DoS SealThe State Department released its annual “Country Reports on Terrorism” for 2016 on July 19, 2017. The reports highlighted emerging trends in terrorist financing and violence in the broader MENA region. Ongoing conflicts in Libya, Yemen and Syria continued to seed the proliferation of terrorist groups, despite substantial counter-terrorism successes by some countries. Terrorist groups continued to seize cities gripped by lawlessness, as with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s capture of the Yemeni port city of Mukalla. The direct seizure of financial assets and extortion in these areas stymied otherwise successful international efforts to combat terrorist financing. Regional security forces achieved major successes towards this end with the recapture of Mukalla and the partial recapture of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

The following are excerpts from the State Department’s country reports on the Middle East and North Africa emphasizing new developments in counter-terrorism and major terrorist incidents.

 

Algeria
 

...Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), AQIM-allied groups, and ISIS elements including the Algerian branch known as Jund al-Khilafah in Algeria (JAK-A, Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria), were active terrorist organizations within Algeria and along its borders. These groups aspired to establish their interpretations of Islamic law in the region and to attack Algerian security services, local government targets, and Western interests.

...JAK-A, which has sworn allegiance to ISIS, claimed responsibility for attacks on security forces, including two lethal attacks. Algerian government efforts continued to restrict the group’s ability to operate. Within the region, AQIM continued attacks using improvised explosive devices, bombings, false roadblocks, and ambushes. Through November 2016, open sources reported 36 terrorist attacks.

...Algeria is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Its financial intelligence unit, known as the Financial Intelligence Processing Unit (CTRF), is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. In February, the FATF removed Algeria from its list of jurisdictions subject to FATF monitoring under its ongoing global anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) compliance process. The FATF cited Algeria’s significant progress in improving its AML/CFT regime. Similarly, in April, the MENAFATF announced that it was moving Algeria from “follow up” status to a biennial reporting status, and praised Algeria’s compliance with international AML/CFT standards.

On June 19, the President signed a new law expanding the Algerian penal code in the areas of foreign terrorist fighters, and those who support or finance foreign terrorist fighters, in an effort to comply with UNSCR 2178.

 

Bahrain
 

...Shia militants remained a key threat to security services, and their attacks in 2016 resulted in the death of one police officer and one civilian. The government also continued implementing counterterrorism laws the legislature approved in 2013, including revoking the citizenship of suspected and convicted terrorists. Opposition-leaning activists asserted at least some of these revocations were politically motivated, however.

...The number of terrorist attacks against security forces declined in 2016 after several high-profile strikes the previous three years. At least three attacks resulted in casualties or injuries; only one of which involved explosives. Suspected Shia militants continued to instigate low-level violence against security forces using real and fake improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Bahrain regularly experiences low-level violence between Shia youth – using Molotov cocktails and other homemade devices – and predominantly Sunni security forces in mostly-Shia villages.

...In 2016, a court convicted 24 citizens, with 16 tried in absentia, of forming an ISIS cell and revoked their citizenships. Most citizenship revocations and other prosecutions based on terrorism charges involved Shia militant individuals and organizations. Notable examples included the cases of the “Imam Army” and “Basta” terrorist organizations, where suspects are accused of conspiring with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Qods Force and other terrorist entities to launch domestic attacks.

...There is little support for violent anti-government activity in the Sunni community, but a limited circle of individuals has become radicalized in the past several years and either joined local violent extremist factions or left to fight with ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. In December, ISIS said 14 Bahrainis had died fighting in Iraq and Syria.

 

Egypt
 

In 2016, the Egyptian government continued to confront active terrorist groups that conducted deadly attacks on government, military, and civilian targets throughout the country. While the overall number of attacks against civilian targets declined through the middle of the year, several high-profile attacks at the end of the year indicate the threat level remains high. Two ISIS affiliates, ISIL-Sinai Province (ISIL-SP) and a distinct group calling itself Islamic State Egypt (IS Egypt), continued to pose a threat. Egypt also faced anti-regime violence from groups, including Liwa al-Thawra and the Harakat Sawa’d Misr (HASM) organization; both have claimed responsibility for attacks in Egypt. The Revolutionary Punishment and Popular Resistance organizations were less active than they had been in the past. While ISIS‑affiliated groups likely received some external support and direction, there is no evidence of a significant presence of foreign terrorist fighters in Egypt.

