This report is submitted to fulfill the requirement for an annual report on the assistance related to international terrorism under section 502(b) of the International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1985, as amended (22 U.S.C. § 2349aa-7(b)). It describes how the Department of State (State) has used various programs during FY 2016 to strengthen non-military efforts, partnerships, and capacity around the world to address evolving terrorism challenges.
The United States and our partners have made significant progress against terrorism and violent extremism, but more work remains to be done. Under sustained military, intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic pressure, ISIL has lost considerable territory in Iraq and Syria. The flow of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) to both countries has decreased considerably. Despite these setbacks, however, ISIL is adapting its tactics and continues to develop its external networks to direct, facilitate, or inspire attacks in Europe and elsewhere, including through returning FTFs. Meanwhile, several al-Qa’ida affiliates and state-sponsored terrorist groups continue to conduct operations around the world.
The State Department plays a leading role in developing important partnerships and cooperation across key countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, to counter ISIL, al-Qa’ida, and both groups’ affiliates. State’s priorities include preventing and countering terrorist safe havens and recruitment, reducing the threat posed by FTFs, and countering Iranian-sponsored terrorism. To do this, State works to build the counterterrorism capabilities of civilian law enforcement, justice sector actors, and correctional officials in partnership with the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), Treasury, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Working closely with USAID, State is also promoting partnerships across government, community, and civil society organizations to address the conditions that fuel the spread of violent extremism. The additional $175 million provided by Congress for the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF) in FY 2016 will allow State to significantly expand these efforts with key countries and elevate the civilian dimensions of counterterrorism for programs implemented in FY 2017.
Addressing the Threat Posed by Foreign Terrorist Fighters
Global: Utilizing Department of Justice legal advisors and other technical support, State has worked with countries to strengthen their legal frameworks and bolster their capabilities to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate FTF cases. Since the passage of landmark UN Security Council Resolution 2178 in 2014, approximately 45 partner countries have passed new laws or updated existing laws, and in FY 2016 a number of countries were able to successfully prosecute FTF cases. Information sharing and border security have also remained top priorities for our assistance. State has supported INTERPOL’s expansion of its Foreign Fighter Fusion Cell and provided assistance to help a number of countries improve their ability to screen travelers against international databases of known and suspected terrorists.
Countering and Preventing Terrorist Safe Havens and Recruitment
Arabian Peninsula: State has focused counterterrorism engagement and assistance on strengthening regional cooperation, enhancing border security, and countering regional terrorist financing networks. In Bahrain and Oman, for instance, areas of focus include border security, investigative capacity, post-blast forensics, and explosive ordinance removal.
Europe: As we see an increase in the number of FTFs returning to the Western Balkans and Southeastern Europe, State increased its focus on interdicting and prosecuting these individuals within a rule of law framework. Working closely with DOJ, State launched a regional effort to assist multiple countries in the processing of hundreds of cases of individuals arrested under new FTF laws passed in 2015. State continues to prioritize its efforts to prevent the flow of FTFs to and from the conflict in Syria and Iraq through a range of programming aimed at preventing, identifying, and interdicting the movement of FTFs across international borders.
Horn of Africa: In line with the goals of the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT), assistance in the Horn of Africa is building the capacity of civilian justice sector actors to detect and respond to attacks by al-Shabaab; investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate terrorism cases; and counter violent extremism. In Somalia, for example, we have helped to establish and train teams that have been the first to respond to some of the recent attacks in Mogadishu, including the attempted bombing of an airliner in March 2016. State has provided significant assistance to build the capacity of dedicated law enforcement units conducting crisis response and land border security.
Iraq, Syria, and the Levant: State’s civilian counterterrorism capacity-building efforts in the Levant remain focused on countering-ISIL, al-Nusrah Front (al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria), and other terrorist groups destabilizing the region. State supports a broad range of border security, law enforcement, and rule-of-law efforts aimed at strengthening Jordan and Lebanon’s ability to disrupt terrorist operations, and more specifically to reduce the flow of FTFs, weapons, IEDs and precursor materials, and bulk cash to FTOs. State is also assisting civil society organizations to counter ISIL’s messaging while building community resilience against terrorist radicalization and recruitment.
Northwest Africa: In line with the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) State is actively supporting partner nations to counter the spread of ISIL’s affiliates and networks, particularly from Libya, as well as al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb and other al-Qa’ida-linked groups. In the Sahel, State is working to disrupt terrorist transit and to promote effective partnerships with local communities. In the Lake Chad Basin region, State is supporting law enforcement and military efforts to disrupt cross-border attacks by Boko Haram.
