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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism > Releases > Remarks > 2002

"Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001" Annual Report

Ambassador Francis X. Taylor, Coordinator for Counterterrorism
On-the-Record Briefing on release of "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001" Annual Report
Washington, DC
May 21, 2002

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Good afternoon. Before I take your questions, I do have a brief statement that I would like to read on Patterns. First I would like to thank the Secretary for the opportunity to be here this morning.

In our 2000 Report on International Terrorism, we have tried to place the global campaign against terrorism into perspective. There is widespread understanding that the current terrorist threat knows no boundaries and that virtually every nation realizes it must fight the threat using all available means.

For each country covered in the Report, we describe the steps it has taken to support the objectives of the campaign to rid itself of terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks. For some nations, this means new counterterrorism laws, tighter border security, and increased financial controls. For others, it means contributing military assets to operations in Afghanistan. For others still, it is an aggressive sanctioning of terrorist groups in order to curtail their criminal activity. All of these are solid steps forward in fighting the terrorist threat.

I draw your attention to some of the new features in this year's Terrorist Report. We have the full text of President Bush's historic address to a joint session of Congress on the 20th of September in which he outlined the dimensions of our campaign against terror; the text of important resolutions and declarations issued in the wake of 9/11, some that have real historical significance, such as the implication of the collective self-defense clauses by both NATO and the OAS; a complete listing of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, persons and groups included under the President's Executive Order that blocks financial assets, and groups whose supporters can be excluded from the United States under the US Patriots Act. The Report also contains case studies detailing successful counterterrorism efforts by the governments of Singapore and Italy to thwart planned attacks and eliminate terrorist cells.

The key message about the horror of 9/11 is that it represented a threat to our way of life and to humanity itself. President Bush called on all nations to unite in a coalition and to use every element of national power to fight this threat. Diplomacy helped build the coalition, and our diplomatic efforts must expand as the al-Qaida network seeks to relocate and regroup around the world.

Intelligence-sharing has prevented numerous attacks, but it must intensify in order to expose the criminal netherworld in which terrorists operate. As a result of cooperative law enforcement efforts, by the end of last year a thousand al-Qaida operatives had been arrested in more than 60 countries. Today, that figure stands at 1,600 operatives in 95 countries. But al-Qaida has not been defeated, and operatives from other terrorist groups still pose an equally deadly threat.

Economic efforts to dry up terrorist financing began before the start of Operation Enduring Freedom and has prevented more than $100 million from reaching terrorists. But only a sustained effort will shut off the terrorist-funding pipeline.

The war in Afghanistan has been phenomenally successful to date, but the coalition military forces have set no date for the end of hostilities. Indeed, they operate still today.

It is the U.S. policy to bolster the counterterrorism capabilities of countries that work with the United States and require assistance. The Department's anti-terrorism assistance program is active in more than 130 nations as I speak. Over 35,000 students from 152 countries have received such training. It is vitally important that this worldwide capacity-building continue to ensure that we close the seams that allow terrorists and their supporters to operate and commit the kind of evil that we witnessed on 9/11.

Attention fades over time, but the world cannot afford to retreat from the face of terrorism. Despite our early, and indeed encouraging, success, the fact is that we are just beginning this campaign and there is still much work to be done to complete it successfully. Additional terrorist attacks are very, very likely.

Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001 describes a complex web of nations, ethnicities, financial networks and arms shipments that constitutes today's terrorist threat. It is a cancer that must be removed, and we need to remain committed and vigilant to achieve that goal.

With that, I will take your questions. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: I have a couple of questions on different parts of the report. There's a flat statement there that Israel destroyed the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus. There's nothing to back it up. As you probably know, it is a matter of some conjecture. Israel said it did not, that they have an apparatus, and certainly nobody would argue that Israel destroyed what they had going in Gaza. Is there anything you can provide now or later to back up that flat statement?

And secondly, on Cuba, they're on the list again. Does the State Department have any evidence or anything to tell us about terrorist plots, successful or not, that Cuba had any hand in at all? Or is this largely a political allegation?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: First, with regard to your question regarding the Israeli activities in the Palestinian territories, certainly the military activity there did do a great deal to damage the security capability or the security apparatus of the Palestinian Authority. Beyond that, I'll take that question and get you additional information, if that's available.