...The Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) continued the counterterrorism campaign against ISIL-SP in North Sinai (known as Operation “Right of the Martyr”) to defeat the terrorist threat and prevent the establishment of a terrorist safe haven. The Egyptian government claimed to have killed thousands of terrorists. Rights groups and international media reported allegations that the armed forces used indiscriminate force during military operations that targeted widespread terrorist activity in the northern Sinai Peninsula, resulting in killings of civilians and destruction of property. The government did not report any civilian casualties during operations in the Sinai. (There is no independent confirmation of these allegations as northern Sinai remains closed to U.S. officials, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the press.)

Further, the EAF sustained efforts to seize and destroy tunnels used for smuggling on the border between Egypt and Gaza but at a slower rate compared to last year due to the establishment of a border buffer zone, which significantly reduced tunnel activity in this area.

...Groups claiming to be affiliated with ISIS and other terrorist groups carried out attacks throughout Egypt, but particularly in the Sinai. Methods included vehicle‑borne improvised explosive devices, ambushes, kidnappings, and targeted assassinations.

...Egypt continued to implement two significant counterterrorism laws issued by Presidential decree in 2015 and ratified by Parliament in 2016: the “Terrorist Entities Law,” which established a mechanism for designating organizations or individuals as terrorist entities; and a sweeping new counterterrorism law that significantly increased the penalties for terrorism-related crimes. The law also imposes a steep fine, equal to many times the average annual salary of most local journalists, for publishing “false news” that contradicts official government reports on terrorism, which some civil society organizations worry could be used to stifle dissent and lead to under-reporting on acts of terrorism.

 

Iraq
 

Iraq made impressive progress in 2016 toward defeating ISIS, which had occupied large areas of the country since mid-2014. The series of successive ISIS defeats continued with Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) liberation of Ramadi in February, elimination of ISIS presence in Hit, Karma, Jazira al-Khalidiya, and Rutbah through the spring, recapture of Fallujah in June, seizure of Qayara Airbase in July, and launch of a broad offensive in Ninewa in October, resulting in ISF penetration deep into eastern Mosul at the end of the year assisted by Coalition air power. As it retreated, ISIS killed hundreds of Iraqi civilians, publishing macabre videos of the murders to terrorize Iraqis, and forcing Mosul residents to remain as human shields to discourage airstrikes. ISIS also demonstrated its continuing ability to conduct massive terrorist attacks in Baghdad and Shia-majority areas, killing at least 300 civilians in coordinated bombings in Baghdad in July and killing at least 80 Iranians and Iraqis (the bulk of whom were Shia Arba’in pilgrims) in Hilla, south of Baghdad, in November.

...Terrorist groups continued to mount a large number of attacks throughout the country. ISIS’s use of captured and improvised military equipment gave it sophisticated capabilities in line with a more conventional military force, including the reported use of tanks, armored vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, artillery and mortars, and self-developed unmanned aerial drones, capable both of surveillance and attacks using primitive air-drop bomblets or booby-trapped components. According to estimates from the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, acts of terrorism and violence killed more than 7,000 civilians and injured more than 12,000 in 2016.

Many of Iraq’s armed Shia groups are backed by Iran, including Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq (AAH), and the Badr Organization. These Iranian-backed groups continued to operate in Iraq during 2016, which exacerbated sectarian tensions in Iraq and contributed to allegations of human rights abuses against primarily Sunni civilians, particularly in Fallujah, where residents claim hundreds of male residents remain unaccounted for after the city’s liberation in June. KH, AAH, and other militias associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force have been combating ISIS alongside the Iraqi military. In November, the Council of Representatives passed legislation formalizing the PMF as part of the ISF, although which militias will be formally enrolled or how they will be enrolled (as individuals or as units) in the legalized PMF had not been determined at year’s end. The inclusion of KH – a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization – in the legalized PMF could represent an obstacle that could undermine shared counterterrorism objectives.

...Border security remained a critical gap; border crossings with Syria remained in ISIS hands and the Government of Iraq had no capability in 2016 to prevent smuggling across the Iraq-Syria border.

 

Israel & Palestine
 

Israel was a committed counterterrorism partner in 2016. Israel again faced terrorist threats from Iranian-support groups such as Hizballah in Lebanon. Other threats included Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), particularly from Gaza but also from the West Bank; al-Qa’ida (AQ) and its affiliates, and ISIS and its affiliates along its borders, such as ISIL-Sinai Province (ISIL-SP) and the Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed group (JKW, formerly the al-Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) in the Syrian Golan Heights. In addition, since 2015, Israel has faced numerous incidents of terrorist attacks committed by individuals with no clear affiliation to terrorist organizations, termed “lone offender” attacks.

