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Homeland Security

15 September 2005

Counterterrorism Requires "All the Tools of Statecraft"

State's new coordinator explains need for international effort

By David Anthony Denny
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The State Department's new coordinator for counterterrorism sees himself in the center of an evolving global war on terrorism facing an enemy that is changing rapidly.

Ambassador-at-large Henry Crumpton comes to the State Department after 24 years of service with the CIA.  In those years he worked at headquarters and in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, where he was twice responsible for all in-country intelligence personnel during his assignments.  In Washington, he was deputy chief of the FBI's international terrorism operations section from 1998 to 1999.  Crumpton was also deputy chief of operations for the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center from 1999 to 2001, and led the CIA’s counterterrorism campaign in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2002. (For additional information see Crumpton’s official biography.)


"In many respects we're a nation at war," Crumpton said in a Washington File interview in early September.  So when the secretary of state, on behalf of the president, asked him to replace Ambassador Cofer Black as the head of State's counterterrorism office, he felt compelled to say yes.

Crumpton sees his new job as a challenge, particularly because "the global battlefield is evolving rapidly, and our enemy's changing rapidly," he said, and "the integration and orchestration of all the instruments of statecraft are required."

At the State Department those instruments include "diplomacy in all its various forms," the ambassador said.  Military force is another counterterrorism tool, he said, in addition to promoting the rule of law and developing law enforcement capabilities.  "[T]here's also economic power -- and not just aid, but investment, and I really mean that in the broadest sense; and there's information -- the power of the truth.”


Crumpton acknowledges that orchestrating all of these tools is complex and challenging, especially when the adversary is not a government or an army, but rather "a very flexible and agile force of affiliated individuals and networks."  Engaging such an enemy, he said, "is going to challenge the way we think about war.…  I see this enemy evolving into very small, very powerful elements. … They're micro targets with macro impact,” especially if weapons of mass destruction are added into the mix.


The challenges and complexity notwithstanding, Crumpton cited three examples of effective counterterrorism cooperation drawn from his international experience:

· Afghanistan, 2001-2002:  The State Department played a critical role, he said, working with regional allies to secure military bases, to boost intelligence cooperation, and then in assisting the new Afghan government.  Moreover, the U.S. military was highly effective in its use of lethal force, and the CIA's intelligence-gathering efforts also played a critical role, he said.  "So there you had State, [the] military, and the intelligence community coming together to achieve, I think, what is a remarkable victory for the United States."

· Terrorist Finance:  "We have severely constrained the ability of terrorists to raise and to disseminate funding for their operations," Crumpton said.  The department of State, Homeland Security, and the Treasury, as well as the intelligence community, have worked cooperatively on terrorist financing, both in terms of the U.N. treaties and other agreements.  This intragovernmental cooperation has resulted in impressive international cooperation -- whether focusing on the United Nations, the Organization of American States, or the Group of Eight, he said.

· United Nations:  U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373, passed in 2001, which requires  governments to prevent or suppress financing of terrorist acts, criminalize their funding, freeze terrorists funds and other assets, and prevent any person within their borders from making any financial assets or services available to anyone attempting to commit terrorist acts, "is a Chapter VII document -- it's legally binding for countries," Crumpton said.  In addition, the emphasis on the need to counter terrorism -- including terrorist safe havens -- is "a critical element for us, and I'm hopeful that we're going to gain some traction and, with the help of the U.N. and all the U.N. members, make some progress."


Cooperation within the U.S. government and with America's international counterterrorism partners is "the key element to victory," Crumpton said.  "It's not just information-sharing, not just cooperation, but interdependence, and that interdependence happens all the time in this war [on terror]," he said.

Counterterrorism partners go to great lengths to help the United States and assume considerable risk, the official said.  "I've put my life into their hands repeatedly … [and] they have held true,” Crumpton said, adding that it is important to acknowledge and express gratitude for their steadfast support.

As an example of counterterrorism cooperation, the U.N. Security Council adopted unanimously September 14 Resolution 1624, calling upon all U.N. member states to prevent terrorist conduct and incitement within their territories. (See related article.)

For more information about U.S. counterterrorism policy, see Response to Terrorism.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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