Radisson Hotel, Montevideo, Jan. 29, 2004
It is a pleasure to be here in Montevideo
to join our 33 partners in the OAS for the Fourth Regular
Session of the Organization of American States Inter-American
Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE).
I have the honor of leading the U.S. delegation
which includes our Permanent Representative to the OAS Ambassador
John Maisto, Ambassador Cris Arcos from the Department of
Homeland Security, and Deputy Attorney General John Malcolm.
The United States, in collaboration with
the other CICTE members at this Fourth Session, will focus
on developing effective counterterrorism regimes in the
hemisphere that include strong legal, border, and financial
controls, as well as cybersecurity – an OAS mandate.
This meeting will also give the United States and the other
33 members an opportunity to add transportation security
to CICTE’s mandate – particularly ports and
We are all engaged in a global campaign
against terrorism. Terrorism threatens our democratic way
of life – our freedom to live and prosper peacefully.
As President Bush has said, the war on terrorism is likely
to go on for a considerable period of time.
We urge all countries that have not yet
done so to ratify the Inter-American Convention Against
Terrorism, the 12 United Nations conventions and protocols
on terrorism, as well as other related instruments.
We encourage CICTE and its members to enhance
collaboration with other OAS organizations, such as CICAD
and CIFTA; international organizations, such as the UNCTC,
G-8’s Roma-Lyon Group and Counterterrorism Action
Group, PAHO, and APEC; and, non-hemispheric countries, such
as Spain and Israel.
We encourage member states to implement
the counterterrorism recommendations made in the Declaration
on Security in the Americas adopted in Mexico City at the
OAS Special Conference on Security Conference last October.
Participants at this special security conference
identified the links between terrorism, illicit trafficking
in arms, asset laundering, organized crime, and drug trafficking
as posing a threat to hemispheric security. The conference
participants pledged to strengthen every state’s capacity
to prevent, punish, and eliminate terrorism.
We encourage member states to stand with
Colombia and support the efforts of the Uribe Administration
to eradicate terrorism in Colombia. We fully support Colombia’s
democratic security policy, because it protects the people
of Colombia from the threats posed by terrorism and fosters
an atmosphere in which reconciliation and peace are achievable.
Investment now in counterterrorism cooperation,
prevention, and eradication will pay significant future
dividends in a secure homeland, safe trade, and expanded
tourism throughout the entire hemisphere.
CICTE is an outstanding – perhaps
the best – example of a region pulling together to
defend itself, its democratic way of life, and its freedom
to live and develop peacefully – all shared values
among OAS members.
The United States strongly supports developing
CICTE as a premier multilateral vehicle for providing capacity
– building assistance, facilitating information-sharing,
and serving as an effective technical body of counterterrorism
and homeland security experts.
And, that is why it brings me such pleasure
to announce that the United States intends to provide CICTE
$1.6 million in 2004 to support the fight against terrorism.
These funds will be provided by the U.S.
Department of State for capacity-building assistance in
the hemisphere and support CICTE’s administrative
functions. The funds will be especially targeted on enhancing
member states’ capacities to secure their ports and
airports. To date, U.S. cash contributions to CICTE have
been over $2 million.
The U.S is fully committed to CICTE’s
development and has the greatest confidence in Uruguay as
the next CICTE chair.
Again, it is such a pleasure to be here.
It is nice to see so many of you have an interest on the
topic of counterterrorism. This delegation here today covers
a pretty wide spectrum of knowledge. To my right is the
Ambassador who is in charge of issues in the hemisphere
of a political nature, and we have Ambassador Arcos who
is from our Department of Homeland Security. In particular
he is in charge of its International Department, so among
the three of us we will attempt to answer whatever questions
you may have.
Q.: Buenas tardes. I would
like to ask Ambassador Arcos - who I know was in Buenos
Aires and also gave his opinion about the port situation
in Buenos Aires regarding security -what is his vision about
the port of Montevideo and Carrasco airport in relation
to their vital importance in the combat and prevention of
A.: Thank you. First I
would like to thank you for your question because it focuses
on the themes that are discussed in this conference. Specifically,
what we are doing in relation to ports and airports is evaluating
the capacity that each one of them may have in the world.
So far I believe we have 19 or 20 maritime ports in the
world where we have a program called Container Security
Initiative (CSI) and this involves a procedure of capacity
evaluation. We are also doing preliminary studies in the
region to see which are the ports that can be part of this
program. First they must adhere to the regulations established
by the International Maritime Orgranization (IMO) for ports
in terms of security. This is what we have to determine
first, and we are working on this bilaterally, not through
CICTE or another organization. However, I can't say anything
else about this because at this point we are just doing
Q.: In the case of Uruguay,
have you already started?
A.: There was a visit some
months ago by our Department and they also visited Buenos
Aires and other ports in Latin America. We are now preparing
a larger group to come and evaluate the capacity.
