U.S. State Department certified that Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Cuba were not cooperating fully with U.S. counterterrorism efforts in 2019 and notified Congress about it on May 12, according to a statement.
Cuba has been certified as not fully cooperating with antiterrorism efforts the first time since 2015 for refusal to extradite ten leaders of the ELN (National Liberation Army) which claimed responsibility for a bombing attack in Bogota, Colombia, in January 2019 that killed 22 people and injured 60, the statement said.
A consequence of being certified as not fully cooperating with U.S. counterterrorism efforts is the prohibition of the sale or export of arms, weapons, other defense articles or services to the certified countries. The certification also serves as a notification to the U.S. public and international community.
The Cuban government provides refuge to U.S. fugitives who are charged with political violence, e. g. the Cuban regime has refused to extradite Joanne Chesimard, who was convicted of executing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973, the statement justified.
Cuba had been on the list of countries not fully cooperating with U.S. antiterrorism since 1997, according to a Congressional Research Service report (pdf).
In 2014 President Barack Obama changed U.S. policy toward Cuba to move the policy “away from sanctions” and toward “engagement,” the report said.
Obama certified that the Cuban government “has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period” and “has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future,” the report said. In addition, a memorandum was presented stating that Cuba had taken steps to “fully distance itself from international terrorism and to strengthen its counterterrorism laws,” according to the report.
As a result, Cuba was removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and the list of countries not fully cooperating with U.S. counterterrorism effort in 2015, the report stated.
Terrorism in Venezeula
ELN, a Marxist guerrilla group, designated by the United States as a terrorist organization remained also active in Venezuela in 2019.
Venezuela’s former President Nicolas Maduro and members of his regime have created a conducive environment for terrorism in the region and continued doing it in 2019 even though Maduro was not recognized as Venezuela’s president during this period.
Individuals linked to dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that was founded based on the communist ideology and has not complied with a peace deal signed in 2016 remained active in Venezuela in 2019.
The U.S. Justice Department has also criminally charged Maduro and some of his regime members for running ”a narco-terrorism partnership with the FARC for the past 20 years.”
Iran continued to be “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, the State Department said in a statement. It has supported Hezbollah, Palestinian, and other terrorist groups in the Middle East.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) plays a major role in organizing and leading terrorist campaigns globally mostly through its Quds Force. It has been involved in killing U.S. citizens and was designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization.
The former head of Quds force, Qassim Soleimani was killed by a U.S. airstrike in January.
Syria continues to provide weapons and military support to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad permits Iranian IRGC and its militia to operate in Syria. The Syrian support for terrorists and its relationship with IRGC grew stronger in 2019.
North Korea gave refuge to four Japanese individuals who took part in the hijacking of a Japan Airline flight in 1970 and they continued to live in North Korea in 2019.
The hijackers were members of a terrorist group heavily influenced by the Maoist ideology, called the Japanese Red Army Faction, according to NK News website.
The Japanese government also continues to investigate the fate of 12 Japanese citizens who are believed to have been abducted by North Korean authorities between 1970 and 1980.