A Discussion on the Global Campaign Against TerrorismAmbassador Francis X. Taylor, Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Remarks before the National Foreign Policy Conference For Leaders of Nongovernmental Organizations
October 26, 2001
Distinguished guests: Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the subject of terrorism, and what we in the Department of State have been doing to fight the terrorist threat during the last seven weeks.
On the morning of September 11, the world changed. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the United States launched a global campaign not only against the perpetrators of those attacks but also against terrorism itself, wherever it exists.
The attacks claimed victims from some 78 nations, from our close neighbors Canada and Mexico, to countries as far away as Australia and Zimbabwe, and in large numbers from Britain, India, and Pakistan. For many countries, including ours, September 11 claimed the most lives of any terrorist incident in their history. For us, it was the bloodiest day in America since the Civil War Battle of Antietam.
The attacks may have been conceived as a blow against America, but in reality it was an attack against humanity.
There can be no excuse, no justification, and no rationalization for these acts of mass murder of innocent people. Those who try to excuse, condone, or support groups involved in this activity are no better than the terrorists themselves. Such support encourages even more acts like these. For this reason, our campaign will target not just terrorist groups, but their supporters and those who harbor them.
The war we are waging will be a long struggle with many dimensions. The campaign is now in full swing, and I'd like to share with you some of the important victories we have already accomplished.
The nations of the world are banding together to eliminate the scourge of terrorism. Numerous multilateral organizations have issued declarations of support, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Organization of African Unity, and many others have expressed their strong solidarity. We recognize that al-Qaida could not have carried out such attacks--planned over a period of years--without relying on an extensive support network around the world. A global response is thus essential.
I traveled to Brussels where I met with the North Atlantic Council and Russia. I made the case that the al-Qaida organization led by Usama bin Laden was responsible for what happened on the 11th of September. I traced the history of this organization, its recent activities, and the events that occurred just prior to and just after the 11th. We have heard individually from several capitals already that they found the information very interesting, useful, and persuasive.
NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson stated that the facts contained in the briefing were "clear and compelling" and point "conclusively to an al-Qaida role in the attacks." As a result of the briefing, NATO concluded that the attacks were directed from abroad and will "therefore be regarded as an action covered by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which states that an armed attack on one or more of the allies in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all." This was the first time Article V was invoked in the history of the NATO Alliance.
In response, NATO allies have agreed to provide the United States with the wide range of assistance that we had requested. This includes unlimited use of their airspace, base facilities, seaports, logistics, early warning aircraft, extra security for U.S. forces in Europe, intelligence sharing and replacement of any troops that might be moved from the Balkans.
The Organization of American States invoked the Rio Treaty, which also covers collective self-defense. OAS foreign ministers, meeting in Lima, Peru on the day of the attacks, were the first to condemn them.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference -- the most important and comprehensive grouping of Muslim states, 56 in all -- strongly condemned the savage September 11 attacks and unequivocally declared that terrorism is never sanctioned by Islam. The face of terror is not the true face of Islam. Terrorism is a perversion of religion, and those who hijacked our airplanes on September 11 also hijacked the faith they claim.
The Government of Australia pledged air, ground, and naval forces in the global campaign against terrorism.
Other nations, great and small, have made pledges and contributions to what is a global response to a global attack. We have received numerous offers of support, diplomatic, political, police, intelligence, and military. Members of the global coalition are dedicated and are remaining steady. This coalition will remain intact and will stick with the campaign until it is successful.
Forging the Tools to Fight Terror
As President Bush said in his address to a joint session of Congress: "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Most have already chosen, and they have chosen to stand with us against terrorism.
President Bush also told Congress, "We will direct every resource at our command--every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war--to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network." This campaign will be unlike others we have fought. The battles are as likely to be fought in small conference rooms among bankers, at border crossing points, or in forensic laboratories as over the skies of some hostile power. Our victories will be counted in the drying up of financing, the withering of political support, the rounding up of terrorist cells, not in the conquest of foreign land.
