Country Reports on Terrorism 2013
Chapter 5: Terrorist Safe Havens (Update to 7120 Report)
Bureau of Counterterrorism
Country Reports on Terrorism 2013
April 30, 2014
As defined by section 2656f(d) of Title 22 of the U.S. Code, the term “terrorist sanctuary” or “sanctuary” excludes the territory of a country the government of which is subject to a determination under section 2405(j)(1)(A) of the Appendix to Title 50; section 2371(a) of Title 22; or section 2780(d) of Title 22– the state sponsors of terrorism. Accordingly, information regarding Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria can be found in Chapter 3, State Sponsors of Terrorism.
TERRORIST SAFE HAVENS
Somalia. In 2013, large areas of territory throughout Somalia provided safe haven for terrorists. Following significant military offensives in 2012 that pushed al-Shabaab out of most urban areas of southern and central Somalia, al-Shabaab still maintained freedom of movement and some control in some rural areas,as well as a destabilizing presence in some urban areas. In each of these areas, al-Shabaab could organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate in relative security due to inadequate security, justice, and governance capacity. The absence of anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance laws, regulatory bodies, and counterterrorism law enforcement resulted principally from a lack of capacity, rather than a lack of political will.
In 2013, the city of Barawe served as al-Shabaab’s primary urban safe haven. Al-Shabaab also maintained a presence in the Golis Mountains of Puntland and in some of Puntland’s larger urban areas. Al-Shabaab continued to operate largely uncontested large sections of rural areas in the middle and lower Jubba regions, the Lower Shabelle region, and the Gedo, Bay, and Bakol regions. Additionally, Somalia’s long unguarded coastline, porous borders, and proximity to the Arabian Peninsula allowed foreign fighters and al-Shabaab members to transit throughout the region. Areas under al-Shabaab control provided a permissive environment for al-Shabaab operatives and affiliated foreign fighters to conduct training and terrorist planning. However, foreign fighters maintained limited freedom within al-Shabaab due to internal strife within the group. The capability of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to prevent and preempt al-Shabaab terrorist attacks remained limited in 2013, although the FGS was committed to countering terrorism and collaborating with international partners, including the United States. As 2013 came to a close, AMISOM was preparing for another offensive against al-Shabaab in conjunction with Somali National Army troops following the UN Security Council’s authorization of 4,000-plus additional troops for AMISOM.
According to independent sources and NGOs engaged in demining activities on the ground, there was little cause for concern for the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Somalia.
The Trans-Sahara. The primary terrorist threat in the Trans-Sahara region in 2013 was posed by al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and associated splinter groups, such as the al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).Although its leadership remained primarily based in northeastern Algeria, AQIM factions also operated in northern Mali and the neighboring region. In 2013, these violent extremist groups used footholds in northern Mali to conduct operations, although safe haven areas in northern Mali were significantly diminished by the French and African intervention in 2013.
Mali. Although the Government of Mali lacks the capacity to control much of its vast, sparsely populated northern region, international and Malian forces were able to erode terrorist safe haven in the region in 2013. French Serval and UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) operations enabled Mali to redeploy government administrators and security forces to urban population centers in the northern regions through the end of 2013. These operations reduced the ability of AQIM and other terrorist groups such as Ansar al-Dine and MUJAO to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate in the northern region.
The new Malian government demonstrated its political will to deny safe haven to terrorists by supporting and collaborating with international efforts to stabilize northern Mali. The Malian government also demonstrated its political will to increase governance capacity in the North by holding a National Decentralization Conference in October 2013. During the conference, the Government of Mali identified measures to reinforce decentralized authority over northern Mali and to increase the capacity of local authority to govern over the vast territories. The government decided at the conference to create new administrative regions with the intention to increase the presence of the state in the northern region.
Despite having made some progress in disrupting terrorist safe havens in northern Mali, challenges remain, including dealing with long-existing, unregulated smuggling activities integral to the local economy. Controlling long and porous international borders also remains a challenge for the Malian government. The tacit engagement of local populations in illicit commercial activities and licit smuggling in northern Mali provides implicit support to criminal enterprises which undermines efforts to destabilize terrorist networks. Some segments of local populations have been willing to tolerate and enable AQIM's presence to avoid conflict and for financial gain, rather than ideological affinity.
In September 2013, the foreign assistance restriction to the Government of Mali was lifted. The State Department plans to reengage with the Government of Mali to strengthen biological security and reduce the risk of biological weapons acquisition by terrorists.
The Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral. The numerous islands in the Sulawesi Sea and the Sulu Archipelago makes it a difficult region for authorities to monitor. The range of licit and illicit activities that occur there – including worker migration, tourism, and trade – pose additional challenges to identifying and countering the terrorist threat. Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have improved efforts to control their shared maritime boundaries, including through the U.S.-funded Coast Watch South radar network, which is intended to enhance domain awareness in the waters south and southwest of Mindanao. Nevertheless, the expanse remained difficult to control. Surveillance improved but remained partial at best, and traditional smuggling and piracy groups have provided an effective cover for terrorist activities, including the movement of personnel, equipment, and funds. The United States has sponsored the Trilateral Interagency Maritime Law Enforcement Working Group since 2008, which has resulted in better coordination among Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines on issues of interdiction and maritime security.
Southeast Asia is vulnerable to exploitation by illicit traffickers and proliferators given the high volume of global trade that ships through the region as well as the existence of smuggling and proliferation networks. Weak strategic trade controls, legal and regulatory frameworks, inadequate maritime law enforcement and security capabilities, as well as emerging and re-emerging infectious disease and burgeoning bioscience capacity, make Southeast Asia an area of concern for weapons of mass destruction proliferation.
The Southern Philippines. The geographical composition of the Philippines, spread out over 7,107 islands, made it difficult for the central government to maintain a presence in all areas. Counterterrorism operations over the past 12 years, however, have been successful at isolating the location and constraining the activities of transnational terrorists. U.S.-Philippines counterterrorism cooperation remained strong. Abu Sayyaf Group members, numbering a few hundred, were known to be present in remote areas in Mindanao, especially on the islands of Basilan and Sulu. JI members, of whom there are only a small number remaining, are in a few isolated pockets of Mindanao. Peace agreements between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are suspected to have limited safe haven areas within MILF territories. Continued pressure from Philippine security forces made it difficult for terrorists to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Iraq. In the vast desert areas of western Iraq, especially in Anbar and Ninewa Provinces, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) established semi-permanent encampments. These areas reportedly included camps, training centers, command headquarters, and stocks of weapons. ISIL fighters allegedly controlled villages, oases, grazing areas, and valleys in these areas and were able to move with little impediment across international borders in the area.
Also, the lack of sustained coordination between Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional government security forces in the Disputed Internal Boundaries areas made it easier for insurgents and terrorists to operate or move through these areas unchecked.
The Government of Iraq lacked the capabilities to fully deny safe havens to terrorists, but not the will to do so. Iraqi Security Forces have conducted air and ground operations to destroy encampments but faced well-trained and heavily equipped ISIL fighters. The scale of the terrorist presence in Iraq is compounded by the cross-border flow of weapons and personnel between Iraq and Syria. The United States has encouraged the Government of Iraq to seek broader cross-border counterterrorism cooperation with like-minded neighboring countries.
During the first half of 2013, Iraq, Turkey, and the United States continued a trilateral security dialogue as part of ongoing efforts to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the region. As part of peace process negotiations between the Government of Turkey and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, hundreds of PKK fighters left Turkey and entered the Iraqi Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq starting in May.
Lebanon. The Lebanese government does not exercise complete control over all regions in the country or its borders with Syria and Israel. Hizballah militias controlled access to parts of the country, limiting access by Lebanon’s security services, including the police and army, which allowed terrorists to operate in these areas with relative impunity. Palestinian refugee camps were also used as safe havens by Palestinian and other armed groups and were used to house weapons and shelter wanted criminals.
The Lebanese security services conducted frequent operations to capture terrorists. They did not target or arrest Hizballah members.
The primary concern regarding weapons of mass destruction is that Lebanon’s porous borders will make the country vulnerable for use as a transit and transshipment hub for proliferation-sensitive transfers. The conflict in Syria increases the risk of illicit transfers of items of proliferation concern across the Lebanese border. On border security, the United States conducted numerous trainings with and donated equipment to Lebanese Customs to enhance its capabilities to detect illicit cross-border trade in strategic goods and other contraband. Hizballah’s continued ability to receive sophisticated munitions via Iran and Syria requires aggressive regular monitoring.
Libya. With a weak government possessing very few tools to exert control throughout its territory, Libya has become a terrorist safe haven and its transit routes are used by various terrorist groups, notably in the southwest and northeast. The General National Congress has tried to tackle the lawlessness of the southern region by temporarily closing – at least officially – the country’s southern border, and declaring large swaths of area (west from Ghadames, Ghat, Ubari, Sebha, Murzuq, and across a 620 miles off-road east to Kufra) as closed military zones to be administered under emergency law. In reality, however, Libya’s weak and under-resourced institutions have had little influence in that region, and have failed to implement this vague decree, as is evident from frequent ethnic clashes in the area. Instead, tribes and militias continue to control the area, and traders, smugglers, and terrorists continue to utilize ancient trade routes across these borders. All of Libya’s borders are porous and vulnerable to this activity, and the United States is working closely with the EU Border Assistance Mission to help the government mitigate these threats.
The Libyan government recognizes the gravity of the threats emanating from its borders, and is willing to work with the international community to overcome its inability to tackle these problems itself. In 2013, the United States signed an agreement with the Libyan government to cooperate on destroying Libya’s stockpile of legacy chemical weapons in accordance with its obligations as an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) member state. Libya successfully completed operations for the disposal of its remaining mustard gas filled in artillery projectile and aerial bombs in January 2014. Libya also previously completed the disposal of its remaining bulk mustard in 2013. There also have been reports of thousands of barrels of yellowcake uranium, a foundational material for nuclear enrichment, precariously secured in a former military facility near Sebha in Libya’s south. Although representing limited risk of trafficking due to the bulk and weight of the storage containers, Libya agreed to host an assessment team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to survey the stockpile in early 2014.
