Chapter 5: Terrorist Safe Havens (7120 Report) -- 5.1. Terrorist Safe Havens/Strategies, Tactics, Tools for Disrupting or Eliminating Safe Havens

Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
April 30, 2009

5.1. Terrorist Safe Havens

Terrorists operate without regard to national boundaries. To effectively counter terrorists, we are working to strengthen our regional and transnational partnerships and increasingly operate in a regional context. Denying safe haven plays a major role in undermining terrorists' capacity to operate effectively and forms a key element of U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

Terrorist safe havens are defined in this report as ungoverned, under-governed, or ill-governed areas of a country and non-physical areas where terrorists that constitute a threat to U.S. national security interests are able to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate in relative security because of inadequate governance capacity, political will, or both. Physical safe havens provide security for terrorist leaders, allowing them to plan acts of terrorism around the world.

Global communications and financial systems, especially those created by electronic infrastructure such as the internet, global media, and unregulated economic activity, further allow terrorists to carry out activities, particularly the dissemination of propaganda and misinformation, without the need for a physical safe haven. These "virtual" havens are highly mobile, difficult to track, difficult to control, and are not based in any particular state. This part of the report, however, will not address virtual safe havens, and will focus instead on physical safe havens.

Defeating the terrorist enemy requires a comprehensive effort executed locally, nationally, regionally, and globally. Working with partner nations, we must eliminate terrorist leadership, but incarcerating or killing terrorists will not achieve an end to terrorism. Over the last several years we’ve been working with partners on regional strategies to break up terrorist networks, eliminate terrorist safe havens, and disrupt those activities that support terrorists. The latter include funding, facilitation of terrorist travel, communications, and intelligence and information collection by terrorists seeking to identify potential targets. Finally, and most challenging, we must address the underlying conditions that terrorists exploit by offering a positive agenda focused on modernization and strengthening the rule of law. This includes programs based on economic liberalization, institutional reform, and democratization that would bring at-risk populations closer to the mainstream of the global system. We must continue to enlist the support and cooperation of a growing network of partners. If we are to be successful, we must all work together toward our common goal in a strategic and coordinated manner.



Somalia. A small number of al-Qa’ida (AQ) operatives remain in East Africa, particularly Somalia, where they pose a serious threat to U.S. and allied interests in the region. Although these elements were disrupted as a result of Ethiopian and Somali Transitional Federal Government military actions, AQ operatives continued to operate in Somalia and elsewhere in East Africa. Somalia remains a concern given the country's long, unguarded coastline, porous borders, continued political instability, and proximity to the Arabian Peninsula, all of which provide opportunities for terrorist transit and/or safe haven. AQ remains likely to make common cause with Somali extremists, most notably al-Shabaab, which has expanded its area of control during a protracted anti-Ethiopian/Transitional Federal Government (TFG) insurgency over the past two years.

The Trans-Sahara. Remote areas of the Sahel and Maghreb regions in Africa serve as terrorist safe havens because of limited government control in sparsely populated regions. The threat to U.S. and Western interests from Islamic extremists increased in 2007 as a result of the 2006 AQ merger with the Algerian-based Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which was subsequently renamed al-Qa‘ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM has subsequently conducted a number of attacks, primarily on Algerian targets, but also including Western interests. In contrast, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG), November 2007 merger with AQ has yielded few successful attacks to date, reflecting the depleted capabilities of LIFG within Libya. AQIM has used the Sahel to train Islamic militants in small arms, use of explosives, and guerilla tactics for the last several years. Training appears to take place on the move or in makeshift facilities in remote areas outside government control. While Libyan extremists have trained in AQIM-run camps, a goal of their preparations was also to join anti-Coalition fighting in Iraq, particularly during 2007. AQIM taps into already existing smuggling networks in the Sahel to obtain weapons, explosives, and supplies to support its operations.


The Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral. Southeast Asia includes a safe haven area composed of the Sulawesi Sea and Sulu Archipelago, which sit astride the maritime boundary between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The geography of the thousands of islands in the region made the area difficult for authorities to monitor. Worker migration, tourism, trade, and other non-terrorist activities, both licit and illicit, that occur in this maritime region pose another challenge to identifying and countering the terrorist threat. Although Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have improved their efforts to control their shared maritime boundaries, this expanse remains difficult to control. Surveillance is partial at best, and traditional smuggling and piracy groups provided an effective cover for terrorist activities, such as movement of personnel, equipment, and funds. The Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral represents a safe haven for the Jemaah Islamiya (JI) terrorist organization and the Philippine Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

The Southern Philippines. The southern Philippines, specifically the Sulu archipelago and Mindanao, serve as terrorist safe havens. The government’s control in this area is weak due to rugged terrain, weak rule of law, poverty, and local Muslim minority resentment of central governmental policies. In addition to a few Jemaah Islamiya (JI) fugitives and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the area hosts several terrorist and insurgent groups including the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army and the Rajah Solaiman Movement.


Iraq. Iraq is not currently a terrorist safe haven, but terrorists, including Sunni groups like al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), Ansar al-Islam (AI), and Ansar al-Sunna (AS), as well as Shia extremists and other groups, view Iraq as a potential safe haven. The Iraqi government, in coordination with the Coalition, made significant progress in combating AQI and affiliated terrorist organizations. The threat from AQI continued to diminish in 2008. AQI, although still dangerous, has experienced the defection of members, lost key mobilization areas, suffered disruption of support infrastructure and funding, and been forced to change targeting priorities. A number of factors have contributed to the substantial degradation of AQI. The alliance of convenience and mutual exploitation between AQI and many Sunni populations has deteriorated. The Baghdad Security Plan, initiated in February 2007, along with assistance from primarily Sunni tribal and local groups, has succeeded in reducing violence to late 2005 levels, has disrupted and diminished AQI infrastructure, and has driven some surviving AQI fighters from Baghdad and Anbar into the northern Iraqi provinces of Ninawa, Diyala, and Salah ad Din. Though AQI remained a threat, new initiatives to cooperate with tribal and local leaders in Iraq have led Sunni tribes and local citizens to reject AQI and its extremist ideology. The continued growth, professionalism, and improved capabilities of the Iraqi forces have increased their effectiveness in rooting out terrorist cells. Iraqis in Baghdad, Anbar and Diyala Provinces, and elsewhere have turned against AQI and were cooperating with the Iraqi government and Coalition Forces to defeat it.

Northern Iraq. The Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) maintained an active presence in northern Iraq, from which it coordinated attacks in the predominantly ethnic Kurdish areas of southeastern Turkey and provided logistical support to forces that launched attacks into Turkey, primarily against Turkish security forces, local Turkish officials, and villagers who opposed the organization. In October 2007, the Turkish Parliament overwhelmingly voted to extend the authorization for cross-border military operations against PKK encampments in northern Iraq. On November 19, 2008, Iraq, Turkey, and the United States renewed their formal trilateral security dialogue as one element of ongoing cooperative efforts to counter the PKK. Iraqi leaders, including those from the Kurdistan Regional Government, continued to publicly state that the PKK was a terrorist organization and would not be tolerated in Iraq.

Lebanon. Hizballah remained the most prominent and powerful terrorist group in Lebanon, with deep roots among Lebanon's large Shia community, especially in southern Lebanon, which comprises at least one third of Lebanon’s population. The Lebanese government continued to recognize Hizballah, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, as a legitimate "resistance group" and political party. Hizballah maintained offices in Beirut and military-style bases elsewhere in the country and was represented by elected deputies in parliament.

