The Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT) works to strengthen partnerships, civilian capacity, and information sharing around the world to counter evolving terrorist threats and prevent the spread of violent extremism. CT designs, manages, and oversees foreign assistance to build the civilian capabilities of foreign government partners to counter terrorism and violent extremism in an effective and sustainable fashion. CT seeks to build law enforcement and judicial capabilities to mitigate attacks, disrupt terrorist transit, and arrest, investigate, prosecute, and incarcerate terrorists in accordance with the rule of law. To bolster these efforts, CT seeks to promote the leadership of other countries to build capacity in third countries in their regions. CT also seeks to strengthen partnerships and initiatives involving government and non-governmental actors to counter sources of violent extremist messaging, narratives, and recruitment.
Since its creation in 1983, the Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program has served as the primary provider of U.S. government antiterrorism training and equipment to law-enforcement agencies of partner nations throughout the world, and has delivered counterterrorism training to more than 90,000 law enforcement personnel from 154 countries.
From prevention of terrorist attacks to responding to and mitigating terrorist attacks, ATA helps partner nations build critical capabilities across a wide spectrum of counterterrorism skills. ATA will continue to provide training courses, consultations, mentorships, seminars, and equipment relevant to investigations, border security, protection of critical targets, leadership and management, regional coordination and cooperation, critical incident response and management, and cyber security. As terrorist networks continue to adjust their tactics and strategies, ATA will continue to adapt and refine its counterterrorism training initiatives to meet evolving threats.
All ATA courses emphasize the importance of the rule of law and respect for human rights.
The ATA program’s policy formulation, strategic guidance, and oversight are managed by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, while implementation and program administration are the responsibility of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS).
The Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT) uses a range of tools and programs to isolate and weaken terrorist groups and their support networks. CT leads Department of State efforts to designate terrorist organizations and individuals, including freezing their financial assets, blocking their financial transactions, and preventing others from providing them with material or financial support. Terrorism designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, impose serious sanctions on them, and enable coordinated action across the U.S. government and with our international partners to disrupt the activities of terrorists, including by denying them access to the U.S. financial system and enabling U.S. law enforcement actions.
CT also helps build the capacity of foreign partners to detect illicit funds – especially those from terrorist organizations emanating from, transiting through, or entering their countries – by helping them identify deficiencies in their national anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) regimes and building knowledge and skills to address those deficiencies. CT helps partner countries build their AML/CFT legal frameworks to meet the international standards established by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the UN, including establishing and implementing sound financial regulatory systems covering both the formal and informal sectors; developing effective financial intelligence units that can identify illicit financing, analyze suspicious transactions, and disseminate information; and equipping law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges to investigate and develop evidence to prosecute and adjudicate AML/CFT cases.
CT works with federal agencies such as the Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training and Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network;, the Internal Revenue Service;, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations; to implement and achieve these objectives, along with non-governmental organizations and the private sector. We also address specific CFT challenges relating to foreign terrorist fighters and kidnapping for ransom.
The Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT) is managing the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF), which is designed to build a network of partnerships from South Asia to the Sahel to develop more effective partnerships in countries and regions where terrorist networks seek to establish a foothold. CTPF funding seeks to strengthen civilian counterterrorism partnerships in key countries around the world. In coordination with the Department of Defense’s CTPF efforts, CT seeks to use State’s funding to build the capacity of criminal justice sector actors who can respond to, arrest, investigate, prosecute, and incarcerate terrorist suspects, recruiters, and financiers in accordance with due process and the rule of law. CT also seeks to use CTPF funding to expand partnerships with non-security and non-governmental actors to counter radicalization and recruitment to violent extremism, especially in regions threatened by ISIS.
The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) is a multilateral body that seeks to promote civilian cooperation and good practices to counter terrorism. The GCTF is composed of 30 countries and the EU. It consists of a strategic-level Coordinating Committee and five thematic and regional expert-driven working groups focusing on the criminal justice sector and rule of law; countering violent extremism; and capacity building in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia. The GCTF aims to strengthen the international architecture for addressing 21st century terrorism and promotes a strategic, long-term approach to dealing with the threat.