Yemen. The Government of Yemen, under President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, remained a strong partner of the United States on counterterrorism issues. Military campaigns against AQAP strongholds in the southern governorates in 2012, along with tribal resistance in the form of pro-government Popular Committees, eliminated much of the territory considered a “safe haven” for AQAP terrorists. In 2013, however, Yemeni security forces have been losing the ground gained in 2012. The impunity with which AQAP conducted ambush-style attacks and assassinations, particularly in the Abyan, Shebwah, and Hadramawt Governorates, suggests that AQAP has been successful in expanding its theatre of operations.
Yemen’s instability makes the country vulnerable for use as a transit point for weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related materials. In the past year the United States resumed training focusing on the development of strategic trade controls and continued to conduct border security training for Yemeni Customs and other enforcement agencies. Yemen has identified an inter-ministry group to work on nonproliferation-related issues.
The United States continued to build Yemeni government capacity to secure potentially dangerous biological and chemical materials and infrastructure housed at Yemeni facilities, while also productively engaging Yemeni scientists and engineers that have WMD or WMD-applicable expertise.
Afghanistan. Several terrorist networks active in Afghanistan, such as al-Qa’ida (AQ), the Haqqani Network, and others, operate largely out of Pakistan. AQ has some freedom of movement in Kunar and Nuristan provinces largely due to a lack of Afghan National Security Forces’ capacity to control certain border territories in north and east Afghanistan. During 2013, the Afghan government continued to counter the Afghan Taliban and Taliban-affiliated insurgent networks with AQ connections. The increased capability of the Afghan Local Police units helped to secure some rural areas that had previously lacked a Government of Afghanistan presence.
The potential for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) trafficking and proliferation was a concern in Afghanistan because of its porous borders and the presence of terrorist groups. The U.S. government worked with the Government of Afghanistan to implement comprehensive strategic trade controls. The U.S. Border Management Task Force also worked closely with Afghan officials to prevent the proliferation of and trafficking of WMD in and through Afghanistan. The Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) contributed to strengthening Afghanistan’s enforcement capacity through participation in a regional cross-border training program, and training through the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency.
The United States continued to assist the Afghan government to build capacity needed to secure potentially dangerous biological materials and infrastructure housed at Afghan facilities, promote surveillance capabilities to detect and identify possibly catastrophic biological events, and productively engage Afghan scientists and engineers that have WMD or WMD-applicable expertise.
Pakistan. Portions of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and Balochistan province remained a safe haven for terrorist groups seeking to conduct domestic, regional, and global attacks. Al-Qa’ida, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar i Jhangvi, Lashkar e-Tayyiba, and other terrorist groups, as well as the Afghan Taliban, took advantage of this safe haven to plan operations in Pakistan and throughout the region. Though they did act against TTP, Pakistani authorities did not take significant military or law enforcement action against other groups operating from Pakistan-based safe havens, such as HQN and the Afghan Taliban.
The potential for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) trafficking, proliferation, and terrorism remained a concern in Pakistan. Pakistan is a constructive and active participant in the Nuclear Security Summit process and has worked to strengthen its strategic trade controls. A number of State Department programs are being implemented to mitigate the risk of WMD, such as the Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) Program, which enabled Pakistani officials to gain expertise in properly classifying items of proliferation concern and export licensing best practices.
Colombia. Colombia’s borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Brazil include rough terrain and dense forest cover, which coupled with low population densities and historically weak government presence, have often allowed for potential safe havens for insurgent and terrorist groups, particularly the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Colombia continued its efforts to combat terrorism within its borders, targeting both the FARC and ELN. Additionally, even as the Government of Colombia engaged with the FARC in peace talks throughout the year, President Santos maintained pressure by continuing operational exercises to combat the FARC’s ability to conduct terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, illegal armed groups, primarily known as “Bandas Criminales,” use the porous borders, remote mountain areas, and jungles to maneuver, train, cultivate and transport narcotics, operate illegal mines, “tax” the local populace, and engage in other illegal activities. Colombia continued cooperation and information sharing with the Panamanian National Border Service, establishing a joint base of operation and strengthening control of their shared border in the Darien region. Improved relations with neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela have led to some increased cooperation from those countries on law enforcement issues. Stronger government actions in Brazil and Peru and continued cooperation with the Government of Colombia have also addressed potential safe haven areas along their shared borders.
Venezuela. There were credible reports that Venezuela maintained an environment that allowed for fundraising activities that benefited known terrorist groups. Individuals linked to Hizballah as well as FARC and ELN members were present in Venezuela.
COUNTERING TERRORISM ON THE ECONOMIC FRONT
In 2013, the Department of State designated four new Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO), listed 18 organizations and individuals as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, and revoked the designations of one organization and four individuals. The Department of the Treasury also designated organizations and individuals under E.O. 13224.For a full list of all USG designations, see the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control website at http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/Pages/default.aspx.
FTO/EO 13224 group designations:
- On March 21, the Department of State designated Ansar al-Dine (AAD) under E.O. 13224 and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 22. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on AAD.)
- On May 28, the Department of State revoked the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group’s (GICM) designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
- On November 13, the Department of State designated Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan (Ansaru) under E.O. 13224 and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 14. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on Ansaru.)
- On November 13, the Department of State designated Boko Haram (BH) under E.O. 13224 and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 14. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on BH.)
- On December 18, the Department of State designated the al-Mulathamun Battalion under E.O. 13224 and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 19. (See Chapter 6, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, for further information on AMB.)
E.O. 13224 designations:
- On January 8, the Department of State designated Abdelbasit Alhaj Alhassan Haj Hamad and Mohamed Makawi Ibrahim Mohamed, who participated in an armed attack in Khartoum, Sudan in 2008 that resulted in the deaths of a U.S. diplomat serving with USAID, John Michael Granville, and a Sudanese USAID employee, Adbelrahman Abbas Rahama. On July 3, the Department of State also designated a third individual involved in the 2008 attack, Abd Al-Ra’Ouf Abu Zaid Mohamed Hamza.
- On January 24, the Department of State designated Ahmed Abdullah Saleh al-Khazmari al-Zahrani, who travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan from Saudi Arabia to join al-Qa’ida (AQ) prior to 2007 and is closely connected to many senior AQ leaders.
- On February 26, the Department of State designated the Commander Nazir Group (CNG) and its sub-commander Malang Wazir. Since 2006, CNG has run training camps, dispatched suicide bombers, provided safe haven for al-Qa’ida fighters, and conducted attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan against military and civilian targets. Acting as a sub-commander for CNG, Malang has overseen training camps and has been known to send fighters to Afghanistan to support the Taliban.
- On February 26, the Department of State designated Iyad ag Ghali, the leader of Ansar al-Dine (AAD). Ghali received backing from al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb in AAD’s fight against Malian and French forces. Ghali has been involved with rebel forces in Mali since the 1990s.
- On May 16, the Department of State designated Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani, the leader of al-Nusrah Front, a Syria-based organization allied with al-Qa’ida. Under al-Jawlani’s leadership, al-Nusrah Front has carried out multiple suicide attacks throughout Syria, many of which have killed innocent Syrian civilians.
- On June 27, the Department of State delisted the deceased Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) member, Eric Breininger. He was originally listed for his commitment to violence against U.S. interests, specifically in Germany, and his association with IJU terrorist training camps.
- Also on June 27, the Department of State delisted the deceased AQAP operative Nayif Bin-Muhammad al-Qahtani, who was originally designated for his involvement in the planning and execution of terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
- On July 24, the Department of State designated Bulut Yayla, a trained operative of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a Marxist terrorist organization that used a suicide bomber to attack U.S. Embassy Ankara on February 1, 2013.
- On August 6, the Department of State designated Bahawal Khan, who was appointed leader of the Commander Nazir Group after Maulvi Nazir’s death in January 2013. Khan previously served as a sub-commander for the group and has fought with the Taliban since the late 1990s.
- On August 21, the Department of State designated Mohamed Lahbous, a member of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, who has participated in a number of attacks, including the October 2011 abduction of three aid workers from a refugee camp in western Algeria, and a June 2012 attack in Ouargla, Algeria, which killed one and injured three.
- On September 26, the Department of State delisted the deceased Fahd al-Quso, a member of AQAP who was wanted for his participation in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.
- Also on September 26, the Department of State delisted Badruddin Haqqani, who was deceased and had been one of the Haqqani Network's most senior leaders.
- On October 7, the Department of State designated Muhammad Jamal and the Muhammad Jamal Network (MJN). In the 1980s Muhammad Jamal trained in Afghanistan with al-Qa’ida. Upon his return to Egypt, he became a top military commander and head of the operational wing of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Jamal formed MJN after his release from Egyptian prison in 2011, and established several terrorist training camps in Egypt and Libya.
- On December 18, 2013, the Department of State designated Usamah Amin al-Shihabi, a Lebanon-based associate of Fatah al-Islam and head of Syria-based al-Nusrah Front’s Palestinian wing in Lebanon.
MULTILATERAL EFFORTS TO COUNTER TERRORISM
In 2013, the United States continued to work with key partners and allies to strengthen our diplomatic engagement through multilateral organizations. By deepening and broadening the international multilateral counterterrorism framework, we are drawing on the resources and strengthening the activities of multilateral institutions at the international, regional, and sub-regional levels to counter the threat of violent extremists and build the capacities of countries around the world.
The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). The GCTF aims to strengthen the international architecture for addressing 21st century terrorism and promotes a strategic, long-term approach to dealing with the threat. Since its launch in September 2011, the GCTF has mobilized over US $230 million to strengthen counterterrorism-related rule of law institutions, in particular, for countries transitioning away from emergency law.
