International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump
OPINION ATTACHMENT. [17-1351] (JSN)
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SEARCCT hosted 18 training events in 2015, including seminars on crisis management, terrorist
finance, and transportation security. Malaysian officials participated in several Global
Counterterrorism Forum events, including a workshop on border security and a plenary session
on the detention and reintegration of terrorist prisoners.
Overview: The Philippines, in cooperation with the United States and other international
partners, continued to make progress against international terrorism in 2015. Terrorist groups,
including U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG),
Jemaah Islamiya (JI), and the Communist People’s Party/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA), as
well as other militant groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), were
unable to conduct major attacks on civilian targets in metropolitan areas due to sustained
pressure from Philippine counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts, although sporadic
fighting did displace locals.
Members of these groups were suspected, however, to have carried out attacks against
government, public, and private facilities, primarily in the central and western areas of Mindanao
in the southern Philippines, while others were linked to extortion operations in other parts of the
country. In addition, terrorist and rebel groups in the southern Philippines retained the capability
and intent to conduct bomb-making training, small-scale shootings, and ambushes.
The Philippine government’s Comprehensive Agreement on 201 Bangsamoro (CAB) with the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which creates a new d 05/1
Bangsamoro autonomous government in
Mindanao, is aimed at providing a peaceful resolution to the 40-year-old conflict in Mindanao.
The peace plan, negotiated between the Philippine government and Moro political leaders
dominated by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is intended to reduce tensions in the South and
diminish the attraction of violent extremist groups by providing greater political and economic
autonomy for Muslim-majority areas of Mindanao.
Since the March 2014 signing of the CAB, clashes with the BIFF and other Moro splinter groups
have continued in central Mindanao, indicating that violent opposition to the peace process
remains. At the same time, continued heavy military and police presence, including active
ongoing operations against the ASG, JI, the NPA, and other violent extremist groups with ties to
terrorists such as the BIFF, resulted in the displacement of local populations and disruption of
The Government of the Philippines continued to make modest progress in implementing its
2011–2016 Internal Peace and Security Plan, which calls for the transition of internal security
functions from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to the Philippine National Police
(PNP). The increasing role and capability of the police in maintaining internal security in
conflict-affected areas will permit the AFP to shift its focus to enhance the country’s maritime
security and territorial defense capabilities. This transition continued to be slow, in part due to
uncertainty over the implementation of the CAB, lack of capacity in the police force, and shifting
priorities ahead of a national election in May 2016. Continued violent extremist activity, as well
as counterterrorism capability gaps between the AFP and PNP, meant that the AFP continued to
lead counterterrorism efforts in the Philippines.
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The Philippine government submitted to Congress draft legislation known as the “Bangsamoro
Basic Law” (BBL) in 2014 to establish the new autonomous government entity in the Southern
Philippines, as stipulated by the CAB. The BBL was expected to pass Congress in 2015, but
progress was largely derailed by the fallout over a counterterrorism operation in Mindanao that
resulted in the death of 44 PNP Special Action Force troops in January. In the backlash against
the peace process resulting from that clash, two additional separate versions of the BBL have
been authored, one by each house of Congress, that vary significantly from the originally
negotiated law. To date, none of those bills have progressed in the Congress and the law has
missed several key implementation deadlines. Both the government and the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front leadership confirmed their intent to press forward with a peaceful settlement at
numerous points throughout the year.
The Government of the Philippines recognizes the potential threat posed by radicalized
Philippine citizens supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the risk of ISIL
elements traveling to the Philippines to promote violent extremism in the country or seek safe
haven. Members of numerous groups – including ASG, the Ansarul Khilafah Philippines (AKP),
and BIFF – have publicly pledged allegiance to ISIL. In 2015, these groups displayed ISILaffiliated images and conducted some of ISIL’s most reprehensible practices – including the
beheading of hostages. Reports continued to emerge that ISIL was attempting to recruit
Filipinos, but there was no strong evidence of any significant number of Filipinos traveling to the
Middle East to join their ranks.
The government increased efforts to monitor the possibility /of0ISIL-affiliated terrorists seeking
safe haven in the Southern Philippines. The President’s5Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) heads an
interagency technical working group on personsiew interest in conflict areas. That group meets
1, v issuance, increase Bureau of Immigration
regularly and has taken steps to tighten passport
17screening at major departure points,.and enhance monitoring of online extremist-related activity
through the intelligence services N the PNP. At year’s end, the ATC was reportedly preparing
an Executive Order or other administrative policy document to formalize this process.
2015 Terrorist Incidents: There were dozens of small arms and IED attacks, kidnappings for
ransom, and extortion efforts by suspected members of terrorist groups in the Philippines in
2015. Representative examples of specific incidents included:
On February 19 in Cotabato City, members of the BIFF, who entered and occupied at
least seven villages in Pikit town, North Cotabato Province, burned 20 houses in a
rampage linked to competition with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
On May 5 in Zamboanga City, six armed men wearing military uniforms seized two
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel and a local barangay captain on an island resort
off Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte. The barangay captain was later beheaded by
On October 2 in South Cotabato, four people were killed and 11 others were injured in a
roadside bombing attack on the convoy of a local official in Isabela City, Basilan.
