Uniting Against Terror: Cooperative Nonmilitary Responses to the Global Terrorist Threat
Uniting Against Terror: Cooperative Nonmilitary Responses to the Global Terrorist Threat

Uniting Against Terror: Cooperative Nonmilitary Responses to the Global Terrorist Threat

Mar 4, 2008

George Lopez gives an overview of effective, multilateral counter-terrorism measures, and as an illustration, Ambassador McNamara analyzes how Libya went from rogue state to member of the Security Council.

The opinions expressed by Mr. McNamara in this transcript are his personal opinions and do not represent those of the U.S. government.


JOANNE MYERS: Good afternoon. I'm Joanne Myers, Director of Public Affairs Programs, and on behalf of the Carnegie Council I would like to welcome our members and guests and to thank you all for joining us. Today we are delighted to welcome George Lopez, also known as "Mr. Sanctions" himself, who is the co-author of this edited volume on Uniting Against Terror: Cooperative Nonmilitary Responses to the Global Terrorist Threat.

One of the contributors to this volume, Ambassador McNamara, will be discussing his experience in employing unilateral and multilateral strategies against Libya, a country who previously sponsored terrorists.

One of the more surprising political developments that has emerged since the attacks of September 11 is the extent to which the fight against terrorism has divided the democratic world. A seemingly unbridgeable gulf emerged between those who wanted to counter terrorism by taking the battle to the enemy and those who wanted to minimize the threat. But the lessons learned after September 11 are clear: standing alone, the United States as well as other nations are far more vulnerable than they like to believe, but when acting in concert with others and resorting to nonmilitary responses, they are potentially far more powerful than can be imagined.

In United Against Terror, George Lopez and his co-editor David Cortright, who is not here, question anti-terror strategies that are currently in use and argue for more cooperative nonmilitary responses.

Because the measures employed against terrorism are so wide-ranging, they have decided to focus their attention on the United Nations, while also including other multilateral institutions, such as the Financial Action Task Force of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union. While they note that the United Nations has made important contributions to the global fight against terrorism, they recognize that more attention is needed to improve the legitimacy and effectiveness of the UN counter-terrorism program.

This volume also includes chapters that examine the role of international mechanisms, diplomatic and economic responses, and legal agreements used in this struggle.

To illustrate their argument, Ambassador McNamara will talk about his personal experience working with Libya. During the administration of President George Herbert Walker Bush, he was instrumental in helping to formulate U.S. policy towards this former rogue nation. He also served as a Special Assistant for Counter-Terrorism Policy in the State Department in the months after the September 11 attacks.

This case study is an excellent example of the United Nation's success in encouraging a rogue nation that had sponsored terrorism to re-engage with the world community. By combining targeted sanctions and extensive diplomatic dialogue with the promise of economic benefit, the United Nations was ultimately successful in dissuading Libya from further support for terrorism, and eventually Libya agreed to dismantle its programs of the development of weapons of mass destruction.

As the chapters in this volume demonstrate, no nation can defeat terrorism or ensure international peace and security on its own. With thoughtful analysis and clarity, Professor Lopez makes clear that national interests and national conceptions of terrorism require acceptance and support from other countries in order to yield effective strategies.

In editing Uniting Against Terror, it is Professor Lopez's goal to have this volume of essays serve as a springboard to future policy research and debate about the contributions that regional and international efforts can make in the global campaign against terror. I believe he has succeeded.

Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to two special guests, George Lopez and Ted McNamara. Thank you for joining us this afternoon.

George Lopez

GEORGE LOPEZ: Thank you very much, Joanne, and thank you very much, all of you, for being here. Our sequence is that I am going to start off with a kind of general overview and turn it over to Ted for the really sparkling case analysis.

Before I begin, I'd like to say how good it is to be back here. I had the great privilege in the 2001-2002 academic year to be a Visiting Fellow here at Carnegie, a time of course of trying and difficult times here in New York, and of course the time where at least many told us a new world was dawning because of the attacks of September 11. The kind of thinking that went on in this building has been influential in my own work. I think there's a strand of thinking from the Carnegie Council that runs through this book. I'm just very, very pleased to be here to see colleagues and friends again.

I think the big question we had to answer after having four or five years of interactions on sanctions and trying to control terrorism, which spanned the period of time of September 11, before and after, and having good professional interactions with people like Ted, was: Does the world need another book now on counter-terrorism, or terrorism and counter-terrorism?

This book began in some respects weeks after September 11, as the United Nations in Security Council Resolution 1373 constituted a relatively unprecedented mechanism, the Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee, to be chaired at the start by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the outgoing British Ambassador to the United Nations and a diplomat par excellence, someone with impeccable credentials with regard to security and terrorism and counter-terrorism.

