As set forth in the President's February 2003 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, the Department of State is responsible for developing coordinated strategies to defeat terrorists abroad. These strategies recognize that in today's increasingly interconnected world, it is impossible to draw neat, clear lines between security interests, development efforts, and U.S. support for democracy. The United States must use all of the instruments of statecraft to integrate and advance these goals.
Regional and international cooperation and coordination are essential. Through regional partnerships, the United States is building trusted networks that undermine, marginalize, and isolate the enemy, discredit the terrorist ideology of hate and violence, and empower legitimate alternatives to extremism. In order to address underlying conditions, the United States must work with its many partners around the world to build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.
The Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA)
The Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA) provides partner countries the training, equipment, and technology they need to improve their ability to combat terrorism. ATA programs seek to address specific needs of partner nations, such as increasing capabilities to find and arrest terrorists, and to build the kind of cooperation and interactivity between law enforcement officers that has a lasting impact.
In the area of cyber security, ATA works with two to three countries per year to provide training and equipment grants. The program offers a series of courses focusing on computer forensics, Internet intercepts, uncovering on-line communications operations, link analysis, e-mail tracing, cyber prosecutions, and other topics that assist foreign law enforcement organizations in identifying, investigating, and preventing terrorist acts. Most of the countries receiving this program start with the Executive Seminar on Cyber Terrorism, a three-day event that attempts to educate senior level police, prosecutorial, and IT executives on cyber terrorism issues. To date, ATA has worked with the Philippines, Thailand, Greece, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Morocco. Projected partners include India, Indonesia, Jordan, and possibly Egypt.
ATA sponsored 217 courses and technical consultations and trained approximately 4,300 students from 78 countries in 2005. In its two-decade long existence, ATA has trained more than 52,300 students from 146 countries, providing programs tailored to the needs of each partner nation and to local conditions. Such training included crisis management and response, cyber terrorism, dignitary protection, bomb detection, airport security, border control, kidnap intervention and hostage negotiation and rescue, response to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction, countering terrorist finance, and interdiction of terrorist organizations. All courses emphasize law enforcement under the rule of law and respect for human rights.
ATA Success Stories
ATA alumni have served as the lead investigators for a number of recent terrorist attacks:
The Middle East Partnership Initiative
As President Bush noted, when an "entire region sees the promise of freedom in its midst, the terrorist ideology will become more and more irrelevant, until that day when it is viewed with contempt or ignored altogether." Systems characterized by an absence of political choice, transparent governance, economic opportunities, and personal freedoms can become incubators for extremism, hate, and violence.
The State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is a presidential initiative launched in 2002 so that democracy can spread, education can thrive, economies can grow, and women can be empowered in the Middle East. It has funded more than 350 programs in 14 countries and the Palestinian territories, ranging from support for election monitoring to improvements in the quality of education and to efforts seeking a greater role for women in society.
The Initiative is a partnership that works closely with academic institutions, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations in the Arab world with the goal of building a vibrant civil society so reform can flourish.
Since its launch in 2002, MEPI has received $293 million to fund initiatives leading to democratic and other reforms. Congress has appropriated an additional $99 million for the current fiscal year for this successful transformational diplomacy initiative.
In 2005, MEPI reported the following success stories:
Multilateral and Regional Cooperation
The United Nations continues to provide focus and energy to the international community in its collective fight against terrorism.
The Security Council adopted two resolutions related to terrorism in 2005. Resolution 1617, adopted in July, strengthened the current sanctions regime against the Taliban and al-Qaida, and endorsed the Financial Action Task Force standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing. Resolution 1624, adopted at a Security Council summit, addressed incitement to terrorism and terrorist safe havens.
The Counterterrorism Committee (CTC) was established by Security Council Resolution 1373 after September 11, 2001, with the goal of raising the performance level of the governments of all 191 member states in the fight against terrorism. The Counterterrorism Committee's Executive Directorate (CTED), established by Resolution 1535 in 2004, became fully operational in December 2005. CTED's mandate is to enhance the Committee's ability to monitor the implementation of Resolution 1373 and to continue its capacity-building work by facilitating technical assistance to member states and promoting closer cooperation and coordination with international, regional, and sub-regional organizations. It is also undertaking visits to certain nations to assess their implementation of obligations under Resolution 1373.