...Israel experienced numerous terrorist attacks in 2016 involving weapons ranging from rockets and mortars to small arms and knives. The wave of violence that began in late 2015, termed the “knife intifada,” gradually decreased during the year; nonetheless, numerous Israelis and Palestinians were injured in these attacks.

...The Israeli Knesset passed new counterterrorism legislation in 2016 that broadened the range of activities subject to enhanced criminal sentencing. These activities include tunnel-digging, stone throwing, incitement, and planning intended to assist terrorist organizations and individuals. The Combatting Terrorism Law was designed to empower law enforcement authorities to preempt the establishment of terrorist cells and attack planning. The new provisions contained in the law codified numerous military and emergency orders issued under general emergency powers in place since the founding of the State of Israel. They include: the Anti-Terrorism Ordinance of 1948, the Anti-Terrorist finance Law of 2005, and various regulations issued under pre-statehood emergency defense authorities of 1945.

Non-governmental human rights organizations protested the Law’s broad definition of terrorism, arguing it serves to codify counterterrorism powers that critics compared to martial law. Additional concerns regarding the scope of Israeli counterterrorism legislation were directed towards the criminalization of activities related to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly that could affect the Arab population of Israel.

...Financing of Hamas through charitable organizations remained a concern for Israeli authorities, as did the funding of Hizballah through charities and illicit activity. In one high-profile case in August, Israeli police charged Mohammad al-Halabi – the Director of the NGO World Vision in Gaza – with diverting material and financial assistance to Hamas; the charity itself was not implicated in the case.

...The PA advanced its forensic capabilities with the official opening of the Palestinian Civilian Police forensic laboratory in November. The laboratory is capable of conducting basic analyses/examinations in firearm and tool mark evidence, document examination, and drug and chemical analysis. The PA already has a basic ability to examine and compare unknown prints to known prints.

 

Jordan
 

...Jordan faced a marked increase in terrorist threats, both domestically and along its borders. Jordanian security forces thwarted several plots and apprehended numerous violent extremists, but the year ended with the deadliest terrorist incident the country has witnessed in over a decade. Fourteen people were killed during a series of clashes between gunmen and security forces in and around the southern city of Karak on December 18.

...Jordanian citizens were linked to terrorist cells and conducted a number of terrorist attacks in Jordan. The attack against a GID sub-facility in Baqa’a in June, the assassination of a Jordanian journalist in Amman in September, and the assault launched by a suspected ISIS cell in Karak in December, all involved Jordanian citizens.

...The number of suspicious transaction reports received by [Jordan’s financial intelligence unit] in 2016 nearly doubled from 2015 – a reflection of [its] efforts to educate currency exchangers, real estate developers, and commercial banks on identifying potentially suspicious transactions.

 

Kuwait
 

...The Kuwaiti government disrupted several terrorist plots in 2016 and expanded its efforts to counter violent extremism. It also expanded its capacity to counter the financing of terrorism, imposing additional scrutiny on charitable organizations’ financial transactions. ISIS accounted for the primary threat, inspiring two lone-offender attacks, one against Kuwaiti police officers and another against U.S. military service members. In both cases, the attackers used a moving vehicle as a weapon, without employing other weapons or explosives. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) posed a secondary threat.

...In 2016, the government stopped several attempts by foreign nationals to enter illegally. In August, for example, the authorities intercepted and arrested 10 Iranian nationals attempting to enter Kuwaiti waters illegally aboard a ship. Kuwait employed biometric systems at all ports of entry, checking the identity of travelers against its own terrorist-screening database. The government launched a major effort aimed at bringing the security of Kuwait International Airport up to internationally-recognized standards.

 

Lebanon
 

Lebanon was a committed partner in the counter-ISIS fight during 2016, and its ground forces represented one of the most effective counterterrorism forces in the region. U.S. forces partnered closely with Lebanon’s full defense and law enforcement security apparatus as Lebanon continued to face significant internal and external terrorist threats in 2016, and a number of terrorist attacks occurred throughout the year. Lebanon also faced threats from unconventional attacks against the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and other security services from both ISIS and al-Nusrah Front (al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria) terrorists, who operated along the porous, un-demarcated eastern border with Syria. The continued presence of these Syria‑origin Sunni extremists in Lebanese territory underscored that border security is central to maintaining Lebanon’s stability and the importance of enabling the Lebanese government to exercise its full sovereignty, as mandated by UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1701.

