Released by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
May 21, 2002
Middle East terrorism witnessed two major developments this year. On the one hand, terrorist groups and their state sponsors continued their terrorist activities and planning throughout 2001. Most notable among these groups was Usama Bin Ladin’s al-Qaida, which perpetrated in the United States the most significant act of anti-US terrorism. On the other, however, most Middle Eastern countries—including some with which the United States has political difficulties—showed an unprecedented degree of cooperation with the Coalition’s campaign against terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Some of our Middle Eastern allies thwarted terrorist incidents targeted against US interests and citizens, disrupted terrorist cells, and enhanced their counterterrorism relations with the United States. A number provided tangible support for Operation Enduring Freedom, including personnel, basing, and overflight privileges. Most Middle East governments froze al-Qaida financial assets pursuant to UNSCR 1373. Notably, all Middle Eastern countries with an American diplomatic presence were responsive to US requests for enhanced security for personnel and facilities during periods of heightened alert.
The Government of Yemen, for example, launched a military campaign against al-Qaida and suspected al-Qaida members within its territory. Jordan maintained extreme vigilance in monitoring suspected terrorists and put a number on trial. Qatar, as head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), coordinated an official OIC communiqué supportive of action by the international Coalition. Egypt used its regional clout to build consensus for the Coalition. The United Arab Emirates broke off diplomatic relations with the Taliban 11 days after the attack and took significant antiterrorism financing measures. And Algeria continued its aggressive campaign against domestic terrorism and bolstered its security cooperation with the US Government.
Middle Eastern governments that still lack peace agreements with Israel, most notably Syria and Lebanon, cooperated with the US Government and its partners in investigating al-Qaida and some other organizations, but they refused to recognize Hizballah, HAMAS, the Palestine Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian rejectionist groups for what they are—terrorists. They and other Arab/Muslim countries held the view that violent activities by these groups constitute legitimate resistance. They sometimes even condone Palestinian suicide bombings and other attacks against civilian targets within Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip.
The Gulf countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates played strong roles in the international Coalition against terrorism. In addition to condemning the September 11 attacks publicly, these governments took positive steps to halt the flow of terrorism financing and, in some cases, authorized basing and/or overflight provisions. In several cases, they did so despite popular disquiet over their governments’ military support for Operation Enduring Freedom. As in other Arab countries, US interests were often subject to terrorist threats. The Gulf governments as a whole were extremely responsive in providing appropriate and effective security measures.
Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, which have been designated as state sponsors of terrorism, are discussed in the state sponsorship section of this report.
President Bouteflika, who met twice in 2001 with President Bush, publicly pledged his Government’s full cooperation with the Coalition’s campaign. As part of this cooperation, the Government of Algeria strengthened its information sharing with the United States and worked actively with European and other governments to eliminate terrorist support networks linked to Algerian groups, most of which are located in Europe.
Algeria itself has been ravaged by terrorism since the early 1990s. Since 1999, Algerian extremists operating abroad also have stepped-up their anti US activities, a development that has contributed to a closer, mutually beneficial counterterrorism relationship between our two countries. For example, in April, Algerian authorities announced the arrest of international fugitive Abdelmajid Dahoumane, as he tried to re-enter the country. Dahoumane is an accomplice of Ahmed Ressam, who is awaiting sentencing for planning a thwarted attack on the Los Angeles International Airport in December 1999.
Terrorism within Algeria remained a serious problem in 2001, although its magnitude decreased as Government forces continued to improve their ability to combat it. There were fewer massacres and false roadside checkpoints set up by militants. Most violence occurred in areas outside the capital. The worst single incident of terrorist violence occurred on 1 February when Islamic extremists massacred 26 persons near Berrouaghia in Medea Province.
Militants continued their attacks in the Algiers area on occasion, despite improved measures by the Government to secure the capital. Also, for the first time since 1997, Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) forces in early 2001 killed foreign nationals—four Russian scientists and one French/Algerian woman—although press reports suggest that the victims were not targeted based upon their nationalities.
