Thank you Mr. Bluth for the Government
of Uruguay hosting this meeting, for your chairmanship of
this discussion, and for Uruguay’s leadership as CICTE’s
Vice-Chair last year. We applaud you assuming the Chair
for 2004, as well as Trinidad and Tobago for taking over
the Vice-Chair. I would like to pay special thanks to Foreign
Minister Brizuela for her exceptional leadership as last
year’s CICTE Chair. I would also like to thank President
Batlle and other distinguished participants who have joined
us here in Montevideo.
We have come a long way since we last met in San Salvador.
Counterterrorism cooperation in the hemisphere has continued
to broaden and strengthen. The Special Summit of the Americas
two weeks ago and the OAS Special Conference on Hemispheric
Security in October reaffirmed our leaders’ commitment
to combating terrorism and its sources. And, the Inter-American
Convention Against Terrorism went into effect in July of
2003. We firmly stand behind the OAS and CICTE leading the
charge to marshal our shared resources and expertise to
combat terrorism. This meeting in Montevideo could not be
Over the past year, terrorists have struck brutally and
callously across the globe. From Colombia to Saudi Arabia
to Morocco to Indonesia, terrorists have indiscriminately
killed men, women, and children. I know you all share with
me in the tragic loss of our colleague Sergio de Mello.
The Western Hemisphere’s experience with terrorism
has been different than the traditional “hotspots”
like the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa.
Terrorism in our region has traditionally been a domestic
threat. Colombia’s FARC, ELN, and AUC have primarily
engaged in local bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings.
Sendero Luminoso’s bloody 30-year campaign left over
35,000 Peruvians dead. However, this trend is changing.
Terrorists in this hemisphere are becoming more active in
illicit transnational activities, principally the drug trade,
but also arms trafficking, money laundering, contraband
smuggling, and document and currency fraud. Not only do
these provide sources of income, but terrorists also take
advantage of their well-established “underground”
supply routes to move funds, people and arms across borders,
as well as to plan and conduct operations. And, the internet
has given terrorists truly global reach to communicate,
fundraise, and recruit.
And, terrorists have not hesitated to make our hemisphere
a battleground to advance their causes. The bombings of
the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Argentine-Jewish
Cultural Center in 1994 painfully illustrated this. Middle
Eastern terrorists, such as Hamas and Hizballah, have come
to the Tri-Border Area of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina
to raise funds and spread propaganda. The United States
has arrested suspected al-Qaida cells in New York and Oregon.
Although we do not have confirmed, credible information
of an al-Qaida presence in Latin America, we are aware that
al-Qaida’s global crime networks and fundraising operations
are always seeking to extend their tentacles. The Western
Hemisphere’s lightly-defended “soft” targets
-- our vibrant tourism industry, thriving aviation sector,
and busy ports -- as well as “systemic” disparities
between countries in border security, legal and financial
regulatory regimes, and state presence create opportunities
for terrorists to exploit.
These domestic and international threats require action
by all of us represented here today. For the United States,
President Bush has outlined a National Strategy for Combating
Terrorism, the goals of which are to:
(1) Defeat terrorist organizations of global reach by attacking
their sanctuaries, leadership, finances, and command, control
Secondly, deny further sponsorship, support, and sanctuary
to terrorists by cooperating with other states to take action
against these international threats;
Third, diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists
seek to exploit by enlisting the international community
to focus its efforts and resources on the areas most at
Fourth, defend the United States, its citizens and interests
at home and abroad. The National Strategy highlights that
success will only come through the sustained, steadfast,
and systematic application of all elements of national power
– diplomatic, financial, law enforcement, intelligence,
Diplomacy facilitates all elements of national power. Diplomatic
exchanges, such as this conference, build political will,
strengthen international cooperation, and help us take the
war to the terrorists. The global coalition assembled to
remove the Taliban from Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein from
Iraq was just one step. Diplomacy has led to the international
community voicing their collective will to criminalize terrorism,
its safe havening, and its financing in UN Security Council
Resolution 1373 and the 12 international conventions and
protocols against terrorism – which, in coordination
with U.S. Executive Order 13224, have frozen $120 million
in over 167 countries.
