State-sponsored terrorism: Wikis


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State-sponsored terrorism is a politically loaded term, loosely used to describe terrorism sponsored by nation-states. As with terrorism, the precise definition, and the identification of particular examples, are subjects of heated political dispute. In general state-sponsored terrorism is associated with para-militaries. It is also frequently used in conjunction with state terrorism, which is (an accusation of) terrorism committed by governments.


By country



The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior took place in New Zealand's Auckland Harbour on July 10, 1985. It was an attack carried out by French DGSE Agents Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart aimed at sinking the flagship craft of the Greenpeace Organization to stop her from interfering in French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. The attack resulted in the death of Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira and lead to a huge uproar over the first ever attack on New Zealand sovereignty. France initially denied any involvement, and even joined in condemnation of it as a terrorist act.

In July 1986, a United Nations-sponsored mediation between New Zealand and France resulted in the transfer of the two prisoners to the French Polynesian island of Hao, to serve three years instead, as well as an apology and a NZD 13 million payment from France to New Zealand.


India's counter-intelligence unit, the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) has been accused of supporting insurgent groups by Pakistan. It has also been accused of training and arming the Sri Lankan Tamil group, LTTE, during the 1970s before it withdrew its support when the LTTE increased its activities in the 1980s.[1][2]


The governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and Yemen have accused the Ahmadinejad administration of sponsoring terrorism either in their, or against their, respective countries. Britain and the United States have also accused Iran of backing Shia militias in Iraq, which have at times attacked Coalition troops, Iraqi Sunni militias and civilians, and Anglo-American-supported Iraqi government forces.

United States President George W. Bush has called Iran the "world's primary state sponsor of terror."[3][4][5] Iran sponsors Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the al-Mahdi army, groups that Iran doesn't view as terrorist.


After the military overthrow of King Idris in 1969 the Libyan Arab Republic (later the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), to the bewilderment of some the new government supported (with weapon supplies, training camps located within Libya and monetary finances) an array of armed paramilitary groups both left and right wing. Leftist and socialist groups included the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the Basque Fatherland and Liberty, the Umkhonto We Sizwe, the Polisario Front, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, while others were on the Far Right such as the Moro National Liberation Front. The government of Libya even had brief contacts with the Neo-Nazi British National Front, which attempted to enlist financial aid from Libya during the 1980s. These contacts were ended after the fascist nature of the NF was discovered during Nick Griffin's visit to Libya in 1986.

In 2006 Libya was removed from the United States list of terrorist supporting nations after it had ended all of its support for armed groups and the development of weapons of mass destruction.[6]

Out of the armed groups Libya used to support the Provisional IRA, Umkhonto we Sizwe and the Moro National Liberation Front have completely abandoned terrorist tactics or political violence.


Pakistan has been accused by India, Afghanistan, the United States,[7][8] the United Kingdom,[9] and China[10] of involvement in terrorism in Kashmir and Afghanistan.[11] Poland has also alleged that terrorists have "friends in Pakistani government structures".[12] In July 2009, current President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari admitted that the Pakistani government had "created and nurtured" terrorist groups to achieve its short-term foreign policy goals.[13]

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has stated that it was training more than 3,000 militants from various nationalities.[14][15] According to some reports published by the Council of Foreign Relations, the Pakistan military and the ISI have provided covert support to terrorist groups active in Kashmir, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jaish-e-Mohammed".[16][17] Pakistan has denied any involvement in terrorist activities in Kashmir, arguing that it only provides political and moral support to the secessionist groups who wish to escape Indian rule. Many Kashmiri militant groups also maintain their headquarters in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is cited as further proof by the Indian government. Many of the terrorist organisations are banned by the UN, but continue to operate under different names.[18] The United Nations Organization has publicly increased pressure on Pakistan on its inability to control its Afghanistan border and not restricting the activities of Taliban leaders who have been designated by the UN as terrorists.[19][20] Experts believe that the ISI has also been involved in training and supplying Chechnyan militants.[21]

Many consider that Pakistan has been playing both sides in the US "War on Terror".[22][23] Ahmed Rashid, a noted Pakistani journalist, has accused Pakistan's ISI of providing help to the Taliban.[24] Author Ted Galen Carpenter echoed that statement, stating that Pakistan "...assisted rebel forces in Kashmir even though those groups have committed terrorist acts against civilians"[25] Author Gordon Thomas stated that whilst aiding in the capture of al-Qaeda members, Pakistan "still sponsored terrorist groups in the disputed state of Kashmir, funding, training and arming them in their war on attrition against India."[26] Journalist Stephen Schwartz notes that several militant and criminal groups are "backed by senior officers in the Pakistani army, the country's ISI intelligence establishment and other armed bodies of the state."[27] According to one author, Daniel Byman, "Pakistan is probably today's most active sponsor of terrorism."[28]