On November 17 in Sulu, a Malaysian hostage held by the ASG was beheaded after
ransom demands were not met. The hostage had been captured in Malaysia and
transported to the Southern Philippines.
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On November 23 in Samal, ASG-affiliated gunmen kidnapped two Canadian tourists, a
Norwegian employee, and a Filipina from a luxury resort on Samal Island in Davao del
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The 2007 Human Security Act (HSA)
remained the principal counterterrorism legislation of the Philippines. The law defines terrorism
and provides methods for law enforcement to conduct investigations of terrorist suspects. Many
aspects of the law have not been used due to a number of strict procedural requirements in the
law. These limitations include notification to subjects of surveillance before activities can begin
and damages of approximately US $12,000 for every day of detention if an individual accused of
terrorism is ultimately acquitted. In 2015, the Philippines Department of Justice obtained its first
ever conviction under the HSA. Most convictions are made under other criminal legislation. In
September, the Isabela City Regional Trial Court in Basilan designated ASG as a terrorist
organization under the HSA. This is the first designation of a terrorist group in the Philippines
under the HSA.
Philippine units with a specialized counterterrorism focus, including the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) and the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), have improved their investigative,
crisis response, and border security capacity. However, multiple agencies have jurisdiction over
counterterrorism efforts, creating duplication and inefficiency in leading investigations and in
response to terrorism incidents. Roles and responsibilities between law enforcement and military
units that have a counterterrorism mission were often not well-delineated, and command and
control arrangements were often dependent on interpersonal/201
8 relationships between incident
commanders. Specialized law enforcement units possessed some necessary equipment, but
ed and maintenance of complex equipment
numerous unfulfilled needs remained, and sustainment
1, v enforcement units had a mixed record of
often exceeded fiscal and human resources. Law
17accountability and respect for human rights. The ATC provided guidance to agencies
responsible for enforcing terrorism laws, but its capacity to enforce cooperation and coordination
between agencies was limited.
The approximately 150,000-strong PNP maintained legal responsibility for ensuring peace and
security throughout the county, which included arresting terrorists and conducting terrorism
investigations. In conflict-affected areas, the PNP often relied upon the AFP to conduct
counterterrorism operations, and coordination between the two services improved, but more
work remained to be done. The PNP SAF is the national operational support unit for law
enforcement counterterrorism efforts.
The Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program in the Philippines assisted
the PNP’s SAF, Anti-Kidnapping Group, Anti-Cybercrime Group, Explosive Ordnance
Disposal/K9 units and other law enforcement units in Mindanao by providing counterterrorismrelated training and specialized equipment and explosive detector K-9 dogs. This assistance
strengthened the PNP’s capacity to respond to terrorism-related incidents. In 2015, the ATA
Program conducted 35 courses with 897 participants from the Philippines.
The Philippines issues “e-passports”, which make up more than 65 percent of all valid passports
in circulation. At the main international airport in Manila, the Philippines participated in the
INTERPOL Border Management Program.
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The first phase of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) was completed in
2014, which included the build-out of the physical AFIS facility at NBI headquarters and the
digitization of 850,000 fingerprint records. No funding was available from either the Philippine
government budget or U.S. assistance funding to complete the second phase of the AFIS
program in 2015.
In 2015, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) partnered with State’s ATA
program to deliver an Airport Security Managers course to several Philippine government
agencies that focused on implementation and oversight of international aviation security
The Philippine government has also successfully procured advanced screening technologies such
as body imagers to mitigate the evolving threat of non- or low-metallic IEDs.
With assistance from the United States, security in the Sulu Archipelago Tri-Border area of the
Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia was being improved through efforts to enhance the capacity
of the PNP Maritime Group, Maritime Special Operations Units (MSOU). MSOU and
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) operational and training capacity has been upgraded through
provision of varied courses of instruction by the DOJ International Criminal Investigative
Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), using the Global Security Contingency Fund; this
training enhanced the capacity of the MSOUs and the PCG to integrate operations in the border
In addition to its cooperation with the United States, the Philippines received counterterrorism
assistance from Australia, the UK, Canada, and iJapan. This work focuses generally on capacity
building for investigation, detection and removal of explosive ordnance and demolition,
forensics, case management, intelligence, and special operations training with the PNP and the
The U.S. Coast Guard's (USCG’s) International Port Security (IPS) Program has been actively
engaged in the Philippines since 2004 to assist with and assess the country's implementation of
counterterrorism measures at international port facilities. In 2015, the USCG continued its
capacity building and assessment efforts to stimulate and enhance the country’s implementation
of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code by conducting four training seminars
and numerous port facility assessments. The Philippine government is making incremental but
steady improvement in terms of implementing counterterrorism measures.
