Fighting Terrorism in AfricaKarl Wycoff, Associate Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on Africa
April 1, 2004
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today at your hearing on "Fighting Terrorism in Africa.” This hearing provides a good opportunity to bring you and your colleagues up to date on the many, and varied, programs we have developed and are implementing to combat terrorism in Africa.
Africa is vulnerable to the threat of international terrorism and important in our efforts to counter that menace. While 9/11 is generally regarded as the watershed in the threat from al-Qaida and its allies, the horrible August 7, 1998, attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania were an even earlier wake-up call. These attacks killed and wounded far more Kenyans and Tanzanians than Americans, the ostensible target. These mass bombings brutally demonstrated the willingness of these terrorists to kill and maim large numbers of persons in far-flung corners of the earth, in countries that were not directly involved in the grievances of South Asia and the Middle East.
Additional attacks in Mombasa in November 2002 showed that terrorist cells were still active. Although we are concerned about attacks elsewhere in Africa, we consider the Horn of Africa -- Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kenya, and Tanzania -- to be the area most at risk.
The main contributing factors include proximity to the Arabian Peninsula and the failed state of Somalia, large areas where the governments’ control is weak or non-existent, weak CT and police capabilities of host nations, the probable continued presence of the al-Qaida cell that carried out the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi, and armed conflicts that have long plagued the region. Working with the African front-line states of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, we have developed and are implementing a policy that encompasses both containment and action against al-Qaida and other terrorists and terrorist organizations. We are working with partner countries to closely monitor the situation in the Horn and are prepared to take appropriate action.
We are very concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks in the Horn region, especially in Kenya and Tanzania because, as the attacks of 9/11 showed, al-Qaida will continue to plan and carry out attacks against a target if its initial efforts failed or were only partially successful. Despite the construction of new embassy facilities in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, and continuing efforts of the host nations and their neighbors, the terrorism threat in the region remains high.
U.S. Government Efforts To Build Counterterrorism Capacity in the Horn
One of our principal tenets in the war on terrorism is that, whenever possible, our foreign partners should take the lead in combating terrorism on their own territories or in their own financial systems, with the USG in a strong support role. The ability of most African states to effectively participate in the campaign against terrorism is getting stronger with U.S. help. The President’s $100 million East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative (EACTI) announced in June 2003 is designed to strengthen the capabilities of our partners in the region to combat terrorism and foster cooperation among these governments. It includes military training for border and coastal security, a variety of programs to strengthen control of the movement of people and goods across borders, aviation security capacity-building, assistance for regional efforts against terrorist financing, and police training. EACTI also includes an education program to counter extremist influence and a robust outreach program. The program is on track.
The Department of State is currently organizing an international conference to be held later this month to discuss progress made in fighting terrorism in East Africa in the context of the President's East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative. All East African nations participating in EACTI will be invited to attend, along with observers from other regional partners, and international partners in the global war on terrorism. As part of the conference's goals and objectives, the participants will be considering ways and means to make further progress against indigenous terrorist cells, as well as to diminish the conditions which allow extremists and terrorists to recruit and train new followers.
In addition to EACTI, we are using NADR funds, Economic Support Funds, and other diplomatic and developmental tools to help strengthen democratic institutions and support effective governance. At the conference I just mentioned, we hope to encourage allies and partners to coordinate resources to ensure the sustained effectiveness of our common efforts in the war against terrorism. I would like to briefly describe some of the programs that the U.S. uses to strengthen African capacity.
CT Finance Assistance
The interagency Terrorist Finance Working Group (TFWG) chaired by my office, is working closely with Kenyan officials to develop a comprehensive anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing regime in Kenya. An interagency team conducted an assessment of Kenya’s financial systems in August 2003, and has developed and begun implementing a plan to develop Kenya’s capacity in this field. In January 2004, a DOJ representative, along with a legal expert from the United Kingdom and a representative from the Caribbean Anti-Money Laundering Program (CALP) conducted a legislative drafting seminar for Kenyan officials that resulted in draft Anti-Money Laundering/ Counterterrorist Finance (AML/CTF) legislation that conforms to most international standards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
These same representatives traveled to Kenya last week to conduct a seminar to educate legislators and the public on the urgent need for an AML/CTF law. Once the law is enacted we will provide a Resident Legal Advisor to train prosecutors and judicial officials, conduct financial investigative courses, steer financial intelligence unit development, and advise on financial regulatory assistance. Curbing the flow of money to terrorists is important not only as part of the global war against terrorism but also to help countries protect their own citizens from attacks by groups operating locally.