Law enforcement and intelligence cooperation has led to
two-thirds of the al-Qaida leadership being detained or
killed, al-Qaida affiliates like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
and Hambali put behind bars, and 3,400 terrorists taken
out of action worldwide.
In our hemisphere, cooperation has led to the extraditions
of Hizballah financier Assad Ahmad Barakat from Brazil to
Paraguay and Al-Said Hassan Mohkles from Uruguay to Egypt
for his suspected role in the 1997 Luxor Temple massacre.
The “3+1” Counterterrorism Dialogue is bringing
together Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, together with
the United States, to combat terrorism financing and strengthen
From the President of the United States down to Secretary
Powell, and particularly to me, the United States is grateful
for the cooperation of President Fox and the Mexican Government
in assisting us to manage our aviation security concerns
over the holidays. The United States is also grateful for
the OAS for coming to our aid in the wake of 9/11 by invoking
the Rio Treaty, and the Government of Canada for caring
for so many of our people in the weeks following September
We are all doing so much together, but more needs to done
to ensure our hemisphere develops a well-coordinated and
comprehensive counterterrorism strategy:
Countries that have not yet done so should ratify the Inter-American
Convention Against Terrorism, the 12 United Nations conventions
and protocols on terrorism, as well as other related instruments.
And, the measures outlined in these legal instruments should
be adopted into domestic legal systems. For our part, we
are optimistic that the U.S. Senate will move soon on ratification.
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, and APEC; and, non-hemispheric
countries, such as Spain and Israel.
We urge member states to continue to strengthen border security.
The United States looks forward to working with many of
you on U.S. initiatives such as the US-VISIT, the Container
Security Initiative, and the Terrorist Interdiction Program.
President Bush has
indicated that the greatest threat to peace today is the
spread of weapons of mass destruction and the possibility
that they may fall into the hands of terrorists. We are
pleased so many countries here today have already indicated
strong support for President Bush’s Proliferation
The United States has undergone considerable restructuring
to enhance our ability to prevent, manage, and respond to
terrorist threats and acts, establishing the Department
of Homeland Security, the Terrorism Threat Integration Center,
and the Terrorism Screening Center. And, we encourage CICTE
members to enhance counterterrorism coordination in their
We urge member states to develop integrated incident management
and crisis management capabilities. The United States also
strongly supports efforts to share information on cyber
threats and attacks, and for member states to develop a
Computer Security Incident Response Team.
We also encourage member states to diminish underlying conditions
that create opportunities for terrorists to exploit. As
Secretary Powell has said about poverty, which applies to
other underlying conditions such as corruption, religious
conflict and ethnic strife, “it breeds frustration,
hopelessness and resentment – and ideological entrepreneurs
know how to turn those emotions into either support for
terrorism or acquiescence to it.”
The reality of counterterrorism – in which I have
been engaged most of my career – is that it depends
on relationships, communication, free flow of information,
and transparency. We can prevent and disrupt terrorist activity
by working together to secure our borders, strengthen customs
enforcement, and develop strong legal and financial regulatory
systems to criminalize terrorism and terrorism finance.
By marshalling our resources to provide capacity-building
assistance, we can deter terrorists from targeting weaker
states or from using them for safe havens or fundraising.
And by sharing information, as well as coordinating joint
investigations and efforts to bring terrorists to justice,
we can deal a serious blow to terrorism.
And, that is why we are here. First and foremost to develop
ways to work together to defend men, women and children
against terrorism. But, also to develop ways to cooperate
in defending our critical infrastructure and commerce to
ensure our economies grow and are healthy. And, to establish
joint mechanisms to preserve that which we all hold dearest
and which terrorists try to take away: freedom, liberty,
Close to 70 years ago, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
addressing a Conference on Democracy here in Montevideo,
provided sage advice that I think is applicable to what
we are doing at this conference. He said, “We seek
new remedies for new conditions...Sometimes the remedies
succeed, and sometimes they must be altered or improved.
But the net result is that we move forward.”
The United States is committed to moving forward with CICTE
to enhance hemispheric counterterrorism cooperation. Let
us continue our strong partnership against terror. And,
when we meet again next year in Port of Spain, let us look
forward to celebrating another year of accomplishments.