...The Lebanese security services disrupted multiple terrorist networks and made several high‑profile arrests in 2016. On November 25, the army conducted a raid into Aarsal to capture a high-level ISIS figure, and conducted a similar raid on September 22, in Ain el-Helweh, to apprehend another notable ISIS figure. In July and August, more than 30 militants associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups turned themselves in from Ain el-Helweh, citing pressure from the LAF and local Palestinian groups. In addition to the arrests, the LAF also disrupted an ISIS plot to attack Western targets in and around Beirut. The LAF increasingly claimed that violent extremists used Syrian refugee settlements as cover for their activities and as places of refuge.

 

Libya
 

U.S. counterterrorism policy in Libya is focused on degrading ISIS and other terrorist groups and reducing the threat they pose to U.S. interests in North Africa and Europe. In 2016, Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA)-aligned forces demonstrated that it could be a capable partner with the United States in the fight against ISIS. The GNA, led by Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj, requested U.S. air support into the fight against ISIS and cooperated consistently and productively with international counterterrorism efforts. In January, U.S. strikes removed two ISIS camps and a foreign terrorist fighter facilitator in Libya’s west. Libya’s greatest counterterrorism success during the year was the removal of ISIS from its Libyan stronghold in Sirte, a key U.S. objective accomplished in close cooperation with U.S. Africa Command’s Operation Odyssey Lighting campaign.

...While Sirte was ISIS’s center of governance in Libya, concentrations of its fighters were also reported in Darnah and Benghazi during the year. Many fighters in those cities were driven out by year’s end, mostly as a result of clashes with the “Libyan National Army” (LNA). ISIS fighters fleeing from Sirte may have escaped to remote desert camps, especially near Sabha and Bani Walid, but some reports indicated that others fled towards Darnah and other urban centers in Libya.

 

Morocco
 

Morocco has a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that includes vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation, and counter-radicalization policies. The government has treated counterterrorism as a top priority since the country experienced suicide bombing attacks in Casablanca in 2003, and that focus has been reinforced by attacks in 2007 and 2011. In 2016, Morocco’s counterterrorism efforts effectively mitigated the risk of terrorism, although the country continued to face threats, largely from small, independent violent extremist cells. The majority of the cells claimed to be inspired by or affiliated with ISIS.

During the year, authorities reported the disruption of multiple groups with ties to international networks that included ISIS, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and al-Nusrah Front (al‑Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria). According to local media, Moroccan security forces dismantled 18 terrorist cells and conducted 161 terrorism-related arrests in 2016, including of Algerian, Chadian, French, and Italian nationals. The government remained concerned about the potential return of Moroccan foreign terrorist fighters who could conduct attacks at home or potentially in Western Europe. Moroccan authorities reported approximately 1,500 Moroccan nationals are foreign terrorist fighters. As a result of increased international cooperation and vigilance by Moroccan authorities, and consistent with global trends on foreign terrorist fighters, only a few Moroccans departed for Iraq or Syria in 2016.

...While no terrorist incidents occurred in Morocco in 2016, Morocco’s counterterrorism efforts and cooperation with international partners led to numerous disruptions of alleged terrorist cells and prosecutions of associated individuals[.]

...In July, King Mohammed VI inaugurated the Higher Council for African Ulema in Fez, a center bringing together religious scholars from more than 30 African countries to promote scholarship and counter extremist ideologies in Islam. To counter the radicalization of Moroccans living abroad, the Moroccan Council of Ulema for Europe and the Minister Delegate for Moroccans Living Abroad undertook similar programs to promote moderation within Moroccan expatriate communities in Europe.

 

Oman
 

Oman is an important regional counterterrorism partner that actively worked in 2016 to prevent terrorists from conducting attacks or using the country as a safe haven. The Omani government remains concerned about the conflict in Yemen and the expansion of safe haven there by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS in Yemen, which present potential threats to Oman’s border.

