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Foreign Terrorist Organizations

Foreign Terrorist Organizations are foreign organizations that are designated as terrorist by the United States Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. The United States government believes that FTO designations play a critical role in its fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business.

Table of contents
1 Identification
2 Designation
3 Legal Criteria for Designation
4 Legal Ramifications of Designation
5 Other Effects of Designation
6 Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations
7 External Links


The Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the State Department (S/CT) continually monitors the activities of potentially terrorist groups active around the world to identify potential targets for designation. When reviewing potential targets, S/CT looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of terrorism or retains the capability and intent to carry out such acts.


Once a target is identified, S/CT 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. If the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, decides to make the designation, 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.

FTO designations expire automatically after two years, but the Secretary of State may redesignate an organization for additional two-year period(s), upon a finding that the statutory criteria continue to be met. 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.

Legal Criteria for Designation

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

Legal Ramifications of Designation

Other Effects of Designation

The United States Department of State lists the following items as additional beneficial effects of designation:

Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations

This list was current as of
May 23, 2003.

External Links