The 1373 Resolution was noteworthy because it's the first UN Resolution that required of all states a long list of behaviors, and it required accountability from them within a 12-month period. So states were bound by the passage of 1373 to show cause as to why they were not signatories to the 11 existing (and then later 13) counter-terrorism conventions which were seen as the basis of the global law against terrorism. They had to submit a plan for the seizure of assets of those listed already in the prior Security Council 1267 Committee, the Taliban/al-Qaeda Committee, as well as a new list that was going to be generated by this forthcoming 1373 group. They had to guarantee that they were taking effective action on the control of the movement of persons—not just financial assets, but persons—and whether or not they were up to the task of travel controls, whether it be issuing of passports or the flow of private and other planes and the movement of personnel in and out of their respective boundaries.

Now, of course, if you are on the cynical side of life and believe that, "Well, the worst thing that can happen in the world to actually enforce tough security measures is to toss it to the United Nations," then you say, "Well, we're not surprised that things may have not changed in Yemen as a result of this, or that diplomats were not shaking in their boots in certain corridors of Islamabad." That may be the case. But we were associated with a variety of the UN sanctions committees in the late 1990s and able to have some excellent exchanges during that time with ambassadors like Jeremy Greenstock, and early on they turned to us to look a bit over the shoulder of the formation of the 1373 Committee.

What was interesting about this Resolution tactically is that it was not a sanctions committee or a sanctions resolution put together by the Council, but many of the techniques that would be used or for which states would be accountable—were they going to lock down financial assets; were you going to ban the movement of certain persons on designated lists; were you going to cooperate with the structuring and listing of those who might be considered affiliated with terrorist organizations? All of those processes had been part of smart sanctions development in the late 1990s.

So our answer to the question in 2003-2004, "Does the world need another book on terrorism or counter-terrorism?" is that maybe it does, because we felt we were in a position of not only having lots of personal experience, but research material and emerging essays from a collection of scholars that are in the book, about really a relatively untold story.

It makes sense for many people to focus in the foreign policy and diplomatic realm on the military, intelligence, and other tactical successes in the global war on terror, even while having this, as Joanne mentioned at the start, deep discussion—in some cases division—among many as to whether or not that process has become over-militarized.

We thought, wherever people are on that particular aspect of assessing the post-9/11 world, there surely was a lot of story to be told that was not being told in the press about the relative success, not only of the UN mechanisms and the development of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, but also of segmented and regional approaches to this, whether it be the Financial Action Task Force, the European Union Plan of Action on Counter-Terrorism, or the specific work of regional actors as this unfolded.

So what we have tried to do in this book? As one of our co-authors, Eric Rosand, enters the room; and our colleague, Stephanie Ahern from the United States Military Academy, who is part of the European chapter, is here in the front; and Ted, of course—what we tried to do among the authors in this book was put together the unique stories that not only can tell the progress, the successes, pitfalls, and shortcomings and potential strengths of this regional and global counter-terrorist cooperation, but also show the phases of development. I think one of the unique strengths of the book is to say: "Look, on September 11 there was already a 1267 Committee in the United Nations. Here were the strengths and weaknesses of that al-Qaeda Committee. The 1373 Committee put together a dynamic process, which led to at least the globalization of accountability in its first, and possibly first and second, year, where states were under the microscope as to how effective their own individual capacity and willingness to enforce counter-terrorism measures were, based on a thinking, of course, that says the strength of global cooperation is only as strong as the weakest link."

Were we able to identify whether there was bad political will that would lead states to fall off in their accounting on counter-terrorism measures, or was there something going on? These are the kinds of questions that we brought to this.

A couple of phases we examine in the book: this first phase of 1267/1373, which takes us all the way through, I think, the period of the creation of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate in Security Resolution 1535, a unique administrative structure, out of the recognition that, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, in Asia, and in certain segments of the Caucasus and the Middle East, while there would be states whose intentions and commitment to counter-terrorism, either politically or ideologically, might be a bit suspect, what we were running into more frequently was the lack of capacity and expertise in countries to enforce certain measures and requirements of the Security Council.

So one of the messages of the book is: If we want to increase the capacity of the United Nations and regional systems to be effective in counter-terrorism, their role has to be increasing the capacity of states, whether it be in sharpening the tools, techniques, expertise on money laundering, the flow of persons, the accounting of charities and their work within boundaries—all of these relatively dull, boring capacity-building techniques, as well as tightening expertise in law enforcement, is where the bulk of the counter-terrorism fight, if you will, that's nonmilitary should go.

A second theme, I think, of the book that is important is to see the extension of the counter-terrorism mandate in the UN Security Resolution 1540 and 1566, something that our colleagues Alistair Millar and Eric Rosand write about, and that is the development of the counter-proliferation regime and the way that counter-terrorism moves in conjunction with our concerns about the spread of weapons of mass destruction, in particular the expertise and the materiel that would fuel the possibility of these materials getting into the hands of the wrong people.

The emerging strengths and weaknesses of that regime, how it might blend with regional approaches, how it interfaces with the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], and where that goes in the future, is a second theme of the book.

A third theme is what might be considered the movement from the chambers of the Security Council to the wider UN family, about taking more responsibility for what counter-terrorism means and moving beyond some of the very difficult debates about whether this is just a hidden Western agenda to protect its own security concerns, or whether or not it speaks at all to the concerns of others in the United Nations, particularly those concerned about development issues, rights of self-determination, and the others.

