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US Reports 'Significant Progress' in War Against Terrorism - 2003-06-25


A U.S. counter-terrorist expert has told the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that significant progress is being made in the war against global terrorism.

The State Department's coordinator for counter-terrorism, Cofer Black, says historic progress has been made by the international community in rounding up terrorists and restricting their operations.

Mr. Black pinpointed in particular the efforts against Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist organization.

"More than half of the al-Qaida leadership is either arrested, detained or otherwise put out of action," he said. "More than 3,000 al-Qaida operators and their supporters have been arrested and detained, and arguably the most important point here is that the international community is well wired."

"There is a global network where information is exchanged more quickly," Mr. Black continued. "Law enforcement agencies are cooperating more effectively. The world is looking at financial links of terrorism, the identification of these links, the cutting of these links, the freezing of terrorist funds."

Mr. Black was a key speaker at a two-day conference on security issues sponsored by the OSCE on the initiative of the United States and Russia.

He said the organization's anti-terror unit has a vital role to play in border controls, passport checks and making sure terrorists cannot move freely. Mr. Black said planned attacks by terrorists that could have killed innocent civilians have been prevented. But he also appealed to countries such as Syria, seen by Washington as state sponsors of terrorism, to cooperate more.

"There have been some very healthy signs recently, the provision of information and the beginnings of providing assistance in the global war on terrorism," he said. "They have a long way to go. They need to be forthcoming in a healthy exchange of information. If they have intelligence information on the al-Qaida organization and all terrorist operations they need to provide that to us and the law enforcement agencies in the region."

Mr. Black said the Middle East, in particular, presented what he described as a challenging situation,

More than 300 delegates, including military experts, are participating in the OSCE conference.

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