Release of the Country Reports on Terrorism 2007Dell L. Dailey, Coordinator of the Office for Counterterrorism
Russ Travers, Deputy Director of the National Counterterrorism Center; Gonzo Gallegos, Director, Office of Press Relations
April 30, 2008
MR. GALLEGOS: Good morning, everybody. I appreciate your attendance. Today we have the Coordinator for the Office for Counterterrorism Dell L. Dailey, and the Deputy Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Russ Travers. First, Mr. Dailey will be doing a brief presentation. Mr. Travers will follow. And then after that, we'll be open for questions from you all. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Good morning. Thank you for attending this briefing. Besides meeting Congressional requirements, the 2007 edition of the Country Reports on Terrorism aims to inform, to stimulate constructive debate, and to enhance our collective understanding of the international terrorist threat. The Country Reports should serve as a reference tool to inform policymakers, the American public, and our international partners about our efforts, progress and challenges in the war on terror.
The 2007 Report begins with a strategic overview to illustrate trends. We note some positives. First, working with allies and partners across the world, we created a less permissive operating environment for terrorists, kept leaders on the move or in hiding, and degraded their ability to plan and mount attacks. Dozens of countries have passed new legislation or strengthened preexisting laws that provide law enforcement and judicial authorities with new tools to bring terrorists to justice.
We saw several 2007 plots disrupted in Europe that could have resulted in serious loss of life. In June, terrorists attempted attacks in London, and a day later, terrorists drove a burning car into the Glasgow Airport. A total of 70 individuals, including two suspected perpetrators in Glasgow, were arrested in connection with these attacks. In Germany, a major terrorist plot was disrupted in September with the arrest of two ethnic Germans and a Turkish citizen resident. The plotters, who German officials said were connected to the Islamic Jihad Group, had acquired large amounts of hydrogen peroxide for possible use in multiple car attacks.
Also in September, Danish police arrested eight alleged militant Islamists in Copenhagen with al-Qaida links on suspicion of their preparing explosives for use in a terrorist attack. In Southeast Asia, there have been no new major Jemaah Islamiya attacks in the region in over a year. In January 2007, we confirmed that the Abu Sayyaf Group's nominal leader, Khadaffy Janjalani, was killed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as was the Abu Sayyaf Group's spokesperson Abu Solaiman.
Indonesian police broke up the Jemaah Islamiya cells in Sulawesi and in Central Java. The Iraqi Government, in coordination with coalition forces, made significant progress in combating al-Qaida in Iraq, AQI, and affiliated terrorist organizations. The Baghdad Security Plan initiated in February with assistance from local citizens, has succeeded in reducing violence to late 2005 levels. It has disrupted and diminished AQI infrastructure, and driven some surviving AQI fighters from Baghdad and the Al Anbar province into northern Iraqi provinces. While AQI remained a threat, there was a noticeable reduction in the number of security incidents throughout much of Iraq, including the decrease in civilian casualties, enemy attacks, and improvised explosive device attacks in the last quarter of the year.
In Colombia, the Uribe administration worked to defeat and demobilize Colombia's terrorist groups through its powerful democratic security policy, which combines military, intelligence and police operations, efforts to demobilize combatants, and the provision of public services in rural areas. While the FARC continued to operate and control territory mostly in the more remote areas of the country, its capabilities have been reduced.
Mauritania's successful transition to a democratic governance in 2007 represented a significant victory for counterterrorism efforts in West Africa and an important victory against efforts to weaken governance and impose radical ideology on a traditionally moderate population. Mauritania took strong stands in the face of multiple attacks from al-Qaida in the -- from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, called AQIM, in 2007, working with regional partners to apprehend terrorists and improving its capacity to defeat terrorists and efforts to use its territory to launch attacks and establish terrorist safe havens.
Challenges remain, however. Despite the efforts of both Afghan and Pakistani security forces, instability, coupled with Islamabad-brokered ceasefire agreement in effect for the first half of 2007 along the Pakistani border, provide al-Qaida leadership with the ability to conduct training and operational planning, particularly that targeting Western Europe and U.S. -- and the United States. Numerous senior AQ operatives were captured or killed, but AQ leaders continued to plot attacks and cultivate stronger operational connections that radiate outward from Pakistan to affiliates throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
Al-Qaida. Core elements of al-Qaida are adaptable and resilient, and al-Qaida and its associated networks remain our greatest terrorist threat to the United States and its partners. By making use of local cells, terrorists have been able to sidestep many of our border and transportation security measures. During the reporting period, terrorist attacks around the world, which include incidents in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen resulted in more than 3,200 noncombatant deaths, 6,000 injured, and 300 kidnapped. The importance of these numbers is that they were mostly Muslims.
AQ's increase in its propaganda efforts seeking to "inspire" support in Muslim populations undermine Western confidence and create a perception of a worldwide movement more powerful than it actually is. Terrorists consider information operations a principal part of their effort. Use of the internet for propaganda, recruiting, fundraising, and increasingly, for training, has made the internet a "virtual safe haven."