I think we try to trace the concern that developed under Kofi Annan to the Secretary-General's planning agenda, the discussions within the General Assembly, the Secretary General's April 2006 Statement on "Uniting Against Terror"—interesting phrase, because it's also the title of our book—and the way we might have a kind of democratization of the terror responsibility dynamic played out in the global order.

I believe that in many ways we would say a fair judgment of the UN enterprise is that some of the jury is still out, but there are ways in which the initial successes of the UN mechanisms that were relatively high and less well-known became more complicated and were of mid-level effectiveness in the period of 2004, 2005, 2006; and from 2007 on, as we sketch in the conclusion, we really may be talking about a new phase of operation that is either calling for dramatic restructuring, and maybe consolidation, of UN efforts or bold thinking within the international arena, more structured international cooperation, maybe even to the point of the creation of a supra organization, the model which might be something like the IAEA, a professional high-expert organization dedicated to a very particular task.

It may well be that the CTED [the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate], the 1267 Committee, and a variety of other ventures, might fold into an organization which could both reflect this growing democratization issue within the UN context but also be increasingly effective to the challenges that now exist in 2007-2008 that were not present in 2001-2002.

Those of you who followed this, particularly on the financial side, for example, will know that 96 percent of the financial assets that we captured of al-Qaeda and related groups occurred within the first 18 months after 9/11 through a variety of these mechanisms, and the moneys that fund operations have now emerged as strong forces elsewhere that run under the radar screen of the fairly typical techniques we use for capturing financial assets. That may require a very different kind of organization and process, and, more importantly, an organization, as we've learned about the strengths and weaknesses of the CTED, that can in fact increase the capacity of states to be effective.

At the end of the day, counter-terrorism will be successful in the globe if each state, regardless of its position in the global order, regardless of its economic or political disposition, has the capacity through a law-and-order framework to be able to guarantee that terrorism doesn't thrive or use or abuse its system internally for work there or elsewhere. That capacity-building is the message that we take at the end of our book as the next set of challenges. That capacity-building will always unfold under an interesting set of diplomatic, economic, political, and in some cases military, discussions and maneuvers.

Which brings us, therefore, to the kind of case that Libya is and why we were delighted that Ted was willing to take a crack at putting pen to paper on this very important case. Because while we do know we have the Basque agreements, and we have the decline of terrorism in Northern Ireland, and there are ways to say that internally the terrorist dynamic has turned around in very specific locales for specific reasons, the international terrorist threat that has turned around has never been as great as the change we saw in Libya.

Thomas McNamara

THOMAS McNAMARA: Thank you, George.

I was asked, as George just said, to try and encapsulate in a short chapter basically 25-plus years of U.S. policy towards Libya. That was, I think, rather difficult to do and do justice to all of the intricacies of that 25-year period. But to do it in 15 minutes is really going to be an accomplishment, and I doubt if I will be able to do it. So what I'm going to do is to pick a few critical years and focus on those. The fill-in can come, to the extent that that's possible, during the Q&A.

The start of the chapter and the start of this particular period is in 1979-1980, which in other writing, and in this chapter, I have called a watershed year in U.S. diplomacy in the 20th century. It was a year in which, for the first time—and this is all in retrospect, obviously, not visible in 1979 and 1980—the focus of American foreign policy began to shift ever so gradually away from the Cold War and the Soviet-U.S. issues to a wider set of issues, primarily focused in the Middle East but not exclusively in the Middle East.

That was due to a number of events. The SALT II Agreement and the TNF (Theater Nuclear Forces) Agreement both gave a respite in U.S.-Soviet diplomacy, a pause while those two very important, hugely important, agreements were put into effect. At the same time we had Camp David, the Iranian Revolution, the outbreak of the Afghan rebellion against the Afghan government and the invasion by the Soviets. All of this combined to turn the Islamic world into a world of very great importance to the United States. I think we can see, if we take a look at the presidency of Jimmy Carter and the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, that Ronald Reagan spent a lot more of his eight years than Carter did, of his four, working on issues that were non-Soviet-related and non-Soviet-oriented.

So that's the change in the diplomatic landscape in 1980 that set the stage for confrontation. The reason it set the stage for confrontation was because of the Camp David Accords and the Rejectionist Front, led by Hafez al-Assad of Syria, Gaddafi of Libya, and Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Saddam got sidetracked by a war with Iran and never really became an effective element in the Rejectionist Front, but the other two were very, very effective.

Gaddafi, an Arab nationalist, follower of Nasser, began to see in terrorism a tool for a redressment, a rebalancing of forces in the Middle East using terrorist methods. This confrontational attitude, this rejection of Camp David, and the confrontation with Israel and the West, became a central focus of Libyan policy.

At the same time, you had a new administration that was not totally preoccupied, or almost totally preoccupied, with the Soviet events. It turned towards the Middle East and recognized, quite correctly, that terrorism was beginning to escape the boundaries of the Middle East. Before 1980, most of the terrorist attacks, with a few exceptions—obviously, the Munich Olympics—really did focus in the Middle East. After 1980, the focus became Europe as well as the Middle East, but primarily trying to reach out beyond the Middle East to affect the policies of other nations.

