14 August 2003
Black Says More Than 3,000 Terrorists Detained Since 9/11
State official says Al-Qa'ida effectiveness has
Since the terrorist attacks on the United States nearly two years
ago, the United States and its allies have detained more than 3,000
terrorists in more than 100 countries, says the Department of State's
senior counterterrorism official.
"Entire cells have been disbanded across the globe -- just as
they were planning more attacks," Ambassador Cofer Black said August
11 at the International Association of Prosecutors conference in
Washington. "And I am able to report to you that more than one-half
of al-Qa'ida's top leadership has been killed or captured, including
some of those who conspired to attack New York and Washington,
and others who helped attack the USS Cole and our embassies in
East Africa. In short, we have degraded and sown confusion into
the uppermost ranks of al-Qa'ida."
Black, who is the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism,
said that more than 170 countries have issued orders to freeze
terrorists assets, "and so far, we have frozen more than $144 million
and designated more than 250 terrorist groups and entities."
In the fight against terrorism, triumph will not come solely,
or even primarily, through military might. Rather, it will come
through using every instrument of national power," Black said. "We
must fight on five fronts, using effective diplomacy, military
power, better homeland defenses, intelligence, and vigorous efforts
to cut off terrorist financing. And within this group of five
fronts, diplomacy is first among equals. Indeed, diplomacy is
the backbone of our campaign -- for one simple reason: international
partnerships help us to act more effectively."
Black told the prosecutors from around the world that cooperation
and sharing of ideas is critical on matters of law.
"Whether extraditing terrorists or controlling their money flow,
identifying them before they act or punishing them afterwards --
on each of these critical issues, the law is front and center," he
Following are abbreviations and acronyms used in the text:
-- NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
-- G-7: Group of Seven industrialized nations, which include Britain,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States.
-- ASEAN: Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
-- OAS: Organization of American States.
-- OSCE: Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Following is the text of Black's remarks:
COMBATING GLOBAL TERRORISM
Ambassador J. Cofer Black, Coordinator for Counterterrorism Remarks
to the Eighth Annual Conference and General Meeting of the International
Association of Prosecutors Renaissance Washington Hotel
August 11, 2003
It is an honor to speak to you tonight about a subject of vital
importance -- at a pivotal moment in this country's history. The
agenda of your annual conference this year is clear proof of your
commitment to finding the most effective ways to combat global
terrorism. Your presence here tonight is proof of something more:
many of you have traveled across the globe so that you could be
here and participate in the conference this week. You have come
from places as far as Sweden and Cameroon, China and Argentina,
Uganda and Thailand. And your meeting here is evidence of the fact
that terrorism affects all reaches of the world, and that we must
be united, as a world, in fighting it.
I speak for the entire State Department when I say, we are pleased
to join the Department of Justice, the National Association of
Attorneys General, and the National District Attorneys Association,
in supporting this conference -- not least because I hope that
you can make my job easier, by finding ways to make all our lives
Over the past several years, I have watched this country awaken
-- and helped it respond -- to the growing threat of international
terrorism. In August 2001, just weeks before September 11th, I
gave a speech to the Secretary of Defense's Annual Convention on
Counterterrorism and concluded with the words, [We are] going to
be struck soon. Many Americans are going to die, and it could very
well be in the United States. And even though the wounds from September
11th have yet to heal, we remain vigilant, knowing that terrorists
residing in this country and your own countries, are plotting as
we speak to do us great harm.
We Americans must never forget what much of the world already
knows: that terrorism did not begin on 9/11, and that nearly every
continent of the globe has suffered from this scourge. And we must
also never forget that ultimately, we will prevail.
Although it has been nearly 2 years since that tragic Tuesday
morning, we in the United States are still grappling with how best
to adapt our skills -- and the machinery of our government -- to
the new challenges that lie ahead. After September 11th, President
Bush set this country in a clear direction and set forth clear
goals for us to achieve:
First, to defeat terrorists and their organizations;
Second, to deny them sponsorship, support, and sanctuary;
Third, to diminish the underlying conditions which terrorists
exploit and in which they thrive; and
Fourth, to defend American citizens and interests at home and
abroad. Our strategy is designed to take direct and constant action,
so that we initially disrupt, degrade, and ultimately destroy terrorist
networks and terrorist organizations. The more frequent and relentless
our strikes, the more effective and successful we will be.
And we have made progress -- both here at home and around the
world. Under President Bush's leadership, we have undertaken sweeping
changes to our federal government -- an effort larger than anything
seen in 50 years. We have reformed, improved, and expanded our
ability to collect intelligence, identify threats, and prevent
attacks. We have increased security in key areas, from transportation
to ports, borders, and other elements of critical infrastructure.
And with laws like the Patriot Act, we have grown more flexible
in our ability to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks.
There has also been significant progress on the international
front. Secretary of State Colin Powell has worked hard to forge
new friendships and strengthen existing ones. Since 9/11, we have
built new relationships on counterterrorism with countries like
China, Russia, and Pakistan and many others hold promise for deepened
engagement in the future. Through partnerships with nations from
Singapore to Jordan and Kenya, we are seeing results by saving
Indeed, our progress is measurable:
-- Since 9/11, the United States and its partners and allies have
detained more than 3,000 terrorists in over 100 countries. Entire
cells have been disbanded across the globe -- just as they were
planning more attacks. And I am able to report to you that more
than one-half of al-Qa'ida's top leadership has been killed or
captured, including some of those who conspired to attack New York
and Washington, and others who helped attack the USS Cole and our
Embassies in East Africa. In short, we have degraded and sown confusion
into the uppermost ranks of al-Qa'ida.