With regard to Cuba, Cuba's record on terrorism has been mixed, quite honestly. President Castro did condemn the events of 11 September, but has since not renounced at all terrorism as a legitimate political tool in the revolution. He also continues to allow members of the FARC, of ETA, and indeed eight Americans who were involved in terrorist activities in the '70s and '80s in our country to remain as guests of the Cuban Government.

For that reason, and the fact that it's not renounced its commitment to terrorism, it remains on the list. It's not just for political reasons, but for those reasons.

QUESTION: I take it, by your omission of any plots or even suspicions of plots, you -- the State Department has nothing to link Cuba to terrorist attacks?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: We have nothing at the unclassified level that I'm prepared to address in this forum that would answer your question.

QUESTION: There's interesting language in about five of the seven state sponsors on terrorism. Two of them you say are making significant headway; three others are sending -- while they have mixed signals, there are positive developments. Are you seeing a broader trend that there is movement by the traditional state sponsors away from the kind of activities for which they have become most noted?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Certainly the reason we designate state sponsors is to put them on notice that we want them to change their behavior. Indeed, Sudan, as an example, has been working with us in counterterrorism cooperation for some time. They remain on the state-sponsored list because they continue to have some elements of Hamas and PIJ that are in Sudan. But the fact is, they are working to try to change their past practices of the use of terrorism as a tool of state policy.

That's why we list them. That's why we want them to change their behavior. And it takes much more than just talk, though, to be removed from the list. In order to be removed from the list, a nation has not only to renounce terrorism, but to demonstrate conclusively that no longer will it use terrorism as a tool, and none of the state sponsors has sufficiently indicated that to give us a reason to want to take them off the list.

QUESTION: On Sudan, the Report also says that al-Qaida has -- remains in Sudan, and that it's using it as a base of logistics. On the record, the State Department Spokesman at one point said that Sudan had handed over some of these operatives, and there's been a lot of information also in the press regarding this. Could you sort of square the circle here? Do you really believe that al-Qaida is operating in Sudan right now?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I believe that the Sudanese are working very closely with us against the al-Qaida problem, and that the statement that's in our Patterns is not inconsistent with what the State Department Spokesman said about their past cooperation with us.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could be more specific about what you think IRA members were doing in Colombia when they were arrested. And I wonder if you can tell me what the status of the legal appeal by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement against listing as a Foreign Terrorist Organization; what's happened to that appeal?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Well, I won't get into the specifics of the Colombian case against the three IRA members that were arrested and are currently being detained for trial in Colombia, except to say that it's clear that they were assisting the FARC in training and that the FARC's ability to conduct bombing operations and other such operations has improved significantly in the last six to nine months.

We have found no direct connection between those individuals that were arrested in Cuba -- I'm sorry, in Colombia. One was from Cuba. Connelly was the IRA representative in Cuba before he went to Colombia, back to the broader IRA. That would certainly be of concern to us, but we found no link.

As far as the lawsuit to be removed from the terrorist list, I think you'd have to discuss with Justice where we are in that. I'm not quite sure where we are in that process.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the context of the threat of new terrorist attacks in the U.S. Are you concerned, because the disappearance of almost seven tons of cyanide in Mexico in a truck that had been assaulted? Have you talked to the Mexican Government? Do you have any concern about it?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Well, we're always concerned when anything of -- with that kind of danger associated goes out of control, and certainly we are in contact with the Mexican Government on that in terms of their investigation into that particular incident.

I think the thrust of your question, though, that I'd like to respond to is the fact that many administration officials have indicated we are very much concerned about another attack against America from al-Qaida or al-Qaida-related elements. And that's what we're working our darndest on trying to preclude. And so such instances as this give us concern that we work with our partners on to resolve so that that doesn't present itself as a problem, not only in Mexico, but in our own country.

QUESTION: But do you have any fear that maybe this cyanide can end in the hands of terrorist groups or --

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Well, as I said, we're concerned that it get back under control of people who are responsible. And whether I'm concerned about it ending up in terrorist or criminal or people-that-don't-know-what-they-have hands, what I am concerned with is getting it back under control. And that's the focus of the Mexican authorities in their investigation of that incident, and I think that's the appropriate focus.

QUESTION: Ambassador, you say that al-Qaida is seeking to relocate and regroup around the world. I wanted to see if you could share some thoughts about where you think they're regrouping, how many people are involved in that effort, and where the hot spots are right now.

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Al-Qaida lost its stronghold in Afghanistan, and our military operations there were quite effective in destroying its infrastructure and its ability to train. And therefore, they had to find other places to try to regroup those that were able to get away, and they weren't that many.

