U.S. Country Reports on Terrorism 2013:Turkey.


The nonprofit sector not audited on a regular basis for counterterrorist finance vulnerabilities and not receive adequate anti-money laundering outreach or guidance from the Turkish government.

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Overview: Turkey is a long-standing counterterrorism partner of the United States. It co-chairs the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) with the United States. It received U.S. assistance to address the terrorist threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2013, although ongoing peace talks mitigated violence between the PKK and Turkish government forces in 2013. Largely because of the ongoing conflict in Syria, Turkey has voiced increasing concern about terrorist groups currently near its border. These groups include al-Qa’ida in Iraq/Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and al-Nusrah Front. Turkey was often used as a transit country for foreign fighters wishing to join these and other groups in Syria.

In 2013, Turkey continued to face significant internal terrorist threats and has taken strong action in response. Increased activity by the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a terrorist Marxist-Leninist group with anti-U.S. and anti-NATO views that seeks the violent overthrow of the Turkish state, threatened the security of both U.S. and Turkish interests. A number of attacks occurred, including a suicide bombing of the U.S. Embassy in February that killed the bomber and a Turkish guard, while injuring a visiting Turkish journalist.

Also prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey is the PKK. Following three decades of conflict with the PKK terrorist organization, in late 2012 the government and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan began talks for a peace process. In January and February, 28 PKK members were killed in clashes with the military, according to the Human Rights Association (HRA), but there were no conflict-related deaths after February. The PKK called for a ceasefire in March, which both sides largely observed, apart from small-scale PKK attacks in late 2013.

Another terrorist group in Turkey is Turkish Hizballah (unrelated to the similarly-named Hizballah that operates in Lebanon). The Government of Turkey also considers the Turkish Workers’ and Peasants’ Liberation Army (TKP-ML-TIKKO), although largely inactive, to be a threat.

Another Syria-based group, Mukaveme Suriyyi (Syrian Resistance), under the leadership of Mihrac Ural (formerly head of the Turkish Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front – DHKP/C), is believed by Turkish authorities to be behind the two largest terrorist attacks of 2013 in Turkey.

2013 Terrorist Incidents: Of the approximately 20 terrorist attacks that occurred in Turkey in 2013, the following five garnered particular attention and condemnation:
· On February 1, a DHKP/C operative exploded a suicide vest inside the employee entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. Aside from him, the explosion killed a Turkish guard and injured a visiting Turkish journalist.
· On February 11, a car bomb exploded at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Turkey and Syria, killing 13 people, including three Turkish citizens. At least 28 others were injured in the blast, which occurred after a Syrian-registered minivan was detonated close to a customs building on the Turkish side of the border. Mihrac Ural, an Alawite Turk from Hatay Province who has been an important pro-Damascus militia figure in the conflict in Syria, was widely blamed for the bombing.
· On March 19, three members of the DHKP/C coordinated hand grenade attacks on the Ministry of Justice and used a light anti-tank weapon (LAW) on the headquarters of the ruling party. There were no casualties.
· On May 11, Turkey suffered the deadliest terrorist attack in its modern history when 52 people were killed in twin car bombings in Reyhanli, a town in Hatay Province close to the Syrian border. Turkish authorities strongly believe that Mihrac Ural was behind the bombings.
· On September 20, two members of the DHKP/C attacked Turkish National Police (TNP) headquarters and a police guesthouse with LAWs. There were no casualties at the scene, but one of the attackers was killed while attempting to flee. The other attacker was wounded and arrested.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Counterterrorism law enforcement efforts in Turkey remained focused on the domestic threat posed by several terrorist groups, including the PKK. Turkey’s methodology and legislation are geared towards confronting this internal threat. Efforts to counter international terrorism are hampered by legislation that defines terrorism narrowly as a crime targeting the Turkish state or Turkish citizens. This definition of terrorism can be an impediment to operational and legal cooperation against global terrorist networks.
On April 11, Turkey’s Parliament approved amendments to the country’s counterterrorism legislation to bring the legislation more in line with EU freedom of expression standards. With these amendments, Turkey narrowed its definition of terrorism propaganda. Amendments to Article 6 outline punishment for people who propagate or publish declarations of an illegal organization only if the content legitimizes or encourages acts of violence, threats, or force. The amendments also clarify that publishers of such declarations are not automatically deemed members of the illegal organization making the declaration. Despite this improvement, Turkey continued to detain and prosecute thousands of politicians, reporters, and activists through its broad-reaching and broadly applied counterterrorism legislation.

