01 May 2003
"Success in the Global War on Terrorism," by J. Cofer Black
(International terrorists attacks in 2002 at a 30-year low) (640)
(Following is an op-ed by Ambassador J. Cofer Black, the Department of
State's Coordinator for Counterterrorism, on improvements in the
global war on terrorism released May 1. No republication
Success in the Global War on Terrorism
By J. Cofer Black
[The author is an ambassador and the U.S. coordinator for
There is good news on the terrorism front.
According to a newly-released State Department report, there were 199
international terrorist attacks recorded during 2002. That represents
a significant drop from the previous year -- 44 percent fewer attacks.
In fact, it is the lowest level of terrorism in more than 30 years.
The last time the annual total fell below 200 attacks was back in
1969, shortly after the advent of modern terrorism.
That is a remarkable achievement. There are several reasons for the
First, there are increased security measures in place in virtually
every nation. You have undoubtedly noticed them at airports and border
crossings. Other measures are not so visible.
Second, a large number of terrorist suspects were not able to launch
an attack last year because they are in prison. More than 3000 of them
are al-Qaida terrorists, and they were arrested in over 100 countries.
Lastly, I would credit the overall post-9/11 worldwide security
environment. Nations are on guard against terrorism. They are sharing
intelligence and law enforcement information. They are arresting
suspects. They are thwarting attacks. Governments and financial
institutions are drying up the terrorists' sources of revenue.
Regional security organizations are steadily improving their
Coalition military action in Afghanistan and Iraq has chased
terrorists out of those countries and removed the safe haven that
terrorists had once enjoyed and upon which they had relied. The
Taliban and Saddam Hussein regimes are no longer in the terrorism
Nations worldwide are fighting terrorism energetically, and they
should take some measure of pride in the historically low number of
attacks recorded last year.
That is not to say we have turned the corner. Horrific attacks did
occur during 2002, such as the bombings at resorts in Bali, Indonesia
and Mombasa, Kenya in which hundreds of people were killed. Additional
attacks are likely. We cannot lower our guard.
Indeed, the worldwide counterterrorism coalition of nations must
maintain the political will to keep up the fight and must strive to
improve their capacity to fight the terrorist threat on various
The State Department is deeply committed to helping those willing to
fight terrorism strengthen their capacity to do so. During the past
-- We trained 4800 students from 45 countries in such areas as airport
security, crisis management, and post-blast investigation.
-- We helped interested countries develop or update needed
counterterrorism legislation. Legislative seminars were held for 36
countries during 2002 to provide help in strengthening
-- We helped countries strengthen information sharing procedures and
tighten border security and immigration controls.
-- We assessed countries' antiterrorist finance requirements and
helped them develop tools to ensure greater financial transparency and
accountability in the modern banking sector and greater regulation of
non-traditional remittance systems such as hawalas.
-- We encouraged other countries to develop sound crisis management
and consequence management plans and practices.
-- We worked closely with the U.N. Counterterrorism Committee, which
helps provide countries with the necessary tools to prevent and
suppress the financing of terrorist acts and to deny safe haven to
those who finance, plan, facilitate, or commit terrorist acts.
The year 2002 underscored the importance of international commitment
and cooperation in the global war on terrorism. Because the terrorist
threat knows no boundaries, the fight must be global. The worldwide
coalition has made real progress, but we cannot rest until terrorism
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)