tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN March 25, 2016 9:00am-11:01am EDT
captioning performed by vitac >> -- three years as a counselor at the french embassy in tehran. where he focused on iran's nuclear and regional policies. then our third speaker, eric rosan, the state department's loss is our gain. he recently left the state department, where he had served as counselor to the undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights, and previously he was a senior official in the state department's bureau of counterterrorism, where he spear-headed efforts to develop
and launch the global counterterrorism forum among other institutions. and eric has now joined the prevention project, which is organizing against violent extremism. so with that, let me turn the microphone over to matt. >> good morning, everybody. thanks for turning out so early on a friday morning. i wish it was for a more better topic, but here we are. last week i as it happens, spent the week in belgium, meeting with belgian intelligence and counterterrorism officials. as it happens, i was sitting with one of the chief belgian counterterrorism officials on tuesday, as they were about to raid a safehouse in the neighborhood of forest. one person was killed in that raid. they did not find their primary
targets saleh abdeslam but found his fingerprints and three days after i left they found him in the neighborhood in which he grew up, molenbeek, a corner around the family home. let me paint a picture for you. after meeting with the mayor and the police chiefs and the counter radicalization cell and the civilian prevention officials in molenbeek municipal city hall, i went with several of them for a walk around the neighborhood, no the a denied space by any measure. it's a beautiful part of town. it's not like some of the neighborhoods in the suburbs of paris. it's a 15-minute walk from the eu city center, three or four metro stops away, including the one that was just targeted, and as we circled around back to the municipal building, we got to a picturesque typical european
cobblestone courtyard. on one side of that courtyard is the municipal building and on the other side of the courtyard, catty-cornered to it, with nothing but air between them is the abdeslam family home, window to window, there is nothing but air between the municipality and the home of the man, the family who was of the man who was most wanted in europe, but there's a world of difference between them. so i think there are three critical points that i took away from my time there, and now looking back on it, after the brussels bombings on tuesday, that i want to share with you. the first is that authorities were absolutely aware of the threat, and they were doing all that they could. the problem is that europe in general, and the belgians in particular, have come late to this problem set, and this problem set is two-fold. one is a traditional counterterrorism problem set, and the other in some ways much
more complicated is one of social integration, social cohesion, integrating immigrant communities into society. when you have children in a neighborhood like molenbeek, who drop out of school at 11 or 12 and are, you know, heads of gains by the time they're 18 and not particularly religious at all but adhere toe an ideology that fills up many of the things they're missing in terms of family ties, mostly from broken homes, in terms of empowerment and belonging and having a purpose, mind you, most of them aren't becoming particularly religious but this is filling in gaps for them that have a lot less to do with traditional counterterrorism. elsewhere in europe we certainly still see cases where radical islam is the first piece of the component, but not here. from the counterterrorism perspective, there is a long way to go. i'll give you just a few examples. some of the most obvious are the
fact that saleh abdeslam was able to hide since the november attacks in paris until this past friday, without being captured. all right? many of the european union member states are not yet electronically connected to the databases that europol has put as a credit to its krcrossings. 5,000 fighters have gone to fight in syria and iraq, some of them won't come back, some of them will die there, some of them have already come back. that 5,000 number though is not just from a portion of eu member states. in fact much of it is not. according to the eu counterterrorism coordinator who i met with last week, according to his latest report, the reporting from eu member states adds up to only a little over 2,700 verified foreign fighters even though we know and europol reported at least 5,000. more disturbing still is of the
european member state reporting that has come in, over 90% of it is from only five members. there is critical need to fully integrate intelligence information sharing, getting information where it needs to be. there's a long way to go there. at least as important is going to be dealing with the social integration piece in places like molenbeek. as one official. you the it to me you're dealing with people going from zero to hero. people for whom this islamic state ideology, the idea of getting in at the ground level and hoping this create a caliphate, following in the footsteps of the prophet muhammad and his orange followers is extremely empowering. almost every single one of the people who carried out the recent set of attacks over the last 15 months has been someone that was on police radar for their criminal activity.
