War on TerrorismAmbassador Francis X. Taylor,
Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security
Remarks Upon Receiving the International Citizen of the Year Award
University of Indianapolis, Indiana
May 3, 2003
Thank you, Dr. Israel. I am truly honored that you have chosen me to receive the International Citizen of the Year Award. The University of Indianapolis, with its internationally diverse student body representing 60 nations, clearly has a unique understanding of the important role diplomacy plays in our efforts to promote peace by combating international terrorism.
I joined the State Department as the U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism in July 2001, just two months before the horrific attacks of September 11. From my vantage point, I saw President Bush, Secretary Powell, and American diplomats around the world work feverishly to build one of the greatest coalitions in history—a coalition that grows stronger and more determined every day.
The global war on terrorism continues to be fought intensively in every region of the world with encouraging results. We have destroyed Al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan, killed or captured many of its operatives, and put the rest on the run. More than 650 enemy combatants are now under American control. At the same time, we, with the aid of our allies, helped liberate the Afghan people from the oppressive rule of the Taliban and their Al-Qaida supporters.
More recently, we achieved another key victory in the war on terrorism by ending the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein.
While the military’s success in the war on terrorism has dominated the headlines, it is important to note that military force alone will not suffice. For many phases of this long conflict, military force will not be the most important element of our campaign. We will also fight terrorism with every diplomatic, economic, law enforcement, and intelligence weapon we have in our arsenal.
The United States is implementing all of these weapons in a coordinated, comprehensive campaign. There will not be a dramatic end to terrorism. Our victory in this war will come through the cumulative success of numerous operations.
Our achievements in the war on terrorism would not have been possible without intense diplomatic engagement throughout the world. We will continue to forge coalitions among other countries that are both willing and able to join this fight. When governments are weak but willing, where they need assistance in combating terrorism within their own borders, we stand ready to help build their own capabilities to defeat the terrorist scourge. 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.
We have 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 11th. As a result, more than 3,000 Al-Qaida suspects have been detained in more than 100 countries. This global dragnet has not only disrupted the Al-Qaida network, but yielded a plethora of valuable information and actionable intelligence that has allowed the United States and other nations to interdict cells, prevent additional terrorist attacks, and most importantly, save innocent lives.
Our efforts to block the funds that finance acts of terrorism are 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 250 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 G-8 nations have committed themselves to a range of measures aimed at seizing terrorist assets. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group has adopted an ambitious antiterrorist finance action plan.
As a result, 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.
The United States is fully committed to the eradication of the terrorist threat. It is our top priority. We are using every avenue at our disposal to track terrorists in every corner of the Earth, neutralize their cells and operations, and bring them to justice.
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. 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 that, through the efforts of the global coalition and the continued, unwavering support of the American people, it is a war that we will win. Thank you.
Released on May 3, 2003