Rice Says Worldwide Cooperation Needed in Terrorism Fight

By Eric Green
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - The United States is receiving “very excellent” cooperation from Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay on combating suspected terrorist activity in the region where the three Latin American countries share a common border, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says.

In a June 4 interview in Panama City, Panama, with the Telemundo television network, Rice said the United States appreciates the three countries’ cooperation to root out terrorism in what is called the “tri-border area.”

The three nations and the United States comprise the "3+1 Group on Tri-border Area Security,” established in 2002 to improve the capabilities of South American countries to fight cross-border crime and thwart money laundering and potential terrorist fundraising activities.  (See related article.)

In the interview, Rice said the “best thing that we can do as governments” is to have “extensive counterterrorism cooperation, share information, share intelligence, arrest people when necessary, and remain absolutely vigilant.”

Citing the recent discovery of a terrorist bomb plot against John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Rice said that “one of the reasons that we from time to time uncover one of these plots that become public is because of excellent counterterrorism cooperation.  We wouldn't uncover them were it not for the cooperation that we have with governments” in the Americas and worldwide.  Several of the alleged terrorist plotters against the airport were from the Latin American nations of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

A State Department report on terrorism in 2006 says the United States remained concerned that two terrorist groups, Hezbollah and Hamas, were raising funds in the tri-border area by participating in illicit activities and soliciting donations from extremists “within the sizable Muslim communities in the region and elsewhere.”  The report added that “there was no corroborated information that these or other Islamic extremist groups had an operational presence in the area.”

Rice, in the interview, said the United States “did not understand the full extent” of terrorists “operating in different parts of the world until we began to put together an international coalition to fight terrorism.” 

Terrorists “will use any opportunity and any place to try and raise funds” and to train other potential terrorists, she said, adding that “that's why the counterterrorism efforts have to be worldwide.”

She reiterated that those involved in counterterrorist work must be right “100 percent of the time; the terrorists only have to be right once.  That is in some ways an unfair fight, because the terrorists get up every day trying to decide how they will attack not just the United States but countries around the world.”

A transcript of the Rice interview with Telemundo and the full text of the Western Hemisphere overview in the 2006 terrorism report are available on the State Department Web site.

For more information, see Response to Terrorism.