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

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Acts of international terrorism in 51 countries in 1995 continued to threaten civil society and peacemaking, including the Israeli- Palestinian peace process, while international cooperation to combat terrorism intensified. Terrorists failed to achieve ultimate political goals, as in the past, but they continued to cause major political, psychological, and economic damage.

Lethal acts of international terrorism and the number of deaths declined in 1995, but a gas attack in Japan raised the spectre of mass casualties by chemical terrorism. Except for Iran, which actively continued to support terrorism in 1995, international pressure and sanctions largely contained terrorism by other state sponsors such as Libya and Iraq. Furthermore, individual and group-sponsored terrorist acts overshadowed state-sponsored terrorism. Many of these terrorists - some loosely organized and some representing groups - claimed to act for Islam and operated, increasingly, on a global scale. These transnational terrorists benefit from modern communications and transportation, have global sources of funding, are knowledgeable about modern explosives and weapons, and are more difficult to track and apprehend than members of the old established groups or those sponsored by states. Many of these transnational terrorists were trained in militant camps in Afghanistan or are veterans of the Afghan war. In 1995 a conspiracy discovered in the Philippines to bomb US airliners over the Pacific and led by the suspected mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, exemplified this kind of transnational terrorism.

Terrorism by extremist individuals or groups claiming to act for religious motives continued to dominate international terrorism in 1995. In Israel new suicide bombings by radical Islamic Palestinians and the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin by a Jewish Israeli extremist continued previous efforts by terrorists to derail the peace process. Islamic extremists also waged a series of terrorist acts in Egypt, France, Algeria, and Pakistan.

Ethnic-based terrorism also continued in 1995. The Kurdish group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), pressed its terrorist campaign in Turkey and Western Europe. Terrorist attacks or threats erupted in the Caucasus, and Tamil separatists used terrorism to advance their cause in Sri Lanka.

One of the most chilling terrorist acts of the year was the gas attack on the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult, indicating that terrorism involving materials of mass destruction is now a reality.

Hostage taking continued to be a major form of terrorist activity, especially in countries like Colombia, where terrorists often have been able to extort ransom payments.

This report describes attacks of international terrorism by country and region and patterns that can be derived from these attacks. It comments on, but does not provide details on, domestic terrorism and other forms of political violence. These are more widespread phenomena than international terrorism, which involve citizens or property of more than one country.

The United States believes that implementing a strict counterterrorist policy is the best way to reduce the global terrorist threat. US policy follows three general rules:

  • First, make no deals with terrorists or submit to blackmail. We have found over the years that this policy works.
  • Second, treat terrorists as criminals, pursue them aggressively, and apply the rule of law.
  • Third, bring maximum pressure on states that sponsor and support terrorists by imposing economic, diplomatic, and political sanctions and by urging other states to do likewise.
Nations around the world are working together increasingly to fight terrorism through law enforcement cooperation. Several governments turned over major terrorists to US authorities for prosecution in 1995, including the reputed mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef. Some of Yousef's suspected gang members also were apprehended by other governments and extradited or rendered to US authorities.

Another major victory for the rule of law occurred in October, when a US court convicted Umar Abd al-Rahman and nine codefendants of conspiring to wage a war of urban terrorism against the United States.

Several multilateral conferences on counterterrorism in 1995 were a sign of recognition that international cooperation against terrorists is critical. Argentina, for example, convened a regional ministerial meeting on counterterrorism in August in the wake of two major car bombings in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994. Senior officials from Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, the United States, and the host nation discussed practical measures against the threat posed in the region.

