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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

War On Terror: A Critical Foreign Policy Challenge

Bureau of Resource Management
January 15, 2009


Defeating the terrorist enemy requires a comprehensive effort executed locally, nationally, regionally, and globally. Working with partner nations, we must eliminate terrorist leadership and terrorist safe havens, tailoring regional strategies to disaggregate terrorist networks and break terrorist financial, travel, communications, and intelligence links. Most challenging, we must address the underlying conditions that terrorists exploit at the national and local levels to induce alienated or aggrieved populations to become sympathizers, supporters, and ultimately members of terrorist networks. Our strategy is to marginalize violent extremists by addressing people’s needs and grievances, and by giving people a stake in their own political future.

REGIONAL STRATEGIC INITIATIVE. Terrorists operate without regard to national boundaries and are highly adaptable; defeating them requires both centralized coordination and field authority. Resources and responses must be applied in a rapid, flexible, and focused manner. The State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism has developed the Regional Strategic Initiative in key terrorist theaters of operation to collectively assess the threat, pool resources, and devise collaborative strategies, action plans, and policy recommendations.

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

The ANTITERRORISM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ATA) provides partner countries with the training, equipment, and technology needed to increase their capabilities to find and arrest terrorists, and builds the kind of cooperation and interactivity between law enforcement officers that has a lasting impact. During Fiscal Year 2008, the State Department delivered over 280 training activities and technical consultations, and trained over 5,600 participants from 68 countries. Training included: crisis management and response, cyber terrorism, dignitary protection, bomb detection, airport security, border control, response to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction, countering terrorist finance, interdiction of terrorist organizations, and kidnap intervention and hostage negotiation and rescue.


  • AFGHANISTAN: In April 2008, an assassination attempt on President Karzai by Taliban fighters in Kabul, was thwarted by the quick action of the ATA trained Presidential Protective Services personnel. Three assassins were killed and three were arrested.
  • COLOMBIA: ATA continued its assistance in the development a cutting-edge anti-kidnapping training facility known by its location in Sibate. During 2008, Colombia law enforcement began assuming full responsibility for delivering ATA-based training courses as a part of the Sibate programs. ATA training has helped Colombia’s anti-kidnapping units reduce kidnappings in Colombia by 83 percent since 2002. Over the past six years, none of the ATA-trained units have lost a single hostage during rescue operations.
  • INDONESIA: ATA trained and equipped tactical units arrested and participated in the adjudication of over four hundred terrorist suspects. They directed the investigation that resulted in the arrest operations, and related deaths, of one of Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorists, Dr. Azahari, the mastermind of a hotel bombing in Bali in 2002 that killed over 200 people, and contributed to the dismantlement of Azahari’s terror organization.

THE TERRORIST INTERDICTION PROGRAM (TIP) assisted priority countries at risk of terrorist activity to enhance their border security capabilities. The State Department has provided TIP assistance to more than 20 countries at 110 ports of entry, assistance that was instrumental in impeding and interdicting terrorist travel. High-priority countries participating in the program include Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Thailand, and Kenya.

COUNTERTERRORIST FINANCE TRAINING. The State Department chairs the interagency Terrorist Finance Working Group, which develops and coordinates USG counterterrorism financing (CTF) capacity-building efforts in key partner nations. The CTF capacity-building program includes training and technical assistance in the legal, financial regulatory, financial intelligence, financial investigation, and judicial, prosecutorial and asset forfeiture fields, as well as task force development to build interagency cooperation among the fields.


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