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Colin Powell Discusses Report on Global Terrorism

Aired May 21, 2002 - 12:31   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We are also watching Secretary of State Colin Powell, the report on global terrorism, a vital part of the administration right now.

Here is the secretary of state.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... with savagery in the United States, killing some 3,000 people from 80 different countries. Nations of every continent, culture and creed, of every region, race and religion answered President Bush's call for global coalition against terrorism. The United States led the international campaign to destroy Al Qaeda's base in Afghanistan and end the oppressive Taliban regime that gave it sanctuary.

But the continuing campaign against international terrorism isn't only about Afghanistan and bringing the perpetrators, planners and abetters of the September 11 attacks to account, it is also about bringing the international community's combined strength to bear against the scourge of terrorism in its many manifestations throughout the world. The advance of technology and globalization extend terrorism's deadly reach by making it easier for terrorists to move about, form networks and conspire with or without state sponsors.

The report records the death toll in 2001 from terrorist attacks in which conventional weapons were used. It also confirms that terrorists are trying every way they can to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, whether radiological, chemical, biological or nuclear.

The terrorist threat is global in scope, many faceted and determined. The campaign against terrorism must be equally comprehensive, multidimensional and steadfast. It must be fought on many fronts, with every tool of state craft. This report marks the significant progress against terrorism that we and our coalition partners are making in a variety of critical areas.

Country by country, region by region, coalition members have strengthened law enforcement and intelligence cooperation. We have tightened border controls and made it harder for terrorists to travel, to communicate, and, therefore, to plot. One by one we are severing the financial blood lines of terrorist organizations. Increasing the capacity of other nations to fight terrorism on their own soil is also critical to breaking the back of terrorism worldwide. That is why the United States has launched a train and equip program that will help the government of Georgia develop its own capability to keep terrorists from crossing its borders and to fight terrorists already within those borders. We have worked with the government of Yemen to root out Al Qaeda cells and ensure that Yemen is not used as a base for terrorist operations. And our military is conducting joint counterterrorism training with the armed forces of the Philippines to help them defeat terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf.

Terrorists respect no limits, geographic or moral. The front lines are everywhere and the stakes are high. Terrorism not only kills people, it also threatens democratic institutions, undermines economies and destabilizes regions. In this global campaign against terrorism, no country, no nation, has the luxury of remaining on the sidelines because there are no sidelines.

Every country is vulnerable and every country has the ability and the responsibility to contribute to the antiterror campaign.

I want to thank Ambassador Frank Taylor and his team for their hard work and our people at embassies all around the world who contributed to the preparation of this report, and for the extraordinary dedication that all of these individuals have shown, especially in the demanding months since September 11. We hope that this report will help inform the American and world publics about the nature of the terrorist threat and how the international community can work together to eradicate this threat once and for all.

I'm now pleased to introduce Ambassador Taylor, who will take your questions and continue the briefing.

Thank you very much.


Before I take your questions, I do have a brief statement that I'd like to read on Patterns.

First, I'd like to thank the secretary for the opportunity to be here this morning.

In our 2000 report on international terrorism, we tried to place the global campaign against terrorism into perspective. There is widespread understanding that the current terrorist threat knows no boundaries and that virtually every nation realizes it must fight the threat using all available means.

For each country covered in the report, we describe the steps it has taken to support the objective of the campaign; to rid itself of terrorists and to prevent terrorist attacks. For some nations, this means new counterterrorism laws, tighter border security and increase financial controls. For others, it means contributing military assets to operations in Afghanistan. For others still, it is an aggressive sanctioning of terrorist groups in order to curtail their criminal activity. All of these are solid steps forward in fighting the terrorist threat.

I draw your attention to some of the new features in this year's terrorist report. We add the full text of President Bush's historic address to a joint session of Congress on the 20th of September in which he outlined the dimensions of our campaign against terror; the text of important resolutions and declarations issued in the wake of 9/11, some that have real historical significance, such as the invocation of the collective self-defensive clauses by both NATO and the OAS; the complete listing of foreign terrorist organizations, persons and groups included under the president's executive order that blocks financial assets and groups whose supporters can be excluded from the United States under the U.S. Patriot Act. The report also contains case studies detailing successful counterterrorism efforts by the governments of Singapore and Italy to thwart planned attacks and eliminate terrorist cells.

