Chapter 5: Terrorist Safe Havens (Update to 7120 Report) 5.1.a - 5.1.b. Strategies, Tactics, and Tools for Disrupting or Eliminating Safe Havens

Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
August 18, 2011

5.1.a Terrorist Safe Havens

Terrorist safe havens described in this report include ungoverned, under-governed, or ill-governed physical areas where terrorists are able to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, transit, and operate in relative security because of inadequate governance capacity, political will, or both. For further informations on the countries in this section and their cooperation with U.S. counterterrorism efforts, see Chapter 2, Country Reports on Terrorism.


Somalia. With its long unguarded coastline, porous borders, continued political instability, and proximity to the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia provides opportunities for terrorist transit and remains a major safe haven. Al-Shabaab, a clan-based insurgent and terrorist group, has grown stronger with sustained financing and become more dangerous over the past year. Several senior al-Shabaab leaders have publicly proclaimed loyalty to al-Qa’ida (AQ), and these leaders have established and supported a number of training camps in southern Somalia for young Somali and foreign recruits to al-Shabaab. In some camps, AQ-affiliated foreign fighters often led the training and indoctrination of the recruits. The majority of al-Shabaab fighters, however, are clan-based militias primarily interested in defeating the Somali government and African Union Mission in Somalia forces.

According to independent sources and non-governmental organizations engaged in demining activities on the ground, there was little cause for concern for the presence of WMDs in Somalia in 2010.

The Trans-Sahara. The primary terrorist threat in this region was al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM was historically based primarily in northeastern Algeria, but factions also operated from a safe haven in northern Mali, from which they transited areas of the Maghreb and Sahel, especially Mali, Niger, and Mauritania. AQIM continued to conduct small scale ambushes and attacks on Algerian security forces in northeastern Algeria, but in recent years, the group has not been able to conduct large attacks on the scale of the 2007 bombings of the UN and Algerian government buildings in Algiers. AQIM factions based in northern Mali used the area to conduct kidnappings – some of which have resulted in the murder of Western hostages – and limited attacks on Nigerien and Mauritanian security personnel. While regional governments took steps to counter AQIM operations, there was a need for foreign assistance in the form of law enforcement and military capacity building.

Trafficking of WMD and related materials could be of concern in this region, given the porous borders.


The Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral. In Southeast Asia, the terrorist organizations Jemaah Islamiya and Abu Sayyaf Group have sought safe haven in the vicinity of the Sulawesi Sea and the Sulu Archipelago. The numerous islands in the area make it a difficult region for authorities to monitor, and a range of licit and illicit activities that occur there, such as worker migration, tourism, and trade, pose additional challenges to identifying and countering the terrorist threat. Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have improved efforts to control their shared maritime boundaries, including through the U.S.-funded Coast Watch System radar network, which is intended to enhance domain awareness in the waters south of Mindanao. Nevertheless, the expanse remained difficult to control. Surveillance was improved but remained partial at best, and traditional smuggling and piracy groups have provided an effective cover for terrorist activities, such as movement of personnel, equipment, and funds.

WMD trafficking, proliferation, and the spread of WMD-applicable expertise have been concerns in this region, given the high volume of global trade that ships through the region as well as the existence of proliferation networks looking to exploit vulnerabilities in states’ export controls.

The Southern Philippines. Terrorist operatives have sought safe haven in areas of the southern Philippines, specifically in the Sulu archipelago and Mindanao. Philippine government control and the rule of law in this area are weak due to rugged terrain, poverty, and local Muslim minority resentment of central governmental policies. Jemaah Islamiya fugitives and Abu Sayyaf Group constituted the primary terrorist presence in the southern Philippines, although the Rajah Solaiman Movement and the New People’s Army also maintained a presence there.


Iraq. With heightened capabilities and the continued support of U.S. force, the Iraq Security Force (ISF) continued to make progress against al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), some Shia violent extremists, and other groups. AQI is no longer supported by many Sunni populations. Iraqis in Baghdad, Anbar, and Diyala Provinces, and elsewhere, continued to oppose the group and cooperated with the Iraqi government and U.S. forces to defeat it. The Baghdad Security Plan, along with assistance from primarily Sunni tribal and local groups, succeeded in reducing violence levels and disrupting and diminishing AQI leadership, financing, supply, and traditional strongholds. Throughout Iraq, the ISF has increased its effectiveness in rooting out terrorist cells and eliminating potential safe haven locations.

