29 October 2003
State Department Counterterror Coordinator Defends Budget
Cofer Black reviews U.S. counterterrorism efforts
The State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism told two
House international relations subcommittees October 29 that a cut
of 21 percent by the House could affect at least 11 counterterrorism
programs in Asia.
Ambassador Cofer Black, in prepared remarks, told the Subcommittees
on Asia and the Pacific, and on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation,
and Human Rights that the House Foreign Operations Appropriations
Bill has cut the Anti-Terrorism Assistance program, the Terrorist
Interdiction Program, and the Counterterror Engagements and Policy
Workshops Program by a total of $24.6 million from the president's
request. He urged the subcommittee members to encourage the bill's
conferees to restore the full funding levels requested by the administration.
"I submit that there is no better investment for scarce tax dollars
than counterterrorism programs such as these," Black said. "This
is not the time to be cutting funding for these programs, which
are designed to help defeat terrorism overseas before it comes
to our borders ... We need these resources to help our [counterterrorism]
partners defeat our common enemy before terrorism reaches our shores
again," he said.
Black pointed out that although counterterrorism efforts in Asia "have
been largely successful," the largest terrorist attack since September
11, 2001, was the nightclub bombing in Bali. He said the region
is home to one of the more active and dangerous terrorist groups,
the Jemaah Islamiyah, and that gaps in counterterror regimes in
the region could be exploited by terrorists for planning, recruitment
"This type of cross-border danger requires a coordinated international
response," said Black. The United States uses diplomacy with like-minded
nations to share information and intelligence about suspected terrorists
in order to apprehend them before they can strike. It also coordinates
counterterrorism training and assistance programs with other countries
that offer them, he added.
Black noted that Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) is the "primary
program for providing foreign security forces in the region with
training across a variety of investigative, managerial, and tactical
skills," and that the program is being used to train and equip
an Indonesian national police counterterrorism unit. Afghanistan
and Pakistan have also received ATA training, Black said.
He pointed to Cambodia and the Philippines as beneficiaries of
the Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP), "with equipment, software
and training to enhance their capacity to secure their borders," and
said that Afghanistan and Pakistan have also received TIP assistance.
Programs for Nepal and Bangladesh are under development, he added.
"These efforts have produced results," Black said. More than 550
al-Qaida and Taliban suspects have been apprehended since 9/11,
including 9/11 plotters Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al
Shibh. In addition, hundreds of Jemaah Islamiyah members have been
taken into custody in Southeast Asia, Australia and Pakistan, he
Following is the text of Black's prepared remarks:
U.S. Counterterrorism Policy in Asia and the Pacific
Ambassador Cofer Black, Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Testimony before the Subcommittees on Asia and the Pacific, and
International Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Human Rights, House
International Relations Committee
October 29, 2003
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the subcommittees:
It is my pleasure to have this opportunity to appear before you
today to discuss our counterterrorism policies and programs in
Asia and the Pacific. Today's hearing is particularly timely, coming
as it does on the heels of the President's recent trip to Asia,
which dealt in no small part with terrorism and related issues.
The Asia-Pacific region and South Asia figure prominently in the
global war on terrorism. Our efforts in the war on terrorism in
Asia have been largely successful: many attacks have been thwarted,
terrorist cells have been disrupted, and governments in the region
have joined the fight. But much remains to be done. Sadly, the
Asia-Pacific region has been the venue for the largest terrorist
attack since September 11 -- the Bali bombings -- and contains
one of the more active and dangerous international terrorist groups
in the world, the al-Qaida-related Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Gaps
in counterterrorism (CT) regimes throughout the region give rise
to concerns about the ability of al-Qaida, JI, or other groups
to hide, plan new operations, raise money, and recruit members.
Such groups present a direct threat to the United States and to
the countries of the region in which they operate.
This type of cross-border danger requires a coordinated international
response. Direct law enforcement and intelligence actions carried
out by the U.S. or in cooperation with our partners are aimed at
preempting the activities of terrorists presenting an immediate
threat. In the mid-term, our approach is to directly interdict,
or build local capacity to prevent, the movement of terrorist money,
manpower, and materiel through banks, borders, and brokers. We
also support the development of open, prosperous, and democratic
societies that will not readily produce individuals who would be
attracted to the rhetoric of extremists or recruitment by terrorists.
Diplomacy is a vital and ever-present component of our approach.