Other accomplishments since the launch include the adoption of six sets of good practices that are intended to both provide practical guidance for countries as they seek to enhance their counterterrorism capacity and bring greater strategic coherence to global counterterrorism capacity building efforts:
- The Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector;
- The Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders;
- The Algiers Memorandum on Good Practices for Preventing and Denying the Benefits of Kidnapping for Ransom by Terrorists;
- The Madrid Memorandum on Good Practices for Assistance to Victims of Terrorism Immediately after the Attack and in Criminal Proceedings;
- The Ankara Memorandum on Good Practices for a Multi-Sectoral Approach to Countering Violent Extremism; and
- Good Practices on Community Engagement and Community-Oriented Policing as Tools to Counter Violent Extremism.
In addition, the GCTF has set in motion the development of two independent international training centers that will provide platforms for delivering sustainable training in the Forum’s two areas of strategic priority: countering violent extremism (CVE) and strengthening rule of law institutions. Hedayah, the first international center of excellence on CVE, officially opened in Abu Dhabi in December 2012. The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, to be based initially in Malta, is slated to begin operations in 2014.
In September 2013, Secretary Kerry announced that a core group of government and non-governmental partners from different regions will establish the first-ever public-private global fund to support local grass-roots efforts to counter violent extremism. The Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) will be the first global effort to leverage greater public and private-sector support for community-based projects aimed at addressing local drivers of radicalization by focusing on education, vocational training, civic engagement, and women’s advocacy. GCTF member Switzerland will host the GCERF in Geneva when it opens in the second half of 2014.
The UN is a close partner of and participant in the GCTF and its activities. The GCTF serves as a mechanism for furthering the implementation of the universally-agreed UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and, more broadly, to complement and reinforce existing multilateral counterterrorism efforts, starting with those of the UN. The GCTF also partners with a wide range of regional multilateral organizations, including the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the AU, and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.
The United Nations (UN). Sustained and strategic engagement at the UN on counterterrorism issues is a priority for the United States. The United States engaged with a wide range of UN actors on counterterrorism, providing almost US $7 million since 2011. These included:
- The Counter-Terrorism Committee Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED). The United States supported CTED efforts to facilitate training and other technical assistance to UN member states on a range of issues addressed in the UN Strategy. These include: counterterrorism financing, securing borders, and investigating, prosecuting, and adjudicating terrorism cases within a rule of law framework.
- The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF). The United States was among the group of member states that financed a major CTITF initiative to raise awareness of the UN Strategy in different regions, including West Africa and South Asia. The United States also provided funding to support a range of CTITF activities including: its partnership with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to support conflict prevention and promote peace and education in Nigeria, which is part of the Integrated Assistance for Countering Terrorism initiative; training and capacity building of law enforcement officials on human rights, the rule of law and the prevention of terrorism; targeted financial measures to counter terrorism; and public relations and media awareness training for victims of terrorism to provide counter-narratives to messages inciting violent extremism more effectively.
- The UNSC 1267/1989 Committee. The United States worked closely with the UN 1267/1989 (al-Qa’ida) Sanction Committee and its Monitoring Team by proposing listings and delistings, providing amendments, engaging the Committee’s Ombudsperson in delistings, and providing input to the Committee to enhance its procedures and implementation of sanctions measures. The United States also assisted the Monitoring Team with information for its research and reports. The 1267/1989 Committee added eight new individuals and two new entities to its Sanctions List in 2013. The Committee also worked to ensure the integrity of the list by endeavoring to remove those individuals and entities that no longer meet the criteria for listing. To date, 180 individuals and entities – 55 through the Ombudsperson, 21 through the Focal Point mechanism, and 104 through Committee reviews – have been delisted and additional information on remaining listings has been provided to assist in the operational implementation of the sanctions.
- The UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Terrorism Prevention Branch(UNODC/TPB). The Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB), in conjunction with the UNODC’s Global Program against Money Laundering, continued to provide assistance to countries in its efforts to ratify and implement the universal legal instruments against terrorism. In 2013, the United States supported a range of TPB programs aimed at strengthening the capacity of criminal justice officials to prevent and respond to terrorism within a rule of law framework, including in Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya; in the countries of the Sahel; and South and Southeast Asia.
- The UN Inter-Regional Crime Research Institute (UNICRI). The United States has provided financial support to a UNICRI-led global awareness-raising and capacity building campaign related to the implementation of the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for the Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders (Rome Memorandum).
- The UNSC 1540 Committee. UNSCR 1977, adopted in 2011, extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee for 10 years, reaffirming UNSCR 1540’s attention to the nonproliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. The resolution also encouraged member states to prepare national implementation plans and urged the Committee to strengthen its role in facilitating technical assistance for implementing UNSCR 1540. The 1540 Committee’s program of work focuses on five main areas: monitoring and national implementation; assistance; cooperation with international organizations, including the UNSC committees established pursuant to UNSCRs 1267 and 1373; transparency and media outreach; and administration and resources.
- The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ICAO’s Universal Security Audit Program (USAP) continued to contribute directly to U.S. homeland security by ensuring that each of ICAO's 191 member states undergo regular security audits and comply with uniform aviation security standards. USAP conducted assistance missions to help states correct security problems revealed by surveys and audits. ICAO, in partnership with the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), has assisted member states in the implementation of UNSCRs on counterterrorism, including border control. The two entities have conducted assessment visits and organized workshops focused on countering terrorism and the use of fraudulent travel documents, and promoting good practices on border control and aviation security. Together with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, ICAO and CTED have encouraged member states to ratify and implement international counterterrorism treaties.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA continued to implement its Nuclear Security Plan (2010-2013) for countering the threat of terrorism involving nuclear and other radioactive material. The United States was actively involved in IAEA efforts to enhance security for vulnerable nuclear and other radioactive materials and associated facilities, and to reduce the risk that such materials could be used by terrorists.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and FATF-Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs). The United States supported FATF plenary activities on policy issues, negotiating, and revising the assessment criteria for mutual evaluations under the new standards; and participated in the working groups on implementation and on strengthening the FATF network through the FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs). The United States continued to stress the importance of targeted sanctions and Special Recommendation III, a provision to freeze and confiscate assets. Further work by the United States revised the FATF-FSRB relationship, looking at guidance on and vulnerabilities of new payment methods; outreach to the private sector; maintaining emphasis on non-financial businesses and professions; and engagement with the Contact Group on the Central African Action Group Against Money Laundering.
African Union (AU). The United States supported the efforts of the AU to bolster the counterterrorism capacity of its members to implement the UN Strategy, particularly via the AU’s efforts to implement GCTF framework documents. For example, the United States provided assistance for AU-led workshops on implementing the GCTF’s Madrid Plan of Action on Victims of Terrorism and the Algiers Memorandum on Good Practices for Preventing and Denying the Benefits of Kidnapping for Ransom to Terrorists. The United States also supported a joint effort between the AU’s African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism and CTED to strengthen border-related counterterrorism capacities in the Sahel and the Maghreb through training on the use of international databases and enhanced cooperation, coordination, and information exchanges.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE consolidated its counterterrorism mandate and focused efforts on promoting a rule of law-based counterterrorism approach. U.S.-funded border security training in Central Asia, particularly through the OSCE’s Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe, also contributed to the capabilities of border and customs officials to counter threats. Through the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department and its Action against Terrorism Unit, the United States continued to support initiatives aimed at critical energy infrastructure protection, travel document security, cyber-security, nonproliferation, and promoting the role that women play in countering violent extremism, particularly in Central Asia and South Eastern Europe. In 2013, the OSCE released the Good Practices Guide on Non-Nuclear Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection (NNCEIP) from Terrorist Attacks Focusing on Threats Emanating from Cyberspace, which focuses on raising awareness of the significance of protecting critical energy infrastructure and the extent to which it is threatened by cyber-related terrorist attacks. The Guide will help share established good practices for improving critical energy infrastructure cybersecurity for governments and industry.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO leads ISAF stability operations in Afghanistan. ISAF conducted operations to degrade the capability and will of the insurgency, support the growth in capacity and capability of Afghanistan’s National Security Forces, and facilitate improvements in governance and socio-economic development to provide a secure environment for stability. NATO’s Policy Guidelines on Counterterrorism focus on NATO’s current capabilities and discusses how NATO will consolidate its counterterrorism efforts in three main areas: awareness, capabilities, and engagement. The Policy Guidelines on Counterterrorism called for the development of an implementation action plan, which is intended to identify initiatives to enhance the prevention of, and resilience to, acts of terrorism with a focus on improved threat awareness, adequate capabilities, and enhanced engagement with partner countries and other international actors in countering terrorism. NATO also focused on the protection of critical infrastructure, including energy infrastructure, as well as harbor security and route clearance. Many of these challenges are being addressed by NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division.
- NATO-Russia Council (NRC). Founded in 2002, the NRC provides a framework for security cooperation to address shared challenges, including NATO-Russia counterterrorism cooperation. Through the NRC’s Science for Peace and Security Committee, NATO Allies and Russia are working on the STANDEX (“Stand-off Detection of Explosive Devices”) project, which is designed to detect and counter a terrorist threat to mass transit and other public spaces.
European Union (EU). The EU’s work with the United States covers a range of counterterrorism issues, including efforts to curb terrorist financing, to strengthen cooperation on countering violent extremism, and to build counterterrorism capacity in third countries. Much of this work is completed through U.S.-EU dialogues, including the U.S.-EU Consultation on Terrorism and the U.S.-EU Political Dialogue on Counterterrorist Financing.