without any knowledge whatsoever that they had been terrorists, and that's not the police's fault and the reason i say that is because in almost every case, the speed of radicalization has been at hyper speed, very, very quickly, people being drawn in te radical id yol. you can't live in part of this europe community. you're part of the muslim nation and you need to do things on behalf of the islamic state. we, very fast. it's important to recognize finally that, while the brussels attack was a wake-up for much of the world, it really wasn't the ah-ha moment for europe. nor, for that matter, were at tacks in paris in november. it might have been for the public, but not for counterterrorism officials, not for intelligence officials. that ah-ha moment came 15 months
earlier in january, 2015. not with the "charlie hebdo" attacks which i would consider both the kouachi brothers, aqua acclaimed by aqap and cool bali self-identifying with the terrorist frenemies whose groups were fighting one tooth and nail in syria and iraq and engaging in attacks together in paris, those were still of the old school lone offender type. there was no evidence they were being foreign directed by other group. the key ah-ha group came a week later in belgium where intelligence led people to a safehouse based on intercepted communications, a key belgian islamic state terrorist based in a safehouse in athens was on his cell phone. they raided this place, two belgian officers were killed, and what they found there was tremendously disturbing. precursor chemicals to make tatp explosives of the type used in
belgium this week. large cache of weapons and ammunition, sophisticated communications gear, a significant amount of cash, and indicating to them as they continued to investigate, perhaps most disturbingly, not only that this was a foreign directed plot, and then over the course of 2015 we had several more foreign directed plots including of course november in paris, but also the cross-jurisdictional nature of this plot. they're in belgium, they're being overseen by someone on a cell phone in greece. other pieces of the investigation were going on in germany, in france, and in the netherlands. u.s. intelligence report that has since been made public presently noted at the time that this, the cross-jurisdictional nature of these plots is what is going to make the most difficult for the international community in general, and for europe in particular, given the fact that its communications and intelligence and information sharing are still very much a
work in progress, this is what will make stopping the next attack all that much more difficult. we have two clear baskets of tasks ahead of us. the one is obviously counterterrorism, and it's what most people are going to be focused on right now. identify the accomplices, map out the network, arrest as many people as possible who are planning attacks against the west today, and you have heard yesterday and i'm sure there will be more today of further raids in belgium and france, et cetera. that shouldn't surprise and that's appropriate, but in many ways, the larger lift, the 20-year plan, the thing that is going to be a lot harder to do is integrating communities that have become ghetto-ized and not at all integrated, and i'll leave you with just one strange and disturbing statistic. i asked local police officers in brussels if they were able to work with local imams in
brussels when they found people who were drifting off either into criminality or from criminality into radical ideologies condoning and justifying violent extremism, and they said largely not, and for two reasons. one, there's not a religious but a cultural taboo that makes it very hard for them to reach out to many elements of the community. there are lots of efforts to do this, and some of the most successful for example have been to reach out to mothers, but they have a real problem getting past the social taboos, but in terms of the imams themselves, there are, they told me, approximately 114 imams in brussels. most of these young youth that are being radicalized don't speak arabic, and most of those imams don't speak any of the three local languages in particular, french or dutch. and the number they gave me, which is frankly mind-boggling, is that of the 114 imams in brussels, a total of eight speak
local languages. so there's clearly a tremendous amount of work yet to be done. i have to take your questions when we're done with the panel. thank you very much. >> thank you. [ applause ] . >> good morning. thank you first for joining us this early. i think we all really appreciate it. the march 22nd attacks on most news outlets failed to notice, brussels for most of these institutions have their headquarters, one of the blasts i was close to the institutional core of the city. of course matters of opportunity and tackical expediency played a role in the choice of the city as a target.
brussels had been a real base for the network that conducted the november attacks in paris, and isis operatives were already in place. also it seems that after the arrests in brussels of the most wanted figure of the paris terror ring, saleh abdeslam, some of the remaining members of the cell chose to kill and die rather than to be caught. but the attacks also epitomized a strategic decision by isis to extend its operations to europe. jihadi terrorists are hitting the continent hard as a time when it faces multiple crisis. such are the stakes of the future of europe as a political project largely depends on the ability of the eu and of individual member states to respond to the threats. and these are security and political implications for the u.s., too. europe has become isis' latest battlefield, the remnants of al qaeda in iraq, the group managed to carve its caliphate taking civil war and unrest in syria
and iraq. it proclaimed out of provinces by endorsing and supporting groups in places such as nige a nigeria, libya, the is amy peninsula and afghanistan. with the recent attacks in paris and istanbul and in brussels. the move might very well be partly a consequence of the setbacks that isis suffered in its core constituency, but that is no so lae solace for the famf the victims and citizens who are learning to live with that threat. the whole of europe is targeted, not only istanbul due to the proximity of syria, not only paris, it's not only brussels, it's pretty much the whole of the continent. networks and procurement lines spread across borders, as shown in the case of the paris attacks. plots have been foiled across the continent and other cities,
london, mentioned as potential targets in isis propaganda. youth citizens are targeted outside their home countries, british tourists in tunisia or german tourists in istanbul. unfortunately it is very likely that there will be more attacks and the worst might be to come. the brussels attackers contacted civilians operations linked to belgium's nuclear program, and the french government officials have repeatedly warned of the prospect of terrorist chemical attacks in europe. isis can rely on a potential reservoir of more than 5,000 european foreign fighters who made it a certain point of time, some have come back, some are still there, some are on their way, some are dead. not taking into account the possibility of other home-grown radicals and when isis is hopefully defeated, other
