colombian Marxist-Leninist group formed in 1964. It is primarily rural-based, though it also has several urban units.
Activities: The ELN engages in kidnappings, hijackings, bombings, drug trafficking, and extortion activities. The group also uses intimidation of judges, prosecutors and witnesses and has been involved in the murder of teachers and trade unionists.
Strength: Approximately 2,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of active supporters.
Location: Mostly in the rural and mountainous areas of northern, northeastern, and southwestern Colombia, as well as the border regions with Venezuela.
Aliases: PIJ; Palestine Islamic Jihad; PIJ-Shaqaqi Faction; PIJ-Shallah Faction; Islamic Jihad of Palestine; Islamic Jihad in Palestine; Abu Ghunaym Squad of the Hizballah Bayt al-Maqdis; Al-Quds Squads; Al-Quds Brigades; Saraya al-Quds; Al-Awdah Brigades
Description: Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Formed by militant Palestinians in Gaza during the 1970s, PIJ is committed to both the destruction of Israel through attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets and the creation of an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine, including present day Israel.
Activities: PIJ terrorists have conducted numerous attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings against Israeli civilian and military targets.
Strength: PIJ has fewer than 1,000 members.
Location: Primarily Gaza with minimal operational presence in the West Bank and Israel. The group’s senior leadership resides in Syria.
Aliases: PLF; PLF-Abu Abbas; Palestine Liberation Front
Description: The Palestinian Liberation Front – Abu Abbas Faction (PLF) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. In the late 1970s, the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) splintered from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), and then later split into pro-PLO, pro-Syrian, and pro-Libyan factions.
Activities: Abbas’s group was responsible for the 1985 attack on the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer.
Strength: Estimates have placed membership between 50 and 500.
Location: PLF leadership and membership are based in Lebanon and the West Bank and Gaza.
Aliases: PFLP; Halhul Gang; Halhul Squad; Palestinian Popular Resistance Forces; PPRF; Red Eagle Gang; Red Eagle Group; Red Eagles; Martyr Abu-Ali Mustafa Battalion
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist-Leninist group founded by George Habash, broke away from the Arab Nationalist Movement in 1967.
Activities: The PFLP stepped up its operational activity during the Second Intifada. This was highlighted by at least two suicide bombings since 2003, multiple joint operations with other Palestinian terrorist groups, and the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001, to avenge Israel’s killing of the PFLP Secretary General earlier that year.
Strength: Unknown
Location: Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Aliases: PFLP-GC
Description: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The PFLP-GC split from the PFLP in 1968, claiming it wanted to focus more on resistance and less on politics.
Activities: The PFLP-GC carried out dozens of attacks in Europe and the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s. The organization was known for cross-border terrorist attacks into Israel using unusual means, such as hot-air balloons and motorized hang gliders.
Strength: Several hundred.
Location: Political leadership was headquartered in Damascus, with bases in southern Lebanon and a presence in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria. The group also maintained a small presence in Gaza.
Aliases: al Qaeda; Qaidat al-Jihad (The Base for Jihad); formerly Qaidat Ansar Allah (The Base of the Supporters of God); the Islamic Army; Islamic Salvation Foundation; The Base; The Group for the Preservation of the Holy Sites; The Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places; the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders; the Usama Bin Laden Network; the Usama Bin Laden Organization; al-Jihad; the Jihad Group; Egyptian al-Jihad; Egyptian Islamic Jihad; New Jihad
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1999, al-Qa’ida (AQ) was established by Usama bin Laden in 1988.
Activities: In October 2000, AQ conducted a suicide attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen, with an explosive-laden boat, killing 17 U.S. Navy sailors and injuring 39. On September 11, 2001, 19 AQ members hijacked and crashed four U.S. commercial jets – two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon near Washington, DC; and the last into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania – leaving over 3,000 individuals dead or missing.
Strength: In South Asia, AQ’s core has been seriously degraded. The death or arrest of dozens of mid- and senior-level AQ operatives – including bin Laden in May 2011 – have disrupted communication, financial, facilitation nodes, and a number of terrorist plots. AQ serves as a focal point of “inspiration” for a worldwide network of affiliated groups.
Location: AQ was based in Afghanistan until Coalition Forces removed the Taliban from power in late 2001. Since then, they have resided in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Aliases: al-Qa’ida in the South Arabian Peninsula; al-Qaida in Yemen; al-Qaida of Jihad Organization in the Arabian Peninsula; al-Qaida Organization in the Arabian Peninsula; Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Jazirat al-Arab; AQAP; AQY; Ansar al-Shari’a
