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 You are in: Under Secretary for Management > Bureau of Diplomatic Security > News from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security > Bureau of Diplomatic Security: Testimonies, Speeches, and Remarks > 2003

Global War on Terrorism

Ambassador Francis X. Taylor, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security and Director for the Office of Foreign Missions
Remarks to the American Society for Industrial Security
Washington, DC
March 24, 2003

In today’s world, we, as a nation, are faced with many difficult choices. We must make touch decisions that not only effect how we live today, but how future generations will grow, prosper, and even be perceived. Collectively, we must ensure that future generations enjoy the same liberties that have guided us as a free nation.

Thousands of Americans are bravely serving in the armed forces and are now fighting in Iraq. America is also home to the many people who are tested and endure incredible sacrifices in federal and state law enforcement careers. I would be incredibly remiss if I did not also praise and highlight the amazing courage and sacrifice shown, on a daily basis, by the many Americans who don the uniform of a medical practitioner, and those who serve so admirably in the countries’ many fire and rescue departments.

Today, more than ever, we as a nation are being tested. We have made a critical decision that will surely affect future generations to come. We have decided to lead a global coalition against terrorism.

It has been more than 18 months since September 11, 2001. It is painfully obvious that we live in a world where the threat of terrorism remains. Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden, and countries that harbor or provide comfort for terrorists – like Iraq – are a global threat.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me be perfectly clear: Terrorism is a GLOBAL threat. Terrorism affects all races, all creeds, and all religions. There are no exceptions. Today, it is not my goal to teach “Al-Qaida 101” and I will not “rehash” what you already know about Usama bin Laden. However, I want to highlight why the global war against terrorism continues.

Within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the organization that I lead, is the Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis. This office’s primary function is to work hand in hand with all other U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies to track all threats and incidents that may negatively affect U.S. interests overseas.

Over the past 2 years, this office has recorded and analyzed well over 1,000 terrorist threats that have been directed against U.S. interests overseas. While I cannot go into operational details, I can tell you that terrorists continue to threaten our embassies, consulates, mission employees, and official vehicles. The threats that we face and investigate on a daily basis range from a drive by shooting of a residence to the horrific possibility of a CBRN-type attack.

I also want to stress that Diplomatic Security continues to receive, with varying degrees of credibility and specificity, information that highlights the fact that terrorists may attack what we call “soft” targets. For example, terrorists continue to target and threaten U.S. businesses, public areas of congregation that have been deemed “Western,”—for example, a restaurant that is identifiable with America, and even churches and religious gathering centers. Indeed, let us not forget the June 2002 church bombing in Islamabad, Pakistan and the bombing in Bali, Indonesia.

Another security concern that Diplomatic Security continues to address, in addition to the myriad of threat reporting, are the many incidents of suspicious surveillance that have been directed at official American employees and facilities. It is no secret that Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups routinely conduct pre-operational targeting surveillance before a terrorist attack.

Over the past 2 years, we have recorded over 1,000 incidents of suspected surveillance that was directed against American diplomatic interests overseas.

It is important to understand that surveillance takes on many forms: A suspect pretending to be a street vendor seated across the street from an embassy; a walk-in who claims to know vital security information, when in reality, the walk-in is trying to “case” the interior or exterior of the embassy compound. In addition, anti-American surveillance has occurred when suspicious individuals have driven by the embassy and attempted to film or photograph the compound.

As our military action in Iraq continues, we are seeing a spike in anti-U.S. rhetoric, surveillance, and threat reporting. Without question, the global war on terrorism has been a challenge to our government and other nations throughout the world. This war has tested the art of war and the art of diplomacy as never before.

Terrorists continue to threaten our lives and our very freedoms. In the past year alone, Al-Qaida or associated groups have carried out successful attacks in Tunisia, Kenya, Bali, Kuwait, and off the coast of Yemen against the French tanker Limburg.
More than 600 innocent people died as a result of terrorist attacks in 2002, and 200 of those deaths were directly related to the Al-Qaida network.  Nineteen were American citizens.  And we have no reason to believe that the terrorist threat will subside anytime in the foreseeable future.

It is imperative that we continue to work and cooperate with the many nations that have so bravely assisted us in this war on terrorism. While I strongly feel we, as a coalition, have a long way to go before this war is over, let me highlight some major successes we have accomplished in exterminating Al-Qaida and global terrorism.

