Counterterrorism Working GroupAmbassador Francis X. Taylor, Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Remarks to the Press
New Delhi, India
January 21, 2002
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Good evening.
Iíd like to open our briefing by thanking our Indian hosts, especially Joint Secretary Jayant Prasad for arranging the truly beneficial working visit for our delegation today.
Our meetings have been planned for over six months, since the last meeting of the Counterterrorism Working Group in Washington in June. Our last three meetings have established a concrete basis for future bilateral cooperation in the global war against terrorism.
Today we discussed the progress of the global campaign against terrorism, multilateral cooperations, cyberterorrism and domestic counterterrorism efforts. We also discussed the status of investigations into the September 11th and December 13th attacks on our countries and the Indian draft of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
My colleague in our delegation, Ambassador McNamara, briefed the Indian side on our efforts to achieve full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1373. My colleague, Ambassador John Craig of the NSC, briefed on our efforts to enhance homeland security as well as the new office for combating terrorism, in the National Security Council.
At our meetings for the first, tomorrow, for the first time the JWG will discuss ways our militaries can cooperate against terrorism. Today both sides exchanged elements for a cyberterrorism agenda to be taken up by representatives of our respective National Security Councils. Tomorrow I will also have a number of bilateral meetings with senior Indian government officials.
The heinous acts of September the 11th, October 1, and December the 13th are of course a backdrop to our visit here, but our cooperation against terrorism predates these attacks and is aimed at dealing with terrorism on a global scale. Our working group is solid evidence that the United States and India have transformed their bilateral relationship and are today working together on many fronts to defend our common interests.
With that, ladies and gentlemen, Iíll take your questions.
QUESTION: Suhasini Haider from CNN.
I just wanted to know, since early December the Indian government said theyíve arrested an al-Qaida suspect in Bombay who was planning attacks on New Delhi, in Australia, in London. Did that come up for discussion or did you have any sort of comment on that?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: We didnít have any specific discussions on ongoing investigations. I think you can appreciate the fact that our government and other members of the coalition are working worldwide against many al-Qaida suspects so the specifics of that case we did not discuss today. But there are ongoing efforts both here in India and around the world against al-Qaida and all of its elements.
QUESTION: Indrani Bagchi, Economic Times.
There was talk that you would be discussing cooperation on WMD terrorism and also cyberterrorism. Are these the new areas that you would be cooperating? And could you elaborate a little?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Certainly we had a discussion today on the outlines of, we meaning the JWG, a discussion on cyberterorrism. We agreed to several points that the Indian NSC and the U.S. NSC will have in a discussion later this year, probably in late February, that will discuss the specifics of exchanging our experiences on cyberterrorism and look to ways that we can cooperate in terms of how we could inform each other of events and how we could work together on this particular problem bilaterally between our two countries.
QUESTION: Hi, Jim Teeple of VOA.
Ambassador, what can you tell us about how the U.S. bases in Uzbekistan and the one in Kyrgystan are going to fit into this whole global fight, and I have a follow-up.
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I donít generally discuss military operations and how our military relations with countries will fit into the global fight except to say that weíve had general discussions by the Secretary of Defense on those issues and it would be inappropriate for me to go any further into those kinds of discussions.
VOA: That was it.
QUESTION: Iím Ranjit Kumar from the Navbharat Times.
The Government of India has submitted a list of 20 terrorists to Pakistan to be handed over to India. Did this come up for discussion during the meeting?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: We were provided a copy of the list of 20 suspects that had been provided through the government of Pakistan, and the Indian government has provided that list to I think our Secretary of State when he was here. So in that sense the list did come up.
Weíve encouraged both sides to exchange information on terrorist suspects to ensure that there is sufficient information for appropriate action to be taken, and we hope that when that information is available that the Pakistani government will follow through on its commitment to look very carefully at those individuals and the crimes theyíve committed and what would be the appropriate response.
QUESTION: Vishal Thapar from The Hindustan Times.
