29 January 2004
U.S. Committed to Hemispheric Counterterrorism Cooperation, Says
State Department's Cofer Black encourages enhanced coordination
The United States and its Western Hemisphere partners are cooperating
to combat terrorism, but more needs to be done to craft a coordinated
and comprehensive regional counterterrorism strategy, says Cofer
Black, the U.S. State Department coordinator for counterterrorism.
Speaking January 29 to the Organization of American States (0AS)
Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), Black outlined
the Bush administration's national strategy for combating terrorism
and encouraged hemispheric nations to adopt, approve or implement
a number of counterterror measures.
Black said that the Bush administration's counterterrorism goals
are to: defeat global terrorist organizations by attacking their
leadership, finances, and communications; cooperate with other
nations to deny further sponsorship, support or sanctuary to terrorists;
address the underlying conditions terrorists seek to exploit; and
defend the United States, its citizens, and interests at home and
abroad through the sustained application of diplomatic, financial,
intelligence, military and law enforcement resources.
To curb terrorism in the hemisphere, Black said that the United
States "firmly stand[s] behind the OAS and CICTE leading the
charge to marshal our shared resources and expertise."
In view of the terrorist attacks that occurred in various parts
of the world in 2003, he said, the Fourth Regular Session of CICTE
being held January 28-30 in Montevideo, Uruguay, is particularly
Black said terrorists in the Western Hemisphere are increasingly
active in illicit transnational activities, including the drug
trade, arms trafficking, money laundering, contraband smuggling,
and document and currency fraud. He said the region's soft targets
-- such as the tourism industry, aviation sector and ports, as
well as disparities in border security, legal and regulatory regimes,
and state presence -- create opportunities for terrorists to exploit.
Addressing these threats will require collective action, Black
said. He indicated that diplomatic exchanges like the CICTE session
strengthen political will and cooperation, which helps "take
the war to the terrorists."
He cited the joint counterterrorism efforts of Brazil, Argentina,
Uruguay, Paraguay and the United States via the 3+1 Counterterrorism
Dialogue and thanked the OAS and governments of Canada and Mexico
for their aid and cooperation.
Despite these efforts and others, Black warned that more must
be done "to ensure our hemisphere develops a well-coordinated
and comprehensive counterterrorism strategy."
He encouraged hemispheric nations that have not done so to ratify
the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, a dozen United
Nations protocols on terrorism, and other related instruments.
Black also expressed optimism that the U.S. Senate will soon move
Black further encouraged CICTE and its members to enhance collaboration
with other OAS entities and urged OAS member states to continue
strengthening border security.
He said the United States is pleased many hemispheric nations
have signalled strong support for the Bush administration's Proliferation
Security Initiative to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction,
and added that the U.S. looks forward to collaborating with hemispheric
partners on other programs such as U.S.-Visit, the Container Security
Initiative, and the Terrorist Interdiction program.
Black pointed out that the United States has undergone considerable
restructuring to better prevent, manage and respond to terrorist
threats, including the establishment of the Department of Homeland
Security. He called upon CICTE member countries to also enhance
counterterrorism coordination in their governments and to develop
integrated incident-management capabilities.
The United States, he said, also supports the sharing of information
on cyber threats and the development of a Computer Security Incident
In addition to these measures, Black said, the United States encourages
hemispheric nations to diminish the underlying conditions often
exploited by terrorists -- including poverty, corruption, and religious
or ethnic conflict.
Finally, Black concluded that coordination among the United States
and its neighbors in the hemisphere is crucial.
"We can prevent and disrupt terrorist activity by working
together to secure our borders, strengthen customs enforcement,
and develop strong legal and financial regulatory systems to criminalize
terrorism and terrorism finance," he said. "By marshalling
our resources to provide capacity-building assistance, we can deter
terrorists from targeting weaker states or from using them for
safe havens or fundraising... And by sharing information, as well
as coordinating joint investigations and efforts to bring terrorists
to justice, we can deal a serious blow to terrorism."