Immigration Monitoring and Control
In an effort to assist countries threatened by terrorist transit, the Department of State instituted the Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP). Since mid-2003, the Terrorist Interdiction Program computer system has been operational at select airports in Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, and is expected to be operational this year in Djibouti and Uganda as well. TIP is a good example of international cooperation. The program was conceived as a result of conversations with Kenyan officials who, after the 1998 Nairobi attack, suggested that post-attack investigations could be aided if a system were available for quickly checking suspects who might have fled a country just before or after a major terrorist attack.
The TIP hardware/software package is intended to significantly impact terrorists’ freedom of movement between countries by providing participating nations with a state-of-the-art computer name-check network that enables immigration and border control officials to quickly identify suspect persons attempting to enter or leave the country.
For example, Kenya previously had little or no capability to identify and thereby apprehend suspect persons traveling through air, land, and sea ports of entry. TIP is jumping Kenya forward on this front by providing it with a fast, secure, and reliable means to check each traveler’s identity against a current terrorist watch list. The TIP watch list is developed by each country but it may incorporate information from INTERPOL or individual nations. TIP also provides nations with an increased capability to collect, compare, and analyze traveler data and thereby contribute to the global effort to understand terrorist methods and track their movements.
General Law Enforcement Training
The Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) is funding a police development program begun in 2002 for national police in Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia. While not specifically CT focused, the program is introducing essential skills-based learning and problem solving techniques to build the capacity of these East African police forces to detect and investigate all manner of crime, including terrorist incidents. INL is also funding forensic laboratory development programs in Tanzania and Uganda, designed to build the capacity of these governments to analyze evidence collected at crime scenes. In Kenya, INL is funding technical assistance and training for the Anti-narcotics Unit of the Kenyan national police and the anti-smuggling unit that work out of the Port of Mombasa. These units jointly search containers entering the port of Mombasa for drugs and other contraband that may be brought into Kenya otherwise undetected.
Export Controls Assistance
The Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) Program, which is funded through the NADR account of the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, will be used in FY04 to assist Kenya and Tanzania to improve their border controls to prevent transfers through their territory of weapons of mass destruction and other items of proliferation concern.
Department of State Anti-Terrorism Assistance -- the Kenyan Example
Kenya is an example of the many types of training and assistance provided to front-line states under the State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program which was established in 1983. The Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, headed by my boss, Ambassador Cofer Black, provides policy guidance for the program. It is implemented by the ATA division of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which works closely with the Department’s Regional Security Officers in each embassy. Funded through the S/CT NADR account, these law enforcement training programs are intended to help a country develop its own indigenous counterterrorism capability. Types of training include detection and rendering safe explosive devices, post-blast investigation techniques, VIP protection, senior leadership crisis management exercises, hostage negotiations, and much more.
For FY 2005, the Administration is requesting $128.3 million worldwide. We hope Congress this year will support the full funding request as requests for training are backed up as a result of cuts in the FY 2004 Appropriation.
DS/ATA has maintained a training partnership with the Government of Kenya since 1989. Since that time ATA has trained 594 personnel and has expended over $4.05 million. As part of the President’s East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative (EACTI), ATA has recently conducted a comprehensive needs assessment and is currently developing an in-country training and equipment program, including at least seven training events in FY04 for Kenyan law enforcement agencies. Kenya's commitment to this effort is reflected in its passage of anti-corruption legislation, its efforts to pass counterterrorism legislation, the recent creation of an Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, establishment of a National Security Advisory Committee to provide policy guidance to its CT structures, and the opening early this year of a National Counter-Terrorism Center. Kenya’s National Security Minister Dr. Christopher Murungaru, on a visit to Washington last month, reaffirmed Kenya's commitment to partnering with the United States and neighboring African nations in fighting terrorism.
