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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal

Designation of Foreign Terrorist Organizations

Fact sheet released by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
October 8, 1997

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1997 Report Index
(Compiled every 2 years)

The Designation
Legal Consequences
The Process
Background
Foreign Terrorist Organizations Designations



The Designation
  • The Secretary of State has designated 30 groups as foreign terrorist organizations. Her action sends a powerful signal that the United States will not tolerate support for international terrorism.
     
  • The Secretary acted under the authority provided by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, with the concurrence of the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury.
     
  • On October 1, the State Department notified Congress of the Secretary's intent to designate 30 foreign terrorist organizations. Congress also received the factual bases for her decisions on each of the 30 designations.
     
  • A formal announcement of the designations was placed in the Federal Register on October 8, and the Department of the Treasury has notified financial institutions to block funds of the designated organization.
     
  • The designations are a significant addition to our enforcement tools against international terrorists and their supporters. They supplement the Executive Order the President signed in January 1995 (and has renewed annually), which blocks funds of 12 Middle Eastern organizations that use or threaten to use violence to disrupt the Middle East Peace Process.

Legal Consequences

  • The 1996 law makes it a criminal offense to provide funds or other forms of material support or resources, such as weapons or safehouses, to designated foreign terrorist organizations.
--The law applies to anyone within the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
--Violators are subject to fines and up to 10 years in prison.
  • Aliens abroad who are members or representatives of designated foreign terrorist organizations are ineligible for visas to the U.S. and are subject to exclusion from the U.S.
     
  • U.S. financial institutions are required to block those funds of designated foreign terrorist organizations or their agents over which they have possession or control. They are subject to civil penalties and possible criminal prosecution if they do not conform with the law and regulations.

The Process

  • The designations are subject to judicial review, as the statute required, and extensive administrative records were created to substantiate each recommendation to the Secretary of State. A major interagency effort included the examination of thousands of pages of documents and the preparation of a complete administrative record on each group.
--The administrative records are and will remain classified. Unclassified descriptions of terrorist organizations, including those formally designated, appear in the annex of the Department's annual report, Patterns of Global Terrorism, 1997, available on the State Department's web site.
  • The designations expire in two years unless renewed. The law also allows groups to be added at any time following a decision by the Secretary, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury. Designations can also be revoked if the Secretary determines that there are grounds for doing so and notifies Congress. Congress can also pass legislation to revoke designations.

Background

  • The law responded to concerns that foreign terrorist organizations were raising money in the United States. Some groups have tried to broaden their financial base because state sponsors were becoming less reliable sources of money.
     
  • Some terrorist organizations have tried to portray themselves as raising money for charitable activities such as clinics or schools. These activities have helped recruit supporters and activists.
     
  • Congress noted in the statement of findings in the legislation:
"--Foreign organizations that engage in terrorist activity are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates that conduct. (Section 301(a)(7))."
"--Therefore, any contribution to a foreign terrorist organization, regardless of the intended purpose, is prohibited by the statute, unless the contribution is limited to medicine or religious materials."

[end of document]

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Office of Counterterrorism | State Department