organizations will take up the mantle of jihad. europe is no random target for the organization. the attacks come out at a time when the continent is facing multiple crises. fiscal and monetary crisis that resulted in a bailout of several european states and weaken the euro and economic crisis with growth and unemployment and migration crisis initially spurred by the syrian civil war with hundreds of thousands trying to reach europe for safety and increasingly also for economic reasons. the continent is also facing an identity crisis questioning the status of islam in europe and the ability of the continent to integrate migrants, and then on top of that, a crisis of the european project, obviously since the 2005 constitutional referendums in the nexterla net and france and know a game
playing out with the referendum that is scaled in the uk in a couple of months. the attacks fit also within isis' concept of what they call the gray zone, according to the organization's publication, and propaganda, available online, western muslims find themselves in a gray zone, neither following the ways of the caliphate, as fantasized by the organization, nor fully belonging to the western mainstream. the point of the repeated terrorist attack is a backlash against american muslims pushing them in turn to embrace the radicals. so facing that, what can europeans do? europe is frankly not well equipped to stand up to the threats. just as the union was created without a complementary fiscal union, free movement within europe was established without strong security cooperation both among member states and on the eu's extended borders. the eu did devise a common
security and defense policy and conducted successful operations twhan framework, like the anti-piracy operation near the coast of somalia, but that instrument was tailored to stabilize the eu's neighborhood typically in the balkan or to help the crisis even further, typically in africa, not europe proper. series of steps can be taken in the short term and some are in the pipe already as matthew netted the need for increasing intelligence sharing in europol, europe peep needs to reinforce its borders by giving more robust border agency context and lowering systematic control which is under the discussion, will be under discussion in the european particle arparliament
soon. and member states to share crucial data about air travel can help face the current intelligence and security cooperation challenges. more can be done in terms of following covering anonymous means of payments including means of payments with much more limited than traditional terrorist ventures. but international security cannot be separated anymore. handful of european countries meet their spend commitments right now, five of them. even fewer are actually willing to commit troops and resources to operations. an attempt to enlarge, to improve the burden sharing of the continent's security has been made after the paris attacks. the french government has called on other partner states to work
within the framework of a mutual system that is part of the european treaties. more can still be done. this effort should be pursued and new security for strategy and foreign policy strategy, the eu is due to adopt during the course of the summer should reflect that. it is the ability to deliver security to its citizens. the law also requires setting europe's values with confidence and making sure that these do not remain empty for those who do choose to implement the european way of life, thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you. now eric. >> thank you very much to the washington institute for hosting this event and for inviting me to join and to sort of be able to share some thoughts on a
topic that is receiving obviously enormous amounts of attention from the policy, and the practitioner community. i think you open up the "new york times"/"washington post" every day and three more op-eds about what europe should be doing, what the u.s. should be doing, what went wrong and how to fix the problem. it's difficult to add and particularly following these two speakers to add much value but i'll do my best, reflecting a bit on my, the six years i just spent in the state department working on some of these issues, and other experiences i've had. so i think the first point is, i very much share matt's assessment of the two-pronged challenge, because both the counterterrorism challenge and as well as what he describes as inclusion challenge. i would frame it slightly differently in terms of a near-term counterterrorism challenge, and a longer term prevention challenge.
and at the score of the prevention challenge is these issues of social inclusion, and one of the main issues that we have to grapple with and europe has been grappling with for some time, we grapple with in the united states is resources, and every single leader will talk about the need to focus on the long-term while also focusing on the short term and not to, the goal should be of course to take terrorists off the battlefield and the streets, but also to diminish the pool of recruits so for each one you take off the street there are not ten more to replace that individual. unfortunately the resources allocation never matches that rhetoric and we're guilty of it in the united states in terms of i think until recently the last budget of this administration, i don't believe there were any dedicated resources for countering violent extremism at home. i think they'll finally be budgets in the department of justice and homeland security
budgets for this specific purpose. i think a similar issue confronts belgium and other countries. the resources simply are not being allocated to prevention. so that means the kinds of mother schools that you've seen popping up around the world to engage mothers proactively and to allow them to engage their children and their other young people in the community to set up hotlines for mothers to reach out to when they see early signs of radicalization to train school teachers to train police, all the rhetoric is there. the european union has perhaps the most elaborate radicalization awareness network imaginable and they promote it all the time, and it produces lots of thick reports and thick analyses and do lots of workshops around europe but at the end of the day, you don't see that translating into resources at the municipal level being allocated to implement the
good practices that are being identified, and so that's again it doesn't get a lot of attention in the how to fix the problem bucket, but over the long-term, a greater investment in prevention resources, i think, has to be made a priority. if one just looks at the budgets in the european commission for and the development commission, they've just announced a 1.8 billion euro fund to deal with counter radicalization and counter migration in africa, 1.8 billion euros. obviously a similar amount of money is not being invested in counter radicalization at home. so again something to look at, and again the united states is not necessarily a role model in this one yet. hopefully it will become one. the second issue i think that needs attention is the gaps in
the european union's system, the shortcomings in the european union architecture are not new. they've long existed in terms of the counterterrorism structures, and terrorist attacks since 9/11 in europe are not new. they've been horrific attacks in numerous countries around the continent, and yet we haven't seen the kinds of changes in the system in the european architecture that i think a number of european countries have been advocating for and certainly the united states when i was in the government, we were advocating for. part of the reason we haven't seen that kind of change is because, in some sense it's a lowest common denominator process within the european union, and so you have a number of countries, you have, that are less willing to invest resources and political will in the kinds of reforms that are so clearly needed. europe is not without its,
