On December 11, 2018, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan hosted a ministerial on counterterrorism at the Department of State focused on the Western Hemisphere. Thirteen key North, Central, and South American partners joined for this meeting, including Argentina, The Bahamas, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago. Brazil and Mexico participated in observer roles. Participating governments discussed the threat that transnational terrorist groups, including ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and Lebanese Hizballah, pose to the collective security and safety of their citizens at home and abroad.
The participating governments highlighted that transnational terrorist groups seek to exploit gaps in national and regional counterterrorism capabilities, including in border security, law enforcement, counterterrorist financing, and information sharing. The governments committed to bolstering counterterrorism capabilities and working together to address national and regional gaps to counter terrorist threats and networks more effectively.
Deputy Secretary Sullivan noted that “Transnational terrorism poses an immediate threat to us here in the Western Hemisphere. Although the perceived center of gravity seems far away, groups like ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and Lebanese Hizballah operate wherever they can find recruits, raise support, operate unchecked, and pursue their terrorist agendas. Keeping our citizens safe and secure requires constant vigilance and adequate resources…We must each do our part and work together to defend our citizens, our countries, and the values we hold dear.”
Senior counterterrorism and security officials from the Departments of Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security, and the U.S. Intelligence Community also participated in the meeting.
Argentina will host a follow-on meeting in the summer of 2019 to assess progress and continue identifying areas of potential cooperation.
Joint Communiqué on Counterterrorism Cooperation
On December 11, 2018, the United States convened a Counterterrorism Ministerial focusing on the Americas with eleven of its key hemispheric partners, including Argentina, The Bahamas, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago.
At this event, participating governments:
- Reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is a serious threat to international peace and security;
- Reaffirmed our commitment to counter terrorism and to prioritizing efforts to defeat national and transnational terrorist groups;
- Affirmed that ISIS and al-Qa’ida pose a threat to our collective security, to the safety of our citizens at home and abroad, and to all individuals within our respective jurisdictions.
- Expressed concern about the presence of Hizballah networks in the region and their involvement in terrorist and illicit activities;
- Noted that the terrorist threat confronting our countries has evolved considerably in recent years, growing more fluid, complex, and decentralized, and that we must consider how we should adapt our efforts to address the changing threat;
- Highlighted that terrorist groups continue to raise funds in our countries through both licit and illicit activity and noted that this funding can be used to advance their terrorist agendas;
- Recognized that transnational terrorist groups seek to exploit gaps in national and regional counterterrorism capabilities, including in border security, law enforcement, counterterrorist financing, and information sharing;
- Committed to bolstering our counterterrorism capabilities and working together to address national and regional gaps to counter terrorist threats more effectively;
- Emphasized that international and regional cooperation is critical to countering transnational terrorist groups;
- Underscored the importance of fully implementing all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including 1267, 1373, 2178, and 2396, and complying with the obligations in these Resolutions on the use of watchlists, traveler data, biometrics, and countering the financing of terrorism;
- Noted with concern the connections between terrorism and transnational organized crime and the need to address this activity as part of our national and collective security strategies in counterterrorism;
- Emphasized the importance of effectively implementing UN Security Council counterterrorism sanctions and Financial Action Task Force recommendations;
- Reaffirmed commitment to engage in counterterrorism efforts while respecting human rights and the rule of law; and
- Welcomed the Argentine offer to host a follow-on meeting in July 2019 in Buenos Aires, to assess progress and continue identifying areas of potential cooperation to avoid the recurrence of terrorist violence in the future. The meeting will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1994 terrorist attack against the AMIA community center.