Acting Deputy Secretary Victoria Nuland provides opening remarks at CT’s annual CAPE event. She speaks on stage, from behind a lectern and a U.S. flag is on her right side.

In my travels around the world, I’ve seen how in some places the influence of AQ and ISIS and their affiliates continues to grow – particularly in Africa. We need not just to neutralize terrorists, but we also must promote long term security. We must work together to put America’s best foot forward and to provide a safer place for people all over the world.

Victoria Nuland Acting Deputy Secretary of State

 

Keeping America Safe and Secure from Terrorism Abroad
In late October and early November, 2023, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counter Terrorism hosted its annual Counterterrorism Assistance Planning Event (CAPE), a critical part of State’s whole-of-government planning efforts to determine where to target the Bureau’s nearly $320 million in FY23 foreign assistance to keep America safe and secure from terrorism abroad. Hundreds of U.S. government officials and contractors from across the U.S. Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security, the Treasury, and others – as well as from more than 30 U.S. embassies – participated.

Identifying Counterterrorism Hotspots and Priorities
During the opening plenary, Acting Deputy Secretary Victoria Nuland and the National Counterterrorism Center’s Director Christy Abizaid shared their perspectives on the current administration’s counterterrorism approach.  Amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, both highlighted the importance of State’s diplomatic, multilateral, and programmatic efforts to protect the United States and our partners from terrorism.

 

Bureau of Counterterrorism Senior Bureau Official Christopher Landberg and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christy Abizaid discuss the major counterterrorism challenges facing the United States. They are seated in chairs on stage with a U.S. flag behind them.
Bureau of Counterterrorism Senior Bureau Official Christopher Landberg and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christy Abizaid discuss the major counterterrorism challenges facing the United States.[State Department photo]

CAPE also hosted additional plenaries with current and former U.S. government leaders and other leading experts – including former General Stanley McChrystal, former Congresswoman Jane Harman, Washington Post columnists David Ignatius and Max Boot, and former ambassadors Anthony Wayne, Robert Ford, and Bisa Williams – to discuss how the United States can maximize counterterrorism efforts within a wide range of national security priorities. Key topics at these sessions included: mitigating the  dynamic terrorism landscape in Africa; promoting U.S. principles and global counterterrorism norms in multilateral fora; addressing the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Syria; and understanding the nexus between counterterrorism and strategic competition.

Bureau of Counterterrorism Acting Deputy Coordinator Aaron Nuutinen hosts a panel on “Addressing the Situation in Northeast Syria” with Dareen Khalifa from the International Crisis Group and Ambassador Robert Ford and Charles Lister from the Middle East Institute. [State Department photo]

Developing Counterterrorism Programs and Partnerships

CAPE also helps us align programs with policy, ensuring that competing priorities, budget constraints, and emerging threats are identified and addressed appropriately. Since 2017, we have used the event to drive the allocation of more than $3 billion in counterterrorism capacity-building programs across dozens of countries worldwide. This year, we convened more than 20 country and regionally focused program design workshops to explore potential counterterrorism programs and partnerships that may require increased focus. These include but are not limited to: countering Iran-linked terrorism globally; improving security sector responsiveness in Coastal West Africa; mitigating terrorists’ potential use of migration routes in Central America; bolstering international cooperation against racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism; and  countering terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan.

About the Authors: John Yim is a Strategist at the State Departments’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, and Rachel Iacono is a Strategic Monitoring Analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism.

U.S. Department of State

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