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’s programs during FY 2017 strengthened non-military efforts, partnerships, and capacity around the world to address evolving terrorism challenges.
ISIS, al-Qa’ida (AQ), Iranian state-sponsored terrorism, and other terrorist organizations threaten the national security of the United States and our allies by exploiting weak borders, political and sectarian conflicts, poor governance, and technology to further their terrorist agendas. ISIS still represents the main terrorist threat to the United States. While local forces, with support from the Defeat-ISIS Coalition, have reduced ISIS’s territory significantly in Iraq and Syria, the group’s prolific use of social media has enabled it to radicalize new followers and give operational advice from thousands of miles away. More and more aspiring terrorists are attacking soft targets at home – in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East – instead of traveling to Syria and Iraq. AQ and its affiliates also continue to pose a significant threat to the United States. Additionally, Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and has intensified conflicts and undermined U.S. national security interests in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, while continuing to support attacks against Israel.
Globally, the Department of State is targeting its funding to meet this evolving threat, while addressing the drivers of terrorism. For instance, the Department of State and USAID are leveraging billions in foreign assistance and diplomatic engagement funding from the FY 2017 Security Assistance Appropriations Act to accelerate efforts to address the President’s new Defeat-ISIS strategy to counter ISIS and its networks and affiliates. The Department launched initiatives to develop best practices in countering homegrown terrorism and radicalization to violence in prisons. The Department completed a year-long initiative to raise awareness around ISIS-directed and -inspired attacks aimed at soft targets.
The Department of State uses resources to bolster efforts to prevent and counter the creation and exploitation of safe havens by terrorist groups such as ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and other terrorist organizations in front-line regions. To complement ongoing U.S. efforts against ISIS and other groups in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere, we use our resources to provide support to neighboring countries and regions where local stability affords us a greater opportunity in the near-term to contain and stop the spread of terrorist activity.
Our goal is to ensure our partners can confront the terrorist threats they face themselves without needing to rely on the U.S. for assistance. To do this, the Department uses foreign assistance resources to build the capability of partner nations to identify, deter, disrupt, apprehend, prosecute, and convict terrorists and their supporters. Capacity-building efforts include ensuring there are appropriate frameworks, including adequate laws and procedures, in place to bring criminal cases against offenders and to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate terrorism-related cases.
REGIONAL EFFORTS TO BUILD COUNTERTERRORISM CAPABILITIES
Horn of Africa: In Kenya and Somalia, the Department of State continues to build the capacity of border security elements, especially along the Kenya-Somalia border, and strengthen the ability of regulatory agencies, law enforcement, civil aviation authorities, and the criminal justice sector to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks. In Kenya, this includes training a cadre of criminal justice professionals who can improve interagency coordination on investigating and prosecuting terrorism cases within a rule-of-law framework. In Somalia, this includes building the capabilities of the central bank to prevent the abuse of financial institutions and money service business for terrorist financing.
Lake Chad Region of Africa: While military forces have made progress in degrading Boko Haram, governments in the region continue to face challenges in establishing civilian security, handling Boko Haram detainees, and reintegrating fighters. To address this threat in Cameroon, for example, the Department focuses on crisis response and building the capacity of law enforcement by building on tactical training, mentorship, and enabling equipment for the Cameroonian Gendarmerie.
Sahel Region of Africa: Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb and other terrorist groups have adopted a strategy of asymmetric attacks that increasingly threatens Mali and other West African countries. In Mali, for example, programming focuses on building law enforcement crisis response capacity to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks.
North Africa: Tunisian counterterrorism authorities are showing an increasing ability to manage and respond to terrorism threats, yet Tunisia continues to face threats from ISIS in Libya and returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). The Department continues to support Tunisia’s efforts to implement a new counterterrorism strategy, promote greater cooperation between law enforcement and judicial officials on terrorism investigations, enhance crisis response capabilities, and secure vulnerable borders.
Levant: In Jordan and Lebanon, the Department continues to strengthen law enforcement crisis response efforts by building capacity to prevent, manage, and respond to terrorist attacks—specifically by improving interagency coordination and communication.
South and Southeast Asia: South and Southeast Asian partner countries, including Bangladesh and India, face ongoing and expanding threats from ISIS and ISIS-affiliated groups, AQ in the Indian Subcontinent, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and other terrorist groups. In response, Department activities range from supporting efforts to address radicalization in the prison system, strengthening cooperation between law enforcement and judicial officials in terrorism cases, enhancing crisis response capabilities, implementing new counterterrorism laws, and increasing information sharing and border and aviation security.