In 2015, the United States continued to work with the Government of the Philippines to monitor
and investigate groups engaged in or supporting terrorist activities in the Philippines. The Joint
Special Operations Task Force–Philippines, under Operation Enduring Freedom, was
successfully concluded in June 2015 after more than a decade. The government launched
numerous operations, particularly in the Southern Philippines, to make arrests and disrupt
organizations like the ASG, JI, BIFF, and NPA, with the ultimate goal of prosecuting terrorist
suspects and organizations. Specific examples of counterterrorism operations included:
On January 25 in Maguindanao, “OPLAN Exodus,” a plan to serve an arrest warrant on
internationally-wanted Malaysian JI bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Amir, or “Marwan”
(number one on the Philippines most wanted list and also wanted by the United States)
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was launched against a safehouse inside Moro Islamic Liberation Front-controlled areas
in Mamasapano, Mindanao, and conducted by the PNP’s Special Action Force. Marwan
was killed in the course of the raid when he resisted arrest; there was a seven-hour
running firefight with several hundred BIFF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and private
armed force fighters, killing 44 SAF troops, 15 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters,
and eight civilians. On March 15 in General Santos City, senior BIFF military leader
Mohamad Ali Tombako was arrested in a joint operation between PNP and AFP forces,
just weeks after leading BIFF forces in a clash with troops in Maguindanao that left four
AFP soldiers dead.
On May 1 in Maguindanao, BIFF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front bomb-maker Abdul
Basit Usman was killed during an AFP operation to detain him in Mindanao.
On May 10 in Basilan, AFP troops overran a major bomb-making camp and seized a
large amount of bomb-making materials during offensive operations against the ASG.
On November 20 in Sultan Kudarat, Philippine Marines overran a camp operated by the
Ansarul Khilafah Philippines (AKP), killing eight members of the group, which had
associated itself with ISIL and claimed to represent the group in the Philippines. Among
those killed was one of the suspects in the 2002 Bali bombings. A combined military and
police team intended to serve a warrant of arrest for the group’s leader, Mohamad Jaafar
Sabiwang Maguid (popularly known as “Kumander Tokboy”) when it was fired upon by
the group. Tokboy is believed to have escaped in the fighting.
On November 27 in Jolo, a joint task force of Philippine military and PNP troops
captured ASG figure Saddam Jailani, who was suspected7in the beheading of a Malaysian
hostage and the death of a South Korean hostage. 8/20
In 2015, the Philippines continued coordinating iwith U.S. law enforcement authorities,
especially regarding wanted U.S. fugitives 51 suspected terrorists. On November 18, three men
7were convicted in Regional TrialNo. 1 15 of kidnapping and sentenced to life imprisonment in
connection with the 2011 abduction of American Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, her son Kevin, and
cousin Romnick Jakaria (other suspects remained at-large). Additionally, hearings continued in
Cebu in the prosecution of four defendants accused of murdering two U.S. soldiers and one
Philippine Marine in an IED attack in Kagay, Jolo, in September 2009.
On November 16, 2015, ASG financier Khair Mundos and three others were convicted and
sentenced to life imprisonment by Zamboanga City Regional Trial Court Branch 87 for
abducting nurse Preciosa Feliciano in Zamboanga City in 2008. The suspects held Feliciano
captive for four months after allegedly receiving a ransom payment.
Although these successes were important, an under-resourced and understaffed law enforcement
and judicial system, coupled with widespread official corruption, continued to limit domestic
investigations and resulted in a small number of prosecutions and lengthy trials of terrorism
cases. Philippine investigators and prosecutors lacked necessary tools to build strong cases,
including clear processes for requesting judicially-authorized interception of terrorist
communications, entering into plea bargains with key witnesses, and seizing assets of those
suspected of benefiting from terrorism. The Philippines, with the assistance of the UN Office on
Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), has developed a Training Manual for collaboration among the
intelligence, investigation, and prosecution sectors.
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Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Philippines is a member of the Asia/Pacific
Group (APG) on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and its
Anti-Money Laundering Council is a member of the Egmont Group. In recent years, the
Philippines significantly improved its financial regulatory regime and remained focused on
effective implementation of international standards.
The U.S. government works directly with the Joint Terrorist Financing Investigation Group
(JTFIG), a joint interagency taskforce with members from the ATC; the Anti-Money Laundering
Council (AMLC); and the PNP’s Directorate of Intelligence (DI), Anti-Kidnapping Group
(AKG), and SAF to pursue terrorism finance cases in 2015. The JTFIG acts as an “intelligence
fusion center” to complement the other intelligence groups tasked with investigating terrorism
and terrorism financing. In 2015, Philippine agencies participating in the JTFIG pursued several
investigations into suspected terrorism financing. In March, a bank account of an arrested ASG
member was frozen by the AMLC after six months of investigation. This is the first financial
account frozen under the Financial Terrorism Law.
In implementation of UNSCR 2199 and the UN 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida
sanctions regime, the AMLC has frozen the assets of six members of ISIL and al-Nusrah Front.
Under Section 8 of the Terrorist Financing Prevention and Suppression Act, all transactions with
the named individuals designated by AMLC are prohibited. The AMLC freezes assets of those
listed at the UN 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida, and 1988 (Taliban) sanctions
regimes through AMLC Resolution TF-01.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2016 International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial
Countering Violent Extremism: In 2015, the Philippine government continued its counterradicalization efforts through the Resilient Communities in Conflict Affected Communities
program. During the year, the Philippines worked with the Global Counterterrorism Forum to
apply the Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent
Extremist Offenders. Government offices, including the President’s Law Enforcement and
Security Integration Office and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime, led interagency
collaboration on countering violent extremism (CVE) through counter-radicalization and deradicalization initiatives.