The Government of Turkey compiles a “travel ban list” with a view to prevent travel into Turkey by individuals identified by foreign governments and internal security units. Although the Turkish government does not have an automated Advanced Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) system, it has approached the Department of Homeland Security for technical assistance in developing an improved and automated system.

In 2013, the TNP conducted numerous investigations in which several cells of AQ-inspired individuals were arrested and detained. Likewise, there were large-scale investigations and detention of over 200 individuals thought to be associated with the DHKP/C.

In the aftermath of the 2011 TNP arrest of 15 people involved in an AQ cell who were likely targeting the U.S. Embassy in Ankara among other locations, U.S. Embassy officials have been denied any additional information regarding the conduct of the case. Similarly, although Turkish security forces provided a rapid and thorough response to the February 1 suicide bombing of the U.S. Embassy, U.S. investigators received limited access to evidence gathered at the crime scene.

Criminal procedure secrecy rules prevent TNP authorities from sharing investigative information once a prosecutor is assigned to the case, which occurs almost immediately. Article 157 of the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) states: “Unless provided otherwise by the code and under the requirement to not harm the defense rights, procedural interactions during the investigation phase shall be kept a secret.” This language has been interpreted by Turkish prosecutors and police to require an investigation to remain secret once a prosecutor becomes involved in a criminal case. After the investigation, the evidence and files are transferred from the prosecutor to the court where they are also sealed. Only parties to a case may access court-held evidence. This legal interpretation has resulted in limited information sharing on criminal cases between U.S. and Turkish law enforcement officials.

The Department of State continued to provide counterterrorism assistance to the Turkish national police through the Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA assistance focused on institutionalizing advanced skills into Turkey’s law enforcement infrastructure, and included training in terrorist interdiction and crisis management. In addition, due to Turkish law enforcement’s considerable advancement in counterterrorism techniques, the ATA program provided training in instructor development to build police officers’ capacity to train their fellow officers in antiterrorism skills and methods.

The TNP has highly developed counterterrorism capabilities in a number of areas and is planning to expand its law enforcement training for other countries in the region.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Turkey is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and an observer of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, a FATF-style regional group. The Turkish Parliament passed countering terrorist finance (CFT) legislation in February and its implementing regulation came into force in May.

In October, FATF cited improvements in Turkey’s CFT regime but called for Turkey to take further steps to implement an adequate legal framework for identifying and freezing terrorist assets under UNSCRs 1267 (1999) and 1373 (2001) and ensure that terrorist financing has been adequately criminalized. The FATF encouraged Turkey to address the remaining strategic deficiencies and continue the process of implementing its action plan.

The nonprofit sector is not audited on a regular basis for counterterrorist finance vulnerabilities and does not receive adequate anti-money laundering/CFT outreach or guidance from the Turkish government. The General Director of Foundations issues licenses for charitable foundations and oversees them, but there are a limited number of auditors to cover the more than 70,000 institutions. It is likely that bulk cash is being smuggled across its borders helping to fund violent extremists in neighboring countries.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm

Regional and International Cooperation: Turkey is a founding member of the GCTF and is co-chair along with the United States. Foreign Minister Davutoglu co-chaired the fourth GCTF Ministerial in New York City in September. As co-chair, Turkey provided extensive secretariat support. Turkey also participated actively in the OSCE expert meetings on the Prevention of Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism organized by the OSCE/Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE Secretariat. Turkey is an active member of the UN, NATO, and the Council of Europe’s (COE) Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER).

Turkey increased its cooperation with European countries regarding the status of members of the DHKP/C. It also worked closely with European, North African, and Middle East countries to interdict the travel of potential foreign fighters planning to travel through Turkey to Syria, although it remains a transit route for foreign fighters.

In 2011, the TNP created a multilateral training organization, the International Association of Police Academies, to increase sharing of policing research and best practices in the field of police education. The TNP offered 18 counterterrorism-related training programs in 2013 at its Antiterrorism Academy that are designed primarily for law enforcement officers from Central Asian countries.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Government of Turkey has two significant programs to counter radicalization to violence and violent extremism. The first, administered by the TNP, is a broad-based outreach program to affected communities, similar to anti-gang activities in the United States. Police work to reach vulnerable populations (before terrorists do) to alter the prevailing group dynamics and to prevent recruitment. Police use social science research to undertake social projects, activities with parents, and in-service training for officers and teachers. Programs prepare trainers, psychologists, coaches, and religious leaders to intervene to undermine violent extremist messages and to prevent recruitment.

