INDEPTH: U.S. SECURITY
The U.S. list
CBC News Online | May 15, 2006
Washington started the list in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The United States maintains a list of countries it says are friendly to groups or individuals that advocate the use of terror to achieve their goals. It's a pretty exclusive list – and hasn't changed much since Washington started compiling it in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The U.S. State Department says without friendly countries, "terrorist groups would have much more difficulty obtaining the funds, weapons, materials, and secure areas they require to plan and conduct operations."
Which countries are on the list?
As of May 15, 2006, the U.S. identified Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea and Sudan as state sponsors of terrorism.
Washington describes Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism, involved directly in the planning and support of acts carried out by Palestinian groups. The U.S. has also pointed to Iran's ability to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. Its worries have increased since Tehran announced in April that it had successfully enriched uranium.
North Korea remains on the list even though Washington says the country "is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987."
Cuba, too, remains on the list – but not for harbouring any specific group. The State Department notes that Cuba continues to "oppose the U.S.-led Coalition prosecuting the global war on terror and has publicly condemned various U.S. policies and actions." It also maintains friendly relations with countries like Iran and North Korea.
What are the consequences of getting on the list?
Sanctions. The four major ones are:
- A ban on arms-related exports and sales.
- Controls on the export of technology that could have military uses.
- No economic aid.
- American opposition to a country's application for World Bank loans and no duty-free status of goods exported to the U.S.
Can a country get off the list once it's on?
On May 15, 2006, Libya was dropped from the list. The move came three years after Libya renounced terrorism and said it was abandoning its weapons of mass destruction program.
Over those three years, the U.S. and other western countries began to rebuild relations with Libya. The day Libya was dropped from the list, Washington announced it was restoring full diplomatic relations with Libya for the first time since 1972.
While Sudan remains on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, the State Department says Sudan has been co-operating with the international community in anti-terrorism efforts.
On the other hand, the U.S. State Department slapped a ban on arms sales to Venezuela on May 15, 2006, saying President Hugo Chavez's leftist government has been unco-operative in counterterrorism efforts. The State Department also cited Chavez's "ideological affinity" with two Colombian groups the U.S. and Canada have labelled as terrorist organizations. As well, the U.S. has expressed concern over Venezuela's good relations with Cuba and Iran.
Does Canada maintain a list of states that sponsor terrorism?
No, but the federal government does have a list of its own. Under the Anti-Terrorism Act – which came into effect in December 2001 – Ottawa began the process of identifying groups it considers either "terrorist" or supportive of "terrorism." According to the act, groups can be listed if they meet the following conditions:
They've knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity.
- They've knowingly acted on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with an entity that has knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity.
The process of listing an organization begins after the minister of public safety is given intelligence reports on that organization that suggest it may be involved in terrorist-related activities. The minister decides whether to recommend to the governor-in-council that an organization be listed. The final decision is up to the governor-in-council.
Which groups are on the federal government's list?
As of May 2006, there were 39 groups on the list, including al-Qaeda, Al?Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas, Hezbollah and several other Islamic groups. But the groups aren't limited to the Middle East. Other groups include Peru's Sendero Luminoso, the Sikh organization Babbar Khalsa International, Colombia's FARC and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The Basque separatist group ETA is also on the list. The group – which had been described as Europe's deadliest terrorist organization – declared a permanent ceasefire on March 24, 2006, in its quest for an independent homeland.
The list of organizations is periodically reviewed and entities that no longer meet the government's criteria can be removed.
The U.S. maintains a similar list of organizations.