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Homeland Security

02 August 2004

U.S. Contributing $945,000 for Counter-Terrorism Programs in the Americas

Donation supports global campaign against terrorism

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The United States is contributing $945,000 to an anti-terrorism unit of the Organization of American States (OAS) to help governments in the Western Hemisphere prevent terrorists from entering their countries, and to support an aviation security training program.

The U.S. donation is being provided to the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), which the U.S. State Department calls the hemisphere's primary multilateral vehicle for counterterrorism cooperation. The OAS announced the new U.S. donation August 2.

John Maisto, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS, said the contribution reflects the "active interest and strong support" by the United States for "counterterrorism efforts in the hemisphere, for furthering the CICTE enhancements to its work plan, and for the global campaign against terrorism."

Maisto has said the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States "imposed upon us -- and, I might add, all the nations of the hemisphere -- an obligation to heighten security measures."

The OAS said $420,000 of the total U.S. donation will be allocated to "enhance and supplement CICTE's border management programs and migration processes" through on-site technical missions. These missions, said the OAS, will focus on "comprehensive assessments aimed at enhancing priority border management capacities" for the 15-country bloc of Caribbean nations known as CARICOM, and for the Dominican Republic.

Another $300,000 will be used to enhance and supplement CICTE's aviation security programs through follow-on courses for airport security personnel and through security instructor training for CARICOM states and the Dominican Republic. The United States, through its Third Border Initiative, provides Caribbean countries with airport security and aviation safety training, fellowships, and on-the-ground direct technical assistance, with the goal of assuring that travelers in the Caribbean region enjoy the highest standards for safety and security.

Finally, the OAS said $225,000 will be allotted for training and technical assistance to candidates from customs and border agencies "to promote greater integrity, professionalism, and ethical behavior in officials."

Maisto said in a September 2003 speech that following the "terrible events of 9/11," OAS member states took the lead "with dramatic and effective steps to coordinate the region's response to fight terrorism in the Americas."

Maisto recalled that the OAS convened a meeting 10 days after the attacks against the United States. That meeting outlined measures to invigorate the CICTE. At the same time, Brazil called for a meeting of states parties to the 1947 Inter-American Treaty for Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty) to declare that the 9/11 attacks were attacks against all countries in the Americas.

Maisto said that following the attacks against the United States, negotiations began in earnest to draft the CICTE, which was completed and signed by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and 32 other OAS member states in June 2002.

CICTE, which went into force in 2003, is described by the State Department as an anti-terrorism initiative that helps "strengthen regional cooperation, particularly related to financial and border controls, technical assistance, and mutual legal assistance."

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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