But the other part of what you need to understand is that al-Qaida operates in about -- it was 60 countries when we first started talking about it; we've mentioned arrests in 95 countries. Al-Qaida has an infrastructure throughout the world, and now our challenge is to use our law enforcement and our intelligence capacity to root out that infrastructure that is buried in many countries around the world. We've been somewhat successful with 1,600 arrests to date. But now our challenge is to find out the others that we've not located so that we can bring those people to justice and not allow them to carry on with their terrorist activities against the US and our coalition partners.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: What's the fate of the 1,600? Where are they, how many have been tried, convicted?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: There are 1,600 under arrest and in various stages of judicial review by the countries that have them arrested, and I wouldn't go any further into their status at this point.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about Libya. You have praised the Libyans; you note that they've taken important steps. You mentioned some of the things that they need to do. If Libya were to satisfy these requirements in terms of paying compensation, accepting responsibility, fully disclosing all it knows about the bombing, would you expect that Libya might move toward being removed from the list, and is that your hope?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I don't want to speculate on, you know, what-ifs for the future. Libya understands very clearly what our expectations are in terms of their responding to the UN Security Council resolutions and compensating the families for the Pan Am 103 bombing, to renounce terrorism, to take responsibility for the acts of members of the Libyan Government. And until that happens, we're not even going to talk about any future possibilities. And they very clearly understand that that's the way we're operating today.

QUESTION: If I could ask another on Tanzim and al-Aqsa. The Report suggests that they are made up of low-level or street-level Fatah people, but does not draw any sort of link between any of these groups and Yasser Arafat. Is that currently your position that there are no known links between Tanzim and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Yasser Arafat?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: We've made it very clear that there are members of Tanzim that are also members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. That's not a secret. What we have not been able to determine or to make a final judgment on is how far up and who in the PA may be or could be or had been directing this activity. We have not found that linkage.

But clearly we have said that there are elements of Tanzim, indeed Fatah, that have been involved in the terrorist activities of al-Aqsa. That is why we've been very, very straightforward with Chairman Arafat that within the Palestinian areas that he has control and over the Palestinians that he has control, we believe he can do much more to control the activity of those groups that are involved in terrorism.

QUESTION: Ambassador Taylor, have you seen the documents that the Israelis provided to the press, and according to them, this government? And do you agree that the documents that they say have Yasser Arafat's handwriting giving money to individual members of these organizations are authentic, or are you trying to determine their authenticity?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Well, we don't have any question about the authenticity of the documents provided by the Israeli Government. We are continuing to study those documents and to draw our own conclusions about what they mean. We've not completed that.

QUESTION: I have two questions. One, staying in the Middle East, you mention here that Jewish extremists attacked Palestinian civilians and their properties in the West Bank. Why don't you refer to them as terrorists, as the definition says originally?

And you talk about unspecified number of Palestinian civilians were also killed in the strike. Does this go under the category of state terrorism, and why does it go under that definition?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Well, actually, the Jewish extremists -- we have designated Kach and Kahane Chai as a terrorist organization for their activities against Palestinians in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. Because we don't say they're terrorists -- you know, I call a terrorist by people who use indiscriminate violence, individuals that use indiscriminate violence to kill innocent civilians. And in that regard, these people are every bit as much terrorists as people who strap on dynamite and walk into crowded restaurants and blow themselves up. There's no distinction.

QUESTION: It's coming out in the news that there was a meeting, possibly April or early March, in Beirut with various groups, including al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and so forth. Why, if these groups are independent of any particular government, are we starting to put some sanctions on Syria and the Lebanese Government for even holding that meeting in Beirut?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I saw the press accounts, and I'm not prepared to go any further in terms of those accounts and their truth or the veracity of those accounts. We have told Syria how we feel about their behavior and the use of state -- we've designated them as state sponsors of terrorism. I don't know how else we can demonstrate how we feel about their behavior in that region.

With regard to Lebanon, we have been very straightforward with the Lebanese Government. Indeed, they have been helpful to our global campaign on working against al-Qaida. We do have a difference with Lebanon on the issue of Hezbollah. The Lebanese Government sees Hezbollah as freedom fighters. We see them as terrorists. And indeed, we believe that we can't distinguish from the political arm of Hezbollah from the terrorist arm of Hezbollah.

