- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2001

Two key Palestinian groups Tanzim and Yasser Arafats own Fatah faction will be named in an annual report on global terrorism due from the State Department on Monday, officials said yesterday.

The mention will serve as a warning that the groups risk inclusion on the department´s formal list of terrorist organizations next fall, an action that provides for barring the groups´ members from being issued U.S. visas or raising funds in the United States.

A State Department official said yesterday that the two groups, both part of the main Palestinian leadership, were accused of terrorism in a separate State Department report to Congress last month.

"Elements of Fatah and members of the Palestinian Authority´s security forces instigated and participated in anti-Israel violence," said the report to Congress, which has not been made public. Portions of the report were read to a reporter by a Capitol Hill aide.

The report to Congress does not specify that the violence was directed against civilians, and therefore falls under the definition of terrorism.

The report due Monday, titled "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000," will follow the lead of the report to Congress, said Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Service.

"The criticism in the report will essentially be a shot across Arafat´s bow that Arafat is not doing enough to prevent violence among faction members of his own [Palestine Liberation Organization]," said Mr. Katzman, a Middle East analyst at the CRS, which is a research wing of Congress.

"It … indicates if he is unable to control violence by these groups, they may be named foreign terrorist organizations and attendant sanctions will be imposed."

Among the sanctions imposed on groups that make the terrorist list are the denial of visas to their members, a ban on fund-raising and the seizure of their financial assets.

The global terrorism report has been issued every year since 1996. Last year´s report named 28 foreign terrorist organizations, including several anti-Israel groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

But the PLO, including Fatah and its militant youth wing, Tanzim, were at that time cooperating with Israel on security, controlling terrorism and carrying out terms of the Oslo peace process, the 1999 report said.

Since Sept. 28, the Middle East has erupted into violence which Israel blames in part on Tanzim and Fatah.

The identification of the groups in the terrorism report will strengthen the case of more than 300 members of Congress who signed a letter last month asking the Bush administration to review U.S. relations with the PLO.

"Given the drastic changes that have taken place in recent months in Palestinian behavior, we believe it is time for the United States to reassess our relations with the Palestinians," the letter said.

It asked whether "those Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis should be barred from coming to the United States, whether those Palestinian groups involved in violence should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations whether the PLO office in Washington should be allowed to remain open, and whether U.S. aid to the Palestinians is in fact meeting its goals and should continue."

Monday´s report will not make a definitive ruling on these questions and will not add Tanzim and Fatah to the department´s formal list of terrorist organizations, officials said. That list is issued in October each year.

The purpose of Monday´s report is simply to detail the activities of groups that are causing concern. However, being mentioned in the report will be a clear sign that the groups are at risk of being included when a new list is issued this fall.

U.S. officials said it was not clear whether Tanzim and Fatah were actively engaged in planning and carrying out the wave of car bombings and sniping attacks on Israelis in recent months. But it is clear that the PLO and its sub-groups have done nothing to quell the violence, the officials said.

The effectiveness of listing groups and countries in the annual global terrorism report is a matter of some debate.

While property of such groups can be seized and their members can be denied visas or barred from lucrative fund-raising activities in the United States, a loophole in the law allows fund raising for humanitarian or education wings of terrorist groups.

There is no sure way for the United States to ensure that such funds, once shipped overseas, remain separate from those used to sponsor terrorist activities.

Former CIA counterterrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro said the global report has done little to deter terrorism.

"It´s a useful index of groups that support political violence, but in terms of changing the policies of the states and groups it´s fairly worthless," he said.

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