Sudanese Peace Process and Somali Stability
In the longer run, reestablishing an orderly governance mechanism in Somalia and a successful conclusion to the Sudanese Peace Process will help make the region more stable and less vulnerable to terrorists and their facilitators. We are working diligently to bring the Sudanese peace talks to a successful conclusion. Restoration of a functioning central authority in Somalia would remove a failed state and thus the disorder that provides haven and transit opportunities for extremist groups. We support the efforts of regional leaders under the IGAD process to promote peace and reconciliation talks in Somalia.
The Pan Sahel Initiative
The Sahel region, including Chad, Niger, Mali, and Mauritania, is also an area of concern. The immense size of these countries, their physical geography combined with weak central authority, and the traditional independence of nomadic life styles, make border control and law enforcement exceedingly difficult. No longer isolated from the rest of the world, the traditional caravan routes in this region now serve as conduits for illegal migration and drugs and arms trafficking, as well as a hideout and staging areas for international and regional terrorists and criminals.
The State Department has formulated and implemented the Pan-Sahel Initiative, which is providing training and equipment for quick reaction forces to secure the vast borders of the region. Mali and Mauritania are completing their training cycles, and Chad and Niger will begin training cycles later this year. In light of recent events, we are looking at what other forms of engagement may be useful.
Events over the past several months have underscored the need for continued training and cooperation in this region. When European tourists were kidnapped by members of the Algerian terrorist group Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) in 2003, the GSPC was said to have received a large ransom payment. After reportedly using this money to purchase weapons, ammunition, and equipment, they were pursued across the desert with the cooperation of all four Sahel countries. One portion of this group was cornered and forced out of Mali and promptly captured by Algerian security forces. Another turned up in Chad, where Chadian and Nigerien forces attacked and defeated this group.
In parts of West Africa, we have seen dramatic rises in the level of anti-American and extremist Islamic rhetoric, most notably in northern Nigeria. We are working to support effective and inclusive governance in these countries to dilute the appeal of extremists. The end of conflict in Liberia and on-going efforts to stabilize Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire are fundamental to our interest in stabilizing the wider region. The U.S. is cooperating with other countries to address the enormous security, development, and other needs of Liberia and to support efforts in neighboring countries to ensure that this region does not become a haven for terrorist and criminal activity.
We continue to work with the nations of southern Africa to find and capture known terrorist operatives and to disrupt terrorist financing. South Africa has set up its own Financial Intelligence Unit to track terrorist assets and place them out of terrorists’ reach. We are encouraging South Africa, one of Africa’s powerhouses of resources and expertise, to begin exporting training, intelligence, know-how, and other assistance to neighboring countries. Regional stability is essential, and we continue to watch for indications of trouble in southern and central African countries.
Last year we held a major counterterrorism conference for 13 nations in southern Africa. The sessions, held in the International Law Enforcement Academy in Botswana, included crisis management workshops and discussions of ways to strengthen counterterrorism laws. In 2002, six African countries from various parts of the continent took part in a week long CT legislation seminar in Washington that State co-sponsored with the with the Justice Department.
The states of north Africa have had long experience with terrorism, and continue to fight this scourge. In the aftermath of the May 16, 2003, bombings, Moroccan authorities conducted an investigation that uncovered extremist Islamist cells (Salfiya Jihadiya) in nearly every major city in the country. These “cells” were in various stages of planning and organizing terrorist actions against the Government of Morocco. Senior Moroccan authorities concede that if it were not for the Casablanca bombings, in which 45 people were killed and over 100 injured, they would never have uncovered planned terrorist operations in Morocco that could have resulted in several hundred deaths. Throughout the summer and fall of 2003, over 1,000 people were arrested on terrorism charges and over 800 have now been prosecuted under the new terrorism law passed in the aftermath of the May 16 attacks.