The PNP’s Directorate for Police Community Relations (DPCR), through the Salaam Police
Center (SPC) and Salaam Police personnel in regional, provincial, and city police offices,
regularly conducted peacebuilding and counter-radicalization efforts in respective areas of
responsibilities targeting students, youth, women, Muslim elders, and religious and community
leaders to foster dialogue and clear up misconceptions that could lead to violent extremism. The
DPCR, through its Information Operation and Research Center (IORC), is strengthening its
information operation strategies to weaken the narratives of violent extremism.
Philippine officials participated in several CVE initiatives throughout the year. In February,
members of the ATC and civil society representatives attended the White House Summit on
Countering Violent Extremismin Washington, D.C. In April, Philippine government and civil
society members attended a Regional CVE seminar hosted by Singapore. In May, the Philippine
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government, in cooperation with the U.S. Pacific Command’s Military Information Support
Team (MIST), inaugurated the Combined Special Outreach Group, a joint AFP-PNP community
engagement group to share best practices and combine strategies for public messaging on peace
and order and CVE outreach. The group meets roughly every two weeks and has coordinated
several efforts to increase community and educational CVE engagement in support of the peace
process. On July 29, Philippine officials from the ATC attended the Rome CVE Summit Process
Senior Officials Meeting.
In February, Philippine officials facilitated the 3rd Multi-Lateral CVE Conference “Youth and
Terrorism: Countering the Narrative” in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, and a Seminar Workshop
on CVE Narratives in Zamboanga City in October.
Training on rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders, implemented by the
International Centre for Counter-Terrorism-The Hague, continued and included Philippine
experts from different agencies and the private sector. The Philippine government also
continued to support a counter-radicalization program in the Bureau of Jail Management and
Penology (BJMP) facilities housing ASG or other terrorist suspects pending trial. The PNP
DPCR SPC coordinated with the BJMP to conduct visitation of inmates relating to violent
extremism. In 2015, the government also launched a policy to expand the Special Intensive Care
Areas of the BJMP in the Manila regionand to introduce a modernized Inmate Counseling and
Classification Unit (ICCU) to improve identification of inmates vulnerable to further
radicalization while on trial – a large number of alleged ASG, BIFF, and MNLF fighters are
incarcerated as their trials proceed in Manila courts.
International and Regional Cooperation: TheePhilippines views counterterrorism as a
regional challenge and participated in numerous regional CT coordination activities. In 2015,
-13 involved in trainings, workshops, dialogues, and
Philippine government representatives7were
No ASEAN-Japan Counterterrorism Dialogue, Australianworking group meetings through the
ASEANAPOL, INTERPOL, UNODC, UNICRI, and the Global Counterterrorism Forum.
Philippine counterterrorism, intelligence, and CVE officials participated in several international
conferences throughout the year focused on stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters.
These included the Foreign Terrorist Fighter Conference in Indonesia (March), the UNODCsponsored Regional Conference on Effective Responses to the Phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist
Fighters in Thailand (June), and the Regional Technical Workshop on Responding to the Threat
of Returning Foreign Fighters in Manila (August), which was co-sponsored by UNICRI and the
A representative from the ATC serves as the 2015-2016 Chair of the APEC Counter-Terrorism
Working Group (CTWG) and has been supportive of U.S. efforts to sponsor self-funded
counterterrorism capacity-building workshops under the auspices of APEC, particular initiatives
designed to help implement the APEC Consolidated Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade
Strategy. In January 2015 in Subic Bay, the Philippines hosted an APEC CTWG Secure Finance
Workshop on Countering the Financing of Terrorism with New Payment Systems (NPS), which
provided working-level financial crimes policy and operational representatives from APEC
member economies’ regulatory, investigative, and enforcement units the opportunity to develop
and reinforce capacities to counter the illicit use of new payment systems, or NPS, especially in
financing terrorism. In August 2015 in Cebu, they hosted an APEC CTWG Secure Travel
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Workshop on Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighter Travel, which highlighted the threat that
foreign terrorist fighter travel poses to the Asia-Pacific region and explained why advance
passenger information systems are effective at helping mitigate that threat. The Philippines also
participated in a series of INTERPOL Integrated Border Management Task Force projects
sponsored by Canada.
On May 26-27, the Philippines hosted a conference on kidnapping for ransom that was attended
by representatives from INTERPOL, Colombia, Australia, and the U.S. FBI. The event was
funded by the Australian Embassy.