2007 was marked with the affiliation of regional insurgent groups with al-Qaida. We note, in particular, the growing threat in North Africa posed by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, which was known as a Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, GSPC, prior to its September '06 merger with al-Qaida. April '07, AQIM launched suicide attacks for the first time and vowed to use them as a primary tactic against their enemies. The near-simultaneous December 11 bombings of the Algerian Constitutional Council and the UN headquarters in Algiers underline a substantial shift in strategy. The attack on UN headquarters underline that AQIM now considers foreign interests to be attractive targets.
We note that AQIM's consistently changing profile through 2007. For example, the August 8 suicide bomber was a 15-year-old boy, the youngest suicide bomber in the history of Algeria, while a suicide bomber who struck the UN headquarters on December 11th was a 64-year-old man in the advanced stages of cancer, potentially the oldest.
Counter-radicalization is a key policy priority for the United States, particularly in Europe, given the potential for Europe-based violent extremism to threaten our European partners and the United States. The leaders of al-Qaida and its affiliates are extremely interested in recruiting terrorists from and deploying terrorists to Europe, people familiar with our Western cultures that can travel freely.
AQ exploits the frustration of many Muslims around the world whose grievances are often legitimate. Terrorists seek to convert alienated or aggrieved populations by stages to increasingly radicalize and provide the extremist viewpoints, turning them into sympathizers, supporters, and ultimately, in some cases, members of terrorist networks. In some regions, this includes efforts by AQ and other terrorists to exploit insurgency and communal conflict as radicalization and recruitment tools to their benefit and using the internet to convey their message.
Countering radicalization demands that we treat immigrant and youth populations not as a source of threat to be defended against, but as a target of enemy subversion to be protected and supported. It requires community leaders to take responsibility for actions of members within their communities and to counteract extremist propaganda and subversion. The terrorist message of hate and death holds no promise for anyone's future.
State sponsors of terrorism. The report features a chapter on state sponsors of terrorism, which include Iran, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, and North Korea. What causes the greatest concern about our state sponsorship is a state sponsor that directs WMD resources to the terrorists or one that which enables resources to be clandestinely diverted. This may pose a potentially grave WMD terrorist threat.
It will come as no surprise to hear that Iran remained the most significant state sponsor of terrorism. Iran provides aid to Palestinian terrorist groups, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraq-based militants, and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Despite its pledge to support the stabilization of Iraq, Iranian authorities continue to provide lethal support, including weapons, training, funding and guidance, to some Iraqi militant groups that target coalition and Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians. In this way, Iranian Government forces have been responsible for attacks on coalition forces.
Since 2006, Iran has arranged a number of shipments of small arms and associated ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107-millimeter rockets, and plastic explosives, possibly including man-portable air defense systems, MANPADs, to the Taliban.
Syria, another state sponsor of terrorism, both directly and in coordination with Iran and Hezbollah, continued to undermine the elected Government of Lebanon and remained a serious security threat. Foreign terrorists continue to transit Syria en route to and from Iraq. Despite acknowledged reductions in foreign fighter flow, the scope of the problem remained large. According to the December Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq Report to Congress, nearly 90 percent of all foreign terrorists known to be in Iraq have used Syria as an entry point. The Syrian Government could do more to stop known terror networks and foreign fighter facilitations from operating within its borders.
Terrorist safe havens and the concept, regional strategic initiative. The Report also includes a discussion of terrorist safe havens. We consider the terrorist safe haven to be ungoverned, under-governed, or ill-governed areas of a country and non-physical areas where terrorists that constitute a threat to the U.S. national security interest are able to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train and operate in relative security because of inadequate governance capacity, political will or both. This varies slightly from the intelligence community use of the term because we include the consideration of political will in capacity of host countries.
Remote areas of the Sahel and Maghreb regions in Africa serve as terrorist safe havens because of little government control in sparsely populated regions. Portions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, FATA, in the northwest province area of Pakistan have become a safe haven for al-Qaida terrorists, Afghan insurgents, and other extremists. Southeast Asia includes a safe haven composed of the Sulawesi Sea and Sula Archipelago, which sit astride the maritime boundary between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. A number of al-Qaida operatives remain in East Africa, particularly Somalia, where they pose a serious threat to the United States and allied interests in the region. Although these elements have been somewhat disrupted as a result of Ethiopian and Somalian Transitional Federal Government military actions, they continue to operate in Somalia and elsewhere in East Africa.
Since 2006, we’ve been working on the Regional Strategic Initiative, or RSI, in an effort to develop flexible regional networks. We work with our Ambassadors and interagency representatives in key transit areas of operation to assist the – to identify the threat and to devise collaborative strategies, action plans, and policy recommendations. The RSI teams use all tools of statecraft in this effort.
