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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism > Releases > Remarks > 2003

Global War on Terrorism

Ambassador Cofer Black, Coordinator For Counterterrorism
Testimony before House Select Committee on Homeland Security
Washington, DC
September 4, 2003

As Prepared
Mr. Chairman, Committee Members:

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here today. I look forward to discussing some of the key challenges we face in our global war on terrorism. It is a privilege to speak to you on the crucial issue of counterterrorism, and how protecting critical infrastructure fits into the broader scope of our efforts in this area.

Critical infrastructure means many different things. It means the computers we use to transfer financial data from New York to Hong Kong. It means the production facilities that distribute our food across the country and the sanitation systems that make our water safe to drink. It means the electronic signals that keep our planes in the air and our trains on proper course. At the most fundamental level, it means the very interconnectedness on which our society so heavily depends. But it also means something more.

We must remain mindful that global critical infrastructure is both a contributor to -– and a result of -– the interdependence that exists among nations today. It is because our ties to Europe and Asia are so strong that an attack on the banking systems in either of those places would have a powerful impact on our country. It is because we rely so much on our extensive trade relationships with nations around the globe that we must ensure that those products reaching our shores are safe to sell in this country. It is because we depend on global partnerships for our power that a blackout in one country can trigger a blackout in another. Critical infrastructure essentially means all the physical and virtual ties that bind us together -– not only as a society, but as a world. Terrorists know this, and they see attacking the very bonds that hold us together as one more way to drive us apart.

We have made significant progress in the war on terrorism, but the recent blackouts in this country serve as an urgent reminder that there remain vulnerabilities for terrorists to exploit. We continue to believe that these blackouts were not the result of terrorist acts. We know that terrorists have plotted more devastating ways to bring massive disruption to our society.

We know, for example, that terrorists have assessed the possibility of attacking our nuclear plants and our transportation systems. But, in the end, it does not matter to terrorists whether the target is an Embassy or a nightclub, a power grid, a hotel, or an unguarded building. The targets terrorists attack will no doubt vary widely, but the goal toward which they strive remains the same: to undermine the security and stability that Americans seek for themselves, their country, and the world.

In the United States, the responsibility for protecting critical infrastructure has been assigned to the Secretary for Homeland Security. In my role as the State Department’s Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism, I am responsible for managing the international effort to counter terrorism through the effective integration and coordination of the efforts of our allies and partners with our own.

The State Department plays an essential role in coordinating our government’s response to issues surrounding critical infrastructure, as those issues arise abroad. We are working closely with regional and global organizations including APEC, the OAS, and the OECD, and will convene a Southeast Europe cyber security conference next week in Sofia, Bulgaria, to raise awareness of this issue in that region. In addition, we have made this topic a priority on our global agenda by drafting three UN General Assembly resolutions on issues related to information technology and cyber security -– and all these resolutions were adopted unanimously. The UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society, which will be held in Geneva in December, will provide yet another forum where we can advance our goals on cyber security.

The State Department is also engaged bilaterally on this issue with countries across the globe. We are working with sixteen nations on the issue of critical infrastructure protection -– countries ranging from Canada to India and Australia. And through the State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance program (ATA), we offer three separate courses on Cyber Terrorism that address varying but equally important facets of the problem; preventive measures, techniques in responding to and investigating cyber attacks, and familiarizing senior level officials on dealing with the problems of a cyber incident.

Additionally, ATA offers Vital Installations Security courses to foreign law enforcement and security organizations. Sixteen countries on four continents have received the ATA Vital Installations course in the past two years and at least four more are planned for Fiscal Year ‘04. Our recently developed Cyber Security course already has been provided to three countries, and we plan to engage two more in FY ‘04.

Our planned courses for FY ‘04 reflect the Administration’s requested level of ATA funding. The Senate Foreign Operations Appropriation bill provides the requested level, but the House mark is short by $16 million from the Administration’s $106 million request.

These reductions, if not restored in the Senate-House conference committee, would result in cutting at least several Cyber Security and Vital Installations courses during FY ‘04. I might also add that funding was cut from our Terrorist Interdiction Program, which helps countries better control their borders, and from our Senior Policy Workshop program.

I hope the distinguished members of this Committee will encourage their colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to support the full funding of these critical counterterrorism programs when the FY ‘04 foreign operations appropriations bill goes to the conference committee in the near future.