The second program, administered by the Turkish government’s Religious Affairs Office (Diyanet), works to undercut violent extremist messaging. In Turkey, all Sunni imams are employees of the Diyanet. In support of its message of traditional religious values, more than 66,000 Diyanet imams throughout Turkey conducted individualized outreach to their congregations. The Diyanet similarly worked with religious associations among the Turkish diaspora, assisting them to establish umbrella organizations and providing them access to instruction. The Diyanet supported in-service training for religious leaders and lay-workers via a network of 19 centers throughout Turkey.

General view:

Al-Qa’ida (AQ) and its affiliates and adherents worldwide continue to present a serious threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests. While the international community has severely degraded AQ’s core leadership, the terrorist threat has evolved. Leadership losses in Pakistan, coupled with weak governance and instability in the Middle East and Northwest Africa, have accelerated the decentralization of the movement and led to the affiliates in the AQ network becoming more operationally autonomous from core AQ and increasingly focused on local and regional objectives. The past several years have seen the emergence of a more aggressive set of AQ affiliates and like-minded groups, most notably in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Northwest Africa, and Somalia.

AQ leadership experienced difficulty in maintaining cohesion within the AQ network and in communicating guidance to its affiliated groups. AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was rebuffed in his attempts to mediate a dispute among AQ affiliates operating in Syria – al-Nusrah Front and al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), now calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – which resulted in the expulsion of ISIL from the AQ network in February 2014. In addition, guidance issued by Zawahiri in 2013 for AQ affiliates to avoid collateral damage was routinely disobeyed, notably in attacks by AQ affiliates against civilian religious pilgrims in Iraq, hospital staff and convalescing patients in Yemen, and families at a shopping mall in Kenya.

Terrorist violence in 2013 was fueled by sectarian motivations, marking a worrisome trend, in particular in Syria, Lebanon, and Pakistan, where victims of violence were primarily among the civilian populations. Thousands of extremist fighters entered Syria during the year, among those a large percentage reportedly motivated by a sectarian view of the conflict and a desire to protect the Sunni Muslim community from the Alawite-dominant Asad regime. On the other side of the conflict, Iran, Hizballah, and other Shia militia continued to provide critical support to the Asad regime, dramatically bolstering its capabilities and exacerbating the situation. Many of these fighters are also motivated by a sectarian view of the conflict and a desire to protect the Shia Muslim community from Sunni extremists.

The relationship between the AQ core and its affiliates plays out in the financial arena as well. As was the case for the last few years, the affiliates have increased their financial independence through kidnapping for ransom operations and other criminal activities such as extortion and credit card fraud. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are particularly effective with kidnapping for ransom and are using ransom money to fund the range of their activities. Kidnapping targets are usually Western citizens from governments or third parties that have established a pattern of paying ransom for the release of individuals in custody.

Private donations from the Gulf also remained a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly for those operating in Syria.

In 2013, violent extremists increased their use of new media platforms and social media, with mixed results. Social media platforms allowed violent extremist groups to circulate messages more quickly, but confusion and contradictions among the various voices within the movement are growing more common. Increasingly, current and former violent extremists are engaging online with a variety of views on tactics and strategy, including admitting wrongdoing or recanting former beliefs and actions.

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Key Terrorism Trends in 2013

–The terrorist threat continued to evolve rapidly in 2013, with an increasing number of groups around the world – including both AQ affiliates and other terrorist organizations – posing a threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests.

–As a result of both ongoing worldwide efforts against the organization and senior leadership losses, AQ core’s leadership has been degraded, limiting its ability to conduct attacks and direct its followers. Subsequently, 2013 saw the rise of increasingly aggressive and autonomous AQ affiliates and like-minded groups in the Middle East and Africa who took advantage of the weak governance and instability in the region to broaden and deepen their operations.

–AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri experienced difficulty in maintaining influence throughout the AQ organization and was rebuffed in his attempts to mediate a dispute among AQ affiliates operating in Syria, with ISIL publicly dissociating its group from AQ. Guidance issued by Zawahiri in 2013 for AQ affiliates to avoid collateral damage was routinely disobeyed, notably in increasingly violent attacks by these affiliates against civilian populations.