We have destroyed Al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan and killed many of its operatives. More than 3,000 Al-Qaida suspects have been detained in more than 100 countries, and we continue to capture senior members of Al-Qaida. Recently, this global effort to wipe out Al-Qaida took a huge leap forward when authorities arrested the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

This arrest simply highlights the fact that we are determined to track down any one person who is a global threat. Terrorists can run and hide, but we will, let me repeat, we will, capture you. Overall, the global dragnet has disrupted the Al-Qaida network and has given us much information and actionable intelligence that has saved innocent lives.

We will continue to fight terrorism with every diplomatic, economic, law enforcement, and intelligence weapon we have in our arsenal.

By implementing all of these weapons in a long-term, coordinated, comprehensive campaign, we will achieve victory against terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaida.

We have enjoyed resounding diplomatic success in various multilateral forums, including NATO and the OAS, both of which invoked collective self-defense clauses in the wake of the September 11th attacks.  Australia, for the first time in its history, invoked the ANZUS treaty to provide military support to the United States.  Other forums like the EU, G-8, ASEAN, and the OAU adopted constructive resolutions in support of the coalition and taken substantive steps to enhance information sharing and tighten border security and will continue to do so.

We have also enjoyed tremendous success in our bilateral relations with various members of the coalition in every region of the world.  Without question, the coalition against terror is stronger today than ever before, and, as a result, this unprecedented international cooperation has reaped many benefits. 

For example, Pakistan’s decision to sever ties with the Taliban was a critical component in the success of Operation Enduring Freedom. Pakistan’s close cooperation has dealt a substantial blow to Al-Qaida's regional network.

The United Arab Emirates is denying terrorists a financial safe haven, making it more difficult for Al-Qaida to fund terrorist operations. Other Gulf States are beginning to tackle the problem of charities that front for, and fund, terrorists.

Saudi Arabia continues to provide critical support to our counterterrorism efforts--from arresting terrorist suspects to sharing the results of their terrorist investigations.

South East Asian nations, like Malaysia and Indonesia, with primarily Muslim populations, have actively arrested and detained terror suspects.

As the war on terrorism moves forward, we will continue to forge coalitions among other countries that are both willing and able to join this fight. We will work together to ensure that our actions are coordinated and share the burdens appropriately. When governments are weak but willing, where they need assistance in combating terrorism within their borders, we stand ready to assist.

Our assistance runs the gamut--from seminars in how to write, implement, and enforce anti-money laundering laws to specialized counterterrorism training programs.  When we confront countries that continue to actively support terrorism, we will take appropriate steps to compel them to end their support.

The United States will also continue working to diminish the underlying conditions that allow terrorism to take root and flourish.  Poverty and oppression are not causes of terrorism.  Nor are ethnic strife and disputes between countries.  But poverty, oppression, ethnic strife and regional instability all breed the kinds of grievances that extremists can exploit for their nefarious ends.  U.S. diplomatic efforts and foreign assistance programs are designed to address these underlying conditions and thereby deny terrorists the fertile ground they seek to plant their seeds of poison.

Public diplomacy has been a critical aspect of our efforts as well.  Through campaigns such as “Shared Values,” the State Department has aggressively sought to counter distorted views of the United States overseas, to emphasize that the war on terrorism is not a war against Islam, and to underscore that terrorists are not martyrs but cowards and criminals.

Law Enforcement/Intelligence
The Global Coalition has achieved impressive success in the war on terrorism in areas other than diplomacy.   Law enforcement and intelligence sharing among nations has grown exponentially since September 11. As a result, entire Al-Qaida cells have been shut down in countries such as Singapore and Italy. Other deadly Al-Qaida operations have been prevented in the past year, including:

  • poison plots in the United Kingdom, France, and Spain
    the attack of U.S. and British warships in the straits of Gibraltar, and
  • the bombings of U.S. embassies in South East Asia

Here in the United States, we have also disrupted Al-Qaida cells.  In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month, Attorney General John Ashcroft noted that since 9/11, American law enforcement has neutralized alleged terrorist cells in Portland, Buffalo, Seattle, and Detroit.  The Attorney General also noted that the Justice Department has brought 211 criminal charges against suspected terrorists, with 108 convictions or guilty pleas, including shoe-bomber Richard Reid and American Taliban member John Walker Lindh. 

