Terrorist Threat Blog

by Antiterrorism Consulting

Terrorist Group

Search

REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE

 

aka RS; Epanastatikos Aghonas; EA

Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 18, 2009, Revolutionary Struggle (RS) is a radical leftist group with Marxist ideology that has conducted attacks against both Greek and U.S. targets in Greece. RS emerged in 2003 following the arrests of members of the Greek leftist groups 17 November and Revolutionary People’s Struggle.

Activities: RS first gained notoriety when it claimed responsibility for the September 5, 2003 bombings at the Athens Courthouse during the trials of 17 November members. From 2004 to 2006, RS claimed responsibility for a number of improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, including a March 2004 attack outside of a Citibank office in Athens. RS claimed responsibility for the January 12, 2007 rocket propelled grenade (RPG) attack on the U.S. Embassy in Athens, which resulted in damage to the building. In 2009, RS increased the number and sophistication of its attacks on police, financial institutions, and other targets. RS successfully bombed a Citibank branch in Athens in March 2009, but failed in its vehicle-borne IED attack in February 2009 against the Citibank headquarters building in Athens. In September 2009, RS claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on the Athens Stock Exchange, which caused widespread damage and injured a passerby.

In 2010, the Greek government made significant strides in curtailing RS’s terrorist activities. On April 10, Greek police arrested six suspected RS members, including purported leadership figure Nikos Maziotis. In addition to the arrests, the Greek raid resulted in the seizure of a RPG launcher, possibly the one used against the U.S. Embassy in Athens in the 2007 attack. The six, plus two other suspected RS members, face charges for arms offenses, causing explosions, and multiple counts of attempted homicide. Their trial started in December 2011, and if found guilty, the suspects face up to 25 years in prison. However, Nikos Maziotis and one other accused RS conspirator disappeared in July 2012 after the Greek courts released them on bail.

Strength: Unknown but numbers presumed to be low.

Location/Area of Operation: Athens, Greece

Funding and External Aid: Unknown

REVOLUTIONARY PEOPLE’S LIBERATION PARTY/FRONT

 

aka DHKP/C; Dev Sol; Dev Sol Armed Revolutionary Units; Dev Sol Silahli Devrimci Birlikleri; Dev Sol SDB; Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi; Devrimci Sol; Revolutionary Left

Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) was originally formed in 1978 as Devrimci Sol, or Dev Sol, a splinter faction of Dev Genc (Revolutionary Youth). It was renamed in 1994 after factional infighting. “Party” refers to the group’s political activities, while “Front” is a reference to the group’s militant operations. The group advocates a Marxist-Leninist ideology and opposes the United States, NATO, and Turkish establishments. Its goals are the establishment of a socialist state and the abolition of harsh high-security Turkish prisons.

Activities: Since the late 1980s, the group has primarily targeted current and retired Turkish security and military officials, though it has conducted attacks against foreign interests, including U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities, since 1990. The DHKP/C has assassinated two U.S. military contractors, wounded a U.S. Air Force officer, and bombed more than 20 U.S. and NATO military, diplomatic, commercial, and cultural facilities. DHKP/C added suicide bombings to its repertoire in 2001, with attacks against Turkish police in January and September that year. Since the end of 2001, DHKP/C has typically used improvised explosive devices against official Turkish targets and U.S. targets of opportunity.

Operations and arrests against the group have weakened its capabilities, though attacks continued. In late June 2004, the group was suspected of a bus bombing at Istanbul University, which killed four civilians and wounded 21. In July 2005, in Ankara, police intercepted and killed a DHKP/C suicide bomber who attempted to attack the Ministry of Justice. In June 2006, the group killed a police officer in Istanbul; four members of the group were arrested the next month for the attack.

The DHKP/C was dealt a major ideological blow when Dursun Karatas, leader of the group, died in August 2008. After the loss of their leader, the DHKP/C reorganized in 2009 and was reportedly competing with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party for influence in both Turkey and with the Turkish diaspora in Europe.

The DHKP/C remained active in 2012, despite Turkish police operations against the organization. In late March, Turkish police arrested nine suspected DHKP/C members for plotting to assassinate Turkey’s Justice Minister. In June, the DHKP/C claimed responsibility for a small arms attack on a Turkish police station, and in September the group conducted a suicide bombing of a police station in Istanbul, killing one police officer and wounding seven others.

Strength: Probably several dozen members inside Turkey, with a limited support network throughout Europe.

Location/Area of Operation: Turkey, primarily in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Adana. Many members also live and plan operations in European countries.

Funding and External Aid: The DHKP/C finances its activities chiefly through donations and extortion, and raises funds primarily in Europe.

REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION 17 NOVEMBER

 

aka Epanastatiki Organosi 17 Noemvri; 17 November

Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N) is a radical leftist group established in 1975. Named for the student uprising in Greece in November 1973 that protested the ruling military junta, 17N is opposed to the Greek government, the United States, Turkey, and NATO. It seeks the end of the U.S. military presence in Greece, the removal of Turkish military forces from Cyprus, and the severing of Greece’s ties to NATO and the EU.

Activities: Initial attacks consisted of assassinations of senior U.S. officials and Greek public figures. Between 1975 and 1991, four American citizens were killed by 17N. The group began using bombings in the 1980s. 17N’s most recent attack was a bombing attempt in June 2002 at the port of Piraeus in Athens. After the attempted attack, Greek authorities arrested 19 17N members, including a key leader of the organization. The convictions of 13 of these members have been upheld by Greek courts. There were no known 17N attacks in 2012.

