Army of the Pure

Source: The Institute for Conflict Management

Literally meaning "Army of the Pure", the Lashkar-e-Toiba has proved to be the most brutal terrorist group presently active in Jammu and Kashmir. The outfit is the terrorist arm of the Markaz Dawa-Wal-Irshad, an Islamic fundamentalist organisation of the Wahabi sects in Pakistan. The Indian government has held it responsible for the series of massacres on August 1-2, 2000, which spread over three districts of the State led to the killing of more than 100 persons within a gap of 24 hours, most of who were unarmed civilians.

With an estimated strength of 300 terrorists and headed by Mohammed Latif, the Lashkar-e-Toiba operates in the Srinagar Valley and the districts of Poonch, Rajauri and Doda. The outfit also runs training camps at Kotli, Sialkot and Samani in Pakistan Controlled Kashmir. Its professed ideology goes beyond merely challenging India's sovereignty over the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Lashkar's rhetorical agenda, as outlined in a pamphlet titled, Why are we waging jihad, includes the restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of India.

 Lashkar-e-Toiba's entry into Jammu and Kashmir was first recorded in 1993 when 12 Pakistani and Afghan mercenaries infiltrated across the Line of Control in tandem with the Islami Inquilabi Mahaz, a terrorist outfit based in Poonch district of the State. Though Lashkar-e-Toiba cadre were gradually inducted in the succeeding years, it was after 1997 (Nawaz Sharief’s second term as Prime Minister of Pakistan) that the Lashkar-e-Toiba rose in the priority of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Evidence of official patronage from Pakistan came in the form of the then Information Minister, Mushahid Hussain's visit to the Lashkar-e-Toiba headquarters in Muridke near Lahore. He was accompanied by the governor of Pakistani Punjab province, Shahid Hamid, and a host of provincial ministers.

The increasing importance of this group came about after the ISI decided on shifting the focus of insurgency from the Kashmir Valley to the Jammu region. This was part of the ethnic cleansing strategy, and since most minority communities of the State were concentrated in the Jammu region, this necessitated the intensification of insurgency in the region.

The Lashkar-e-Toiba was an ideal instrument for the ISI in this campaign. Indoctrinated in orthodox terrorist Islamic ideals, the cadre (largely Pakistanis and Afghans) of Lashkar-e-Toiba had no qualms in perpetrating massacres of minorities in the State. Thus after 1997, there has been a rise in insurgent activity all along the border districts of Jammu, particularly in the districts of Poonch and Doda.

The rise of the Lashkar-e-Toiba in ISI’s priorities is also due to the Punjabi (Pakistani Punjab) base of the outfit. This helps easy mixing by Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists with the local population of Jammu, who are linguistically allied to Punjab. Thus it makes the Lashkar-e-Toiba an ideal instrument for the ISI's ethnic cleansing strategy in the Jammu region.

Lashkar-e-Toiba cadre, unlike other terrorists, prefer to die in an encounter with security forces rather than get caught. For instance, in 1997 the largest group of terrorists killed in clashes with the security forces belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba.

The puritanism of this outfit’s cadre is characterised by a level of brutality, which surpasses that of all other terrorist groups operating in the State and sponsored by Pakistan. Mass murders of defenseless people, mainly Hindus, is this outfit’s speciality. The Lashkar-e-Toiba has carried out some major attacks in tandem with the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM). One instance is the cold blooded murder of 23 people in Wandhama on January 23, 1988. A second instance is the June 19, 1998, massacre in which 25 members of a wedding party in Doda, Jammu were killed. To highlight the Kashmir issue during the US Presidential visit to South Asia, Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists perpetrated the Chattisinghpora massacre where 35 people were killed on March 20, 2000. The victims, in all these cases, were either Hindus or Sikhs.

The extreme level of cold-blooded brutality, which sets Lashkar-e-Toiba apart from other terrorist organisations that operated in Kashmir before, is evident in the Wandhama massacre, where children as young as one year were murdered along with scores of women and defenceless men.

The Lashkar-e-Toiba has successfully launched several attacks on security forces bases through their suicide squads termed as fidayen. The frequency of these attacks increased after the Kargil fiasco when the ISI controlled terrorist organisations were directed to intensify attacks on security forces. The first of these suicide attacks was targeted at a residential complex of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Bandipore near Srinagar. The most spectacular of these missions was the attack on the headquarters of the Special Operations Group (SOG) on December 27, 1999. Earlier, a suicide squad of the outfit had targeted the BSF camp in Handwara on September 4, 1999.