An increasing number of AQ-associated Sunni extremists are also operating within the country. AQ likely views Lebanon as an opportunity to expand its jihad into the Levant, especially after the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah. The organization uses the Palestinian refugee camps as staging grounds for recruitment, training, planning, and facilitating transit of foreign fighters to and from Iraq. The camps, run by Palestinian authorities inside the camps, continue to be no-go zones for the Lebanese Armed Forces and safe havens for armed Sunni extremists. See Chapter 3, State Sponsors of Terrorism, for information on Iran and Syria, which provided safe haven to Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups and were used as safe havens by AQ-linked operatives and groups.

Yemen. The security situation in Yemen continued to deteriorate in 2008. Yemen experienced several setbacks to its counterterrorism efforts as al-Qa’ida in Yemen (AQY) carried out several attacks against tourism and U.S and Yemeni government targets. The most notable was the September 17 attack against the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa that killed 18 people. A half a dozen other attacks occurred in Yemen in 2008 including a January attack that killed two Belgian tourists and two Yemeni drivers in the southern governorate of Hadramaut. Despite an August raid on an AQY cell that resulted in the death of its leader, the Government of Yemen has been unable to disrupt other AQY cells and its response to the terrorist threat was intermittent. Yemen continued to increase its maritime security capabilities, but land border security along the extensive frontier with Saudi Arabia remained a problem, despite increased Yemeni-Saudi cooperation on bilateral security issues. The Yemeni government’s focus on the al-Houthi rebellion in the Sada’a governorate in the North of the country and internal security concerns distracted its forces from adequately focusing on counterterrorism activities.


Afghan-Pakistan Border. Despite the efforts of both Afghan and Pakistani security forces, instability along the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier continued to provide al-Qa’ida (AQ) with leadership mobility and the ability to conduct training and operational planning, targeting Western Europe and U.S. interests in particular. Numerous senior AQ operatives have been captured or killed, but AQ leaders continued to plot attacks and to cultivate stronger operational connections that radiated outward from Pakistan to affiliates throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.

Pakistan. AQ terrorists, foreign insurgents, and Pakistani militants have broadened and strengthened their safe havens in portions of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan in 2008. AQ and others use the FATA to launch attacks in Afghanistan, plan operations worldwide, train, recruit, and provide propaganda. Other extremists, including Taliban and traditionally Kashmir-focused organizations such as Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin or Hizb-e-Islami Khalis, use the area for safe haven and share short term goals of eliminating Coalition presence in Afghanistan. They exploit the local sympathetic populations to recruit, train, and conduct cross-border raids and bombings in Afghanistan. Islamist Deobandi groups and many local tribesmen in the FATA and the NWFP continue to resist the government's efforts to improve governance and administrative control at the expense of longstanding local autonomy.

Extremists led by Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and other AQ-related extremists re-exerted their hold in areas of South Waziristan and captured over 200 government soldiers, who were later released after a local peace deal collapsed. Extremists have also gained footholds in the settled areas bordering the FATA, including Swat, Tank, and DI Khan. Pakistani security forces continue to fight militant leader Maulana Fazlullah in Swat, a settled area in NWFP. The Government of Pakistan maintains approximately 120,000 troops, including Army and Frontier Corps (FC) units, along the Afghanistan border. The United States plans to help modernize and increase the capacity of the FC so they can become a more effective force against extremists.

In order to increase the central government's writ in the FATA and eliminate safe havens throughout Pakistan, the Government of Pakistan seeks to implement a comprehensive approach with three prongs: political, security, and development. For the political prong, the government seeks to bolster effective governance by empowering local officials. For the security prong, Pakistan's objective is to increase the capacity and efficacy of local security forces. For the development prong, the Pakistani government has designed a comprehensive sustainable development plan for the region. The plan concentrates on four sectors – basic human services, natural resources, communication infrastructure, and economic development – and, if fully implemented, would cost $2 billion. The plan was developed with the extensive grassroots participation of all stakeholders to provide essential economic and livelihood opportunities while upgrading and expanding social services to a population at risk for recruitment by terrorist organizations.

Afghanistan. The Afghan government, in concert with ISAF/NATO forces and the international community, continued efforts to eliminate terrorist safe havens and to bring and build security on the Afghan side of the border. The border areas remained contested, however, with ongoing insurgent and terrorist attacks, including AQ activity. Attacks by the Taliban and other insurgent groups and criminal networks, along with those of extremist movements such as Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) and the Haqqani network, continued throughout Afghanistan. Criminal networks and narcotics cultivation remained particularly prevalent in the south and east of the country, constituting a source of funding for the insurgency in Afghanistan. AQ maintained its support to militants inside Afghanistan, providing funding, training, and personnel to facilitate terrorist and insurgent operations. Anti-Coalition organizations such as HIG continued to operate in coordination with AQ, Taliban, and other insurgent groups, primarily in the east.


Colombia Border Region. The regions adjacent to Colombia’s borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Brazil include rough terrain and dense forest cover. These conditions, coupled with low population densities and weak government presence, create potential areas of safe haven for insurgent and terrorist groups, particularly the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Brazil, Peru, and Panama have often adopted a tacit policy mix of containment and non-confrontation with Colombian narcoterrorist groups, although some confrontations do occur. Much depends on local decisions and cross-border relations. Ecuador increased its controls and demonstrated a willingness to militarily confront encroaching foreign narcoterrorists. The FARC has used areas in neighboring countries near Colombia's border to rest and regroup, procure supplies, and stage and train for terrorist attacks.

Venezuela. Corruption within the Venezuelan government and military; ideological ties with the FARC; and weak international counternarcotics cooperation have fueled a permissive operating environment for drug traffickers and an increase in drug transit to the United States and Europe.

The Tri-Border Area (Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay). No corroborated information shows that Hizballah, HAMAS, or other Islamic extremist groups used the Tri-Border Area (TBA) for military-type training or planning of terrorist operations, but the United States remains concerned that these groups use the region as a safe haven to raise funds. Suspected supporters of Islamic terrorist groups, including Hizballah, take advantage of loosely regulated territory and the proximity of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay and Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil to participate in a wide range of illicit activities and to solicit donations from within the sizable Muslim communities in the region and elsewhere in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. The Argentine, Brazilian, and Paraguayan governments have long been concerned with arms and drugs smuggling, document fraud, money laundering, trafficking in persons, and the manufacture and movement of contraband goods through this region. In the early years of this decade, the governments of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay invited the United States to participate in the Three Plus One Group on Tri-Border Area Security to focus on practical steps to strengthen financial and border controls and enhance law enforcement and intelligence sharing. The USG has been part of the “3+1” since 2002, and our law enforcement agencies are very active in the region. Despite their view that concrete evidence does not exist of terrorist financing in their countries or in the TBA, Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay have made notable strides in launching initiatives to strengthen counterterrorist and law enforcement institutions and cooperation, including developing financial intelligence units, broadening border security cooperation, augmenting information sharing among prosecutors responsible for counterterrorism cases, and establishing trade transparency units.

5.1.a. International Conventions and Protocols Matrix


The Regional Strategic Initiative. The State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism (S/CT) has developed the Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI) in key terrorist theaters of operation to collectively assess the threat, pool resources, and devise collaborative strategies, action plans, and policy recommendations. The RSI promotes cooperation between our counterterrorism partners, for example, between Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines as they confront terrorist transit across the Sulawesi Sea; or among Mauritania, Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Chad, and Mali, to counter al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Terrorists are highly adaptable. Defeating them requires both centralized coordination and field authority. Resources and responses must be applied in a rapid, flexible, and focused manner. The RSI helps achieve this coordinated approach. In 2008, RSI strategy groups were in place for South East Asia, Iraq and its neighbors, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Western Mediterranean, East Africa, the Trans-Sahara, South Asia, and Latin America.


Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States has acted to block funding of terrorists and their supporters, and to promote international cooperation against them. On September 23, 2001, the President signed E.O. 13224, giving the United States a powerful tool to impede terrorist funding. This Executive Order (EO) provides a means to disrupt the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organizations by authorizing the USG to designate and block the assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism. The EO prohibits transactions between U.S. persons and designated individuals and entities. In addition, because of the pervasiveness of the financial base of foreign terrorists, the order authorizes the USG to block the assets of individuals and entities that provide support, offer assistance to, or otherwise associate with designated terrorists and terrorist organizations. The order also covers their subsidiaries, front organizations, agents, and associates.

The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, also has the authority to designate groups as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. These designations play a critical role in U.S. counterterrorism efforts and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business. As a consequence of such a designation, it is unlawful for U.S. citizens or any persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to provide material support or resources to a designated FTO. U.S. financial institutions are also required to freeze the funds of designated FTOs.

2008 Designations under E.O. 13224 (FTO Designations are discussed in Chapter 6):

  • On March 11, the United States designated Harakat Ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) under Executive Order 13224 for its support to terrorist organizations. The group seeks to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh and was inspired by Usama bin Ladin’s ideology in 1992. In April of that year several of HUJI-B’s leaders addressed a press conference to demand that Bangladesh transform into an Islamic state. HUJI-B has connections to Pakistani militant groups Harakat ul-Jihadi-Islami (HUJI) and Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), which have similar agendas including the integration of both Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan. Many of HUJI-B’s members reportedly both trained and fought against the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan together with the Mujahadeen. Sympathizers within Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are suspected of providing training to the group. HUJI-B is also linked to Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF), a group that claimed responsibility for an attack on the American Center in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, in 2002.
  • On March 19, the United States designated al-Shabaab under Executive Order 13224. Founded and led by Adan Hashi Ayro, an alumnus of 1990s Afghanistan terrorist training camps, al-Shabaab is dedicated to the removal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia and the (re)-establishment of Sharia law. The group formed in 2004 as a youth movement of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), but after the ICU lost power in 2006 to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Ethiopian military the group started recruiting jihadists to wage war against “enemies of Islam.” In December 2007, Ayro, the head of Somalia’s Islamist movement Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, and several hundred purported followers fled Mogadishu to Somalia’s southern border with Kenya.
  • On May 27, the United States designated Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Muhammad Saeed, Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq, and Haji Muhammad Ashraf under Executive Order 13224 for providing support to and holding leadership positions in Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LT), a Pakistan-based terrorist group with links to Usama bin Ladin and the al-Qa’ida (AQ) network. LT has conducted numerous attacks against Indian military and civilian targets since 1993. The Government of India implicated LT in multiple attacks from 2001 through 2008, including the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. In March 2002, senior AQ leader Abu Zubaydah was captured at an LT safe house in Pakistan. Despite being banned by the Government of Pakistan in January 2002, LT continues to operate in Kashmir and engage in or support terrorist activities worldwide.
    • Muhammad Saeed is LT's overall leader and chief and plays a key role in LT's operational and fundraising activities worldwide. Saeed oversaw the management of a terrorist training camp in Pakistan in 2006, including funding of the camp, which prepared militants to fight against Coalition forces in Afghanistan. In 2005, he determined where graduates of an LT camp in Pakistan should be sent to fight, and personally organized the infiltration of LT militants into Iraq during a trip to Saudi Arabia. That same year, Saeed arranged for an LT operative to be sent to Europe as LT's European fundraising coordinator.
    • Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is LT's chief of operations. In this capacity he directed LT military operations in Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq, and Southeast Asia. Lakhvi instructed LT associates in 2006 to train operatives for suicide bombings. Prior to that, he instructed operatives to conduct attacks in populated areas. In 2004, Lakhvi sent operatives and funds to attack U.S. forces in Iraq. Lakhvi also directed an LT operative to travel to Iraq in 2003 to assess the terrorist situation there. In past years, Lakhvi has played an important role in LT fundraising activities, reportedly receiving AQ-affiliated donations on behalf of LT.
    • Haji Muhammad Ashraf is LT's chief of finance, a position he has held since at least 2003. Ashraf traveled to the Middle East in 2003 and 2004 where he personally collected donations on behalf of LT. Ashraf assisted the Saudi Arabia-based LT leadership in 2003 in expanding its organization and increasing its fundraising activities.
    • Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq is a financier and is credited with being the main financier behind the establishment of the LT and its activities in the 1980s and 1990s. He has also served as the leader of LT in Saudi Arabia. In 2003, Bahaziq coordinated LT's fundraising activities with Saudi nongovernmental organizations and Saudi businessmen, and encouraged LT operatives to continue and accelerate fundraising and organizing activities. As of mid-2005, Bahaziq played a key role in LT's propaganda and media operations.
  • On June 13, the United States designated the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS) and its branches and subsidiaries under Executive Order 13224 for providing financial and material support to AQ and its affiliates. RIHS is a Kuwaiti-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that has also provided financial support for acts of terrorism. In 2002, when the United States first designated RIHS-Afghanistan and RIHS-Pakistan, there was no evidence that the Kuwait-based RIHS headquarters (RIHS-HQ) knew that the two branch offices were financing AQ. Since that time, however, evidence has mounted implicating RIHS-HQ in terrorism support activity. The USG has learned that RIHS senior leadership, who have actively managed all aspects of the organization's day-to-day operations, have been aware of both legitimate and illegitimate uses of RIHS funds. Suspected of providing support to terrorism, RIHS offices have been closed or raided by the governments of Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Kosovo, and Russia. RIHS-HQ provides significant financial and logistical support to the Pakistan-based UN-designated terrorist group Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LT) in South Asia and to Jemaah Islamiya (JI) in Southeast Asia.
  • On June 16, the United States designated the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM) under Executive Order 13224 for its support to terrorist organizations. RSM was established in 2002 and seeks to return the Philippines to an Islamic state. The group is named after Rajah Solaiman, the last king of Manila before Spanish colonization in the 1500s introduced Catholicism along with European rule to the region. The group's members have reportedly been trained, financed, and directed by both the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf Group and the Indonesia-based JI.
  • On November 12, the United States designated the Union of Good under Executive Order 13224. The organization was created by HAMAS leadership to transfer funds to that terrorist organization in late 2000 shortly after the start of the second Intifada. The Union of Good facilitates the transfer of tens of millions of dollars a year to HAMAS- managed associations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In addition to providing cover for HAMAS financial transfers, some of the funds transferred by the Union of Good have compensated HAMAS terrorists by providing payments to the families of suicide bombers. The group’s executive leadership and board of directors include HAMAS leaders and other terrorist supporters.
  • On November 20, the United States designated Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamed, Issa Osman Issa, and Mukhtar Robow under Executive Order 13224 for providing support to al-Shabaab, a terrorist group linked to AQ. The individuals include the organization’s reputed leader, its spokesman, and a regional military leader. These three leaders use lethal tactics to undermine peace and civil society in Somalia and they have had direct involvement in the kidnappings and cold-blooded murders of numerous Somali officials and civilians. Al-Shabaab has used intimidation and violence to undermine the Somali government and threaten civil society activists working to bring about peace through political dialogue and reconciliation. Many of al-Shabaab's senior leaders are believed to have trained and fought with AQ in Afghanistan.
    • Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed is the founder and a current leader of al-Shabaab. He claimed his group was responsible for the May 2007 assassination of a judge in Beledweyne, Somalia, and in March 2007, he coordinated attacks on Ethiopian troops in Somalia. Aw-Mohamed has also served as a conduit for financing to al-Shabaab.
    • Issa Osman Issa has a leadership role in al-Shabaab and has served as a commander of al­-Shabaab forces in Somalia. In late April 2007, Issa led a militia assault against Mogadishu's Basil Hotel, often frequented by Ugandan peacekeepers. He also was reportedly involved in recruiting an individual to carry out a successful April 2007 suicide attack against the Ethiopian military presence in Afgooye, Somalia. Before al-Shabaab's creation, Issa was one of the operatives who fired the surface-to-air missiles used in the failed 2002 attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in Mombasa, Kenya. Issa was also involved in the planning of the near-simultaneous attack in 2002 against the Paradise Hotel in Kikambala, Kenya, in which a vehicle-borne explosive device struck the hotel killing 12 and injuring 40. He is reportedly linked to 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Africa.
    • Mukhtar Robow serves as al-Shabaab's spokesperson, communicating to the press and public on its behalf. He has also served as al-Shabaab's spiritual leader and as its military commander in Southern Somalia. Robow has targeted Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Ethiopian, and African Union troops in Somalia. Robow and former al­-Shabaab leader Aden Hashi Ayrow (deceased) were responsible for the November 2006 suicide attack against a TFG checkpoint in Baidoa, Somalia.