–Syria continued to be a major battleground for terrorism on both sides of the conflict and remains a key area of longer-term concern. Thousands of foreign fighters traveled to Syria to join the fight against the Asad regime – with some joining violent extremist groups – while Iran, Hizballah, and other Shia militias provided a broad range of critical support to the regime. The Syrian conflict also empowered ISIL to expand its cross-border operations in Syria, and dramatically increase attacks against Iraqi civilians and government targets in 2013.

–Terrorist violence in 2013 was increasingly fueled by sectarian motives, marking a worrisome trend, particularly in Syria, but also in Lebanon and Pakistan.

–Terrorist groups engaged in a range of criminal activity to raise needed funds, with kidnapping for ransom remaining the most frequent and profitable source of illicit financing. Private donations from the Gulf also remained a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly for those operating in Syria.

–“Lone offender” violent extremists also continued to pose a serious threat, as illustrated by the April 15, 2013, attacks near the Boston Marathon finish line, which killed three and injured approximately 264 others.

–Many other terrorist groups not tied to AQ were responsible for attacks in 2013, including the People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), which carried out a number of high-profile attacks last year, including a February 1 suicide plot targeting the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

While AQ core leadership in Pakistan is much diminished, Ayman al-Zawahiri remains the recognized ideological leader of a jihadist movement that includes AQ-affiliated and allied groups worldwide. Along with AQ, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and other like-minded groups continue to conduct operations against U.S., Coalition, Afghan, and Pakistani interests from safe havens on both sides of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, and in Pakistan, terrorist groups and AQ allies, such as TTP, have executed armed assaults not only on police stations, judicial centers, border posts, and military convoys, but also on polio vaccination teams and aid workers. Other South Asian terrorist organizations, including Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), cite U.S. interests as legitimate targets for attacks. LeT, the group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, continues to pose a threat to regional stability.

AQAP carried out approximately one hundred attacks throughout Yemen in 2013, including suicide bombings, car bombings, ambushes, kidnappings, and targeted assassinations, regaining the initiative it had lost through 2012 as a result of sustained Yemeni government counterterrorism efforts. Of the AQ affiliates, AQAP continues to pose the most significant threat to the United States and U.S. citizens and interests in Yemen. AQAP has demonstrated a persistent intent to strike the United States, beginning in December 2009 when it attempted to destroy an airliner bound for Detroit, and again the following year with a plot to destroy several U.S.-bound airplanes using bombs timed to detonate in the cargo holds. In 2013, AQAP’s leader, Nasir Wahishi, was designated by AQ leader Zawahiri as his deputy, and the group continued to maintain a focus on Western targets.

Some of the thousands of fighters from around the world who are traveling to Syria to do battle against the Asad regime – particularly from the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia, and Eastern and Western Europe – are joining violent extremist groups, including al-Nusrah Front and ISIL. A number of key partner governments are becoming increasingly concerned that individuals with violent extremist ties and battlefield experience will return to their home countries or elsewhere to commit terrorist acts. The scale of this problem has raised a concern about the creation of a new generation of globally-committed terrorists, similar to what resulted from the influx of violent extremists to Afghanistan in the 1980s.

The violence and disorder in Syria extended to the various violent extremist groups operating amongst the Syrian opposition. In late 2013 and early 2014, violent infighting occurred between al-Nusrah Front and ISIL, resulting in the February death of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s envoy to Syria Abu Khalid

al-Soury, who was a member of Ahrar al Sham. Despite this infighting, ISIL is the strongest it has been since its peak in 2006; it has exploited political grievance among Iraq’s Sunni population, a weak security environment in Iraq, and the conflict in Syria to significantly increase the pace and complexity of its attacks. ISIL continues to routinely and indiscriminately target defenseless innocents, including religious pilgrims, and engages in violent repression of local inhabitants.

In 2013, AQIM remained focused on local and regional attack planning, and concentrates its efforts largely on kidnapping-for-ransom operations. While a successful French and African intervention countered efforts to overrun northern Mali by AQIM and several associate groups, these factions continued to pursue attacks against regional security forces, local government targets, and westerners in northern Mali, Niger, and the broader Sahel region in 2013.