Strength: Unknown

Location/Area of Operation: Athens, Greece

Funding and External Aid: Unknown

REVOLUTIONARY ARMED FORCES OF COLOMBIA

 

aka FARC; Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia

Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is Latin America’s oldest, largest, most violent, and best-equipped terrorist organization. The FARC began in the early 1960s as an outgrowth of the Liberal Party-based peasant self-defense leagues, but took on Marxist ideology. Today, it only nominally fights in support of Marxist goals, and is heavily involved in narcotics production and trafficking. The FARC has been responsible for large numbers of kidnappings for ransom in Colombia, and in past years has allegedly held as many as 700 hostages. The FARC’s capacity has been degraded by a continuing Colombian military offensive targeting key FARC units and leaders that has, by most estimates, halved the FARC’s numbers – estimated at approximately 8,000 – and succeeded in capturing or killing a number of FARC senior and mid-level commanders.

ActivitiesThe FARC has carried out bombings, murders, mortar attacks, sniper attacks, kidnapping, extortion, and hijacking, as well as guerrilla and conventional military acts against Colombian political, military, civilian, and economic targets. The FARC has used landmines extensively. The FARC has well-documented ties to the full range of narcotics trafficking activities, including extortion, cultivation, and distribution.

Over the years, the FARC has perpetrated a large number of high profile terrorist acts, including the 1999 murder of three U.S. missionaries working in Colombia, and multiple kidnappings and assassinations of Colombian government officials and civilians. In July 2008, the Colombian military made a dramatic rescue of 15 high-value FARC hostages including U.S. Department of Defense contractors Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howe, who were held in captivity for more than five years, along with former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.

FARC attacks in 2012 increased by more than 50 percent over 2011. The implementation of a new counterinsurgency plan in June and the September peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC, however, contributed to a drop in attacks in the last six months of the year. In January, around 100 FARC guerrillas destroyed a radar installation used to monitor drug trafficking. The attack killed two police officers and disrupted civil aviation in Colombia’s south and west regions. In February, the FARC killed nine and injured 72 in an attack on a police station in Tumaco, Narino. In another incident, the FARC killed six and injured 20 in an attack against the police station in Villa Rica, Cauca. In March, the FARC killed 11 army soldiers in an ambush in the department of Arauca. In April, the FARC killed five Colombian security force members in an ambush in Puerto Rico, Caqueta. In a separate attack on the police station in Puerto Rico, two civilian adults and a baby were killed by a mortar. In April, the FARC kidnapped a French freelance journalist, while he was accompanying Colombian security forces on an antidrug mission. Four security force members were killed in the attack. After more than four weeks of captivity, the journalist was released on May 30.

Strength: Approximately 8,000 to 9,000 combatants, with several thousand more supporters.

Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in Colombia. Activities including extortion, kidnapping, weapons sourcing, and logistical planning took place in neighboring countries.

Funding and External Aid: Cuba provided some medical care, safe haven, and political consultation. The FARC often use Colombia’s border areas with Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador for incursions into Colombia; and used Venezuelan and Ecuadorian territory for safe haven.

REAL IRA

 

aka RIRA; Real Irish Republican Army; 32 County Sovereignty Committee; 32 County Sovereignty Movement; Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association; Real Oglaigh Nah Eireann

Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 16, 2001, the Real IRA (RIRA) was formed in 1997 as the clandestine armed wing of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, a “political pressure group” dedicated to removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland. The RIRA has historically sought to disrupt the Northern Ireland peace process and did not participate in the September 2005 weapons decommissioning. In September 1997, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement opposed Sinn Fein’s adoption of the Mitchell principles of democracy and non-violence. Despite internal rifts and calls by some jailed members, including the group’s founder Michael “Mickey” McKevitt, for a cease-fire and disbandment, the RIRA has pledged additional violence and continued to conduct attacks.

Activities: Many RIRA members are former Provisional Irish Republican Army members who left the organization after that group renewed its cease-fire in 1997. These members brought a wealth of experience in terrorist tactics and bomb making to the RIRA. Targets have included civilians (most notoriously in the Omagh bombing in August 1998), British security forces, and police in Northern Ireland. The Independent Monitoring Commission, which was established to oversee the peace process, assessed that RIRA members were likely responsible for the majority of the shootings and assaults that occurred in Northern Ireland.

The group remained active in 2012. In April, RIRA was accused of planting a bomb near the Newry Canal in south Armagh, Northern Ireland, with the intent of killing a passing police patrol. The bomb weighed approximately 600 lbs.

Strength: According to the Irish government, the RIRA has approximately 100 active members. The organization may receive limited support from IRA hardliners and Republican sympathizers who are dissatisfied with the IRA’s continuing cease-fire and with Sinn Fein’s involvement in the peace process.

Location/Area of Operation: Northern Ireland, Great Britain, and the Irish Republic.

Funding and External Aid: The RIRA is suspected of receiving funds from sympathizers in the United States and of attempting to buy weapons from U.S. gun dealers. The RIRA was also reported to have purchased sophisticated weapons from the Balkans and to have occasionally collaborated with the Continuity Irish Republican Army.