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Cofer Black Testimony - 9/11 Commission Report

Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report

Ambassador Cofer Black, Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Statement before the House International Relations Committee Washington, DC August 19, 2004

(As prepared for delivery)

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the State Department s diplomatic strategy to address terrorism, as viewed in light of the 9-11 Commission s report and recommendations. I will summarize my formal written statement and ask that you include my full testimony in the record.

The release of the 9-11 Commission s report and the subsequent Congressional hearings to discuss the Commission s recommendations provide the necessary structure for a national debate over the diplomatic strategy for combating terrorism. To give you a brief sense of the State Department s contribution to the work of the Commission, you should be aware that my office provided over 15,000 pages of documents in response to a series of requests. I m sure that my colleagues can attest to similar document contributions.

The testimony you will hear from my colleagues should leave you with a profound sense that the State Department has a strategy for diplomatic engagement in the age of terrorism. This strategy has been evolving since the attacks in September 2001.

Today I would like to briefly address two of the 9-11 Commission s recommendations: our actions to deny terrorists sanctuary around the world and our efforts to develop a comprehensive strategy against terrorism through multilateral mechanisms. My colleagues will address additional recommendations from the Commission report.

We are facing a global threat, which calls for a comprehensive diplomatic strategy and a global response. Anything less than a global approach could result in the types of terrorist sanctuaries that are described in Chapter 12 of the Commission s report.

The 9-11 Commission identified six regions of concern as current or future terrorist safe havens. I will concentrate my remarks today on two of these regions, deferring to my colleagues to elaborate on their specific areas of expertise.

To counter the threat posed by al-Qaida in the Horn of Africa, State is cooperating with numerous partners, including the Department of Defense and host governments, to suppress terrorist activities in the region, to arrest and bring to justice those who have attacked us, and to diminish the conditions in those societies that provide terrorists with refuge and support. Much of this cooperation takes place in the context of President Bush s $100 million East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative. Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda participate in this initiative.

In Kenya we are working with the Kenyan government to improve its capabilities in the areas of counterterrorism, border control, law enforcement and criminal investigation, and airport security. In Ethiopia and Djibouti, we have formed close partnerships to counter the threat of terrorism coming from Somalia. We believe that our successes in this region have degraded the terrorists capabilities, and we continue to act against the terrorist networks at every opportunity.

Southeast Asia is a major front in the global war on terrorism, and continues to be an attractive theater of operations for regional terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). The governments in Southeast Asia have been reliable partners in the war on terrorism, but they face tremendous challenges to dealing with the terrorist threat.

We are working to address these challenges through our Anti-Terrorism Training Assistance Program, which is showing good results. In the Philippines, we have seen success as the Philippine National Police has thwarted plots in Manila and arrested suspected members of JI and the Abu Sayyaf Group. In Indonesia, we implemented an $8 million program to train and equip a specialized CT unit within the Indonesian National Police; these CT unit members have contributed significantly to the arrests of Bali and Marriott bombers. In Thailand and the Philippines, we are also working to implement terrorist watch listing capabilities at key points of entry.

Members of the Committee can be confident that bilateral efforts to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries are succeeding in each of the six regions identified in the 9-11 Commission report.

Multilateral counterterrorism efforts start at the United Nations, with UN Security Council Resolution 1373. This resolution established a series of binding counterterrorism obligations on all UN member states and created the Counterterrorism Committee or CTC to monitor the implementation of these binding obligations. But the multilateral efforts only begin there. Regional and functional organizations are also critical.

Functional organizations like the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization can set international counterterrorism standards and identify best practices. Regional groups like the Organization of American States Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation s Counterterrorism Task Force can then encourage member states to adopt the international standards and best practices identified by functional organizations.

The message you should take away from today s testimony is that in response to the threat of terrorism, the State Department has been working bilaterally with our partners and aggressively mobilizing international organizations to fight terrorism in every corner of the globe.

In closing, I would like to personally thank Committee members for their sustained support of an amendment to reform the law on designating Foreign Terrorist Organizations. This provision represents the type of legislative action that will allow my staff and their counterparts in other Departments to direct their efforts more productively against terrorists and their supporters.

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before the Committee. I would be happy to take your questions.

[End]

Released on August 19, 2004

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