The U.S. government is working with Iraq to implement comprehensive strategic trade controls and improve security at facilities that house biological and chemical materials. In October 2010, the United States hosted a senior Iraqi delegation in Washington, DC, to discuss the threat of proliferation of WMD, critical elements of effective strategic trade controls, and international strategic trade control best practices. In addition, the United States provided border security assistance focused on detecting and interdicting strategic goods to Iraqi enforcement agencies. Furthermore, Iraq has established a radioactive source regulatory infrastructure, the Iraq Radioactive Source Regulatory Authority (IRSRA). The U.S. government has an ongoing program to assist IRSRA with securing dangerous radioactive sources used in medical oncology programs. The Department of Energy has also provided Iraq with hand detection devices that are being used to detect radiological material at border crossings in a program established by IRSRA. Iraq has developed a draft strategic trade control legislation, which was pending parliamentary approval at year’s end.

Lebanon. Hizballah remained the most prominent and powerful terrorist group in Lebanon, with deep roots among Lebanon’s Shia community, which composes 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.

AQ associated extremists also operated within the country, though their presence was small compared to that of rejectionist Palestinian groups not aligned with AQ operating in refugee camps. While the Lebanese security services do not have a day-to-day presence within 11 of the 12 camps, they have at times conducted operations in the camps to combat terrorist threats.

Lebanon is not a source country for WMD components, but the primary concern is that Lebanon’s porous borders will make the country vulnerable to being used as a transit/transshipment hub for proliferation-sensitive transfers. To address these concerns, the U.S. government hosted a senior Lebanese delegation in Washington, DC in November 2010 to initiate discussion about the need to adopt comprehensive strategic trade controls, international best practices, and steps Lebanon has to take to comply with international standards. Hizballah’s continued ability to receive sophisticated munitions via Iran and Syria requires that we continue to aggressively monitor this issue.

Yemen. Yemen’s lack of a government presence in much of the country and porous borders has allowed terrorists to establish safe haven within the country. The establishment of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in January 2009 provided a network and hierarchy that could absorb incoming terrorists to Yemen. As Saudi security forces continued to put pressure on extremists in their country, terrorists and foreign fighters returning from Afghanistan and Pakistan, sought safe haven within Yemen. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) continued to plan, execute, and attack targets within Yemen and the greater Arabian Peninsula as well as against the United States. While the Government of Yemen increased counterterrorism cooperation with the United States in 2010, and its capacity to address terrorist threats has improved, resource limitations and political instability in various parts of the country have impeded its ability to eliminate terrorist safe havens.

Yemen’s current political instability makes the country vulnerable for use as a transit point for WMD-related materials. In the past three years, progress in developing strategic trade controls has been undermined by ongoing civil unrest, protests, and economic problems.


Afghanistan. The Government of Afghanistan, in concert with the International Security Assistance Force and the international community, continued its efforts to eliminate terrorist safe havens and build security, particularly in the country’s south and east where insurgents threatened stability. Many insurgent groups, including Taliban elements, the Haqqani Network, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, al-Qa’ida (AQ), and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, continued to use territory across the border in Pakistan as a base from which to plot and launch attacks within Afghanistan and beyond. AQ leadership in Pakistan maintained its support to militants conducting attacks in Afghanistan and provided funding, training, and personnel to facilitate terrorist and insurgent operations. Anti-Coalition organizations continued to operate in coordination with AQ, Taliban, and other insurgent groups, primarily in the east.

The potential for WMD trafficking and proliferation is a concern in Afghanistan because of its porous borders and the presence of terrorist groups. The U.S. government is working with Afghanistan to implement comprehensive strategic trade controls. In late 2010, the U.S. government provided legislation development assistance to Afghan government officials in drafting comprehensive strategic trade controls legislation. In addition, the Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) program contributed to strengthening Afghanistan’s enforcement capacity through participation in a regional cross-border enforcement exercise.

Pakistan. Despite efforts by Pakistani security forces, al-Qa’ida (AQ) terrorists, Afghan militants, foreign insurgents, and Pakistani militants continued to find safe haven in portions of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Khyber Paktunkhwa (KPK), and Baluchistan. AQ and other groups such as the Haqqani Network used Pakistani safe havens to launch attacks in Afghanistan, plan operations worldwide, train, recruit, and disseminate propaganda. The Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban or TTP) also used the FATA to plan attacks against civilian and military targets across Pakistan and abroad. Outside the FATA, the Quetta-based Afghan Taliban and separate insurgent organizations such as Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin used the areas in Baluchistan and the KPK for safe haven. Violent extremist groups and many local tribesmen in the FATA and the KPK continued to resist the government’s efforts to improve governance and administrative control. In spite of Pakistani military operations throughout FATA and KPK, TTP, AQ, and other extremist groups remained dangerous to Pakistan and the international community.