europe is not without its counterterrorism related structures. they exist. they just don't work, so the question is by creating these structures, as has been advocated both i think today and in various newspapers over the last few days, the structures are great, but it has to come with political will, and it remains to be seen, i mean, i hope the political will be there to design and improve structures, for example a counterterrorism agency that's been proposed an eu intelligence sharing mechanism that actually works, but then it has to be implemented at the national level and that, as illustrated by i forgot, matt or olivier, when only five countries are submitting names to the europol data base within europe that means 23 aren't is a new structure going to change the way the european governments operate and part of the challenge here and this, again,
is, we're going to see shifts in, just like we're seeing shifts in the sengan system we'll see shifts in out european governments and institutions balance prufcy and security concerns. i think for too lock there has been great emphasis placed on perhaps too much emphasis placed on privacy rights that have actually interfered with the ability of some european governments and european union to provide security to its citizens, so i think that debate is a very fulsome one, an intereuropean debate that has to happen but i think the debate is so complex that often slows down reform efforts, because there are so many stakeholders within the european system that need to be heard, just elongates any reform process so that's another thing to keep an eye out for, and then one thing that's always sort of, i've always scratched my head about is the challenge
that the u.s. government has in terms of dialoguing with the european union on counterterrorism, and part of that challenge is a result of the hydroheaded system within the european union, so you have the justice and home affairs process with our departments of justice and homeland security. you have a foreign affairs counterterrorism dialogue. you have a terrorist financing dialogue. you have a countering violent extremism dialogue with the united states, so it's like five or six dialogues, none of which involve the eu counterterrorism coordinator because currently he really doesn't have any authority. he has a grand title and he produces wonderful reports but he has a limited mandate and no resources to actually do anything. so these are all things that i think people have identified for the last shortcomings that have been identified for the last few years but have really not, we haven't seen sufficient progress made there.
and then two more points. the first is that, as we look at the solutions or improvements in counterterrorism in europe, a lot of it's going to involve subnational actors. lot of it is going to involve empowering municipalities, local police forces, and resourcing them in the like, and again, it's difficult at the national level for the u.s. government to have a real influence on how national governments in europe engage with their subnational authorities, but i think what we're trying to do, what we were trying to do when i was in the government is to encourage as many, for example, city to city exchanges between european cities and u.s. cities on social cohesion, countering violent extremism so lessons learned in the united states could be shared with cities in europe and vice versa, one very sort of relatively well-known example, this was an exchange between
columbus, ohio and the city of vivorde in belgium, just outside of brus elz. the vivord had to think the highest per capita number of foreign fighters for any city in europe, that went off to iraq and syria, and a group of virordian officials came over to columbus and other cities in the u.s. with cities designed countering local violent extremism which involved police, religious leereds, social workers, educators at the local level and how they can work ogt in engaging individuals at risk and creating, preventing folks from becoming further radicalized or going off to fight and some of the lessons learned were then implemented in vivord and the mayor apparently cited a dramatic decrease in individuals leaving. the correlation is hard to prove as a direct correlation but
certainly more of it has to happen an something i think the u.s. government is trying to encourage. and then the final point i would just make is that the -- is the tendency to, in this context, to cite a number of new security officials, a number of new police officers, a dollar figure investments in security as sort of the answer to the problem in response to these situations, and this are tougher laws and what's happened as we sort of reflect back over the last 15 years since 9/11 is in the years after 9/11, there was not one day when the u.s. wasn't being reminded by our european friends about the need to safeguard human rights as we deal with an
egregious, response to an egregious attack on our homeland. every international fora it was the champion of the human rights agenda and every european forum it was the europeans reminding the u.s. of not to overreach, and we in the u.s. i think learned our lessons about that in terms of overreach, and we've made some adjustments and sort of implemented some lessons learned, but as i watch this from afar in europe, the debate is completely different now. with europe understandably under attack, feeling directly threatened in a way they weren't perhaps right after 9/11, you've seen significant decrease in the sort of human rights rhetoric, and it's just something to keep an eye out for, because i think there's a risk that whether it's sort of the emergency laws in france that have been enacted,
and i believe are being incorporated into the constitution now in terms of the ability of the government to do that, i think there's a risk in overreacting, and i think there is a way to balance these concerns both rhetorically but also practically, and i think over time, again, this is a debate that has to take place in europe, but over time, i think there will be more of a balanced approach so that we don't actually create more radicalized individuals as we try to prevent them from becoming radicalized. so i will leave with that and be happy to answer any questions after. thank you. >> now comes my favorite moment, which is i get to ask the first question, and listening to you all, i was getting more and more mystified, as to why europe has
united states is not exactly a model to be followed in these areas and i was hearing about isis' targeting strategy of going after people living in the so-called gray zone and i would have certainly thought that, isis would be interested in targeting the united states. so colleagues, persuade me that it's something other than sheer luck, which explains why it is that the united states has faced less of a problem in the last year from these sorts of attacks. >> well, we've had our share of cases. there are cases going on in every fbi field office and that should be expected to continue. the vast majority of these are of the inspired home-grown radicalized lone offender. what we're seeing in europe is a shift, these are of course not mutually exclusive but a shift toward these far more capable, sophisticated, dangerous foreign-directed plots and there are several reasons for this.