Despite being faced with a serious setback when its J&K chief Abu Muwaih was killed on December 30, 1999, the suicide attacks continued with three such attacks in 2000 (on Surankote Army camp, January 1; Rashtriya Rifles base in Anantnag, January 12 and a BSF Camp in Srinagar, March 21).

More than the number of casualties inflicted on the security forces, the psychological impact of these attacks have helped project the image of this group. This is because security forces have resorted to extensive use of heavy fire, destroying their own buildings in the process, and causing deaths of their own men in friendly fire in each of the attacks.

Several press reports indicate that in the aftermath of the Hizb cease-fire offer, the ISI is using the Lashkar to ensure that there is no perceptible decline in violence or casualties. Going by these reports, it would appear that the Hizb and the Lashkar are only continuing their complementary role, in this case, one espousing peace and the other swearing by terrorism in the name of Jihad. The Hizb offer ensures that terrorists are able to convey, to the international community, their "committment" to peace, while the Lashkar and other predominantly Pakistani terrorist outfits continue to wage a proxy war against India.

Lautaro Youth Movement

a.k.a. The Lautaro faction of the United Popular Action Movement (MAPU/L) or Lautaro Popular Rebel Forces (FRPL)

The following information is based on "Patterns of Global Terrorism" - US State Dept.

This group aims to overthrow the Chilean government.

This is a very violent anti-American extremist group. Their leftist leaders are mainly criminals and impoverished youngsters. It is not known how many members they have.

They commenced their activities in the 1980s.

They attack policemen, Mormon churches and rob banks as part of their activities. Their area of operation is mainly Santiago, Chile. The Government has in recent years considerably weakened this group.


Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

World Tamil Association (WTA), World Tamil Movement (WTM), the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils (FACT), the Ellalan Force

Founded in 1976, the LTTE is the most powerful Tamil group in Sri Lanka and uses overt and illegal methods to raise funds, acquire weapons, and publicize its cause of establishing an independent Tamil state. The LTTE began its armed conflict with the Sri Lankan Government in 1983 and relies on a guerrilla strategy that includes the use of terrorist tactics. The group's elite Black Tiger squad conducts suicide bombings against important targets, and all rank-and-file members carry a cyanide capsule to kill themselves rather than allow themselves to be caught. The LTTE is very insular and highly organized with its own intelligence service, naval element (the Sea Tigers), and women's political and military wings.

The Tigers control most of the northern and eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka but have conducted operations throughout the island. Headquartered in the Wanni region, LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has established an extensive network of checkpoints and informants to keep track of any outsiders who enter the group's area of control.

Tamil terrorism began in 1970 with the formation of a militant student body called the “Tamil Students Movement” to protest government plans to limit access of Tamil students to universities. Very soon this movement went underground and turned to overt terrorist activities.

Violence escalated in Jaffna from 1972 onwards, beginning with the publication of a new constitution seen by the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) as anti-Tamil. The year 1972 saw the formation of three Tamil terrorist groups – the Tamil New Tigers (T.N.T), Tamil Ealam Liberation Organization (TELO) and the Liberation Tigers of Ealam (LTTE), all splinters groups of the original Tamil Students Movement.

In 14 May 1976 the TULF called for the first time for the formation of a separate state of Tamil Ealam covering the North and East provinces, where Tamils were in the majority.

In July 1983 countrywide riots and clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils ended with thousands of Tamils dead and several hundred thousand refugees. Large government forces were deployed in the north and east provinces. This period marks the beginning of the LTTE  guerrilla campaign against government forces.

In 1985 India began acting as mediator between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil groups. In 1987 Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi and the Sri Lankan president signed the “Indo-SL Accord” and Indian peacekeeping forces (IPKF) landed in Jaffna to enforce the Accord. The LTTE signed the agreement and surrendered a large portion of its arms and ammunition.

The Accord collapsed in Oct 1987 and the LTTE took on both the government forces and the IPKF. In April 1989 Sri Lankan president and the LTTE agreed on cease-fire, resulting in the withdrawal of the IPKF, a process that was completed in March 1990.