The GSPC—the largest, most active terrorist organization operating inside Algeria—maintained the capability to conduct operations. It collaborated with smugglers and Islamists in the south who supplied insurgents with weapons and communications equipment in northern strongholds.
(In a shootout in early 2002, Algerian Government security forces killed Antar Zouabri, head of the Algerian terrorist organization Armed Islamic Group, which has been responsible for most of the civilian massacres over the past decade.)
There were no terrorist incidents in Bahrain in 2001. Amir Shaykh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa used his country’s 2001 presidency of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to advocate, consistently, a proactive GCC position against terrorism. In addition, the Bahrain Monetary Authority implemented UNSCR 1373 and quickly took action to freeze terrorist assets.
The Egyptian and US Governments continued to work closely together on a broad range of counterterrorism issues in 2001. The relationship was further strengthened in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Key Egyptian Government and religious officials condemned the attacks; President Mubarak was the first Arab leader to support the US military campaign in Afghanistan publicly. Egypt also supported efforts to cut off the flow of terrorism financing by strengthening banking regulations, including preparing a money-laundering bill for this purpose. The Government of Egypt renewed its appeals to foreign governments to extradite or return Egyptian fugitives.
Other actions taken by the Government of Egypt to support US counterterrorism efforts following the September 11 attacks included continuing to place a high priority on protecting US citizens and facilities in Egypt from attack; strengthening security for US forces transiting the Suez Canal; implementing aviation security directives; agreeing to participate in the voluntary Advanced Passenger Information System; and granting extensive overflight and Canal transit clearances.
Egypt itself has been for many years a victim of terrorism, although it has abated. No terrorism-related deaths were reported in Egypt in 2001, but the Egyptian Government continued to regard terrorism and extremist activity as an urgent challenge. The Egyptian Government indicted nearly 300 Egyptians and foreigners on terrorism-related charges. They will be tried by a military tribunal. Other terrorists’ detentions were extended. Of those arrested, 87 were members of a group Egyptian authorities dubbed "al-Wa’ad" (The Promise). They were accused of planning to assassinate key Egyptian figures and blow up strategic targets; at the time of the arrests, authorities reportedly discovered arms caches and bomb-making materials. Those arrested included 170 al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG) members, accused of killing police and civilians. They also were accused of targeting tourists and robbing banks between 1994 and 1998. Egypt’s principal terrorist organizations, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) and the IG, suffered setbacks following September 11. International members of both groups and some suspects were returned to Egypt from abroad for trial. The Government renewed its appeals to foreign governments to extradite or return other Egyptian fugitives. In early 2001, IG leader Rifa’i Ahmad Taha Musa published a book in which he attempted to justify terrorist attacks that result in mass civilian casualties. He disappeared several months there- after, and his whereabouts at the time of this report’s publication remained unknown.
Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip
Traditionally, Israel has been one of the United States' staunchest supporters in fighting terrorism. September 11 reinforced US-Israeli security cooperation in this area. There is no known al-Qaida presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat forcefully denounced the September 11 attacks. Even HAMAS publicly distanced itself from Usama Bin Ladin.
Israeli-Palestinian violence escalated in 2001, and terrorist activity increased in scale and lethality. Israel responded to terrorist attacks with military strikes against PA facilities, targeted killings of suspected terrorists, and tightened security measures, including roadblocks and closures of Palestinian towns and villages.
HAMAS conducted several suicide bombings inside Israeli cities from March to June, culminating in the attack outside a Tel Aviv nightclub on 1 June that killed 22 Israeli teenagers and injured at least 65 others. On 9 August, HAMAS mounted a suicide attack in a Jerusalem pizzeria, killing 15 persons and wounding more than 60 others.