Group of Eight (G-8). Within the context of the G-8 Roma-Lyon Group (RLG) meetings on Counterterrorism and Countercrime, the United States participated actively during the UK’s 2013 G-8 Presidency by leading initiatives aimed at strengthening implementation of the UN al-Qa’ida Sanctions Regime; countering the use of chemical precursors to make improvised explosive devices; and coordinating counterterrorism efforts in North and West Africa. The United States also supported a UK-sponsored project to assist multinational companies with protective security and crisis planning in response to the terrorist attacks in In Amenas, Algeria. The RLG met twice in 2013 and advanced projects through its expert groups on counterterrorism, transportation security, high tech crime, migration, criminal legal affairs, and law enforcement.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). The United States joined in counterterrorism activities of the 27-member ARF, including the annual meeting on counterterrorism and transnational crime (CTTC) and supported capacity building through ARF institutions. The United States supported efforts in ARF to address cyber security issues, including confidence-building measures in cyberspace and promoted efforts that respect human rights such as freedom of expression and open access. The United States encouraged information sharing and supported the CTTC work plan, which focuses on illicit drugs; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear terrorism; cyber-security; and counter-radicalization through a series of biological preparedness workshops, the sponsorship of a regional transnational crime information sharing center, and a workshop on migration.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). In 2013, APEC continued to implement its comprehensive Consolidated Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy, adopted in 2011, which endorsed the principles of security, efficiency, and resilience; and advocated for risk-based approaches to security challenges across its four cross-cutting areas of supply chains, travel, finance, and infrastructure. The United States co-sponsored a policy dialogue on Secure Infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific Region, which highlighted how APEC economies face varied challenges to building secure, efficient, and resilient infrastructure for regional commerce and transportation and also demonstrated the importance of identifying gaps, sharing best practices, and developing a regional approach to critical infrastructure protection and resilience. The United States also sponsored APEC capacity building workshops on canine screening in aviation security and and low cost/no cost checkpoint optimization, which helped further implement the APEC Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy.
Organization of American States Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (OAS/CICTE). In 2013, the CICTE Secretariat conducted 113 activities, training courses, and technical assistance missions that benefited more than 4,181 participants in five thematic areas: border control; critical infrastructure protection; counterterrorism legislative assistance and terrorist financing; strengthening strategies on emerging terrorist threats (crisis management); and international cooperation and partnerships. The United States is a major contributor to CICTE’s training programs and has provided funding and expert trainers for capacity building programs focused on maritime security, aviation security, travel document security and fraud prevention, cybersecurity, counterterrorism legislation, and efforts to counter terrorist financing.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND PROTOCOLS
A matrix of the ratification status of 16 of the international conventions and protocols related to terrorism can be found here: https://www.unodc.org/tldb/universal_instruments_NEW.html
LONG-TERM PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES DESIGNED TO COUNTER TERRORIST SAFE HAVENS
COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM (CVE). CVE is part of a strategic approach to counterterrorism (CT) that aims to deny terrorist groups new recruits. In 2009, the State Department created a CVE team in the Counterterrorism Bureau, to lead our efforts in this critical area. In our CVE programming and activities, we are seeking to (1) build resilience among communities most at risk of recruitment and radicalization to violence; (2) counter terrorist narratives and messaging; and (3) build the capacity of partner nations and civil society to counter violent extremism.
To be effective, CVE must work on multiple levels. First, our efforts must be well targeted. As such, we identify both key nodes and locales where radicalization is taking place, and focus our programming and activities in these areas. Second, our efforts must be tailored to take the local context into account. The drivers of recruitment and radicalization to violence are varied, often localized, and specific to each region, and our programming choices are developed in response to these factors.
Therefore, State’s CT Bureau emphasizes supporting local CVE efforts and building local CVE capacity. Given the growing international focus on CVE, we have also been able to develop a broader range of international partners to work within our efforts, including other governments, multilateral organizations, and non-governmental actors. Through these broad-based partnerships, we have been able to develop good practices, leverage others’ resources, and multiply its impact.
The President and the Secretary of State established the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) in 2011 to lead an interagency effort to coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide foreign communications activities targeted against terrorism and violent extremism, particularly al-Qa’ida (AQ), its affiliates, and adherents. CSCC, based at the Department of State, collaborates with U.S. embassies and consulates, interagency partners, and outside experts to counter terrorist narratives and misinformation, and directly supports U.S. government communicators at our U.S. embassies overseas. CSCC’s programs draw on a full range of intelligence information and analysis for context and feedback. CSCC counters terrorist propaganda in the social media environment on a daily basis, contesting space where AQ and its supporters formerly had free reign. CSCC communications have provoked defensive responses from violent extremists on many of the most popular extremist websites and forums as well as on social media. In 2013, CSCC produced over 10,000 postings and 138 videos. CSCC also engages in a variety of projects directly supporting U.S. government communicators working with overseas audiences, as well as amplifying credible CVE voices and supporting local initiatives, in critical parts of the Middle East and Africa, such as Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Mali.
While public diplomacy and development projects can have a positive impact on the CVE environment, our CVE programs and activities are far more narrowly tailored and targeted. In fact, CVE programming more closely resembles programs for curtailing recruitment into militias or gangs. It requires knowledge of where youth are most susceptible to radicalization to violence and why that is so. We ensure that our areas of focus align with the areas of greatest risk by working with foreign partners and other U.S. government agencies, such as USAID and DoD, to identify hotspots of radicalization and to design programming. Key areas of programming include:
- Community Engagement and Community-Oriented Policing. The Department of State has implemented projects that link marginalized groups in a community, such as at-risk youth or women, with responsible influencers and leaders in their communities to build their resilience to violent extremism or improve their capacity to counter it. These activities include: providing skills training to youth, their families, and their communities; leadership development; and promoting problem solving and conflict resolution skills. Projects also include those to mentor and train law enforcement personnel in community engagement, facilitation and conflict mitigation; and communication techniques. Through increased cooperation between community leaders, law enforcement, and local government; community-oriented policing builds community resilience to violent extremism by addressing factors of community instability, disenfranchisement, and marginalization.
- CVE Advocacy: Women and Victims/Survivors. Women can act as gatekeepers to their communities, and can thus provide a first line of defense against recruitment and radicalization to violence in their families and communities. In regions such as East Africa and West Africa, women are trained to recognize signs of radicalization, deploy prevention techniques, and become personally responsible for the local promotion of security and for radicalization prevention. In partnership with local women’s networks, the Department of State supports training for women civil society leaders and works with law enforcement personnel to devise CVE-prevention strategies and pilot activities.
By sharing their stories, victims of terrorism offer a resonant counternarrative that highlights the destruction and devastation of terrorist attacks. Workshops train victims to interact with conventional and social media, create public relations campaigns that amplify their messages, and seek out platforms that help them disseminate their message most broadly to at-risk audiences.
- Media and CVE Messaging. The Department of State supports media projects that include radio shows that reach millions of listeners who are facing a looming violent extremist threat. Pivotal in West Africa, these projects include weekly radio dramas that are produced locally and are designed to tackle CVE subjects by empowering locally-credible voices who reject violent extremism. They include call-in shows that engage youth; women; traditional, religious, and political leaders; representatives from educational institutions; and government officials in thematic discussions about CVE, peace, and stability.
The Department of State supports efforts to conduct outreach, engagement, and training tours among diaspora communities who may be targeted for recruitment or susceptible to radicalization to violence in certain regions. Efforts involve screening documentaries highlighting the tragedy and devastation wrought by the recruitment of youth to terrorism and holding community roundtables to raise awareness and discuss ways to prevent recruitment and radicalization to violence. These projects are especially effective in engaging Somali diaspora communities.
- Prisoner Rehabilitation/Prison Disengagement. The Department of State has worked to identify and address key nodes of potential radicalization to violence, an example of which is prisons. Improperly managed, a prison can serve as both a safe haven for violent extremism and an incubator for new recruits. Recognizing that many such inmates will eventually be released back into society, the Department of State is working – directly and through partner organizations – to strengthen the capabilities of key countries to rehabilitate and reintegrate such offenders. Such partners include the UN’s Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and the International Center for Counterterrorism, a Dutch NGO; who are leading a major international initiative on prison rehabilitation and disengagement. They have been using the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Rome Memorandum – a series of good practices in this area – to shape their efforts. More than 40 countries, multilateral organizations, and leading independent experts have participated in this stage of the initiative, which provided policymakers, practitioners, and experts a chance to compare notes and develop good practices in this critically important area.
A number of multilateral bodies remain key partners for the Department of State in its CVE efforts. Through these partnerships, we are able to shape the international CVE agenda, leverage others’ resources and expertise, and build broader support for our CVE priorities.
- Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) CVE Working Group. The GCTF provides a platform for counterterrorism policymakers and experts to identify urgent needs, devise solutions, and mobilize resources for addressing key counterterrorism challenges. GCTF's CVE Working Group, one of five expert-driven groups, focuses on the following areas: (a) using institutions to counter violent extremism; (b) measuring the impact of CVE programs; and c) countering the violent extremist narrative.
- Hedayah, the International CVE Center of Excellence: With support from GCTF members and international partners, the United Arab Emirates launched the first international CVE Center of Excellence, Hedayah, in December 2012. Hedayah’s mandate covers CVE research, dialogue, and training. The Department of State supports Hedayah with funding to develop pilot training courses for governmental and non-governmental CVE practitioners in the areas of community-oriented policing, education, youth development, and media. More information on the GCTF and Hedayah can be found at: http://www.thegctf.org/.
- Global CVE Fund: In September 2013, Secretary Kerry announced the launch of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), the first ever public-private global effort to support local grassroots CVE projects. GCERF will leverage public and private sector support for community-based projects aimed at addressing local drivers of radicalization by focusing on education, vocational training, civic engagement, and women’s advocacy. GCTF member Switzerland will host the GCERF in Geneva when it opens in the second half of 2014.
USAID APPROACH TO CVE. USAID’s approaches to CVE run parallel to and are undertaken in coordination with the CVE efforts of the Department of State. Unlike traditional development programs, USAID CVE programs address narrow populations – targeting young men in particular – that generally are not reached by other efforts. Programming objectives aim to strengthen specific resiliencies that are critical to addressing the socioeconomic, political, and cultural drivers of violent extremism. In partnership with host countries, each activity is tailored to meet the specific threat levels, political environments, and material needs of each country. Activities include:
- Empowering Youth through: vocational and entrepreneurial skills training, civic education, capacity building for youth associations, and leadership training to increase participation in local decision-making by young men and women. In East Africa, for example, programming aims to promote a positive sense of identity for vulnerable youth through youth association activity, community participation, and vocational training.