REWARDS FOR JUSTICE (RFJ). Through the RFJ program, the Secretary of State offers and pays rewards for information that prevents or successfully resolves an act of international terrorism against United States persons or property. Reward offers of up to $25 million have been authorized for information leading to the capture of Usama bin Ladin and other key terrorist leaders. Since its inception in 1984, RFJ has paid more than $82 million to over 50 people who provided credible information.

In 2008, the RFJ program added the following six terrorists to its Most Wanted list.

  • Baitullah Mehsud, the senior leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban (Taliban Movement of Pakistan) who is regarded as the principal al-Qa’ida (AQ) leader in the Pakistani tribal areas of South Waziristan, with a reward offer of up to USD five million;
  • Radullan Sahiron, a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, with a reward offer of up to USD one million;
  • Abdul Basit Usman, a known terrorist responsible for bombings in the southern Philippines, with a reward offer of up to USD one million;
  • Khair Mundos, an ASG member known to have funneled money from AQ to be used in bombings against Americans, with a reward offer of up to USD 500,000;
  • Prominent AQ member Abu Yahya al-Libi, who has appeared in a number of propaganda videos, with a reward offer of up to USD one million; and
  • RFJ added Sirajuddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the Haqqani terrorist network who maintains close ties to AQ, with a reward offer of up to USD five million.

All of these reward offerings are listed in greater detail on the website.


International cooperation remained essential to initiatives in fields ranging from intelligence and law enforcement coordination, to targeted financial sanctions, and to norms and standards of financial regulation, particularly because most funds used to support terrorism are located outside the jurisdiction of the United States.

Throughout the year, the United States worked closely with multilateral partners in numerous counterterrorist financing efforts, including the Counterterrorism Committee of the United Nations, the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and FATF-style regional bodies, the G8's Counterterrorism Action Group (CTAG), and international financial institutions. In addition, the United States continued its regular dialogue on terrorist financing with the European Union. Since its launch in September 2004, the dialogue has served as a framework for ongoing exchanges to promote information sharing and cooperation on joint issues of concern, and on technical assistance issues.

European nations and international partners are active participants in a variety of multilateral fora that contributed to counterterrorist efforts, including the G8, NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Organization of American States. The United States and its partners worked through these organizations to establish and implement best practices, build the counterterrorism and law enforcement capabilities of "weak but willing" states, and to institutionalize global counterterrorism. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have pledged to provide countries with training to increase their capacity to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

The United Nations (UN). The Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) was established by Security Council Resolution 1373 after September 11, 2001, with the goal of enhancing the ability of UN member states to combat terrorism. The Counter-Terrorism Committee's Executive Directorate (CTED), established by Resolution 1535 in 2004, became fully operational in 2005. CTED's mandate is to enhance the Committee's ability to monitor the implementation of Resolution 1373 and to advance capacity-building work by facilitating technical assistance to member states and promoting closer cooperation and coordination with international, regional, and sub-regional organizations. It also conducts visits to member states to assess the implementation of Resolution 1373. CTED visited six states in 2008: Niger, Jamaica, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and South Africa. UN Security Council Resolution 1805 (March 20, 2008) extended CTED’s mandate until December 31, 2010, and affirmed the CTC’s endorsement of a revised organizational plan for CTED.

The Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) brought together 24 UN entities across the UN system, which work under mandates from the General Assembly, the Security Council, and various specialized agencies, funds, and programs to implement the historic Global Counterterrorism Strategy, which was agreed to by all 192 member countries in September 2006. In 2007, the Task Force developed a program of work and established working groups to carry forward a first set of initiatives to implement the Strategy. A compilation of activities undertaken by the Task Force entities in implementing the strategy was issued in a report by the Secretary General in July 2008.

The United Nations Security Council 1540 Committee on non-proliferation was established after in the adoption of Resolution 1540 “that all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery.” The United States co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1810, which extended the work of the 1540 Committee for three years until April 2011; highlighting a shift in emphasis from reporting to implementation (national action plans) and consideration of options for developing and making more effective existing funding mechanisms to enhance overall technical assistance efforts.

UN Specialized Agencies are also involved in the work of fighting terrorism. For example, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted passport security standards, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC's) Terrorism Prevention Branch and Global Programme Against Money Laundering continued to provide assistance to countries in the legal and related aspects of counterterrorism. UNODC’s mandate in the area of counterterrorism is specifically focused on building the legal framework necessary for member states to become party to and implement the international counterterrorism conventions and protocols. The Terrorism Prevention Branch also focused on strengthening the capacity of the national criminal justice systems to apply the provisions of these instruments in compliance with the principles of rule of law and on providing substantive input on counterterrorism issues to intergovernmental bodies.

International organized crime networks and members can provide support to terrorist organizations and facilitate their activities. The UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) is the main international instrument to counter international organized crime. The UNODC’s implementation of the CTOC and its Protocols, specifically the Protocol on Human Smuggling, contributed to the global efforts to counter terrorism by providing technical assistance and training, and strengthening countries’ legal systems and law enforcement and border control capabilities. Building the capacity of countries to control their borders helps disrupt terrorist mobility.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continued to implement its Nuclear Security Plan (2006-2009) for combating the threat of terrorism involving nuclear and other radioactive material. IAEA promoted its member states’ ratification and implementation of international instruments relating to nuclear security, including the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and the non-binding IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources. The IAEA Nuclear Security Series is a framework of guidance documents designed to help states establish a coherent nuclear security infrastructure.

The United States has been working with and through the IAEA to enhance security over at-risk, vulnerable nuclear, and other radioactive materials within the IAEA’s 144 Member States to reduce the risk that such materials could be used in a terrorist event.