Central Asia and Europe: While the flow of FTFs to Iraq and Syria has significantly decreased, homegrown terrorists and the likely return of FTFs remain a threat in Europe and Central Asia. Following a collaborative interagency needs and opportunities assessment, the Department will use an estimated $12.5 million to help governments identify, investigate, prosecute, adjudicate, and incarcerate FTFs and homegrown terrorists, as well as support rehabilitation, reintegration, and counter-radicalization programs. In Southeast Europe, funds are used to counter terrorist travel in and through the region to Western Europe, the conflict zones, and potentially, the United States.
Countering Iranian-Sponsored Terrorism: To counter Iranian influence, the Department of State continues to lead an international initiative focusing on Hizballah’s terrorist and illicit activities, working closely with other U.S. partners, including the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center. In December, the Department of State helped organize the fourth meeting of the U.S.-Europol Law Enforcement Coordination Group on Hizballah, where 21 countries from around the world held regional and national level information-sharing sessions on countering Hizballah’s financing in Africa, the Arabian Gulf, Asia, and Europe. The Department of State will use resources to provide training and advisory support for law enforcement and justice sector officials to conduct investigations and prosecutions of Hizballah and its operatives, financiers, and criminal networks, using designations and other financial tools.
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 2017, NADR-ATA resources supported 365 courses, workshops, and technical consultations involving 6,641 participants from 41 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 2017, NADR-CTE resources supported a range of efforts to partner with multilateral organizations to build capacity of partner states to counter terrorism, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum, INTERPOL, the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Terrorism Prevention Branch.
Counterterrorism Financing (CTF): In FY 2017, 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, including those outlined by the Financial Action Task Force. CTF programs assist partners to build and strengthen effective legislative frameworks and regulatory regimes; establish active and capable financial intelligence units; strengthen the investigative skills of law enforcement entities; and bolster prosecutorial and judicial capacities.
Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF): In FY 2017, the Department of State used NADR‑CTPF funds to prevent terrorist safe havens in priority focus countries, counter Lebanese Hizballah and Iranian-sponsored terrorism, and to address the foreign terrorist fighter challenge by building enduring counterterrorism partnerships.
Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI): In FY 2017, NADR resources supported projects focused on promoting regional law enforcement, including border and aviation security, justice sector capabilities, and cooperation against transnational terrorist threats. Examples include a program to create specialized teams to respond to improvised explosive devices on the Cameroon-Nigeria border, training and mentoring of counterterrorism prosecutors and judges in the Maghreb and Sahel, supporting border patrol units securing the Kenya-Somali border, and assisting the Government of Niger to process a major backlog of Boko Haram detainees.
Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP): In FY 2017, NADR-TIP resources sustained, upgraded, and expanded Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) technology and associated training capabilities at 215 ports of entry (POEs) in 24 countries. TIP programs provide partner nations’ law enforcement authorities with critical capabilities to identify, disrupt, and deter terrorist travel at airports and other major POEs.
Managed by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) Threat Reduction: In FY 2017, 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. NADR‑CWD funds also supported MANPADS recognition training aimed at building partner capacity to identify and interdict illicitly proliferated MANPADS. Since 2003, these efforts have led to the reduction of over 39,000 MANPADS in more than 38 countries and improved physical security and stockpile management systems for thousands more.
Managed by the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation:
The Global Threat Reduction (GTR) Program: Each year NADR-GTR funds are dedicated to activities that prevent terrorist access to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) materials, technologies, equipment, and expertise. GTR programs secure weaponizable chemicals abroad and address the threat posed by ISIS’s pursuit and use of chemical weapons. These programs also strengthen laboratory security to safeguard dangerous pathogens, engage biologists to promote responsible science, and train law enforcement to detect, deter, and respond to potential chemical and biological weapons plots. GTR programs mitigate insider threats by identifying radicalized or coerced personnel at nuclear facilities. In FY 2017, GTR enhanced the capacity of Iraqi security forces to detect and respond to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incidents by providing the necessary equipment and applicable training. It built the capability of Iraqi civil defense forces to address mass casualty decontamination in the aftermath of chemical weapons attacks, as well as fire control and response capability to handle chemical fires used by terrorists as an area denial tactic.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism (WMDT) Program: In FY 2017, NADR funds were used 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 programs also help partner countries strengthen their counter nuclear smuggling capabilities to prevent, respond to, investigate, and prosecute such incidents.
Managed Across Various Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development Bureaus:
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): In FY 2017, the Department of State and USAID ramped up efforts to counter terrorist recruitment and radicalization to violence through focused policy and assistance coordination, leadership of international initiatives, and engagement with the private sector on countering the use of the internet for terrorist purposes. CVE is a crucial component of a comprehensive counterterrorism approach that pushes protection of our borders beyond the physical homeland. Such efforts help to protect the United States, our interests, and our allies by reducing the ability of terrorists to radicalize, recruit, mobilize, and inspire new followers to commit acts of violence worldwide. Department of State and USAID CVE use Development Assistance, Economic Support Funds, Transition Initiatives, International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, and NADR funds to support relevant programming.