- Increasing Moderate Voices through: integrated radio, social media, and civic education activities, enhanced quality and credible information, and positive dialogue. In the Sahel, for example, USAID is providing technical and financial support for local radio stations and their production of moderate community-based content. Religious leaders are being engaged with training and dialogue to promote moderate messaging, conflict prevention and resolution, and constructive community initiatives.
- Increasing Civil Society Capacity through: formal and informal training, strengthened advocacy skills, citizen-led accountability initiatives and issue-based campaigns integrated with radio and social media and enhanced through civil society coalitions and networks. For example, USAID is providing capacity building grants to civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Sahel for rehabilitation projects and community initiatives.
- Strengthening Local Government through: organized and enhanced community entities and CSO capacity, greater citizen participation, and training in public administration, transparency, advocacy, and government outreach. For example, in the Sahel, USAID is supporting the establishment of local community advisory councils composed of women, youth, religious, and other representatives to ensure local governance and activities are more responsive to community needs.
CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAMS. As the terrorist threat has evolved and grown more geographically diverse in recent years, it has become clear that our success depends in large part on the effectiveness and ability of our partners. To succeed over the long term, we must increase the number of countries capable of and willing to take on this challenge. We have had important successes in Indonesia and Colombia, but we must intensify efforts to improve our partners' law enforcement and border security capabilities to tackle these threats. Our counterterrorism capacity building programs – Antiterrorism Assistance Program, Counterterrorist Finance, Counterterrorism Engagement, the Terrorist Interdiction Program/Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System, and transnational activities under the Regional Strategic Initiatives – are all critically important and work on a daily basis to build capacity and improve political will. For further information on these programs, we refer you to the Annual Report on Assistance Related to International Terrorism, Fiscal Year 2013: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/rpt/221544.htm.
REGIONAL STRATEGIC INITIATIVE. Terrorist groups often take advantage of porous borders and ungoverned areas between countries. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism created the Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI) to encourage Ambassadors and their Country Teams to develop regional approaches to counterterrorism. RSI operates in key terrorist theaters of operation to assess the threat, pool resources, and devise collaborative strategies, action plans, and policy recommendations. In 2013, RSI groups were in place for Central Asia, East Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, Iraq and its Neighbors, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Trans-Sahara (the Maghreb and the Sahel), and the Western Hemisphere.
One examples of an RSI program approved and funded in 2013 is the Explosive Incident Countermeasures (EIC) course for Bulgaria, which yielded almost immediate results when a week after the course ended, the Ministry of Interior officers that participated in the course successfully responded to two bomb threats, one of which was at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia.
RSI is continuing to fund Resident Legal Advisors in Malaysia, Mauritania, Niger, and Turkey. RSI also funds a number of regional workshops focusing on border security and larger counterterrorism issues. Two ongoing series include Eastern Mediterranean Working Groups on border security and the Gulf of Aden Regional Forum. These forums provide a venue for participants to discuss current counterterrorism issues, as well as joint efforts to counter them.
SUPPORT TO PAKISTAN
The United States continues to build a long-term partnership with Pakistan, as we believe that a stable, secure, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan is in the long-term U.S. national security interest. To support this partnership, the United States has allocated civilian and security assistance totaling more than US $8.5 billion since 2009. U.S. security assistance to Pakistan is designed to build Pakistan’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency capacity. In addition, since 2002, the Department of Defense has reimbursed over US $11 billion in Coalition Support Funds for Pakistani expenditures in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Since the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (EPPA) was enacted in October 2009, and with funding made available in annual appropriations legislation, the United States has disbursed over US $4.1 billion in civilian assistance to Pakistan, including over US $1 billion for humanitarian assistance following floods and conflict. We continue to focus on five sectors determined in consultation with the Pakistani government in 2011: energy, stabilization, education, health, and economic growth, including agriculture. Emphasis on improving democracy, governance, and gender equity are integrated into programming across the five sectors.
Since the passage of this major authorization and annual appropriations legislation, U.S. assistance has added over 1,000 megawatts to Pakistan’s electricity grid and helped Pakistan take steps to reform the troubled sector; funded the refurbishment or construction of 560 miles of roads, enabling trade, security, and mobility; trained over 5,100 police and 1,000 prosecutors across Pakistan; provided scholarships to approximately 10,000 Pakistanis to attend Pakistani universities; and supplied better access to comprehensive family planning services to over 20,000 women.
|($ in Thousands)||FY 2012||FY 2013|
|Economic Support Fund||904,697||723,329|
|Foreign Military Financing||295,408||280,172|
|Global Health and Child Survival - USAID||-||-|
|International Military Education and Training||4,868||5,000|
|International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement||34,000||57,400|
|Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs||5,900||10,597|
|Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund||425,000||-|
|Food for Peace||68,068||-|
Energy: Chronic energy shortages severely limit Pakistan’s economic development. As such, energy is our top assistance priority, supporting the goal of job creation, security, and political stability in Pakistan. We continued to fund infrastructure rehabilitation projects and provided technical assistance to Pakistani energy institutions, including distribution companies, to increase power generation and improve performance.
Economic Growth: Through a range of programs and public-private partnerships in agriculture and other sectors of Pakistan’s economy, U.S. assistance helped Pakistan create jobs and foster economic growth. In 2013, the United States also made awards for the Pakistan Private Investment Initiative (PPII), a public-private program in which U.S. capital, matched equally by private sector funding, was committed as equity to small- and medium-sized Pakistani enterprises to provide much needed liquidity.
Stabilization: The United States supported Pakistan’s efforts to ensure its territory is inhospitable to violent extremists by strengthening governance and civilian law enforcement capacity and promoting socio-economic development, particularly in border areas with Afghanistan and other targeted locations vulnerable to violent extremism. Our efforts included road construction, small community-based grants, police and governance training, and providing equipment to civilian law enforcement.
Education: Pakistan’s ability to educate its youth is critical to its economic growth and future trajectory. U.S. education programs focused on increasing the number of students who enroll in and complete courses in primary, secondary, and tertiary educational institutions; and improving the quality of that education to prepare Pakistani students for the workforce. We are also committed to building bridges between Pakistani and American students and professionals through exchange programs.
Health: The provision of basic health services in Pakistan is inadequate for much of the population, particularly for rural populations. U.S. health programs supported the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to deliver healthcare, particularly in the areas of maternal and child health and family planning. U.S. assistance was also used to assist Government of Pakistan initiatives to construct health clinics and hospitals and fund the acquisition of medical materials, including contraception.
Humanitarian Assistance: In 2010 and 2011, the United States was the largest bilateral donor of assistance in response to severe flooding. In 2011, the U.S. funded emergency assistance and provided US $190 million for direct assistance to more than one million families affected by the 2010 floods. Since October 2009, over US $1 billion of emergency humanitarian assistance has been provided to Pakistan in response to floods and conflict, above and beyond bilateral assistance.
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement: During 2013, Pakistan took important steps to counter violent extremists operating in the border region with Afghanistan. These steps included intensifying support to civilian law enforcement and border security agencies. The United States directly supported Pakistan’s efforts to build the capacity of its civilian law enforcement and border security agencies by providing training, equipment, infrastructure, and aviation assistance. U.S. assistance built law enforcement capacity to hold areas cleared by Pakistan’s military, protect local populations from militant attacks, and maintain law and order. Collectively, these efforts enhanced the counterinsurgency, law enforcement, and counternarcotics capacities of Pakistan’s civilian law enforcement and border security agencies. Improved security will, in turn, facilitate economic development, which is necessary for long-term Pakistani stability and progress.
Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR): The United States provided assistance to strengthen Pakistan’s export control system to prevent transfer of weapons of mass destruction and related technology. NADR/Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) funds were used for nonproliferation export control training addressing legal/regulatory reform, export licensing systems, customs enforcement, general inspection, weapons of mass destruction detection training for border control personnel, and procuring specialized radiation/chemical detection equipment. The United States also provided targeted assistance to build Pakistani law enforcement capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist threats. Specifically, the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program provided training and equipment to Pakistani law enforcement to build its capacity to tactically respond to terrorism-related incidents and more effectively conduct terrorism-related investigations, including through improved police-prosecutorial cooperation. The State Department provided ATA assistance with the goal of institutionalizing such assistance within Pakistan’s law enforcement training structure. NADR/Global Threat Reduction Programs (GTR) provided assistance to Pakistan to prevent terrorist access to biological expertise, materials, and technology. GTR engaged scientists to reduce bio-security threats against the United States by supporting pathogen security, safe and secure laboratory conduct, and disease detection and control.
Foreign Military Financing (FMF): FMF promotes the development of Pakistan's long-term counterinsurgency (COIN) and counterterrorism capabilities to enable security and stability throughout the country, particularly in the conflict-affected areas on the western borders with Afghanistan and to improve Pakistan's ability to lead and/or participate in maritime security operations that support counterterrorism aims. During FY 2013, we coordinated with Pakistan to refine our plan for current and future FMF to more narrowly focus on seven core capabilities that support their COIN/counterterrorism aims, and that are in our own national interest. These are: precision strike; battlefield air mobility/combat search and rescue; battlefield communications; night vision; survivability; countering improvised explosive devices; border control; and maritime security/counter-narcotics. To support this, in 2013 the United States obligated nearly US $600 million in new FY 2012 and FY 2013 FMF, and realigned unused prior-year funding to be targeted on the development of these capabilities.
International Military Education and Training (IMET): Pakistan’s IMET program supported professional military education for Pakistan’s military leaders, emphasizing respect for the rule of law, human rights, and democratic values, including civilian control of the military. IMET also supported effective management of Pakistan’s defense establishment through training in logistics, defense acquisition, and resource management. In accordance with the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation, a significant portion of this funding supports training related to counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations in Pakistan. To build capacity and cooperation between our security forces, Pakistan receives the largest amount of IMET of any of our global partners, at nearly US $5 million annually.
Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF): PCCF builds the capability of Pakistan’s Army, Air Force, and Frontier Corps to clear and hold terrain in contested areas throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) by providing targeted equipment and training for COIN/counterterrorism operations. In FY 2013, we provided US $425 million in FY 2012 PCCF funding for execution. FY 2012 is the final fiscal year that funding was requested for this program. During FY 2013, the United States provided Pakistan with significant assistance to help Pakistan pursue its COIN/counterterrorism operations, including bunker defeat munitions; secure radios; two King Air intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft; and night vision devices.
Measures to ensure that assistance has the greatest long-term positive impact on the welfare of the Pakistani people and their ability to counter terrorism: Roughly half of U.S. civilian assistance is implemented via Pakistani partners, including the Government of Pakistan and private sector actors, when practicable. This is done to strengthen local capacity and increase sustainability, providing the greatest possible long-term impact of U.S. assistance. Increasingly, the Administration is also implementing public-private partnerships to engage the private sector as a long-term partner in Pakistan’s development.
COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATION WITH SAUDI ARABIA
The United States and Saudi Arabia have a strong bilateral relationship. Multiple high-level visits in 2013 deepened this relationship at the personal and institutional level and enabled senior officials from both countries the chance to discuss means of improving coordination. In 2013, high-level visits from Secretary of State John Kerry, CIA Director John O. Brennan, FBI Director James B. Comey, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, among others, reaffirmed the importance of bilateral counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
During 2013, the Government of Saudi Arabia, working in coordination with the United States, continued to build and augment its capacity to counter terrorism and violent extremist ideologies. Saudi Arabia continued to maintain a robust counterterrorism relationship with the United States and supported enhanced bilateral cooperation to ensure the safety of U.S. and Saudi citizens in both countries. Saudi Arabia’s continued domestic and international efforts to refine its counterterrorism capacity hampered al-Qa’ida in the Arabia Peninsula’s ability to carry out a terrorist attack inside the Kingdom, despite efforts by the terrorist organization to inspire sympathizers to support, finance, or engage in terrorist activities.
Like other countries in the region, Saudi Arabia sought to find meaningful economic and civic opportunities for its people. Over 65 percent of the Saudi populace are younger than 25 years old. The King has clearly enunciated an economic development agenda, and Saudi Arabia made progress in addressing economic sources of social discontent, such as housing scarcity and the need to create jobs for millions of Saudis. Despite this, many sources of economic discontent remain.
The King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue continued to promote tolerance and respect for diversity through its dialogue and awareness-raising programs. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs continued to reeducate imams, prohibiting them from inciting violence, and continued to monitor mosques and religious education. Numerous religious figures not directly associated with the establishment, however, continued to promote violence and intolerance.
The United States continued to support Saudi Arabia in reforms it is undertaking by facilitating Saudi nationals studying in the United States and promoting other educational exchanges; encouraging increased bilateral trade and investment, urging Saudi Arabia to take actions necessary to attract job-creating partnerships with U.S. companies; and targeting programming in such areas as judicial reform and women’s entrepreneurship. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) continued to operate its flagship de-radicalization program, as well as its extensive prison rehabilitation program to reduce recidivism among former inmates.
Throughout the year, Saudi security professionals regularly participated in joint programs around the world, including in the United States and Europe. In January 2013, Saudi officials participated in a two-day workshop aimed at ensuring an effective criminal justice system – based on the rule of law – that not only responds to terrorist attacks but also has the ability to prevent them from occurring. In February 2013, the government hosted an international terrorism conference with participants from 49 governments and representatives from international organizations and counterterrorism centers, under the auspices of the UN Centre for Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT). On August 8, 2013, Saudi Arabia pledged US $100 million to the UNCCT.
U.S.-Saudi collaboration was not confined to bilateral issues. With political upheaval across the region throughout the year, we consulted closely with the Saudi government on regional stability, including in Yemen, Syria, and Egypt. Working both bilaterally and multilaterally through the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League, the Saudi government provided leadership in promoting peaceful transitions. As part of its strategy to support these transitions and promote stability throughout the region, the Saudi government significantly increased the scope of its economic and development assistance.
BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS INITIATIVES: OUTREACH TO FOREIGN MUSLIM AUDIENCES
This section is provided by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)
Four of the five broadcast entities under the supervision of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) provided programming for Muslim audiences overseas in 2013: the Voice of America (VOA), the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV, Radio Sawa, and Afia Darfur), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), and Radio Free Asia.
- Eighteen of RFE/RL’s broadcast languages – almost two-thirds of the total – were directed to regions with majority-Muslim populations, including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Additional broadcasting regions in the Russian Federation included the majority Muslim populations of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and the North Caucasus.
- VOA has been particularly successful in reaching non-Arabic-speaking Muslim audiences, with strong performances in Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tanzania, among other places.
- The Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) broadcast throughout the region to a Muslim population estimated at 315 million.
- VOA and RFE/RL provided news and information to Afghanistan and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region in Dari and Pashto. Together, RFE/RL and VOA reached nearly 75 percent of Afghan adults each week.
- Radio Free Asia broadcast to the more than 16 million mainly ethnic Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of northwestern China and Central Eurasia.
The BBG used the latest communications technologies to avoid jamming of its signals and to reach audiences through digital and other communications tools, such as webchats and blogs.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Arabic. Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) has five bureaus/production centers in the region, in addition to its main studios in Virginia, and a network of regional correspondents. MBN broadcasts throughout the region to a Muslim population estimated at 315 million. This represents 92 percent of the region’s population and 20 percent of the world’s Muslim population. MBN takes a diverse approach to reaching the largest potential audience, using three platforms: television (Alhurra TV), radio (Radio Sawa), and digital (Alhurra.com and RadioSawa.com). The networks provide a unique, local perspective of breaking news, current events, and topics that are not readily found in domestic media, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the role of women in society and politics. Alhurra also produces short segments encouraging freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and non-violence.
MBN has focused on reaching out to the younger generation living in the Middle East. Alhurra launched a second season of the critically-acclaimed series Rayheen ala Fain? (Where are We Going?) The Alhurra series follows six young Egyptian adults from different political and socioeconomic backgrounds as they take on challenges such as education, sexual harassment, employment, and the rights of women. MBN’s dedicated channel to Iraq (Alhurra-Iraq) launched Youth Talk in 2013, a weekly program that highlights talented young people talking about their achievements and aspirations, as well as the challenges they face in Iraqi society. Its Facebook page encourages young Iraqis to exchange ideas and views on political, scientific, cultural, social, and technical issues.
MBN digital outreach focuses its efforts on original reporting and interactive posts on Facebook, as well as integration within television and radio broadcasts. Alhurra’s primetime newscasts and many of its current affairs programs incorporate social media into their daily and weekly programs. Each day a question is posted on Facebook and then viewers’ responses are used within the newscasts and shows. More and more of MBN’s audience are using mobile platforms and the Alhurra application to get the latest news and information.
The audience has reacted positively to MBN digital platforms. In 2013, Alhurra’s Facebook page went from less than a million “likes” to more than three million, while Radio Sawa’s Facebook page has nearly three million “likes.”
Radio Sawa’s network of stations, broadcasting 24/7, is designed to reach the Arabic-speaking population under the age of 35. It broadcasts 325 newscasts per week about the Middle East, the United States, and the world.
Radio Sawa broadcasts on FM in Morocco, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, Kuwait, Bahrain, Libya, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Lebanon, and Djibouti. Radio Sawa also broadcasts on medium wave to Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan; and was available on the Arabsat, Nilesat, and Eutelsat satellite systems in 2013.
Iraq. Every week, 67 percent of Iraqi adults – some 12.4 million people – listened to or watched one of the four BBG broadcasters serving the country: Alhurra TV, Radio Sawa, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq, and VOA Kurdish. Alhurra and Radio Sawa continued to be very successful given their localized dedicated streams to Iraqi news and information. The television network reached 30 percent of the Iraqi population weekly and Radio Sawa remained one of the top radio stations among adults. Radio Free Iraq, with 16 percent weekly reach on radio and internet, was among the top five radio stations for news. VOA Kurdish reached 7.1 percent of Kurdish-speaking Iraqis weekly.
Kurdish. VOA’s Kurdish Service is the only international news organization broadcasting to Iraq’s Kurds in their main dialects, Sorani and Kurmanji. Although the primary target audience was initially the Iraqi Kurd population, the Service has expanded its coverage to reach Kurds in Turkey, Syria, and Iran. The Service broadcasts three hours of radio programming seven days a week via short wave and FM transmitters in the cities of Sulaimania, Kirkuk, Mosul, Erbil, and Baghdad. The Kurdish Service has enhanced its concentration on both Sorani and Kurmanji websites. The Kurdish Service website visits from the Kurdi (Kurmanji) website increased from 52,560 in 2012, to 82,700 in 2013, due to postings on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. VOA Kurdish also expanded its audience by introducing one of its daily radio shows via satellite TV, and incorporated Skype technology into its broadcasts.
Persian. VOA Persian provided relevant global and regional news as it relates to Iran, and crucial information about U.S. policy toward Iran and the region. VOA Persian delivered original television programming six hours per day. In addition, VOA and Radio Farda each produced one hour of Radio-on-TV (ROT), starting with VOA Persian’s ROT Tamasha and followed by Radio Farda’s ROT “Sobhane Ba Khabar.”
VOA Persian did exceedingly well in bringing worldwide coverage on timely issues to the people of Iran. For example, it attracted a wide television and online audience during its coverage of the Iranian elections. VOA Persian delivered substantive coverage ahead of, during, and in the aftermath of the June 14 election of Iranian President Hassan Rohani. On November 24, VOA Persian was on the ground in Geneva, providing in depth coverage of the interim agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries.
RFE/RL’s Radio Farda broadcast newscasts at the top of each hour, followed by reports, features, interviews, and regular segments on youth, women, culture, economics, and politics.