We believe that only through cooperation and coordination with
like-minded nations can we close the gaps that international terrorists
exploit. Building upon a network of already-close relationships
in the region, we work closely with allies and partners in Asia
to share information and intelligence about terrorist suspects
on the move to catch them before they strike. We coordinate counterterrorism
training and assistance with other countries that provide it, in
order to deconflict training programs and make them complementary.
In addition to coordinating with others, we are also encouraging
other nations to increase their contributions, and share information
that helps foreign governments understand the threat that terrorism
poses to their national security and their economies.
Using tools of diplomacy, we assert the United States' adherence
to the principles of United Nations Security Council Resolution
(UNSCR) 1373, other UN resolutions, the 12 UN conventions on counterterrorism,
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations on CT financing,
and other international CT standards, and we advocate these standards
and best practices for achieving them to all of our foreign interlocutors.
We also take advantage of international fora such as the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the Pacific
Islands Forum (PIF), on issues ranging from the global threat of
terrorism and the importance of implementing best practices to
improve CT regimes, to specific measures on terrorist financing
and border security.
At the October 19-21 APEC meetings, the President forged agreements
to work with APEC nations to dismantle transnational terrorist
groups, eliminate the danger of weapons of mass destruction, establish
a trade and security initiative within the Asian Development Bank
to enhance port security and combat terrorist financing, and to
strengthen efforts to confront the threat of Man-Portable Air Defense
Systems (MANPADS). APEC also endorsed support for a U.S.-Australian
agreement to explore the development of a computerized regional
alert system to prevent terrorist and criminal movements.
Assistance to Other Countries
We train, assist and equip those who are working to increase their
technical CT skills across all fronts -- law enforcement and the
judiciary, regulators and legislators, CT financing and anti-money
laundering units, and militaries. We work within the U.S. Government
as well to ensure that programs and policies are coordinated. For
instance, my office, as well as others in the Department, work
closely with the U.S. Pacific Command on a number of CT programs.
These include creating cooperative arrangements with the newly
created Malaysian regional CT center, the Department of Defense's
CT Fellowship Program, the various elements of the multi-agency
and multinational Regional Maritime Security Program, and a series
of bilateral CT exercises. Five such exercises have been held to
date, with Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand.
These and other programs are designed to expand effective cooperation
with other governments as well as enhance and encourage institution
and CT capacity building.
In Indonesia, we are training and equipping a national police
CT unit, and are coordinating with Australia and other nations
on the provision of additional assistance to the police. Graduates
of that training are already assigned to active terrorism investigations.
The Indonesian CT unit is being trained using Anti-Terrorism Assistance
(ATA), our primary program for providing foreign security forces
with training across a variety of investigative, managerial, and
tactical skills. We work closely with Indonesia's recently established
Financial Intelligence Unit as they begin to implement procedures
to screen the banking system for terrorist financing and money
In Malaysia, the U.S. was the first country to provide training
under the auspices of the Southeast Asia Regional Center for Counter-Terrorism
(SEARCCT) in Kuala Lumpur August 25-29, 2003. Fifteen South Asian
and Southeast Asian nations received training in financial analysis
for their Financial Intelligence Units or equivalents.
The Philippines has been a close partner in the war on terrorism.
The U.S. assisted the Philippines in amending their anti-money
laundering legislation to meet international standards. The U.S.
has also offered to support the peace process between the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippines government. The U.S.
has installed the Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP) in the Philippines
with equipment, software and training to enhance their capacity
to secure their borders, and in Cambodia as well.
In South Asia, also a critical front in the global war on terrorism,
there are seven designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations operating,
and several other groups that are on the list of "Other Terrorist
Organizations" found in the State Department's annual report, "Patterns
of Global Terrorism."
Al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other organizations hostile to the
Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan continue to target members
of the coalition working to rebuild that country. Several Pakistani
terrorist groups are suspected of using Pakistani territory as
a base for their operations in and around Kashmir, poisoning relations
between India and Pakistan. Non-Islamic terrorist groups in Nepal
and Sri Lanka threaten those governments.
We have used the ATA program during the past year to train an
indigenous presidential protective unit for the Afghan government.
ATA has also recently completed training of a dedicated civilian
investigative unit in Pakistan that will significantly increase
that country's capacity to investigate terrorist groups and their
activities. Other ATA training conducted throughout the region
is building stronger partnerships in the war on terrorism between
the U.S., Pakistan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and many
other countries in South and Southeast Asia.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have both received the Terrorist Interdiction
Program to help achieve effective border watch-listing capabilities.