With the failure of peace talks between the government and the Tamil organizations in June 1990, the government declared Ealam War II and initiated an offensive against LTTE strongholds in the north.

On 21 May 1991 Rajiv Ghandi was killed by an alleged LTTE bomb explosion in Madras, India. India retaliated by banning all LTTE activities in India.

In 1994 a new government in Sri Lanka started another round of peace talks with the Tamils. These negotiations also failed and ended in July 1995 with a new S.L army offensive – Ealam War III.

In December 1995 the S.L. army captured the city of Jaffna after a fierce 50 day offensive.

Since 1995 the LTTE has maintained an intensive guerrilla campaign against the government troops in the region.

Approximately 10,000 armed combatants in Sri Lanka; about 3,000 to 6,000 form a trained cadre of fighters. The LTTE also has a significant overseas support structure for fundraising, weapons procurement, and propaganda activities.

The LTTE's overt organizations support Tamil separatism by lobbying foreign governments and the United Nations. The LTTE also uses its international contacts to procure weapons, communications, and bombmaking equipment. The LTTE exploits large Tamil communities in North America, Europe, and Asia to obtain funds and supplies for its fighters in Sri Lanka. Information obtained since the mid-1980s indicates that some Tamil communities in Europe are also involved in narcotics smuggling.

The LTTE has integrated a battlefield insurgent strategy with a terrorist program that targets key government and military personnel, the economy, and public infrastructure. Political assassinations include the suicide bomber attacks against Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993 and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, which is the group's only known act outside Sri Lanka.

The LTTE has detonated two massive truck bombs directed against the Sri Lankan economy, one at the Central Bank in January 1996 and another at the Colombo World Trade Center in October 1997.

The LTTE has also attacked several ships in Sri Lankan waters, including foreign commercial vessels and infrastructure targets such as commuter trains, buses, oil tanks, and power stations. The LTTE prefers to attack vulnerable government facilities then withdraw before reinforcements arrive, or to time its attacks to take advantage of security lapses on holidays, at night, or in the early morning.


Loyalist Volunteer Force

The Loyalist Volunteer Force is an extremist terrorist group formed in 1996 as a splinter of the mainstream loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The LVF is composed of hardliners formerly associated with the UVF who refused to accept the loyalist cease-fire. They sought to undermine a political settlement with Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland by attacking Catholic politicians, civilians, and Protestant politicians who endorse the Northern Ireland peace process.

Mark "Swinger" Fulton now leads the LVF following the assassination in December 1997 of LVF founder Billy "King Rat" Wright. On May 15, 1998 the LVF announced a unilateral cease-fire and on 18 December 1998--in a move unprecedented among Ulster terrorist groups--decommissioned a small but significant amount of weapons.

The LVF is believed to be responsible for a number of bombings and sectarian killings, including the killing of Sean Brown in Bellaghy in May, and Seamus Dillon and Eddie Treanor in December 1997. The group employs explosives, light arms, and knives. LVF bombs have often contained Powergel commercial explosives, typical of many loyalist groups.

On 27 December 1997 the leader of the LVF was shot to death at close range by three Irish National Liberation Army gunmen at the top security Maze prison. In the subsequent riots followed loyalist gangs in Portadown and other towns hijacked and burned cars and attacked police with Molotov cocktails. In retaliation for Wright's killing, three men opened fire in front of the Glengannon Hotel on December 28, killing 45-year-old former IRA terrorist and convicted murderer (released in 1994) Seamus Dillon. Three others, including a 14-year-old boy, were wounded. The LVF claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as a subsequent new year's eve attack on a North Belfast bar which fatally wounded 31-year-old Catholic Eddie Treanor.

On 15 July 1997, 18-year-old Catholic Bernadette Martin was shot in the head while she was sleeping in the home of her Protestant boyfriend. Although denied by the organization, it is widely believed that the killing was committed by the LVF. The LVF was also thought to be responsible for the killing of Gerry Devlin, a 36-year-old Catholic man who was shot in North Belfast on 05 December 1997.

During the summer weeks of the annual "marching season" some 100,000 members of the Orange Order and similar Protestant organizations stage traditional parades to celebrate their history and cultural identity. While few of the 3,100 parades held each year are contentious, about 40 that celebrate Protestant "triumphs" in historical battles or are routed through Catholic neighborhoods give rise to tensions. The LVF threatened heavy bombing in the Republic of Ireland if the Orange Order March in Portadown was banned. On 01 June 1997, 41-year-old RUC constable Greg Taylor was kicked to death by a loyalist mob outside a bar in County Antrim. The mob was reportedly angry about the police ban on a recent loyalist parade in the Antrim village of Dunloy.