Despite international condemnation for its November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) continued to plan regional operations from within Pakistan. While the Government of Pakistan has banned LT, the United States continued to urge further action against this group and its front organizations.

The potential for WMD trafficking and proliferation remained of concern in Pakistan due to the porous borders and the difficult security situation. Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) has enabled Pakistani officials to gain expertise in properly classifying items of proliferation concern and learn about export licensing best practices.


Colombia’s borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Brazil include rough terrain and dense forest cover, which coupled with low population densities and historically weak government presence, created potential safe havens for insurgent and terrorist groups, particularly the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The FARC, retreating in the face of Colombian military pressures, has operated with relative ease along the fringes of Colombia’s borders, and used areas in neighboring countries along those borders to rest and regroup, procure supplies, and stage and train for terrorist attacks. The FARC elements in these border regions often engaged the local population in direct and indirect ways, including relying on them for recruits and logistical support. This is seemingly less so in Brazil and Peru where potential safe havens were addressed by stronger government actions. Both Ecuador and Panama appeared to be strengthening their efforts against Colombian narcotics trafficking and terrorist groups.

Trafficking of WMD and related materials could be a potential concern in this region, given the high volume of global trade that ships through, and the existence of proliferation networks looking to exploit vulnerabilities in states’ export controls.

Venezuela. During the year, the Colombian government continued to accuse the Venezuelan government of harboring the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) in its territory. More specifically, Colombian authorities alleged that these groups used Venezuelan territory to rest and regroup, engage in narcotics trafficking, extort protection money, and kidnap Colombians to finance their operations. In a July 22 special session of the OAS Permanent Council, the Colombian Permanent Representative presented purported evidence of FARC training camps in Venezuela and proposed an international verification commission to investigate the presence of FARC and ELN members in Venezuela. The Venezuelan government didn’t take effective steps to investigate such allegations and ensure that such groups did not operate with impunity in Venezuelan territory. Nor did it take action to investigate or remove senior Venezuelan officials allegedly linked to the FARC or ELN.

The Tri-Border Area (Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay). No credible information showed that Hizballah, HAMAS, or other Islamist extremist groups used the Tri-Border Area for terrorist training or other operational activity, but the United States remained concerned that these groups used the region to raise funds from local supporters. 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 the Tri-Border Area.

As two of a handful of countries with uranium enrichment capabilities, Brazil and Argentina have the potential to serve as a source of WMD-related equipment, materials, and proliferation-sensitive nuclear fuel cycle expertise. The goal of the Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) Program in Brazil and Argentina is to encourage strengthening and greater the transparency of their strategic trade control systems and to foster their regional leadership by providing nonproliferation training and technical expertise to their neighbors. With EXBS cooperation, Brazil was quick to develop a Commodity Identification Training (CIT) course to train enforcement officials in identification of proliferation-sensitive goods and is now conducting domestic training without EXBS support. Likewise, Argentina has worked with EXBS on WMD violation training for judges and prosecutors to help enforce criminal and administrative sanctions and has also begun providing CIT training to neighboring countries.

5.1.b. Strategies, Tactics, and Tools for Disrupting or Eliminating Safe Havens


In 2010, the Department of State designated four new Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), and amended one FTO designation to include a new alias for Lashkar-e Tayyiba. In addition, the Department listed 16 organizations and individuals under Executive Order (EO) 13224, including groups such as al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, Harakat-ul Jihad Islami, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, Jundallah, and the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation. Individuals listed under E.O. 13224 include Nayif al-Qahtani, Qasim al-Rimi, Nasir al-Wahishi, Said al-Shihri, Eric Breininger, Mohamed Belkalem, Taleb Nail, Doku Umarov, Hakimullah Mehsud, Wali Ur Rehman, and Fahd al-Quso. The Department of the Treasury also designates organizations and individuals under EO 13224.