TIP systems for Nepal and Bangladesh are likewise under development.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Committees, I have
highlighted some -- but not all -- of the dangers in South Asia
and the Asia-Pacific regions. I have noted many of the diplomatic
steps and training programs we have launched to address immediate
threats, and build regional capacity to reduce future threats,
but this is by no means a comprehensive discussion of the threat,
nor of efforts to counter them. There are many other efforts, large
and small underway.
These efforts have produced results. Al-Qaida and the Taliban
have been uprooted from Afghanistan. September 11 plotters Khalid
Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al Shibh were among the more than
550 suspected al-Qaida and Taliban suspects taken into custody
since 9/11. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is believed to be a key planner
of the 9/11 attacks. His apprehension has been hailed as the most
significant removal from the playing field of an al-Qaida figure
since those attacks, and he is also implicated in the 2002 murder
of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Counterterrorism
finance cooperation continues, and Pakistan ranks fourth worldwide
in terms of terrorist assets frozen. In September, five more al-Qaida
suspects were picked up in Peshawar and Karachi. This month Pakistani
military forces conducted a raid on al-Qaida and Taliban elements
in the politically sensitive tribal region that resulted in eight
killed and 12 apprehended. Clearly Pakistan is making excellent
use of American CT assistance.
Hambali -- a key link between al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah --
was apprehended as a result of U.S.-Thailand cooperation. Hundreds
of Jemaah Islamiyah members have been taken into custody in Southeast
Asia, Australia, and Pakistan. Dozens of al-Qaida members have
been apprehended in the region, and many countries that face the
most serious terrorism threat have greatly enhanced the effectiveness
of their CT regimes, often with direct assistance from the U.S.
In Indonesia, graduates of U.S. ATA training courses were used
immediately to investigate the August 5, 2003, J.W. Marriott Hotel
bombing in Jakarta, and made rapid progress in identifying and
apprehending suspects. In September, an interagency CT Finance/Anti-Money
Laundering assistance team led by the State Department conducted
an onsite review of Indonesia s CT finance needs with a focus on
expediting assistance for the financial aspect of the Bali bombing
investigations. The trip was also successful in assisting Indonesia
in drafting legislation that avoided the issuance of economic countermeasures
against Indonesia by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
And yet, we need look no further than the Marriott bombing, or
the bombings in Mumbai earlier this year, to know that, despite
the dramatic progress that has been made, much work remains to
be done. As terrorists find one nation increasingly inhospitable,
they seek out new havens, or look for remaining weaknesses to exploit.
They will find them. Our task remains closing the gaps in international
CT regimes and systems before terrorists can find them. We must
continually adapt to the emerging threat environment as terrorists
try to circumvent counterterrorism measures.
Some countries can do this task alone. Some need only access to
information about best practices to be able to implement changes.
Others require significant assistance in order to make improvements.
Our funding and resources are limited, and our commitments are
global. We continue to urge our CT partners to play a larger role,
because we recognize that the U.S. is not able to engage all nations
to close all gaps on its own. Although our partners are responsive,
the size and scope of the mission and our task is not decreasing.
This is a task that requires more, not less, from the U.S. if we
are to succeed.
We urge Congress to approve full funding of our budget requests
to strengthen our training programs. Terrorists in Asia have proven
their resilience, and many Asian nations have large and porous
borders, and inadequate resources, training, and infrastructure
to adequately interdict terrorist activities. This is a long-term
threat, and we are committed to a long-term fight.
Mr. Chairman, Committee members, I submit that there is no better
investment for scarce tax dollars than counterterrorism programs
such as these. This is not the time to be cutting funding for these
programs, which are designed to help defeat terrorism overseas
before it comes to our borders.
The House Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill cut $24.6 million
dollars -- or 21percent -- from the President's request for our
three CT programs in the bill -- the ATA program, the Terrorist
Interdiction Program and the CT engagements and Policy Workshops
Program. The cuts could affect at least 11 courses and installations
We hope you can help encourage the Conferees on the Foreign Operations
Appropriations bill to approve the full funding levels requested
by the President for CT programs. We need these resources to work
to ensure the safety of Americans and of American interests here
and abroad. We need these resources to help our CT partners defeat
our common enemy before terrorism reaches our shores again.
We appreciate your support in this effort. As President Bush said, "we
shall not falter, and we shall not fail." Thank you for the opportunity
to discuss these issues today.