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Building Civilian Counterterrorism Capacity

(FILE) ATA-trained unit from Burkina Faso participates in a simulated terrorist attack.

We’ll continue to prevent, disrupt, respond and prosecute terrorists and terrorist attacks in areas of concern to the United States and our partners, said Deputy Coordinator LoGerfo.

Building Civilian Counterterrorism Capacity
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“We are facing terrorism threats that are more ideologically diverse and geographically diffuse than ever before,” said Greg LoGerfo, the State Department’s Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism. He spoke at a briefing marking the 40th anniversary of the State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance program, or ATA, whose mission is to build foreign partners’ civilian counterterrorism capacity.

Among the dozens of partner countries participating in the ATA program, a significant number are in Africa. Deputy Coordinator LoGerfo said that al-Qaida and ISIS affiliates are increasing their activities in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, and are now expanding into coastal West Africa. He recently took a trip to countries there to reaffirm U.S. commitment to strengthen regional security.

“ATA will be a key effort in this effort, as we plan new train-and-equip programs to support civilian security units in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo, focused on border management and countering IEDs,” he said.

Several states across East and Southern Africa, he noted, also continue to face both entrenched, well-resourced terrorist groups and nascent terrorist activity.

“With partners such as Kenya, ATA has positioned law enforcement to identify and interdict terrorists before an attack or mitigate the impact of one through enhanced capabilities of tactical force responders, elite border security units, and interagency leadership,” he said. “ATA implements a significant portion of the roughly $200 million of assistance the [State Department’s] counterterrorism Bureau has obligated for civilian counterterrorism actors across East Africa for the last 40 years.”

Countries in East Asia have also been enduring terrorism partners against al-Qaida and ISIS-affiliated groups. Deputy Coordinator LoGerfo noted that attacks in Indonesia and the Philippines have declined as a result of improved domestic law enforcement, largely supported by the ATA, which keeps pressure on terrorists. He pointed out that the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau has invested more than $105 million in the region, and, he said, “We will continue to focus on building partner capacity in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.”

“Looking ahead,” declared Deputy Coordinator LoGerfo, “we’ll continue to work closely with ATA, providing policy guidance and funding that will assist ATA’s outstanding delivery of training, equipment and mentorship to prevent, disrupt, respond and prosecute terrorists and terrorist attacks in areas of concern to the United States and our partners.”