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Hemispheric Solidarity in the War on Terrorism

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Op-Ed
Diario Las Americas
January 6, 2002

As the new year begins, Americans can be encouraged at the progress made in the Global Campaign Against Terrorism. We are defeating Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan through the monumental efforts of U.S. and Allied armed services and determined Afghan fighters. The support of many other countries, including our neighbors in South and Central America, furthers our cause immeasurably.

But the evil menace that murdered thousands of persons on September 11 still wears many faces around the globe and still possesses lethal intent. Destroying Al Qaeda's operational base in Afghanistan is not enough. The coalition against terrorism must advance on all fronts - political, financial, legal and military - to root out terrorists wherever they live and plot.

Throughout the world, friends and allies are involved in law enforcement and other efforts to thwart terrorist activity. Over one hundred forty countries have issued orders freezing assets of suspected terrorists and terrorist organizations, and offered other assistance to the coalition effort.

As the fight against terrorism continues, we are doing all we can for the long-suffering people of Afghanistan. With a UN mandate, the British are leading an international security assistance force to provide stability to Kabul and its surroundings. As the leading humanitarian donor to Afghanistan, the United States is working with international agencies and non-governmental organizations to provide food, shelter, medicine, and ultimately, a better life for the Afghan people.

On December 16, the U.S. flag was raised over our embassy building in Kabul for the first time in nearly 13 years. Our representatives there are assisting the newly appointed Afghan government officials who assumed power on December 22. We will support their efforts to rebuild Afghanistan as we are working to rid it of the fanatical forces that made victims of the Afghan people and of the innocent citizens of many countries.

Immediately after the attacks of September 11, our partners in the Organization of American States offered moral and practical support. I was in Peru on September 11, meeting with OAS foreign ministers to approve the Inter-American Democratic Charter, a document designed to promote and defend democratic government in the Hemisphere.

I urgently needed to return to the U.S. after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but did not want to leave Lima without participating in the historic decision to approve the Democratic Charter. I will never forget the outpouring of concern and solidarity I received from our Hemispheric neighbors that morning.

Without hesitation, the delegates unanimously voted to condemn the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, making the OAS the first multilateral organization to do so. They also called for Hemispheric cooperation against terrorism. In addition, the Rio Treaty was invoked by signatory countries - designating the attack against the United States an attack on the whole Hemisphere.

Al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups have global tentacles. They capitalize on fundraising activities and transit routes of terrorist groups in Latin America as well as on the relative freedom of movement afforded by the Western Hemisphere's free and open societies. Our neighbors have taken action in key areas since September 11 to combat this threat.

In the aftermath of September 11, the member states of the OAS have reinvigorated the Organization's anti-terrorist arm, the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE). CICTE called for controls to prevent funding of terrorist organizations, increased multilateral cooperation on border security, and shared law enforcement and counterterrorism intelligence and information. Through special training, use of best practices, and creation of data bases and information networks, we are working collectively to ensure that terrorists and their supporters will find no quarter in the Americas. The OAS will hold a January 28-29 meeting in Washington of top security leaders from member countries to evaluate steps taken to combat terrorism and to adopt an action plan for 2002. In addition, regional diplomats are urgently negotiating a treaty to further fortify the Americas against the terrorist threat.

When terrorists savagely struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they attacked the principles that the nations of the Americas hold most dear: democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and tolerance. Just as the attacks unified the people of the United States, so too have they strengthened the ties that bind the peoples of the Americas. Together, we will devote ourselves to bringing freedom, security and peace to every corner of our Hemisphere and our world.


Released on January 6, 2002

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