The Inter-Services Intelligence has often been accused of playing a role in major terrorist attacks across the world including the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States,[29][30] terrorism in Kashmir,[31][32][33] Mumbai Train Bombings,[34] London Bombings,[35] Indian Parliament Attack,[36] Varnasi bombings,[37] Hyderabad bombings[38][39] and Mumbai terror attacks.[40][41] The ISI is also accused of supporting Taliban forces[42] and recruiting and training mujahideen[42][43] to fight in Afghanistan[44][45] and Kashmir.[45] Based on communication intercepts US intelligence agencies concluded Pakistan's ISI was behind the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008, a charge that the governments of India and Afghanistan had laid previously.[46] Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has constantly reiterated allegations that militants operating training camps in Pakistan have used it as a launch platform to attack targets in Afghanistan, urged western military allies to target extremist hideouts in neighbouring Pakistan.[47] When the United States, during the Clinton administration, targeted al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan with cruise missiles, Slate reported that two officers of the ISI were killed.[48]

Pakistan is accused of sheltering and training the Taliban in operations "which include soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban's virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions apparently directly providing combat support," as reported by Human Rights Watch.[49]

Soviet Union

After the 1953 death of Stalin and subsequent destalinization, according to defector Ion Mihai Pacepa, the KGB continued its policy of supporting a number of terrorist organizations. KGB General Aleksandr Sakharovsky said that "In today’s world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon."[50] He also claimed that "Airplane hijacking is my own invention".[50] In 1969 alone 82 planes were hijacked worldwide by the KGB-financed PLO.[50]

Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa also described operation "SIG" (“Zionist Governments”) that was devised in 1972, to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the United States.[50] According to him, KGB chairman Yury Andropov explained him that "a billion adversaries could inflict far greater damage on America than could a few millions. We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States." Andropov also told him that "the Islamic world was a waiting petri dish in which we could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought."[50]

According to Pacepa, the following organizations were assisted, at one period or another, by the KGB: PLO, National Liberation Army of Bolivia (created in 1964 with help from Ernesto Che Guevara); the National Liberation Army of Colombia (created in 1965 with help from Fidel Castro), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1969, and the Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia in 1975.[51]

The PFLP was also claimed to have received support from the Soviet Union.[52]

United Kingdom

A mural in Belfast graphically depicting the collusion between British security forces and Ulster loyalist groups; Image reads: "Collusion is not an illusion, it is state murder"
A mural in Belfast graphically depicting the collusion between British security forces and Ulster loyalist groups.

The United Kingdom (UK) has been accused of supporting Loyalist paramilitary groups, both within the UK and also in cross-border operations into the Republic of Ireland,[53] namely the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Ulster Defence Association (UDA). These groups support the territory of Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK. The UK is accused of providing intelligence material, training, firearms, explosives and lists of people that the security forces wanted to have killed.[54] The UK security services have been accused of involvement in the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings by the UVF on 17 May 1974 which killed 33 and wounded nearly 300 civilians.[55]

On the 17 April 2003, Sir John Stevens published his third inquiry into collusion between the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) with Loyalist paramilitaries. It stated that there had been collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane by Loyalists.[53]

A former RUC officer, John Weir, has admitted to colluding with Loyalist terrorists in the 1970s in activities that led to the death of ten Catholics and that his superiors had knowledge of 76 more killings carried out by the UVF in the same time period.[56] He also alleges that members of the SAS killed Loyalists who may have planned to expose the collusion.[56]

The UK has also been accused by Iran of supporting Arab separatist terrorism in the southern city of Ahwaz in 2006.[57]

United States

The United States was accused of being a state sponsor of terrorism by Cuba[58] and Nicaragua during the Cold War and arguably met the official US definition of "sponsoring terrorism" against Soviet-occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s when U.S. governments covertly sponsored Afghan Mujahideen guerrillas against the Soviet-backed Afghan government.