American law enforcement officials also thwarted Jose Padilla’s attempt to develop and detonate a dirty bomb in the United States.

Our war on the financial front of terrorism is also bearing impressive results.  So far, over 160 countries have joined us in freezing $124 million in terrorist assets from over 600 bank accounts.  More than 215 terrorist groups and entities have been designated under the President's executive order that freezes U.S.-based assets.

Countries around the world have submitted reports to the United Nations on the actions they have taken to block terrorist finances, as required under UNSCR 1373, which calls on all nations to keep their financial systems free of terrorist funds.

The 31-nation Financial Action Task Force, the world's leading setter of standards on anti-money laundering and antiterrorist financing, adopted strict new standards to deny terrorists access to the world financial system.  More than 80 countries and jurisdictions have adopted, or in the process of adopting, new legislation, regulations and procedures to strengthen their ability to prevent terrorists from using their financial systems.

The European Union has worked closely with the United States to ensure that nearly every terrorist individual or group designated by our government is also designated by the EU.  As a result, the Netherlands took effective action to seize the financial assets of the New People's Army terrorist group in the Philippines.  Italy joined the United States in submitting to the United Nations the names of 25 individuals and companies linked to Al-Qaida so that their assets could be frozen worldwide.  The United States blocked the assets of the Benevolence International Foundation, which for years masqueraded as a charity but in fact has strong ties to Al-Qaida.  Its CEO, Enaam Arnaout, is closely associated with Usama bin Laden and has helped his cause financially.

The G-8 nations have committed themselves to a range of measures aimed at seizing terrorist assets.  The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group, APEC, has adopted an ambitious antiterrorist finance action plan.

Last November, the Departments of State and Treasury announced an up to $5 million reward for information leading to the disruption of any terrorism financing operation. 
The valuable leads produced from this campaign will inevitably result in additional terrorist money being frozen, further frustrating terrorist operations.

As a result of our global efforts, it's much harder for terrorists to raise and move money.  Many who have formerly provided financial support for terrorism seem to have backed away.  Some facilitators have been captured or arrested.  The international banking system is no longer a system that terrorists can safely use.  Terrorists must now look over their shoulders, wondering if it is safe to move, raise funds, plan and conduct operations.

While I have focused on our accomplishments on many fronts, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the key role of my organization, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, in the war on terrorism.

With more than 420 special agents assigned to diplomatic missions in 157 countries, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the most widely represented American security and law enforcement organization around the world. In addition to protecting Americans overseas from terrorist attack, Diplomatic Security has forged solid relationships with foreign police and security services worldwide. Through our impressive network of international law enforcement contacts, we have been able to identify, arrest, and prosecute potential terrorist suspects before they reach American shores.

Diplomatic Security’s criminal investigations into passport and visa fraud—felonies often committed in connection with other more serious crimes, including international terrorism—help secure American borders and protect the American people and the national security of the United States.

DS also runs the U.S. Government’s successful Rewards for Justice Program, through which rewards are offered for information that prevents terrorist attacks or brings terrorists to justice. Through our global advertising campaigns, our message has reached millions of people and put potential sources of information in every place a terrorist might try to hide or operate. As a result, we’ve put terrorists, such as Ramzi Yousef, behind bars, and saved thousands of innocent lives.

Another DS-led effort, the Antiterrorism Assistance Program, provides terrorism-focused police training to civilian security personnel from friendly governments. More than 31,000 students from 127 countries have received ATA training in the last 20 years. These students return to their countries better prepared to fight terrorism and protect Americans overseas during a crisis.

While we have taken significant steps in the war on terrorism, it is important not to think that total victory is near—far from it. Our success in this campaign will hinge on two factors: sustained international political will and effective capacity building.

First, we must sustain and enhance the political will of states to fight terrorism. The secret of maintaining a coalition is demonstrating each and every day to its members that the fight is not over and that sustained effort is clearly in their long-term interests. My meetings with government officials in every region of the world have convinced me that we have made tremendous progress on that score.

