Foreign Terrorist Organizations [FTOs] Law and Legal Definition

Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) refers to those foreign organizations that are designated by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. FTO designation by the Secretary of State plays a critical role in the U.S. fight against terrorism. It proves as an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business. It is unlawful for a person in the U.S. or subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. to knowingly provide material support or resources to a designated FTO.

The Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism compiles Foreign Terrorist Organizations in every 2 years. The Secretary of State makes designations following an exhaustive interagency effort. However, it is subject to judicial review and Congress can also pass legislation to revoke designations.

Legal Criteria for designation as an FTO are:

a. foreign organization;

b. engage in terrorist activity, terrorism, or or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism; and

c. terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of the U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the U.S.