But we are continuing to press that issue with the Lebanese Government with a view towards continuing that dialogue, towards hopefully some conclusion that will end Hezbollah's terrorist activities in the Middle East.

QUESTION: What's your best estimate of the number of Qaida suspects who are still out there who have not been arrested? What is your best estimate of the number of people who went through the training camps in Afghanistan or somewhere else? And is there some overlap?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I don't even want to begin to speculate on that number because I've heard numbers ranging from 10,000 to 30,000, and everything in between. The fact is, when we've arrested them all and there's no more al-Qaida terrorism, we'll know what that number is. And just the fact that we so far have 1,600 that have been arrested outside of Afghanistan, and we've had very significant success on the battlefield in Afghanistan against Taliban and al-Qaida soldiers, is an indicator of kind of how widespread their reach may be.

I don't think we understood probably as well as we do today with what we've gathered from intelligence and the arrests how widespread this network was that bin Laden was building prior to 9/11.

QUESTION: Can you just give us your best estimate of how many went through the training camps at the --

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I don't have a hard number for you on that. I'd be speculating if I were to give you that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) any specific meeting that a lot of terrorist groups (inaudible). Could you talk about your concerns over collusion between al-Qaida and other typically Middle East, Israel-based groups, and whether you think that there's an increase of vulnerability of the US to be subject to attacks by Hamas or Hezbollah?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Well, so far both Hamas and Hezbollah have said that they wouldn't attack US targets. I don't believe what any terrorist says about what they will or will not do, because indeed violence is their business, and when violence fits their objectives, they will use it against any target that meets their objective.

Bin Laden attempted to hijack the Palestinian issue after 9/11, and it's clear that that has not had great resonance. It still does not have great resonance within the Middle East. Indeed, most responsible Islamic clerics have distanced themselves in Islam from any sort of sanctioning of what bin Laden and al-Qaida have been involved in.

Indeed, our partners in the Middle East are still very much a part of our global campaign against terrorism. We've got challenges with regard to their views in the Middle East peace process, but that has not dissuaded them from working with us on the al-Qaida problem.

So I don't know that there is -- I'm always concerned about fellow travelers deciding that there's a need to get together, but I haven't seen an indication of that. But I'm also concerned that terrorist groups, by their very nature, use terror to meet their objectives, and that they can shift on a moment's notice, if that meets their need.

QUESTION: Ambassador, what about Cuba and biological weapons, given the prominence that John Bolton gave to his allegations a few weeks ago, that Cuba was in fact proliferating some of this technology? Why is it not in the report?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: We were not -- we did not focus, let's say, at that point as we wrote that on Cuba's involvement with biological weapons. It doesn't mean that it's something that we're not concerned with. Indeed, Cuba has been involved in some -- the beginnings of some biological research and has shipped some dual-use technology to other countries. The fact that it's not in our Report today does not in any way diminish our concern over what we're beginning to see in terms of their involvement in that area.

QUESTION: Back to Latin America, specifically to Venezuela. President Chavez was accused to have contact with the Colombian guerillas. To Cuba, to Iraq and some terrorists (inaudible) are living in Venezuela. What is the position -- do you know the position? Is Venezuela ready to collaborate to the USA in the fight against terrorism?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Certainly Venezuela has from the beginning been forthcoming in its support for our campaign against terrorism. We've made it very clear, though, that we are concerned about FARC that may be in Colombia. But there is no indication, and I'll have to check my expert, on direct governmental support for FARC elements that may be in -- operating in Venezuela.

So from our perspective, Venezuela is committed and we want to ensure that all countries within Central and South America are equally committed, or remain committed, against the kind of terrorist groups like the FARC, like the ELN, and their operatives that may be operating within those countries.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) on which groups North Korea is said in the Report to help with arms transfers? Or have you?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I will not go into specifics on that, except to say while the JRA continues to be there, there are no longer members of the JRA continue to be in North Korea. But I won't go specifically into other groups that North Korea may be supporting.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up (inaudible)? It seems like (inaudible) North Korea has made some statements after September 11th and (inaudible) been a recent opening maybe, that the outlook still looks pretty grim. Is that fair to say, and the State Department doesn't have a very optimistic outlook on whether North Korea's relations are improving with the US?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Well, we've certainly offered to conduct dialogues with North Korea, and we're waiting for them to respond. I don't think we've written off any country in the world in that regard, and certainly we want to talk to them on terrorism and other issues of bilateral or multilateral concern with the South Koreans.

