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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 07:00 GMT 08:00 UK
US report details 'sponsors of terrorism'
Colin Powell
Colin Powell presented the report's findings to the press

In its annual report on terrorism around the world, the United States has named Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism during 2001.

The State Department report also says that Iraq "continued to provide training and political encouragement to numerous terrorist groups".

President George W Bush has repeatedly declared that countries are either "with us or against us" in the war on terror. But this lengthy document is more about shades of grey.

Seven countries are still officially designated state sponsors of terror - Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, North Korea and Cuba.

Afghanistan was never an official "state sponsor" of terror, because the US did not recognise the Taleban regime.

Iraq singled out

Within the list of seven countries, both Sudan and Libya win muted praise for their cooperation against terrorism.

Saddam Hussein, Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein's Iraq did not condemn the 11 September attacks
Libya - long accused of being behind the Lockerbie bombing more than a decade ago - has now "curtailed support for international terrorism" according to the report.

Sudan is also actively working with the US to root out al-Qaeda operatives the Americans believe are based there.

By contrast, Iraq is highlighted as the only country not to condemn the 11 September attacks.

It is also named as a host to several Middle East terrorist groups.

But there is no mention of any Iraqi involvement with planning 11 September.

Blacklisted states
Iran
Sudan
Libya
Iraq
North Korea
Cuba
Syria
The only hint that Iraq might deserve special attention came in the comments of the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, when he presented the report.

He said that "terrorists are trying every way they can to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, whether radiological, chemical, biological or nuclear".

His words will be seen as a further warning of the need to deal with Iraq's weapons capabilities.

Mixed record

The record of the other designated "state sponsors" is even more complex.

Cuba is accused of "vacillating" in the war on terror. North Korea wins praise for condemning 11 September, but criticism for not following that up with action. Syria is once again accused of supporting various Middle Eastern factions - yet appears to suffer little diplomatic cost.

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro's Cuba is accused of "vacillating" in the war on terror
As for the al-Qaeda network itself, the State Department coordinator for counter-terrorism, Frank Taylor, said that 1,600 alleged members had been arrested in 60 countries.

But he warned that the organisation was now trying to regroup outside Afghanistan.

Ambassador Taylor said that "additional terrorist attacks are very, very likely".

It is clear that the rhetoric of support for the war on terror that has come from almost every country in the world has been followed by a much more mixed record of actions.


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21 May 02 | Americas
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