The 1267 Sanctions Committee, also established by the Security Council, maintains a list of individuals and entities associated with al-Qaida, the Taliban, and/or Usama bin Ladin that are subject to international sanctions -- assets freeze, travel ban, and arms
embargo -- that member states are obligated to implement. The Committee entered into an agreement to exchange information with Interpol with the goal of better enforcing the sanctions.
The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), established at the G7 Economic Summit in Paris in 1989, is an inter-governmental body tasked with developing international standards and promoting policies initially aimed at combating money laundering and, following 9/11, the financing of terrorism. Its recommendations are now acknowledged as the international standards in both these areas and serve as the basis of regular mutual evaluations of its members' financial sectors, as well as evaluations by the IMF and World Bank.
In 1990, the FATF first issued its 40 recommendations on money laundering. These recommendations were designed to prevent the proceeds of crime from being used both in future criminal activities and in legitimate economic activity. They were revised in 1996 and 2003 to reflect changes in money laundering patterns.
In 2002, the FATF adopted eight (later nine) special recommendations on terrorist financing. While focused principally on safeguarding the integrity of the international financial systems, these recommendations also provide governments with guidance on combating terrorist misuse of cash couriers, wire transfers, and non-profit organizations.
The UN General Assembly took several important steps on the counterterrorism front. The Outcome Document issued at the high-level plenary meeting held at the United Nations on September 14-16 contains a clear and unqualified condemnation of terrorism "in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever, and for whatever purposes," and sets objectives for UN actions to counter terrorism. It also calls for the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to promote comprehensive, coordinated, and consistent responses at the national, regional, and international level. The General Assembly also negotiated and adopted four antiterrorism resolutions, 60/43, 60/73, 60/78, and 60/158, and continued work on the negotiation of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. The General Assembly concluded the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism in April. By December 16, 94 states had signed this important new instrument.
The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, continued to use his office to focus the international community on terrorism. In a March 10 speech, he announced the elements of the counterterrorism strategy produced by the high-level panel he had established to study global threats. He described terrorism as "a direct attack on the core values the United Nations stands for: the rule of law; the protection of civilians; mutual respect between people of different faiths and cultures; and peaceful resolution of conflicts." The Secretary-General's Task Force on Terrorism continued its work in response to the request of the General Assembly President to provide recommendations on ways to strengthen the capacity of the UN system to assist states in combating terrorism, and to enhance the coordination of the United Nations' activities in this regard.
UN Secretariat staff of the Terrorism Prevention Branch in Vienna, Austria, continued to help countries build the legal framework necessary to become party to and implement the international counterterrorism conventions and protocols.
UN Specialized Agencies are also involved in the work of fighting terrorism. For example, the International Civil Aviation Organization adopted passport security standards, and the International Maritime Organization engaged in security-related activities designed to make it harder for terrorists to operate in the commercial shipping arena. In October, the International Maritime Organization convened a diplomatic conference that concluded a new protocol to the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and a new protocol to the 1988 Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Fixed Platforms on the Continental Shelf. The International Atomic Energy Agencylaunched a nuclear security action plan to combat the threat of terrorism involving nuclear and other radioactive materials. In July, the IAEA concluded amendments to the 1980 Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which will enter into force once two-thirds of the state parties to the Convention ratify, accept, or approve the amendments.
G8 Counterterrorism Actions
The Group of Eight (G8) -- the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom -- was instrumental in developing cutting-edge counterterrorism standards and practices. These included enhanced travel document security standards, as well as strengthened controls over exports and stockpile security to mitigate the threat to airports from illicit acquisition of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles (man portable air defense systems, or MANPADS).
G8 counterterrorism initiatives often have an impact well beyond the borders of G8 member states, since the group actively seeks to promulgate the standards and practices it develops to international standard-setting organizations. G8 travel document security standards, for example, were adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization for all its members. A port and maritime security assessment guide created by the G8 was adopted by the International Maritime Organization in December 2004.