Our toolkit to counterterrorism includes the Antiterrorism Assistance Program which provides partner nations and countries with training, equipment and technology needed to increase their capabilities to find and arrest terrorists, the designation of terrorist organizations, and individuals in an effort to block terrorist funding, and also counterterrorist finance training. A key component of our efforts to address the conditions that terrorists exploit for recruitment and ideological purposes are the USG assistance programs administered through USAID, the Middle East Partnership Initiative, Millennium Challenge Corporation, and other U.S. entities, which increase access to education, improve health care, and focus on democratic and economic reform. All these tools and more are explained, in detail, in Chapter 5.
Regional overviews and country reports. You’ll find in the Report, as in past years, regional overviews and reports on the terrorist situation in individual countries. We note progress and lack of progress where appropriate. Examples include: Afghanistan remained threatened by Taliban and other insurgent groups and criminal gangs, some of whom who are linked to al-Qaida and terrorist sponsorship outside the country. Taliban insurgents murdered local leaders and attacked Pakistani Government outposts in the FATA. Nonetheless, the Government of Afghanistan continued to strengthen its national institutions, and polls indicated the majority of Afghans believe that they are better off now than they were under the Taliban.
The Government of Saudi Arabia confronted terrorism and extremist ideologies with varying degrees of success. The country suffered two high-profile terrorist incidents: the shooting of four French citizens and the violent murder of a high-ranking Saudi general -- excuse me, colonel. Saudi officials acknowledge that the long-term solution must include an effective campaign to delegitimize the extremist ideology that underpins support of the terrorism. The government continued its extensive prisoner rehabilitation program aimed at undermining detainees’ adherence to extremist ideology. More than a thousand Saudis have completed this program. The U.S. Government is following the progress of the program closely to both understand it and to monitor rates of recidivism.
In Lebanon, a campaign of domestic political violence continued. Most notable were the June 13, September 19 and September 12 car-bombing assassinations of Walid Eido, Antoine Ghanem and General Francois al-Haj, respectively.
In May 2007, Venezuela was recertified as not fully cooperating with U.S. antiterrorism efforts under Section 40-alpha of the Arms Export and Control Act.
Despite U.S. pressure, Yemen continued to implement a surrender program with lenient requirements for terrorists it concluded it could not apprehend using traditional law enforcement means. The Yemeni justice system was also less effective. The courts did not set dates for trials of suspects involved in the two September ’06 al-Qaida-orchestrated attacks on oil facilities in eastern Yemen. Finally, they released, pending their appeals, several subjects wanted by the United States for acts of terrorism.
Let me summarize, first of all, that we will not prevail against terrorism without embracing a holistic approach such as that employed by the Regional Strategic Initiative. Over time, our global and regional cooperative efforts will reduce terrorists’ capacity to harm us and our partners, while local security and development assistance will build up partners’ capacity. If we are to be successful, we must work together with our growing networks of partners towards our common goal in a strategic and coordinated manner to overwhelmingly defeat this terrorist compelling challenge.
Thank you for the opportunity to share our ideas and thoughts with you. I’ll take questions after Russ Travers has had a chance to talk about methodology and the numbers. Thank you.
MR. TRAVERS: Thanks, Dell. Good morning. One of the responsibilities of the National Counterterrorism Center is to compile and maintain a database of terrorist incidents. We then draw from that database and support the Country Reports. And what I’m going to do is give you a very high-level overview. The -- all of the briefing boards are being distributed to you now.
I would encourage you to take a look at the NCTC.gov website. It provides the methodology we use. It actually has all of the incidents, the 14,000 or so, that are out there, as well as charts and graphs and background material in an effort to be as transparent as possible.
A quick word about methodology. Several years ago, we shifted away from the methodology you see on the left-hand side for international terrorism. Our judgment was that that was simply too narrow. You can see an underlying phrase there that talks about the requirement for individuals from two or more countries to be involved. That led to excluding events that, in our view, were clearly terrorism. And so we shifted about three and a half years ago to using that much broader statutory definition of terrorism. Three components: It has to be premeditated, politically motivated, directed against noncombatants. That is an incredibly broad definition.
The upshot has been that we’ve moved from counting several hundred incidents each year to well in excess of 10,000. And we have used that for the last three years, and that allows for year-to-year comparability.
Here you see that the global aggregates for 2005, ‘6 and ‘7. If you look from 2006 to 2007, we are essentially flat in terms of the number of incidents; fatalities are up; total victims -- fatalities, injuries and hostages -- are actually down. Really, the important point of the two bullets are down at the bottom. There is no question that tracking trends, cataloging this data, can be invaluable for a whole host of issues associated with the analysis of terrorism, but that second point is critical. In an aggregate count, we’re talking about different groups with different agendas, and as a result, our view, I think academics’ view, is that the aggregate totals are simply not a particularly useful metric for measuring success in the war on terror. You really have to disaggregate, so that’s what we’ll do now is we’ll peel it back a little bit.