In 2008:

  • The IAEA published several documents in the Nuclear Security Series, notably Nuclear Security Culture, Security in the Transport of Radioactive Material, Protective and Preventive Measures against Insider Threats, and Combating Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear and other Radioactive Material.
  • The IAEA continued to prioritize nuclear security training and support the development of mechanisms for nuclear security education.
  • More than 1500 participants from 87 countries took part in IAEA nuclear security training in a total of 68 events.
  • Participation in the IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB) program expanded to 100 States. As of December 31, ITDB Participating States had reported or otherwise confirmed in total 1,340 incidents of nuclear or radiological materials outside legitimate control to the ITDB.

The IAEA continued to work with States to improve global controls for radioactive sources, particularly national regulatory infrastructures and export controls. Efforts included urging States to make political commitments to follow the non-binding IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security for Radioactive Sources and the associated Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources, the latter of which represents the first international export control framework for radioactive sources. To date, 92 States have made a commitment to follow the Code of Conduct and 46 States to follow the import/export Guidance. In May, the IAEA held a meeting attended by experts from 88 Member States that sought to harmonize implementation of global export controls for sources, as provided in the guidance.

The IAEA continued, upon request, to assist States in developing and implementing measures to prevent incidents of nuclear terrorism at major public events. Drawing on ITDB reporting, the IAEA provided information support and advice in the areas of detection, interdiction, and response. In addition, training courses, workshops, and exercises were conducted and detection equipment purchased and supplied. In 2008, working in close cooperation with the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), the IAEA, drawing on its successful nuclear security programs at the 2004 Olympics in Greece and at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, successfully implemented a major nuclear security program leading up to and during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in China.

ITDB also continued to expand its membership and now includes 100 countries. The ITDB is a voluntary program whereby states confirm incidents of illicit trafficking or other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive material. The ITDB collects authoritative information on illicit trafficking events and helps participating states better understand illicit trafficking events and trends. Additionally, the ITDB is an authoritative database for tracking nuclear and radioactive materials that have fallen outside of legitimate control and that could be used in potential actions of terrorism.

Group of Eight (G8) Counterterrorism Actions. The Group of Eight (G8), composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, continued to develop and promote effective counterterrorism standards and best practices throughout the year.

Japan hosted the 2008 annual G8 Summit in Toyako Hokkaido, where G8 Leaders committed to take action on a range of counterterrorism issues, including:

  • strengthening cooperation among the G8 and UN on capacity building for countries requiring
  • assistance to meet international counterterrorism commitments;
  • countering bulk cash smuggling and the exploitation of charities that finance terrorism and
  • violent extremism;
  • continuing to develop measures to counter and prevent radicalization leading to violence;
  • reinforcing efforts to tackle chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear terrorism;
  • protecting against attacks on energy infrastructure and transportation systems; and
  • preventing abuse of information/communication technology.

G8 Leaders condemned all terrorist acts as criminal and unjustifiable, particularly the tactics of suicide bombings, the recruitment of the young or disadvantaged to carry out such bombings, and hostage taking. G8 Leaders also committed to economic and social development along with counterterrorism in the Afghanistan and Pakistan border regions.

Counterterrorism Action Group (CTAG). At the June 2003 Evian Summit, G8 Leaders adopted a plan to build political will and capacity to combat terrorism globally, and established the Counterterrorism Action Group (CTAG) to implement this plan. CTAG supports the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee's efforts to monitor and promote implementation of UNSCR 1373 by developing an active forum for donors to coordinate counterterrorism cooperation with, and assistance to, third countries. It promotes counterterrorism by prioritizing needs and targeting and coordinating assistance to expand counterterrorism capacity in recipient countries; and encourages all countries to meet their obligations under UNSCR 1373 and, for states party to them, the 13 international counterterrorism conventions and protocols.

Under the leadership of the rotating G8 presidency, CTAG meets two times per year with the active participation of G8 member states, the European Commission, and other donor countries and organizations. Coordination meetings hosted by the local embassy of the G8 presidency were also held among CTAG members' diplomatic missions in recipient countries, and in coordination with the UN Counterterrorism Executive Directorate’s country visits.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and FATF-Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs). The United States continued to play a strong role in developing new initiatives within FATF as well as throughout the entire FATF network to meet evolving anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing threats. In 2008, the United States delegation continued its contributions to the Plenary on issues of policy as well as to the Working Groups on issues of implementation. The United States continued its co-chair role, with Italy, on the International Cooperation Review Group to address jurisdictional anti-money laundering/counterterrorism financing systemic deficiencies and threats. The United States also participated in major FATF work comprising examination, negotiation, and implementation of Special Recommendation IX on cash couriers for supranational entities, examination of proliferation finance, and discussion of the inclusion of the FATF-style regional bodies in the FATF network. In 2008, additional work contributed by the United States included outreach to the private sector, public-private partnerships, development of guidance for non-financial businesses and professions, hosting mutual evaluation assessor training, and participating in FATF mutual evaluations. The United States played a similar and equally active role in the FSRBs, supporting FSRB-executed training and typologies workshops and providing technical assistance not only to members, but to the Secretariats themselves, as well as taking part in Contact Groups, mutual evaluations, and Expert Review Groups, and providing advice upon request with an eye to increasing the capacity and transparency of the Secretariats.

European Union (EU). The United States and the EU cooperated closely on combating terrorism. At the June 2008 U.S.-EU Summit, both parties recognized the need to play an active role in multilateral counterterrorism efforts at the UN and to ensure effective implementation of the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy. The EU Counterterrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, coordinated the counterterrorism work of the Council of the European Union, composed of representatives from all 27 EU Member States. De Kerchove participated in regular dialogues with U.S. counterterrorism officials.

The U.S. and EU have deepened cooperation in the area of domestic security, including reciprocally participating in each others’ domestic response exercises. The European Council Secretariat attended the TOPOFF 4 (Top Officials) exercise to test U.S. “all-hazards response” capabilities. Likewise, the United States recently participated in the European Council’s review of its emergency and crisis coordination arrangements. The United States and EU continued to collaborate on techniques for identifying terrorist travel. U.S. experts have met with EU counterparts on a number of occasions to exchange lessons learned on the development of passenger prescreening systems, including the use of Passenger Name Records.

In September, the European Court of Justice held that EU implementation of asset freezes required by the United Nations sanctions regime against al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and their associates, violated procedural and property rights enshrined in European Community law. The Court annulled the regulation (insofar as it applied to the two plaintiffs), but gave the EU three months to revise it to rectify these defects. There are several other similar challenges to the EU’s implementation of counterterrorism sanctions pending before the European Court of Justice. EU officials are working to remedy issues raised in the September ruling while preserving a strong counterterrorism effort that complies with UN obligations.

EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers approved a change to the existing EU Framework Decision on Terrorism. Among other changes, the Ministers added incitement and terrorist training as criminal offences under the EU legal framework. The United States and the EU’s Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust) have improved cooperation and information exchange among investigators and prosecutors. Pursuant to the U.S.-Eurojust Cooperative Agreement, a U.S. National Liaison Prosecutor, resident in Brussels, assists with operational cases that include several EU member states and assists in mutual legal assistance or extradition issues involving member states. The United States and all but three EU Member States (Belgium, Greece, and Italy) have ratified the U.S.-EU Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements; in November 2008, Eurojust hosted a seminar for law enforcement practitioners from the United States and EU Member States on implementation of the agreements.