Second, we must bolster the capacity of all states to fight terrorism. Despite our unmatched power, we recognize that the United States cannot win the war on terrorism alone. This is a global fight that requires a global system to defeat it. Simply put, the United States cannot investigate every lead, arrest every suspect, gather and analyze all the intelligence, effectively sanction every sponsor of terrorism, prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or find and fight every terrorist cell. President Bush has stressed from the beginning that “The defeat of terror requires an international coalition of unprecedented scope and cooperation.” So our effort must also be truly international.

Although many states have moved forward, some are still hampered

--By weak or corrupt law enforcement and intelligence agencies;
--By a lack of effective legal instruments for prosecuting terrorists;
--By porous borders readily exploited by terrorists, drug traffickers, and other illicit actors;
--And by governments that are poorly organized to combat terrorism.

Our goal is to assist governments to become full and self-sustaining partners in the fight against terrorism.

Around the world, we are working to build up the forces of other nations so that they can take the fight to the terrorists from the streets of Sanaa in Yemen to Pankisi Gorge in Georgia, from the island of Basilan in the Philippines to the jungles of Colombia.

A number of powerful tools are at the disposal of governments that want to improve their counterterrorism capabilities. Some of these are available through the U.S. Government; others are the products of the international community. These include:

The 12 international CT conventions, which can serve as the basis for counterterrorism efforts grounded in the rule of law, a key component of our policy;

Best practices. No need to reinvent the wheel; 30 years of counterterrorism experience has given us an understanding of what needs to be done to be effective in a terrorist crisis;

The ATA Program, which I mentioned earlier, which trains foreign police in critical skills such as airport security, post-blast investigation, and dignitary protection; senior policy workshops, which build bilateral counterterrorism relationships while promoting interagency CT cooperation within friendly governments;

Regional cooperation—working together to strengthen border security, improve legislation, share law enforcement information—is essential. Regional conferences arranged by the counterterrorism office help promote such cooperation by bringing security officials together to share ideas and experiences and develop common approaches to preempting, disrupting, and defeating international terrorists.

Legislative Seminars
Using another powerful tool in the global fight against terrorism, the State Department, working with the Justice Department, law year completed a series of legislative seminars to help other countries strengthen their counterterrorism laws and regulations. Justice Ministry and Parliamentarian officials and members from 36 nations took part in the week-long sessions in Washington. The seven seminars were organized on a regional basis, and included countries from Central Asia, Latin America, South East Asia, East Asia, and Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

A series of speakers from various U.S. Government agencies provided suggestions for points to consider in evaluating and writing counterterrorism law in a variety of areas, such as terrorism financing and banking laws, immigration laws and export controls. Speakers from the United Nations Counterterrorism Committee discussed the requirements of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373. At our invitation, speakers from the U.K., Australia, Canada, and Germany also described their counterterrorism laws at various seminars. U.S. Attorneys from various parts of the country came to Washington to assist each delegation and discuss issues in more detail during daily breakout sessions.

The seminars were intended to offer suggestions and guidelines, not specific drafting language. However, such disparate participants as Pakistan, Indonesia, and South Africa already revised and introduced stronger legislation. As a follow-up to the seminars, we are discussing with the Justice Department a second phase to send legal experts to provide actual hands-on drafting assistance to selected countries. The number of countries will depend on the funding available through the State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance program. We plan to work with the UN CTC Committee which is trying to coordinate UNSCR 1373 assistance with the U.K., Australia, France, and other countries that have indicated a willingness to help other governments seeking aid.

The United States is fully committed to the eradication of the terrorist threat. It is our top priority. The American people can rest assured that we are using every avenue at our disposal—diplomatic, financial, law enforcement, military, and political—to track terrorists in every corner of the Earth, neutralize their cells and operations, and bring them to justice.

This war has many fronts and many different types of success—some seen, some unseen. This is a war where tracking complex financial transactions can have more impact on our enemy than an artillery barrage. This is a war where effective diplomacy and police work can thwart terrorist attacks more effectively and at less cost than a precision air strike. This is a war where diligent collection and sharing of intelligence will produce results as far-reaching as a major military operation.

The President, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense have been honest and straightforward with the American public with respect to the duration of the war. As long as it takes.

The war on terrorism will not be won next month or next year. It may take decades. But, I can assure you, it is a war that we will win. Thank you.

Released on March 30, 2003

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