The key message about the horror of 9/11 is that it represented a threat to our way of life and to humanity itself. President Bush called on all nations to unite in a coalition and to use every element of national power to fight this threat. Diplomacy helped build the coalition and our diplomatic efforts must expand as the Al Qaeda network seeks to relocate and regroup around the world. Intelligence sharing has prevented numerous attacks, but it must intensify in order to expose the criminal netherworld in which terrorists operate.

As a result of cooperative law enforcement efforts, by the end of last year, 1,000 Al Qaeda operatives have been arrested in more than 60 countries. Today that figure stands at 1,600 operatives in 95 countries. But Al Qaeda has not been defeated and operatives from other terrorist groups still pose an equally deadly threat.

Economic efforts to dry up terrorist financing began before the start of Operation Enduring Freedom and has prevented more than $100 million from reaching terrorists, but only a sustained effort will shut off the terrorists' funding pipeline.

The war in Afghanistan has been phenomenally successful to date, but the coalition military forces have set no date for the end of hostilities. Indeed, they operate still today.

It is the U.S. policy to bolster the counterterrorism capabilities of countries that work with the United States and require assistance. The department's anti-terrorism assistance program is active in more than 130 nations as I speak. Over 35,000 students from 152 countries have received such training. It is vitally important that this worldwide capacity building continue to ensure that we close the seams that allow terrorists and their supporters to operate and commit the kind of evil that we witnessed on 9/11.

Attention fades over time, but the world cannot afford to retreat from the face of terrorism. Despite our early, and indeed encouraging, success, the fact is that we're just beginning this campaign. There is still much work to be done to complete it successfully. Additional terrorist attacks are very, very likely. Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001 describes a complex web of nations, ethnicities, financial networks and arms shipments that constitutes today's terrorist threat. It is a cancer that must be removed. And we need to remain committed and vigilant to achieve that goal.

With that, I will take your questions.

QUESTION: I have a couple of questions on different parts of the report. There's a flat statement there that Israel destroyed the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus. There's nothing to back it up. As you probably know, it's a matter of some conjecture. Israel said it did not; that they have an apparatus. Certainly, nobody would argue that Israel destroyed what they had going in Gaza. Is there anything you can provide now or later to back up that flat statement?

And secondly, on Cuba, they're on the list again. Does the State Department have any evidence or anything to tell us about terrorist plots, successful or not, that Cuba had any hand in at all, or is this largely a political allegation?

TAYLOR: First, with regard to your question regarding the Israeli activities in the Palestinian territories, certainly the military activity there did do a great deal to damage the security capability of the security apparatus of the Palestinian Authority. Beyond that, I'll take that question and get you additional information if that's available.

With regard to Cuba, Cuba's record on terrorism has been mixed, quite honestly. President Castro did condemn the events of 11 September, but has since not renounced at all terrorism as a legitimate political tool in the revolution. He also continues to allow members of the FARC, of ETA, and indeed, eight Americans who were involved in terrorist activities in the '70s and '80s in our country, to remain as guests of the Cuban government. For that reason, and the fact that it's not renounced its commitment to terrorism, it remains on the list. It's not just for political reasons, but for those reasons.

HEMMER: The State Department continues to take questions.

We want to show you the seven countries now that have been profiled and singled out in this year's global terrorism list: Iran, Sudan, Libya, Iraq, North Korea, Cuba, and Syria -- that word from the State Department today.

And, as you heard Ambassador Francis Taylor just talk there in that question-answer segment, also his statement before that, he indicates, as we have heard many times, that al Qaeda right now seeks to regroup around the world -- his words. But intelligence-sharing on a number of different occasions, apparently, has helped to prevent certain attacks. But additional terrorist attacks, he says, are very, very likely -- his words, again, from the State Department.

Colin Powell opened up that briefing.




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