Here you see a region-by-region breakout. I guess three points that you should take away from here. First, terrorism is a tactic. It’s used by different groups all over the world. Second point, the vast majority of attacks in 2007, as has been the case in previous years, are found in the Near East and South Asia. Essentially, 80 percent of the global attacks were in Near East and South Asia last year.
At a global level, as I mentioned, the incidents are essentially unchanged. You do see a growth, lower left-hand corner, in Africa. That was almost entirely in Somalia. And you do see a growth in East Asia. That was almost entirely as a result of the insurgency in Thailand. You do see slight declines in all the other regions of the world.
Disaggregated a little bit further, and look -- focus specifically on Iraq. As in previous years, roughly half of the global attacks, roughly 60 percent of the total fatalities, occurred in Iraq. The upper left-hand chart gives you total attacks and total fatalities over the last three years. You may recall from last year that there was a substantial jump from ’05 to ’06; ’06 to ’07 relatively constant; but here again, aggregate numbers don’t really tell the story. You have to look at that graph in the lower right-hand side, and what you see is -- you saw a precipitous decline in attacks and fatalities over the course of the year, so sort of a quarter-by-quarter analysis.
And here’s the rest of the world with Iraq numbers backed out of the equation, and what you see is kind of mixed picture. On the good news front, as Ambassador Dailey indicated, there’s been a substantial decline in FARC attacks in Colombia, roughly 50 percent over the course of the year. In the Middle East, we saw very few attacks in Saudi Arabia, in Jordan, in Egypt. I believe we cataloged one event in Saudi Arabia for all of last year. And there were also declines in India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
On the less favorable side, we saw approximately a 50 percent increase in Thailand and we saw a 100 percent increase in Pakistan. There were also more attacks in both Afghanistan and Somalia. And as you can see, in Africa, there was a growth in lethality of attacks. I would highlight Algeria in particular, in which after the merger, attacks actually declined; however, the number of fatalities increased substantially as a result of the AQIM. On net, a growth in attacks and fatalities in the rest of the world.
And the last briefing board, just a word about the attacks and the toll associated with them. I mentioned increased lethality. Algeria was one case. Pakistan is another. As I said, the number of attacks in Pakistan basically doubled, the number of fatalities essentially quadrupled, primarily in northwestern parts.
Part of that has to do with that upper left-hand graph. Suicide attacks around the world were up about 50 percent from ’06 to ’07. And we also see, as you can see in the lower right-hand side, a growth in the number of attacks in which more than ten or more people were killed. That was also up.
A word about the human toll. Beyond the gross numbers, as in previous years, police officers were hit particularly hard. Last year, almost 9,400 police officers were injured or killed. We also saw a growth in the number of attacks in schools, and many of them against girls’ schools by Islamic extremists: 300 attacks, killing or wounding 180 teachers and almost 800 students. We also have reporting indicating upwards of 2,400 children were killed. The number is undoubtedly far higher, but that’s what we can document.
You got recent al-Qaida leadership statements that they don’t kill or attack civilians. We drew only on al-Qaida-affiliated claimed attacks, and we find that those attacks killed our wounded something like 5,400 civilians at markets, at funeral processions and so forth. That number also is much higher, but these are only attacks that al-Qaida-affiliated groups claimed responsibility for.
And more generally, Muslims were hit particularly hard. As in previous years, well over 50 percent of the global people killed and wounded were Muslim. And again, mosques also hit hard. Something like a hundred mosques were attacked last year.
That’s a very high-level overview. As I said, all of the supporting data is out there on our NCTC.gov website. And we can answer any questions.
QUESTION: I have a quick clarification.
MR. TRAVERS: Please.
QUESTION: You said that there were 50 percent more attacks in Pakistan this year than last year?
MR. TRAVERS: Attacks doubled in Pakistan from ’06 to ’07, quadrupled in terms of fatalities and injuries.
QUESTION: Is there any change regarding who is behind these attacks in your data?
MR. TRAVERS: I’m sorry, ma’am?
QUESTION: Who is behind these all attacks in your data? Did you mention anything about it?
MR. TRAVERS: If we have reporting, if an organization claims responsibility or -- again, this is all open source data -- if there’s an allegation that an entity is responsible, then we catalog it accordingly in the database. We work a great deal with academics to maintain as pure a dataset as we can, and they have asked us only to include data that we can document.
We will be moving over the course of the next year to allow analyst judgment, but I think for all intents and purposes, probably 70 percent of the attacks in the database do not have a responsible party associated with them.
QUESTION: Sir, FATA has been always there and the training camps and terrorism and al-Qaida were always there and they were all getting training and sending terrorism – terrorists from that area. Secondly, FATA has become a subject -- are in the news now. So what are you going to do to flush out all of those training camps and terrorism in the part of Pakistan’s FATA or with the new government, as far as this Report is concerned or beyond?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: The Pakistani new government has made it very clear that they’re going to, as a priority, go after extremism and security. And I think you’ll see in Prime Minister Gillani’s statement in the news today that he reinforces that. He will not take military actions off the – off the table, but he will try peacefully, and the government will try peacefully, through economic development, social development and also the potential for military activity, to try and reunite FATA with the mainstream Pakistanis. We want to let the Pakistani Government do its – the new government to do its best in democracy and good governance.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up – I’m sorry.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Yes, ma’am?