Manuel Rodriquez Patriotic Front

The following information is based on "Patterns of Global Terrorism" - US State Dept.

Founded in 1983 as the armed wing of the Chilean Communist Party, the FPMR was named for the hero of Chile's war of independence against Spain. In the late 1980s the organization splintered into two factions, with one faction becoming a political party in 1991. The dissident wing FPMR/D is Chile's only remaining active terrorist group. They are believed to have between 50 and one hundred members.

FPMR/D attacks civilians and international targets, including US businesses and Mormon churches. In 1993, FPMR/D bombed two McDonald's restaurants and attempted to bomb a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Successful government counter-terrorist operations have undercut the organization significantly. Four FPMR/D members escaped from prison using a helicopter in December 1996. One of them, Patricio Ortiz Montenegro, fled to Switzerland where he requested political asylum. Chile requested Ortiz's extradition, but the Swiss Government—fearing Chile would not safeguard Ortiz's physical and psychological well-being—denied the request. Chilean authorities continued to pursue the whereabouts of the three others who escaped with Ortiz.

Martyrs of al-Aqsa

The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is the striking arm of Yassir Arafat’s Fatah organization and one of the driving forces behind the current Palestinian violence. The Brigades were founded by a group of radicals in the Balata refugee section of Nablus—many of them graduates of the first intifada in 1987. The Brigades’ infrastructure, funds, leadership, and operatives derive from the Fatah Tanzim in the Judea and Samaria. Its main powerbases are located in Nablus and Ramallah.

To date, the Fatah Tanzim and the Martyrs of al-Aqsa have taken responsibility for hundreds of terror attacks in which Israeli civilians were killed. Israeli authorities say that since September 2000 the Fatah-linked groups have carried out more than 2,000 attacks and attempted attacks, including car bombings, shootings, kidnappings, and knife attacks. The Martyrs of al-Aqsa Brigades were involved in the vast majority of these attacks.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades first emerged on the scene shortly after the outbreak of what has come to be known as the al-Aqsa conflict, in late September 2000. In a very real sense, the Martyrs Brigades was a response to the need to suit actions to words.

At the close of the Camp David talks, Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat, who had been offered a Palestinian state alongside of—but not instead of—Israel, declared that the Oslo Peace Process was at a dead end. At the time, the Fatah militias, consisting of the Fatah Tanzim, Force-17, and the various Palestinian security services, were still viewed, both by Israel and by the Palestinians themselves, as moderate forces. Ideologically, they supported what had been, up until then, the Palestinian leader’s stated goal of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

After Arafat returned to armed struggle, these stated goals underwent a change, and the nature of the Fatah-linked groups has altered accordingly. Since the outbreak of hostilities, Arafat has consistently preached “Jihad” against Israel. However, at first it was mostly the Islamist groups, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, that carried out the mass-casualty attacks inside Israel. The Tanzim, which lacked the resources for carrying out the kind of “professional” bombings typical of Hamas, confined itself to shooting attacks on Israelis on roads in the disputed territories.

All of this began to change towards the end of 2000, when Arafat ordered his security services to release the majority of the imprisoned Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants—many of them convicted terrorists who had been jailed under the terms of the Oslo agreements with Israel. Hamas was invited to join the Palestinian Authority’s governing body; and while the invitation was not accepted, a new level of cooperation between Fatah and Hamas began to take shape. The first joint attacks against Israeli civilians were not long in coming.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claims to be faithful to Fatah’s ideology of confrontation with Israel as a means to a Palestinian state. Its members view the armed struggle as the only way to “liberate Palestine”, and consider terrorist attacks and the murder of Israeli civilians to be legitimate ways of serving their key national goals. The group’s ideology was illustrated in a poster published by the Brigades in the Palestinian newspaper Al Hiya Al Jadida soon after the formation of the Brigades: “The ten lean years of the peace process proved that the Zionist occupation which oppresses the heart of the Palestinian homeland and understands only the language of the gun, of fire, of the revolution and the bullets of the revolutionary fighters,” read the poster. According to the al-Aqsa Brigades, not one grain of Arab and Islamic soil should be conceded, all refugees must be allowed to return to former homes in what is now Israel, and any concession to Israel is tantamount to treason.