someone geography. europe is at the doorstep of the conflict in syria and iraq, and the ability to travel and the cost of travel, the disincentives, barriers removed because of social media really puts europe at the, right at the back door, or maybe the front door of what's going on, and we are a farther distance away, it is a little more expensive to go. we have plenty of people who have gone or tried to go, but the flipside is that europe does not have what we in the united states have put in place here since 9/11 which is a far, far more robust and integrated intelligence law enforcement coordination system. so we have fusion centers around the country to integrate local, state and federal law enforcement. we have joint terrorism task forces led by the fbi, but with participation across the inner agency, some of the biggest cases we have ahad have been run by joint terrorism task force
officers who are state police officers, for example. there's no such thing as 100% success rate, and it's impossible to say there won't be successful attack here. but we have a completely different model here that europe now is just beginning to try and emulate, and finally, we do have a much better record at integration. you will not find in the united states a community like molenbeek oar communities like in marseilles or elsewhere that are completely insulated and isolated, large segments not speaking the local language, not sending their children to school. will you not find a whole lot of imams in this country who don't speak the local language. we've had pockets where we've seen issues, for example, in the somali-american community in minneapolis and columbia. nothing like we saw in europe and that raised awareness and a tremendous amount of investment, and finally as eric pointed out we now have this new effort,
task force in encountering violent extremism to be headquarters at the department of homeland security with the department from the department of justice and participation not only across the intelligence and law enforcement spectrum but maybe much more importantly across the social service spectrum of government, hhs, and the department of education, et cetera, and i think the first thing that we should expect from that task force that will be of significa significant import is highlighting communities where there are still are either pockets of hot spots which does not mean a terrorism hot spot but a hot spot of communities that are not yet fully integrated and will be looking to do that not only from a preventi prevention per peckive but also social cohesion perspective. the melting pot of the united states. you don't need to check the national identity you came from at the door to become what we all are, which is hyphenated americans or almost all of us came from someplace else. i'll finally say the europeans
are just getting on top of this. the belgians for example, they now have only fairly recently a coordinated unit for threat analysis, a cuta which is supposed to be kind of a national model fusion center sort of based on what we have across the country between their two intelligence services and their federal police at the high national level, and we can't forget by the way that the high national level in belgium is made much, much more complicated by the multiple federal ways in which that system operates, not just politically, but geographically, linguistically and culturally, you know. 20 bonus points to whoever can tell me how many parliaments there are in belgium. it's more than one, and then working down to the local level, where there are multiple task forces, usually one per municipality, sometimes more if they're large, so they're trying to copy that, but as eric said there's not enough investment, so for example, in the municipality of molenbeek and i
don't mean to just harp on that but i was just there and it really has come up in almost every of the recent terrorism cases, in the municipality of molenbeek, they have had until november, the november attacks in paris, they had 185 open unfilled police officer slots after the november attacks in paris, they got 50 new officers. that's great. they're now down 135. part of that is funding by the way. part of that is it's hard to get people to want to work in a place where there's a lot of work to be done like that, but clearly, there needs to be a focus and a push into that space.+++tn
acknowledge the victims of the brussels attacks and their families who are all going through suffering. one of our europe colleagues was injured in one of at tacks slightly but injured. we must remember the victims when we talk about this subject. i want to say many of the panels referred to a big difference between europe and the united states is we are not the united states of europe. the eu is an economic union and an economic journey, so we do have all the challenges referred to, but the solution cannot be compared to solutions found in the u.s., which is what i'll come to with my question but i am very happy to say on law enforcement the u.s. is a strong supporter of eu. the sienna connections alone with our u.s. entities a 60% increase in information exchange with the u.s. agents of which we have ten federal agencies, ten u.s. agencies. my question comes to this. the u.s. learned a lot post-9/11. they acknowledged the
intelligence failures with public could have prevented the attacks if it had a unified front and led to the establishment of nctc. we're tasked with setting up the european counterterrorism center in a different environment on the background that we're not the united states of europe, but has the panel on one or two key events that made the nctc a success, there's 84,000 law enforcement agencies in the united states but nctc seems to be success in coordinating counterterrorism activities. is there any advice the panel have as we move forward setting up the european counterterrorism center? >> sure. first of all, thank you for mentioning the victims. it goes without saying that we have to be thinking of them, of course. that was created. we had a massive bureaucracy
created including the department of homeland security and it's important to highlight there is this kind of broad bureaucracy that we've put in place with redundancy to be able to make sure that nothing is, no one system failure will lead to catastrophe. i think that one of the most important things especially as you're highlighting the large number of local law enforcement agencies here in the united states, and then think of that even more so as you get to all the local law enforcement agencies across europe that are in different national spaces is the fusion centers, which don't get as much attention as nctc or the joint terrorism task force. as you go out to the fusion centers that's where the information is pushed all the way down the pipeline to the people who are walking the streets, the law enforcement, local law enforcement agencies, the police, the people doing communitying policing that is going to have not only the law enforcement, but the prevention component that's so important.