What were the specifics of your discussions on Kashmir? And what, is there any program for assistance in terms of training? And also equipment and maybe sharing of intelligence?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: We didnít specifically discuss Kashmir in the sense that our discussions are bilateral discussions about improving capability to handle terrorism and our global campaign. A part of that is our efforts to share training, to share experience, and a very big part of our relationship with India has been the training that weíve done on our antiterrorism assistance program which we will continue to do into the future. Iím sorry, the last part of your question, I --
QUESTION: Anything in terms of equipment or I should say sharing of intelligence, maybe ____ of the terrorist movement, the terrorist [camp].
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Certainly a key part of our overall global campaign, and India has been a very key part of that campaign from the beginning, has been law enforcement, intelligence, and intelligence in financial investigation and cooperation. While we didnít speak specifically about those areas today that has certainly been a part of our bilateral counterterrorism relationship and itís been strong and healthy and we anticipate that that will continue in the future.
QUESTION: Ambassador, a question here. Ranjan Gupta from CBS.
Itís a bit difficult to understand. You have good relations with Pakistan. You have good relations with India. You want to have intelligence sharing with India. How does this affect your relations with Pakistan? How are you working with both countries who are so hostile to each other and be even-handed too?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: The United States of America in this global campaign is working with lots of countries who have focused on one thing and that is ending the global threat of terrorism. And both India and Pakistan have committed themselves to that end, so we donít have in our view a problem working with both sides to ensure that we focus on what is the long term objective to this campaign and that is to end terrorism as a political tool thatís used around the world.
QUESTION: This is Rashmi Saxena from The Week Magazine.
Sir, I just wanted to know, coming back to this question of what you said about the list, that you do hope that both sides will provide more information to each other.
During your discussion did you outline, or both sides need to outline the sort of information that would be required in cases like this?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: We didnít get into the specifics of that. Clearly, cooperation means the exchange of information. As the Secretary mentioned while he was here, we hope that India and Pakistan will be able to share information on issues involving the global campaign against terrorism and through that sharing of information be able to discover the information thatís necessary to take the appropriate action on people who would use terror as a political tool.
QUESTION: I didnít mean only with India and Pakistan. What is the sort of information one country should provide another, even exchange?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Itís difficult to say, and thatís why in this campaign weíve talked extensively since September the 11th about the exchange of law enforcement information, the exchange of intelligence information. Sometimes itís that one tidbit of information that no one thought you needed that turns the case, if you will. So the more we exchange information about people and their movements, about their activities, their associations, the better our ability to use that information in concert with other information thatís available both in our country and around the world to ferret out terrorist suspects or terrorist cells who are operating around the world.
I think the government of Singapore used information that we were able to glean from evidence found in Afghanistan to identify a cell that was operating in Singapore not only against U.S. interests but against Singaporian interests.
The nature of terrorism in the world is such that this is a clandestine activity. They donít want to be discovered. They want to ply their evil work and not be discovered. And itís true, the exchange of information, law enforcement, intelligence, and financial information that allows us to see their activities before theyíre able to perpetrate the acts that they want to perpetrate and hopefully interdict them before they again kill 4,000 innocent people in one heinous and evil act.
QUESTION: Al Jazeera Satellite Channel
I would ask about, linked to my friendís, my colleagueís question about that you have good relation with Pakistan. At the same time about exchanging of information. Pakistanis are also friends with the U.S. Also freedom fighters for Kashmiri. And in India they say they are terrorists. What about U.S., how they look? How Indians can trust you in this exchanging information?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Our government is focused on one thing in this global campaign and that is to stamp out terrorism, and one can get into a definition of one manís terrorist, anotherís freedom fighter. Thatís a debate that people have.
Weíre focused on one thing. Weíre focused on ending the use of indiscriminate violence against innocent people for political purposes. Thatís what this global campaign is all about. I donít think anyone dare worry about trusting the United States of America and our commitment to that, and those who join our coalition and their commitment to that goal.
QUESTION: Iím Aunohita from The Times of India.
