Bush Thanks Nations of Global Counterterrorism Coalition

By David McKeeby
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington –- More than 90 countries have joined the United States in an international counterterrorism coalition, which has prevented attacks and confronted extremism in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Bush says.

“An era of new threats requires new forms of engagement, new strategies and new tactics.  So we've reinvigorated historic alliances such as NATO and formed new and dynamic coalitions to address the dangers of our time,” Bush said May 1 at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

Victims from more than 80 countries were killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, Bush said, a tragedy which since has been replayed in Mombasa, Kenya; Casablanca, Morocco; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Jakarta, Indonesia; Istanbul, Turkey; London; Amman, Jordan, Madrid, Spain; Beslan, Russia; Bali, Indonesia; Algiers, Algeria, and elsewhere.

Terrorists such as al-Qaida kill ruthlessly, target indiscriminately and seek even deadlier weapons for future attacks, Bush said.  The international community must remain on the offensive, he said, adding that as in the Cold War, “it is vital that allies, despite occasional disagreements, hold firm against vicious and determined enemies.”

The United States and its partners have shared intelligence that has helped disrupt many attacks, Bush said, including plots against embassies in Yemen and Singapore and plans to attack shipping in the Straits of Hormuz and the Straits of Gibraltar, as well as the 2006 terrorist conspiracy to bomb U.S.-bound trans-Atlantic flights.  (See related article.)

Diplomatic cooperation and intelligence sharing also has helped bring into custody key terrorist leaders and operatives in Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Indonesia, Jordan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Kingdom, he said.

Cooperation among financial institutions has helped freeze terrorists' bank accounts and disrupted their ability to recruit, train and finance new attacks, he said.

Nations also have come together to provide training and equipment to countries where terrorists create instability while seeking to establish new bases, Bush said.  U.S. and other international military forces have helped Indonesia and the Philippines become more effective at fighting terrorists, while programs such as the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and the East African Counterterrorism Initiative have helped security forces in 17 African countries become more effective and self-sufficient allies against terrorism, he said.

More than 80 nations have joined the Proliferation Security Initiative, Bush said, which works to stop shipments of materials related to highly destructive weapons on land, at sea, and in the air, Bush said.

Bush also stressed the international community’s role in confronting extremism in two central fronts in the struggle against terrorism - Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Taliban and al-Qaida still are fighting to roll back the success made by the Afghan people, Bush said, who since 2001 have chosen their first democratically elected president and National Assembly, have doubled their economy and have welcomed back 4.6 million refugees who fled decades of violence and instability.

The 32 member states of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force will continue to support Afghan army and police units, Bush said, as they go on the offensive to stop terrorist attacks and secure the country, while an additional 20 nations remain dedicated to helping the Afghans rebuild. (See related article.)

Turning to Iraq, Bush thanked the 30 nations that make up the multinational coalition in Iraq, including 17 nations that have participated in NATO’s training mission for Iraqi security forces and the Republic of Georgia, which recently agreed to deploy 2,000 more troops.

Leaving Iraq too soon would have lasting repercussions in the region and the world, he said. Radicals and extremists would be emboldened, better able to attract new recruits and left to believe that they could strike free nations anywhere, he said. (See related article.)

A transcript of Bush’s remarks and a related fact sheet are available from the White House Web site.

For more information, see Response to Terrorism.