East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative ConferenceWilliam Pope, Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism
April 21, 2004
Thank you for this opportunity to speak at this conference on the East Africa counterterrorism initiative and regional cooperation. I am honored to be among many friends from Africa as well as other parts of the globe to discuss the crucial issue of our era -- terrorism and how to fight it. The tragic embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on America on September 11, the attacks on a hotel and civil aviation in Mombasa in November 2002, the recent rail bombings in Spain, and many more have shown us that the global war on terrorism is a new and different kind of war, one where all nations are under threat. Working together as a global unit to counterterrorism is the only way to defeat the terrorists and win this war. As one of America’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, once said, “If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.”
Sadly, the continent of Africa is vulnerable to the threat of international terrorism and is of particular importance in the global effort to counter the terrorist threat. While 9/11 is regarded in some quarters as the watershed event demonstrating the reality of the threat from al-Qaida and its allies, the horrible attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania were in fact 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 who had committed no offense, in countries that were not directly involved in the extremists’ perceived grievances in South Asia or the Middle East. Additional attacks in Mombasa in November 2002 showed that terrorist cells were still active and indiscriminate in executing their vicious attacks.
But these attacks accomplished something else that I think the terrorists were not expecting. They brought East Africa and the global community even closer together -- united against a common enemy, rather than alienated from each other, as those who attacked Kenya and Tanzania were hoping would happen. I know for a fact that counterterrorism cooperation between the U.S. and the east African nations is better than ever and improving every day. One of the goals of this conference is to look for ways to enhance even further the cooperation, not only between the United States and the East African nations, but among the African nations and other partners also, many of whom are represented here today.
Although we are concerned about attacks anywhere in Africa, we consider East Africa and the Horn -- Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, and Tanzania -- to be at particular risk. Terrorist organizations are determined to strike U.S. allies and interests wherever they can, using the most destructive means at their disposal. The tragic railway bombings in Spain were a lesson that we have learned time and time again on the streets of Istanbul, Riyadh, Casablanca, Bali, Moscow, Dar Es Salaam, and Mombasa: no country is safe -- no country is immune from attack. Wishing away this scourge will not defend us.
But we must remain focused -- even more so than the enemy. As President Bush stated recently, “We have to be successful 100% of the time; the terrorists only have to be successful once.” One way of staying focused is through international gatherings such as this conference, where countries with similar concerns can get together and share lessons learned and other vital information that will make us all stronger. I hope this conference encourages all of you to coordinate within your governments and with your counterparts across national borders to ensure the sustained effectiveness of our common efforts in the war against terrorism.
I would like to briefly describe some of the things the U.S. is doing to help strengthen African capacity in the fight against terrorism. The $100 million East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative (EACTI) announced by President Bush in June of 2003 is on track. Many of the countries represented here have benefited from this program which includes military training for border and coastal security, 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.
Other programs include assistance through the U.S. interagency Terrorist Finance Working Group (TFWG), working closely with select East African Governments to develop comprehensive anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing regimes in their nations. The U.S. Department of State’s Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP) has been operating since last year at select airports in Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. It is expected to be operational later this year in Djibouti and Uganda. The U.S. is also supporting police development programs for national police in Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia. While not specifically counterterrorism focused, these programs are introducing essential skills-based learning and problem-solving techniques to build the capacity of East African police forces to detect and investigate all manner of crime, including terrorist incidents. We are also funding forensic laboratory development programs in Tanzania and Uganda, designed to build the capacity to analyze evidence collected at crime scenes.
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. Many of the short- and medium-term programs are in place and working. Longer-term strategies to address the factors that create an environment more conducive for terrorism -- poverty, intolerance, political alienation, and corruption -- are being formulated and will require support not only from our African partners but from other international partners as well. It is essential that the global community pay attention to development issues and to public outreach. In this fashion, the U.S. Agency for International Development has designed and implemented programs to reach out to Muslim schools and offer support, materials, and training. U.S. Department of State Public Diplomacy programs offer opportunities for discussions, conferences, seminars, and travel by selected policy-makers, and opinion leaders 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 terror.
The U.S. delegation and others are here to work together with the African nations to fight terrorism. We want to listen to you, to hear about your ideas and experiences, and to take away your suggestions for improving our cooperation. We are looking for African solutions to problems that affect not only Africans, but the entire international community.
In conclusion, let me say again how honored I am to be in Uganda. I would like to thank you all for taking the time to come together to participate in this East Africa Counterterrorism Conference and to focus on this terribly important issue. I would also like to thank the Ugandan Government and people for hosting such an important and critical effort. We are making substantial progress toward eradicating the terrorist threat in Africa, but it is a long, tough road. We cannot afford to falter. Our adversaries are committed for the long term. The global community is equally committed to helping African nations defend themselves against attack. We thank you for your support in the fight against terrorism, and we look forward to a long-lasting partnership in this common cause.
Released on April 22, 2004