Key FTO designations:

  • On January 19, the Department of State designated al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on AQAP.)
  • On August 6, the Department of State designated Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. In tandem with the HUJI designation, the Department of the Treasury also designated HUJI leader Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri who is wanted for terrorism-related offenses in connection with an attack against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Denmark. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on HUJI.)
  • On September 1, the Department of State designated Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on TTP.)
  • On November 3, the Department of State designated Jundallah, a violent extremist organization that operates primarily in the Iranian province of Sistan va Balochistan. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on Jundallah.)
  • On November 24, the Department of State amended the designation of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) to include the addition of Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) as an alias of LeT. FIF is a Pakistan-based charitable organization that is closely connected to banned terrorist group LeT and its former humanitarian front, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD

Key E.O. 13224 designations:

  • On January 19, the Department of State also designated AQAP senior leaders Nasir al-Wahishi and Said al-Shihri. Nasir al-Wahishi proclaimed himself as the leader of AQAP in January 2009. Since then, Al-Wahishi has provided significant support for AQAP terrorist operations and has worked with AQAP operatives to facilitate attacks. Said Ali al-Shihri was publicly identified in January 2009 as the deputy leader of AQAP.
  • On May 11, the Department of State designated AQAP’s senior military commander Qasim al-Rimi. Rimi has played a key role in reviving AQAP, which is the regional franchise of al-Qa’ida (AQ). In 2007, he and AQAP Emir Nasir al-Wahishi announced the emergence of al-Qa’ida in Yemen (AQY)—AQAP’s predecessor group.
  • On May 26, the Department of State designated al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) leaders Mohamed Belkalem and Taleb Nail. Mohamed Belkalem plays a key operational role in AQIM and has participated in terrorist attacks such as the 2005 assault on a Mauritanian military barracks and the kidnapping of two Austrian tourists in 2008. Belkalem is wanted by the Algerian government and was sentenced by the Government of Algeria, in absentia, to death for forming a terrorist organization. Also wanted by the Algerian government, Taleb Nail has been involved in numerous terrorist attacks in the Trans-Sahara region, including a 2005 assault on Mauritanian military barracks.
  • On June 23, the Department of State designated Doku Umarov, leader of the Russia-based extremist group Caucasus Emirates. Umarov transformed Chechnya’s insurgent separatist and nationalist fight into a movement that sought to establish an Islamic Emirate throughout the North Caucasus with himself as its Emir. Umarov claimed responsibility for masterminding attacks in and around Moscow and throughout the North Caucasus region, and claimed responsibility for the 2009 Nevsky Express train derailment, which killed 28 people, and the 2010 Moscow subway bombings, which killed 40.
  • On July 16, the Department of the Treasury designated AQAP senior leader Anwar al-Aulaqi, who plays a major role in setting the strategic direction for AQAP and has recruited individuals to join AQAP, facilitated training at camps in Yemen in support of acts of terrorism, and helped focus AQAP's attention on planning attacks on U.S. interests. Since late 2009, al-Aulaqi has taken on an increasingly operational role in the group, including preparing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to detonate an explosive device aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25, 2009, for his operation.
  • On July 22, the Department of the Treasury designated Nasiruddin Haqqani, emissary for the Haqqani Network (HQN) and brother of HQN leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. Nasiruddin collects funds for HQN through donations from the Gulf region, trafficking drugs, and receiving payments from AQ. Nasiruddin has also participated in raising funds for the Taliban.
  • On September 1, the Department of State designated Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan’s senior leaders Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali Ur Rehman. Hakimullah Mehsud has been the leader of TTP since August 2009 and Wali Ur Rehman is the TTP Emir in South Waziristan. Rehman has participated in cross-border attacks in Afghanistan against U.S. and NATO personnel, as well as attacks against Pakistani security forces.
  • On November 24, the Department of the Treasury designated Mohammad Naushad Alam Khan, a key financial facilitator for LET who supports the organization through an international counterfeit currency operation and smuggling network.
  • On December 7, the Department of State designated AQAP operative Fahd al-Quso. Prior to the formation of AQAP, al-Quso was associated with AQ elements in Yemen and was involved in the 2000 USS Cole bombing in the Port of Aden, which killed 17 U.S. citizens. For his involvement in the attack, al-Quso was jailed in Yemen in 2002 but released from prison in 2007. In May 2010, al-Quso appeared in an AQAP video in which he threatened to attack the U.S. homeland, as well as U.S. embassies and naval vessels abroad.