The Group of Seven plus Russia also held an unprecedented counterterrorist conference at the ministerial level in Ottawa in December, responding to a mandate from the heads of state at the Halifax Summit in June. In their Declaration, the ministers of the G-7 and Russia pledged to take action in the following areas:

  • Strengthening the sharing of intelligence on terrorism.
  • Pursuing measures to prevent the terrorist use of nuclear, chemical, and biological materials.
  • Inhibiting the movement of terrorists.
  • Enhancing measures to prevent the falsification of documents.
  • Depriving terrorists of funds.
  • Increasing mutual legal assistance.
  • Strengthening protection of aviation, maritime, and other transportation systems against terrorism.
  • Working toward universal adherence to international treaties and conventions on terrorism by the year 2000.
The United States, for its part, has made progress in many of these areas. For example, the Clinton administration has sought to increase the use of extradition as a counterterrorist tool. We are engaged in an active program of negotiating new and updated extradition treaties with nations around the world. At year's end, five new extradition treaties were pending before the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, and nearly 20 others were at various stages of negotiation.

In addition, President Clinton signed an Executive Order in January 1995 blocking the assets in the United States of terrorists and terrorist groups who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process and prohibiting financial transactions with these groups.

President Clinton and Secretary Christopher stressed the high priority of counterterrorist efforts in their addresses to the 50th United Nations General Assembly in October. In his UNGA speech, President Clinton challenged all the world's governments to negotiate and sign an international declaration on citizen security, including a call for enhanced cooperation on counterterrorism.

Last year, at the dedication of a memorial in Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate those killed in 1988 in the Pan Am 103 bombing, President Clinton said: "Today, America is more determined than ever to stand against terrorism, to fight it, to bring terrorists to answer for their crimes." More and more nations are demonstrating that same determination as the international battle against terrorism gets stronger each year.

Legislative Requirements

This report is submitted in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(a), which requires the Department of State to provide Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of Section (a)(1) and (2) of the Act. As required by legislation, the report includes detailed assessments of foreign countries where significant terrorist acts occurred and countries about which Congress was notified during the preceding five years pursuant to Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (the so-called terrorism list countries that have repeatedly provided state support for international terrorism). In addition, the report includes all relevant information about the previous year's activities of individuals, terrorist organizations, or umbrella groups known to be responsible for the kidnapping or death of any US citizen during the preceding five years and groups known to be financed by state sponsors of terrorism.


No one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. For the purposes of this report, however, we have chosen the definition of terrorism contained in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d). That statute contains the following definitions:
  • The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant(1) targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
  • The term "international terrorism" means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country.
  • The term "terrorist group" means any group practicing, or that has significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism.
The US Government has employed this definition of terrorism for statistical and analytical purposes since 1983. Domestic terrorism is probably a more widespread phenomenon than international terrorism. Because international terrorism has a direct impact on US interests, it is the primary focus of this report. However, the report also describes, but does not provide statistics on, significant developments in domestic terrorism.


Adverse mention in this report of individual members of any political, social, ethnic, religious, or national group is not meant to imply that all members of that group are terrorists. Indeed, terrorists represent a small minority of dedicated, often fanatical, individuals in most such groups. It is those small groups - and their actions - that are the subject of this report.

Furthermore, terrorist acts are part of a larger phenomenon of politically inspired violence, and at times the line between the two can become difficult to draw. To relate terrorist events to the larger context, and to give a feel for the conflicts that spawn violence, this report will discuss terrorist acts as well as other violent incidents that are not necessarily international terrorism.

Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox, Jr.
Coordinator for Counterterrorism

(1) For purposes of this definition, the term "noncombatant" is interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who at the time of the incident are unarmed and/or not on duty. For example, in past reports we have listed as terrorist incidents the murders of the following US military personnel: Col. James Rowe, killed in Manila in April 1989; Capt. William Nordeen, US defense attache killed in Athens in June 1988; the two servicemen killed in the La Belle disco bombing in West Berlin in April 1986; and the four off-duty US Embassy Marine guards killed in a cafe in El Salvador in June 1985. We also consider as acts of terrorism attacks on military installations or on armed military personnel when a state of military hostilities does not exist at the site, such as bombings against US bases in Europe, the Philippines, or elsewhere.

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