- Radio Farda’s coverage of the November Geneva negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program was carried by state media and cited widely inside the country.
- Radio Farda is a leading news destination for Iranian audiences during national events. During the 2013 presidential elections, citizens defied the censors and sent hundreds of tips and comments to Radio Farda by SMS, email, and telephone. Such direct communications have grown by 42 percent in the past year; at year’s end they totaled approximately 300 direct messages daily.
- Radio Farda’s comprehensive human rights monitoring is unique inside Iran. It is listened to by prison inmates who rely on it as the sole source of accurate reporting on their cases.
- Recent distinguished Radio Farda programs included: “The Sixth Hour,” a live, current events call-in show; the award-winning investigative report, “Solitary Confinement,” about life in the isolation cells of Iran’s notorious prisons; "Victims of 88," a groundbreaking report on the deaths and disappearances of activists associated with the 2009 protests; “Visit,” a multi-segment radio documentary profiling Iran's prisoners of conscience,” and Radio Farda’s daily coverage of music and musicians banned in Iran.
- Radio Farda’s online community expanded rapidly. Its main Facebook page added new fans at a rate of 3,000 per day for an overall Radio Farda fan base of approximately one million at the end of 2013. A Facebook link to its live audio stream was "recommended" by users over 3,600,000 times.
- Radio Farda’s circumvention strategies to fight internet blockage by the Iranian regime was proving successful. From December 2012 to November 2013, Farda’s website logged 154 million page views.
Afghanistan. Research shows that RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan is among the most popular and trusted media in Afghanistan, as a result of its dual-language programming, moderate tone, and focus on local concerns such as corruption, narcotics trafficking, kidnapping, and human rights. Call-in shows and roundtables are central to Radio Free Afghanistan programming. Through its unique program “In Search of Loved Ones,” the Service helps reunite families who have lost relatives to violence and war.
Every day the Service receives between 500 to 600 voicemails and messages from citizen journalists, which are verified by and integrated into the news product. Nearly 300,000 Afghans receive news four times a day from Radio Free Afghanistan on their mobile phones and send citizen journalism reports to the station via a subscription-based SMS news service RFE/RL launched in 2010 in partnership with local mobile phone service provider Etisalat Afghanistan.
VOA’s Afghanistan Service provided radio and television programming to Afghan audiences, with a weekly reach of 35.6 percent (12.9 percent via TV and 28.1 percent via radio). VOA’s daily newscast, TV Ashna, broadcast nine hours daily to Afghanistan (four hours of Dari and four hours of Pashto for radio, and one half-hour each of Dari and Pashto on TV). Ashna has become especially popular in urban centers. The Service’s TV program “Karwan,” which looks at current issues through the prism of youth, boasts a loyal following among young viewers. Special programming and segments covered Eid, Ramadan, and the Haj, with correspondent reports on prayers in mosques in both Afghanistan and Washington. In addition to news of Afghanistan, Ashna provided the full range of news and views from the United States.
Urdu. VOA’s Urdu Service reached all of Pakistan, including the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, as well as neighboring nations and the diaspora. The service has a seven percent audience share (TV, radio, and the internet) in Pakistan, with its six TV products, 12 hours of daily radio broadcasts to the region, and a full-fledged news website. Its website is considered a leading source of news in Urdu in the region as well as the diaspora, and it has recorded an overall 88 percent increase in the last year. Urdu also produces separate programming for its growing base of FM affiliates. “Kahani Pakistani” presents a peek into America, culture, music, politics, food, and the Pakistani-American community. Another popular weekly show, “Zindagi 360” is aimed at the region’s youth and is one of the top rated shows in its time slot. “Café DC” is an English-language weekly program that discusses and analyzes U.S. policies in the region and around the world. It airs weekly on a state-operated TV channel, the PTV World. The program features interviews and discussions with U.S. and Pakistani lawmakers, policy makers, prominent analysts, and scholars. Urdu offers a quick daily news update, the “VOA NewsMinute,” to three different leading TV channels in Pakistan. Urdu also produces two weekly web-based current affairs and news TV shows, “Access Point” (English), and “Independence Ave” (Urdu). Urdu’s Washington bureau program has been successful with local Pakistani TV channels and radio stations. During the U.S. and Pakistan elections, Urdu offered exclusive footage and news reports from Washington to several channels in Pakistan. Urdu provided over five hours of coverage to over 10 media outlets in Pakistan when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the United States. Urdu also has a strong and interactive presence on social media.
The Pakistan/Afghanistan Border Region. Radiois considered a market leader in Pakistan's most volatile border regions near Afghanistan for its accuracy, timely news, and interactive programming. VOA Deewa provides a unique narrative on terrorism, U.S.-South Asia relations, and regional politics to over 40 million Pashtuns in the target region. The rival media outlets include Pakistan's state and private television stations, the Taliban-run Mullah radio, and Jihadi media. VOA Deewa’s daily interactive shows engage top regional experts, Pakistani thinkers, democratic leaders, minority leaders, human rights leaders, and women’s activists. VOA Deewa’s flagship daily show for women, "Bibi Shereen" (Sweet Woman) is engaging a huge number of Pashtun college-age women and household women sharing their life stories on the radio when families sit for breakfast in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The daily one-hour simulcast show (Radio on TV) gives a glimpse of the studio in Washington with more video stories from Washington and Pakistan since its launch in 2012. VOA Deewa listeners say the TV show has added life to their evenings. A network of 27 stringers in an extremely hostile media environment provides balanced reporting on tribal regions, national politics, human rights, violent extremism, women, economy, society, and internally displaced people living in camps.
With its extensive network of local reporters, RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal (Torch) provides local and international news and in-depth political reporting that offers an alternative to violent extremist propaganda prevalent in the tribal areas, especially among the region’s majority youth population. It broadcasts several programs that are unique in the region, dedicated to youth, women’s issues, human rights, and health care. In April 2013, Radio Mashaal hosted the first ever political debates between Pakistani parliament candidates from the 12 districts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The Service emphasizes interaction with its audience through regular call-in shows and voice mail.
Bangladesh. The VOA Bangla service reported extensively on the war crime trial and execution of Jamaat e Islami leader Qader Molla, with roundtable discussions, call-in shows reflecting listeners’ views, and panels. The Service reported on activities of the new youth movement that is demanding justice for war criminals and a corruption-free society, and ran interviews with the movement’s leaders. U.S. and Bangladeshi experts, analysts, and members of human rights groups regularly appeared on Bangla radio, TV, and web reports, including extensive programming in preparation for general elections. VOA Bangla also successfully launched the USAID-funded, VOA-USAID weekly Health Reporting program on DESH TV in Dhaka/Radio Today.
Kazakhstan. RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service content was delivered via its internet website, mobile site, and social media platforms. The web strategy attracted a younger audience to this bilingual (Kazakh and Russian) site, providing opportunities for interactivity and exploring new genres such as video reporting. The Service has broken several major stories in 2013. Following the October discovery on YouTube of an al-Qa’ida propaganda video purporting to show dozens of Kazakh nationals taking part in "jihad" in Syria, the Service searched for and identified 10 adults and three children from the video, speaking with their relatives and reporting their stories for RFE/RL.
Kyrgyzstan. RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service was the leading source of independent news and information for elites and ordinary citizens alike. The Service’s two TV shows were broadcast during prime time hours on national TV with a combined weekly reach of 25 percent of the population. In September, the Service investigated an effort by the Tablighi Jamaat movement to recruit young Kyrgyz by offering them a free Islamic education in Bangladesh, while in June, it posted a widely cited exclusive investigative report on nepotism and cronyism under the administration of former President Bakiev.
Tajikistan. According to a local research center, 60 percent of the news in local media is sourced to RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, which serves as the country's primary source of news and information. The Association of Internet Providers in Tajikistan ranked Radio Ozodi among the five most-read websites in Tajikistan in 2013, while the Civil Initiative and Internet Policy Organization, an NGO, also ranked ozodi.org among the country’s top five websites.
Uzbekistan. RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service provides vital news coverage of issues neglected by domestic media such as human trafficking and the problems faced by female labor migrants.
- The Service is at the forefront of the digital media revolution in Uzbekistan, integrating citizen journalism and social media as standard elements of its programming. In November, the Service's website generated a record 9.7 million page views.
- Working with Swedish journalists, the Service carried out in-depth investigations in 2013 into deaths of children and students during the controversial cotton harvest and corruption allegations involving members of President Islam Karimov's family.
- Ongoing publicity and reports by the Service have led to the release of more than half a dozen human rights activists and journalists who were detained as political prisoners.
VOA Uzbek’s weekly 30-minute TV program and daily 30-minute radio broadcast featured interviews with U.S. and international sources on topics including religious extremism, terrorism, and U.S.-Uzbekistan and U.S.-Central Asian relations. VOA Uzbek regularly covers the Fergana valley. The service is distributing original stories to mobile phone subscribers. Reports were also accessible on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook; and Russia based MoiMir, BKontakte, and Yandeks. VOA Uzbek has FM radio affiliates in Northern Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, and a TV affiliate in Southern Kyrgyzstan.
Turkmenistan. RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service is not allowed to have a bureau or accredited journalists within the country, but it still provides a vital, unmatched service to its audience. It is the only international media company providing regular multi-media reporting from inside the country, with original video reporting and photojournalism. Over the past year, visits to the Service’s webpage increased five-fold. The Service's coverage of homelessness, housing conditions, and travel restrictions on Turkmen citizens has prompted government action to improve facilities and social services, while its reporting on human rights cases has helped bring about the release of activists and journalists from prison.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
China. VOA Chinese included daily Mandarin and Cantonese broadcasts via satellite television, radio, internet, social media, and mobile channels to penetrate PRC government jamming and censorship. These broadcasts delivered news about the world and the United States, including religious and legal issues affecting China’s estimated 22 million Muslims. Radio Free Asia’s Uighur language service broadcast two hours daily, seven days a week, and was the only international radio service providing impartial news and information in the Uighur language to the potential audience of more than 16 million Uighur Muslims in northwestern China and Central Eurasia. Consistent with RFA's mandate, the Uighur service acted as a substitute for indigenous media reporting on local events in the region. Its programs included breaking news, analysis, interviews, commentary, a weekly news review, and feature stories.