they're much, much more staffed than any fbi field office, that's what's really important. again,e piling on belgium because it happened there. belgium has put together a lot of good changes. the fact these are 18 months these things take time to set until as they did here in the united states after 9/11. this huge incentive between the national and the local is important. 18 measures that were taken after january 2015 and another 12 after november, we need to give these things time to work. but again, staffing is important. so in molenbeek you have i think an ingenious model, there is a police entity that is dealing with counter radicalization, not to go and arrest people but to integrate people into what we call community policing, it's a small unit. molenbeek has 100,000 people, 8,000 to 10,000 people going in and out, moving in and out every year so highly transient
community, secondest poorest community, municipality in brussels, second youngest by demographic. while they have this unique feature of these community police officers focusing on counter radicalization, after they got more officers, after the november attacks in paris, they are now a total of eight, and there are three people in the civilian prevention branch working for the municipality doing great work but that's 11 people so we need to staff these up and then create multiple redundant ways for communication amongst and between them and that was most obvious now in terms of the fact that reportedly the turks informed both the belgiums and the dutch about one of the individuals who was then a bomber on tuesday, because there was a belgian national returning from turkey to the netherlands, and that fell through the system and according to a belgian minister that was, as he put it, because of a liaison officer. well, you can't have, you need redundancy. we heard that on 9/11. you can't have one person whose job it is to share the most critical piece of information
because that may not happen for any one of a number of reasons. >> i would just add in terms of a recommendation less on the information sharing and more on the intelligence sharing. it's on the strategy development and strategy implementation and sort of monitoring implementation role that the rntc plays that i think is very valuable and europe just like the united states, produces lots at the highest level, produces lots of strategy documents, lots of policy documents in response to various threats, and proposing, you know, mandating certain reforms in systems, how incorporation and very rarely is rigorous implementation plan that is both developed and then assessed, and those that are not -- in the u.s. it's domesticating agencies not
following through, held accountable in some way. i think something similar like that in the new agency might be of interest. and i would just, while i have the floor, i guess want to make one comment, which is a lot of these issues of these issues of inclusion that we're talking about in europe and belgian, particularly in molenbeek, more particularly are not unique to europe in the context of the counterterrorism effort and there are a number of countries that are sending or source countries for foreign fighters where those individuals are coming from, marginalized communities. and the issues that we've talked about today a lot in terms of the community engagement, ensuring that governments are responsive to the needs of all of their citizens is actually missing often from the discourse about how we deal with isil. and there are issues of, you know, obviously the military issue, the intelligence sharing, the humanitarian relief, all
those issues and counter messaging issues get a lot of attention. governance questions which is fundamental to this problem set are treated in a completely separate context and i think at some point we have to figure out how to integrate these two key pieces. it's challenging built over the long term unless we do that in a morrow bust, dynamic way we're going to continue to be focusing heavily on the short term responses and leaving these longer term governance challenges to a different set of stakeholders and, therefore, undermining to solve the problem. >> also just one thing i would like to add. counterterrorism is one very end of the spectrum but even within the realm of security there's an issue that's becoming more and more obvious with the last few attacks and that's ordinary
crime. many of the recent terrorists have passed in petty crime or organized crime and this is to be -- seems to be increasingly a pathway to terrorism. once sanctified by the radical ideology. we need to tackling and can only improve the situation of some of the neighborhoods we're talking about. >> thank you. dan. >> would you just comment, please, on the choice of targets. on the one hand the united states, say the boston marathon bombings and san bernardino, california three months ago, boston marathon a high-profile pla place, that one office party in
california almost meaningless, 14 people were killed. what's the european decision? airports, train systems, is that the routine choice for terrorists when organizations send them and give them orders? >> i do think what we're seeing in part is difference between lone offender attacks and foreign directed attacks. in the united states both the boston marathon bombing plots and i served as an expert witness in that case and san bernardino shootings were plotted by individuals themselves. and they hit targets that were nearby and familiar to them and in europe we're seeing foreign directed plots where the idea is to inflict maximum damage. sometimes on transportation, which is an obvious target now. we now know there's surveillance that was being done on one senior official in the belgian nuclear program but not just. we saw in november in paris the
idea of another type of sophisticated, spectacular attack which is more the mumbai style, multiple cells with firearms and some explosives. i think the big difference we're seeing is three things. foreign directed, multiple and simultaneous attacks including the use of explosives and particular suicide bombings which we hadn't seen before and plots multijurisdictional in nature. people in belgium were plotting attacks in france and here we have again multiple lines of investigation well beyond belgium. we'll see that i'm sure in the investigation and the attacks this week in brussels. when the european union, when they are reporting that there's 5,000 verified, just verified
european union citizens who have traveled between syria and iraq and unverified reports how many have come home we know there's a credible threat and an intelligence gap in terms of knowing all the people who have gone and once they have gone have they return and where are they? we have seen that as an important gap in terms of being able to police the borders overall. there's a lot of work to be done but we're seeing the difference between foreign offender and lone offender attacks. >> i'm from the polish embassy. i would like to ask two questions. first, we know that the arabs are directed. how can we trace the masterminds. you were saying about imams speak local language. it's not the major source of
radicalization. must be internet, social media and so on. how to improve tracing the masterminds. second, regarding europe. france has asked european union counterterrorism what's the practical dimension, how it relates and i do think there's a danger and my comment, don't please -- i think the link between nato, spending as a military, a percent of their budget is very loosely linked with counterterrorism and so this money will not be definitely spent on, let's say issues regarding the counterterrori counterterrorism. thank you.