Secure and Facilitated International Travel Security Initiative
At the June 2004 Sea Island Summit, President Bush and the other G8 leaders made a commitment to strengthen international counterterrorism cooperation by launching the Secure and Facilitated International Travel Initiative (SAFTI). This initiative was designed to increase passenger confidence in the security of international transportation, speed the processing of travelers by border authorities, promote international commerce, and reduce the threat of MANPADS to civil aviation. The G8 partners agreed to shared principles, including commitments to:
As part of the Secure and Facilitated International Travel Security Initiative, G8 leaders adopted a 28-point action plan committing members to implement security-enhancing projects in a variety of transportation security fields, including:
Virtually all outstanding project tasks were completed by the end of 2005.
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, establishing the Counterterrorism Action Group (CTAG) to implement this plan. CTAG supports the UN Counterterrorism Committee's efforts to oversee implementation of UNSCR 1373 by developing an active forum for donors to coordinate counterterrorism cooperation with, and assistance to, third countries. CTAG promotes counterterrorism by prioritizing needs and targeting assistance to expand counterterrorism capacity in recipient countries. CTAG also encourages all countries to meet their obligations under Resolution 1373 of the United Nations Security Council and the 13 international counterterrorism conventions and protocols.
Under the leadership of the rotating G-8 presidency, CTAG meets three times per year with the active participation of G8 member states, the European Commission, the UN Counterterrorism Committee, and other 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.
CTAG coordinated diplomatic, donor cooperation, and donor assistance efforts, such as:
CTAG's standing members include the G8 member states, the European Commission, and the UN Counterterrorism Committee. They were joined at one or more meetings by Australia, Spain, Switzerland, the Asian Development Bank, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
(See Chapter 5 for information on regional groups such as the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative, the European Union, and the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE).)Public Diplomacy
Public diplomacy is essential to a successful foreign policy and to America's national security. The United States recognizes that the global and generational challenge of countering terrorism is, at its heart, a contest of ideas and values, and that America is more secure when people around the world share the same hopes and freedoms.
The State Department's public diplomacy work is guided by three strategic imperatives. First and foremost, it continues to offer a positive vision of hope and opportunity rooted in the enduring U.S. commitment to freedom. It promotes the fundamental and universal rights of free speech and assembly, the freedom to worship, the rule of law, and rights for women and minorities. It strives to isolate and marginalize violent extremists and undermine their efforts to exploit religion to rationalize their acts of terror. Finally, it fosters a sense of common interests and common values between Americans and people around the world.
The United States advances these strategic objectives by vigorously engaging foreign publics to explain and advocate American policies. Reaching foreign audiences with core policy messages on democracy, tolerance, and the universal values of liberty, justice, and respect are at the center of U.S. efforts to counter extremist rhetoric and disinformation coming from hostile groups.
The United States is promoting increased exchanges, which exemplify the transformative power of American global engagement. The significance of people-to-people exchanges has never been more clear or compelling. The 9/11 Commission Report recognizes the essential contribution exchanges make to national security. The National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 reaffirms the importance of America's commitment to exchanges.
The United States is expanding educational opportunities as the path to hope and opportunity. English language programs not only provide crucial skills but also open a window to information about the United States, its people, and its values. Americans must also better educate themselves about the world; the President's National Strategic Languages Initiative will encourage more American students to study critical languages such as Chinese and Arabic.
Responding to and quickly debunking misinformation, conspiracy theories, and urban legends is crucial for success in the war of ideas. The State Department maintains a public "Identifying Misinformation" website, in English and Arabic, devoted to countering false stories that appear in extremist and other web sources. The site focuses on disinformation likely to end up in the mainstream media. Embassies have used information from this site to counter disinformation in extremist print publications in Pakistan and other countries. One article, "A Trio of Disinformers," was the subject of a 1,100-word front-page article in an issue of the influential pan-Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat. "Identifying Misinformation" is featured on the usinfo.state.gov website, and is listed first of 17.6 million sites in a Google search for the term "misinformation." At least 49 websites have direct links to it.
The Internet, radio, television, and video products remain powerful tools for bringing America's foreign policy message to worldwide audiences. The State Department produces a wide array of print and electronic materials describing for foreign audiences, in their own languages, the need to counter those who have committed or wish to commit terrorist acts, as well as the achievements made in that struggle.