The United States and EU have established a roadmap toward mutual recognition between the EU Authorized Economic Operator provisions and the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, which are based on a risk management approach to cargo security. A Secure Freight Initiative pilot project in Southampton, UK was concluded in 2008 and provided valuable lessons that will assist in determining how best to execute the 9/11 Implementation Act’s requirement for 100 percent scanning of maritime cargo containers.

The United States and EU organized an experts’ seminar in December 2008 on enhancing the control of explosives. The forum focused on two high-priority shared challenges: improvised liquid or “home-made” explosives and response issues. Discussions are underway to expand existing transatlantic cooperation on research and development to include security research.
Despite this progress, EU concerns about privacy protection in the United States continue to present an operational and political obstacle to further collaboration. However, the High Level Contact Group created in 2006 to assess this problem has made considerable progress. On June 10, 2008, the EU-U.S. Summit recognized that the fight against transnational crime and terrorism requires the ability to share personal data for law enforcement purposes while fully protecting the fundamental rights and civil liberties of both sides’ citizens and residents. At the December 2008 Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial, the United States and EU reaffirmed their commitment to a series of basic privacy principles and moved closer to consensus on their application in transatlantic data transfers.

The United States and the EU continued to cooperate on combating terrorist financing, including:

  • Discussing implementation of specific Financial Action Task Force Special Recommendations, including Special Recommendation IX on Cash Couriers and the EU’s request to be treated as a single jurisdiction for purposes of evaluation;
  • Improving implementation of FATF SR III on developing effective targeted sanctions regimes;
  • Improving procedures for information sharing and for working with private sector financial institutions to strengthen implementation of asset freeze measures;
  • Exchanging information and best practices in expert-level discussions; and
  • Holding regular senior-level meetings and practitioner workshops between the United States and EU on counterterrorist financing issues.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The United States worked with the OSCE through its Action against Terrorism Unit (ATU) to encourage cooperation and to address existing gaps in the capabilities and legal frameworks of the OSCE’s 56 participating States. In July, the OSCE hosted an expert meeting to identify areas where the OSCE could contribute to the enhancement of protection from terrorist attacks of Critical Energy Infrastructure (CEI). The meeting highlighted various global threats to CEI, as well as potential responses, including using the OSCE as a platform to enhance information sharing, facilitate cooperation with relevant international organizations, and promote public private partnerships. In September, the OSCE organized a high-level political conference, a joint initiative of the United States and the Russian Federation, on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). The conference highlighted the fact that effective solutions to fighting terrorism require integrated approaches that harness the expertise of all sectors of society by bringing them together in close public-private cooperation. Over 250 participants from 54 OSCE participating states and Partners for Cooperation, and 45 civil society and business community participants, as well as representatives from 18 international organizations, discussed ways to best draw upon the capacity of businesses and civil society to help governments fight terrorism. In October, the OSCE hosted a workshop on countering violent extremism and radicalization to discuss terrorist recruitment methods. The OSCE also continued its considerable efforts to provide technical capacity-building assistance to help participating states detect and prevent the use of fraudulent and counterfeit travel documents, to make it more difficult for terrorists and other criminals to forge or counterfeit them, and to encourage the reporting of lost and stolen travel documents to INTERPOL. The OSCE Helsinki Ministerial issued a decision supporting the G8 Leaders’ statement of counterterrorism principles and called upon participating states, inter alia, to implement the UN Global Counterterrorism strategy, promote PPPs, and enhance cooperation in countering violent extremism and radicalization, and continue to support the implementation of UNSCR 1540.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO leads International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stability operations against radical insurgents in Afghanistan. NATO also conducts Operation Active Endeavor (OAE), a naval mission that aims to combat terrorism by monitoring Mediterranean maritime traffic. The Alliance is engaged in a far-reaching transformation of its forces and capabilities to better deter and defend against 21st Century threats, including terrorism, and is working closely with partner countries and organizations to ensure interoperability of forces, thus enhancing security and broadening cooperation.

NATO adopted its Military Concept against Terrorism in 2002, fielded a Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) defense battalion in 2004, and established a special Terrorist Threat Intelligence Unit. Efforts were underway to enhance Allied protection against the potential attempts to disrupt critical infrastructure (energy, cyber) systems. Through NATO’s Defense Against Terrorism (DAT) program, the Alliance is developing 10 cutting-edge technologies to protect troops and civilians against terrorist attacks. In December 2008, NATO Foreign Ministers condemned all terrorist acts as unjustifiable and criminal and deplored tactics such as suicide bombing and hostage taking, as well as the recruitment of the young and disadvantaged to conduct terrorist activities. NATO’s 26 Allies and 24 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Partners have all submitted initial reports as called for by UN Security Council Resolution 1540. NATO also supported a UNSCR 1540 regional implementation seminar in June in Croatia.

Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP). The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) is a multi-faceted, multi-year strategy to combat violent extremism and defeat terrorist organizations by strengthening individual-country and regional counterterrorism capabilities, enhancing and institutionalizing cooperation among the region’s security and intelligence organizations, promoting democratic governance, and discrediting terrorist ideology. The overall goals are to enhance the indigenous capacities of governments in the pan-Sahel (Mauritania, Mali, Chad, and Niger, as well as Nigeria and Senegal) to confront the challenge posed by terrorist organizations in the trans-Sahara, and to facilitate cooperation between those countries and our Maghreb partners (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia). (See Chapter 2, Country Reports, Africa, for further information on the TSCTP.)

The African Union (AU). The African Union (AU) has several counterterrorism legal instruments including a Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism (1999), a 2002 Protocol to the Convention, and a 2004 Plan of Action. The Addis Ababa-based AU Commission provided guidance to its 53-member states and coordinated limited technical assistance to cover member states' counterterrorism capability gaps. In 2005, with Danish funding, the AU hired a consultant to draft a counterterrorism Model Law to serve as a template to assist member states in drafting language to implement counterterrorism commitments. In December 2006, an AU-sponsored group of experts drafted counterterrorism language, which was in the process of being legislated. The group of experts decided to retain options for both broad and specific laws and determined that new legislation was needed to combat money laundering and other financial crimes. In August, the AU Peace and Security Council requested the AU Commission to expedite the development of the African Anti-Terrorism Law. Some AU member states maintained that Africa's colonial legacy made it difficult to accept a definition of terrorism that excluded an exception for "freedom fighters." Nonetheless, the AU is on record strongly condemning acts of terrorism. In August 2008, the Peace and Security Council issued a statement condemning "unreservedly acts of terrorism, wherever they occur." (See Chapter 2, Country Reports, Africa, for further information on the AU.)

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). In January 2007, the Heads of State of the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, comprising Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, signed a new convention on counterterrorism cooperation. The new ASEAN treaty recognized the importance of having a global legal framework to combat terrorism, as established by the universal conventions on terrorism. The treaty further recognized that terrorism offenses such as hijacking, hostage-taking, and bombing are not political offenses, and terrorists cannot hide behind political justifications to evade justice. Under the new Convention, ASEAN members agreed to cooperate to prevent terrorist attacks, terrorist financing, and terrorist movement across national borders. They also agreed to cooperate to enhance intelligence exchanges, promote public participation in counterterrorism efforts, and strengthen preparedness for dealing with chemical, biological, and nuclear terrorism. The United States worked closely with ASEAN to enhance counterterrorism cooperation. The United States actively participated in counterterrorism-related activities of the 26-member ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), including the annual meetings on counterterrorism and transnational crime.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The 21 member economies of APEC (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam), are committed to creating a safe environment for the movement of goods, services, and people throughout the region. Since 2001, APEC has worked to secure the region’s economic, trade, investment, and financial systems from terrorist attack and/or abuse by proliferators. The APEC Counterterrorism Task Force (CTTF) was established in 2003 to coordinate implementation of Leaders' and Ministers' statements on counterterrorism and non-proliferation, promote information sharing, and develop counterterrorism capacity in the region. APEC also leverages its relationship with the private sector to promote public-private partnerships in counterterrorism and secure trade.