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that issue? Are you afraid that this kind of agreement that the government is forging with the rebels in the area could hamper your – the United States’ counterterrorism efforts in the region, that it might curtail flights, that it might, you know, stop you from doing what you need to do? Because obviously, you had very good cooperation with the Musharraf government, which – and President Musharraf certainly doesn’t seem to have the influence on these issues they way he used to.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: We’ll be working with the Pakistanis and the FATA in this economic and development plan. So, it’s not necessarily a single U.S. effort that’s taking place there. We want to see what they conclude with in that particular agreement. Two areas we would like to see no movement would be a curtailment and stopping of any type of extremist activities inside that area. And the second is, we don’t want them to be able to extend out of Pakistan to Afghanistan, Europe, United States and those areas. So we think that the -- we’re not completely – aware of all aspects of the treaty, but we’d like to make sure those two areas are enforced inside the treaty parameters.
QUESTION: Dell, a couple of – well, one question and a corollary. What do you make of al-Qaida’s resurgence in North Africa, the fact that they’ve established bases so close to Europe now? And of the corollary: Compared to 9/11, is al-Qaida stronger now or weaker?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: We think al-Qaida is weaker now than it was at the 9/11 timeframe. There are a lot of things that have taken place since 9/11. I mentioned in here the countries have implemented counterterrorism legislation. There’s been an international multilateral effort to stem terrorism through the UN and through other multilateral organizations. We think that all of those tools, along with capacity-building, along with awareness that other countries may be vulnerable to some of the al-Qaida extremism themselves. This greater understanding of the threat has allowed a momentum to be developed that allows al-Qaida to be fundamentally disaggregated by its international reach. And now the only thing it can really do international is by its media propaganda. Everything else is regionalized.
And now, I'd take you to the second portion of your question, Charlie. The GSPC was kind of on the down, al-Qaida was on the downswing. They linked up, giving some international flavor to the GSPC, and they have stolen the GSPC’s actions and desires because now they are fulfilling al-Qaida desires. And that’s best evidenced by destroying or blowing the bomb up at the UN headquarters. GSPC hadn’t done that previously. So, we see al-Qaida co-opting its regional partners to its advantage and to, possibly, the disadvantage of the regional partner.
QUESTION: And the fact that they’re close to Europe now, those bases --
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Explain that again.
QUESTION: The fact that the bases in North Africa are geographically closer to Europe now, is that troubling?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Bases anywhere are troubling. The fact that they’re there, and, I would say, in that kind of safe haven environment, we’re not sure if they’re actual hard and fast bases. I think the governments have a pretty good handle on keeping an aggressive manner both militarily and – this was Algeria – militarily and politically to keep them curtailed. This is probably an expectation of some type of outgrowth from the GSPC.
QUESTION: What’s the country that you see as the – having the highest number of terrorist incidents? And what percentage of your total calculations of the number of incidents take place in Iraq?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Russ?
MR. TRAVERS: We’ve had a chance now to invite each of us to the podium. Total numbers; Iraq undoubtedly constitute the highest numbers both in terms of attacks and fatalities. Other key countries you want? Or what are you looking for?
QUESTION: Could you give us some idea of a percentage of those attacks that take place in Iraq rather than in the rest of the world? I mean, are there more attacks, for example, in Iraq than everywhere else put together? Or is there some kind of number you – or percentage or ideas that --
MR. TRAVERS: We can pull the numbers. I’ll get them for you. Just stop by at the end and I’ll get the exact numbers for you.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Yes, ma’am?
QUESTION: What kind of evidence does the U.S. Government has supporting these claims that there is no custom enforcement at the Venezuelan airport, especially on flights between (inaudible) and Caracas?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: I’m going to have to have Rhonda help you get an answer of that. That’s a bit more technical and a bit more specific than I can respond to right here. We’ll take that and pursue it at a later date.
QUESTION: Thank you. Two questions. First one, how do you evaluate the anti-terrorism situation in China, particularly when the Beijing Olympics is coming? And secondly, how will the United States work with China to secure the Beijing Olympics? What assistance the United State will provide? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: The Chinese have identified and there's been some recent resurgence of the ETIM, East Turkistan Islamic Movement. It has got some potential to affect Pakistan and Afghanistan, so we’re particularly interested in that terrorist threat.
In dealing with regards to the Olympics, we’ll work very closely with China. The – like many other countries, we’ll have our team there. The Chinese are very adamant that they’ll be able to take care of all of the events that take place there. We’re working very closely with them, with our law enforcement individuals out of the Embassy to ensure good communication and good flow of information. We’re pretty comfortable that in the Peking Olympics that the Chinese are confident and have adequate resources to accomplish their mission.