Originally part of AQIM, the al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB), also known as al-Murabitoun, became a separate organization in late 2012 after its leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, announced a split from AQIM. AMB claimed responsibility for the January 2013 attack against the Tiguentourine gas facility near In Amenas, in southeastern Algeria. Over 800 people were taken hostage during the four-day siege, which led to the deaths of 39 civilians, including three U.S. citizens. AMB was also involved in terrorist attacks committed in Niger in May 2013, targeting a Nigerien military base and a French uranium mine.

Groups calling themselves Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia and the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Darnah also operated in the North Africa space. The three share some aspects of AQ ideology, but are not formal affiliates and generally maintain a local focus. In Libya, the terrorist threat to Western and Libyan government interests remains strong, especially in the eastern part of the country. Libya’s porous borders, the weakness of Libya’s nascent security institutions, and large amounts of loose small arms create opportunities for violent extremists. In Tunisia, Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia attempted suicide attacks against two tourist sites in late October 2013 and killed a political oppositionist in July that same year, suggesting the group remains intent on attacking Western and Tunisian interests.

In East Africa, al-Shabaab continued to pose a significant regional threat despite coming under continued pressure by African forces operating under the African Union’s AMISOM command and steady progress in the establishment of Somali government capability. Perhaps because of these positive steps, al-Shabaab targeted its attacks on those participating in the effort to bring stability to Somalia. In September 2013, al-Shabaab struck outside of Somalia (its first external attack was in July 2010 in Kampala, Uganda), attacking the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The assault resulted in the death of at least 65 civilians, including foreign nationals from 13 countries outside of Kenya and six soldiers and police officers; hundreds more were injured. Al-Shabaab’s attacks within Somalia continued in 2013, and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people, including innocent women and children.

Boko Haram (BH) maintained a high operational tempo in 2013 and carried out kidnappings, killings, bombings, and attacks on civilian and military targets in northern Nigeria, resulting in numerous deaths, injuries, and destruction of property in 2013. The number and sophistication of BH’s attacks are concerning, and while the group focuses principally on local Nigerian issues and actors, there continue to be reports that it has financial and training links with other violent extremists in the Sahel region. Boko Haram, along with a splinter group commonly known as Ansaru, has also increasingly crossed Nigerian borders to neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger to evade pressure and conduct operations.

Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Hamas-controlled Gaza continued rocket and mortar attacks into Israeli territory. The number of rocket and mortar launchings on Israel from Gaza and the Sinai was the lowest in 2013 in more than a decade, with 74 launchings compared to 2,557 in 2012. According to Israeli authorities, 36 rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory in 2013, compared to 1,632 in 2012. Of the 74 launchings on southern Israel, 69 were launched from the Gaza and five from the Sinai Peninsula.

Sinai-based groups, such as Ansar-Beit al Maqdis, also continued to pose a serious threat, conducting attacks against both Israeli and Egyptian targets in 2013.

Since 2012, the United States has also seen a resurgence of activity by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and Tehran’s ally Hizballah. On January 23, 2013, the Yemeni Coast Guard interdicted an Iranian dhow carrying weapons and explosives likely destined for Houthi rebels. On February 5, 2013, the Bulgarian government publicly implicated Hizballah in the July 2012 Burgas bombing that killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian citizen, and injured 32 others. On March 21, 2013, a Cyprus court found a Hizballah operative guilty of charges stemming from his surveillance activities of Israeli tourist targets in 2012. On September 18, 2013, Thailand convicted Atris Hussein, a Hizballah operative detained by Thai authorities in January 2012. On December 30, 2013, the Bahraini Coast Guard interdicted a speedboat attempting to smuggle arms and Iranian explosives likely destined for armed Shia opposition groups in Bahrain. During an interrogation, the suspects admitted to receiving paramilitary training in Iran.

On June 22, 2013, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) declared it would treat Hizballah as a terrorist organization. On July 22, 2013, the EU designated the “military wing” of Hizballah as a terrorist organization, sending a strong message to Hizballah that it cannot operate with impunity. Both Hizballah and Iran issued public statements to denounce the EU, demonstrating the impact of the designation. The EU designation will constrain Hizballah’s ability to operate freely in Europe by enabling European law enforcement agencies to crack down on Hizballah’s fundraising, logistical activity, and terrorist plotting on European soil.

