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Trying to Capture and Thwart Terrorists Before they Can Strike Us and our Allies Overseas


Trying to Capture and Thwart Terrorists Before they Can Strike Us and our Allies Overseas


Foreign Operations Subcommittee Hearing on Foreign Assistance and International Terrorism: Testimony by Ambassador Cofer Black, Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Department of State for Counterterrorism, to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations Foreign Assistance and International Terrorism. Washington, DC, April 21, 2004.


Chairman McConnell, distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today at your hearing on "Foreign Assistance and International Terrorism.”


This hearing is appropriate and timely in addressing the State Department’s specific counterterrorism programs in the context of the U.S. Government’s overall efforts to assist other countries, rather than programs that respond to various regional or global threats. Today’s hearing should reinforce the fact that international programs fundamentally contribute to our goals of diminishing the underlying conditions that spawn terrorism and trying to capture and thwart terrorists before they can strike us and our allies overseas.


Resources are lifeblood as we prosecute the Global War on Terrorism. Many countries are willing to cooperate in the Global War on Terrorism, but many of these prospective partners are faced with relatively weak institutions and capabilities. Before I describe the variety of these programs to improve the capabilities and institutions of our international partners, I first want to thank you and your colleagues for your Subcommittee’s budgetary support for the programs. We greatly appreciate your Subcommittee’s support for the Administration’s full fiscal year 2004 appropriations request for Anti-Terrorism programs funded through the Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) account and we applaud your efforts to restore at least some of the cuts made by the House last year. Your action recognizes and underscores the essential role of international programs in the ongoing effort to combat terrorism. I sincerely hope your markup of the FY 2005 budget request will also be equally supportive and that your colleagues in the House will follow this example.


My colleague, USAID Director Natsios, has described the broad Agency for International Development programs to strengthen the institutions in our partner countries. These programs are a complementary backdrop to the programs we pursue at State.


  • Institution Building for CT Programs

While the State Department’s counterterrorism programs focus on developing specific skills, we recognize that in many of the countries where we work, the overall institutions of the government and society are not sufficiently robust for the task of aggressive counterterrorism programs. For this reason, institution building is not an abstract or academic concept. Institution building begins with having laws in place to provide the necessary legal framework for investigating, pursuing, apprehending, and prosecuting terrorists. It requires capable and motivated law enforcement personnel, investigators and prosecutors and judges. Therefore, aside from the many other benefits that may accrue from our foreign assistance programs, the U.S. Government must consider the status of a country’s social institutions and our role in enhancing those capabilities to support the Global War on Terrorism.


  • Foreign Assistance Programs Support CT Programs

We cannot expect countries to be effective in deterring, detecting and capturing terrorists if their security guards and policemen are barely literate, poorly paid and susceptible to bribes, if the investigators, prosecutors and judges are poorly trained, and if the basic communications infrastructure is weak or virtually non-existent. In order to develop these institutional capabilities fully, countries need a good educational system to develop qualified personnel and even radios, computers, and other communications equipment that will allow foreign counterterrorism officials to exchange information in real time. We must do what we can to strengthen the institutions of our partners and thereby move less developed countries closer toward their full potential in combating terrorism. At the same time, we must also encourage our international partners to provide resources and expertise in support of this goal.


Mr. Chairman, let me turn now to some of our specific counterterrorism programs.


State Department Counterterrorism Programs


  • Antiterrorism Training Assistance (ATA)

For FY 2005, the Administration is requesting $128 million in the NADR account to meet the ATA program’s growing requirements. Of this amount, $25 million is specifically requested for programs in Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, and Colombia. The ATA program was among the first specific counterterrorism programs funded at State, initially authorized in late 1983. It continues to serve as the primary provider of U.S. Government antiterrorism training and equipment to the law enforcement agencies of friendly countries needing assistance in the Global War on Terrorism. My office, the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism (S/CT), provides policy guidance and funding to the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security Office of Antiterrorism Assistance (DS/ATA), which implements the program. My office determines the relative priority for select countries to receive a given type of training. If a country must be assigned a higher priority because of specific problems, we will do so. It is important to keep in mind that we receive far more requests for ATA training than we can accommodate in a year, and there are always countries waiting for the benefits of this program. Once the prioritization process is completed, our colleagues in DS/ATA then work out the details of the training schedules and make the arrangements.


The ATA program provides a wide range of courses to strengthen the counterterrorism capacities of recipient countries. The Department works closely with the U.S. Embassy officers, especially the Regional Security Officers, to develop a tailored training package to meet each recipient country’s needs. The training includes traditional courses, such as hostage negotiations, bomb detection, and airport security. In recent years, ATA has developed new courses for investigating terrorist organizations and defeating cyber-terrorism. The program has also provided a series of seven seminars to help other countries strengthen their counterterrorism legislation.


