Terrorist and Para-State Organizations

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Terrorist and Para-State Organizations

Para-state organizations challenge some aspect of the authority of recognized governments or states. Many para-state groups, illegal within their own country or territory, seek international recognition at the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), a non-governmental organization headquartered in The Hague.

There are no clear defining lines between guerilla forces and para-state organizations. Guerilla warfare refers to more organized, widespread, or formal armed resistance by paramilitary or para-state groups (usually wearing some sort of insignia or uniform) toward an occupying force. In many areas of the world, guerilla warfare tactics are used by paramilitary groups against government forces.

Moreover, history is replete with causes and movements, initially branded as "illegitimate" or "para-state" organizations that ultimately become the ruling government (i.e., transforming the group from a "para-state" to the state itself). In some cases, an organization branded "terrorist" or "outlaw" by the ruling government may be considered a legitimate political movement or a group of "fighters" for a cause embraced by a segment of the population.

For example, the African National Congressonce headed by Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandelawas for decades branded a terrorist and outlaw group by the now abolished apartheid South African government.

In general, it is the commission of acts of violence that brand organizations as para-state terrorist groups as opposed to legitimate political parties or national liberation movements that do not engage in violence or armed struggle in an attempt to change governments.

The definition of terrorist is, however, not entirely subjective. Under United States law, terrorist activity is so labeled by "any activity which is unlawful under the laws of the place where it is committed (or which, if committed in the United States, would be unlawful under the laws of the United States or any State) and which involves any of the following: The highjacking or sabotage of any conveyance (including an aircraft, vessel, or vehicle); The seizing or detaining, and threatening to kill, injure, or continue to detain, another individual in order to compel a third person (including a governmental organization) to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the individual seized or detained; A violent attack upon an internationally protected person (defined in section 1116(b)(4) of title 18, United States Code) or upon the liberty of such a person; or an assassination."

U.S. law and statutes also define as acts of terrorism "the use of any biological agent, chemical agent, or nuclear weapon or device; or explosive, firearm, or other weapon or dangerous device with intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property."

State-sponsored terrorism. In addition to para-state organizations that usually operate within defined borders, a state itself can also act to sponsor terrorism or terrorist organizations.

As of April 1, 2003, the U.S. State Department had designated the following countries state sponsors of international terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. The State Department asserts that although " most no longer engage directly in terrorist activity, they may support terrorist groups by providing funding or arms."

Terrorist organizations. Annually, the U.S. Department of State publishes a list of designated foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs). In 2002, the State Department designated 33 groups as FTOs. The State Department's formal list focuses on groups who have recently engaged in terrorist attacks or are otherwise highly active. In addition, the State Department's annual report to Congress, Patterns of Global Terrorism, also identifies and profiles organizations that in the past have been designated as terrorist organizations.

Organizations not formally designated as foreign terrorist groups, but listed as terrorist organizations in the 2001 report to Congress include the following organizations: Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB); Al-Ittihad al-Islami (AIAI); Allied Democratic Forces (ADF); Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei (NTA); Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR); Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF); Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA); First of October Antifacist Resistance Group (GRAPO); Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami (HUJI); Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B); Islamic Army of Aden (IAA); Irish Republican Army (IRA); Al Jama'a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya; Japanese Red Army (JRA); Jemaah Islamiya (JI); Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM); Lord's Resistance Army (LRA); Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF); New People's Army (NPA); Orange Volunteers (OV); People Against Gangersterism and Drugs (PAGAD); Red Hand Defenders (RHD); Revolutionary Proletarian Initiative Nuclei (NIPR); Revolutionary United Front (RUF); The Tunisian Combatant Group (TCG); Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA); Turkish Hizballah; and the Ulster Defense Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA/UVF).



CDI (Center for Defense Information), Terrorism Project. CDI Fact Sheet: Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. March 27, 2003. <http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/terrorist.cfm> (April 17, 2003).

Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/> (April 16, 2003).

Taylor, Francis X. U.S. Department of State. "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001," Annual Report: On the record briefing. May 21, 2002 <http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/10367.htm> (April 17,2003).

U.S. Department of State. Annual reports. <http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/annual_reports.html> (April 16, 2003).


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