As an integral element of its counterterrorism policy, the U.S. government provides foreign nations with technical assistance, training and equipment designed to help boost their counterterrorism capacity.
The ATA program serves as the primary provider of U.S. government antiterrorism training and equipment to law enforcement agencies of partner nations. ATA helps these countries to deal effectively with security challenges within their borders, to defend against threats to national and regional stability, and to deter terrorist operations across borders and regions. From prevention to response to post-incident actions, ATA builds capacity in a wide spectrum of counterterrorism skills, offering courses, seminars, and consultations on more than 80 topics. ATA currently has active partnerships with 53 countries.
In FY 2011, the ATA program provided 394 training courses to 8,504 participants from 64 countries. These courses help partner nations build law enforcement capacity in investigations, border security, protection of critical targets, leadership and management, regional coordination and cooperation, critical incident management, and cyber security. Seventeen capabilities-assessment and program-review visits were also completed in FY 2011. These on-site visits assess critical counterterrorism capabilities and are used to plan assistance.
All ATA courses emphasize the importance of the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is a pillar of the Administration’s strategic approach to counterterrorism. Through a mix of local grants developed and managed by U.S. embassies and larger awards managed from Washington, the CVE program pursues three main lines of effort: (1) Provide positive alternatives to those most at-risk of recruitment into violent extremism; (2) Undermine the al-Qa’ida (AQ) ideology that glorifies violence; and (3) Increase partner capacity (civil society and government) in order to stem terrorist recruiting. All CVE activities put particular emphasis on locally tailored activities which build capacity at the community level.
To address the factors that create conditions conducive to recruitment and radicalization, the CVE program provides positive alternatives to populations found to be most at-risk of embracing AQ’s violent worldview. These include interfaith and intercultural tolerance programs, youth sports programs, and skills training. To counter AQ propaganda, the program amplifies local voices that undercut AQ’s legitimacy; these include victims of AQ terrorism, former militants, and women and other community leaders.
The CVE program also works closely with the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) which coordinates, orients, and informs government-wide public communications activities directed at audiences abroad, targeting violent extremists and terrorist organizations – especially al-Qa'ida (AQ) and its affiliates and adherents – by using communication tools to reduce radicalization by terrorists. Finally, to build the CVE capacity of civil society and governments, the program engages with partner nations to develop, support, manage and evaluate counter-radicalization plans and to identify research gaps. Countries’ efforts to disengage incarcerated violent extremists from terrorism and to prevent prisons from becoming venues for the propagation of violent extremism are a particular focus of the program’s capacity-building component.
Following financial leads, and denying terrorists access to money, resources, and support, is a crucial part of our national counterterrorism strategy. The Counterterrorism Finance (CTF) unit coordinates the delivery of technical assistance and training to governments around the world that seek to improve their ability to investigate, identify, and interdict the flow of money to terrorist groups.
CTF programs build comprehensive and effective legal frameworks and regulatory regimes, establish active and capable financial investigative units (FIUs), strengthen the investigative skills of law enforcement entities, bolster prosecutorial and judicial development, and sustain designated training and technical assistance programs to build anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing capacity.
For FY 2011, CTF training, exchanges, and mentoring- funded programs were directed toward participants from Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, the Gulf, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Senegal, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, Turkey, West Bank/Gaza, and Yemen.
Counterterrorism Finance Training (CTF) programs are an interagency effort supported by the State Department, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Departments of Justice (DOJ), Homeland Security (DHS), and the Treasury.
A series of national-level domestic and international exercises designed to strengthen the nation's capacity to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from large-scale terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.
The Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST) is the U.S. government’s only interagency, on-call, short-notice team poised to respond to terrorist incidents worldwide. The FEST deploys to assist and advise the U.S. Chief of Mission in assessing crises and coordinating U.S. government crisis response activities. The FEST includes representatives from the Department of State, Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other appropriate agencies, such as Department of Energy, as circumstances warrant. FEST composition is flexible and tailored to the specific incident and U.S. Embassy needs. The FEST provides specialized crisis response expertise to augment existing U.S. Mission and host government capabilities.
The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) is a new multilateral counterterrorism body with 30 founding members (29 countries plus the EU) from around the world. Launched on September 22, 2011, the GCTF is a major initiative within the Obama Administration's broader effort to build the international architecture for dealing with 21st century terrorism. It will provide a unique platform for senior counterterrorism policymakers and experts from around the world to work together to identify urgent needs, devise solutions and mobilize resources for addressing key counterterrorism challenges. With its primary focus on capacity building in relevant areas, the GCTF aims to increase the number of countries capable of dealing with the terrorist threats within their borders and regions. In addition to the adoption of the GCTF's founding political declaration and remarks from GCTF Foreign Ministers, the launch included the announcement of two deliverables – one on the rule of law and one on countering violent extremism – thus highlighting the GCTF’s action-oriented focus from the outset.