Following is the text of Black's remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Building an Effective Hemispheric Counterterrorism Strategy
Ambassador Cofer Black, Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Remarks to the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE)
4th Regular Session
January 29, 2004
Thank you Mr. Bluth for the Government of Uruguay hosting this
meeting, for your chairmanship of this discussion, and for Uruguay
s leadership as CICTE s Vice-Chair last year. We applaud you assuming
the Chair for 2004, as well as Trinidad and Tobago for taking over
the Vice-Chair. I would like to pay special thanks to Foreign Minister
Brizuela for her exceptional leadership as last year s CICTE Chair.
I would also like to thank President Batlle and other distinguished
participants who have joined us here in Montevideo.
We have come a long way since we last met in San Salvador. Counterterrorism
cooperation in the hemisphere has continued to broaden and strengthen.
The Special Summit of the Americas two weeks ago and the OAS Special
Conference on Hemispheric Security in October reaffirmed our leaders'
commitment to combating terrorism and its sources. And the Inter-American
Convention Against Terrorism went into effect in July of 2003.
We firmly stand behind the OAS and CICTE leading the charge to
marshal our shared resources and expertise to combat terrorism.
This meeting in Montevideo could not be more timely.
Over the past year, terrorists have struck brutally and callously
across the globe. From Colombia to Saudi Arabia to Morocco to Indonesia,
terrorists have indiscriminately killed men, women, and children.
I know you all share with me in the tragic loss of our colleague
Sergio de Mello.
The Western Hemisphere s experience with terrorism has been different
than the traditional hotspots like the Middle East, Southeast Asia,
and parts of Africa. Terrorism in our region has traditionally
been a domestic threat. Colombia's FARC, ELN, and AUC have primarily
engaged in local bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings. Sendero
Luminoso's bloody 30-year campaign left over 35,000 Peruvians dead.
However, this trend is changing.
Terrorists in this hemisphere are becoming more active in illicit
transnational activities, principally the drug trade, but also
arms trafficking, money laundering, contraband smuggling, and document
and currency fraud. Not only do these provide sources of income,
but terrorists also take advantage of their well-established underground
supply routes to move funds, people and arms across borders, as
well as to plan and conduct operations. And, the Internet has given
terrorists truly global reach to communicate, fundraise, and recruit.
And, terrorists have not hesitated to make our hemisphere a battleground
to advance their causes. The bombings of the Israeli Embassy in
Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Argentine-Jewish Cultural Center in
1994 painfully illustrated this. Middle Eastern terrorists, such
as Hamas and Hizballah, have come to the Tri-Border Area of Paraguay,
Brazil, and Argentina to raise funds and spread propaganda. The
United States has arrested suspected al-Qaida cells in New York
Although we do not have confirmed, credible information of an
al-Qaida presence in Latin America, we are aware that al-Qaida's
global crime networks and fundraising operations are always seeking
to extend their tentacles. The Western Hemisphere s lightly-defended
soft targets -- our vibrant tourism industry, thriving aviation
sector, and busy ports -- as well as systemic disparities between
countries in border security, legal and financial regulatory regimes,
and state presence create opportunities for terrorists to exploit.
These domestic and international threats require action by all
of us represented here today. For the United States, President
Bush has outlined a National Strategy for Combating Terrorism,
the goals of which are to:
(1) Defeat terrorist organizations of global reach by attacking
their sanctuaries, leadership, finances, and command, control and
(2) Deny further sponsorship, support, and sanctuary to terrorists
by cooperating with other states to take action against these international
(3) Diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to
exploit by enlisting the international community to focus its efforts
and resources on the areas most at risk; and,
(4) Defend the United States, its citizens and interests at home
and abroad. The National Strategy highlights that success will
only come through the sustained, steadfast, and systematic application
of all elements of national power diplomatic, financial, law enforcement,
intelligence, and military.
Diplomacy facilitates all elements of national power. Diplomatic
exchanges, such as this conference, build political will, strengthen
international cooperation, and help us take the war to the terrorists.
The global coalition assembled to remove the Taliban from Afghanistan
and Saddam Hussein from Iraq was just one step. Diplomacy has led
to the international community voicing their collective will to
criminalize terrorism, its safe havening, and its financing in
UN Security Council Resolution 1373 and the 12 international conventions
and protocols against terrorism -- which, in coordination with
U.S. Executive Order 13224, have frozen $120 million in over 167
Law enforcement and intelligence cooperation has led to two-thirds
of the al-Qaida leadership being detained or killed, al-Qaida affiliates
like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Hambali put behind bars, and 3,400
terrorists taken out of action worldwide.
