United States Department of State list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations

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Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) is a designation for non-United States-based organizations deemed by the United States Secretary of State, in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (INA), to be involved in what US authorities define as terrorist activities. Most of the organizations on the list are Islamist extremist groups, nationalist/separatist groups, or Marxist militant groups.

The Department of State, along with the United States Department of the Treasury, also has the authority to designate individuals and entities as subject to counter-terrorism sanctions according to Executive Order 13224. The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control maintains a separate list of such individuals and entities.[1][2]

Identification of candidates[edit]

The Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism (CT) of the United States Department of State continually monitors the activities of groups active around the world to identify targets for the "terrorist" designation. When reviewing potential targets, S/CT looks not only at the actual attacks that a group has carried out, but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of violence or retains the capability and intent to carry out such acts.[3]

Designation process[edit]

Once a target is identified, the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism prepares a detailed "administrative record", which is a compilation of information, typically including both classified and open sources information, demonstrating that the statutory criteria for designation have been satisfied.[4] If the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, decides to make the designation, the United States Congress is notified of the Secretary's intent to designate the organization and given seven days to review the designation, as the INA requires. Upon the expiration of the seven-day waiting period, notice of the designation is published in the Federal Register, at which point the designation takes effect. An organization designated as an FTO may seek judicial review of the designation in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit not later than 30 days after the designation is published in the Federal Register.

Under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, the FTO may file a petition for revocation two years after the designation date (or in the case of redesignated FTOs, its most recent redesignation date) or two years after the determination date on its most recent petition for revocation. In order to provide a basis for revocation, the petitioning FTO must provide evidence that the circumstances forming the basis for the designation are sufficiently different as to warrant revocation. If no such review has been conducted during a five-year period with respect to a designation, then the Secretary of State is required to review the designation to determine whether revocation would be appropriate.

The procedural requirements for designating an organization as an FTO also apply to any redesignation of that organization. The Secretary of State may revoke a designation or redesignation at any time upon a finding that the circumstances that were the basis for the designation or redesignation have changed in such a manner as to warrant revocation, or that the national security of the United States warrants a revocation. The same procedural requirements apply to revocations made by the Secretary of State as apply to designations or redesignations. A designation may also be revoked by an Act of Congress, or set aside by a Court order.[3]

Legal criteria for designation[edit]

(Reflecting Amendments to Section 219 of the INA in the 2001 Patriot Act)

  • It must be a foreign organization.
  • The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C. § 1182(a) (3)(B)),* or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d) (2)),** or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
  • The organization's terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.[5]

Legal ramifications of designation[edit]

  • It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO.[2] (The term "material support or resources" is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b) as "currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel, transportation, and other physical assets, except medicine or religious materials.")
  • Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances, removable from the United States (see 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182 (a)(3)(B)(i)(IV)-(V), 1227 (a)(1)(A)).
  • Any U.S. financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.[5]

Other effects of designation[edit]

The U.S. Department of State lists the following items as additional considered beneficial effects of designation:[6]

  • Supports efforts to curb terrorism financing and to encourage other nations to do the same.
  • Stigmatizes and isolates designated terrorist organizations internationally.
  • Deters donations or contributions to and economic transactions with named organizations.
  • Heightens public awareness and knowledge of terrorist organizations.
  • Signals to other governments U.S. concern about named organizations.

Official designation of a group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization also triggers more robust means of combat under the Authorization for Use of Military Force act enacted in 2001, which is still in force today.[7]

Groups designated as FTOs[edit]

As of December 1, 2021, the following organizations are designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations:[8]

Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Date added Name Region Area of operations Notes
October 8, 1997 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) Asia Philippines 62 FR 52650
Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) Middle East Palestinian Territories
Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) Asia Pakistan
Hezbollah Middle East Lebanon
Kongra-Gel (formerly Kurdistan Workers' Party) (KGK) Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria Formerly PKK, KADEK. 62 FR 52650.
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Asia Sri Lanka, India 62 FR 52650
National Liberation Army (ELN) South America Colombia
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) Middle East Palestinian Territories
Islamic Jihad Group
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC)
Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) Turkey
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL) South America Peru
October 8, 1999 al-Qa'ida Worldwide Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia 64 FR 55112
September 25, 2000 Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) Asia Uzbekistan, Afghanistan
May 16, 2001 Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) Europe Ireland, United Kingdom Associated with 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM)
December 26, 2001 Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) (JEM) Asia Pakistan
Lashkar-e Tayyiba (Army of the Righteous) (LET) Later amended to include the Milli Muslim League.[9]
March 27, 2002 Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades Middle East Palestinian Territories
Asbat an-Ansar Lebanon
al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb Africa, Middle East Algeria, Mali, Niger (formerly GSPC)
August 9, 2002 Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA) Asia Philippines
October 23, 2002 Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) Indonesia Also in Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore
January 30, 2003 Lashkar i Jhangvi Pakistan
March 22, 2004 Ansar al-Islam Middle East Iraq
July 13, 2004 Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) Europe Ireland, United Kingdom
December 17, 2004 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (formerly Al-Qaeda in Iraq aka Tanzim Qa'idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (QJBR)) Worldwide Iraq, Syria, Libya, Nigeria Formerly Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'al-Jihad, JTJ, al-Zarqawi Network. Al-Nusra Front is considered an alias of Al-Qaeda in Iraq[10]
June 17, 2005 Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) Asia Uzbekistan
March 5, 2008 Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HUJI-B) Bangladesh
March 18, 2008 Al-Shabaab Africa Somalia, Yemen, Mozambique
May 18, 2009 Revolutionary Struggle Europe Greece
July 2, 2009 Kata'ib Hezbollah Middle East Iraq
January 19, 2010 al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Saudi Arabia
August 6, 2010 Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HUJI) Asia Bangladesh
September 1, 2010 Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) Pakistan
November 4, 2010 Jaish ul-Adl (formerly Jundallah) Iran
May 23, 2011 Army of Islam (Palestinian)[11] Middle East Palestinian Territories
September 19, 2011 Indian Mujahideen (IM) (India) Asia India
Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) Indonesia
May 30, 2012 Abdullah Azzam Brigades Middle East Iraq
September 19, 2012 Haqqani Network (HQN) Asia Afghanistan, Pakistan
March 22, 2013 Ansar Dine (AAD) Africa Mali
November 14, 2013 Boko Haram Nigeria
December 19, 2013 al-Mulathamun Brigade Algeria
January 13, 2014 Ansar al-Shari'a in Benghazi Libya
Ansar al-Shari'a in Darnah
Ansar al-Shari'a in Tunisia Tunisia
April 10, 2014 ISIL Sinai Province (formerly Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis) Africa, Middle East Egypt
May 15, 2014 Al-Nusra Front Middle East Syria
August 20, 2014 Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem Africa, Middle East Egypt
September 30, 2015 Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al Naqshabandi (JRTN) Middle East Iraq
January 14, 2016 ISIL-Khorasan Asia Afghanistan
May 19, 2016 ISIL-Libya Africa Libya
June 30, 2016 Al-Qa'ida in the Indian Subcontinent Asia Bangladesh, India, Pakistan
August 16, 2017 Hizbul Mujahideen Kashmir
February 28, 2018 ISIS-Bangladesh Bangladesh
ISIS-Philippines Philippines
ISIS-West Africa Africa Maghreb and West Africa
May 23, 2018 ISIS-Greater Sahara Maghreb and West Africa
July 11, 2018 al-Ashtar Brigades (AAB) Asia Bahrain
September 6, 2018 Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) Africa Maghreb and West Africa
April 15, 2019 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Asia Iran Branch of Iran's military[12]
January 3, 2020 Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq Iraq
March 10, 2021 ISIS-Democratic Republic of the Congo Africa Democratic Republic of the Congo
ISIS-Mozambique Mozambique
December 1, 2021 Segunda Marquetalia South America Colombia
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP)

Delisted FTOs[edit]

The following groups have been removed from the Department of State's list as of December 1, 2021,[8] most due to having been disbanded and thus being no longer active.