...Oman revised its countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) law with Royal Decree 30/2016 in 2016. The revised CFT law requires financial institutions, private industry, and non-profit organizations to screen transactions for money laundering or terrorist financing and requires the collection of Know Your Customer data for wire transfers. The revised CFT law also consolidated CFT authority within the National Center for Financial Information and established the center as an independent government entity. While progress has been made, a number of gaps remain, including issuing a decision on mechanisms for implementing the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime, issuing anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism regulations to the sectors identified in the law, and designating wire transfer amounts for customer due diligence procedures.

 

Qatar
 

The United States and Qatar maintained a strong partnership in the fight against terrorism in 2016 and collaborated to foster closer regional and international cooperation on counterterrorism, law enforcement, and rule of law activities. U.S. agencies have an active and fairly productive dialogue with their Qatari counterparts and worked closely for the exchange and evaluation of terrorist-related information. Qatar is a full partner and active participant in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and has provided significant support in facilitating U.S. military operations in the region. In addition to hosting 10,000 U.S. servicemen and women on two military installations critical to coalition efforts, Qatar offered to host a base to train‑and‑equip moderate Syrian opposition forces. Qatar’s public role in support of Coalition efforts and the U.S. military has thus far not exposed Qatar to any known terrorism-related attacks. Terrorist activity historically has been low in Qatar; restrictive immigration policies and security services capable of monitoring and disrupting terrorist activities have maintained the status quo.

...In 2015 and 2016, Qatar prosecuted and convicted Qatari terrorist financiers for the first time. As part of ongoing reforms to curb terrorist financing, the State of Qatar issued the Cybercrime Prevention Law and the Law Regulating Charitable Activities in 2014. Qatar continued to be an active participant in U.S.-sponsored training and capacity building focused on CFT issues.

 

Saudi Arabia
 

Saudi Arabia continued to maintain a strong counterterrorism relationship with the United States and supported enhanced bilateral cooperation to ensure the safety of both U.S. and Saudi citizens within Saudi territories and abroad.

...According to the Saudi Ministry of Interior (MOI), as of December, there were 2,093 Saudis fighting with terrorist organizations in conflict zones, including ISIS, with more than 70 percent of them in Syria.

...Deadly attacks by ISIS-affiliated groups against Saudi targets occurred despite continued Saudi efforts to detect and disrupt terrorist activity aimed mostly against Saudi security forces and the minority Shia community. Figures released by the Saudi Arabian government indicate there were 34 terrorist attacks in 2016.

...Saudi Arabia continued its efforts to disrupt terrorist activities in the Kingdom by tracking, arresting, and prosecuting terrorist suspects. According to the GID, Saudi security forces arrested more than 1,390 suspects accused of terrorism in 2016. The suspects were of different nationalities: 967 of those arrested were Saudi nationals, followed by 154 Yemenis, 76 Syrians, 45 Egyptians, and 38 Pakistanis.

...In March 2016, Saudi Arabia and the United States took steps to disrupt the fundraising and support networks of AQ, the Taliban, and LeT by imposing financial sanctions on four individuals and two organizations with ties across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. In October, Saudi Arabia and the United States took joint action to simultaneously designate two individuals and one entity acting on behalf of Hizballah.

...During 2016, the Saudi government continued its ongoing program to modernize the educational curriculum, including textbooks. While the Saudi government has reported progress, some textbooks continue to contain teachings that promote intolerance and violence, in particular towards those considered to be polytheists, apostates, or atheists.

 

Tunisia
 

The Tunisian government’s counterterrorism efforts intensified in 2016, with successes including weapons seizures, arrests, and operations against armed groups throughout the country.

The al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)-aligned Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade continued small scale attacks against Tunisian security personnel, while an ISIS-affiliate conducted a large-scale attack on the Tunisian-Libyan border town of Ben Guerdan in March, during which 49 terrorists, seven civilians, and 11 members of the security forces were killed. While terrorist attacks took place along the Libyan border and the western Tunisian mountains, there were no reported attacks in urban or tourist centers.

...Tunisia adopted a National Counterterrorism Strategy in November. The strategy, which is intended to take a comprehensive approach to the fight against terrorism, was drafted by the Ministry of Interior (MOI). The military and civilian security forces continued to make counterterrorism their first priority, leading to the dismantling of several terrorist cells and the disruption of a number of attack plots.

Terrorism remained a serious challenge for Tunisia, which included the potential for terrorist attacks and the influx of arms and violent extremists from neighboring countries. The government grappled to adapt to terrorist threats, focusing on groups such as Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia (AAS-T) and AQIM, which continued its activities in the western mountainous regions of the country where it attacked security forces and targeted civilians.

