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Homeland Security

28 October 2005

Philippine Counterterror Effort Impressive, State's Crumpton Says

Ambassador lauds progress to date, calls for better regional approach

The State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism says he is impressed with the Philippine government's fight against terrorism.

Holding a press conference in Manila, Philippines, October 22, Ambassador Henry Crumpton noted that, from March 2004 to October 2005, the Philippine government's Anti-terrorism Task Force "neutralized" 183 terrorists.  Of that number, 156 were members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group and four belonged to Jemaah Islamiyah, he said.

"The United States stands with the Philippines in this fight," he said.  "Your success is our success."

Crumpton also cited notable achievements such as the capture of a Jemaah Islamiyah operative named Zaki, and the capture of 600 kilograms of explosives intended by terrorists for use in a suicide bombing. 

The ambassador also mentioned that U.S. and Filipino forces jointly had eradicated Abu Sayyaf safe havens on the island of Basilan in 2002 by combining civil-military operations and counterterrorism coordination.  "This model offers a highly successful example of what we can do together," he said.

Crumpton called for a better regional approach to counterterrorism.  He cited an Asian Development Bank initiative to enhance port security, combat money-laundering and terrorist financing as a positive step, and noted that the Philippines had used some of this funding to improve its anti-money-laundering efforts.

Following is the transcript of Crumpton's opening remarks:

(begin excerpt)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism

Press Conference by Ambassador Henry Crumpton
Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Manila, Philippines

October 22, 2005

Thank you and good morning.  Manila is my fourth and final stop in a tour of regional capitals that included visits to Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Singapore.

I am here to thank the Philippine government for its role in fighting terrorism, and to learn from our partners on how they are dealing with terrorist threats.  I am impressed by what I have learned.  From March 2004 to October 2005, the Anti-terrorism Task Force neutralized 183 terrorists, including 156 members of the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) and four Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorists.

Notable achievements have included the capture of JI operative Zaki in Manila earlier this year, and the discovery, also in Manila, of 600 kilograms of explosive materials that terrorists had planned to use in a suicide bombing targeting the United States and other allies in the war against terrorism.

The United States stands with the Philippines in this fight.  We are working closely with the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines to help them defeat these enemies.  Your success is our success.

U.S. and Filipino forces worked together in 2002 on Basilan to eradicate Abu Sayyaf Group havens on the island through a combination of civil-military operations and improved counterterrorism coordination.  This model offers a highly successful example of what we can do together.

There is still much to do, and the challenges are great.  I am concerned about potential terrorist efforts to use chemical-biological weapons.  We need to do a better job collectively, employing the rule of law, in policing porous borders, eliminating terrorist safe havens and addressing the conditions that our enemies exploit.

We know the House and Senate are working hard to pass an effective anti-terrorism law.  Early adoption of this legislation will give law enforcement and security officials the tools and legal framework they need to fight terrorism, while protecting civil liberties and human rights.

We also need to do a better job of working towards a regional approach to counterterrorism.  I am encouraged on this front by the Asian Development Bank's Regional Trade and Financial Security Initiative, jointly funded by the United States, Japan, and Australia.  This initiative aims to enhance port security, and combat money-laundering and terrorist financing.  The Philippines has already tapped into this $3 million fund to improve its anti-money laundering efforts, and we are looking at new projects that can improve maritime security among countries in the region.

This is my first trip to the Philippines, but it is certainly not my last.  I am impressed by the professionalism of my counterparts and the determination of President Arroyo to defeat terrorism and to build a better future for the Philippines.

Thank you very much.

The complete transcript of Crumpton's press conference is available at: http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/55700.htm

(end excerpt)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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