-- Since 9/11, over 170 countries and jurisdictions have issued
orders to freeze terrorists assets -- and so far, we have frozen
more than $144 million and designated more than 250 terrorist groups
and entities. Although any misguided fanatic with a fifty-cent
knife can try to hijack an aircraft -- training and maintaining
terrorist networks is expensive -- and we have made it much harder
for them to move funds and orchestrate attacks.
-- Since 9/11, more than 30 nations have signed onto all 12 of
the international antiterrorism conventions and protocols, and
many more have become parties to them. I understand that a key
goal of this conference is to learn and share ideas about how countries
can best meet international standards for combating terrorism --
and I applaud you on that important task.
-- Since 9/11, we have established both bilateral and multilateral
Task Forces, Working Groups, and dialogues, all directed toward
the same goal: to create barriers and obstacles that make it more
difficult for terrorists to operate.
In the fight against terrorism, triumph will not come solely,
or even primarily, through military might. Rather, it will come
through using every instrument of national power. We must fight
on five fronts, using effective diplomacy, military power, better
homeland defenses, intelligence, and vigorous efforts to cut off
terrorist financing. And within this group of five fronts, diplomacy
is first among equals. Indeed, diplomacy is the backbone of our
campaign -- for one simple reason: international partnerships help
us to act more effectively. In fact, the very success of our efforts
often rests with those nations in the Near East, Africa, and Asia,
who are working tirelessly with us to find and defeat terrorism.
Although we will not shrink from acting alone, if necessary, to
assert our right of self-defense, we prefer strongly the support
of the international community in fighting an enemy that is common
to us all. We work together on the challenges that lie ahead. We
continue to work closely with regional and global organizations
-- from NATO, the G-7, and the United Nations, to ASEAN, the OAS,
and the OSCE. And we are working with them to develop common approaches
and common goals in the global campaign against terrorism. Because,
in the final analysis, the chief aim of any coalition is a shared
vision of the future and agreement about how to get there.
This cooperation and sharing of ideas is especially important
on matters of law. Whether extraditing terrorists or controlling
their money flow, identifying them before they act or punishing
them afterwards -- on each of these critical issues, the law is
front and center. Over the past few years, there has been an upsurge
in the number of laws -- both domestic and international -- that
deal with terrorism-related issues. There are now more laws limiting
terrorists actions in more countries than ever before, and more
governments are willing to enforce those laws. My own country remains
committed to helping other nations draft terrorism legislation
and then, enforce it. Global efforts to make terrorist acts illegal
should send a powerful warning to terrorists everywhere, that we
will never rest until we capture them, try them, and pronounce
their just punishment.
And yet, there is still too wide a gulf between the anti-terrorism
laws of different countries. Often, the laws in our countries are
based on varying -- and sometimes, conflicting -- views of how
far a government should go to protect its citizens from terrorist
attacks. On the one hand, this can be helpful and represents the
diversity of legal, social, and political traditions that exist
in the world today. But on the other hand, these contrasts too
often create obstacles that hinder our efforts to combat terrorism.
If we are to be successful in our global campaign, it is essential
that we rise above these differences and reach common understanding
about what is required to meet the new security challenges of the
What constitutes a terrorist act? That is a question that, for
all its importance, the United Nations has not been able to answer.
To be sure, we have come a long way in codifying certain terrorist
acts as illegal. We can now agree, for example, that sabotaging
international aircraft and kidnapping diplomats are criminal offenses.
And thanks to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373, we now have
specific criteria by which to measure national progress in blocking
terrorist fundraising. And we are working hard to develop international
standards and best practices, whether through the Security Council's
Counterterrorism Committee or through the Financial Action Task
But much more remains to be done. We have only just begun to answer
the broader, fundamental questions about the growing tension between
strategic necessity and civil liberties. We have only just begun
to see that we must re-envision the role of law to address our
new security realities. And the larger challenge by far, will be
doing all this in a way that is consistent with both national and
international norms and needs.
The cloud of rubble and debris that obscured our vision on 9/11
has long since lifted, but only now do we see fully the extent
of the threat that looms before us. We see in all its deadly detail
a global network of affiliated terrorists
-- terrorists with sweeping political agendas and twisted interpretations
of Islamic law. We see in all its deadly detail the emerging danger
of non-conventional attacks using biological, chemical, and radiological
weapons. But we also see more clearly than ever what is required
to combat terrorism and make all our lives safer.
As President Kennedy said during the Cuban Missile Crisis, The
path we have chosen is full of hazards, as all paths are. The cost
of freedom is always high, but [we] have always paid for it. Ultimately,
the opposition to radical Islam must come from those in the Islamic
world, who are willing to pay the price for their freedom. We can
help -- and we will; we must win their trust. But in the end, it
is those who live among the extremists who must confront them,
and provide the peaceful alternative.
The terrorist agenda is incapable of meeting the needs of the
majority of the world's Muslims -- the need for economic growth
and stability, the need for honest government, and greater personal
freedom. With each thwarted terrorist attack -- and perhaps even
more, with each plan that reaches its lethal completion -- we understand
more fully what we are fighting for. And we understand that ultimately,
we will succeed not by the superiority of our weapons, nor even
by the effectiveness of our laws, but by the strength of our values,
and of our democratic way of life.
I would also like to add another observation. While on a long
delayed vacation recently in Italy, I began reflecting on the fact
that there is a basic difference in perspective between those countries
that have suffered from terrorist attacks and those that have not.
I do not wish terrorist attacks on anyone, but I fear that for
us to fully understand the impact of an attack -- and a country's
response to it -- we must suffer a loss. We hope your countries
do not have to go through this -- and in our efforts to fight terrorism
and strengthen cooperation around the world, we spend as much time
defending the citizens of your countries as we do defending our
Thank you, and I hope you take back to your own countries and
share with your governments and colleagues the lessons you learn
here this week.