South & Southeast Asia: State continues to provide counterterrorism capacity-building assistance to partner nations throughout Asia, particularly focused on border security and counterterrorism-related investigation and prosecution. In Pakistan and Bangladesh for example, we continue to support police and border security training, including support for the new Dhaka-based Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime Unit. In Southeast Asia, State is making progress implementing UNSCR 2178 by supporting information sharing, as well as aviation and border security, through greater INTERPOL connectivity.
Countering Iranian-Sponsored Terrorism
Iran’s terrorist proxies and partners continued to play a destabilizing role in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen. While Iran and its partners, allies, and proxies actively fought against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, they also incited sectarian tensions within the Iraqi Security Forces, Popular Mobilization Forces, and population at large. To counter Iranian influence, State Department officials continued to lead an international initiative focusing on Hizballah’s terrorist and illicit activities, working closely with other USG partners, including DOJ, FBI, Treasury, DHS, and the NCTC. State organized the third meeting of the US-Europol Law Enforcement Coordination Group on Hizballah, in which 24 countries from around the world participated, and held regional and national level information-sharing sessions on Hizballah for prosecutors and investigators in the Arabian Peninsula, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and West Africa.
Appendix: Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR)-Funded Programs Related to International Terrorism
Managed by the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism:
Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA): In FY 2016, NADR-ATA resources supported 525 courses, workshops, and technical consultations involving 10,455 participants from 50 countries. NADR/ATA-funded efforts help to build critical capabilities of partner law enforcement in the areas of crisis response, border security, and counterterrorism investigations.
Counterterrorism Engagement with Allies (CTE): In FY 2016, NADR-CTE resources supported a range of efforts to build the capacity of multilateral organizations and regional bodies, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum, to promote counterterrorism cooperation and best practices.
Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP): In FY 2016, NADR-TIP resources sustained, upgraded, and expanded Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System technology and associated training capabilities at 210 ports of entry (POEs) in 22 countries, including biometric equipment upgrades at 122 POEs in 18 countries. TIP programs provide partner nations with critical capabilities to identify, disrupt, and deter terrorist travel at airports and other major ports of entry.
Counterterrorism Financing (CTF): In FY 2016, NADR-CTF supported a range of capacity-building programs aimed at our partners’ abilities to monitor, interdict, and prosecute terrorist financiers and to meet international terrorism finance standards outlined by the Financial Action Task Force. CTF programs assist partners to build and strengthen effective legal frameworks and regulatory regimes; establish active and capable Financial Intelligence Units; strengthen the investigative skills of law enforcement entities; and bolster prosecutorial and judicial development.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): In FY 2016, NADR resources helped to build law enforcement capabilities to identify and counter violent extremist recruitment and radicalization through community engagement, partnerships, and strategic communications. NADR-funded CVE programs are integrated with other CVE programming funded by Economic Support Fund (ESF) resources.
Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI): In FY 2016, NADR resources supported a wide variety of RSI projects focused on promoting regional law enforcement and justice sector capabilities and cooperation against transnational terrorist threats. RSI is critical to enabling flexible civilian responses to rapidly evolving threats, and building the regional capacity, partnerships, and cooperation necessary to counter the most serious threats facing the United States and our partners.
Managed by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) Threat Reduction: In FY 2016, NADR Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) funds helped to secure or destroy at-risk or illicitly proliferated MANPADS as part of a global program to prevent acquisition of these and other advanced conventional weapons by terrorists, insurgents, or other non-state actors. Since 2003, these efforts have led to the reduction of over 34,000 MANPADS in more than 38 countries, and improved security and management systems for thousands more MANPADS. NADR-CWD funds also supported efforts to prevent the illicit availability of small arms and light-weapons, helped partner countries improve stockpile management, and destroy excess or otherwise at-risk stockpiles.
Managed by the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation:
The Global Threat Reduction (GTR) Program: In FY 2016, NADR-GTR funded activities to prevent terrorists from acquiring WMD-related expertise, materials, technologies, and equipment. Specifically, GTR secures weaponizable chemicals abroad, and addresses the threat posed by ISIL’s pursuit and reported use of chemical weapons. GTR also strengthens laboratory security to safeguard dangerous pathogens, engaging biologists to promote responsible science, and trains law enforcement to detect, deter, and respond to potential chemical and biological weapons plots. GTR establishes trustworthiness programs and strengthens security culture practices at nuclear facilities to mitigate insider threats of sabotage and the diversion of nuclear materials.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism (WMDT) Program: In FY 2016, WMDT employed NADR funds to help improve international capabilities to prevent, detect, and respond to radiological and nuclear material smuggling and terrorism. Funding supported activities of the U.S. co-chaired Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism to help build partner capacity to address nuclear security challenges and exchange best practices on nuclear detection, forensics, and emergency response. WMDT also used NADR funds to help partner countries strengthen their counter nuclear smuggling capabilities to respond to, investigate, and prosecute such incidents.