Since its launch in September 2011, the GCTF has mobilized over US $200 million to strengthen counterterrorism-related rule of law institutions, in particular, for countries transitioning away from emergency law.
Other accomplishments since the launch include the adoption of various sets of good practices that are intended to both provide practical guidance for countries as they seek to enhance their counterterrorism capacity and bring greater strategic coherence to global counterterrorism capacity building efforts.
In addition, the GCTF served as impetus for the development of three “inspired” institutions in order to address the Forum’s areas of strategic priority: countering violent extremism (CVE) and strengthening the rule of law. These institutions provide a vehicle for the operationalization, promotion, and implementation of some of the GCTF good practices surrounding CVE and rule of law. These three institutions include:
- The Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), based of its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, GCERF is the first global effort to support local, community-level initiatives aimed at strengthening resilience against violent extremism.
- Hedayah, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, serves as a CVE center of excellence and a training hub.
- The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), based in Valletta, Malta, provides lawmakers, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, correctional officials, and other justice sector stakeholders with the training and tools required to address terrorism and related transnational criminal activity.
The UN is a close partner of and participant in the GCTF and its activities. The GCTF serves as a mechanism for furthering the implementation of the universally-agreed UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and, more broadly, to complement and reinforce existing multilateral counterterrorism efforts, starting with those of the UN.
The Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) is an interagency forum that coordinates U.S. government-wide technology prototyping under the National Combating Terrorism Research and Development (R&D) Program. The mission of the TSWG is to identify, prioritize, and coordinate interagency and international R&D requirements and to rapidly develop technologies and equipment to meet the high-priority needs of the combating terrorism community. The TSWG also addresses joint international operational requirements through cooperative R&D with select NATO members, major non-NATO allies, and other friendly foreign nations. The Bureau of Counterterrorism co-chairs the TSWG in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC). By leveraging common technical requirements and initiatives, the TSWG develops new products and capabilities for those on the front lines of the counterterrorism effort. The TSWG incorporates expertise from a variety of U.S. and international sources to deliver operational support to first responders, military forces, and to other federal, state, and local government security officials.
TSI programs 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 identify, disrupt, and deter terrorist travel.
Established in 2005, the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) is a multifaceted, multi-year strategy implemented jointly by the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of Defense to assist partners in West and North Africa increase their immediate and long-term capabilities to address terrorist threats and prevent the spread of violent extremism.
Areas of support include:
- Enabling and enhancing the capacity of North and West African militaries and law enforcement to conduct counterterrorism operations;
- Integrating the ability of North and West African militaries and law enforcement, and other supporting partners, to operate regionally and collaboratively on counterterrorism efforts;
- Enhancing border security capacity to monitor, restrain, and interdict terrorist movements;
- Strengthening the rule of law, including access to justice, and law enforcement’s ability to detect, disrupt, respond to, investigate, and prosecute terrorist activity;
- Monitoring and countering the financing of terrorism (such as that related to kidnapping for ransom); and
- Reducing the limited sympathy and support among communities for violent extremism.
TSCTP partners include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia.
In addition to training and equipping security forces to more effectively combat terrorist threats, TSCTP targets groups in isolated or neglected regions who are most vulnerable to extremist ideologies by supporting youth employment, strengthening local governance capacity to provide development infrastructure, and improving health and educational services.
First established in 2009, the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT), is a U.S.-funded and implemented multi-year, multi-faceted program designed to build the capacity and cooperation of military, law enforcement, and civilian actors across East Africa to counter terrorism in a comprehensive fashion. It uses law enforcement, military, and development resources to achieve its strategic objectives, including:
- Reducing the operational capacity of terrorist networks;
- Developing a rule of law framework for countering terrorism in partner nations;
- Enhancing border security;
- Countering the financing of terrorism; and
- Reducing the appeal of radicalization and recruitment to violent extremism.
Active PREACT partners include Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda. Burundi, Comoros, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, and Sudan are also members of PREACT.