Overview: Singapore and the United States increased cooperation on counterterrorism efforts
and expanded information sharing in 2015. The rise in the number of terrorist incidents across
the globe highlighted the importance of timely information sharing and the need for both
countries to continue to explore ways to further expand engagement. Singapore’s domestic
counterterrorism apparatus and ability to detect, deter, and disrupt threats remained effective, as
evidenced by the successful detention of several Singaporean residents attempting to travel to
Syria or Iraq to join terrorist groups. Singapore is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter
the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), to which it contributes military assets, and hosted
a regional summit in April 2015 to raise awareness about the threat of foreign terrorist fighters as
well as to exchange regional experiences with de-radicalization and developments related to
countering violent extremism.
ed Singapore uses its Internal Security Act
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:
1, v ISA authorizes the Minister for Home Affairs
(ISA) to arrest and detain suspected terrorists. The
17- to order detention without judicial trial or review if it
(MHA), with the consent of the President,
is determined that a person poses a threat to national security. The initial detention may be for
up to two years, and the MHA may renew the detention for an unlimited number of additional
periods up to two years at a time with the President’s consent.
In 2015, five individuals were arrested under the ISA for terrorism-related activities, four of
whom were subsequently detained under ISA. The fifth suspect was placed on a Restriction
Order, which limits the ability to travel abroad without government approval, requires religious
counselling, and prohibits the acquisition of violent or extremist material online. Singapore’s
existing legal framework, in conjunction with the ISA, provides the government the necessary
tools to support the investigation and prosecution of terrorism offenses. Law enforcement
agencies displayed coordination, command, and control in responding to threat information
affecting Singapore’s security.
In 2015, Singapore improved its border security regime through creation of a new Integrated
Checkpoints Command (ICC). The ICC complements the Joint Operations Command
established in 1998 and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, which in 2003 merged the
Singapore Immigration and Registration with checkpoint functions of the Customs and Excise
Department. The ICC will strengthen interagency coordination, improve air, land, and sea
domain awareness, and improve border security command and control to collectively counter
traditional and unconventional threats.
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International and Regional Cooperation:In November 2015, the Prime Minister attended the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting where he and other leaders addressed terrorism
and security issues and the growing concern over ISIL.
Overview: In May, for the tenth consecutive year, the U.S. Department of State determined,
pursuant to section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act, that Venezuela was not cooperating
fully with U.S. antiterrorism efforts.
The International Development Bank, a subsidiary of the Development and Export Bank of Iran,
continued to operate in Venezuela despite its designation in 2008 by the U.S. Treasury
Department under E.O. 13382 (“Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Proliferators and their Supporters”).
There were credible reports that Venezuela maintained a permissive environment that allowed
for support of activities that benefited known terrorist groups. Individuals linked to the FARC,
National Liberation Army, and Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) were present in Venezuela,
as well as Hizballah supporters and sympathizers.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:The Venezuelan criminal code and
additional Venezuelan laws explicitly criminalize terrorism and dictate procedures for
prosecuting individuals engaged in terrorist activity. The government routinely levies
accusations of “terrorism” against its political opponents.1Following a wave of anti-government
protests early in 2014, the Venezuelan government introduced a series of counterterrorism laws
likely intended to suppress future public 135
Venezuelan military and civilian agencies perform counterterrorism functions. Within the
Venezuelan armed forces, the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence and the
Command Actions Group of the National Guard have primary counterterrorism duty. The
Bolivarian National Intelligence Service and the Division of Counterterrorism Investigations in
the Bureau of Scientific, Penal, and Criminal Investigative Corps within the Ministry of Interior,
Justice, and Peace have primary civilian counterterrorism responsibilities. The degree of
interagency cooperation and information sharing among agencies is unknown due to a lack of
Border security at ports of entry is vulnerable and susceptible to corruption. The Venezuelan
government routinely did not perform biographic or biometric screening at ports of entry or exit.
There was no automated system to collect advance Passenger Name Records on commercial
flights or to cross-check flight manifests with passenger disembarkation data.
In August, Venezuelan authorities closed multiple border crossings between Colombia and the
western states of Tachira and Zulia as part of the “states of exception” declaration seeking to
curb smuggling and paramilitary activity in the border region.
Venezuela did not respond to a request from the Spanish government to extradite former ETA
member José Ignacio de Juana Chaos, wanted in Spain since 2010 for the alleged killing of 25
people in acts of terrorism.
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Countering the Financing of Terrorism:Venezuela is a member of the Caribbean Financial
Action Task Force (CFATF), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body, and the
Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission Anti-Money Laundering Group. Its financial
intelligence unit, Unidad Nacional de Inteligencia Financiera, is a member of the Egmont
Group. In 2014, the CFATF determined that Venezuela had made sufficient progress on the
recommendations in Venezuela’s FATF action plan to warrant moving the country fromthe
standard follow-up process once every six months to periodic review once every two years.
CFATF noted Venezuela still needed to improve its compliance with several recommendations
as well as its implementation of various anti-money laundering/counterterrorism financing
(AML/CFT) laws and regulations. Venezuela’s existing AML/CFT legal and regulatory
framework criminalizes the financing of terrorism. There was no publicly available information
regarding the confiscation of terrorist assets. For further information on money laundering and
financial crimes, see the 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume
II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
International and Regional Cooperation:Venezuela participated as an official observer in
ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. Venezuelan and
Colombian foreign ministers met several times throughout the year to address the reduction of
smuggling of illegal goods, narcotics trafficking, and the activity of illegally armed groups.
