U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 - Bahrain

In 2006, the Government of Bahrain enacted important legislation to combat terrorism and its financing. In August, Bahrain enacted its first law (Law 58 of 2006) specifically criminalizing terrorism. The law, officially titled "Protecting Society from Terrorist Acts," enumerated the types of crimes considered to be terrorism and established punishments, ranging up to and including the death penalty. The law criminalized conspiracy to carry out an act of terror, although it did not specify a precise penalty of imprisonment or fine.

In August, the King signed amendments to an anti-money laundering law (Law 4 of 2001) that specifically addressed terror financing. These amendments criminalized the undeclared transfer of money across international borders for the purpose of money laundering or in support of terrorism. Anyone convicted under the law of collecting or contributing funds, or otherwise providing financial support to a group or people who practiced terrorist acts, was subject to imprisonment and/or fine. Law 54 also codified a legal basis for a disclosure system for cash couriers although the government must still enact supporting regulations.

The new law included a definition of terrorism based upon the Organization of the Islamic Conference definition. The law excludes from the definition of terrorism acts of struggle against invasion or foreign aggression, colonization, or foreign supremacy in the interest of freedom and the nation's liberty, according to the principles of international law. There are various legal interpretations about the possible application of this clause, and its impact is not yet known.

Bahrain actively monitored terrorist suspects. Domestic legal constraints, particularly prior to the promulgation of the new counterterrorism and CFT laws, at times have hamstrung its ability to detain and prosecute suspects. The legal case of four Bahrainis arrested in mid-2004 on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks was resolved conclusively on November 20 when Bahrain's Higher Criminal Court ruled that the four accused were not guilty of any remaining charges. This step followed a June 26 ruling by the Constitutional Court that conspiracy charges filed against the suspects were unconstitutional.

In September, security services arrested eight Bahrainis on suspicion of planning possible terrorist activities. During the interrogations, several of the suspects admitted they intended to travel to Afghanistan to fight allied forces. The prosecutor general subsequently decided he did not have enough evidence to charge them under the counterterrorism law and released them on bond in late September.

Bahrain continued to host the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENA FATF) secretariat. At the Bahraini government's request, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank conducted a financial sector assessment program (FSAP). The FSAP made recommendations to improve the anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terror environment in Bahrain, among other items. The Bahraini delegation briefed MENA FATF members on the FSAP during the November plenary in Abu Dhabi.

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