The conflicts, therefore, between the Reagan administration and Gaddafi began very, very quickly. In 1981, the first of the Gulf of Sidra incidents occurred, when a U.S. Navy presence in globally recognized international waters was contested by the Libyans on the grounds that it was in Libyan national territory. The result was an incident, not very big from the point of view of the United States but startlingly big for Libya. And there was a series of other events—the Libyan invasion of Chad in 1983, et cetera. I won't go into those.

I want to move to the really critical year in the confrontation between the United States and Libya, and that was 1986. Not that there wasn't a lot between 1981, the first Gulf of Sidra, and 1986. There were a number of things that went on, and they are detailed in the chapter. But 1986 was a year of—and I borrow in the chapter, and I have used it frequently, a phrase that George Shultz used in his memoirs—"the tit-for-tat approach" with respect to Libya. Libya would do something; the United States would respond. Libya would do something else; the United States would respond.

It began in December of 1985 with the Rome and Vienna airport terrorist attacks, in which dozens of people were killed in simultaneous attacks by the ANO [Abu Nidal Organization] operating out of both Syria and Libya. That December of 1985 attack in a sense was responded to by the March 1986 reentry of the U.S. Sixth Fleet into the Gulf of Sidra, which produced another incident with the Libyans, although in this case a much more serious one. The second Gulf of Sidra incident in 1986 was, indeed, quite damaging to the Libyan navy and air force both.

It is clear that Gaddafi took that March 1986 event in the Gulf as an indication that military confrontation in a conventional sense was not going to do him much good. The Americans were really going to sock it to him anytime he tried to do that.

As a result, in April of 1986, about a month later—in fact, a little bit less than a month—there was a bombing of the La Belle Disco in Berlin. President Reagan got on television right after that to explain the incident and to explain why the United States felt that it had "irrefutable," to use Reagan's term, intelligence that this was a Libyan-directed event. Indeed, it was.

The response—the "tat"—for the La Belle Disco was the Tripoli and Benghazi raid on April 15, about 10 days later, in which there was essentially a destruction of the defense capabilities of Libya around the Gulf of Sidra—their missile emplacements, their naval facilities, a number of their aircraft, their bases. Indeed, even the residence and office buildings of senior government officials, such as Gaddafi, were bombed, strafed, and largely destroyed.

Then came an event in 1986, which was not really noticed so much by the American public, as part of this "tit for tat." In September of 1986, there was an attempted hijacking in Karachi of an American airliner that was on its way from India, stopping for refueling in Karachi, going to Frankfort and then to New York. The hijacking was carried out by four hijackers who came to Karachi from Syria. Actually, they came from Lebanon, from the Baqaa Valley, but they came through Damascus and used the Damascus airport as their launch point for Karachi. This hijacking, again in September, was carried out by ANO, less than five months after the Tripoli-Benghazi raid.

That hijacking failed. An interesting sidelight that was not noted at the time was the reason they were hijacking the airplane was to bring it to the Middle East and to probably crash it into some target. They did not. So those who think that 9/11 had no precedent need to look back at the Karachi hijacking of 1986. A long time before, but nonetheless the idea was in the minds of the terrorists.

The interesting note, which didn't come out very much, was that there was a fifth member of the team who did not come from Syria and was not a member of ANO. He was a Libyan. He was not one of the four hijackers, but he took the hijackers to the Karachi airport, assisted them in logistics and other things, and indeed was caught by the Pakistani authorities, tried along with the four, and is to this day in a jail in Pakistan.

The United States did not, as it did with the Rome and Vienna airport incidents and other incidents that Gaddafi was involved in, make a hue and cry about Gaddafi's participation in that particular event. In retrospect—again, it's retrospect—that is regrettable, because it led Americans at the time to believe that maybe Gaddafi had slackened off, if not completely rejected, terrorism as a tool.

Then there was a period of relative quiescence from 1986 to 1988. We all know in December of 1988 came that horrendous criminal act, the downing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

About nine months later, for reasons having to do with French policy in Africa towards Libya, there was a bombing of a UTA [Union de Transports Aeriens] flight that came from Brazzaville via N'Djamena, Chad, and was brought down by a very, very similar, almost identical, explosive device in the Sahara Desert in Niger.

That explosion, as in the case of Pan Am 103, was designed to bring down the plane in such a way that it would be almost impossible to reconstruct the events that brought it down. In both cases, the Libyans made a big mistake, because the timing device on the Pan Am 103 in all likelihood was designed to go off while the plane was out over the Atlantic. But Pan Am 103 that day was delayed for several hours in London, and as a result it came down over Scotland where the forensic evidence could be picked up. Likewise, although they thought the Sahara Desert would cover their tracks, the French were quite industrious and quite successful—not quite as successful as at Lockerbie, but the physical circumstances were much more difficult—and they also reconstructed substantial portions of the aircraft as well as finding the explosive device. This changed things.