In February 2004, the Moroccan Authorities disrupted two Salafiya Jihadiya cells in Fez and Meknes. Thirty-seven people were arrested in the raids. Explosives, detonators, and rudimentary weapons were found in the safe-houses. Two of the people arrested were wanted in connection the May 16 bombings and were believed responsible for other murders of Moroccan police and officials.
In the aftermath of last month’s Madrid bombings, Moroccan authorities immediately sent a team of investigators to Madrid to work with Spanish authorities. The cooperation between the two governments in this investigation is exceptionally close and productive.
We are assisting the Moroccan authorities in a number of key areas of counterterrorism through a variety of programs including the State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance and Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP). ATA has so far provided $6.5 million in training to the Moroccans in targeted CT skills, such as investigations, forensics, and Post Blast investigation. We hope to expand the TIP in FY 05 to assist Morocco with security and enforcement at its seaports, airports, land border crossings, and porous borders.
Tunisia has been an effective partner in the GWOT. We have an ongoing, high-level dialogue with the Tunisian Government about ways to increase their cooperation including information sharing. The Tunisian Government passed anti-terrorism legislation at the beginning of its fall 2003 session, and the government has introduced state-of-the art machine readable passport in an on-going effort to secure its borders. Tunisia also became more active in the State ATA program, participating in First Responder Awareness course and Explosive Incident Countermeasures Courses in 2003.
Counterterrorism cooperation with Algeria remains an important part of our bilateral relationship, one that has expanded significantly since 9/11. Algeria has provided consistently outstanding support and cooperation in the global war against terrorism. Cooperation has increased, particularly in the areas of information sharing, military cooperation, and the tracking of financial assets. However, the Algerians continue to need assistance in building their CT capabilities so as to better contribute to both regional and international efforts against terrorism.
Although there have been significant improvements in the security environment in Algeria and terrorism no longer threatens the regime, a residual, significant terrorist threat exists. Hundreds of Algerians still die every year as a result of terrorism. The government's ability to deal with this remaining threat will be key. We hope to continue our close CT cooperation.
A Long-Term Continent-Wide Effort
Throughout the continent, the prevalence of poverty, famine, and disorder offers terrorists an opportunity to insert themselves into a region, to develop support systems, and to troll for new members for their groups. Charitable and non-governmental organizations have been abused by terrorists and their supporters to raise funds, disguise their true intentions, and travel internationally. Some terrorists have been able to use charitable organizations, turning those organizations into producers of ever larger numbers of extremists. One such organization, al-Haramayn, has been identified in several locations in Africa. Its offices are being closed. However, in addition to serving extremist ends, it also built schools, hospitals, and engaged in normal charitable activities. Closing these offices has had the unintended consequence of depriving some of the needy of a source of help.
It is therefore essential that the U.S. pay attention to development issues and to public outreach. USAID has designed and implemented programs to reach out to Muslim schools and offer support, materials, and training. Department of State Public Diplomacy programs offer opportunities for discussions, conferences, seminars, and travel by selected policy- and opinion-makers to explore Islam in America, U.S. values and traditions, and American society in an effort to expand mutual understanding. These long-range programs, are essential to ultimate success in the war on terrorism.
This concludes my outline of the current regional threat and our efforts to date to combat it. I hope my testimony has provided you with a clear understanding of the broad and deep range of challenges that we confront as we aggressively move to reduce terrorist activity and sympathies on a continent that is rife with both. As all of us know, the global war on terrorism cannot be won by half-measures or temporary commitments. Attacking terrorism in Africa requires a mix of short-, medium- and long-term strategies, and it will require additional resources.
Many of the short- and medium-term programs are in place and working. Longer-term strategies to address the factors that create an enabling environment for terrorism -- poverty, intolerance, political alienation, and corruption -- are being formulated and will require support not only from our African and other international partners but also from this chamber. Our adversaries are committed for the long term. I know that the State Department and the members of the subcommittee are equally committed to helping African governments defeat terrorists and eliminate their support base in Africa. The State Department appreciates your support and partnership for these efforts and seeks your continued support as we resolutely maintain and increase these efforts in the future. Mr. Chairman, that concludes my remarks. I will be happy to try to answer any questions.
Released on April 2, 2004