Our efforts include gathering and increased sharing of intelligence, rooting out terrorist cells, assisting countries to tighten their border security, good law enforcement, and identifying and disrupting terrorist money flows. In addition to the State Department's success in building the Coalition Against Terror, let me share with you some of the other work we have been doing.
The first shot in the war against terrorism was fired on September 24 when the President signed executive order 13224. This shot froze the assets of 27 terrorists, terrorist organizations, and terrorist financiers associated with al-Qaida and blocks U.S. transactions with such persons or entities. The Executive Order was later amended to include 39 additional names of persons and organizations known to conduct or financially support terrorism. In addition, the assets of all 22 of the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists are now subject to this blocking order. Additional names will be added in the days ahead.
The September 11 terrorists apparently had enough money to make their preparations many months, if not years, in advance. We are therefore encouraging other countries to join in our efforts to clamp down on terrorist fund raising and money transfers. Funding is a critical element in these large-scale terrorist operations and in the recruiting of supporters. We need to choke it off.
A previous Executive Order, in effect since 1995 and renewed each year since, includes such groups as Hizballah and Hamas, as well as al-Qaida, that represent a terrorist threat to the Middle East peace negotiations.
On September 28 the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1373, binding on all states under international law, which goes to the heart of how terrorism operates. It obliges all member states to deny financing, support, and safe harbor for terrorists. It will also expand information sharing among UN members to combat international terrorism. A Security Council follow-up mechanism has been set up to monitor compliance on a continuous basis.
This effort has already yielded results. The United States has frozen some $4 million and is reviewing many other accounts. We have received reports of millions of additional dollars being frozen around the world. Other nations are still seeking to identify terrorist assets that they have pledged to block. In all, one hundred eleven nations--more than half the world--have acted to choke off the oxygen of money for terrorists, and this is only the beginning.
The Treasury Department-led Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Center is up and running and will be a tremendous help in this overall effort. It is a multi-agency task force that will identify the network of terrorist funding and freeze assets before new acts of terrorism take place.
Another important tool in countering terrorist fundraising is the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) of 1996, which makes it a criminal offense for persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to knowingly contribute funds or other material support to groups that the Secretary of State has designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. U.S. law also allows freezing of the designated groups’ assets and denial of visas for members as well as leaders of terrorist organizations. Last week, Secretary Powell designated 28 such groups, including al-Qaida.
An important section in the AEDPA is worth repeating for the world at large:
"(F)oreign terrorist organizations that engage in terrorist activity are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates thatconduct."
This is a key point. Before they make a contribution to groups supporting terrorists, people around the world need to understand that by doing so they are assisting criminal conduct – and are themselves committing a criminal act.
Using this and other legislation as a potential model, we have urged other countries to tighten up their own laws and regulations to curb terrorist fundraising and money transfers. Great Britain already has done so, and other countries, such as Canada, Greece, India, and the Philippines, have new counterterrorism laws or proposed legislation in various stages of consideration. We have met with officials of some of these countries to discuss laws like AEDPA and to exchange ideas and suggestions.
The State Department has developed a training course in our Antiterrorism Training Assistance program to help other countries improve their ability to identify and curb terrorist fund raising and transfers, and we are encouraging other countries with expertise to make similar efforts.
In addition, the Administration is making ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism a top priority. This is the newest of 12 U.N. conventions related to terrorism, and the United States signed it in January 2000. The Administration is now finalizing proposed implementing legislation for this Convention, and we strongly encourage the Senate to act swiftly and provide advice and consent to ratification to this treaty.
The FBI has mounted the largest criminal investigation in its history, involving seven thousand agents in an operation truly global in scope. Thousands of leads are being tracked down, and hundreds of credible threats have been analyzed. In addition to the hundreds of arrests and detentions here in this country, hundreds more terrorists and suspected supporters of terrorism have been arrested or detained in over 25 countries.
