Snapshot: State Sponsors of Terrorism

Harry S. Truman Building located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of State. (CC Wikipedia)

Harry S. Truman Building located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of State. (CC Wikipedia)

Currently there are four nations that are designated by the United States through the office of Secretary of State as being “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” They are listed below along with the date on which the designation was effective.

Recently, President Obama has indicated his preference that Cuba’s status be changed. As the State Department’s website explains, “In December 2014, as a critical component of establishing a new direction for U.S.–Cuba relations,” President Obama ordered a review of Cuba’s status, and the department subsequently recommended that the designation be rescinded. Currently, political analysts do not expect Congress to challenged the President on this matter.

Official Definitions

According to the State Department, the following definitions (edited slightly for formatting) are used in its periodic reports on terrorism. The most current one is entitled, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013.

  • terrorism means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents
  • international terrorism means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country
  • terrorist group means any group practicing, or which has significant subgroups which practice, international terrorism
  • non-combatant means civilians and military personnel (whether or not armed or on duty) who are not deployed in a war zone or a war-like setting

The State Department points out in the report that [ some ] “U.S. statutes and international legal instruments that concern terrorism and acts of violence… use definitions for terrorism and related terms that are different from those used in this report.”  It further points out that “terrorist acts are part of a larger phenomenon of violence inspired by a cause, and at times the line between the two can become difficult to draw.”

State Sponsors of Terrorism

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