Description: Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on January 19, 2010. AQAP’s self-stated goals include establishing a caliphate in the Arabian Peninsula and the wider Middle East, as well as implementing Sharia law.
Activities: AQAP has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts against both internal and foreign targets since its inception in January 2009.
Strength: Although it is difficult to assess the number of AQAP’s members, the group is estimated to have close to one thousand members.
Location: Yemen
Aliases: al-Qaida Group of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qaida Group of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qaida in Mesopotamia; al-Qaida in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qaida of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qaida of Jihad Organization in the Land of The Two Rivers; al-Qaida of the Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Tawhid; Jam'at al-Tawhid Wa’al-Jihad; Tanzeem Qaidat al Jihad/Bilad al Raafidaini; Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn; The Monotheism and Jihad Group; The Organization Base of Jihad/Country of the Two Rivers; The Organization Base of Jihad/Mesopotamia; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base of Operations in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad’s Base of Operations in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of Jihad’s Base in the Country of the Two Rivers; al-Zarqawi Network; Islamic State of Iraq; al-Nusrah Front; Jabhat al-Nusrah; Jabhet al-Nusrah; The Victory Front; al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant
Description: Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 17, 2004. In the 1990s, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born militant, organized a terrorist group called al-Tawhid wal-Jihad to oppose the presence of U.S. and Western military forces in the Islamic world and the West's support for and the existence of Israel.
Activities: Since its founding, AQI has conducted high profile attacks, including improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against U.S. military personnel and Iraqi infrastructure; videotaped beheadings of Americans Nicholas Berg (May 11, 2004), Jack Armstrong (September 22, 2004), and Jack Hensley (September 21, 2004).
Strength: In Iraq, membership is estimated between 1,000 and 2,000, making it the largest Sunni extremist group in Iraq. Membership in Syria is unknown, though it is likely a small force within the larger Syrian armed opposition.
Location: AQI’s operations are predominately Iraq-based, but it has perpetrated attacks in Jordan. In Syria, al-Nusrah Front has claimed attacks in several major city centers. The group maintains a logistical network throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Iran, South Asia, and Europe.
Aliases: AQIM; Group for Call and Combat; GSPC; Le Groupe Salafiste Pour La Predication Et Le Combat; Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat
Description: The Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 27, 2002. AQIM remains largely a regionally-focused terrorist group. It has adopted a more anti-Western rhetoric and ideology and has aspirations of overthrowing “apostate” African regimes and creating an Islamic Caliphate.
Activities: Since 2007, when AQIM bombed the UN headquarters building in Algiers and an Algerian government building outside of Algiers killing 60 people, AQIM had been relatively quiet and focused on its kidnapping for ransom efforts. Some militants with ties to AQIM were involved in the September 11 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi that killed J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and three staff members.
Strength: AQIM has under a thousand fighters operating in Algeria with a smaller number in the Sahel. It is attempting to take advantage of the volatile political situation in the Sahel, especially in Mali, to expand its membership, resources, and operations.
Location: Northeastern Algeria (including but not limited to the Kabylie region) and northern Mali, Niger, and Mauritania.
Aliases: RIRA; Real Irish Republican Army; 32 County Sovereignty Committee; 32 County Sovereignty Movement; Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association; Real Oglaigh Na hEireann
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 16, 2001, the Real IRA (RIRA) was formed in 1997 as the clandestine armed wing of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, a “political pressure group” dedicated to removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland.
Activities: Many RIRA members are former Provisional Irish Republican Army members who left the organization after that group renewed its cease-fire in 1997.
Strength: According to the Irish government, the RIRA has approximately 100 active members.
Location: Northern Ireland, Great Britain, and the Irish Republic.
Aliases: FARC; Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is Latin America’s oldest, largest, most violent, and best-equipped terrorist organization.
Activities: The FARC has carried out bombings, murders, mortar attacks, sniper attacks, kidnapping, extortion, and hijacking, as well as guerrilla and conventional military acts against Colombian political, military, civilian, and economic targets.
Strength: Approximately 8,000 to 9,000 combatants, with several thousand more supporters.
Location: Primarily in Colombia. Activities including extortion, kidnapping, weapons sourcing, and logistical planning took place in neighboring countries.
Aliases: Epanastatiki Organosi 17 Noemvri; 17 November