The State Department's premier web page to explain U.S. counterterrorism policy is "Response to Terrorism," created more than seven years ago and featured on usinfo.state.gov. The site is listed third out of 241 million sites in a Google search for the terms "terrorism U.S." At least 133 websites link directly to it.
In addition to featuring articles, texts, and transcripts from key policymakers, this site provides valuable links to the Electronic Journals series, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, the designated Foreign Terrorist Organization list, and the State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism. "Response to Terrorism" is located on the Internet at: http://usinfo.state.gov/is/ international_security/terrorism.html.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) carries out foreign assistance programs that support key U.S. foreign policy interests and have a positive public diplomacy impact for many people in the developing world. USAID's humanitarian aid programs and its activities in the areas of economic growth, agriculture, trade, global health, democracy, and conflict prevention help reduce the risk of countries becoming breeding grounds for terrorism. In Afghanistan, USAID is helping to build a safe, stable society that meets the needs of its people and eliminates an environment in which terrorist groups have flourished. USAID has been on the front lines of support to tsunami-affected countries in South and Southeast Asia, garnering goodwill toward the United States among people in the hardest-hit areas.
Support for and understanding of the United States go hand-in-hand with strengthening and empowering the voices most credible to speak out in favor of tolerance and rule of law to counter the violent extremists' message of hate and terror. One of public diplomacy's greatest assets is the American people. Empowerment of individuals and groups -- from all walks of life -- is a key aspect of the Department's public diplomacy efforts.
Countering Terrorism on the Economic Front
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 Executive Order (EO) 13224, giving the U.S. Government a powerful tool to impede terrorist funding. This executive order provides a means to disrupt the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organizations by authorizing the U.S. Government to designate and block assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism. In addition, because of the pervasiveness and expansiveness of the financial base of foreign terrorists, the order authorizes the U.S. Government 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, continues to designate Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. These designations play a critical role in the U.S. fight against terrorism, and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business. Among other consequences of such a designation, it is unlawful for U.S. citizens or any persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to provide funds or material support to a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. U.S. financial institutions are also required to freeze the funds of designated FTOs.
Executive Order and Foreign Terrorist Organization designations support U.S. efforts to curb the financing of terrorism and encourage other nations to do the same. They internationally stigmatize and isolate designated terrorist entities and individuals. They also deter donations or contributions to, and economic transactions with, named entities and individuals. In addition, they heighten public awareness and knowledge of terrorist organizations and signal to other governments U.S. concerns about named entities and individuals.
International cooperation remains fundamental to our common endeavors for the simple reason that most of the funds used to support terrorism are located outside the jurisdiction of the United States. International cooperation is essential to initiatives in fields ranging from intelligence and law enforcement coordination to targeted financial sanctions to norms and standards of financial regulation
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 and successor resolutions require states to impose financial and other sanctions on groups and individuals of those associated with Usama bin Ladin, the Taliban, or al-Qaida. In 2005, UNSCR 1617 was passed, clarifying what constitutes association with al-Qaida. UNSCR 1617 also "strongly urges all member states to implement the comprehensive international standards embodied in the FATF 40 Recommendations on Money Laundering and the FATF Nine Special Recommendations on Terrorist Financing."
UNSCR 1624, a resolution calling on states to take certain measures relating to the incitement of terrorist acts, was adopted unanimously in September 2005 at a Security Council summit as part of the UN's response to terrorism. We are currently discussing the implementation of this resolution internationally.
In 2005, the United States and other UN members designated a number of individuals and entities:
As of December 31, 2005, the United States has designated since 2001 a total of 424 individuals and entities as terrorists, their financiers, or facilitators; the global community has frozen more than $150 million in terrorist-related assets.
Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering
Throughout the year, the United States also continued to work closely with multilateral partners in numerous counterterrorist financing tracks, including the Counterterrorism Committee of the United Nations, the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and the Counterterrorism Assistance Group (CTAG), as well as in international financial institutions. In addition, the United States agreed with the European Union in June on a Declaration on Combating Terrorism that ratified a wide-ranging set of counterterrorism initiatives, including a commitment to establish a regular dialogue on terrorism finance between the European Union and the United States. Since its launch in September 2004, the dialogue has served as the framework for ongoing exchanges to promote information sharing and cooperation on FATF and on technical assistance issues.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have also pledged to provide countries with training to increase their capacity to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
Key to our success in tackling terrorism finance is effective U.S. interagency coordination. This strong interagency teamwork involves the intelligence agencies and the law enforcement community, led by the FBI, as well as State, Treasury, Homeland Security, Justice, and Defense collectively pursuing an understanding of the system of financial backers, facilitators and intermediaries that play a role in this shadowy financial world. As appropriate, interagency members also draw on the expertise of financial regulators.
Interagency coordination has also served as the foundation for the international cooperation, which the United States has worked hard to develop in a variety of settings and with a variety of tools. Our efforts encompass building political will of partners, public outreach, sanctions implementation, law enforcement, intelligence-gathering, financial regulation, standard-setting and training and technical assistance.
Terrorist Finance Working Group
The Terrorist Finance Working Group (TFWG) is composed of various agencies throughout the U.S. Government, and was convened in October 2001 to develop and provide counterterrorism finance training to countries deemed most vulnerable to terrorist financing. The Department of State's Bureau of Counterterrorism and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs co-chair the TFWG, which meets on a bi-weekly basis to receive intelligence briefings, schedule assessments, review assessment reports, and discuss the development and implementation of technical assistance and training programs.
Addressing New Threats and International Requirements
Cash Courier Training
In response to the development of new international standards against the growing threat of illicit cash couriers and bulk cash smuggling, the State Department worked with the interagency Terror Finance Working Group to develop a training course on interdicting bulk cash smuggling. This course provided operational training to foreign customs officers, investigators, and other officials on the detection, interdiction, analysis, investigation, and seizure of illicit cross-border cash used to facilitate terrorism and criminal activities. The training, conducted in three Middle Eastern countries, emphasized the need to investigate the source, destination, and organization behind cash smuggling, and stressed FATF requirements on reporting of outbound/inbound currency and working with Financial Intelligence Units. Based on the vulnerabilities uncovered during this training, one country moved aggressively to implement new laws and regulations. Due to high demand, the State Department is planning to increase the number of courses offered and to provide this training to countries in other geographical regions.
Advanced Financial Crimes Training
In November, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates, the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, and the Department of Justice's Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training co-sponsored a regional seminar, "Combating Advanced Financial Crimes." The State Department and the TFWG supported and funded U.S. participation in this event. Two hundred fifty representatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council attended the seminar. Participants included representatives from public prosecutors offices, Central Bank authorities, Customs officials, Financial Intelligence Units, and banking sector representatives, as well as officials from the Ministries of State Security, Finance, Justice, Interior, and Commerce. The seminar provided an opportunity for Gulf Cooperation Council countries to share information about how criminals, including terrorists and terrorist organizations, abuse financial systems. The seminar also provided tools to improve the region's ability to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate these sophisticated financial crimes.
OSCE Conference on Terrorist Financing
The State Department funded an OSCE conference in Vienna designed to share best practices and discuss combating terrorist financing policy. The 180 participants addressed a broad range of terrorist financing topics, including UN Security Council requirements and FATF standards, building effective domestic regimes, developing Financial Intelligence Units, best practices in prosecuting terrorist financing cases, and safeguarding charities from abuse. The conference already has resulted in the development of improved legislation in OSCE member states.
Three Plus One Security Initiative: Conference on the Role of Financial Intelligence Units in Combating Bulk Cash Smuggling and the Illicit Use of Charities
With State Department funding and TFWG support, the United States participated in the "3+1" Security Dialogue with the Triborder Area nations of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Representatives from the 3+1 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and other related experts shared experiences and discussed the challenges that the FIUs face in combating terrorist financing and money laundering related to bulk cash smuggling and the abuse of charities. Noting the need for strategic regional analysis by FIUs, the participants endorsed and began implementing a Trade Transparency Unit that uses shared regional import and export data to detect anomalies that may indicate illicit financial activity. The sharing of this data began in 2005.