International Instruments related to Counterterrorism. In 2010, the 2005 Protocol to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and the 2005 Protocol to the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms entered into force. Furthermore, a diplomatic conference held under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization concluded the Beijing Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Relating to International Civil Aviation and the Beijing Protocol to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft. Both instruments modernize the international legal regime to cover new and emerging threats to the safety of civil aviation. The United States signed both the Beijing Convention and Beijing Protocol at the conclusion of the conference.

The UN. Sustained and strategic engagement at the UN on counterterrorism issues is a priority for the United States as it is an important forum for setting global counterterrorism norms and building counterterrorism partnerships and capacities. The United States engaged with a wide range of UN actors on counterterrorism in 2010, including the three counterterrorism related committees of the Security Council: the Counter-Terrorism Committee; the 1267 Committee; and the 1540 Committee.

The Counter-Terrorism Committee. The United States welcomed adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1963 (December 2010), which renewed the mandate of the UN Counterterrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) for another three years. In 2010, CTED conducted several visits to countries in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, South Asia, and Europe to assess the implementation of UNSCR 1373.

CTED has proven itself to be uniquely suited to bring together local officials from countries in the region to identify practical solutions to common counterterrorism challenges. The United States supported CTED by co-funding and participating in a workshop in New York in December 2010, which brought together senior prosecutors from across the globe with experience in handling high-profile terrorism cases. The United States also participated in CTED’s October 2010 regional workshop in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on national coordination and regional cooperation and its December 2010 regional workshop in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on terrorism prevention and countering violent extremism.

The UNSC 1267 Committee. In 2010, to ensure that current listings remained appropriate, the committee completed a review pursuant to UNSCR 1822 of all 488 individuals and entities on the Consolidated List at the time of the adoption of that resolution (June 30, 2008). The resolution mandated the committee complete this review by June 30. The review resulted in the removal of 45 listings, including 24 individuals and 21 entities. Updated identifying information was submitted for the remaining entries, and Narrative Summaries explaining the reasons for listing were posted publically on the UN 1267 website. Pursuant to Resolution 1904, the Secretary-General, in close consultation with the committee, appointed an ombudsperson in 2010 to assist the committee in its review of petitions received by or on behalf of individuals and entities seeking removal from the Consolidated List to help ensure the delisting procedures are fair and transparent.

The UNSC 1540 Committee. See Chapter 4, The Global Challenge of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Terrorism.

The Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF). Since the adoption of the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy in 2006, the Task Force–comprised of all UN member states and 30 UN entities across the UN system and Interpol–has become the focal point for UN efforts to support implementation of the global framework. In 2010, the United States supported CTITF efforts by funding a series of workshops aimed at raising awareness of the Strategy in key regions. The first workshop was held in Bali, Indonesia in November. CTITF also supported the Integrated Assistance for Countering Terrorism (I-ACT) initiative, which seeks to enhance information sharing and coordination of technical assistance delivery with partnering governments and the different entities of the UN. I-ACT visited Nigeria in August.

The UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). In June, the Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force welcomed the opening of the UNICRI’s “Centre on Policies to Counter the Appeal of Terrorism,” which will analyze different policies and programs on detection and prevention of pathways into terrorism, early intervention efforts against terrorist recruitment, and rehabilitation initiatives. With U.S. support, UNICRI is bringing together national practitioners from key countries to share experiences and identify best practices in the rehabilitation of terrorists.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Member States endorsed a Declaration on Aviation Security at the triennial ICAO Assembly in September/October, which outlined areas of cooperation designed to promote and strengthen aviation security. The Assembly also endorsed the ICAO Comprehensive Aviation Security Strategy, a new approach composed of seven focus areas. In addition, Member States gave unanimous support for the continuation of the Universal Security Audit Program. In September, at a diplomatic conference held in Beijing, two treaties to further criminalize acts of unlawful interference against civil aviation were adopted. In December, the ICAO Council amended the aviation security annex to the Convention on International Civil Aviation to strengthen global air cargo security measures.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC’s) Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB). The TPB and its Global Program Against Money Laundering continued to provide assistance to countries in the legal and related aspects of counterterrorism. In 2010, the United States supported UNODC/TPB through its pledge of US $1.25 million, including funding to train national prosecutors and judges in Yemen on counterterrorism best practices.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA continued to implement its Nuclear Security Plan (2010-2013) for countering the threat of terrorism involving nuclear and other radioactive material. The United States has been working to enhance security for vulnerable nuclear and other radioactive materials within the IAEA’s 152 member states to reduce the risk that such materials could be used in a terrorist event.