...Terrorist organizations, including ISIS, AQIM, and AAS-T, were active in Tunisia throughout the year.

...On June 1, 2016, a new criminal procedure code intended to decrease pre-trial detentions and prison overcrowding entered into force.

...The year saw continued arrests and raids by security forces as well as regular seizures of weapons near the Tunisia-Libya border.

 

United Arab Emirates
 

The Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) increased its counterterrorism prosecutions in the last year, with the Federal Supreme Court’s State Security Court hearing more than three dozen separate terrorism-related cases. Most cases involved defendants accused of promoting or affiliating with UAE-designated terrorist organizations, including ISIS, al‑Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Nusrah Front, Hizballah, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

...The UAE deployed forces in Yemen to counter the spread of AQAP and ISIS in Yemen at the same time as it partnered with the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism. Along with its Yemeni partners, the UAE military successfully ejected AQAP from the port city of Mukalla in April – depriving AQAP from millions in monthly income – and from the coastal towns of Balhaf and Bir Ali in December. UAE forces remained in Yemen to support local forces in counterterrorism operations.

...In 2016, the UAE increased prosecutions in terrorism-related cases using its existing Counterterrorism Law (Federal Law No. 7) of 2014, Cybercrime Law of 2012 (Federal Law No. 5), and Anti-Hatred and Discrimination Law of 2015 (Federal Law No. 2). The president of the UAE recently decreed a number of amendments, however, intended to impact these types of cases. For example, the government issued Federal Law No. 11 of 2016, amending Federal Law No. 3 of 1983, which specified that all cases involving the UAE’s national security would be referred directly to the Federal Supreme Court.

...In October, the president of the UAE issued Federal Decree No. 7 of 2016, amending certain provisions of the penal code as provided in Federal Law No. 3 of 1987. Capital punishment or life sentences will be given to individuals who set up, run, or join any organization, group, or gang plotting to overthrow the government and seize power in the UAE. Promoting these organizations verbally, in writing, or by any other means, will carry a jail term ranging between 15 and 25 years. Furthermore, deliberate acts against a foreign country intending to harm diplomatic relations of the country or endanger its citizens, employees, money, or interests, will be punishable with a life sentence.

...The most prominent terrorism trial of the year involved the Shabab al Manara group and included 41 defendants, 38 of whom were Emirati. The defendants were prosecuted for their association with terrorist groups, including ISIS and al-Qa’ida, and for planning terrorist attacks in the UAE.

 

Yemen
 

Throughout 2016, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS in Yemen (ISIS-Y) have continued to exploit the political and security vacuum created by the ongoing conflict between the Yemeni government under President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Houthi-Saleh rebel forces.

...AQAP, in particular, has benefitted from this conflict by significantly expanding its presence in the southern and eastern governorates. It has successfully inserted itself amongst multiple factions on the ground, making the group more difficult to counter. AQAP has managed to exacerbate the effects of the conflict, fighting against the Houthi-Saleh alliance, while at the same time working to prevent Hadi’s government from consolidating control over southern governorates. In April 2016, Yemeni forces, supported by the Saudi-led coalition, successfully pushed AQAP out of Yemen’s fifth largest city of Mukalla. During the year-long occupation, AQAP amassed unprecedented resources by raiding the central bank and levying taxes. The loss of this safe haven deprived the group of millions of dollars of revenue. At year’s end, efforts were ongoing by the Yemeni government, in coordination with its partners from the UAE, to push AQAP out of several of its other safe havens in the South.

By comparison, ISIS-Y remained limited to small cells. While its exact composition was unknown, ISIS-Y had considerably fewer members and resources than AQAP. Eight self‑proclaimed ISIS-Y groups/provinces have claimed attacks on social media since 2015, although only a few provinces have sustained regular attacks into 2016 and were active at year’s end. While ISIS-Y has demonstrated a violent operational pace, it has yet to occupy significant territory or challenge AQAP’s status as Yemen’s predominant Sunni Islamist terrorist group. ISIS-Y maintains connections to the ISIS core in Syria and Iraq, but a faction within ISIS-Y chose to publicly disagree with the group’s leadership regarding its tactics in early 2016, indicating a large rift within the group.

AQAP and ISIS-Y terrorists carried out hundreds of attacks throughout Yemen in 2016. Methods included suicide bombers, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, ambushes, kidnappings, and targeted assassinations.

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