What’s a “terrorist” Organization and the States that Sponsor them

The U.S. State Department currently deems 28 organizations world-wide as “terrorist” organizations.
1. Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) 2. Abu Sayyaf Group 3. Armed Islamic Group (GIA) 4. Aum Shinrikyo 5. Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) 6. Gama’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group) 7. HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) 8. Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) 9. Hizballah (Party of God) 10. Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) 11. al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) 12. Kahane Chai (Kach) 13. Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) 14. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) 15. Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) 16. National Liberation Army (ELN)   17. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) 18. Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) 19. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) 20. PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC) 21. al-Qa’ida 22. Real IRA 23. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 24. Revolutionary Nuclei (formerly ELA) 25. Revolutionary Organization 17 November 26. Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army/Front (DHKP/C) 27. Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL) 28. United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)

Amongst these 28 groups, 12 are motivated by and use some interpretation of Islam as motivation and justification for their actions. Here’s a PDF file that has fuller descriptions of the aforementioned groups. This report highlights the occurance of terrorist attacks with bars and graphs; according to it not only have terrorist attacks decreased in general, they have occurred more frequently in Latin American than in any other part of the world. For more information a thorough database of terrorism is maintained by Council on Foreign Relations which is useful.

In addition to these individual groups, the U.S. State Department also maintains a list of “State-Sponsored Terrorism.” This list includes: 

  1. Cuba
  2. Iran
  3. Iraq [under Saddam Hussein’s regime]
  4. Libya
  5. North Korea
  6. Sudan
  7. Syria

Given such an exhaustive list of both states and groups that are in way or another “terrorist” it is surprising that there is no official government definition of “terrorism” provided in any of the State Department documents.


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