Mr. Chairman, the State Department plays a role in helping to develop technology to counter threats to the critical infrastructure. My office co-chairs, with the Department of Defense, the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) which conducts the national, interagency combating terrorism technology research and development program. Within the TSWG, an interagency working group on Infrastructure Protection, chaired by DOD and the FBI, focuses on meeting interagency requirements for technology development in the areas of Cyber Security, Information Analysis, and Physical Protection. Other Departments and Agencies represented on the Infrastructure Protection Subgroup include the Departments of Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Treasury, and Transportation, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The TSWG's Cyber Security projects focus on preventing and mitigating threats to computer networks vital to defense, transportation, and critical infrastructure. Our projects are aimed at enhancing detection, prevention, response, and alert capabilities to counter cyber attacks and harden computer systems. Our Information Analysis projects focus on enabling analysis and understanding of the information space. Specifically, we are working on technologies to enhance information storage, protection, and analysis. The TSWG's Physical Protection projects seek to develop standardized methodologies and decision aids for vulnerability analysis and enhanced protection of critical elements of the nation's infrastructure with particular emphasis on meeting the needs of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) users and systems.

For FY 2004, the TSWG Program has allotted approximately $10M to fund rapid prototyping and development work on 25 projects in the Infrastructure Protection area based on requirements identified by the interagency community. A number of the Departments and Agencies included in the Infrastructure Protection Subgroup are contributing funds to support the work of the TSWG in this vital area.

In another area of activity, the Department also has provided some 18 key counterterrorist partners with an intensive Senior Policy Workshop to help them develop plans and procedures to mitigate any use by terrorists of weapons of mass destruction. We are also providing a series of workshops to improve energy security in the Caspian Basin, focusing on Kazakhstan. These are all part of the important effort to strengthen the ability of countries worldwide to counter the variety of terrorist threats that face us today.

I would like to use my remaining time to put the issue of critical infrastructure into the context of our global efforts in the war on terrorism -– by talking with you about another type of critical infrastructure: the alliances, partnerships, and friendships that we have worked so hard to build. Like other types of critical infrastructure, these networks of diplomatic exchange and communication serve as the foundation on which our national security often rests.

I just returned from a week of travel to Colombia and Barbados, where I worked to strengthen our partnerships on counterterrorism. In Colombia, I saw firsthand the powerful impact of our cooperation against kidnapping and drugs -– both primary sources of terrorist funding in that country. While in Colombia, I had the pleasure of inaugurating a new $25 million Anti-kidnapping initiative -– funded by the State Department -- that will provide training and equipment for Colombia’s special police and military anti-kidnapping units to enhance their ability to deal with the estimated 3,000 kidnapping incidents each year.

In Barbados, I met with Prime Ministers from across the Eastern Caribbean, and I am pleased to report that important progress is being made throughout that region. Several Caribbean states are developing national and regional immigration alert systems so that they can better track and capture terrorists who cross their borders. Some Caribbean countries are also making strides against money laundering and drug trafficking –- and some are working to develop common laws to achieve common goals in the campaign against terrorism. I was pleased to see –- in both Colombia and Barbados –- that our partnerships are aimed at combating terrorism in a number of different ways.

In the fight against terrorism –- triumph will not come solely, or even primarily, through military might. Rather, it will come through success on a variety of different fronts with a variety of different tools. We need better regional and global methods of collecting and exchanging intelligence and information, and better military coordination. We need more vigorous cooperation to sever the sources of terrorist funding. Our actions must help to win the trust not only of governments, but of the people they represent. And success on each of these requires effective diplomacy.

Diplomacy is the backbone of our campaign –- for one simple reason: terrorism has no citizenship. The list of passports that terrorists –- and their victims –- carry is long indeed. Those 19 extremists who hijacked our planes on September 11, killed the innocent sons and daughters of more than 90 countries that day. Those men and women of the United Nations whom terrorists attacked in Baghdad last month, had come together from across the globe. Terrorism affects all corners of the world and we must be united, as a world, in fighting it.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has worked hard to forge new friendships and strengthen existing ones. Through our Smart Border Accords with Canada, we held the TOPOFF 2 exercises last May. This five-day, full-scale exercise involved top officials and response personnel and gave us a clearer picture of how our country would respond to attacks with weapons of mass destruction on major metropolitan areas. This exercise is just one example of the success old partnerships can produce in facing the new challenges that lie ahead.