In 2008, APEC Leaders’ recognized that joint counterterrorism efforts are based on a common understanding that all terrorist acts are criminal and unjustifiable, and must be unequivocally condemned, especially when they target or injure civilians, or use the abhorrent practices of suicide bombing and hostage taking. The United States continued its work within APEC to dismantle transnational terrorist groups and to eliminate the severe and growing danger posed by proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. The United States also led capacity-building work to counter biological and chemical terrorism, completing a joint pilot project with Peru to implement the APEC Food Defense Principles. The United States promoted APEC efforts to counter terrorist financing and to help member economies implement the Financial Action Task Force Special Recommendations on Terrorist Financing. Lastly, the United States actively supported APEC initiatives to strengthen aviation, land, and maritime security, and support trade recovery following an attack.

OAS Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE). On March 12, 2008, at the Eighth Regular Session of CICTE in Washington DC, the Member States adopted the Declaration of Reaffirmation of the Hemispheric Commitment to Fighting Terrorism, which acknowledged that terrorism constitutes a grave threat to the lives, well-being, and fundamental freedoms of all people, threatens international peace and security, and undermines the values and principles underlying the inter-American system, democratic institutions, and the freedoms enshrined in and promoted by the Charter of the OAS, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and other international instruments. The CICTE Ministers also reaffirmed their commitments and conclusions adopted in the Declaration of Panama on the Protection of Critical Infrastructure in the Hemisphere in the Face of Terrorism, in the Declarations adopted at the six previous regular sessions of CICTE, as well as the importance of the United Nations Global Counterterrorism Strategy, and the relevance of the implementation of these in the fight against terrorism; and the importance of the efforts of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and its commitment to implement and promote internationally its 40 Recommendations on Money Laundering and Nine Special Recommendations on Terrorism Financing. CICTE operates as the counterterrorism policy body for the hemisphere, with its experts representing and advising the 34 member state governments on how to meet the requirements of the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, UN Security Council Resolutions (especially 1373, 1267, and 1540), and the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism (IACAT).

In 2008, the Secretariat received over $4.8 million in voluntary contributions, a 300% increase over 2007. It conducted 115 activities, training courses and technical assistance missions, benefiting over 2,800 participants through nine programs in five areas: border control, critical infrastructure protection, counterterrorism legislative assistance and terrorist financing, crisis management of emerging terrorist threats, and international cooperation and partnerships. Key achievements included the development of new methodologies—workshops on best practices and crisis management exercises—and the expansion of international partnerships.

Tri-Border Area (Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay). The Governments of the Tri-Border Area (TBA) – Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay – have long been concerned with arms and drugs smuggling, document fraud, money laundering, trafficking in persons, and the manufacture and movement of contraband goods through this region. In the early 1990s, they established a mechanism to address these illicit activities. In 2002, at their invitation, the United States joined them in what became the "3+1 Group on Tri-Border Area Security" to improve the capabilities of the three to address cross-border crime and thwart money laundering and potential terrorist financing activities. The United States remained concerned that Hizballah and HAMAS sympathizers were raising funds in the TBA by participating in illicit activities and soliciting donations from sympathizers within the sizable Muslim communities in the region. There was no corroborated information, however, that these or other Islamic extremist groups had an operational presence in the TBA.


The Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA) provides partner countries with the training, equipment, and technology needed to increase their capabilities to find and arrest terrorists, building the kind of cooperation and interactivity between law enforcement officers that has a lasting impact. During fiscal year 2008, the State Department delivered over 280 training activities and technical consultations, and trained over 5,600 participants from 68 countries. Over the course of its 25-year existence, the ATA program has trained more than 66,500 students from 154 countries, providing programs tailored to the needs of each partner nation and to local conditions.

ATA training subjects included:

  • Airport security
  • Cyber terrorism
  • Bomb detection
  • Dignitary protection
  • Border control
  • Fraudulent document recognition
  • Countering terrorist financing,
  • Interdiction of terrorist organizations
  • Crisis management and response
  • Kidnap intervention
  • Crisis response teams
  • Hostage negotiation and rescue
  • Response to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction
  • Critical antiterrorism skills at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels.

All courses emphasized advanced law enforcement techniques under the rule of law. Successful ATA programs include:

  • Afghanistan: In April, an assassination attempt on President Karzai, by Taliban fighters in Kabul, was thwarted by the quick action of the ATA trained Presidential Protective Services (PPS) personnel. Three assassins were killed and three were arrested. Based on the elevated threat information received, the PPS were advised on the best procedures to deal with the anticipated attack. ATA continued to organize, train, equip, and mentor the 340-person Presidential Protective Service (PPS) responsible for President Karzai’s safety.
  • Colombia: ATA continued its assistance in the development a cutting-edge anti-kidnapping training facility known by its location in Sibate, Colombia. In 2008, Colombia law enforcement began assuming full responsibility for delivering ATA-based training courses as a part of the Sibate programs. ATA training has helped Colombia’s “GAULA” anti-kidnapping units reduce kidnappings in Colombia by 83 percent since 2002. Over the past six years, none of the ATA-trained GAULAs have lost a single hostage during rescue operations.
  • Indonesia: The ATA- trained and equipped tactical units of Detachment 88 (Det 88) have arrested and participated in the adjudication of over four hundred terrorist suspects. Elements of Det 88 directed the investigation that resulted in the arrest operation, and related death, of one of Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorists, Dr. Azahari bin Husin, the organizer of a nightclub bombing in Bali in 2002 that killed over 200 people. In May, ATA-trained computer forensic specialists examined the computer of an arrested terrorist, linking him to a 2005 Bali bombing revealing other terroristcells in Indonesia and connecting the suspect to another suspected bomb maker.
  • Kenya: In a cooperative venture with the Kenya National Steering Committee for Maritime Security, ATA completed the construction of a maritime training facility in Manda Bay, Kenya. The facility officially opened on February 28. Three eleven-week basic maritime security courses, and additional advanced courses, were conducted at the facility. ATA trained officers conducted patrols in the Port of Mombasa and at selected sites along the Kenya coastline.
  • Liberia: Maintaining a team of mentors/security advisors embedded in the Liberian Special Security Service, ATA continued its work to improve the personal security of Liberian President Sirleaf in 2008. Fifteen courses and consultations were offered during the year. In addition to their primary role in providing presidential protection, ATA trained SSS personnel were called upon by local Liberian police to assist with a hostage situation at the home of a former Liberian Minister. Three officers responded and safely extricated the hostages from the home.
  • Mexico: Due to the increasing level of violence against high-level Mexican Government officials ATA has delivered the a continuing series of VIP Protection courses in Mexico for the Office of the Attorney General, the Secretariat of Public Security, and other high level Government of Mexico Officials.
  • Pakistan: Using techniques based on ATA Post-Blast Investigative courses, the Federal Special Investigations Group’s (SIG’s) forensics laboratory developed leads gleaned from a cell phone SIM card destroyed in a bomb blast and retrieved by personnel of the Quetta Province Criminal Investigative Division. More than 33 messages were retrieved, outlining 14 bomb threats. Based on the information recovered by an ATA designed and funded SIG forensics laboratory with ATA trained staff, numerous suspects were identified and two bombs were later seized.
  • Palestinian Authority: The ATA program for the Palestinian Authority initially focused on providing VIP protection courses to the Presidential Guards from the West Bank. Fifteen VIP courses were delivered in less than five months, training 320 participants in VIP protection, surveillance detection, and vital installation security. Overall, the USD five million program will provide technical and leadership training, as well as operational support equipment, to enhance the VIP Protective Unit for the Palestinian Authority.
  • Thailand: In just one of its many successful operations this year, a Royal Thai Police (RTP) tactical team conducted a successful raid in which they arrested eight suspects and recovered—unharmed—a kidnapped American citizen. The RTP Lieutenant Colonel who led the operation, the lead investigator, and four members of the tactical entry team had completed ATA training courses in Crisis Response Team, Hostage Negotiation, Officer Survival/High-Threat Incident, and the Police Role in Crisis Management.

The Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP) assisted priority countries at risk of terrorist activity to enhance their border security capabilities. TIP provided participating countries with a computerized watch listing system to identify suspect travelers at air, land, or sea ports of entry. TIP further promoted expanded cooperation, data sharing, and close liaison with host governments in the areas of rule of law, anticorruption, and law enforcement. Since 2001, the State Department has provided TIP assistance to more than 20 countries at 110 ports of entry, assistance that was instrumental in impeding and interdicting terrorist travel. High-priority countries participating in the program include Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Thailand, and Kenya. While the primary focus of TIP is on constraining terrorist travel, thousands of individuals traveling on stolen passports in Pakistan, as well as wanted criminals, narcotics smugglers, and human traffickers have been identified and intercepted worldwide. The TIP complements other counterterrorism-related U.S. efforts to enhance aviation, border, cyber, maritime, and transportation security.

Counterterrorist Finance Training (CTFT) The State Department chaired the interagency Terrorist Finance Working Group (TFWG), which met biweekly to develop and coordinate USG CTF capacity-building efforts, and worked to expand its counterterrorist financing (CTF) capacity-building efforts in key partner nations. Although our CTF programs retained their global focus, we expanded our CTF training programs for North and West Africa in 2008. The CTF capacity-building program includes training and technical assistance in the legal, financial regulatory, financial intelligence, financial investigation, and judicial, prosecutorial, and asset forfeiture fields; as well as task force development to build interagency cooperation between the fields.

CTF 2008 programs included:

  • The posting of five Resident Legal Advisors (RLAs),
  • The development of a Regional Operational Cash Courier program and Prosecutorial and Designation Workshops,
  • Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) analytical training, mentorship, and overall development,
  • Financial regulatory training for national and supranational supervisory authorities, and
  • Terrorist financing investigative, financial forensics, and analytical training on a number of levels for law enforcement authorities.

The roles and responsibilities of our five Department of Justice Resident Legal Advisors were expanded with bilateral and regional responsibilities. The RLAs have conducted training workshops, assisted with the drafting of laws and regulations, and conducted outreach to parliamentarians.

Under the auspices of the TFWG, we have worked with the Department of Homeland Security and our interagency partners to expand our bulk cash smuggling training programs. This included conducting a highly successful Regional Operational Cash Courier Training program in South East Asia and bulk cash smuggling training in a variety of countries, including Nigeria and Iraq.

Increasing Economic Development. Poverty, unemployment, weak institutions, and corruption can turn nations of great potential into recruiting grounds for terrorists. Development is central to the President's National Security Strategy and long-term U.S. economic growth. Well-conceived, targeted aid is a potential leveraging instrument that can help countries implement sound economic policies and improve the conditions that terrorists might otherwise exploit.

The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), established by Congress in 2004, represents a new model for achieving transformational development by providing assistance to those countries that rule justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom. The prospect of an MCA Compact provides a powerful incentive for the poorest countries to reform.

U.S. private sector flows to the developing world, including net trade and investment ($672 billion in 2007), dwarf our foreign aid ($21.8 billion). Unutilized capital in developing countries, owing to weak policies and poor property rights, is estimated to be as high as $9 trillion.
Debt relief for the poorest is another element of our development strategy. Our long-standing support for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, as well as for the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) introduced in 2006, promotes debt sustainability, reduces the likelihood of debt distress, and enables the poorest countries to devote additional resources to reducing poverty and promoting economic growth. USAID's humanitarian aid programs and its activities in the areas of economic growth, agriculture, trade, health, democracy, and conflict prevention, address the conditions that terrorists exploit for recruitment.

The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

In 2008, MEPI provided support to reformers and civic activists to expand political participation, build education systems responsive to 21st Century challenges, assist developing economies, and empower women. Working in 16 countries and in the Palestinian territories, MEPI invested in programs ranging from broadcast media to women’s entrepreneurship.


  • MEPI supported programs to develop inclusive and representative political parties and more transparent electoral systems.
  • Through training and technical assistance, MEPI supported independent media outlets and efforts to advance freedom of the press.
  • Through numerous small grants to indigenous organizations, MEPI helped to expand civic activism and sustain efforts of activists to obtain basic rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and association.
  • By supporting the G8's BMENA Initiative and the participation of civil society from across the region in the Forum for the Future and associated BMENA activities, MEPI provided rare opportunities to reformers and activists to advance their objectives directly with government officials in multilateral settings.


  • Provided technical and other assistance in support of free trade agreements with Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman; and WTO accession for Yemen, Algeria, and Lebanon.
  • Expanded trade capacity of Arab countries with training and technical assistance; and assisted a number of Gulf and North African countries with revisions to their labor, intellectual property, and customs codes; and to their agricultural import/export standards.
  • Expanded efforts to strengthen indigenous labor and business organizations.
  • Created mechanisms to extend credit and other financial services to small- and medium-sized businesses through peer consultation and training for regional banks and financial organizations.
  • Supported the adoption of new corporate governance codes in Bahrain, Tunisia, and Yemen and facilitated increased awareness of corporate governance best practices in those countries.
  • Expanded commercial and legal reform efforts in the Gulf by working to update legal curricula at law schools in Qatar and Oman; revised commercial codes to meet international standards in Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman; and provided continuing education programs for the judiciary.


  • Promoted critical thinking and independent reading, and prompted education reform efforts with an initiative to provide over 8.2 million high-quality Arabic-language American children's books to more than 6,770 primary schools in more than 40,620 classrooms in four Middle Eastern countries.
  • Provided English language study to more than 6,000 underserved youth from 13 countries in the Middle East through the English Access Micro-scholarship Program, bringing the total number of students reached with MEPI support to more than 13,000.
  • Provided entrepreneurship training for more than 400 participants, almost half of them women, from 16 Middle Eastern and North African countries, with over 50 alumni going on to start or expand businesses.
  • Partnered with NGOs, businesses, universities, and private organizations to create five highly scalable and replicable youth education and employment programs that offer market-specific skills training, such as a “Mini MBA” accounting, textile management, and a “workplace success” training program.


  • Strengthened the technology, business, and advocacy skills of women throughout the region.
  • Established the first U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research, which enabled women across the region to join together in private-public partnerships, civic engagement, and networking.
  • Created business network hubs in nine countries, focusing on training, professional development, and information sharing on laws, business opportunities, skills, and the global economy.
  • Supported legal reform and family law initiatives in the region in order to improve gender equality and economic rights for women.