Q: (Kevin Gray –
Associated Press – Question for Ambassador Black)
Just curious. Is Al-Qaeda still viewed as
the biggest international terror threat? If so, why? And
if not, what is the biggest terror threat? Is it an organization
in Asia, Europe, Iran or Saudi Arabia?
A.: Thank you very much.
The answer to your question is in particular from the American
perspective, if I can be allowed that. Before 9/11 the terrorist
group that had killed more Americans actually was Hesbola
and with the catastrophic attacks of 9/11 Al-Qaeda moved
up in that deplorable category as having killed more Americans.
The Al-Qaeda organization that existed at the time of 9/11
can be described as being under catastrophic stress. More
than two thirds of its key leadership has been arrested,
detained or killed. The international hunt among the world’s
law enforcement and security services is intense and continuing;
and the remaining one third will be rendered to justice.
For them the clock is ticking.
We are very much concerned about the effective incitement
of young people who are misguided, who watch the wrong television
programs, draw the wrong conclusions and who have inaccurate
facts, as a particular future threat.
The threat represented by Al-Qaeda and associated groups
is truly international and has demanded, and received, international
response. The community of nations have come together, have
cooperated effectively, exchanging intelligence information,
law enforcement information on a timely basis and we are
making great progress.
The threat is very real. We are concerned about those terrorists
that have not yet been caught, who spend most of their time
being defensive in reaction to the international hunt by
the world’s law enforcement for them. Yet whereas
they tend to be increasingly defensive, increasingly less
offensive and it takes longer to prepare operations, they
do remain very dangerous and they justly deserve the attention
they are receiving from the world’s law enforcement
Success in the global war on counterterrorism is really
defined by our collective ability to defend innocent men,
women and children. This is the reason that organizations
such as CICTE were created and show every sign of being
increasingly successful over time. We are very concerned
about external terrorist threats and the likelihood of their
future projection into the hemisphere. I am pleased that
the status that we enjoy right now will focus primarily
on financial links and from this hemisphere to terrorist
organizations, particularly in the Middle East. We need
to be positioned, we have to be mindful, we have to work
together effectively so that we prevent any survivors from
terrorist groups fleeing other areas in the world looking
for safehaven. We do not want them to come to our hemisphere
I hope that answers your question.
Q.: Ambassador Black, I
am Mary Mellikan from Reuters. I want to ask you about the
tri-border which is something that isn’t talked about
too much these days. We have new governments in the three
countries with those borders and I wanted to ask you, are
you satisfied with the level of collaboration from the governments
of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay? And also, what has latest
intelligence in the tri-border area turned up and has it
changed your perception of the area in the immediate aftermath
A.: I think the cooperation
has been exceptionally good. There is a format that we currently
describe as the three-plus-one, the three countries that
you mentioned with the United States playing a supporting
role to our three partners in the region. There has been
a validation of the threat in terms that we want to make
sure that our hemisphere is free from this type of terrorist
threat. The tri-border area I think partially is a result
of the intervention of the three-plus-one. We are in a position
to look effectively for links to financial groups in the
Middle East. We are mindful that these groups utilize clandestine
techniques. We have increasing understanding of what we
are up against. We have not to date identified any established
source of the Al-Qaeda organization. As the community of
nations proceeds with the war on terrorism, we put stress
on these various terrorist groups. We have to be mindful
of likely areas that they could fall back to seeking safehavens
where they can equip and train in comparative peace. This
was the situation before 9/11 that the terrorists enjoyed
in Afghanistan. That was denied to them
and it becomes increasingly difficult to find such areas
and we, the three-plus-one countries as well as CICTE, now
are determined to make sure that this region and certainly
the tri-border area is not used for that purpose, is not
utilized. The commercial infrastructure gives a local advantage
to them. We think it is important to remember that when
coalition forces went through caves in Afghanistan, there
were travel posters of the falls. I don’t think this
is an accident.
Q.: (Carlos Montero de
Radio Netherland - Spanish) The creation of your position
as Coordinator for Antiterrorism in the United States was
based on or discussed due to the lack of coordination and
divisions among the official security organizations prior
to Sept. 11. Do you think that those problems have been
solved during your time, and how would you rate the coordination
of information with Latin America compared with the already
existing one with Europe on the subject of anti-terrorism?
A.: If I understand the
question correctly, I will try to answer it quickly. One
of my colleagues has something to add and I will ask him
My job as coordinator for counterterrorism is to assist
in the development of U.S. policy in the field of counter-terrorism
and to deal with our friends abroad. We seek to encourage
the nations of the world to have the will to fight terrorism,
to take it straight on and we also seek to assist our friends
abroad to have this world fight terrorism in their capacity
to fight terrorism, so we attempt to give them appropriate,
useful training and equipment and support as appropriate.