Attacks by the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) against Israel were similar to those of HAMAS. They included car bombings, shooting attacks, and suicide bombings. In general, PIJ operations were significantly less lethal than those of HAMAS. The PIJ claimed several shootings during the year, including an attack on 4 November in which a PIJ member ambushed an Israeli bus carrying schoolchildren in the French Hill section of East Jerusalem. The attack killed two children, including one dual US-Israeli national, and wounded at least 35 other persons.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) raised its profile in 2001. It carried out car bombings in Jerusalem, few of which caused serious injury. The PFLP, however, assassinated Israeli cabinet minister Rehav’am Ze’evi in an East Jerusalem hotel on 17 October, purportedly in retaliation for Israel’s killing of its leader, Abu Ali Mustafa.
Members of the Tanzim, which is made up of small and loosely organized cells of militants drawn from the street-level membership of Fatah, conducted attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank over the course of the year. In mid-March, Israel arrested several Tanzim members who confessed to participating in at least 25 shootings over a five-month period. Some Tanzim militants also were active in al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in the West Bank —mainly shootings and roadside bombings against settlers and Israeli soldiers. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade also claimed credit for at least one mortar attack.
Other secular Palestinian entities carried out terrorist attacks in 2001. Israel announced in the fall that it had detained 15 members of a terrorist squad linked to the Iraq-based Palestine Liberation Front. In early May, the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) tried to smuggle weapons into Gaza aboard the Santorini. Apparently unaffiliated Palestinians also committed acts of political violence. For example, on 14 February, a Palestinian from Gaza, employed by Israel’s Egged civilian bus company and with no known links to any terrorist organization, drove his bus into a group of Israeli soldiers at a bus stop killing eight and wounding 21 persons.
Israeli Arabs, constituting nearly one-fifth of Israel’s population, appeared to have played a limited role in the violence in 2001. On 9 September, Israeli Arab Muhammad Hubayshi conducted a suicide attack at a train station in Nahariyah. HAMAS claimed credit for the attack. Israeli Arabs generally refrained from aiding and abetting terrorists from the West Bank and Gaza, however. At year’s end, Israel indicted four Israeli Arabs linked to rejectionist groups, although they were uninvolved in terrorist operations or planning.
Jewish extremists attacked Palestinian civilians and their properties in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2001. The attacks claimed the lives of Palestinian civilians and destroyed Palestinian farmlands, homes, businesses, and automobiles. In April, six Israeli policemen were wounded when settlers blew up a Palestinian shop. In late November, Israel’s Shin Bet security service assessed that five Palestinians were killed and fourteen wounded in attacks that were likely staged by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Investigations into many of these attacks produced inconclusive results, leading to several arrests but no formal charges.
During 2001, Israeli military forces killed more than two dozen suspected terrorists affiliated with HAMAS, the PIJ, Fatah, or the PFLP. An unspecified number of Palestinian civilians also were killed in the strikes.
Unlike the pre-intifadah era, when Israeli-PA security cooperation was generally effective, PA counterterrorism activities remained sporadic throughout the year. Israel’s destruction of the PA’s security infrastructure contributed to the ineffectiveness of the PA. Significantly reduced Israeli-PA security cooperation and a lax security environment allowed HAMAS and other groups to rebuild terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian territories.
PA security services did thwart some attacks aimed at Israelis. They also discovered and confiscated some caches of weapons and explosives. But violence continued throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, resulting in almost 200 Israelis and over 500 Palestinians killed in 2001.
Early in December, the White House called upon Arafat to take "meaningful, long-term and enduring action against terrorists operating out of Palestinian territory." On 16 December, Arafat issued a public statement urging adherence to his call for a cease-fire. This was followed by PA arrests of dozens of HAMAS and PIJ activists, although the conditions of their arrest and the military role that some of them may have played remain unclear. The PA also closed some social services centers run by HAMAS and the PIJ. In December, and under pressure from the PA, HAMAS announced that it would halt suicide attacks within Israel. It retained the option of continuing operations against Israel inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip, however. The top PIJ leadership inside and outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip did not endorse Arafat’s call for a cease-fire agreement.