See also


  1. ^ RAW: India's External Intelligence Agency - Council on Foreign Relations
  2. ^
  3. ^ Blair: Iran sponsors terrorism CNN
  4. ^ Sharon calls Syria and Iran sponsors of terrorism Pravda
  5. ^ Fighting breaks out in Yemen with Shi'ite group tied to Iran World Tribune
  6. ^ "Rescission of Libya's Designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism". 2008-07-17. U.S. Department of State. 2006-05-16. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  7. ^ International Terrorism: Threats and Responses: Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary By United States Congress House Committee on the Judiciary, ISBN 0-16-052230-7, 1996, pp482
  8. ^ Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism April 30, 2001 U.S. State Department
  9. ^ Daily Times Story
  10. ^ China turns table on Pakistan, accuses it of training terrorists The Times of India, 19 Apr, 2007
  11. ^ Pakistan's link to Afghan terrorism
  12. ^ Pakistan is complicit in killing by Taliban, a Polish official says, New York Times, February 10, 2009
  13. ^ Pakistani president Asif Zardari admits creating terrorist groups - by Telegraph UK
  14. ^ Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan
  15. ^ 'Pak feared exposure of militant camps' - Rediff October 16, 2005
  16. ^ The ISI and Terrorism: Behind the Accusations, Council on Foreign Relations, 2009-05-28
  17. ^ Terrorism Havens: Pakistan - Council on Foreign Relations
  18. ^ Kashmiri militants chafe at warmer India-Pakistan ties, The Christian Science Monitor, 2003-05-28
  19. ^ Pakistan should crack down on Taliban, UN official says
  20. ^ BBC Story
  21. ^ Who Is Osama Bin Laden? by Michel Chossudovsky Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa hosted on Centre for Research on Globalisation
  22. ^ Pakistan said to play both sides on terror war October 02, 2006, Christian Science Monitor
  23. ^ Dangerous game of state-sponsored terror that threatens nuclear conflict May 25, 2002, Guardian Unlimited
  24. ^ Die Zeit - Kosmoblog » Mustread: Rashid über Afghanistan
  25. ^ Terrorist Sponsors: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China by Ted Galen Carpenter November 16, 2001 Cato Institute
  26. ^ Thomas, Gordon (2007). Gideon's Spies. Macmillan. p. 536. ISBN 0312361521.  
  27. ^ Stephen Schwartz (19 August 2006). "A threat to the world". The Spectator. Retrieved 2007-09-20.  
  28. ^ Deadly Connections: States That Sponsor Terrorism By Daniel Byman, ISBN 0-521-83973-4, 2005, Cambridge University Press, pp 155
  29. ^ Michael Meacher: The Pakistan connection | World news | The Guardian
  30. ^ Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG)
  31. ^ Terrorism Havens: Pakistan - Council on Foreign Relations
  32. ^ Indian minister ties ISI to Kashmir
  33. ^ Kashmir Militant Extremists - Council on Foreign Relations
  34. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | Pakistan 'role in Mumbai attacks'
  35. ^ The Pakistani Connection: The London Bombers and "Al Qaeda's Webmaster"
  36. ^ Terrorist Attack on the Parliament of India - December 13, 2001
  37. ^ ISI now outsources terror to Bangladesh
  38. ^ Hyderabad blasts: The ISI hand
  39. ^ ISI may be behind Hyderabad blasts: Jana Reddy
  40. ^ U.S. official: Indian attack has Pakistani ties
  41. ^ Rice tells Pakistan to act ‘or US will’
  42. ^ a b BBC NEWS | South Asia | Pakistan's shadowy secret service
  43. ^ Nato's top brass accuse Pakistan over Taliban aid - Telegraph
  44. ^ At Border, Signs of Pakistani Role in Taliban Surge - New York Times
  45. ^ a b A NATION CHALLENGED: THE SUSPECTS; Death of Reporter Puts Focus On Pakistan Intelligence Unit - New York Times
  46. ^ Pakistanis Aided Attack in Kabul, U.S. Officials say
  47. ^ Karzai wants action by allied forces in Pakistan August 11, 2008 Dawn, Pakistan
  48. ^ Pakistan Is the Problem And Barack Obama seems to be the only candidate willing to face it Slate (magazine)
  49. ^ Crisis of Impunity - Pakistan's Support Of The Taliban
  50. ^ a b c d e Russian Footprints - by Ion Mihai Pacepa, National Review Online, August 24, 2006
  51. ^ From Russia With Terror,, interview with Ion Mihai Pacepa, March 1, 2004
  52. ^ Courtois, Stephane; Werth, Nicolas; Panne, Jean-Louis; Paczkowski, Andrzej; Bartosek, Karel; Margolin, Jean-Louis & Kramer, Mark (1999). The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-07608-7. Chapter 18
  53. ^ a b Text of Sir John Steven's Inquiry into collusion between the UK and Loyalist Terrorists
  54. ^ "Stevens Inquiry: At a Glance". BBC News Online. 2003-04-17. Retrieved 2006-11-25.  
  55. ^ Dublin and Monaghan Bombings-Relatives for Justice
  56. ^ a b Connolly, Frank. "I'm lucky to be above the ground". Village: Ireland's Current Affairs Weekly. Retrieved 2006-11-16.  
  57. ^ "Iran accuses UK of bombing link". BBC News (BBC News). 2006-01-25. Retrieved 2006-11-25.  
  58. ^ Rodríguez, Javier. "The United States is an accomplice and protector of terrorism, states Alarcón". Granma. Retrieved 2007-07-10.  

Further reading

  • Dreyfus, Robert. The Devil's Game: How the United States unleashed Fundamentalist Islam. Pluto Press, 2005.
  • Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth & K. Lee Lerner, eds. Terrorism: Essential primary sources. Thomson Gale, 2006. ISBN 9781414406213 Library of Congress. Jefferson or Adams Bldg General or Area Studies Reading Rms LC Control Number: 2005024002.
  • Tarpley, Webster G. 9/11 Synthetic Terror, Made in USA -Progressive Press. ISBN 0-93085-231-1
  • Chomsky, Noam. The Culture of Terrorism ISBN 0-89608-334-9
  • Chomsky, Noam. 9/11 ISBN 1-58322-489-0
  • George, Alexander. Western State Terrorism, Polity Press. ISBN 0-7456-0931-7

External links


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