Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 - Kuwait

The Government of Kuwait exerted measured effort but made little progress in combating terrorism; it did not enact stronger counterterrorism and money laundering legislation, and it continued to have difficulty prosecuting terrorists and terrorism financiers and facilitators.

Kuwait was an effective and reliable partner in providing security for U.S. military installations and convoys in Kuwait. The risk of a terrorist attack in Kuwait remained high, however, because of the government-welcomed presence of U.S. forces in the country.

Kuwait lacked legal provisions to deal with conspiracies to commit terrorist acts, a problem exacerbated by the contentious relationship between the executive branch (headed by Kuwait's ruling family) and the elected legislative body, the National Assembly, which must approve such legislation. In general, the Kuwaiti government was more likely to take action against non-Kuwaiti residents involved in terrorist facilitation, but showed reluctance to take legal or preventative action against key local Sunni extremists unless there was a perception of clear and direct danger to Kuwaiti or U.S. interests.

The Kuwait's Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowments) and Islamic Affairs' World Moderation Center offered a 45-day moderation course, which over 700 imams have completed thus far. The Center also began offering this course to high school Islamic studies teachers. During the year, Kuwaiti officials visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's rehabilitation center with the intent to establish a similar center in Kuwait; the Kuwaiti Prime Minister announced this initiative in a September meeting with the President. However, at year's end, the Rehabilitation Center had not yet been established reportedly due to legal constraints. The Amir of Kuwait made a call for tolerance and dialogue at the November UN General Assembly-sponsored Interfaith Dialogue in New York.

The Government of Kuwait increased its cooperation with NATO by conducting a six-day joint exercise in November that focused on combating terrorist attacks and piracy. Kuwait Army Commandos, Kuwait National Guards, and a Jordanian Special Forces Unit also participated in a November joint exercise on combating terrorism in residential areas.

Kuwait experienced a dramatic increase in dialogue on counterterrorism; the government engaged in numerous high-level counterterrorism talks with U.S. officials including the President, and senior civilian and military officials on issues ranging from border security, cyber security, and recidivism of terrorists. In March, Kuwait participated in an Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) workshop designed to improve its interagency counterterrorism coordination.

The Kuwaiti government lacked sufficient enforcement mechanisms for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, thus hindering its effectiveness. The government implemented no cash reporting requirements for individuals leaving the country, and this was a significant vulnerability. While money laundering was a criminal offense, terrorist financing was not specifically prohibited. Kuwait had established an Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Terrorist Financing Committee, with representation from a wide range of government ministries and domestic financial institutions. Kuwait was also an active member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force. Although Kuwait had a Financial Intelligence Unit, it did not exercise independent authority in accordance with current international standards. A revised anti-money laundering draft law, which would criminalize terrorist financing, has been pending Council of Ministers' approval and subsequent referral to the National Assembly for passage since August. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor regulates charities; transfers of donated funds abroad must be approved by the ministry.

The Kuwaiti government made several arrests on terrorism-related charges, but was unable to successfully prosecute or detain for a lengthy period because of the lack of evidence and/or the lack of a clear definition of terrorism under its constitutional framework.

Significant acquittals took place during the year:In October, the Kuwaiti Council of Ministers published an Action Plan which included and allocated $2.7 billion for counterterrorism initiatives to be implemented by the Ministry of Interior by 2012. Among them were:


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