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Shabaab leveraged tax collection to compensate for declining revenues after losing access to the
port in Baraawe in 2014.
The Federal Government of Somalia remained committed to regional counterterrorism efforts
that aim to eliminate al-Shabaab’s access to safe haven in Somalia. Though progress on this
front was uneven in 2015, these efforts provided the Somali government with enough space and
time to focus on the federalism process and advance its political objectives.
According to independent sources and NGOs engaged in demining activities on the ground, there
was little cause for concern for the presence of WMD in Somalia.
The Trans-Sahara. There are ungoverned, under-governed, and ill-governed areas of Mali
thatterrorist groups have used to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and
operate in relative security, despite Malian authorities willingness and responsiveness as
counterterrorism partners, a UN peacekeeping mission, and French forces in the region. The
Malian government has reestablished its political presence in the cities of Timbuktu and Gao,
with some local government officials returning to their posts in 2015. The military, in
conjunction with the French and UN forces, worked to eliminate terrorist safe havens in Mali.
The Malian government does not support or facilitate the flow of foreign terrorist fighters
through its territory, but the lack of government control across large portions of its territory and
porous borders makes preventing the flow very difficult.
The Malian government does not support or facilitate the proliferation or trafficking of WMD in
and through its territory.
The Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral.The number of islands in the Sulawesi Sea and the Sulu
Archipelago make it a difficult region to secure. Cooperation by all states bordering this region
remained strong with U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Although Indonesia, Malaysia, and the
Philippines have improved efforts to control their shared maritime boundaries – including
through U.S.-funded efforts to enhance domain awareness in the waters south and southwest of
Mindanao – the expanse remained difficult to control. Surveillance improved but remained
partial at best, and traditional smuggling and piracy groups have provided an effective cover for
terrorist activities, including the movement of personnel, equipment, and funds. Kidnappings for
ransom remained an ongoing threat.
Southeast Asia is vulnerable to exploitation by illicit traffickers and proliferators given the high
volume of global trade transiting the region as well as the existence of smuggling and
proliferation networks. Weak strategic trade controls, legal and regulatory frameworks,
inadequate maritime law enforcement and security capabilities, and emerging and re-emerging
infectious disease and burgeoning bioscience capacity, make Southeast Asia an area of concern
for WMD proliferation and transit. Other than Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines,
strategic trade control laws that include controls over dual-use and end-use or “catch-all”
controls are lacking in Southeast Asia. Assisting these countries to develop strong laws that
meet international standards and effective targeting and risk management systems are major
goals of the Export Control and Related Border Security program over the next few years.
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The Southern Philippines.The geographical composition of the Philippines, spread out over
7,100 islands, makes it difficult for the central government to maintain a presence in all areas.
Counterterrorism operations, however, have been successful at isolating the geographic influence
and constraining the activities of transnational terrorist groups. Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG),
Jemaah Islamiya (JI), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and other militant groups
were present in areas on Mindanao, and especially across the islands of Basilan, Sulu, and TawiTawi. The New People’s Army (NPA) maintained a presence across the Philippines, particularly
in rural and mountainous areas. Continued pressure from Philippine security forces made it
difficult, however, for terrorists to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and
operate outside their base locations.
The Philippines and the United States have strong counterterrorism cooperation. In 2015, the
United States continued to work with the Government of the Philippines to monitor and
investigate groups engaged in or supporting terrorist activities in the Philippines. The Joint
Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, under Operation Enduring Freedom, was concluded
in June 2015 after more than a decade. The government launched numerous operations,
particularly in the Southern Philippines, against organizations like the ASG, JI, BIFF, and NPA,
and prosecuted terrorist suspects and organizations. In 2015, the Philippines also continued
coordinating with U.S. law enforcement authorities, especially regarding wanted U.S. fugitives
and suspected terrorists.
In November, the Philippines passed the Strategic Trade Management Act (STMA), which
allows it to control the import and export of dual-use items. At year’s end, the Philippines was
eincluding setting up a licensing office within
working to implement the provisions of the STMA,
1, vissue licenses required to import and export
the Department of Trade and Industry that will
controlled dual-use commodities and 17technology. Early implementation progress has been slow,
however, due to a number of factors, including a lack of funding, and risks missing the deadlines
set by the STMA.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Egypt. Portions of Egypt’s Sinai region were a safe haven for terrorist organizations in 2015.
The Government of Egypt views terrorism as one of the country’s greatest threats and has
dedicated significant military resources to combat indigenous and transnational terrorist
groups.The Egyptian government continued its extensive security campaign focused on Northern
Sinai against ISIL Sinai Province (ISIL-SP), launching Operation Right of the Martyr in
September. The Northern Sinai was closed off to tourists, journalists, U.S. government officials,
and NGOs in 2015.
ISIL-SP has claimed responsibility for increasingly frequent and sophisticated terrorist attacks
against Egyptian forces, such as the simultaneous attack on multiple police and security
installations in Sinai’s Sheikh Zuewid on July 1; and high profile targets, for example downing a
Metrojet airliner, killing all 200 passengers and seven crew members on October 31.