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N) is a radical leftist group established in 1975. Named for the student uprising in Greece in November 1973 that protested the ruling military junta, 17N is opposed to the Greek government, the United States, Turkey, and NATO
Activities: Initial attacks consisted of assassinations of senior U.S. officials and Greek public figures.
Strength: Unknown
Location: Athens, Greece
Aliases: DHKP/C; Dev Sol; Dev Sol Armed Revolutionary Units; Dev Sol Silahli Devrimci Birlikleri; Dev Sol SDB; Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi; Devrimci Sol; Revolutionary Left
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) was originally formed in 1978 as Devrimci Sol, or Dev Sol, a splinter faction of Dev Genc (Revolutionary Youth).
Activities: Since the late 1980s, the group has primarily targeted current and retired Turkish security and military officials, though it has conducted attacks against foreign interests, including U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities, since 1990.
Strength: Probably several dozen members inside Turkey, with a limited support network throughout Europe.
Location: Turkey, primarily in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Adana. Many members also live and plan operations in European countries.
Aliases: RS; Epanastatikos Aghonas; EA
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 18, 2009, Revolutionary Struggle (RS) is a radical leftist group with Marxist ideology that has conducted attacks against both Greek and U.S. targets in Greece.
Activities: RS first gained notoriety when it claimed responsibility for the September 5, 2003 bombings at the Athens Courthouse during the trials of 17 November members.
Strength: Unknown but numbers presumed to be low.
Location: Athens, Greece
Aliases: The Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin; al-Shabab; Shabaab; the Youth; Mujahidin al-Shabaab Movement; Mujahideen Youth Movement; Mujahidin Youth Movement
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 18, 2008, al-Shabaab was the militant wing of the former Somali Islamic Courts Council that took over parts of southern Somalia in the second half of 2006.
Activities: Al-Shabaab has used intimidation and violence to undermine the TFG and now the Government of Somalia, forcibly recruit new fighters, and kill activists working to bring about peace through political dialogue and reconciliation. In its first attack outside of Somalia, al-Shabaab was responsible for the July 11, 2010 suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda.
Strength: Al-Shabaab is estimated to have several thousand members, including foreign fighters, a force that is augmented by allied clan militias in some areas.
Location: Al-Shabaab lost full control of significant areas of territory in 2011 and 2012. Despite these losses, al-Shabaab continued to control large sections of rural areas in the middle and lower Jubba regions, as well as Bay and Bakol regions, and augmented its presence in northern Somalia along the Golis Mountains and within Puntland’s larger urban areas.
Aliases: SL; Sendero Luminoso; Ejercito Guerrillero Popular (People’s Guerrilla Army); EGP; Ejercito Popular de Liberacion (People’s Liberation Army); EPL; Partido Comunista del Peru (Communist Party of Peru); PCP; Partido Comunista del Peru en el Sendero Luminoso de Jose Carlos Mariategui (Communist Party of Peru on the Shining Path of Jose Carlos Mariategui); Socorro Popular del Peru (People’s Aid of Peru); SPP
Description: Shining Path (SL) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Former university professor Abimael Guzman formed SL in Peru in the late 1960s, and his teachings created the foundation of SL’s militant Maoist doctrine.
Activities: SL carried out 87 known attacks in 2012, killing one civilian and 18 members of the security forces.
Strength: The two SL factions together are believed to have several hundred armed members.
Location: Peru, with most activity in rural areas, specifically the Huallaga Valley and the Apurimac, Ene, and Montaro River Valley of central Peru.
Aliases: Pakistani Taliban; Tehreek-e-Taliban; Tehrik-e-Taliban; Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan; Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan; TTP
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 1, 2010, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a Pakistan-based terrorist organization formed in 2007 in opposition to Pakistani military efforts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Activities: TTP has carried out and claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts against Pakistani and U.S. interests, including a December 2009 suicide attack on a U.S. military base in Khowst, Afghanistan, which killed seven U.S. citizens, and an April 2010 suicide bombing against the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, which killed six Pakistani citizens.
Strength: Several thousand.
Location: Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan
Aliases: AUC; Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 10, 2001, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) – commonly referred to as the paramilitaries – was formed in April 1997. AUC was designed to serve as an umbrella group for loosely affiliated, illegal paramilitary groups retaliating against leftist guerillas
Activities: The AUC has carried out political killings and kidnappings of human rights workers, journalists, teachers, and trade unionists, among others.
Strength: Unknown
Location: Strongest in Northwest Colombia, with affiliate groups in Valle del Cauca, on the west coast, and Meta Department, in Central Columbia.