QUESTION: What about Cuba? Why Cuba is still on this list since there was no act of terrorism for years and years? And the Report mentions the lack of extradition of a terror suspect, but Cuba is not the only country in the world not to extradite. And the others are not on this list.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Cuba has their internal law number 93, which has got some counterterrorism legislation and measures that they don’t implement, that they don’t enforce. They do have over 70 refugees or fugitives, I think, in the – from the United States. But most importantly, they provide safe haven to the FARC, the ETA, and the ELN. That’s why it stayed on the state sponsorship list.
QUESTION: One more, a follow-up?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Yes, ma’am – or, yes, sir.
QUESTION: Can you give us some more information about European region and former Soviet states? It seems the situation quite normal there.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Can I give you – can I give you more information on European --
QUESTION: Yes, more information about the European region and the former Soviet states.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: The European region, as I discussed earlier, has considerable activity in the terrorist region. And they are well suited to handle it, and have shown in the past their intelligence services and their law enforcement and their legislation and their terrorist financing tools are capable of doing that.
Eastern European, maybe not quite as – as mature as we like, but they are capacity-building through programs with the United States and with our embassies. And they have a positive attitude to not let themselves become either a safe haven or a target for terrorism.
QUESTION: Yeah, on the – it’s a follow-up and also on the Western Hemisphere. Do you see any change or do you forecast any change because of all the political changes in the last year in the Western Hemisphere? And also, do you see any difference in the – Cuba’s behavior after the change in government there?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: We’ll take the second one first. There’s been no change in the terrorism – counterterrorism aspect of Cuba since the change of government. With regards to the Western Hemisphere, it is a – because of people who have perceived and real grievances, it could potentially become a target area for terrorist organizations to use. We have not seen – let me rephrase that -- I think there is anecdotal information of individuals coming from Europe or Middle East through and into the Western Hemisphere, but not all the way up to the United States in a trafficking mode.
QUESTION: Ambassador Dailey, I want to ask you a question about Saudi Arabia. The Report seems fairly pointedly worded when it comes to Saudi Arabia. You mentioned that they had some mixed successes. But can you reconcile that with comments from top Administration officials such as Stuart Levey at the Treasury Department, who said that they continue to have serious problems in enforcing their own laws and implementing significant reform measures?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Saudi is a pretty complex country. It’s got the -- all the challenges of internal terrorism and also, unfortunately, a potential for external terrorism. Collectively, the U.S. Government is working with them in all different types of area -- Treasury, Justice, State, militarily, Interior, a lot of successes.
What we like the most about the Saudi Arabians is what I mentioned in my report, is that they realize that they are under the gun; al-Qaida has chosen them as one of the apostate countries, however they prefer to define it. The Saudi Arabians have realized that they now are a target. And most importantly, with their internal de-radicalization programs, the thing that I mentioned to you before, they treat the individual as a victim, not necessarily as a culprit. And that’s consistent with their culture. That’s consistent with the program they have in place that is being well resourced and will extend for quite a while.
So, in some areas, there is great success in Saudi Arabia. In some areas, there is not necessarily great success. They’re still partners, they’re still on the team, and they’re still helping us.
QUESTION: On Venezuela, could you expand a little bit more on what you think Hugo Chavez is up to? I mean, last year, there was some talk about possibly, would Venezuela be put on the list. Do you think that they’re moving -- on the state sponsor of terrorism list. When you talk about deepening ties with Iran, deepening ties with Cuba, cooperation with the FARC, do you think of Venezuela is moving in the direction of being a state sponsor of terrorism?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Venezuela was on the not fully cooperating list in ’06. They’ll be on the same not fully cooperating list in ’07.
QUESTION: But I mean --
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: We won’t speculate about whether it could possibly be on the state sponsorship list.
QUESTION: But I mean, it seems like it’s very concerning -- I mean, it seems like it’s a very concerning trend. Forget about not cooperating with efforts; it seems that it’s the total antithesis of that, or that they’re actually supporting terrorism.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: When we see enough indications that that’s the case, we would consider moving them off of the fully cooperating -- or keeping them on the not fully cooperating and moving towards state sponsorship. We don’t see all that right now.
QUESTION: Can you just -- I’m sorry, just to push you a little bit. Could you expand on your concerns about what they’re up to with this cooperation with the FARC, deepening with Iran? What do you think is going on here?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: We are concerned about it. We’re watching it very carefully. But I don’t -- prefer not to speculate on Venezuela and what’s actually our speculation and not good, solid information on that.
Yes, sir. Eric.
QUESTION: Ambassador Dailey, can you say why you might have any more confidence that this agreement that the Pakistani Government is negotiating with militants – why even more confidence this agreement will work as where others have failed in the past?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: This has gotten an awful lot of attention from the United States, the one reason. The second reason, they’ve just got a new government in. And if you look at what was elected and who were elected in particular spots, you’ll see in the FATA area where the MMA was before, the 45 seats they had in the parliament, they lost them all but five. A prominent Taliban individual in the FATA area lost his seat; that this government has a chance to really move forward in its own security internally.