But the question comes up: What is it that the United States was seeking to do regarding Libya? Well, it was seeking regime change and it was seeking to stop Gaddafi's terrorism. But,as Ronald Reagan left office in January of 1989, he had done neither. Gaddafi was still flying high,primarily because neither of the two bombings were attributed to Gaddafi.

Let me move on quickly to the policy change. George Bush (41) came into office and immediately looked at the situation. Within 18 months, it was clear that Gaddafi and Libya were responsible for both of those bombings. I needn't go into the details of that. They're fairly well known.

The decision had to be made then what to do. President Bush decided he was going to try something other than "tit for tat," other than military action. He turned to the United Nations, in concert with the British and the French, and sought a multilateral solution.

The interesting thing is that the 1980s—and I go into great detail in the chapter but very briefly here—the 1980s were a period of bilateral confrontation between the United States and Libya in which Libya and the United States were trading these blows. Within six months of the announcement of the Libyan involvement in Pan Am 103 by the United States and the British, and by the French with respect to UTA, the situation had changed, and it was not Libya versus the United States, but Libya versus the Security Council. It was multilateralized. It was no longer a question of the United States taking action unilaterally, but of the entire Security Council voting—as they did three times without a dissenting vote, although there were abstentions on the latter two resolutions—to impose rather strict sanctions, under Chapter VII.

Chapter VII made it obligatory for member nations to implement the sanctions. For the first time Chapter VII sanctions were invoked against terrorism.

The change, however, meant it was no longer that U.S. policy was to change the regime in Libya. Instead, the focus of U.S. policy, as was that of the French and the British, was to stop Libyan involvement in terrorism. If that brought about a change in regime, so much the better, but it was not the stated objective, as it was during the Reagan years, to bring about the regime change. It's interesting, because very often change occurs less frequently and less beneficially if one is trying to change a regime. Because the one who is having his regime changed wonders why in heaven's name he should change his policy if the result is going to be that he is going to lose out by having his regime overthrown.

For five years after the announcement of this policy change, Gaddafi was in a box, effectively isolated from the international community. He spent those five years trying to get out of the box. He was unsuccessful.

Now let me jump to 1996, another very critical year in this progression over the course of 30 years. In 1996, the United States passed what was called the Iran-Libyan Sanctions Act (ILSA). It was originally the Iran Sanctions Act, but at the very last minute an amendment was made in the U.S. Senate and Libya was added to it.

It was very similar to the Helms-Burton Act, but it applied to both Iran and to Libya. The Helms-Burton Act, as many of you will remember, when it was first put forward produced a very strong negative reaction by the Europeans. It applied to Cuba, of course.

The ILSA also produced such a reaction. The reaction was so strong that what were five years of successful sanctions, five years of building a box around Gaddafi, began to come apart. It came apart very, very rapidly. Within a year, the sanctions were in serious danger of falling apart completely.

So Gaddafi spent five years and was unsuccessful, and the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in about a year succeeded in doing what Gaddafi couldn't do in five years. And the great irony was that the prime movers behind putting Libya in that Act were the Pan Am 103 families. The irony is quite evident.

The result of that was three years of diplomacy, from 1996-1999, in which Gaddafi agreed to most of the requirements of the United Nations, the United States, Britain, and France. With respect to the bombings, he (quote/unquote) "accepted" responsibility, offered to pay compensation to the families and both the French and the American airlines. He also basically packed up his terrorism cadres and kept them in Libya.

Indeed, from 1991 until the present there is not a really substantial incident of Libyan involvement in terrorism. As I point out in the chapter, this is an enormous success in which both the United Nations and the United States and the other powers shared.

I make the point in the book that the United Nations brought the legitimacy, but legitimacy alone was not sufficient to make the sanctions work properly. It required the united effort of all of the major powers, particularly the three permanent Western powers in the Security Council. That combination of legitimacy and power was, in my opinion, what made the sanctions so successful.

And then I point out—and I'll close with this—one last item that was equally important, and it ranks along with the sanctions as a reason for the Gaddafi turnaround—and it was not a change of spots by any means; it was simply a tactical move, actually a strategic move on Gaddafi's part to save his regime.

The other element which played a major role was that in 1980, when this all began, Gaddafi was one of the leaders of the terrorism world. He was guiding the terrorism. He was working with the terrorist organizations, such as ANO and the PFL-PGC [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] and others, to his benefit. By 1999, when he turned over those two individuals for trial in The Hague, he was the target of the terrorists because the terrorists had become the pan-Islamic jihadists that came out of Afghanistan in the early 1990s and sought to infiltrate the Muslim world and to get rid of regimes such as Gaddafi's. They wanted a religious-oriented, fundamentalist Islamic regime in every country in the Islamic world. Leaders, military and others, such as Gaddafi, Hafez al-Assad, Saddam Hussein, and Mubarak in Egypt, and others, secular Muslim leaders, were their targets. That fear was palpable in Libya and in the Libyan regime. They knew that terrorism was no longer a tool that they could control, and they gave it up.

I'll close with that.

Questions and Answers

QUESTION: A question for Mr. Lopez. You mentioned in your remarks that there are countries that don't have the capacity or expertise to execute some of these counter-terrorism measures. Could you expand or specify what it is that they are lacking?