Could you give us any details about this pilot project in border management that you have? And would this be something that you would discuss with Pakistan before you actually implement it in India?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: We will have a discussion tomorrow about a project that our Sandia Labs has been working on for some time with several nations around the world to help improve border security. Border security is a key part of our counterterrorism campaign. The fact that people are able to cross international borders and not be identified is a real challenge. In the case of our September 11th incident itís not specifically border security, but people were able to come into our country using a legal system to come into our country. We were unable to identify them and they used that opportunity to attack us.
So we will work with the Indian government in this, in looking at ways that we can help improve their border security as we work with governments around the world to do that. In fact Iím on a group with Governor Ridge that is looking at border security in America. Itís not something that we arenít doing across the world as a key part of this campaign to allow nations to protect themselves.
QUESTION: Just on that. Both India and the U.S. are putting into effect counterterrorism laws. Was there any discussion on those and the sort of (inaudible) in terms of human rights abuse? Fear of human rights abuses.
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Certainly all new laws, and both our nations have implemented new laws. The strength of both our democracies is our commitment to human rights, our commitment to the values that we cherish in each of our democracies and that is the freedom of our people and the right to life and liberty, in the words of our Constitution, and the pursuit of happiness. Any law that we pass or anybody passes in a democratic society that infringes upon those basic rights and values of our people really does concede to those that would try to undermine our systems.
I think we always have to be sensitive to that and I know that our Indian colleagues are very sensitive to those issues as they consider those laws. We had a very long discussion at lunch today about balancing human rights with the need to protect ourselves. In a democracy thatís always a debate. What are the limits you can go to while still defending the basic rights of our nation? But thatís the nature of a democracy.
So they are very, very important issues for all of us as we try to fight the campaign against terrorism. But from my perspective, I think for most of us involved in this business, we canít sacrifice our values in this fight because when we begin to do that we really begin to give into those that would undermine our systems and our way of life and the things that we hold dear.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate on the aspects of military-to-military cooperation in terms of fighting terrorism? Would you discuss things like joint special operations, stuff like that?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I wonít specifically go into the individual issues that weíll discuss tomorrow. Weíll have more to say on that in our joint statement.
This campaign against terrorism is a campaign thatís unique in the history of the world in the sense that weíve tried to mobilize our military, our diplomatic, our economic, our law enforcement, intelligence capabilities in a synergistic campaign in a way that has been unusual in the world. A key part of our campaign and the global campaign is military operations. Certainly there is a place for our discussions with our partners, bilaterally and multilaterally, on how we can improve each otherís military capability to integrate into the global campaign. So I would tell you that our discussions will be in that regard and there will be more specifics on the nature of those discussions and where we believe they will go in our joint statement tomorrow.
QUESTION: Iím Gaurav Sawant from the Indian Express.
Will there be any visits to Kashmir in this connection?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: No. I am in Delhi for today and tomorrow and catching a long flight back to America on Wednesday morning.
INDIAN EXPRESS: The border management team?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: My delegation will leave here after our consultations tomorrow. There are no other visits planned for India.
QUESTION: You have had discussions on the financial aspects of freezing finances and freezing accounts, etc., and that has been done both in America and in India. But whatís the next step in monitoring finances or sources of funds of terrorists? Whatís the next step that youíre looking at?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Part of our campaign and the thing, again, that makes this campaign so unusual from a global sense is it takes every nation to contribute. Afghanistan when it was under the control of the Taliban created a seam. It created a sanctuary that allowed terrorist groups to operate in, to plan with impunity terrorist activities around the world. It allowed money to flow in and people to flow in and out to conduct those kinds of activities.
What weíre looking to do is build a worldwide net of financial controls that look for these transactions around the world and gives no sanctuary to the transfer of money to support terrorism. And we will work, and we are working and will continue to work with all countries around the world both under UN Security Council Resolution 1373, but also bilaterally to improve capacity to do just that, to track money of people who are involved in nefarious activities.