>> okay. i'll leave that one mostly for olivier. it would be spent on taking the fight to the islamic state. there's lines of connect activity. there's tissue connecting all of these issues. now of these should be siloed counterterrorism in your community going back to something calling itself a state nor islamic. people who are converting are not converting to islam they are converting to islamic statism. we can know about the plot because of intercepted communications. that individual then bragged in the islamic state as propaganda magazine about how easily he was able to move in and out of europe despite the fact he was wanted. it's not just intelligence but law enforcement issues as well. i want to challenge the idea, though, that surely the driver, the radicalization is primarily or only the internet or social
media. that's playing a huge component. but we're seeing in almost every case face to face radicalization and it's not the imams, you're right. it's other people in the neighborhood. the vast majority of mosques in molenbeek are store front mosques. store front mosque in and of itself is not necessarily bad unregulated and outside the scope of the rest of society there's some risks and not necessarily in the mosque itself. the nexus with criminality is huge. one individual in prison in belgium who was a key organizer in molenbeek. he continued to go out dean your criminal activity, just give me a portion of it so that we together can finance the foreign terrorist travel of those who want to go. and in another case reported recently by politico, a journalist was talking to officials in belgium who told
him of an intercepted communication they had between belgians in molenbeek and belgians in syria and guys in syria wanted the previous bombers, how are the guys in the street referring to him. are they referring to him as a march tarks bum. the reason they explain they are asking these guys it's about street cred. it's about going from zero to hero. not actually about, you know, the highest levels of paradise. >> about the nato issue, actually -- and thank you for asking the question. poland is one of those countries who meet their commitments and one of the most serious countries when it comes to defense issues in europe. t the standing targets is not spending on nato, it's spending on military generally speaking.
so it's acquiring abilities that can be used with nato, within the eu or on a national basis. and this is useful in a situation we're face because some of those capabilities are used to target islamic state in its iraqi and syrian strongholds. second, increasingly that's the case in belgium that's the case in france for more than a year, troops are deployed on the streets to assist and support the police in trying to secure. soldiers are protecting mosques synagogues and churches and airports and train stations. so the more you have to make sure you have a military that's able to conduct various missions including domestic missions, unfortunately, the better you're equipped to face the threat both individually and collectively.
that's why i refer to that. the other part of your question about the french authorities invoking article 42.7 in the treaty. well, we have had some -- the idea was that france was taking a lot of the burden of defending the continent including through the operation of the french military conduct iing and targeting of jihadis linked to al qaeda who are still a threat to europe. and elsewhere. we did get a contributions from other member states to different operations both in the region of africa and also the national coalition operations in iraq and syria. for some of those contributors that was a significant political change and i'm thinking of
germany which is traditionally more cautious about those deployments. but those threats are enduring. the sharing, i think, is to be pursued. last of your point. shengan is facing two movements among certain majority of eu number states not all of them, for instance the uk ireland. shengan is facing two main challenges. one is the massive influx of flow of refugees into europe and the second is the possibility that free movement offers to terrorists to move from one country to another and to organize networks across borders. and the obvious thing is to enforce the external borders.
but that's something politically extremely significant. shengan is one of the most tangible benefits for eu citizens you can cross the border without being stopped. you can buy chocolate in belgium without stopping at the border which wasn't the case when i was a kid. unfortunately, a terrorist used the same possibilities to do other things. but safeguarding that and enforcing that is not only a security issue it's a major political issue. one of the most tangible visible and economically achievements of the eu. >> i just want to add one comment on the question about how to trace masterminds and i think there's obviously all the communications tracking and intelligence gathering that is essential, but i think another piece is the role that community
members play in reporting early signs of radicalization and then trying to help intervene against them and not necessarily by reporting to the police, which may not be seen as a friend of the community, but reporting through another channel, and i don't think it's a secret that islam was -- abdelslam was able to hide out or find a electrifies community in molenbeek. i assume there are people in the community who knew he was there and could potentially have notified government officials of one sort of his presence and perhaps his plans. but i don't think, again, the investments in that piece of the information gathering is there so even if you -- one way to go about getting rid of the mastermind but the other way
equal lie important getting rid of the recruits because a mastermind needs people to actually implement his or her mastermind. >> down here in front. >> thank you. a couple of questions. to what degree -- what role does the sanctuary in syria and iraq play in this terrorism we're seeing in europe because you're describing these ine ining thes problems. and then privacy considerations and privacy laws to what degree are privacy laws and regulations in yaueurope where laws have to
changed to allow intelligence and eavesdropping necessary to track the extremists? >> i'll take the first question and then i'll, i might have to punt on the second because i'm not an expert on the specific european privacy laws. in terms of the sanctuary in syria feeding problems in europe, i think even when there's a political solution in syria you're going to have thousands of fighters who have gone off to fight in syria and iraq, either they will be either dead. they will be wanting to remain in syria. or they will want to go home. and thousands will probably want to go home, having renounced and be willing to renounce violence. and the challenge, i think, for europe is going to be what to do