Delisted Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Date added Date removed Name Region Area of operations Notes
October 8, 1997 October 8, 1999 DFLP-Hawatmeh Faction (DFLP) Middle East, Asia Palestinian Territories 62 FR 52650
Khmer Rouge Asia Cambodia
Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front – Dissidents (FPMR-D) South America Chile
October 8, 2001 Japanese Red Army (JRA) Asia Japan
Tupac Amaru Revolution Movement (MRTA) South America Peru
Revolutionary Nuclei Europe Greece
October 15, 2010 Armed Islamic Group (GIA) Maghreb, Africa Algeria
September 28, 2012 Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) Middle East, Asia Iraq, Iran
October 11, 2005 May 28, 2013 Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (MICG) Maghreb, Africa Morocco
September 10, 2001 July 15, 2014 United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) South America Colombia
October 8, 1997 September 3, 2015 Revolutionary Organization 17 November Europe Greece 62 FR 52650
March 27, 2002 December 9, 2015 Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Maghreb, Africa Libya
October 8, 1997 June 1, 2017 Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) Middle East Palestinian Territories 62 FR 52650
January 11, 2021 February 16, 2021 Ansarallah Middle East, Asia Yemen
October 8, 1997 November 30, 2021 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) South America Colombia 62 FR 52650
August 20, 2014 May 20, 2022 Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC) Middle East Palestinian Territories
October 8, 1997 Kahane Chai (Kach) Israel
Gama’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group – IG) Egypt
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) Europe Iberian Peninsula
Aum Shinrikyo (AUM) Asia Japan


The 2012 delisting of Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) was supported by numerous US lawmakers, and defense and foreign policy officials, but was criticized by the National Iranian American Council.[13] The Treasury Department investigated allegations that payments to former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, on behalf of his lobbying for the MEK, had violated the legal ban on material support for an FTO.[13]

In November 2013, the State Department listed the Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram as an FTO. In 2014, Republican members of Congress criticized the State Department for not designating the group as an FTO earlier.[14][7]

In August 2014 the Christian Science Monitor reported that U.S. military was coordinating with Kurdish forces in Iraq, including elements of the PKK, seemingly in violation of the ban on assistance to a designated FTO.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bureau of Counterterrorism (May 14, 2014). "Individuals and Entities Designated by the State Department Under E.O. 13224". state.gov. U.S. State Department. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Zarate, Juan C. (2013). Treasury's War. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 9781610391153.
  3. ^ a b Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism (April 10, 2014). "Foreign Terrorist Organizations". state.gov. U.S. State Department. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  4. ^ Zarate, Juan C. (2013). Treasury's War. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 9781610391153.
  5. ^ a b Office of the Spokesman (September 1, 2010). "Foreign Terrorist Organization Designation". state.gov. US Department of State. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  6. ^ Office of the Spokesman (September 1, 2010). "Foreign Terrorist Organization Designation". state.gov. US Department of State. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Lindsey Boerma (May 9, 2014). "Hillary Clinton's Handling of Boko Haram: Are Critics Justified?". cbsnews.com. CBS News. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Foreign Terrorist Organizations". United States Department of State. Archived from the original on October 7, 2020.
  9. ^ "US designates Hafiz Saeed's MML as LeT affiliate in FTO list - The Express Tribune". The Express Tribune. April 3, 2018. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  10. ^ Office of the Spokesperson (December 11, 2012). "State Dept. on Designation of Al-Nusrah Front as Terrorist Group". state.gov. U.S. State Department. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  11. ^ "Designation of Army of Islam". State.gov. May 5, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  12. ^ "Revolutionary Guard Corps: US labels Iran force as terrorists - BBC News". BBC. April 8, 2019. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Scott Shane (September 21, 2012). "Iranian Opposition Group Wins Removal from US Terrorist List". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  14. ^ Glenn Kessler (May 19, 2014). "Boko Haram: Inside the State Department debate over the 'terrorist' label". Washington Post.
  15. ^ Dan Murphy (August 15, 2014). "Are the US, France, and UK lining up to support the 'terrorist' PKK in Iraq?". csmonitor.com. Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved October 15, 2014.

External links[edit]