Through its Export Control and Related Border Security Program, the United States is working
with the Government of Egypt to enhance Egypt’s border security capabilities through the
provision of land, air, and maritime border enforcement and targeting and risk management
Pg: 13 of 16
further enhanced outreach campaign for industry to fully understand and implement Pakistan’s
export control requirements, as well as to begin a dialogue on controls on conventional weapons
and related dual-use technologies. In addition to industry outreach, Pakistan also participated,
developed, and delivered a series of technical trainings to responsible government licensing and
enforcement officials for the proper identification of dual-use commodities that could be used to
create WMDs and/or their delivery systems. Overall, Pakistan was a committed partner that
undertook great efforts to build its export control capabilities.
Pakistan is a constructive and active participant in the Nuclear Security Summit process and the
Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and has worked to strengthen its strategic trade
controls, including updating its national export control list. The Export Control and Related
Border Security (EXBS) Program increased the Government of Pakistan’s enforcement capacity
by sponsoring training for Pakistani Customs and Strategic Export Control Division officials on
how to properly identify strategic commodities of concern. These commodity identification and
advanced interdiction trainings were implemented by the U.S. Department of Energy. EXBS
also sponsored regional collaboration through nonproliferation fellowships and cross-border
coordination with Afghanistan through the UN Office and Drugs and Crime – World Customs
Organization’s Container Control Program (CCP). Under the CCP, training was provided to
enhance the targeting of skills of port control unit officials at the Torkham and Jalalabad bordercrossings.
Colombia. Rough terrain and dense forest cover, coupled with low population densities and
wedColombia’s borders with Venezuela,
historically weak government presence have defined
Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, and historically 51 allowed for safe havens for terrorist groups,
particularly the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation
Army (ELN). The Government of Colombia has not only maintained pressure on these groups to
deny safe haven, disrupt terrorism financing efforts, and degrade terrorist groups’ logistics
infrastructure, but it also has continued to conduct operations to combat their ability to conduct
terrorist attacks. Coupled with ongoing peace negotiations with the FARC and two FARC
unilateral cease fire declarations, Colombia experienced an overall decline in the total number of
terrorist incidents in 2015. Despite these successes, illegal armed groups, primarily known as
“Bandas Criminales,” continued to use the porous border, remote mountain areas, and jungles to
maneuver, train, cultivate and transport narcotics, operate illegal mines, “tax” the local populace,
and engage in other illegal activities.
Improved relations with neighboring Ecuadorhaveled to some increasedcooperation on law
enforcement issues. Colombia also continued to cooperate and share information with the
Panamanian NationalBorder Service. Additionally, Brazil began implementing its Integrated
Border Monitoring System in an effort to monitor its entire border, and along with continued
cooperation with the Government of Colombia, addressed potential safe haven areas along their
Venezuela. Venezuela’s porous border with Colombia has made the country attractive to the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army, who use it to
transit in and out of its territory. There were credible reports that Venezuela maintained a
Pg: 14 of 16
permissive environment that allowed for support of activities that benefited known terrorist
COUNTERING TERRORISM ON THE ECONOMIC FRONT
In 2015, the Department of State designated one new Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and
amended two existing designations. In addition, the Department designated 37 organizations and
individuals as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, and
amended two existing designations. The Department also revoked the designations of two
organizations and two individuals.
The Department of the Treasury also designated organizations and individuals under E.O. 13224.
For a full list of all U.S. designations, see the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign
Assets Control website at http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDNList/Pages/default.aspx.
2015 Foreign Terrorism Organization/Executive Order 13224 group designations:
On September 3, the Department of State revoked the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)
designation of the Revolutionary Organization 17 November.
On September 29, the Department of State amended the E.O. 13224 designation of the
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to include the alias8Islamic State, and amended the FTO
designation on September 30. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further
information on ISIL).
On September 29, the Department 7-1State designated Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al Naqshabandi
1 FTO. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations,
(JRTN) under E.O. 13224 and o. an
for further information on JRTN.)
On September 29, the Department of State amended the FTO and E.O. 13224 designation of
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis to include the alias ISIL Sinai Province as its primary name. (See
Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on ISIL-Sinai Province.)
On December 9, the Department of State revoked the FTO designation of the Libyan Islamic
Fighting Group (LIFG).
2015 Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 designations:
On January 14, the Department of State designated ‘Abdallah al-Ashqar. Al-Ashqar is a
leadership figure and member of the military committee of the Mujahidin Shura Council in
the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC). Al-Ashqar is known to have purchased missiles and other
materials to attack Israel.
On February 9, the Department of State designated German national Denis Cuspert. Cuspert
was a recruiter and propagandist for ISIL. He was allegedly killed in an airstrike near alRaqqah, Syria, in October 2015.
On March 25, the Department of State designated Aliaskhab Kebekov, who was the leader of
Russia-based terrorist group Caucasus Emirate, until his death during a battle with Russian
Special Forces in April 2015.