On a global and regional level, we continue to work closely with organizations, ranging from NATO, the G-7, and the United Nations, to ASEAN, the OAS, and the OSCE. We have built new relationships on counterterrorism with countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay through the young “3+1” Counterterrorism Dialogue. We have also initiated new counterterrorism partnerships with China, Russia, and the Central Asian Republics. And many more nations hold promise for deepened engagement in the future.

Our success in this struggle largely rests with those nations around the world who are working with us to defeat terrorism within their own borders. Pakistan has taken more than 500 terrorist suspects into custody, including Ramzi bin al Shibh and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. With Jordan’s help, two individuals were arrested, both of whom we believe are responsible for the murder of USAID employee Laurence Foley in October, 2002. Morocco has arrested Al Qaida operatives planning attacks against our shipping interests. And Saudi Arabia has helped in many ways to capture terrorists and disrupt their activities. Many other nations around the world are helping us to uncover the extent of terrorist networks; chart the movements of their members; and master the means of their demise.

Just a few weeks ago, we accomplished a key goal in the war by capturing Hambali, the mastermind behind the Bali bombing in October, 2002. Working together with the government of Thailand, we added Hambali to the list of nearly two-thirds of the top Al Qaida leaders, key facilitators and operational managers whom we have either killed or captured in the past two years. And since 9/11, the United States and its partners and allies have detained more than 3,000 terrorists in over 100 countries.

And we are making measurable progress on many other fronts, as well.

Since 9/11, over 170 countries and jurisdictions have issued orders to freeze terrorists’ assets -– and so far, the international community has frozen more than $136 million in terrorist funding and designated over
290 terrorist groups and individuals. We are working hard to build capacity in those states that are on the front lines of the war on terrorism, so that they can better stop terrorists from raising and moving funds. Thanks to UN Security Council Resolution 1373, we now have specific criteria by which to measure national progress in blocking terrorist fundraising. And we are developing international standards and best practices, through both the Security Council’s Counterterrorism Committee and the Financial Action Task Force.

Since 9/11, more than 30 nations have signed onto all 12 of the international antiterrorism conventions and protocols, and many more have become parties to them. There has been an upsurge in the number of laws -– both domestic and international –- that deal with terrorism-related issues. There are now more laws limiting terrorists’ actions in more countries than ever before, and more governments are willing to enforce those laws. Our country has been actively involved in helping other nations strengthen their counterterrorism legislation.

But with each of these victories, new challenges emerge. As the chains of command in these organizations are stressed and broken, as they were when we captured Hambali, it becomes more difficult for terrorists to confer with their leaders and coordinate large-scale attacks. That is why we are seeing an increasing number of small-scale operations against softer targets.

The more successful we are, the more likely it is that terrorists will act independently against unguarded targets.  As a result, we will need to exercise heightened vigilance even as we continue making measurable progress on many fronts.

Another key part of our counterterrorism effort is the designation of terrorists and terrorist organizations. The State Department –- together with the Departments of Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security, and the Intelligence Community –- has been developing legal cases for designating terrorists and terrorist organizations so that we can freeze funds and prevent attacks.

To do this, we rely primarily on two legal authorities. The first is the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 which amended the Immigration and Nationality Act, to authorize the Secretary of State to formally designate foreign terrorist organizations. The second one is the Executive Order on Terrorist Financing, which the President signed on September 23, 2001. These authorities block the property of designated terrorists and make it illegal to provide financing and other forms of material support to designated groups. Designating terrorists and their organizations is an important tool in the war on terrorism because it helps us curb their funding and invoke other sanctions. It is essential that we continue to work relentlessly to ensure that terrorists –- whatever their ideology, religion, or ethnicity -– do not receive safe haven, funding, or any other kind of support from inside or outside our borders.

One of the lessons our nation learned anew on that tragic morning nearly two years ago was that the fates of all nations are linked –- and that we deny this at our own peril. This lesson takes on new meaning when considered in the context of protecting our national and international critical infrastructures. Because, in the last analysis, it is precisely those global systems, structures, and networks that serve as the foundation for all our efforts to bring freedom, prosperity, and security to people around the world.

Thank you. I would be happy to take your questions.

Released on September 4, 2003

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