Group of Eight (G8) Counterterrorism Actions. Canada, which held the G8 presidency, hosted the 2010 annual G8 Summit in Muskoka where its leaders committed to work cooperatively on transportation security; border security and identity integrity (including biometrics, to ensure the legitimacy and validity of travel and identity documents); preventing chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological terrorism; counterterrorist financing; countering violent extremism and radicalization leading to violence; and terrorist recruitment. They also reiterated their commitment to further develop initiatives that assist victims and survivors of terrorism.

Counterterrorism Action Group (CTAG). CTAG’s membership includes the G8 and Australia, Spain, and Switzerland. Officials from relevant UN bodies and regional and functional organizations are also invited to participate in these meetings. In October 2010, under Canada’s Presidency, the CTAG organized its first regional meeting in Bamako, Mali, which focused on building counterterrorism capacity and cooperation in the Sahel region.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and FATF-Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs). In 2010, the U.S. delegation supported the Plenary on issues of policy, conducting mutual evaluations, and participating in the Working Groups on issues of implementation. The United States continued its co-chair role with Italy on the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG). The U.S. delegation increased its engagement in this process by emphasizing Special Recommendation III, a provision regarding the freezing and confiscation of assets. It also participated as part of the core project team in major FATF typologies work, focusing on kidnapping for ransom and maritime piracy for ransom. In 2010, additional work contributed by the United States included the evaluation and revision of selected recommendations and criteria, outreach to the private sector, public-private partnerships, and the development of guidance for non-financial businesses and professions.

The United States played a similar and equally active role in the FSRBs, supporting FSRB-executed training and workshops, as well as providing technical assistance to both members and the Secretariats. In addition to providing them with training, the United States also provided advice with an eye to increasing the capacity and transparency of the Secretariats. Additionally, the United States took part in Contact and Expert Review Groups.

EU. The EU Counterterrorism Coordinator (CTC), Gilles de Kerchove, along with counterterrorism officials in the European Commission and the newly established European External Action Service, participated in regular dialogues with U.S. counterparts. In November, the CTC presented an action plan to the European Council calling for specific measures to address vulnerabilities and challenges associated with transport security, terrorist travel, cyber security, external counterterrorism efforts, and the fight against discrimination and social marginalization. Specific developments included:

  • In January, the Toledo Joint Statement on Aviation Security pledged to increase efforts to identify individuals and illicit materials that pose a security risk as soon as possible in order to prevent entry of such passengers and/or cargo on to aircraft.
  • In February, the U.S.-EU Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements and the conforming bilateral agreements with Member States came into force.
  • In June, a joint U.S.-EU countering violent extremism (CVE) seminar explored the nature of violent extremism in the United States, the EU, and third countries. Thematic workshops on counter-radicalization and de-radicalization were held as were geographical workshops on Yemen/Sahel and South Asia.
  • In August, the U.S.-EU Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) agreement entered into force.
  • In December, the US and EU launched negotiations for a new PNR agreement to replace the 2007 pact that was provisionally in force. PNR is the data a traveler provides an airline and may include an itinerary, payment method and contact information. PNR data analysis can help DHS identify watchlisted individuals, non-watchlisted co-travelers, and terrorists or criminals adopting known illicit travel patterns. PNR data proved key in the three most high profile terrorist investigations in 2009-2010.

The November 2010 U.S.-EU Summit pledged further collaboration on CVE and the establishment of a U.S.-EU Working Group on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime to tackle new threats to global security. It also reaffirmed the leaders’ commitment to develop a common set of data privacy principles and work towards negotiating a comprehensive agreement on data protection for our law enforcement authorities to enhance cooperation, while ensuring full protection for U.S. and EU member-state citizens.

OSCE. The OSCE was chaired by Kazakhstan in 2010, marking the first time that a Central Asian state has led the OSCE, which brought special attention to the need to address transnational threats in the Central Asian region. The United States supported this through active participation in an October counterterrorism conference and the OSCE Summit in December, both held in Astana, Kazakhstan. U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the OSCE focused on critical energy infrastructure protection, travel document security, cyber security, non-proliferation, and countering violent extremism. In particular, a U.S.-sponsored seminar and tabletop exercise in early 2010 on critical energy infrastructure protection for all 56 participating States provided a valuable forum for greater awareness of shared challenges and opportunities throughout the region.