QUESTION: Could you update us on two fronts with Saudi Arabia, one being our joint investigation into the charities that are linked to al-Qaida? And the other -- they recently made a pledge that their money for the families of suicide bomb victims, or families of suicide bombers would not be distributed through Hamas and would not be used as an incentive in some way to continue those kinds of attacks; can you update us on that?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Certainly. As you mentioned, when Secretary O'Neill was in Saudi Arabia he concluded an agreement for joint designation of a couple of charities that we were going to work together with the Saudis, which was a major breakthrough in our ongoing law enforcement and financial terrorism cooperation with the Saudis. And that's continuing to go very well.

The Saudis have also made it very clear that -- and certainly the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian areas is such that charitable use or charities need to be responsive to the humanitarian needs in those areas. They've also -- they are also very concerned, as are we, that that money not be diverted, and are working very diligently, both with us and through their own channels, to ensure that that money, that it does go for charitable operations, indeed ends up where it's supposed to go and not in the hands of people that will divert it.

Indeed, if I could take that question and expand it to the global fight on terrorism and the work that our Treasury Department has been so brilliantly leading, one of the challenges of going after terrorist financing is that terrorists, like criminals, attempt to co-opt legitimate charities, legitimate organizations and create a cancer within those organizations to fund their activities. And our challenge is to not destroy the tremendous work that charities and NGOs do around the world on humanitarian issues, while focusing like a laser on the cancer perhaps within those organizations that may or may not be known to the leadership of that charity, that money that is being diverted for nefarious uses by terrorist organizations.

QUESTION: Do you believe at any point that the Saudi money that was going to the Palestinian families for humanitarian purposes was diverted?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I believe that any money can be diverted if you don't pay attention to it. And I believe that terrorist organizations, just like criminal enterprises, can bore into any legitimate enterprise to try to divert money for illegitimate purposes. I'm not going to speak specifically to Saudi Arabia or to our own charities in this country. We are very much concerned and want to work with NGOs to make sure that that doesn't happen.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: On the issue of Saudi Arabia, the Report in general is rather positive about cooperation. And yet, as I recall, I think there are some outstanding cases, such as Khobar, which still have not been resolved. So that's one question.

And the second is, are you satisfied that Saudi Arabia is now doing everything it possibly can to facilitate US investigations into terrorism, in which Saudi Arabia played a role in some --

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I'm very satisfied that the Saudi Government is doing everything that we have asked them to do in regard to the campaign against terrorism. I think it's -- the President, when he started this campaign, he said, you know, it's going to -- every country is going to give according to their ability; every country can participate in a way that meets its needs that is consistent with its ability to participate. And really, the beauty of this campaign has been -- and it's also about capacity-building -- some countries would if they could, but they can't because they don't have the capacity. And our challenge is identifying those areas where capacity may be lacking -- not will, but capacity -- and investing in capacity to improve it so that the country can respond.

Indeed, one of the most important parts of this campaign that people tend not to think about is UN Security Council Resolution 1373, and the fact that the UN has now called on the world as a whole to improve its financing of terrorism monitoring capability. Well, most nations outside the 40 members of the FATF struggle to get there. But what the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 will do will create an opportunity for the world to invest in that capability in other places around the world to close the seams.

I talk a lot about seams. I'm a football fan. I went to Notre Dame, so we think about football, and I use football analogies. But terrorists operate in the seams that are created like when you play zone defense, and the way quarterbacks exploit a zone defense as you have your receiver run a route down the seam and you hope the two defensive backs don't communicate. Well, that's what terrorists do. And this campaign is about closing those seams, about improving capacity that don't allow that to happen, be it in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else in the world.

QUESTION: Well, on that -- along those lines, what do you make of the fact that the European Union hasn't been able to convince all its members to put some groups on their terrorism list that we have on ours? France continues to block Hezbollah -- I mean, that's --

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: We're working on it.

QUESTION: That's a pretty big gap between us and our closest allies, wouldn't you say?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Well, we don't agree on -- I mean, even within our own country, we don't agree every day on everything, in terms of where we're going to go. The EU is committed, and we are convinced that they are committed, to working with us to get the designations done.

Now, that's 15 countries; we're one. That's a little bit a bigger challenge than just us trying to do it ourselves. But I'm not worried that in the long term we're going to get there. And it doesn't happen overnight, but it happens through sustained, committed diplomacy and other actions that continue to sustain the political will to make these things happen. And we're going to get there.