GEORGE LOPEZ: Sure. Thank you. We discovered that the CTED has been most helpful in responding to states' requests for a couple of things. One is sophisticated computer systems that can monitor people's multiple-country movements under what seem to be valid passports.

A second is the analysis of multiple deposit accounts and the movement of funds and the capacity of governments working with their banks and to have appropriate banking laws. I think the greatest inroads that European states, Australia, and regional organizations have made in helping states that have made requests has been in merging banking legislation with the international rubric for how to monitor and "know thy depositors" and those kinds of concerns.

So we are talking about legislative empowerment, in a sense, to bring the laws of the country in concert with regional and global dynamics that require states to make sure that they can monitor individuals or organizations in either the financial or the travel capacities.

One of those things that I think then becomes important as we think about the future is: What's the specialized expertise that the international community needs to have? What kind of bureaucracy that can quickly go to a state that is either undergoing a change of government or coming out of civil war, that has been seen as lacking in its reporting mechanism to the Council and others? Where is, in a sense, the expert force that can go in and dramatically increase that capacity in those areas?

One of the areas is going to be a kind of legislative area in which some of our colleagues at Brown University and others have been helpful.

QUESTION: What is the process that is used to transfer money—not subterranean, but bypassing banks? I forget what it's called—Hawala? Is there any way? I guess you require intelligence or police work for that, don't you?

And I want just to follow that up by asking whether Interpol, or an organization such as Interpol, has become more significant or has been strengthened or expanded, because it seems to me so much of this has to do with the intelligence that police work requires, whether it is in the smuggling of drugs, which so many of the terrorists do in order to make money, or all of the other criminal activities that are involved. Is there a way of tracking Hawala?

Yes. Hawalas are informal banking structures that exist throughout the Third World—and, indeed, even here in the United States and in Europe.

In the United States too?

Yes, in the United States also.

Most of the places where they exist, they are not regulated. Here in the United States and in most of Europe there are regulations. If they handle any substantial amount of money, the law requires them to report just as if they were a bank. But whether they do or not, it is up to the police and the intelligence authorities of various countries to determine whether they do that.

It's not so much the Interpol that does this. But like-minded states many years back, before terrorism was looked at in quite the same way as it was after 9/11, an organization called the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and another organization called the Egmont Group organized themselves, very much like the nuclear suppliers group organized themselves and like other organizations have organized themselves, by like-minded countries coming together and saying: "We want to do the following, and since we all agree on the way we want to do it, let's lay out some guidelines and some rules and regulations, let's follow those, and we'll resolve at least some—maybe not completely resolve—some of these problems that we're facing." The FAFT and the Egmont Group are both designed to do exactly what you are talking about, and that is to trace, to track, and to monitor financial transactions inside and outside the banking system.

But it's a very difficult task. And, as George pointed out, almost all of our success in stopping financial transactions by terrorists occurred in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when they had become sloppy in the way they moved their funds around, and kind of lax. And they weren't practicing what in the intell community is called "good tradecraft." Therefore, it was very obvious, once we went looking, where they were moving it. Since then they have changed their practices and it has become very difficult.

Blood diamonds is another way that they function—so-called blood diamonds, where they take very valuable minerals, diamonds and other jewel stones, and use those basically as a medium of exchange.

GEORGE LOPEZ: Let me just complement that with one or two quick points.

One, whether it's in the area of counter-terrorism or drugs and money laundering, now the professionals in the field will tell you, "We're not about the business of looking for illicit transfers anymore or secret transfers." The problem is that the money has moved into 401(k)s, very respectable enterprises, in which you don't know who the beneficiaries necessarily are, very legitimate investments in wholesale companies and the like. That's the more difficult spectrum to track.

In terms of this institutional adaptation and extension, I think one of the findings we talk about in the book is the development of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, which originally was meant to deal with money laundering and these issues but then created a terrorism prevention branch, not only because of the techniques and the reach globally needed to examine these networks, but also because it was perfectly appropriate for them in the work that they were doing to both go after assets, and also, again, to run seminars, to increase the capacity of regional and local law enforcement officials to be effective in this regard.

George, I was actually surprised by how positive you have been about CTED, because in fact I have been hearing quite a lot of criticism of that part of UN bureaucracy. In fact, the Security Council itself has demanded that the new head of CTED present a program for reorganization, and it will be happening next month. So I wanted to ask you what in your view are the strengths and what are the weaknesses of CTED.

I also recall Ambassador Greenstock, whom you mentioned, saying once towards the end of his chairmanship of CTC that he thought that perhaps the whole anti-terrorism business should actually be taken out of the United Nations and put somewhere else, in a separate organization. I wanted to hear what you think about that.

And a footnote, which may amuse some of you, which is that the review next month of the CTED bureaucracy will be done with the participation—I suspect quite active participation—of Libya, which is now on the Security Council. So things change.

The more that things change, they don't remain the same. I think that we can say that.

Thanks. These are tough questions.

I think part of the reason that I was positive in the presentation is I think that most of what we trace in the book are the high points and early successes of the transition from CTC to CTED and then the challenges it faces.