(In January 2002, Israeli forces boarded the vessel Karine-A in the Red Sea and uncovered nearly 50 tons of Iranian arms, including Katyusha missiles, apparently bound for militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.)
Jordanian officials strongly condemned the September 11 attacks and responded favorably to US requests for assistance. King Abdullah served as an influential and moderating force in the region and stressed in multilateral venues the need to combat terrorism cooperatively. Jordan strengthened its counterterrorism laws, defining terrorism more broadly, specifying punishment for terrorist offenses, and facilitating the seizure of terrorist finances. Moreover, the Government of Jordan continued its vigilant counterterrorism posture in 2001, facing threats that included possible retribution for the late-1999 interdiction of an al-Qaida-linked terrorist plot and efforts to exploit Jordanian territory for attacks against Israel.
In late April, Jordanian authorities publicly released details of the arrest on 29 January of 13 militants who allegedly had planned to attack unspecified Israeli and Western targets in the country. The 13 were referred to a state security court for trial on four counts: membership in an illegal organization, conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts, possession of explosives without a license and for illegal purposes, and preparing an explosive device without a license. Some cell members possessed homemade explosives at the time they were detained.
On 3 December, a state security court sentenced Sabri al-Banna, head of the Abu Nidal terrorist organization (ANO), to death in absentia. Al-Banna, also known as Abu Nidal, was charged with the assassination in 1994 of a Jordanian diplomat in Lebanon. Four ANO members were also sentenced to death. (One was arrested in Jordan upon his arrival from Libya in early January 2002 and three still remain at large.)
Jordanian prosecutors requested the death penalty in the trial of dual US-Jordanian national Ra’ed Hijazi, who had been implicated in the Bin Ladin-linked Millennium plot in late 1999. Hijazi allegedly confessed to planning terrorist attacks in Jordan and to undergoing military training in al-Qaida camps inside Afghanistan. (In 2000, Hijazi had been convicted in absentia and sentenced to death along with five others. Hijazi’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on 11 February 2002 by the State Security Court.)
The Jordanian authorities foiled numerous attempts by militants to infiltrate Israel from Jordan during the year. In June, Jordanian security officials arrested four Jordanians and charged them with planning to transfer a cache of arms into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Jordanian authorities also retrieved various types of weapons—including explosives—allegedly concealed along the Jordanian-Iraqi border after having been smuggled from Lebanon. By the end of 2001, at least two suspected terrorists associated with this plot were still at large in Lebanon and the West Bank.
Jordan retained its tight restrictions and close monitoring of HAMAS and other Palestinian rejectionist groups in its territory. For example, the Jordanian Government settled a two-week long standoff involving Ibrahim Ghawsha, a deported HAMAS leader, who flew back to Amman without warning. Jordan permitted his return only after he had agreed not to be a spokesman or conduct political work on behalf of HAMAS.
On 7 August, an Israeli businessman was shot dead outside his Amman apartment. The motive for the attack remained unclear, although two groups—Nobles of Jordan and Holy Warriors for Ahmad Daqamseh—claimed responsibility. (Ahmad Daqamseh is a Jordanian soldier currently serving a life sentence for killing six Israeli schoolgirls in 1997.)