QUESTION: What can you say to countries who are victims of terrorism who argue that the US has a double standard in terms of it's doing all it can to root out terrorism in Afghanistan, with al-Qaida and the Taliban, but that the US has a different standard for countries such as Israel, or recently India, who just suffered a terrorist attack, that the US urges more restraint in terms of their abilities to combat terrorism?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Well, I don't think that there is a one-size-fits-all kind of approach to terrorism. Each circumstance demands a thorough review of what the tools are that you have to apply. And clearly, that's why the President announced that this campaign would be about the use of our military, law enforcement, diplomacy, financial and intelligence powers in a coordinated way, because every time you turn around, it isn't the military that's going to solve the problem. Perhaps the problem is going to be solved through law enforcement; perhaps the problem is going to be solved through a political dialogue, using diplomacy.

So all those tools are available to every country to try to work through the "terrorism problem" that they're experiencing. One size doesn't fit all. And what we try to do is work with those countries to see what is the best tool to use. It's not a double standard; it just means that you don't have to sometimes, in my military days, swat a fly with a howitzer in order to solve the problem.

QUESTION: Do you know how many countries have not complied with UN Resolution 1373?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I can't tell you specifically, but I can get that information for you. How many countries -- when you say not complied, you mean -- a lot of countries haven't complied because they don't have the capacity; but the specific number of countries that have not responded, I don't have that on my fingertip, but I can get that information for you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) of 50?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I don't know the answer to that, but I can find that information for you.

QUESTION: Ambassador, going back to Mexico, I would like to ask you, some time ago, Mexico used to be a kind of safe haven for some terrorists coming out from Spain, Chile or Argentina. Have you seen any signs that maybe show the operation of some international terrorists in Mexico?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: No.

QUESTION: And I also would like to ask you, how critical do you think is the cooperation of Mexico in this struggle against terrorism?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Absolutely critical, not only as our neighbor but as a key part of the international community. One of the real points of our Report this year is to focus on the global community and how everyone needs to be a part of the campaign in order to be successful. Afghanistan is a problem because they failed to meet international norms for policing itself and allowing these sorts of activities to occur. And so every country is important. Every country's capacity is important for the eventual success that we will have in concluding this campaign.

QUESTION: Reported by a Korean news agency today, US army base in South Korea threatened by terrorists during the Korean soccer games. Do you have any information on that?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I don't have any specific information, but certainly any major event like the World Cup in Korea and Japan would be a perfect venue for a terrorist group or organization to attempt to make a political statement, and we are working very closely with Korean authorities and Japanese authorities to ensure that those games remain as safe as all the other international sporting events have been in the past. But no specific information in that regard.

QUESTION: As you know, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has changed a lot since the year ended when this period for the Report ended. And I'm wondering if you could assess the conflict now as it is different from the end of the reporting period and how you rate the West Bank and Gaza in terms of its terrorism actions.

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Well, we've made it quite clear to Chairman Arafat that we want him to exercise the control -- exercise leadership and control terrorists that are operating from within the West Bank and from elements of Tanzim or Fatah that he has some control over. Has he done enough yet? No. We're not satisfied that it's complete. We recognize he probably can't stop it all. Hamas and Hezbollah have rejected any sort of peace with Israel. But to the extent that he can do that within the Palestinian territories, we think he needs to continue to work hard. And there have been encouraging signs that he has made in the recent past few days, but no, we're not there yet.

QUESTION: A couple questions on Iraq. Do you know of any significant tie between Iraq and al-Qaida? And secondly, do you see a trend of growing Iraqi support for Palestinian groups that are fighting Israel?

AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: We are continuing to investigate -- there was a report that Mohammed Atta had met an Iraqi in Prague, and we are continuing to investigate that. As of now, that has not been confirmed, and so the immediate answer to your question is I don't know of any direct connection.

We are concerned obviously with any government that would reward or attempt to use the conflict in the Middle East to reward people for conducting suicide attacks, which the Iraqis have announced that they would pay families $10,000 to $25,000 to do that. That is not helpful in the Middle East peace process. Iraq also supports the MEK, the Mujahedin-e Khalq that operate into Iran, actively continues to support that. So they are still involved in supporting terrorist activities as we speak, and of course that's why they remain on the state-sponsored terrorism list.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your time. 



Released on May 21, 2002

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