Eric, you ought to feel free to jump in here at well, as a co-participant in some of this analysis.

I think we are looking at a curvilinear relationship in terms of the dynamics of success.

The most positive spin is that the setting up of a sort of executive directorship to try to meet the challenge that a Security Council committee itself could not meet had modest successes, and then, when it might move to a higher level of success, simply was not able to do so, partly because it is not in the nature of this kind of structural arrangement and because the complexity of the problems increased. That combination of things leaves you, I think, by late 2006/early 2007 in a position where "Now what?" I think you begin commenting more on the weaknesses rather than the strengths. We detail in here the emerging moment of truth with regard to that, as opposed to, I think, what has happened in the last six months.

Now, where can this go? Well, there are a variety of options.

One is a major reexamination of the entire system of committees and added structures and mandate from the General Assembly and the Secretary-General's emphasis in this, and you build a whole new structure. I don't think either the political will is there or, in agreement with Jeremy Greenstock, it's probably not appropriate at this stage.

But the United Nations has a deep vested interest, for many of the reasons that Ted underscored. That is, the ability to make sure that the global community now is about the business of leaning on a particular recalcitrant state to be more forthcoming in how it is playing a role in the counter-terrorism effort is much preferable to one or two states, particularly Western world states, doing that.

So given the existing nature of affairs, where are the next steps? I think the next steps are either in an examination of an extraordinary new agency—and, again, I use the analogy of the IAEA—or in the reconsolidation of a series of committees with very express mandates that notch down the expectations but increase the prospects that those committees can help capacity building in the regions and in the states.

If I had to bet myself on where the strongest future is for the globe for counter-terrorism, it's in regional organizations and in its powerful and helpful states in certain regions, like Australia being helpful in South East Asia and in smaller countries that are trying to face these difficulties, with some of that being supported in a normative sense by the United Nations, but not being directed by the United Nations.

Is it fair to put one of our people in the audience on the spot? Eric, what would be your response to that, if you don't mind?

I think it's a rather positive spin, a sort of "glass half-full" assessment of where the United Nations is.

I'm Eric Rosand. I'm a Senior Fellow at the Center on Global Counter-Terrorism Cooperation. I contributed to this book a little bit.

My sense is that the glass is probably half-empty, but that the United Nations has come a long way since September 11. I wouldn't necessarily share all of George's optimism. I think change is desperately needed, as George alludes to.

And I agree with him pretty much as to the options out there. I just think the political will to achieve any of them, absent significant change in U.S. views on this subject and willingness to lead at the United Nations, or elsewhere in multilateral settings—absent that, you are going to stay in the same cyclical, rather bureaucratic, process-oriented fashion that talks about the United Nations being a major player on the normative side but really gives it little role to play in any concrete ways on the ground. I'm not talking operationally; I'm talking about actually working closely with countries.

So I would be less optimistic than George, but probably for different reasons than his. He is very critical of the United Nations. One could see the criticism falling at the doorsteps of the United Nations, but I would put it more at the doorsteps of the major player states.

THOMAS McNAMARA: It may be accurate to say that the CTED was, in fact, a very useful instrument in 2002-2003, primarily because there were no other instruments out there. But it hasn't evolved, it hasn't matured, it hasn't become what it was really intended to become. Instead, it has kind of stagnated at a very early developmental stage. Until that development takes place, I don't think it is going to turn out to be very successful, with or without strong backing by any of the—I think there are structural problems that make it difficult to succeed.

Personally, I think we need to look for those organizations that are set up by like-minded states who can go out and decide that they want to approach a problem and try and resolve some of the problems by joint action in which they are not trying to be all things to all people, or in this case all things to all countries.

The controversial Michael Scheuer, who was head of the Bin Laden Task Force at the CIA for years, has been a very strong critic of the Bush administration and most of the Western countries in all of this fight against terrorism. He has written very critically in his new book, Marching Toward Hell, that efforts such as the ones you are describing are relatively worthless and that at some point in time you have to address the problem physically, which is the destruction of the terrorists. Now, how do you see that happening? Who is going to do it? Is it going to be the individual states that you're talking about? Will it be the United States working to do that?

And there is also the question of non-Muslim nations attacking Muslims who are in fact trying to wage war elsewhere. So how do you deal with this problem, which goes beyond the bureaucratic organization and the tracking down of money laundering and so on?

Notice how the ambassador backs away from the microphone. You're flexing. Go ahead.

These are my own personal opinions, not those of the U.S. government, and I come here having written this when I was not in the U.S. government.

I think Americans ought to look at what is now happening in the world with respect to terrorism and borrow heavily from the lessons of the Cold War. When you stop and analyze it, the fight against terrorism is an ideological struggle. The parallels with the Cold War are not 100 percent—I'm not saying that we go back to the Cold War—but nonetheless there are lessons that we learned in terms of diplomacy, use of military force, international institutions, the role of international norms, international law. There are very, very powerful lessons that we learned during the 50 and 60 years of the Cold War which will stand us in good stead in this new ideological struggle, which is going to go on for decades.