In FY 2005, we plan to continue a robust schedule of training and assistance with our partner nations to further enhance their capacity to counter terrorism. The highest priority for assistance remains the “southern crescent” countries, which extend from East Asia through Central and South Asia to the Middle East and into particularly vulnerable East African countries and even beyond to the western hemisphere. We will continue to support specialized programs conducted in-country in Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, and Colombia. We will support the Counterterrorism Center in Kuala Lumpur, established by the Government of Malaysia to address pressing regional counterterrorism issues. We will aid the Government of the Philippines in the establishment of a new law enforcement counterterrorism unit. We also expect to develop new courses and programs to meet the evolving terrorist threat.


  • Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP)

The Administration’s FY 2005 budget request includes $5 million for TIP. TIP is designed to bolster the border security of countries confronted with a high risk of terrorist transit. Through this program, priority countries receive a sophisticated database system and training support to identify and track suspected terrorists as they enter and exit at-risk countries. TIP is currently operational in 18 countries, and is scheduled for deployment in five more countries this calendar year. The requested funds will be used for TIP installations in up to 6 new countries and continued work and maintenance on existing installations.


  • CT Engagement

The Administration is requesting $0.5 million in FY 2005 to strengthen international cooperation and working relationships for counterterrorism. In pursuit of this goal, S/CT coordinates and participates in a variety of bilateral meetings and conferences with our allies. These meetings and conferences not only advance U.S. and international goals; they also stimulate the analytical and problem-solving skills of senior officials in the countries that currently confront the terrorist threat.


  • Terrorist Finance

Programs The Administration’s budget request for FY 2005 is $7.5 million for the NADR account to support counter/anti-terrorist finance programs. Understanding and interdicting the financial transactions that sustain terrorist activity is a core function of the State Department's efforts to combat international terrorism. We seek to stem the flow of funds to terrorist groups and to strengthen the capability of our partners to detect, disrupt and deter terrorist financing networks around the world.


The groundwork for our counterterrorism finance offensive was actually laid many years before 9/11, through provisions that the State Department proposed and the Congress enacted in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The Act authorizes the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Treasury, to designate Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). Among other provisions, the Act prohibits U.S. persons and persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States from knowingly providing material support or resources to an FTO, or attempting or conspiring to do so. Among the consequences of a designation, any financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of funds of a designated FTO must retain control over the funds and report the funds to the Treasury Department’s Office of the Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Currently 37 groups are designated as FTOs.


Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President signed Executive Order 13224, which requires U.S. persons to freeze the assets of individuals and entities designated under this E.O. for their support of terrorism. There are currently over 250 individuals and entities designated under E.O. 13224. The White House has established an interagency mechanism to coordinate the USG policy on counterterrorism training and technical assistance, including terrorist financing.


We are not alone in our efforts to combat terrorist financing. The UN Security Council has also significantly enhanced efforts to combat terrorist financing after the September 11 attacks, calling on member countries to criminalize terrorist financing and to freeze the assets of terrorists and terrorist organizations. The UN Security Council created the 1267 al-Qa’ida/Taliban Sanctions Committee to maintain a list of individuals and entities associated with al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, or Usama bin Laden. All UN Member States are obligated to implement asset freezes, arms embargoes, and travel bans against those on the list. This list continues to expand as other countries join the U.S. in submitting new names to the committee. So far, the international community has frozen over $130 million in assets of persons or entities with ties to terrorist networks, and in many cases to al-Qa’ida. The UN Security Council’s role in fighting terrorist financing through its resolutions on asset freezing and other sanctions, and especially its listing of al-Qa’ida-related names, has been crucial to our efforts in this area.


We are working closely with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a 31-member international organization that sets standards to combat money laundering and more recently to combat terrorist financing. The FATF elaborated on two of its earlier recommendations to make the use of cross-border wire transfers and alternative remittance systems (such as hawalas) more transparent, and less subject to exploitation by terrorist groups. On the bilateral front, interagency teams led by the State Department are traveling to states critical to our counterterrorism efforts to evaluate their financial systems, identify vulnerabilities, and develop and implement comprehensive counterterrorism financing training and technical assistance programs.


To help other countries combat terrorism financing, we have developed CT Finance Capacity Building programs that are jointly coordinated by S/CT and administered through the Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). We coordinate these capacity-developing programs with counterpart entities at the Departments of Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security, USAID, and the independent financial regulatory agencies. These programs provide front-line states with technical assistance in drafting anti-terrorist financing legislation, and training for bank regulators, investigators, and prosecutors to identify and combat financial crimes that support terrorism.