According to the Rand Corporation, since September 11, 2001, so-called "homegrown terrorists," working alone or with others, have planned and in some cases implemented terrorist activities, contributed financial or other material support to others' terrorist activities, or become radicalized in the United States and then traveled to other countries to conduct terrorist activities directed against those countries or against the United States.

Most of the individuals involved are Muslim, but the numbers are small. A total of 176 Americans have been indicted, arrested, or otherwise identified as jihadist terrorists or supporters since 9/11. They were involved in 82 cases, a majority of which involve the actions of a single individual.

Al Qaida has increasingly used the Internet to build an army of followers. Many of the terrorists began their journey online. However, al Qaida has not yet managed to inspire its online followers to action. Few of the 32 locally hatched jihadist plots to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11 got much beyond the discussion stage. Nevertheless, al Qaeda remains a threat.

ISIS may pose even more of a threat. According to CNN about 100 Americans have joined ISIS. Their return to the homeland must be prevented. But some may already be here.

As the United States begins what could be a lengthy military campaign against the Islamic State, intelligence and law enforcement officials said another Syrian group, led by a shadowy figure who was once among Osama bin Laden’s inner circle, posed a more direct threat to America and Europe. It’s a group called Khorasan, about which little is known.

U.S. officials have said Khorasan is intent on hitting the U.S. or its installations overseas. Khorasan is led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a senior Qaida operative who, according to the State Department, was so close to Bin Laden that he was among a small group of people who knew about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks before they were launched.

There is almost no public information about the Khorasan group, which was described by several intelligence, law enforcement and military officials as being made up of Qaida operatives from across the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.

America must remain vigilant.

Does the U.S. have a strategy to combat terrorism, both at home and abroad? America is at war with a transnational terrorist movement fueled by a radical ideology of hatred, oppression, and murder. Protecting and defending the Homeland, the American people, and their livelihoods remains the government’s first and most solemn obligation.

A September 2011 survey by the New America Foundation and Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Public Policy examined 114 cases of non-jihadist terrorist acts in the 10 years following 9/11. In comparison, they found 188 cases of Islamist terrorism in the U.S. for the same period. Some of the cases examined involved plots that were foiled and unsuccessful.

Examples of domestic terror cases since 9/11 include a 2001 plot by Earl Krugel, a member of the Jewish Defense League, to blow up the office of Arab-American congressman Darrell Issa and the King Fahd mosque in Culver City, California and the February 2010 suicide attack by Andrew Joseph Stack III, where he flew his airplane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas killing one other person and injuring many more.

As for foreign terrorism, besides the coalition to fight ISIS, the U.S. has for years been cutting off funding of these groups, if they can. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States has acted to block funding of terrorists and their supporters, and to promote international cooperation against them. On September 23, 2001, the President signed E.O. 13224, giving the United States a powerful tool to impede terrorist funding. This Executive Order (EO) provides a means to disrupt the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organizations by authorizing the USG to designate and block the assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.

The EO also prohibits transactions between U.S. persons and designated individuals and entities. In addition, because of the pervasiveness of the financial base of foreign terrorists, the order authorizes the USG to block the assets of individuals and entities that provide support, offer assistance to, or otherwise associate with designated terrorists and terrorist organizations. The order also covers their subsidiaries, front organizations, agents, and associates.

The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, also has the authority to designate groups as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. These designations play a critical role in U.S. counterterrorism efforts and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business. As a consequence of such a designation, it is unlawful for U.S. citizens or any persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to provide material support or resources to a designated FTO. U.S. financial institutions are also required to freeze the funds of designated FTOs.