Indonesia. VOA’s 2013 weekly audience in Indonesia is more than 21 million people. VOA Indonesian TV news products were regularly seen on eight of Indonesia’s 11 national stations, in addition to more than 30 local and regional stations. The Service produced a weekly TV segment on Islam in the United States for ANTV’s Wisata Hati, a popular early morning Muslim-oriented program. During the month of Ramadan, VOA produced a special TV series on Islam in the United States, carried by several national stations. The Service produced more than eight hours daily of original radio programming for a network of more than 300 affiliate FM stations. Radio programming included five-minute Headline News reports aired 32 times a day, seven days a week. The Service’s Facebook page surpassed 1.3 million fans by the end of 2013.
Thailand. VOA broadcasts news throughout Thailand with a weekly audience of 5.5 percent in the cities of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Udon Thani. While Thailand is largely Buddhist, VOA served southern Thailand’s Muslim population through a national TV affiliate and eight radio affiliates in the south.
EUROPE AND EURASIA
The Russian Federation. VOA’s Russian Service regularly addresses terrorism-related issues in the United States and other key areas. Russian Service reporters covered various aspects of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and took part in live interactive broadcasts with Russian media affiliates and partners to provide audiences the latest information and the U.S. perspective. VOA Russian journalist Fatima Tlisova provided in-depth coverage of many topics relating to the bombing including an insider’s view of the Tsarnaev family, the elder brother’s ties to an underground terrorist group in Russia, and the first detailed account of his trip to Dagestan. U.S. media quoted some of these reports in its coverage. The Service also posted exclusive reports from the mosque in Cambridge attended by the Tsarnaev brothers, interviews with Chechens in Boston who knew them well, and interviews via Skype with their mother and aunt.
VOA Russian covered Syria, and produced a series focusing on violent extremist groups from the former Soviet Union fighting in Syria. A special section on its website dedicated to the coverage of developments in the North Caucasus region, “Caucasus Today,” was regularly updated with multimedia reports about terrorist activities in the Russian Federation.
RFE/RL's Russian Service, the leading international broadcaster in Russia and a leading locally-based alternative to state-controlled media, provided accurate, independent, and wide-ranging news and analysis of a wide range of issues affecting its Russian audience, including the rising levels of violence and ethnic/religious tensions targeted at economic migrants from Muslim-majority regions once part of the Soviet Union, and the threat and reality of Islamic terrorism, such as the October and December bombings in Volgograd.
Tatarstan/Bashkortostan. The Tatar and Bashkir communities are the two largest Muslim communities in Russia. RFE/RL's Tatar/Bashkir Service was the only major international media producing content in the Tatar and Bashkir languages and provided listeners with objective news and analysis on issues such as Russia’s policy toward ethnic and religious minorities, centralization, corruption, the role of Islam in predominantly Muslim regions, and gender issues. The Service’s webpage, the most technologically advanced, state-of-the-art web source in Tatar, continued to be a virtual meeting place for people to discuss these and other issues.
North Caucasus. Broadcasting in the Avar, Chechen, and Circassian Languages, RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service reported the news in a region where media freedom and journalists remained under severe threat. Following the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the Service was the first media to interview the mother, father, and uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers. The Service was also the only Chechen media outlet to provide in-depth coverage of human rights abuses by the police and security forces.
Turkey. VOA’s Turkish Service has concentrated much of its TV and web coverage on the rising political tensions in Turkey and the war in Syria, including the impact of the flow of Syrian refugees to Turkey. The Turkish Service updated its website with top news seven days a week with original reporting, exclusive interviews, and stringer reports from Turkey and the EU. The Service offered English teaching programs, blogs, online surveys, video and audio clips, and the ability for users to post comments. It was also accessible by web-enhanced mobile phones and similar devices and content was distributed on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.
The Balkans. VOA’s Balkans services explored the life of Muslims in the United States, multi-ethnic and religious tolerance in the Balkans, and the global threat of terrorism, including manifestations of that threat in the Balkans. More than 4.7 million adults watched or listened weekly to VOA programs in Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, Serbia, and Macedonia.
- VOA Bosnian followed up on the latest news regarding Mevlid Jasarevic, whose sentence for the 2011 terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo was reduced to 15 years during a retrial in a Bosnian Appeals Court. The Service also consulted senior religious leaders and presented commentary and analysis from U.S. terrorism experts.
- VOA Albanian reported on the risks that radical Islam poses for Kosovo. In an exclusive interview in July 2013, which was widely rebroadcast and quoted by media outlets in Kosovo and Albania, the head of the Kosovo Islamic Community, Naim Tërnava denounced religious extremism as having nothing to do with Islam.
RFE/RL's Balkan Service is the only inclusive source of news in a region where genuine media freedom remains elusive and many outlets reflect ethnic divisions. RFE/RL reporters in Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia collaborated on a report in June that showed how the conflict in Syria had sparked efforts by some organizations to recruit Muslims from the Balkans to join the Syrian rebels.
Azerbaijan. VOA Azerbaijani daily TV and web programming focused on the country’s political dynamics as the authorities increased pressure on political activists and civil society groups. With its enhanced multimedia coverage of the 2013 presidential election, protest rallies, and the trials of opposition leaders and youth activists, VOA Azerbaijani tripled its number of page views. The U.S. State Department’s reaction to the presidential elections, disseminated via the VOA website, garnered 2,500 Facebook recommends, highlighting the Service’s strong presence in online social networks. VOA Azerbaijani has more than doubled the number of its Twitter followers. VOA Azerbaijani’s biweekly web forums, livestreams from Azerbaijan-related events in Washington, DC, and Skype interviews, have helped improve the interactive quality of the content. VOA Azerbaijani commenced cooperation with RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service by broadcasting a weekly Showbiz program on the latter’s Hot Bird satellite channel. VOA Azerbaijani regularly programmed reports and interviews targeting the large Azeri population in northern Iran, with an emphasis on the Azeri minority’s demands for cultural rights, the issue of human rights in Iran, and the regime’s attempts to suppress dissent and the rights of Iran’s minorities.
When it was banned from FM airwaves, RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service lost more than half of its reach in Baku. It has since turned to the internet and to satellite television to reconnect with listeners. The Service's “Korrupsiometr” web portal features the latest laws and regulations, along with Azerbaijani lawyers responding to audience questions, and serves as a forum for people impacted by corruption. Investigative reports on Azeri ministers' family businesses and offshore account holders linked to President Ilham Aliyev’s family were widely cited by major international media.
Nigeria. VOA’s Hausa Service has provided extensive coverage, through interactive call-in shows and web and mobile postings, of Boko Haram’s terrorist activities in Northern Nigeria. The Service also provided coverage of Nigeria’s military Special Task Forces in its operations aimed at routing Boko Haram in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, and Kano States. VOA itself was threatened by Boko Haram as a result of its coverage.
Somalia. VOA’s Somali Service continued to produce a weekly Islamic affairs program that regularly discussed political, economic, and social changes in Muslim majority countries. The issues covered in 2013 included the defeat and retreat of al-Shabaab from major cities and its attempt for revival, a Town Hall Meeting on child soldiers in Mogadishu where the Prime Minster was the keynote speaker, and human trafficking. Several international media outlets used the news referring to VOA as the major source.
Swahili. VOA’s Swahili Service broadcast to large Muslim populations in Tanzania and Kenya, and to Muslim communities in Uganda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
French to Africa. VOA’s French to Africa Service provided extensive coverage of the conflict in Mali and its effect on the sub-region. In 2013 in Mali, VOA launched a daily news and information show in Bambara, the most widely spoken local language, as well as a weekly newscast in Songhai, the most prevalent language in the north of the country. The French to Africa Service also reaches Muslims through the French language “Sahel Plus,” a program with some news but mostly features about the issues that link the Sahel region, such as food insecurity, drought, and political instability. Sahel Plus airs for 25 minutes five days a week. Additionally, the weekly program Dialogue des Religion organizes discussions with Muslim scholars and experts on aspects of Islam.
English to Africa. The Service provides ongoing coverage on radio and TV of terrorism-related developments. Overseas, VOA’s coverage is primarily focused on the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram and the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. Notable interviews included one in September 2013 with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who called for international cooperation in countering and defeating terrorism, which followed the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi by members of al-Shabaab. In another interview, Jonathan’s Special Advisor Rueben Abati said the U.S. designation of Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization strengthened U.S.-Nigeria counterterrorism cooperation. The service regularly aired reports from VOA’S correspondents at the State Department and the UN, plus reports from stringers on the ground in Mali, Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria, and other locations in Africa.
VOANews.com. VOA’s English-language website consistently reported on the impact of terrorism throughout the world as well as efforts to curb the growth of terrorist organizations. For example, in the aftermath of the Kenya mall shootings, the site featured VOA’s exclusive reporting from Minnesota, where our journalists talked with the local Somali community about al-Shabaab’s efforts to recruit young people from the United States. Following the Boston Marathon bombing, VOANews.com was also the first to report Fatima Tlisova’s exclusive report about the former Chechen rebel fighter living in the United States who met several times with Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the attack.
Radio. VOA’s English radio programs, including “Encounter” and “Press Conference USA,” regularly featured interviews with U.S. and international experts on U.S. counterterrorism efforts. In 2013, besides U.S. government officials, guests included: Ali Soufan, CEO of The Soufan Group and author; Matthew Levitt about the worldwide threat from Hizballah; and Karima Benoune, an Algerian scholar on her book “Your Fatwa Does not Apply Here,” recounting little-known efforts by ordinary Muslims who are countering violent extremism in the name of their faith around the world. Encounter programs also focused on the global terrorism alert in August, which prompted Washington to close 28 diplomatic posts across the Middle East and Africa.
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