By the way, money laundering is not new, but the application of money laundering to terrorism is a new tool that we have taken within this campaign and we think will be very effective down.
So weíre looking to close those seams as weíre looking to close immigration seams, as weíre looking to close law enforcement seams that allow these people, these criminals to operate with impunity around the world. Because itís through those seams that theyíre able to perpetrate their heinous acts against innocent people.
INDIAN EXPRESS: The Indian intelligence says that Pakistan has these terrorist camps in Pakistan occupying Kashmir and is training them. What is the US intelligence say about Pakistan training terrorists?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: I, as usual, donít comment on intelligence whether it comes from one side or the other. I think it is clear to us that President Musharraf has made a courageous stand after September the 11th against terrorists operating from Afghanistan and the Taliban and the al-Qaida. Heís also made a courageous stand against extremists within his own borders. We believe that heís committed to doing that and have seen no reason to discount his commitment to do that. Thatís where we are today.
QUESTION: Would you want to elaborate a little more on the discussions you had on Resolution 1373?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Certainly. We discussed its implementation, the reports that the UN Security Council has received from all the countries of the world in terms of their status of implementing 1373 and we discussed how Ambassador McNamara and Ambassador Greenstock in the UN CTC will work together with their other partners to evaluate these reports and to work both bilaterally and multilaterally to help improve capability.
I canít overemphasize in our campaign that this is a campaign about raising worldwide capability to go after terrorists and to close the seams in which terrorists operate in. All terrorist groups need money to operate. All terrorists groups need to be able to securely move people around the world to evade law enforcement. And the extent to which through 1373, through our bilateral relationships, through our multilateral relationships regardless of what the fora is that focus on closing those seams, the better off the entire world is going to be in fighting terrorism, and itís in that regard that we discussed 1373 as a very, very important tool to the coalition against terror and in closing down the financial and other seams that terrorists have used with impunity over the years to conduct their activities around the world.
I think we have time for two more questions and then Iíll have to run.
QUESTION: I had a question on just something that you said about General Musharraf and his good intentions. Have you see anything on the ground that he is putting his intentions into action? Because it is now a couple of days since he made his announcement.
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Certainly I think itís clear that heís banned five organizations and heís arrested more than 2,000 people. If that doesnít indicate an intention, I donít know what does. And I would suspect that there are more things that are planned. But weíve seen no reason to doubt his commitment to end this type of extremist activity and to support the coalition.
QUESTION: Iím Ashok Sharma from AP.
What major difficulties are you facing in this global campaign against terrorism?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Major difficulties?
AMBASSADOR TAYLOR: Finding the bad guys.
This is a complex campaign. This is a campaign that unfortunately so many people will focus on bombs dropping in Afghanistan and not on the global nature and the fact that, as our President said, this is going to be a three or four year effort. Al-Qaida by conservative estimates is located in more than 60 countries around the world. Again, in clandestine cells. People that are trying not to be found. And the notion that because of our success, our military success in Afghanistan that somehow the victory is won and we can go back to being business as usual is a major challenge. We must keep vigilance, we must understand that this is a very complicated, long-term effort involving the entire world to do as Iíve described earlier, to shut off the seams in which these people operate to give them no quarter, no place of refuge, no place of sanctuary to conduct this kind of activity anywhere in the world. Thatís going to be a long term effort.
We have been very, very happy with our success certainly militarily in Afghanistan, but thatís only one aspect of it.
The other thing I would tell you, and I continue to reinforce it with your colleagues that I talk to around the world, is that this is a unique campaign in the sense that it is diplomatic, it is law enforcement, it is intelligence, it is financial. Those relationships take time to build and nurture to assure long term effectiveness. And as President Bush says, itís his campaign focus today and it will be his campaign focus four years from now at the end of his first term, and we believe that is the kind of focus that the entire world will need.
So our challenge is to keep the vigilance. If we keep the vigilance as a free world, we will defeat this evil and weíll provide a better place for all of the people of the world to live and operate.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
Released on January 23, 2002