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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

International Terrorism: The War Continues

Ambassador Francis X. Taylor, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security
Remarks at the 20th Anniversary Conference of the International Security Management Association
Boston, Massachusetts
June 9, 2003

Thank you. It’s my pleasure to participate in ISMA’s [International Security Management Association] 20th Anniversary conference today. I am a firm believer that ISMA’s emphasis on development of future leaders clearly establishes it as one of the great corporate leaders in our country today. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security and ISMA have worked jointly to tackle some of the challenging security issues that face American business interests overseas. I look forward to continuing our rich and productive relationship for many years to come.

Since the horrific attacks of September 11, the United States has been fully engaged in one of the greatest challenges in our nation’s history—the eradication of the global threat of terrorism. Under the leadership of President Bush and Secretary Powell, we have built one of the most formidable 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. 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 operatives.

The past six weeks have brought some awesome capabilities in the war on terrorism. Through the will and determination of the American military, and the unwavering support of the American people, another supporter of terrorism, Saddam Hussein, has fallen from power, freeing the people of Iraq and other nations in the Middle East from his reign of tyranny.

The military has clearly played a key role in the war on terrorism, but it is important to note that it is not 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.

We continue to implement 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.

Diplomacy continues to be the backbone of our campaign, and our success in this war would not have been possible without it. 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 significant results 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.  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.

As a direct result of our efforts, terrorist attacks are declining. That’s right—DECLINING. We saw a 44% drop in global terrorist attacks in 2002. Attacks against American interests abroad fell even further—65%—from 2001.

These numbers are impressive, and clearly show that our strategy to defeat the terrorist scourge is working. However, despite our success, it’s important to note that total victory in the war on terrorism is not near—far from it.

In fact, the terrorist threat remains very real. Although we have severely weakened the Al-Qaida terrorist network, it is still a lethal enemy, capable of planning and carrying out terrorist attacks globally. Just a little over a week ago, our friends in Pakistan, a key ally in this coalition, disrupted a potentially pestilent Al-Qaida scheme directed at our Consulate in Karachi.

Over the past two years, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security has tracked well over 1,000 terrorist threats directed against U.S. interests overseas. Terrorists continue to threaten our embassies, consulates, and employees. 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.

We continue 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. In addition, individual businessmen could be targeted for assassination or kidnapping.

In the immediate aftermath of the war with Iraq, Anti-American sentiment in the region, currently at an all-time high, continues to rise. The possibility that terrorist elements throughout the world may be further motivated to plan and carry out attacks against American interests remains high.

Despite the obvious challenges that lie ahead, I assure you that both Secretary Powell and I are firmly committed to the safety and security of American business interests abroad—it is a top priority.

Your people, your facilities, and your company is the cornerstones for continued economic growth and stability in the United States. A strong and vigorous private sector that is able to conduct business abroad is essential to our national prosperity and economic interests.

For U.S. companies to be successful abroad, it is imperative that you have the critical information you need to conduct business safely overseas.

Through our Overseas Security Advisory Council [OSAC], one of the preeminent public-private partnerships in the United States, the State Department and the private sector have worked successfully on overseas security issues. Thanks to our strong working relationship and open lines of communication with companies such as ISMA, OSAC has helped create safer environments for employees, families, travelers, facilities, and proprietary information. During times of crisis, it is imperative that we continue to work together through our OSAC relationship to keep our communication lines open. I will personally see to it that you receive the important information you need to ensure the security of your people and interests overseas quickly and efficiently.

Our Overseas Security Advisory Council here in Washington, and our regional security officers overseas, are valuable resource with a wealth of information that are available to provide security guidance and assistance to the entire American business community in their overseas endeavors.

In addition, in a number of cities around the world, OSAC has created “Country Councils”—mini-OSACs designed to enhance the exchange of security-related information abroad. These councils encourage security managers of American private sector enterprises to organize themselves and cope with their security problems by pooling their resources. These council members and our post regional security officers work together to create an exchange of information through which pertinent security information is exchanged in a timely manner.

American companies must have the best possible information to make sound business decisions, especially given the current overseas environment. The economic prosperity of our great nation depends on it. If a decision is made without using the best information, it is not a decision, it is a guess.

Our commitment to the safety and prosperity of the American private sector overseas is strong and vibrant, and you can count on our assistance for many years to come. We are here for you. We are eager to assist you. We will help you eliminate the guesswork.

Thank you.

Released on June 10, 2003

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