As of early December, a Jordanian court was investigating the activities of an Iraqi truck driver who allegedly smuggled weapons into Jordan the previous month. The suspect insisted he was paid by an unidentified Iraqi to transport the weapons to Jordan only. Upon further questioning, however, the driver admitted that at least 13 machineguns were destined for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Kuwait supported the Coalition against terrorism through public statements and a variety of practical measures. Crown Prince Saad, in an October speech opening the National Assembly, identified counterterrorism as the Government’s top priority. Kuwait has ratified or signed all 12 UN counterterrorism conventions. On the financial front, it ordered all international monetary transfers to be sent through its Central Bank, instructed all financial institutions to freeze and seize assets of those designated in Executive Order 13224, and ordered the shutdown of all unlicensed charities by 2002. In December, the Government pledged to cooperate with US experts in investigating suspected cases of terrorism financing. The Government created a higher council to oversee Islamic charities and directed clerics not to use their positions to incite political conflict. Kuwait responded positively and quickly to all Coalition requests for support of Operation Enduring Freedom. It also took the initiative to deliver multiple shipments of humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees during Operation Enduring Freedom. It raised over $8 million in direct donations for the refugees and granted over $250 million in aid to Pakistan during 2001. There were no terrorist incidents in Kuwait in 2001.
The president of Lebanon as well as other senior Lebanese officials consistently condemned the September 11 attacks and offered to help the US Government in its efforts to arrest individuals with ties to al-Qaida and freeze the assets of suspected Sunni extremists. In October, Lebanese security forces arrested two ‘Asbat al-Ansar members who allegedly had been planning to attack the Embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as other unspecified Arab targets in Beirut. ‘Asbat al-Ansar, which operates mainly from 'Ayn al Hilwah camp, has been outlawed and its leader, Abu Muhjin, sentenced to death in absentia by Lebanese courts.
The Lebanese Government, however, condones Hizballah’s actions against Israel, arguing that they are "resistance activities." Several terrorist organizations continued to operate or maintain a presence in Lebanon, including Hizballah, the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), the Palestine Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, ‘Asbat al-Ansar, and several local Sunni extremist organizations.
The Lebanese Government failed to hand over to US authorities three senior Hizballah operatives, including Imad Mugniyah, after the men were placed on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists in 2001 for their role in the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847. Lebanese law prohibits the extradition of Lebanese nationals, but the Government has not taken adequate steps to pursue the cases in Lebanese courts, claims the individuals are not in Lebanon, and that it does not know their whereabouts.
Since the Lebanese Government deems organizations that target Israel to be legitimate, Hizballah, HAMAS, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian terrorist organizations were recognized as legal organizations and were allowed to maintain offices in Beirut. The Government refused to freeze the assets of Hizballah or close down the offices of rejectionist Palestinian organizations. It also continued to reject the US Government’s position that Hizballah has a global reach, asserting it to be a local, indigenous organization integral to Lebanese society and politics. The Government of Lebanon informed the United States and the UN that it opposed terrorism and was working to control it. The United States and Lebanon did not agree on a definition of terrorism, however. The Lebanese Government, like other Arab countries, has called for a UN-sponsored conference to define and address the underlying causes of terrorism.
Security conditions in most of Lebanon remained stable in 2001, despite inadequate government control over several areas of the country, including Beirut’s southern suburbs, the Beka’a Valley, the southern border area, and Palestinian refugee camps. The continuing inability of Lebanon to exert such control created a permissive environment for the smuggling of small arms and explosives as well as training activities by terrorist organizations. Hizballah has not attacked US interests in Lebanon since 1991, but it continued to maintain the capability to target US personnel and facilities there and abroad. During 2001, Hizballah provided training to HAMAS and the Palestine Islamic Jihad at training facilities in the Beka’a Valley. In addition, Hizballah reportedly increased the export of weaponry into the West Bank and Gaza Strip for use by these groups against Israeli targets.
There were no attacks on US interests in Lebanon in 2001, but there were random acts of political violence/hate crimes. In May, unknown gunmen assassinated a senior commander of Yasir Arafat’s Fatah organization in the 'Ayn al Hulwah Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon, an area outside Lebanese Government control. In September, another Fatah official escaped an assassination attempt near his home in Sidon. In September and October, two churches were attacked, resulting in property damage but no loss of life. In October, a mosque in the predominantly Christian town of Batroun was slightly damaged by arson.