So we think that this treaty lays the groundwork for them to be successful in that area, keeping in line that military may be a part of the tool and keeping in line that the foundation has to be a political resolution in the long run. Couple that with the economic and the social development plan and the military development plan that the United States is funding at a tune of $150 million a year for the next five years, and a large amount of money from the Pakistanis.
We think that all the tools are in place for this treaty to have the -- a successful outcome. They certainly know the United States is watching it and will articulate our concerns if it turns out to be not as successful as the one in the past.
QUESTION: Do you have any written proof that proves any relationship between the Ecuadorian Government and the FARC? And also, I would like to know why are you waiting for -- to include Venezuela in the list that supports terrorists if you -- looks like have, you know, proofs.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Let me answer the first one. I think there is a connection because, whether Ecuador liked it or not, Raul Reyes and his folks were killed in their territory. So Ecuador is not securing its borders as we’d like. They’ve got 14 posts and they’ve had, I think, 40-some ambushes or attacks in that area. But the connection is they’ve been using their terrain.
What was your second question?
QUESTION: Why are you waiting for to include Venezuela in the list of the countries that support terrorists? And I ask you this because it looks like you have enough proofs.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: At this point, we don’t think we have enough proof. As we -- as indicators present themselves, we’ll take a look at it and analyze it and compare it; and if we think it’s appropriate, then we will move them towards a state sponsor of terrorism. But we’re not there yet.
Yes, ma’am, in the red outfit, please.
QUESTION: I’d like to ask about North Korea. The U.S. recently revealed the evidence of North Korea cooperating with Syria in building nuclear reactors. Nuclear technology transfer is separate from state sponsor of terrorism? That’s the one.
And the second one is how is it going to affect the United States negotiation with the North Korea in terms of taking them off the list?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: We have been looking at, in accordance with the six-party talks, of taking North Korea off of the state sponsorship list. It has several key parts to it. The first is the President needs to notify and get -- notify the Congress. The second is we have to do a hard and fast intelligence analysis of the previous six months to ensure they haven’t conducted any international terrorism. The third is the -- they need -- they, meaning the North Koreans, need to provide -- or other countries coming off of the list -- need to provide the United States a detailed assurance in key areas that they will not engage in terrorism.
Now, that assurance has not come back from DPRK yet. So that’s where we’re at in the process. As we go through this process, proliferation and support in Lebanon* with regards to construction has presented itself. We’re looking very carefully at those situations with our intelligence analysts to ensure we’ve got the right information as to whether those are valid or not. We’re not certain yet that that is valid information. Some of it is unfolding as we speak.
QUESTION: Can I just ask you about trend lines? Could you outline us with regard to Iran’s support for terror in Iraq, the trend line that you saw throughout 2007? Did you see that it intensified throughout the year?
And then, again, in Afghanistan, how did you see the trend line for al-Qaida? Is that strengthening throughout 2007?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: I’ll have to get back to you on trend lines for the al-Qaida -- correction, for Iran and Iraq. It was very disturbing to the coalition leadership, I’d say, four or five months ago. I have not pursued exactly what it is now, so I probably can’t answer that. But we’ll owe you an answer, if you get with Rhonda Shore.
And the second one was --
QUESTION: With regard to the al-Qaida strength in Afghanistan, again, the trend line (inaudible) 2007.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Be careful in Afghanistan. That’s al-Qaida/Taliban. And my visit, which was a -- is a little dated to Afghanistan was that the aggressive activity of coalition forces there has generated more contacts and generated more opportunities for casualties and encounters. So you be careful about trend lines because it may be intentionally generated by one body to the other that may end up being misleading. But let me pay you back on that also as to exactly what trend lines are taking place in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Yeah, I’d like to follow up on Eric’s earlier question. As far as the -- there’s a huge increase in number of attacks and casualties in Pakistan. Is that directly related to the so-called peace agreement with the Musharraf government or indirectly related?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: I can’t say. I don’t know.
QUESTION: I have a question about Nepal. You’ve got a Maoist movement there that’s designated as a terrorist organization that’s now basically formed a democratic government. Is there a sense how the U.S. wants to deal with a situation like this one?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Well, in any terrorist organization or any terrorist situation, if there is a way for reconciliation legally and lawfully through the political system, obviously, we prefer that. And there are places where that’s taking place already. It is taking place in Nepal, although it’s had some ups and downs. But we prefer a legitimate reconciliation and reintegration politically long before we go after and try and do a coordinated, integrated, with host nation military action.