NATO. NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stability operations against insurgents in Afghanistan. ISAF, in support of the Government of Afghanistan, conducted operations in Afghanistan to degrade the capability and will of the insurgency, support the growth in capacity and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces, and facilitate improvements in governance and socio-economic development to provide a secure environment for sustainable stability. For details regarding ISAF contributions by country, please see

NATO also continued Operation Active Endeavor, a naval mission that aimed to counter terrorism by monitoring Mediterranean maritime traffic. In 2010, NATO established a new organizational unit, the Emerging Security Challenges Division, to address a broad range of counterterrorism issues, including cyber security and critical infrastructure protection. Through NATO’s Defense Against Terrorism program, the Alliance was also developing a range of new cutting-edge technologies to protect troops and civilians against terrorist attacks.

The new NATO Strategic Concept, adopted in Lisbon at the NATO Summit, resulted in a commitment to intensify efforts to deny terrorists access to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery and to strengthen the capacity to detect and defend against international terrorism through enhanced analysis of the threat, more consultations with our partners, and the development of appropriate military capabilities, including to help train local forces to fight terrorism themselves. At the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) Summit in Lisbon, leaders affirmed the Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges (“Joint Review”). The Joint Review identifies combating terrorism as one of the five priority areas for concrete NRC cooperation over the next year and beyond.

The African Union (AU). AUC Chairperson Jean Ping published the Report of the Chairperson on the Commission on Measures to Strengthen Cooperation in the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in November 2010. The report included sections on Africa’s vulnerabilities to terrorism, the AU’s legal instruments to fight terrorism, an update on the AU’s Plan of Action, and a discussion of the AU’s recent counterterrorism efforts. The report indicated that key determinants of the terrorist threat in Africa were activities in two regions led by two organizations: al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in North and West Africa, and al-Shabaab in East Africa.

With the approval of the UN in Somalia, the AU operated the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which conducts a Peace Support Operation to stabilize Somalia’s security situation and create a safe and secure environment so that leadership can be transferred to the UN. The United States actively supports AMISOM with training and supplies. AMISOM is mandated to support transitional governmental structures, implement a national security plan, train the Somali security forces, and assist in creating a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The first-ever AU Special Representative for Counterterrorism, appointed in 2010, was tasked to coordinate AU efforts to ensure the effective implementation of the relevant AU legal instruments. The Special Representative’s efforts also focused on the mobilization of the international community in support of Africa’s counterterrorism efforts.

In 2010, the AUC completed its Anti-Terrorism Model Law for use by member states to enact more robust domestic counterterrorism legislation. The AUC provided guidance to its 53-member states and coordinated limited technical assistance to cover member states' counterterrorism capability gaps. The African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism, based in Algiers, Algeria, served as the AU’s central institution to collect information, studies, and analyses on terrorism and terrorist groups and to develop CT training programs, serving as a forum for discussion, cooperation, and collaboration among AU member states.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In 2010, the United States worked closely with ASEAN to enhance counterterrorism cooperation. In an October meeting with ASEAN Senior Officials on Transnational Crime, the United States called for increased international cooperation in combating terrorism and suggested possible new areas for U.S. engagement with ASEAN to bolster the capabilities of member countries to address terrorism and other transnational criminal threats. The United States actively participated in counterterrorism-related activities of the 27-member ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), including the annual meetings on counterterrorism and transnational crime (CTTC) as well as providing substantial support in capacity building through ARF institutions. In support of the CTTC work plan, which focuses ARF efforts on three priority areas of biological terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and cyber security and terrorism, the United States proposed to establish the ARF Transnational Threat Information-sharing Center to utilize and deepen existing regional mechanisms that specialize in information-sharing and capacity building.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The United States actively led APEC initiatives to strengthen aviation and maritime security, which included implementing capacity building workshops to enhance air cargo security and introducing tools for assessing and planning against risks to port facilities. The United States supported APEC efforts to implement the Financial Action Task Force Special Recommendations on Terrorist Financing. The United States led capacity building work to counter terrorist threats against the food supply, implementing follow on activities with Peru and Thailand under the APEC Food Defense Program.