I strongly disagree with Michael. He's a very good recorder of events and mistakes of the past, but I think his predictive capabilities don't measure up quite as high, in my estimation, as his historical, descriptive ones.

I think we can learn to use international law and international norms; we can use international institutions. After all, we spent 60 years building these institutions. And I don't mean just the United Nations. I'm thinking about things like FATF and the nonproliferation organizations that were set up, the missile technology control regime, the nuclear suppliers group, the chemical weapons, the Australian group, the IAEA—and I could go on.

Someday maybe there will be an IAEA for counter-terrorism. But that's far in the distant future because we haven't even agreed yet on what is terrorism and what is the international legal status of terrorism. Certainly, we haven't agreed globally.

So we are going to have to approach this thing a little bit more pragmatically, I think. Recognize that at some time we are going to have to use military force, but most of the time in the Cold War we did not use military force. Instead, we used the other, Joe Nye's "soft power", and not the hard power, to get the job done.

If we look at this as a 20- or 30-year struggle—and it certainly is going to be that long—first of all, it is primarily aimed at the Muslim world and not at us, and the Muslim world isn't going to transform itself—it doesn't have the capacity to transform itself—in the short term. We are in this for the long haul. We should go back and take a look at what we did in the long haul during the Cold War.

And we were successful. We employed economic and social strategies. The cultural strategies that we used during the Cold War were relatively successful. As I said, I'm not arguing that we reinvent the Cold War, but that we go back and learn the lessons, what was successful and what wasn't successful in a long-term ideological struggle in which military force is going to be just a tool. And in the toolbox there are a lot of other very, very important tools that we better pay attention to if we are going to be successful.

This is exactly the opposite of what Scheuer is arguing in his book.

THOMAS McNAMARA: Yes, I thought so.

QUESTION: There was some high degree of publicity given several years ago to Libya's giving up its nuclear effort. I don't know what the incentives for that really were, but I know that a lot of people in Washington have taken credit for it.

My question to you is: Do you think that Gaddafi really could not take the type of isolation that he was subjected to—in other words, being put in the box for five or six years—that, having come out of the box, basically he wanted to continue this progression and come back into the world, and he had this program that he could barter away really without losing anything?

: My own personal opinion is that Gaddafi made his fundamental decision in 1998. It took him until 1999 to turn the two individuals over to the court in The Hague, but the essential decision that Gaddafi made, the strategic change of course that Gaddafi undertook, occurred in 1998—with the advice of Nelson Mandela, by the way, a very important figure in the evolution of these events. Almost totally unrecognized worldwide, but Nelson Mandela was a huge player in this change of course.

By 2003, when the intercepted nuclear components were revealed publicly, he was five years into a program in which he had already cast his lot with the new policy. So, as I think about this, if I were Gaddafi, I would be sitting there in Tripoli or out in the desert in the tent, whichever I preferred at the time, and I'd say: "Okay, I've gone five years. It seems to be working. I've got these relatively worthless nuclear and chemical programs that may give some benefit in another 10 or 15 years, if I'm really lucky. I expect, now that the Khan enterprise has been exposed, that I won't be really lucky from now on. So, okay. And by the way, if I keep them, I'm going to undermine the last five years of efforts that have gotten me out of that box and I may find myself back in the box again. And if I'm really unlucky, then what the Americans are doing in Iraq may be what they are going to do here in Libya." I think it was a relatively easy decision for him to make.

JOANNE MYERS: George has a few closing comments.

I'd like to highlight two or three quick points regarding some aspects of this discussion before we break.

One, with reference to this good last analysis by Ted, is at the end of the day when there has been a reasonable degree of success of military confrontation with the most stark-minded and stubborn terrorists—that is, when there has been some destruction of networks—there is going to be a need for a set of other processes that deny the supportive resources, that diminish the conditions of attractiveness of this kind of effort.

Libya is the most successful story, but the equation is clear. We need to make possible a rational calculation by sometimes even, by our standards, irrational actors that they are better off inside the glass house playing with the rules and benefiting from some of the dynamics that unfold than they are to be outside and throwing the stones. That has been the success of the sanctions dynamic for a long while because sanctions don't work unless there are incentives. I think the Libya story is filled with a nice balance between sanctions, incentives, and the forever-threatening potential of force if those don't deliver.

Secondly, with regard to our exchange about Lopez being just wildly optimistic, a point well taken. But let's not miss, I think, the critical point. We are at a very difficult moment. Rightly understood, Washington, London, and a few other capitals are not going to want to see the continued demise into ineffectiveness of some international instruments that were useful in the early part of the decade but have outlived their usefulness.

If the international community—its thinkers, its analysts—can't come up with, in cooperation with those powerful states, a framework of the next generation of institutions that can be successful, then those national governments themselves are going to jump into the void. At least some of us believe that sets us back a bit.

We want to move ahead for more effective regional and global dynamics, which we hope is part of the story in this book, where at least it worked under some conditions, .

I'd like to thank George. His opinions are his own, not those of the United Nations. And I want to remind you that the opinions of Ambassador McNamara are his and not those of the U.S. government.

Thank you all for coming.

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