Iran remained one of the chief external supporters of the Asad regime in Syria and continued to help ensure the regime’s survival. The IRGC-QF, Hizballah, and Iraqi Shia terrorist groups have all increased the number of their personnel in Syria since the start of the conflict. Iran also continued to send arms to Syria, often through Iraqi airspace, in violation of the UN Security Council prohibition against Iran selling or transferring arms and related materials.

While terrorism by non-state actors related to AQ and state-sponsored terrorism originating in Iran remained the predominant concern of the United States, other forms of terrorism undermined peace and security around the world. In Turkey, the DHKP/C was responsible for a number of high-profile attacks in 2013, including exploding a suicide vest inside the employee entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara on February 1. Anarchists in Greece launched periodic attacks, targeting private businesses, foreign missions, and symbols of the state. In Colombia, there were still hundreds of terrorist incidents around the country. In Northern Ireland, dissident Republican groups continued their campaigns of violence. “Lone offender” violent extremists also remain a concern, as we saw on April 15, 2013, in the United States, when two violent extremists exploded two pressure cooker bombs near the Boston Marathon’s finish line, killing three people and injuring an estimated 264 others.

To meet the challenges described herein, our response to terrorism cannot depend on military or law enforcement alone. We are committed to a whole of government counterterrorism effort that focuses on countering violent extremism; building the capacity of partner nation security forces to address threats within their own borders and participate in regional counterterrorism operations; and strengthening relationships with U.S. partners around the world to make the rule of law a critical part of a broader, more comprehensive counterterrorism enterprise. See Chapter 5, Terrorist Safe Havens (7120 Report) in this report for further information on these initiatives, which also include designating foreign terrorist organizations and individuals, countering violent extremist narratives, strengthening efforts to counter the financing of terrorism, and furthering multilateral initiatives such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum.

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EUROPE OVERVIEW

Terrorist incidents, including deadly attacks, continued to plague Europe in 2013. Some attacks were apparently perpetrated by “lone offender” assailants while others were organized by groups claiming a range of extremist ideological motivations, from nationalism to right-wing and left-wing political theories to various religious beliefs, including violent Islamist extremism. In some cases the boundaries between ideologies were blurred.

A major challenge to Europe was the increasing travel of European citizens – mostly young men – to and from Syria seeking to join forces opposing the Asad regime. Many of them ended up in the ranks of violent extremist groups such as al-Nusrah Front or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). These “foreign fighters” sparked increasing concerns, and actions to address them, by European countries worried about the growing number of their citizens traveling to the battlefield and possibly returning radicalized. European governments, in particular the EU and several member states affected by this phenomenon, took action to assess the problem and to devise an array of responses to discourage their citizens from going to Syria to take part in the conflict. These efforts ranged from new administrative procedures to prevent travel to Syria, to steps to counter recruitment and facilitation efforts, and programs to investigate and/or reintegrate persons returning from conflict zones. In the western Balkans, governments in EU candidate states and aspirants were also committed to responding effectively to the foreign fighter problem, and sought assistance to fill gaps in their capacity to do so from the United States, the EU, and others. European governments also worked with the United States and other international partners in various fora, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum, to respond to the foreign fighter problem and strengthen general counterterrorism cooperation.

The Bulgarian government continued its investigation of the July 2012 attack in Burgas which left five Israelis and one Bulgarian citizen dead. In February 2013, the government publicly implicated Hizballah in the bombing. A court in Cyprus convicted a Lebanese Hizballah operative of various criminal offenses after he was apprehended surveilling potential Israeli targets on the island. Recognizing the threat posed by Hizballah, the EU in July 2013 agreed to designate what it termed the “military wing” of Hizballah as a terrorist group, a notable step forward.

Europe was the scene of several significant terrorist attacks in 2013. In Turkey, the most significant such incident in the country’s modern history took place in May when 52 people died in a bombing in Reyhanli, on the border with Syria. In the Russian city of Volgograd, an attack on a city bus in October and two more attacks at the end of December claimed a total of 41 lives. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara was the target of a suicide bomb attack by a member of the Revolutionary Liberation People’s Party/Front in February, in which a Turkish citizen on the Embassy guard force was killed. In January, three Kurdish women activists were murdered in Paris, allegedly by a Turkish Kurd now in French police custody, in a crime linked to terrorism although the motive of the killer remains unclear.

Disclosures about alleged U.S. “spying” on European partners sparked concern but did not have a major effect on long-standing and close transatlantic cooperation in combating terrorist threats. Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 – Full text (PDF)

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