In our hemisphere, cooperation has led to the extraditions of
Hizballah financier Assad Ahmad Barakat from Brazil to Paraguay
and Al-Said Hassan Mohkles from Uruguay to Egypt for his suspected
role in the 1997 Luxor Temple massacre. The 3+1 Counterterrorism
Dialogue is bringing together Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina,
together with the United States, to combat terrorism financing
and strengthen border security.
From the President of the United States down to Secretary Powell,
and particularly to me, the United States is grateful for the cooperation
of President Fox and the Mexican Government in assisting us to
manage our aviation security concerns over the holidays. The United
States is also grateful for the OAS for coming to our aid in the
wake of 9/11 by invoking the Rio Treaty, and the Government of
Canada for caring for so many of our people in the weeks following
We are all doing so much together, but more needs to done to ensure
our hemisphere develops a well-coordinated and comprehensive counterterrorism
Countries that have not yet done so should ratify the Inter-American
Convention Against Terrorism, the 12 United Nations conventions
and protocols on terrorism, as well as other related instruments.
And, the measures outlined in these legal instruments should be
adopted into domestic legal systems. For our part, we are optimistic
that the U.S. Senate will move soon on ratification.
We encourage CICTE and its members to enhance collaboration with
other OAS organizations, such as CICAD and CIFTA; international
organizations, such as the UNCTC, G-8's Roma-Lyon Group and Counterterrorism
Action Group, and APEC; and, non-hemispheric countries, such as
Spain and Israel.
We urge member states to continue to strengthen border security.
The United States looks forward to working with many of you on
U.S. initiatives such as the US-VISIT, the Container Security Initiative,
and the Terrorist Interdiction Program.
President Bush has indicated that the greatest threat to peace
today is the spread of weapons of mass destruction and the possibility
that they may fall into the hands of terrorists. We are pleased
so many countries here today have already indicated strong support
for President Bush s Proliferation Security Initiative.
The United States has undergone considerable restructuring to
enhance our ability to prevent, manage, and respond to terrorist
threats and acts, establishing the Department of Homeland Security,
the Terrorism Threat Integration Center, and the Terrorism Screening
Center. And, we encourage CICTE members to enhance counterterrorism
coordination in their governments.
We urge member states to develop integrated incident-management
and crisis-management capabilities. The United States also strongly
supports efforts to share information on cyber threats and attacks,
and for member states to develop a Computer Security Incident Response
We also encourage member states to diminish underlying conditions
that create opportunities for terrorists to exploit. As Secretary
Powell has said about poverty, which applies to other underlying
conditions such as corruption, religious conflict and ethnic strife,
it breeds frustration, hopelessness and resentment -- and ideological
entrepreneurs know how to turn those emotions into either support
for terrorism or acquiescence to it.
The reality of counterterrorism -- in which I have been engaged
most of my career -- is that it depends on relationships, communication,
free flow of information, and transparency. We can prevent and
disrupt terrorist activity by working together to secure our borders,
strengthen customs enforcement, and develop strong legal and financial
regulatory systems to criminalize terrorism and terrorism finance.
By marshalling our resources to provide capacity-building assistance,
we can deter terrorists from targeting weaker states or from using
them for safe havens or fundraising. And by sharing information,
as well as coordinating joint investigations and efforts to bring
terrorists to justice, we can deal a serious blow to terrorism.
And that is why we are here -- first and foremost, to develop
ways to work together to defend men, women and children against
terrorism; but also to develop ways to cooperate in defending our
critical infrastructure and commerce to ensure our economies grow
and are healthy -- and to establish joint mechanisms to preserve
that which we all hold dearest and which terrorists try to take
away: freedom, liberty, and democracy.
Close to 70 years ago, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
addressing a Conference on Democracy here in Montevideo, provided
sage advice that I think is applicable to what we are doing at
this conference. He said, We seek new remedies for new conditions...
Sometimes the remedies succeed, and sometimes they must be altered
or improved. But the net result is that we move forward.
The United States is committed to moving forward with CICTE to
enhance hemispheric counterterrorism cooperation. Let us continue
our strong partnership against terror. And when we meet again next
year in Port of Spain, let us look forward to celebrating another
year of accomplishments.