Unlike the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad—the groups usually associated with mass-casualty attacks against Israel—the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade was at first thought of as a secular, nationalist group, rather than an Islamic one. Thus it came as something of a surprise when the group began carrying out suicide bombings. On hindsight, however, this appears as a natural step. Islamic motifs had been part of the “al-Aqsa” conflict from the beginning—the very name of the conflict was derived from the notion that Israel had plans to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque. Religious motifs have been used extensively by Arafat in his diatribes against “Israeli occupation of Muslim holy places.” Thus, having made Islam-vs.-Judaism a central tenet of the war, it was natural for Fatah to alter its own character to suit the rhetoric that had launched the conflict and kept it going.

The Fatah movement, which controls the Palestinian government—and more importantly, the media and the schools—has generally enjoyed wider popularity than either of the more insular Islamist groups. The movement had lost ground during the earlier stages of the conflict, when the Palestinian leader’s rhetoric outstripped Fatah’s actions in confronting Israel. The popularity of the Islamic groups was given a boost when it appeared that only Hamas and the PIJ were acting to implement Arafat’s calls for “rivers of blood in the streets of Tel-Aviv.” However, this situation was reversed with the emergence of the al-Aqsa Brigades, which since its formation has almost completely eclipsed the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, both in the number and in the deadliness of its attacks. The current predominance of the Martyrs of al-Aqsa in carrying out terrorist attacks in Israel has done much to restore Fatah’s popularity on the Palestinian “street.”

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades organizational structure is based on a loose network of cells in the main West Bank cities. These cells include “military units,” responsible for carrying out the attacks, and “security units” which are responsible for planning the attacks and overseeing the organization’s internal security. This includes the kidnapping and killing of suspected collaborators.

Among the documents seized in a raid on Arafat’s headquarters was an invoice from the al-Aqsa Martyrs asking for reimbursement for, among other things, explosives used in bombings in Israeli cities. The document was addressed to Brig. Gen. Fouad Shoubaki, the Palestinian Authority’s chief financial officer for military operations, and contained numerous handwritten notes and calculations, apparently added by Shoubaki’s staff. The invoice was sent by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to Shoubaki’s office, located in the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in Ramallah. Dated 16 September, it outlines expenses through September 6 and asks Shoubaki’s office for money to build additional bombs, and to finance propaganda posters promoting suicide bombers.

According to the Israeli military establishment, Shoubaki was also responsible for financing the activity of the al-Aqsa Brigades in the Bethlehem region, transferring monthly salaries to the organization’s activists in the area. In addition, he was involved in purchasing a cache of weapons stolen towards the end of the year 2000 from an IDF base in the area. These weapons were later used to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians in the area of Jerusalem.

In August 2001, Shoubaki visited Baghdad in order to coordinate positions with the Iraqi government, and in May 2001 he was present at a meeting in Moscow during which the draft for joint activities between Iran and the PA was agreed upon. Both Iraq and Iran have become increasingly involved in providing financial and military support to Palestinian groups since Arafat first declared the peace process at a dead end and returned to armed conflict. Iraqi president Saddam Hussein announced last week that he is increasing the sum offered the families of suicide bombings from $10,000 to $25,000, in order to encourage more young men to “choose the path of martyrdom.”

The central guidance for the Brigades was initially provided by Maruan Barghouti, heof the Fatah’s supreme council in the West Bank, who operated under the authority of Arafat. Barghouti is now on trial in Israel for orchestrating terror attacks. At the same time, elements of the Palestinian security apparatus have a significant influence on the Brigades and their activities.

Most of the Brigades’ leaders are salaried members of the PA and its security forces. For example, Nasser Awais, a senior al-Aqsa commander, is a full-time employee of the Palestinian National Security Force. Mahmud Damrah, who was involved in organizing terror attacks perpetrated by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was at the same time a commander in the presidential Force 17 in Ramallah.