Pg: 15 of 16
Activities: The ANO has carried out terrorist attacks in 20 countries—killing or injuring almost
900 people. 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. Major attacks include those on the Rome and
Vienna airports in 1985, the 1986 attack on the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, the
hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi in 1986, and the 1988 attack on the City of Poros dayexcursion ship in Greece. The ANO was suspected of assassinating PLO Deputy Chief Abu Iyad
and PLO Security Chief Abu Hul in Tunis in 1991, and a senior Jordanian diplomat in Beirut in
1994. In 2008, a Jordanian official apprehended an ANO member planning to carry out attacks
in Jordan. There were no known ANO attacks in 2014 or 2015.
Location/Area of Operation: ANO associates may still exist in Lebanon, though they are likely
Funding and External Aid: Unknown
ABU SAYYAF GROUP
akaal 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 terrorist group/201
8 operating in the Philippines and
claims to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.
ed in the early 1990s.
The group split from the Moro Islamic Liberationw
Activities: ASG has committed kidnappings for ransom, bombings,ambushes of security
personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion. In April 2000, an ASG faction
kidnapped 21 people, including 10 Western tourists, from a resort in Malaysia. In May 2001, the
group kidnapped three U.S. citizens and 17 Philippine citizens from a tourist resort in Palawan,
Philippines; several hostages were murdered, including U.S. citizen Guillermo Sobero. A
hostage rescue operation in June 2002 freed U.S. hostage Gracia Burnham; her husband, U.S.
national Martin Burnham was killed. In October 2002, Philippine and U.S. authorities blamed
ASG for a bombing near a military base in Zamboanga that killed an American soldier, and in
February 2004, ASG bombed SuperFerry 14 in Manila Bay, killing 116 people. On July 28,
2014, ASG militants with assault rifles opened fire on civilians celebrating the end of Ramadan,
killing at least 21 people – including six children and at least four members of a Talipao security
force – and wounding 11 others. In a July 2014 video, senior ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon, also
an FBI most-wanted terrorist, swore allegiance to ISIL and ISIL’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
ASG continued to remain active throughout 2015. On January 30, one soldier was killed and
four were injured in a clash with ASG in Sulu. A day later, ASG ambushed a convoy of
Philippine soldiers, wounding five. In February, a 73-year-old Korean businessman was freed by
the ASG in Lanao del Sur after 10 days in captivity. On May 15, ASG abducted two civilians at
a resort in Sandakan. One hostage was released after six months; a Malaysian hostage, however,
was beheaded after ransom demands were not met. Also in May, ASG abducted two Philippine
Coast Guard personnel and a city official in Aliguay Island, a tourist destination near Dapitan
City; the city official was beheaded. On September 21, ASG was blamed for the armed
Pg: 16 of 16
Bakar Ba’asyir. The group seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate spanning Indonesia, Malaysia,
southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the southern Philippines. More than 400 JI operatives
have been captured since 2002, including operations chief and al-Qa’ida associate Hambali. In
2006, several members connected to JI’s 2005 suicide attack in Bali were arrested. In 2007,
Muhammad Naim (aka Zarkasih) and JI military commander Abu Dujana were arrested, and in
2008, two senior JI operatives were arrested in Malaysia and a JI-linked cell was broken up in
Sumatra. In February 2010, the Indonesian National Police discovered and disbanded a violent
extremist training base in Aceh in which former members of JI and other Indonesian violent
extremist groups participated. The police raid resulted in the capture of more than 60 militants,
including former JI operatives, and led authorities to former JI senior operative Dulmatin, one of
the planners of the 2002 Bali bombings. In March 2010, Dulmatin was killed outside of Jakarta.
In January 2011, JI member Umar Patek was captured in Abbottabad, Pakistan and put on trial in
Indonesia, where he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison in June 2012 for his role
in the Bali bombing. In January 2015, JI bomb-maker Zulfiki bin Hir (aka Marwan) was killed
in the Philippines in a raid.
Activities: Significant JI attacks include the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed more than 200
people, including seven U.S. citizens; the August 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in
Jakarta; the September 2004 bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta; and the
October 2005 suicide bombing in Bali, which left 26 dead, including three suicide bombers.
On July 17, 2009, a JI faction led by Noordin Mohamed Top claimed responsibility for suicide
attacks at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta 017 killed seven people and
injured more than 50, including seven Americans.
In November 2014, Indonesian authorities 51,
13released former JI bomb-maker Taufik Abdul Halim
from prison after he served a 12-year17sentence for attempting to bomb a Jakarta shopping mall in
In January 2015 in the southern Philippines, 44 Philippines policemen and three civilians were
killed when a police anti-terrorism squad was ambushed while conducting a raid in Mamasapano
in the southern island of Mindanao. That same month, it was reported that JI-linked extremists
had attempted to carry out attacks during a papal visit to Manila and Tacloban. In October, two
senior JI leaders – Zarkashi and JI military leader Abu Dujana – were released from prison after
serving seven years in Indonesian jails. In December, police in East Java arrested four
individuals associated with JI involved in manufacturing firearms for terrorist activities.
Strength: Estimates vary from 500 to several thousand.
Location/Area of Operation: Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines
Funding and External Aid: JI fundraises through membership donations and criminal and
business activities. It has received financial, ideological, and logistical support from Middle
Eastern contacts and illegitimate charities and organizations.
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