Countering Terrorism on the Consular Front
The State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs continues to play an important role in countering global terrorism by incorporating biometrics, fingerprint matching, and facial recognition software into passport and visa systems. The passport and visa application processes represent choke points where international terrorists encounter U. S. Government officials in order to travel. Consular processes are potent opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel. Since the beginning of the Biometric Visa Program in 2004, the fingerprints of more than 17,000 visa applicants have been matched negatively against the DHS fingerprint watch list bringing to light derogatory information. In almost all cases, the visas were denied. Moreover, collecting fingerprints at the time of visa issuance and sending the fingerprints to DHS to be used for identity verification when the person presents the visa at the U.S. port of entry has essentially eliminated the problem of imposters entering the United States with visas issued to other persons. The Department has also added significant counterterrorism training and emphasis on fraudulent and interview instruction. The continuing challenges, outlined below, vary in each geographical region.
Africa: Consular officers in many African posts regularly see previously denied visa applicants returning with new passports under new identities in an effort to circumvent the name-check system. The ease with which applicants can obtain new identities and passports is alarming. The introduction of fingerprint matching for all visa applicants in 2004 has proven effective in combating this type of identity fraud.
East Asia and Pacific: Consular officers in East Asia face challenges related to document and imposter fraud. Document fraud varies from unsophisticated attempts to support visa applications to major fraudulent document production centers, often designed to provide documents to international organized crime, including terrorism and alien smuggling syndicates. The introduction of fingerprint matching technology in the visa process has helped reduce identity fraud.
Europe and Eurasia: Consular officers in Western and Central Europe generally do not see many cases of identity fraud. European passports, especially those issued by EU countries, meet the highest security standards. Nonetheless, with much of Europe participating in the Visa Waiver Program, a forged or stolen European passport has great potential value. While identity documents may be illegally obtained in some countries, the level of corruption in most of Europe remains low. In addition, all visa applicants are now subject to biometric fingerprinting, which enables consular officers to catch identity fraud by repeat applicants.
Further east, the risk of fraud is higher, since the passports in this region vary in quality. The Baltic states and Kyrgyzstan, in particular, have produced more secure passport books in the last year. However, older passports from these countries, as well as the rest of the region, can easily be altered. As the newly independent states centralize their passport offices and strengthen their governmental systems, the quality of passports should improve. Fraud identified by consular sections is primarily with the use of civil documents by desperate economic immigrants.
Near East: Visa processing at American embassies in the Near East presents a variety of challenges. Similarity in names throughout the region results in the return of large numbers of hits against terrorist watch list databases. In addition, naming conventions vary considerably from traditional Western practices, and the use of actual birth dates has not been given much importance in the region until very recently. Differences in transliteration systems, particularly between English and French systems, result in widely different spellings on passports in the Latin alphabet from the original Arabic. Although Near East posts do not see a significant number of passports issued with false identities, it is quite possible for travelers to obtain legitimate passports with considerable differences in names and dates of birth, facilitating ease of travel for criminal applicants, including terrorists. The use of fingerprint matching since 2004 in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security has greatly aided the verification of identity. This process was further boosted with the more recent addition of facial recognition matching.
South Asia: Central government control of passports and basic civil documents is weak throughout South Asia. Since most vital statistics and other biographic information are maintained at the provincial level, assuming a fraudulent identity is easily achieved. Advancements in the use of biometrics in the visa process have proved to be the strongest measure to thwart impostor and identity fraud.
Western Hemisphere: Consular officers in the Western Hemisphere have always experienced a high level of visa applicants bearing fraudulent documentation. The majority of these cases are from individuals seeking to travel to the United States for economic opportunities; the fraud is often in the supporting documentation rather than the actual identity or passport. Biometric collection for visa applicants first started in 1998 with the introduction of the border-crossing card in Mexico; therefore, consular officers in Mexico are able to compare fingerprints for visa applicants going back almost eight years. There are indications that some countries in the region are working to improve their passport security and visa systems, including Mexico's new biometric visas and an Argentine initiative to install facial recognition for its passport program and at all ports of entry. Regardless, corruption at various levels throughout the region could lead to compromised integrity of the passport issuing process.
