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Homeland Security

UN committee chairmen hit complacency over terrorism threats

28 July The war on terrorism has not been won, and although both committees established by the United Nations Security Council to fight it have made "significant contributions," individuals are becoming complacent and countries more casual, the panels' chairmen said today.

Briefing correspondents at UN Headquarters in New York, the chairman of the Counter-terrorism Committee (CTC), Ambassador Inocencio F. Arias of Spain, said the UN recognized that the battle was an enormous challenge in the twenty-first century because "terrorism was here to stay and we have to fight it and vanquish it, if we can."

Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile, chairman of the Taliban/Al-Qaeda sanctions committee, said cooperation existed between the two panels and both were obliged under Security Council resolutions to cooperate.

Differentiating between the two, Mr. Arias noted that the CTC had been born with the adoption of resolution 1373 by the Council on 28 September 2001, immediately after the terrorist attacks of 11 September against the United States. The resolution was aimed at forcing Member States to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. At its heart was the financial aspect.

Mr. Muñoz said that, unlike the CTC, his committee had been created before the attacks by resolution 1267 in October 1999 to impose sanctions on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and to counter Usama bin Laden and his Al-Qaida organization. His Committee was a sanctions instrument, while the other was not.

Answering to questions, Mr. Arias said 11 September had made the whole world understand that "we are facing an incredible problem and we have to take steps to correct it." After two years, people were "sleeping again" and did not see the urgency of the matter. Or, maybe they saw it as a disease, which would infect only the Western world. Perhaps only another fright - biological or chemical terrorism - would wake people up, he added.

He said he feared that countries were starting to become bureaucratic about terrorism. Some were ignoring the fact that terrorists were there, they were up to no good and they were searching another way to "hit the world."

Mr. Muñoz said no country could escape terrorism. Perhaps some believed terrorism was a physical presence, but it was also logistical support, the transference of money, and, in a globalized economy, every country was a potential target, either for laundering money, or logistical support for major terrorist operations. "We tend to focus on those countries with the problem, but we all have the problem, in one way or another," he said, adding that "if it has feathers and walks and quacks like a duck, it has to be a duck." Additional efforts should be made to "go into" the black market of arms, he added.

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