Overview: The Government of the Republic of Cyprus collaborated closely with the United States, the EU, and other countries – bilaterally and multilaterally – in international counterterrorism efforts in 2014. In March, the Cypriot Supreme Court rejected the appeal against the Criminal Court's 2013 conviction of Hossam Yaacoub Taleb, a Lebanese Hizballah operative, for conducting surveillance activities on Israeli targets in Cyprus.

Cyprus' counterterrorism partnership with the United States included regular, routine protection for transiting U.S. military personnel, aircraft, and naval vessels throughout 2014; and participation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance and Regional Strategic Initiative programs, which strengthened the government's capacity to counter terrorism.

Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into the Republic of Cyprus government-controlled area, composed of the southern two-thirds of the island, and a northern third, administered by the Turkish Cypriots. The Republic of Cyprus government does not exercise effective control over the area administered by the Turkish Cypriots. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared the northern part an independent "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)." The United States does not recognize the "TRNC," nor does any country other than Turkey. The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus patrols the buffer zone separating the two sides, but people, narcotics, and other illicit goods routinely cross uncontrolled.

Turkish Cypriots lacked the legal and institutional framework necessary to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism effectively. Within these limitations, however, Turkish Cypriots cooperated in pursuing specific counterterrorism objectives.

Cyprus is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In October, the government approved French civil aviation authorities' request to access Paphos airbase to support humanitarian operations in Iraq. The government began an interagency review of its legal framework for addressing foreign terrorist fighters, including a review of its 2010 counterterrorism law to begin to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2178. Cyprus police have conducted a seminar on the foreign terrorist fighters issue. In September 2014, the police investigated five people for possible facilitation of travel to conflict areas abroad, but nothing suspicious was revealed.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Cypriot government has not yet tried a case under the 2010 National Law on Combating Terrorism, but has used the criminal code to prosecute terrorism-related offenses; for example, the prosecution pursued criminal charges against Yaacoub for his surveillance activities of Israeli tourist targets in Cyprus. In March 2014, the Cypriot Supreme Court upheld the Yaacoub convictions for participation in a criminal organization, participation and acceptance in committing a crime, and money laundering. In November 2014 Yaacoub, a Swedish national of Lebanese origin, completed his criminal sentence and was escorted to Sweden. Cypriot law enforcement continued to develop the capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents, under the coordination of the National Counterterrorism Coordinator with a specialized antiterrorist squad in the Cyprus National Police's (CNP's) Emergency Response Unit.

In 2014, the Council of Ministers approved a new National Counterterrorism Strategy for the Republic of Cyprus, based on the four pillars of the corresponding EU strategy: "Prevent, Pursue, Protect, and Respond." Cyprus began participating in the newly-established Europol Data Fusion Center to help identify potential terrorist threats, strengthened security measures at borders and crossing points, and advocated adoption of an EU Directive on Passenger Name Records. U.S. training programs and analytic exchanges strengthened the capacity of Cypriot law enforcement to detect surveillance and prevent attacks on airports, bus, and rail systems.

CNP continued a screening watchlist mechanism. On the CNP's Counterterrorism Office watchlist, among others, are all persons subject to travel bans and asset freezing sanctions by UNSCRs and EU decisions concerning terrorism. In cooperation with FRONTEX Eurosur Program, the CNP has also conducted training programs concerning false and falsified document detection, border security processing techniques, and recognition of foreign terrorist fighters at sea and airports.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Cyprus is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Cyprus' financial intelligence unit (FIU), the Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS), is a member of the Egmont Group.

The Republic of Cyprus government implemented new UNSCR 1267/1989 (Al-Qa'ida) and 1988 (Taliban) sanctions listings and informally tracked suspect names listed under U.S. Executive Orders (EO), including EO 13224. In June, the Council of Ministers proposed new legislation criminalizing and establishing penalties for circumvention of UN or EU sanctions, including terrorist financing. The proposal, which was pending before the House of Representatives at year's end, aims to criminalize infringements of UNSCRs and relevant sanctions adopted by the EU, as well as impose effective, proportionate, and dissuasive penalties.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: In addition to hosting and participating in OSCE counterterrorism programs, Cyprus participated in counterterrorism initiatives of the UN and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended meetings of the Working Group on the External Aspects of Terrorism of the Council of the EU, an ad hoc working group on Lebanese Hizballah's military wing, and a regional conference on foreign terrorist fighters.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Cyprus continued to participate in the EU Commission's Radicalization Awareness Network meetings, with particular focus on the health, police, and prison sectors. The government exchanges best practices with partners on addressing terrorists' internet recruitment efforts. The Police's Counterterrorism Office conducted training of first line police officers and prison employees about radicalization to violence.


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