The Rewards for Justice Program
Under the Rewards for Justice Program, the Secretary of State may offer rewards of up to $25 million for information that prevents or favorably resolves acts of international terrorism against U.S. citizens or property worldwide. Rewards of up to $25 million have been authorized for information leading to the capture of Usama bin Ladin and other key al-Qaida leaders. Rewards also may be paid for information leading to the arrest or conviction of terrorists attempting, committing, conspiring to commit, or aiding and abetting in the commission of acts of international terrorism.
Since the program's inception in 1984, the United States has paid more than $62 million to more than 40 people who provided credible information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide.
In August, a $5 million Rewards for Justice payment, authorized by Secretary Rice, was made to a source that provided assistance in the arrest and conviction of several leaders of a major terrorist group. It resulted in the significant disruption of the group's activities and capabilities. Two additional rewards, totaling more than a half million dollars, were also approved for payment in 2005.
Anyone with information on any past or planned act of international terrorism against the United States anywhere in the world is urged to contact the nearest FBI office or the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security by any of the following means:
Telephone: 1-800-877-3927 (works from some overseas locations)
Mail: Rewards for Justice
Washington, DC 20522-0303
Persons located overseas may also contact the Regional Security Officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
The Container Security Initiative (CSI)
The Container Security Initiative (CSI) aims to ensure that maritime cargo containers posing a terrorism risk are identified and examined at foreign ports before they are shipped to the United States. About 90 percent of the world's trade is transported in such cargo containers; in the United States, almost half of incoming trade (by value) arrives by containers onboard ships. More than nine million cargo containers arrive by sea and are offloaded at U.S. seaports each year.
The Container Security Initiative was founded on four core elements:
Under the CSI program, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are deployed to work with host nation counterparts to target all containers that pose a potential threat for terrorism. As of December, 26 customs administrations have agreed to participate in CSI, and it is now operational in 42 ports worldwide. Approximately 75 percent of cargo containers headed to the United States originate in or are transshipped from CSI ports. At that point, approximately 90 percent of all trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific cargo imported into the United States will be subjected to pre-screening.
In a reciprocal program, CSI offers participating customs authorities the opportunity to send their own customs officers to major U.S. ports to target ocean-going containerized cargo destined for their ports. Likewise, the United States shares information on a bilateral basis with its CSI partners. As part of reciprocal CSI agreements, Japan and Canada currently station customs personnel in U.S. ports.
Currently Operational CSI Ports:
In the Americas:
In Africa and the Middle East:
International Conventions and Protocols
1. Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed On Board Aircraft
Signed in Tokyo on September 14, 1963.
Convention entered into force on December 4, 1969.
Status: 180 Parties
2. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft
Signed in The Hague on December 16, 1970.
Convention entered into force on October 14, 1971.
Status: 181 Parties
3. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil
Signed in Montreal on September 23, 1971.
Convention entered into force on January 26, 1973.
Status: 183 Parties
4. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents
Adopted in New York on December 14, 1973.
Convention entered into force on February 20, 1977.
Status: 159 Parties
5. International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages
Adopted in New York on December 17, 1979.
Convention entered into force on June 3, 1983.
Status: 153 Parties
6. Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material
Signed in Vienna on October 26, 1979.
Convention entered into force on February 8, 1987.
Status: 116 Parties
7. Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, Supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation
Done in Montreal on September 23, 1971.
Signed in Montreal on February 24, 1988.
Protocol entered into force on August 6, 1989.
Status: 156 Parties
8. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation
Done in Rome on March 10, 1988.
Convention entered into force on March 1, 1992.
Status: 134 Parties
9. Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf
Done in Rome on March 10, 1988.
Protocol entered into force on March 1, 1992.
Status: 123 Parties
10. Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection
Done in Montreal on March 1, 1991.
Convention entered into force on June 21, 1998.
Status: 123 Parties
11. International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings
Adopted in New York on December 15, 1997.
Convention entered into force on May 23, 2001.
Status: 145 Parties
12. International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism
Adopted in New York on December 9, 1999.
Convention entered into force on April 10, 2002.
Status: 150 Parties
13. International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism
Adopted in New York on April 13, 2005.
Not yet entered into force (open for signatures from September 14, 2005 until December 31, 2006).
Status: 100 signatories, no ratifications