The INL Bureau also runs a number of other programs that strengthen the fundamental law enforcement framework needed to fight a number of problems: terrorism, conventional criminals, and narcotics, including narcotics trafficking linked to the financial support of terrorism. Examples include the International Law Enforcement Academies in Budapest, Hungary; Bangkok, Thailand; Gaborone, Botswana; and Roswell, New Mexico. Bilateral training also is provided for a variety of courses on such topics as alien smuggling, border security and cyber crime, and some of this training has counterterrorism aspects.


In addition to the counterterrorism programs mentioned above, the State Department also has a number of regional and country-specific assistance efforts, focusing heavily on countries where there are major terrorism threats. South East Asia The Bureau for East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) has put together a $70 million request in FY 2005 using Economic Support Funds (ESF) program to continue to help Indonesia in a number of areas, including education, economic growth and implementation and enforcement of financial crimes and antiterrorism laws and policies. The education program initiative would be designed to improve the quality of secular and technical education and to moderate extremism in madrassas. In the Philippines, $35 million is requested in ESF for EAP and USAID to continue to help the government and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao to implement their peace agreement. This is accomplished by funding sorely-needed health, education, and small infrastructure improvements and the transition of Muslim separatist fighters to peaceful and profitable livelihood pursuits, such as corn, sorghum and seaweed farming.


South Asia S/CT and ATA have several programs designed to allow countries in the region to defend themselves from terrorist groups. The ATA program has over the past year trained an indigenous presidential protective unit for the Afghan government. It has also recently completed the training of a dedicated civilian investigative unit in Pakistan that will significantly increase that county’s capacity to investigate terrorist groups and their activities. Other ATA training conducted throughout the region is reinforcing the strong partnership between the U.S. and both Pakistan and India, as well as other South Asian governments cooperating in the Global War on Terrorism.


In addition to the $6 million we are seeking for ATA programs in Pakistan to train counterterrorism specialists, International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funds are being requested to improve the effectiveness of that country’s law enforcement efforts in border security, law enforcement coordination and development, and counternarcotics. The Administration has requested $40 million for FY 2005 to help secure the western border of Pakistan from terrorists, criminals and narcotics traffickers.


  • Africa

The President’s East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative (EACTI) announced in June of 2003 is designed to strengthen the capabilities of regional governments to combat terrorism and to foster cooperation among these governments. It includes military training for border and coastal security, a variety of programs to strengthen control of the movement of people and goods across borders, aviation security capacity-building, assistance for regional efforts against terrorist financing, and police training. EACTI also includes an education program to counter extremist influence and a robust outreach program. In addition to EACTI, we are using NADR funds, Economic Support Funds, and other diplomatic and developmental tools to help strengthen democratic institutions and support effective governance. Amounts devoted to these efforts are relatively small, but in Africa, a little goes a long way.


  • General Law Enforcement

Training As part of a broader institutional building effort, INL is funding a police development program begun in 2002 for national police in Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia. While not specifically CT focused, the program is introducing essential skills-based learning and problem solving techniques to build the capacity of these East African police forces to detect and investigate all manner of crime, including terrorist incidents. INL is also funding forensic laboratory development programs in Tanzania and Uganda, designed to build the capacity of these governments to analyze evidence collected at crime scenes. In Kenya, INL is funding technical assistance and training for the Anti-narcotics Unit of the Kenyan national police and the anti-smuggling unit that works out of the Port of Mombassa. These units jointly search containers entering the port to interdict drugs and other contraband that may be brought into Kenya otherwise undetected.


Last year we held a major counterterrorism conference for 13 nations in southern Africa. The sessions, held in the International Law Enforcement Academy in Botswana, included crisis management workshops and discussions of ways to strengthen counterterrorism laws. In 2002, six African countries from various parts of the continent took part in a week-long CT legislation seminar in Washington that State co-sponsored with the Justice Department.


  • Latin America

Colombia remains a major trouble spot in the western hemisphere because of the unholy alliance between narcotics traffickers and FARC and other terrorist groups. The variety of assistance programs include the Andean Counterdrug initiative, and anti-kidnapping initiative and the ATA program. The Colombia programs can be and have been the subject of separate hearings. I mention them because they are also part of the overall program to counter terrorism even though the elements are different than the more widely-publicized threat from al-Qa’ida and related groups.


Mr. Chairman, this concludes my overview of our foreign assistance programs that help support the GWOT. We had a productive meeting with your staff earlier this year to discuss my office’s specific programs. If you or your staff want additional details, we would be glad to provide them. At this point, I’d be happy to take any questions.


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