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Under the leadership of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Major Events Coordination Unit, the International Security Events Group (ISEG) coordinates U.S. government interagency efforts to ensure safety at significant international events, such as the Olympic Games. CT’s operations division chairs the ISEG Counterterrorism Crisis Response and Exercise Planning Sub-Committees. The Counterterrorism Crisis Response Subcommittee evaluates major international events with an emphasis on planning and preparation for the possible deployment of the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST) or other U.S. government response to emerging crises. The Exercise Planning Subcommittee develops and conducts crisis response exercises to enhance U.S. Mission and Host Nation preparations for major international events. Recent ISEG-supported events include the 2012 London Olympics, the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Denying terrorists safe haven plays a major role in undermining terrorists' capacity to operate effectively and forms a key element of our counterterrorism effort. Terrorists operate without regard to national boundaries. Safe havens allow terrorists to recruit, organize, plan, train, and claim turf as a symbol of legitimacy. Physical safe havens usually straddle national borders or exist in regions where ineffective governance allows their presence. Examples include the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, Yemen, the Trans-Sahara region, and Somalia.
To effectively counter safe havens, we increasingly operate in a regional context with the goal of shrinking the space in which terrorists operate. Through the Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI), we seek to build regional cooperation to constrain terrorist activities. Under Chief-of-Mission authority, we bring Embassy officials, Military, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence agencies together to collectively assess the threats, pool resources, and devise collaborative strategies and action plans. We have established nine RSIs covering South East Asia, Iraq and its neighbors, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Western Mediterranean, East Africa, the Trans-Sahara, South Asia, Central Asia, and Latin America.
The Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) is an interagency forum that coordinates U.S. government-wide technology development for combating terrorism. By leveraging common initiatives through the TSWG, which the Bureau of Counterterrorism co-chairs with the U.S. Department of Defense, Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), the TSWG helps to develop life-saving products for those on the front lines of the counterterrorism effort. TSWG incorporates expertise and experience from a variety of U.S. and international sources to deliver operational support to counterterrorism first responders, military forces, security, and government officials.
In addition to the National Program, the TSWG carries out collaborative, international research and technology development programs with selected North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, major non-NATO allies, and other friendly foreign nations.
More information about the TSWG, TSWG participating departments and agencies, and the National Combating Terrorism Research and Development Program is available at the TSWG website.
The Terrorist Screening and Interdiction Programs (TSI) disrupt terrorist networks through initiatives that enhance U.S. and our foreign partners’ ability to detect terrorists and secure borders. Bilateral terrorism screening information sharing agreements negotiated pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 (HSPD-6) strengthen our screening capabilities, while the Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP)/Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) provides partner countries border security assistance to limit terrorist mobility.
Established in 2005, the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) is a U.S.-funded and implemented multi-faceted, multi-year effort designed to counter violent extremism and contain and marginalize 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 core goals are to enhance the indigenous capacities of governments in the pan-Sahel (Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Burkina Faso) to confront the challenge posed by terrorist organizations in the trans-Sahara; and to facilitate cooperation between those countries and U.S. partners in the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia). TSCTP has been successful in slowly building capacity and cooperation despite political setbacks over the years caused by coups d’etats, ethnic rebellions, and extra-constitutional actions that have interrupted work and progress with select countries of the partnership. In 2011, some partner nations succeeded in disrupting the movement and operations of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the trans-Sahara. For example, Mauritania and Mali defeated AQIM twice at Ouagadou Forest and Mauritania defeated AQIM at Bessiknou.
PREACT, formerly known as the East Africa Regional Strategic Initiative (EARSI), is the East Africa counterpart to the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP). First established in 2009, PREACT is a U.S.-funded and implemented multi-year, multi-faceted program designed to build the counterterrorism capacity and capability of member countries to thwart short-term terrorist threats and address longer-term vulnerabilities. It uses law enforcement, military, and development resources to achieve its strategic objectives, including reducing the operational capacity of terrorist networks, expanding border security, enhancing and institutionalizing cooperation among the region’s security organizations, improving democratic governance, and discrediting terrorist ideology. PREACT member countries include Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.