Nasser Abu Hamid, a senior member and founder of the al-Aqsa Brigades, who was arrested in the course of Operation Defensive Shield, described how the Brigades were founded and how they chose Marwan Bargouti as their leader. According to Hamid, senior PA security service officials initially entreated him and his militants to join their services. Tawfik Tirawi himself, the head of General Intelligence on the West Bank, proposed that Nasser integrate all Brigade members into General Intelligence, and offered to pay their salaries. However, Nasser ultimately decided to join Marwan Barghouti, given their prior acquaintance and Nasser’s feeling that Barghouti would be better able to facilitate the group’s activities. Nasser described the considerable military and financial assistance that they received from the outset from Barghouti, via the latter’s nephew Ahmed Barghouti.

Nasser also provided details on the participation of members of the PA security services in attacks in Israel. Several bombs were regularly kept in a jeep that had been permanently parked at the Force 17 roadblock in Ramallah for use in case of an IDF incursion into Ramallah.

Nasser sees Marwan Barghouti as both a supreme commander and a friend. In his words, the two of them planned their ascent into the Palestinian leadership when Barghouti made it clear that Nasser would advance along with him. Barghouti promised to build a special residential neighborhood for Nasser and his men and their families in the future. Nasser said that he was Barghouti’s closest adviser and was aware of the latter’s military activities, including the transfer of funds and war materiel to those who perpetrated attacks and assisting in the transport of suicide bombers.

The question of Arafat’s role

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are not a “rogue militia” as Arafat claimed in the past. Rather its members are on the Palestinian Authority’s payroll, it activities are financed out of Palestinian Authority coffers, and its attacks are carried out with the knowledge and backing of Yassir Arafat’s inner circle. In an interview with USA Today on March 14, 2002, Maslama Thabet, another leader of the Brigades, described the group as an integral part of Fatah. “The truth is, we are Fatah itself, but we don’t operate under the name Fatah. We are the armed wing of the organization. We receive our instructions from Fatah. Our commander is Yassir Arafat himself.”

Other leaders of the al-Aqsa Brigades insist that, while they hold Arafat in high esteem, they do not take their orders regarding individual attacks from him. At the same time, Israeli security officials maintain that Arafat exerts a large measure of control over all the Fatah-affiliated organizations, paying the salaries of their members and supplying them with weapons. And while he may not determine the target and timing of each individual attack, he definitely sets the overall agenda. In fact, this was true to a great extent even with regard to the “opposition” Islamist groups prior to the outbreak of hostilities. These organizations, while not directly controlled by Arafat, were still dependent upon his willingness to leave their military capabilities intact.

Moreover, Arafat remains in control of the media. This means that while Arafat’s credibility with his own people may suffer some erosion, his position as a symbol is unassailable. His popularity may be expected to weather the storm, if only because by controlling the media, Arafat controls the standards of popularity. From the outset, it was the official messages, disseminated through the radio, television and the PA-salaried preachers, that most strongly influenced the thinking of the Palestinian street. Terrorist attacks, formerly portrayed as a politically counter-productive tool to be used only as a last resort, are now hailed as the pinnacle of glory in the Palestinian cause. Having sold martyrdom as the highest goal for which every Palestinian child should strive, Arafat has been forced to match his actions (or at least the actions of those who take his orders) to his words.

The role of the Martyrs of al-Aqsa Brigades in rebuilding Fatah’s popularity has raised questions about Arafat’s power to restrain it. Many argue that any attempt by the Palestinian leader to rein in the militants now, when they are the key to his popularity, would only lead to a mutiny against his rule or to his assassination.

At the heart of Arafat’s dilemma is the need to continue to mobilize his society for conflict with Israel, despite the fact that he can present his people with no real achievements from the “intifada.” The ultimate victims of Palestinian terrorism have been the Palestinians themselves, due in large part to the failure of the Palestinian Authority to develop a self-sufficient economy. The livelihood of most Palestinians has always depended—directly or indirectly—on the earnings of Palestinians working in Israel. Since the outbreak of hostilities, Israel, fearful of terrorist attacks, has virtually closed its borders to Palestinian laborers. At the same time, tourism, a mainstay of both the Palestinian and the Israeli economies, has dropped to a trickle. Thus, Arafat is forced to continue to justify a war that, while saving him the need to address domestic concerns, has brought the Palestinian people nothing but grief. The same dilemma faces Arafat with respect to the activities of his own terrorist apparatus. Taken together, the Fatah groups enjoy the overwhelming support of Arafat’s constituency, and he has invested a great deal in keeping them armed and active, even while his civilian infrastructure languishes for lack of funds and attention. Here too, he must justify an investment that has so far failed to deliver any profit at all.