QUESTION: I was wondering if you can talk a little bit more about the aid that Iran and Hezbollah are providing to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and in terms of that being a traditionally secular nationalist movement, and whether you’re seeing, really, that the ideological and organizational lines are being blurred between the different Palestinian groups or whether you see that there still are, you know, distinctions in how they’re operating?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: We see no distinction in how they’re operating, that they’re still going to be as -- what’s the right word? -- parochially defined now. We expect to see that take place in the future -- parochially, in that they’ve got their own motivations and desires and animosities. So, we don’t see any change.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Looking at the numbers, it appears that deaths and injuries increased, if you take out kidnappings, in the data over 2006. Can you provide us any sort of explanation as to why you feel those numbers have gone up so dramatically?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: I’ll let Russ answer, but let me give you one angle, if I may. Suicide bombing is the, I would say, tool of choice that’s becoming more and more prevalent in the terrorist business. And it can be pretty accurate and pretty effective so long as the suicide bomber is prepared to give his life. So I would submit to you that the numbers are increasing because those -- that tool has been the asymmetric tool for folks to employ.
Russ, do you want to answer a little bit, too?
MR. TRAVERS: Yeah, I think that’s right. And even within the category of suicide bombings, you see, as we get better at preparing defenses, the suicide bombers move from vehicle-borne to just backpacks, and so they can use that to evade security protocols. I think it’s a fair statement that around the globe, people are getting increasingly efficient at killing other people. We see that in many different regions -- as I said, southern Thailand, that insurgency is up substantially, as is Somalia. Actually, very little of that was suicide bombers. It was just bombings and normal kinds of attacks on people.
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Yes, ma’am.
QUESTION: On Pakistan, just to clarify, what are you attributing this doubling of attacks and quadrupling of fatalities? What is the main reason that that has happened?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: I think there is a deliberate effort in the FATA, where the -- there’s a bit less governmental control for them to reach out and go after mainstream Pakistan. And I think that’s why they’ve increased, is that previously, they stayed in the FATA area and did their activities amongst themselves in that region. But there has been by Mehsud, Baitullah Mehsud, an effort to kind of take on and go after the Pakistan Government.
QUESTION: You mentioned Raul Reyes’ attack. There were some computers found there also. How critical are those, the contents of those computers, in doing the assessment of the relationship between the Venezuelan Government and the FARC, or the Ecuadorian Government and the FARC?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: I don’t know what’s on them, but I can be candid with you in the fact that exploitation of a location where computers come up will always provide something interesting, either from the immediate group right there or even some long shots that surprise us. That -- those laptops or hard drives are being looked at, I think, still by the Colombian Government, and I think they’ll be pretty revealing. It’ll be dependent on what they want to do with regards to releasing; but just like yourselves, if someone got your computer, you’d figure out -- someone would figure out real quick who you’re talking to, what you’re saying, and it can be pretty revealing. And we think -- I think -- I speculate that that might be pretty darn revealing.
QUESTION: Can I continue on Venezuela, please? You mentioned in the report these ties between Iran and Venezuela, and you cite these flights. But what other evidence do you have of the deepening ties, and do you think that these deepening ties are of a nature to support Iran’s terrorist activities? Do you have any evidence of that?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Like I said before, you know, I guess I would say the evidence is anecdotal; it’s not trend. I think we do have people having come through. I think there’s a transfer of funding with Iran and Venezuela in some related economic oil deals. I think there’s enough for us to be worthy of watching. I’m not confident what all the specifics are.
QUESTION: You mentioned that Iran was helping the Taliban, and you gave some specifics of that. Can you elaborate a little bit more on exactly how that’s happening and what you understand of that relationship to be? When Ayman Zawahiri spoke recently, he went into great detail about how al-Qaida hates Iran. So you -- is it now that the Taliban is getting help from two mortal enemies that are both terrorist groups?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: Yeah, I think it’s pretty shrewd by the Iranians to keep the pot stirred up on the Afghan side that’s got coalition forces fighting, particularly the United States, where there’s a Sunni-Shia difference of opinion. That’s fine; let’s keep sending arms over there to just keep the coalition forces, the United States in particular but probably others, embroiled and busy and distracted. Because the last thing I would suspect the Iranians want is a totally pacified Afghanistan with a U.S. base on their immediate eastern side.
QUESTION: But is it part of any strategic alliance or is it just sort of meddling?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: It’s prudent -- prudent meddling.
QUESTION: For North Korea to be de-listed, how much do they directly have to address the elements, the issues which are listed on this report, such as the returning of the Red Army or explaining about the abductees? How much do they have to do for the assessment?
AMBASSADOR DAILEY: I’m not -- I’ll be candid -- I’m not privy to what the assurances said, which was no future international terrorism activities. We would like them to resolve the abductee issue with Japan. We think that’s very important and we give them every opportunity and encourage them to do so. There is a forum to do that, the bilateral forum that was established in, I think, February of ’07. So we would encourage them to resolve that and others as much as they can. They are -- it’s important that Japan and Korea work out these type issues, because we think that shows good faith.
Yes, sir. Okay, I think that’s all. I need to turn it back over to the team here. And those IOUs, please get with Rhonda Shore here on your left-hand side.
Released on April 30, 2008