I understand that the relationship that the United States
enjoys with the countries of the hemisphere in general is
excellent. I stated this in my remarks to the CICTE where
I had a very particular acknowledgment to and expressed
appreciation for the help of Mexico and the Mexican government
over the holidays assisting Americans in effectively addressing
the threat to its air security. The desire of the President
of the United States to have the most efficient and effective
organization to address the terrorist threat resulted in
part in the establishment of the Department of Homeland
Security to pull threats together with an emphasis on defending
the homeland against attack. I would like to call upon Ambassador
Arcos to discuss a little bit the Department of Homeland
Security and what it does.
Amb. Arcos (translated
from Spanish): Thank you Mr. Ambassador. First, as Ambassador
Black has mentioned, the events or the tragedy that occurred
two years ago led to the reorganization of the U.S. Government
and the creation of the Department of Interior Security.
"Homeland Security" represents the biggest organization
in the history of the United States in civilian terms after
the reorganization of the Department of Defense 50 years
ago at a multi-billionary cost. We have already redistributed
inside the United States more than 4 thousand million dollars
in preparations for local and state emergencies in what
we have called "First Respondents" to any tragedy.
But what I want to say is that, as Ambassador Black has
said, we are concerned with providing training to the countries
which are allied with us in terms of customs, migration,
aviation and also maritime. This includes our Coast Guard,
Secret Service and the old Inmigration, Migration and Customs
Department and other aspects that we have added to the new
Department. My office is mostly in charge of coordinating
with the Department of State our policy in terms of helping
countries coordinate their policies to combat terrorism,
so that they can be efficient and transparent. This conference
here in Uruguay shows the disposition of the United States
and our Department to take part in the implementation of
any help or technical assistance that may be necessary.
Q.: I know you've been
talking about combatting terrorism, basically to reinforce
security and to take precautionary steps and fundamentally
to try to preserve the security of the territories of the
countries affected. But yesterday, there were comments made
in this summit about combatting the causes that foment terrorism
-- social discontent, ethnic conflict and economic inequities.
Is the US working on this more than the problems that emanate
security and preservation of the terrirotires of the affected
A.: The issue, I think,
has been given a lot of thought by the United States. I
think it is very important to recognize one point and that
is that terrorists kill innocent men, women and children.
I think it is very important to underscore that nothing
justifies this, no cause, no religion and the community
of nations needs to come together to constructively address
this issue. Terrorists are criminals, they need to be addressed
and also at the same time they need to be mindful that it
is important to remove those fundamental causes that encourage
radicalism leading to terrorism. The most important part
is I think for civilized people to accept that nothing justifies
murder. Poverty does not, religion does not. A lot of people
that feel personally challenged do not resort to murder.
They have to put things in their proper context. Civilized
people get together and they talk out their problems. And
they leave innocent people, men, women and children, aside.
I think this is what this is all about.
Q.: I am from French news
agency – AFP – I want to ask a question about
the reform of the statutes that has been discussed here
in Montevideo. Apparently there is a debate, quite strong
debate, about a possible too strong influence of the military
in the CICTE. So, what is the position of the U.S. and if
you think this is really a point, what is your position?
And also an extension of the previous question about the
tri-border, what is the other area that is a matter of concern
for the U.S., Central America? Can you give other examples
of where you are focusing your attention? Thank you.
A.: Thank you very much.
First of all the meetings have not been concluded and I
would not want to speak for CICTE. But the United States
sees CICTE and has every reason to believe it, as a civilian
organization primarily, if not virtually exclusively. It
may have some contacts and associations with military entities
surely from a standpoint of practicality. This is a civilian
organization. All the members of CICTE view the hemisphere
defense against the terrorist threat to be of a very high
priority in terms of particular areas. This is a transnational
threat, it is international, it is global and the areas
that we are particularly concerned about are not necessarily
national. I think that CICTE is looking very closely at
improving our collective ability to defend and deny transportation
links. And particularly air transport, air systems, airports
and maritime ports. This global threat is transnational
and whereas each country does what it needs to do, the solution,
the success, is a collective hemisphere response and that
is called CICTE and that is why the United States is so
pleased to support it.
If I may speak for my colleagues, we have
enjoyed meeting with you today and thank you very much for
Summit of the Americas: Declaration of Nuevo León
January 2, 2004
Engagement in the Western Hemisphere
Convention Against Terrorism
23 January 2004
Officials Outline Goals for Hemispheric Anti-Terrorism Meeting
of Global Terrorism 2002: Latin America Overview
of State Counterterrorism Office
December 3, 2003
of the "3+1" Counterterrorism Group -- Communique
Washington, DC, February 20, 2002
Terrorism: American Hostages U.S. Government Policy
October 30, 2003
U.S. Diplomacy Supports the Campaign Against International
Ambassador Cofer Black, Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Remarks to the Council on Foreign Affairs
Washington, DC, May 23, 2003
list of FTOs
Fact Sheet, Office of Counterterrorism
Foreign Terrorist Organizations
For Justice program
to Terrorism website from IIP
Strategy for Combating Terrorism
White House, Feb 2003