We are building an ever-stronger case against the al-Qaida network. We have been briefing our allies on what we know so far and receive new pieces of the puzzle from them every day. We will not stop our efforts until justice done. The United States has a long memory and an equally long history of success in seeing terrorists face justice. The most recent example occurred only a few weeks ago when we arrested a known terrorist for his role in a brutal 1986 hijacking that killed 22 persons, including two American citizens. With the help of some of our international friends, U.S. law enforcement officials picked him up and brought him to the United States to stand trial. He is the 14th international terrorist to be arrested abroad and brought here to face American justice. Although he has no known connection to the September 11 events or to al-Qaida, his arrest demonstrates that the United States will track terrorists who attack Americans no matter how long it takes. As Secretary Powell has said: "We will defend the rule of law against the lawless." There is no statute of limitations for international terror.
The sharing of intelligence information concerning terrorists and planning for terrorist attacks has grown steadily over the years among many nations of the world. Such cooperation has resulted in the arrest of numerous terrorist suspects and the prevention of untold numbers of attacks. But in the weeks since September 11, the increase in intelligence sharing among nations has been phenomenal. Both the amount and quality have vastly improved. We are heartened at this development as yet another sign of the seriousness shown by the global coalition in fighting terrorism.
There are a number of other tools that we have been using to counter terrorism, and we are sharpening and improving them in this new struggle.
We are utilizing training-related programs to help combat terrorism overseas and thus also help protect Americans living and travelling abroad. The State Department's Antiterrorism Training Assistance (ATA) program in which we train foreign security and law enforcement officials is a pillar of this effort. The program not only provides training but also helps promote our policies and improve our contacts with foreign officials to achieve our counterterrorism goals. We have trained more than 20,000 officials from over 100 countries to date. We are hoping for additional funding for the ATA program in the wake of the September 11 attacks to permit us to accelerate the pace of this training.
We have been providing policy and working level seminars and training to assist countries in preparing for or responding to weapons of mass destruction terrorism.
We also have developed a Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP) which utilizes sophisticated computer data base systems and improved communications to help identify potential terrorists who try to cross international borders. This program will be most effective in countries that are major crossroads.
The Department’s contribution to the interagency counterterrorism research and development program, the Technical Support Working Group, also helps advance in explosives detection and other areas and bolster our cooperative R&D efforts with Britain, Canada, and Israel.
We have proposed increasing our terrorism information rewards program. The current maximum reward we can pay to an informant is $5 million. We propose raising that by several million dollars. This important program has resulted in the arrest of several terrorist suspects, and it has generated information about planned terrorist attacks that we have been able to prevent. We have paid out more than $8 million since the program has been in place. I am pleased to say that due to the generous efforts of some entrepreneurs in New York, a fund has been created to collect public donations and give them to the Department's rewards program. This will greatly increase the amount of money we will be able to pay for information, and the higher amount will doubtless attract more informants.
The Afghans: Also Victims of Terror
I want to say a few words about the plight of the Afghan people. They are among the longest suffering victims of the al-Qaida network and of a regime that has traded its responsibilities to serve and protect them in favor of support for terror. Where the Taliban has failed its own people, we have consistently sought to ameliorate the conditions of the Afghans. Even before the attacks of September 11, the United States was the most generous provider of relief to the Afghan people. Last year alone, the United States gave more than $170 million in humanitarian assistance, roughly two-thirds of the total contribution of the international community. Now we are giving an additional $320 million in humanitarian assistance, almost matching the $365 milion pledged by 26 other nations of the world that have responded to the needs of the Afghani people. To root out the safehavens of terror, we look forward to supporting a terrorist-free Afghanistan at peace with its neighbors, with a government not imposed from the outside, but supported by a broad base of its diverse population. Afghanistan is a key step in our war on terror, and our commitment there is steadfast.
The international coalition and our bilateral programs are just some of the measures we are taking to meet this new challenge. Our response to the horrific events of September 11 will be broad-based and will not be completed in a short time. We are committed to a long term strategic campaign, in concert with the nations of the world that abhor terrorism, to root out and bring to justice those that use terrorism. We are in for a long haul. As President Bush has told the world: "Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done."