King Mohammed VI unambiguously condemned the September 11 attacks and offered the international Coalition his country’s full cooperation in the war against terrorism. On 24 September the Government of Morocco signed the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and is complying fully with UNSCR resolutions that seek to eliminate terrorist financing.
Domestically, the Moroccan Government’s record of vigilance against terrorist activity and intolerance for the perpetrators of terrorism remained uninterrupted in 2001. While no reported terrorist activity took place inside Morocco, King Mohammed reiterated his outright condemnation of those who conduct or espouse terrorism.
The Government of Oman was very responsive to requests from the Coalition. It proactively responded to US requests related to terrorism financing Executive Order 13224 to ensure that there were no accounts available to any listed terrorist entity or individual. The Government of Oman has signed nine of the 12 UN counterterrorism conventions. There were no terrorist incidents in Oman in 2001.
Qatar provided important and substantial support for the Coalition. As Chair of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Qatar immediately issued public statements condemning the September 11 attacks and disassociating them from Islam. As host of an emergency OIC Ministerial on 16 October, the Government of Qatar helped draft a final communiqué supportive of action by the international Coalition against terror. Qatari law-enforcement authorities worked closely with US counterparts to detain and investigate terrorist suspects. The Qatar Central Bank instructed all financial institutions to freeze and seize the terrorist assets of those designated in Executive Order 13224.
After September 11 and the realization that 15 of 19 of the attackers were Saudi citizens, the Saudi Government reaffirmed its commitment to combat terrorism and responded positively to requests for concrete action in support of Coalition efforts against al-Qaida and the Taliban. The King, Crown Prince, Government-appointed religious leaders, and official news media publicly and consistently condemned terrorism and refuted the few ideological and religious justifications made by some clerics.
In October, the Saudi Government announced it would implement UNSCR 1373, which called for, among other things, the freezing of terrorist related funds. The Saudi Government has ratified six of 12 UN conventions relating to terrorism and signed an additional three, including the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. The remaining three conventions are under consideration. The Saudi Government also pressed nongovernmental organizations and private agencies to implement existing Saudi laws that govern the soliciting of contributions for domestic or international humanitarian causes. These laws were not scrupulously enforced in the past, and some representatives of international terrorist organizations solicited and collected funds from private citizens and businesses in Saudi Arabia. In December, Saudi authorities agreed to cooperate with US investigators in suspected cases of terrorism financing.
Several threats against US civilian and military personnel and facilities in Saudi Arabia were reported in 2001, but none materialized. By year's end, Saudi authorities had finished an investigation into a series of bombings in Riyadh and the Eastern Province (Ash-Sharqiyah) and determined that the bombings were criminal rather than political in motivation. In October an apparent suicide bombing in al-Khubar killed one US citizen and injured another. The Saudi investigation since revealed that the bomber was a Palestinian, acting alone, for unverified motives relating to the Palestinian intifadah.
There was only one significant act of international terrorism in Saudi Arabia in 2001—the hijacking of a Turkish plane en route to Russia in March, perpetrated to protest Russian actions in Chechnya. Saudi forces stormed the plane, rescuing most of the passengers. The Saudi Government denied requests from Russia and Turkey to extradite the hijackers.
The Government of Saudi Arabia continued to investigate the June 1996 bombing of the Khubar Towers housing facility near Dhahran that killed 19 US military personnel and wounded some 500 US and Saudi personnel. The Saudi Government continued to hold in detention a number of Saudi citizens linked to the attack, including Hani al-Sayegh, extradited by the United States in 1999.
The September 11 attacks strengthened the Tunisian Government’s active posture against terrorism in 2001. The only Arab nation represented on the United Nations Security Council in 2001, Tunisia supported Security Council Resolutions 1368 and 1373. These cooperative international measures matched the Tunisian Government’s concrete stand against terrorism within its borders. Most Tunisians oppose Islamist movements because they do not want the violence of neighboring Algeria repeated in Tunisia.