While the degree to which Arafat controls the Tanzim—and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades—is still subject to debate, most analysts are in agreement that his control is much greater than he makes it out to be.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades work in close cooperation with other terrorist organizations operating in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and many of its attacks have been carrying out together with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This cooperation includes sharing of information and technical know-how, as well as the formation of “cocktail” cells.

While the group initially vowed to target only Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in early 2002 it began a spree of terrorist attacks against civilians in Israeli cities. To date, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have carried out more attacks on Israelis than its Islamist counterparts, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In March 2002, after a deadly al-Aqsa Brigades suicide bombing in Jerusalem, the U.S. State Department added the group to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. The designation makes it illegal under U.S. law to provide material support to the organization and requires banks to freeze its assets. The move marked the first time the Bush administration has taken active steps against an organization directly linked to Palestinian Chairman Yassir Arafat.


Moranzanist Patriotic Front

The following information is based on "Patterns of Global Terrorism" - US State Dept.

Their aim is to prevent the U.S. from intervening in Honduran economic and political affairs. They are a radical leftist group.

This group is not well-known and they do not have many members. They are supported by Cuba and were also connected to the former Government of Nicaragua.

Established in the late 1980s in order to carry out attacks on U.S. military personnel stationed in Honduras.

Mostly carrying out attacks on American servicemen. Most of the attacks were perpetrated between 1988-90.


Moro Islamic Liberation Front

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is an Islamic liberation movement based in the Bangsamoro region in Mindanao and the neighbouring islands. It is currently the largest Islamic separatist group in the Philippines, with an estimated 15,000 members. The MILF seeks to establish an independent Islamic state comprising Mindanao island (the second largest of the Philippine islands) Palawan, Basilan, the Sulu archipelago, and the neighboring islands. In support of this aim, the organization has carried out a campaign of attacks against civilian and military targets throughout the southern Philippines.

Recently, the group has been in the spotlight due to revelations of links between key members and Osama bin Ladin’s al-Qaida network. In 1999, the group’s leader Hashim Salamat, admitted to recieving “significant funding” from bin Ladin. As many as several hundred MILF members from Mindanao are believed to have trained at al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, and to have established ties with al-Qaida commanders. A number of the Jemaah Islamiah members arrested in Singapore in 2000 admitted to having trained at MILF camps, while one of the al-Qaida “consultants” who advised the Singapore cell had formerly worked as an explosives expert for the MILF.

 The history of the Moro (Muslim) rebellion against non-Muslim rule stretches back nearly 500 years. Throughout the centuries, the Muslim population of the Sulu Archipelago and southwestern Mindanao have fought against the governement of foreign rulers, and no central government has ever succeeded in establishing complete control over the Moro areas. In the modern period, this resistance broke out anew with the rise of Islamic nationalism in the 1970’s. The conflict reached its peak in the  period 1970-1983 before negotiations led to a series of peace agreements between the various separatist factions and the Manila government.

The MNLF, founded and led by Nur Misuari, was the original political front for the Muslim separatist rebellion. In 1976, Misuari signed the Tripoli Agreement, the first peace agreement signed between Muslim separatists and the Philippine government. This led to a political split in the MNLF, with Salamat Hashim and the more traditional leaders arguing against any conciliation with Manila. On 26 December, 1977 Hashim announces in Jedda an ‘Instrument of Takeover’ of the MNLF leadership, a move supported by almost half the organization’s leaders. Misuari countered by expelling Hashim and charging him with treason. This led to a split in Arab support to the MNLF. Egypt came out in support of Hashim’s faction while Libya continued to back Misuari. At this point Hashim moved to Cairo where he announced the establishment of the “new MNLF.”

In March, 1984, Hashim officially declared the “New MNLF” to be a separate organisation with the name Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He announced that the new movement would not only work toward nationalist goals, but would also work to inculcate a more traditional Islamic religious education.

In January 1987, the MNLF signed an agreement relinquishing its goal of independence and accepting the government’s offer of autonomy for the Muslim regions. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front refused to accept the accord and initiated a brief offensive that ended in a truce later that month.

The stated goal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is the establishment of an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines. In this it does not differ significantly from its parent organization, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). However, the MILF has stressed the Islamic aspects of the separatist movement. The organization’s main leaders tend to be Islamic clerics, including Salamat himself. The MILF advocates self-reliance--militarily, politically, and economically--and rejects compromise on the issue of independence.