OAS Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE). In March, at the Tenth Regular Session of CICTE in Washington DC, the 33 member states adopted the Declaration on Public-Private Partnerships in the Fight against Terrorism. The CICTE Secretariat conducted 114 activities, training courses and technical assistance missions, which benefited more than 3,500 participants through nine programs in five areas: border controls; critical infrastructure protection; counterterrorism legislative assistance and terrorist financing; strengthening strategies on emerging terrorist threats (crisis management); and international cooperation and partnerships. The United States is a major contributor to CICTE’s training programs and directly provided funding and/or expert trainers for capacity building programs focused on maritime security, aviation security, travel document security and fraud prevention, cybersecurity, counterterrorism legislation, and efforts to counter terrorism financing.


Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). The State Department’s strategic counterterrorism efforts flow from our recognition that terrorism cannot be defeated by law enforcement and military means alone. The key elements of CVE are:

1. Promoting Alternatives: We must provide positive alternatives to persons at risk of recruitment into violent activity in hotspots of radicalization.
2. Undermining the al-Qa’ida (AQ) narrative: We must undermine AQ’s extremist rhetoric and support credible moderate voices.
3. Building Capacity: We must improve partners’ capacity – both civil society and government – to address grievances, provide alternatives to joining extremist groups, and counter the AQ narrative.

In 2010, our CVE work focused on:

Countering the Narrative: The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communication (CSCC) is a new interagency unit set up within the Department of State to coordinate, orient, and inform communications activities targeted against al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and weaken their ability to recruit and gain support overseas. Among the Center's main activities is a Digital Outreach Team operating in Arabic and Urdu to counter extremist messaging on the Internet.

Countering Extremist Voices: The State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy and USAID collaborated to increase the reach of alternative voices into at risk populations by investing in cell, radio, and television transmission towers. With increased capacity to carry content into at-risk areas we were increasingly able to work with host nations and other local actors to drown out extremists by flooding the market with a more diverse set of programming and voices.

USAID: USAID currently has CVE-related programs that focus on youth empowerment, non-formal education, local government, and community based media.

Hotspots of Radicalization: We have seen distinct patterns and clusters of radicalization in particular localities. The Bureau of Counterterrorism has partnered with colleagues in the interagency to identify hotspots of radicalization, determine local grievances, and establish attitudinal baselines to measure the effectiveness of programming. The purpose of this assessment effort is to ensure that our programs are grounded in solid research.

Ambassador’s Fund Programs: The Ambassador’s Fund for Counterterrorism provides U.S. embassies with the resources necessary to implement small-scale, locally-relevant counter-radicalization projects. These include a variety of activities and are focused on engaging at-risk youth within their communities. In FY 2010, we provided US$ 2.5 million for these small grants through projects that challenged violent extremist narratives, empowered mainstream voices, built trust between youth and law enforcement, and engaged at-risk youth in a variety of locales.

Somali Diaspora: The State Department is working with the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security to reach out to Somalis in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere, so that they will have a better and deeper understanding of the risks that violent extremism present to themselves and their families in Somalia.

International CVE Conferences: The Bureau of Counterterrorism convened its second conference in June 2010 with international partners to discuss CVE issues, share best practices, and ensure coordinated approaches. A third meeting was hosted by the Netherlands in November.

Victims’ Narratives: Victims of terrorism may play an important role in countering violent extremism by presenting powerful stories that delegitimize violent extremist narratives, including false claims by terrorist groups that they do not target innocents.

Capacity Building Programs. As the terrorist threat has evolved and grown more geographically diverse in recent years, it has become clear that our success depends in large part on the effectiveness and ability of our partners. To succeed over the long-term, we must increase the number of countries capable of and willing to take on this challenge. We have had important successes in Indonesia and Colombia, but we must intensify efforts to improve our partners’ law enforcement and border security capabilities to tackle these threats. Our current CT capacity building programs – Antiterrorism Assistance, Counterterrorist Financing, Counterterrorism Engagement, TIP/PISCES, and transnational activities under the Regional Strategic Initiatives – are all critically important and work successfully every day to build capacity and improve political will. (For information on the Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) Program; the Terrorist Interdiction Program/Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System Program (TIP/PISCES); the Counterterrorist Finance Program; and the Ambassador’s Fund for Counterterrorism; we refer you to the Annual Report on Assistance Related to International Terrorism, Fiscal Year 2010 at //

The Regional Strategic Initiative. Denying safe haven to terrorists plays a major role in undermining their capacity to operate effectively and forms a key element of U.S. counterterrorism strategy. The State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism 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. In 2010, RSI 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.