There were no reported acts of terrorism in Tunisia in 2001, yet the Government continued to bring judicial, law-enforcement, and military resources to bear against terrorist suspects. On 29 November a military court convicted a Tunisian, extradited from Italy, on charges of training members of a terrorist cell in Italy. On the military front, the Government of Tunisia, in concert with the Government of Algeria, took steps to protect its borders from what it considered a potentially destabilizing influx of extremists. The efforts culminated in the signing in November of a military cooperation agreement with Algeria aimed at strengthening border guard units to better control terrorist movements and the illegal trafficking of arms, drugs, and contraband materials.
United Arab Emirates
Formerly one of three countries to recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the UAE cut diplomatic relations 11 days after the attacks on the United States. During his December National Day address, President Zayid promised to "fight and uproot terrorism." This posture was underscored by significant actions taken on the law-enforcement, diplomatic, and humanitarian fronts. The UAE took major steps to curb terrorist funding: the country’s Central Bank ordered all financial institutions—from banks and investment firms to moneychangers—to freeze and seize the accounts of almost 150 groups and individuals linked to terrorism, including the Al-Barakat group based in Dubai. The UAE also adopted the Gulf Coordination Council’s most comprehensive criminal law prohibiting money laundering. The UAE continued to investigate Marwan Al-Shihi and Fayiz Bani-Hamed, UAE nationals linked to the September 11 attacks. In July, the UAE arrested Djamel Beghal in Dubai and extradited him to France where he was placed under formal investigation after being linked to a planned attack on the US Embassy and American cultural center in Paris. Finally, the UAE contributed $265 million in aid to Pakistan and the UAE Red Crescent Society joined with Dubai Crown Prince Muhammad bin Rashid Al-Maktums’s Foundation and Sharjah Charity International in contributing over $20 million for the establishment of five refugee camps/humanitarian centers along the Afghan-Pakistan border and supplied medicine, clothing, and blankets for needy Afghans.
Yemen immediately condemned the terrorist attacks of September 11. The Yemeni Government also publicly condemned terrorism "in all its forms and sources," expressing support for the international fight against terror. Moreover, the Yemeni Government took practical steps to enhance its intelligence and military cooperation with the United States. During his official visit to Washington in November, President Salih underscored Yemen’s determination to function as an active partner in counterterrorism with the United States. Senior US officials welcomed President Salih's commitment but made clear that any counterterrorism cooperation will be judged by its results.
The United States and Yemen continued their joint investigation of the attack in October 2000 on the USS Cole. Cooperation was productive, particularly in the aftermath of September 11, and established important linkages between the East Africa US Embassy bombings, the USS Cole bombing, and the September 11 attacks. The Yemeni Government's assistance in providing investigators with key documents, allowing evidence to be processed in the United States, and facilitating access to suspects made the discoveries possible.
In 2001, the Yemeni Government arrested suspected terrorists and
pledged to neutralize key
al-Qaida nodes in Yemen. Increased pressure from security services forced some terrorists to relocate. Yemen has enhanced previously lax security at its borders, tightened its visa procedures, and prevented the travel to Afghanistan of potential terrorists. Authorities carefully monitored travelers returning from abroad and cracked down on foreigners who were residing in the country illegally or were suspected of engaging in terrorist activities. On the education front, the Government began integrating formerly autonomous private religious schools—some of which were propagating extremism—into the national educational system, and has tightened requirements for visiting foreign students. The Yemeni Government asked a large number of foreign students from Arab or Islamic backgrounds to leave the country.
Several terrorist organizations maintained a presence in Yemen. HAMAS and the Palestine Islamic Jihad continued to maintain offices in Yemen legally. Other international terrorist groups with members operating illegally in Yemen included the al-Qaida, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Libyan opposition groups, and the Algerian Armed Islamic Group. An indigenous terrorist group, the Islamic Army of Aden, remained active in the country.