The MILF draws it supporters from the 13 Muslim-dominated provinces and 4 cities on Mindanao and neighboring islands in the south.  Most of its members come from the Maguindanaon and Iranun ethnic groups, with some support from Maranaw group as well. The MILF enjoys a good deal of popular support from the rural villages on Mindanao Island.

In the late 1990’s, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front claimed to have 120,000 fighters and many more supporters. The organization’s main military headquarters was at Camp Abubakar until the camp was captured by the Philippines military in 2000. However, the Philippine government estimates put the MILF strength at something between 8,000 and 15,000.  The majority of the MILF’s forces are deployed in four provinces of Mindanao: Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and North Cotabato.

The leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,  Hashim Salamat, comes from an upper class Maguindanaon family and studied at the prestigious Islamic Al-Azhar University in Cairo. During the 1960’s, he reportedly led the Philippine Students’ Union at Al-Azhar. Upon his return to the Philippines in 1970, he became a founder member of the MNLF, and served as  second in command until his break with Nur Musauri in 1977. He served on the MNLF’s negotiating panels during the organization’s talks with the Marcos government in 1975 and 1976.

When Hashim split from the MNLF, he took with him most of the group’s more traditionally Islamic leaders, including Rashid Lucman, Domacao Alonto and Salipada Pendatun. The MILF has always placed greater emphasis on Islam than the MNLF, and most of its leaders are Islamic scholars from traditional aristocratic and religious backgrounds.

In the early 1990’s the MILF launched a wave of terrorist attacks in the southern Philippines, leading former Philippines president Joseph Estrada to pursue an “all-out war” against the organization. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has resumed peace talks with the MILF since coming to office, and several ceasefires have been agreed upon, only to be broken in subsequent weeks or months.  In May 2000 the MILF-government talks broke down, and the Philippine army launched a major assault upon the MILF military headquarters at Camp Abubakar, capturing the camp. The offensive did not significantly harm the group’s military capabilities, as most of its senior leaders had been evacuated before the camp fell. In response to the military offensive, the MILF countered with a series of bombings in Manila. A splinter group also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack against the Philippine ambassador to Indonesia, and a series of bombs that exploded in the capital.

Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization

a.k.a: The National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA, the militant wing of the MEK,  The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), National Council of Resistance (NCR), Muslim Iranian Student’s Society (front organization used to garner financial support)

Originally formed in the 1960's as an armed Islamic opposition movement against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the MKO fought in the guerrilla operations that forced his overthrow. However due to its radical socialist ideology the organization was cut out of the power structure built by the ayatollahs in the wake of the revolution.

The group turned against the new government and continues to wage an armed struggle against the Iranian state from Iraq, which provides the group with financial and logistical support and military equipment. The MKO remains the most powerful opponent of the Islamic Republic, attacking targets in Iran and assassinating Iranian officials. It is generally believed to have 15 to 20 bases in Iraq.

Formed in the 1960s by the college-educated children of Iranian merchants, the MKO sought to counter what it perceived as excessive Western influence in the Shah's regime. The MKO's ideology mixes Marxism and Islam. It has developed into the largest and most active armed Iranian dissident group. Its history is studded with anti-Western activity, and, most recently, attacks on the interests of the clerical regime in Iran and abroad.

In the 1980s the MKO's leaders were forced by Iranian security forces to flee to France. Most resettled in Iraq by 1987. In the mid-1980s their terrorist operations inside Iran were carried on at a lower level than in the 1970s. However, in recent years the organization has claimed credit for a number of operations in Iran.

The organization now has several thousand members based in Iraq with an extensive overseas support structure. Beyond support from Iraq, the MKO uses front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities. Most of the fighters are organized in the MKO's National Liberation Army (NLA).

The MKO's worldwide campaign against the Iranian Government stresses propaganda and occasionally uses terrorist violence. During the 1970s the organization staged terrorist attacks inside Iran and killed several US military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. The MKO supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran. In April 1992 they conducted attacks on Iranian embassies in 13 different countries, demonstrating the group's ability to mount large-scale operations overseas. Recent attacks in Iran include three explosions in Tehran in June 1998 that killed three people and the assassination of Asadollah Lajevardi, the former director of the Evin Prison.