with these, this influx of returnees and decide how to prosecute or reintegrate them into society and i think just like the system in belgium is overwhelmed by simply tracking the hundred plus suspected terrorists that are in the midst, it will be overwhelmed by,000 handle the returnees and i think in terms of just being able to do rigorous intake in term of deciding which ones are threats to society, which ones should be prosecuted, which ones can be reintegrated and this gets to the question from our colleague asked what counterterrorism center in europe could do. this might be nevertheless a valuable piece of what this new agency could do which is be a
centralized place for dealing with returnees and because a lot of individual governments may not have the resources to rigorously vet the returnees and then develop programs for reintegration where appropriate, i think maybe a centralized european funded outpost could do the trick. the bottom line is i don't think that the resolution in syria is going to end the problem. i think it will certainly immediately certainly, i think, slow it down because there will no longer be that attraction for fighters going off to syria to get train. i think the cat's out of the bag in the sense that there's thousands of people have gone off and been exposed to horrific violence and how we deal with their reintegration or return is a huge challenge. on the privacy issue --
>> there are people who have fled syria who have come in to europe. can you talk to what extent if that's part of the problem here and also you were referring to the ease and low cost of travel from the middle east, all three of you were as part of the reason why europe face a greater challenge than the united states does. to what extent do our tight restrictions on travel from these counts present. we've heard a lot about it in the presidential be debates. >> doesn't make them smart questions. [ laughter ] why don't we finish dealing with these two sets of questions and add on a third that's a whole separate issue. once you finish what you were going to answer here. >> on the privacy question,
again it's a field unto itself. i won't pretend to be an expert on privacy law let alone european privacy law. however, i have seen the passenger name recognition issue in discussions within europe about how, whether eu member states will be required to gather personal data from airlines of passengers flying in and out of -- into european union airports. and the real road blocks that certain constituencies in europe place to creating this database, a database that exists in the united states, and it was constantly -- it's the right to privacy, the right to protect individual information and sort
of, again, it's an understandable reaction to what happened in east germany and elsewhere in terms of the government gathering all this data on individuals and who knows what they do with it. but that -- and that created an enormous road block to progress in that negotiation that was in the aftermath of various terrorist attacks and terrorist threats and foiled attacks, for instance the underwear bomber in 2009, i believe, was one of the impetuses for u.s. pushing europe to intensify progress on the pr issue. so we still haven't -- i still don't believe there is a pr agreement within the european union because of these, in part because of these privacy concerns. but my information might be updated. then, of course, individual member states have their own privacy laws -- once you get a
european union level agreement each european union country has to implement that agreement and different national approaches may and different national experiences may further complicate that. so i can't speak specific about the laws but i do know privacy reits are constantly an issue in terms of information gathering and sharing within the european system. >> i'll just add on the first issue of the sanctuary issue, one thing to point out, making it more difficult for people to travel to syria and iraq. we had some success. success sometimes breeds other challenges. we see people notifying libya. that will present some other challenges. i do think that the sanctuary provides both assistance to the ideology. there's this ideology of success and there's nothing like battlefield defeat to push back on their ability to radicalize and recruit people to this
purported ideal eed idyllic isl. we've had push back. it's logical that they will become more ultraviolent at home and more determined to strike at us in our homes. the asymmetrical warfare. that plays into the other role of sanctuary in these foreign directed plots, not every one but a significant number of individual who went to syria and iraq one who had only gone for six days but you only need a few days to learn how to do certain types of skills and they are coming back with greater skill for particular types of attack. in terms of what to do with the returning foreign fighters one thing people mentioned to me last week is there's an effort, for example, within the eu counterterrorism office and
europe both to help member states be able to put together procedures for the use of internet evidence, for example, which has become much more important when you can prosecute. they want to prosecute. i was told but at the end of the day many of those people won't be prosecutable, those who are, are probably not going into the european context going to get near life term. whether it's immediate or in a few years you have to think about rehabilitation of the returnees. on the sidelines of the white house summit we hosted here at the washington institute the issue of foreign fighters. a u.s. retired general was involved in these things back in the coalition war. if you're interested in that type of an issue that's on our website, washingtoninstitute.org. i'll finally say on the privacy issue watch for change. i give you just one example.
prior to tuesday's attack, again the eu terrorism coordinators last report had some really interesting things in it. as a former deputy secretary of the treasury overseeing financial intelligence activities i was particularly interested in this piece. you may recall that we had some sensitive negotiations at one point with the europeans over tariff financing tracking program a program that is still in effect and to great effect. it took some time for the european parliament to get on board in terms of feeling comfortable with its privacy concerns and those are legitimate. we got there. but there were some cut-outs. today you do not have the united states going to the europeans and saying you got to remove these cut-out, it's the european union counterterrorism coordinator saying it, specifically for example a cut-out if you make a payment denominated in euros within the eu to somewhere else in the eu
that's a cutout. washington is not telling european union telling you have to cut-out that cut-out. it's not the privacy issues aren't important. they are. not that these concerns are not legitimate, they are. it just means we have to find more sophisticated ways to balance them. >> about privacy issues, you have different views between different member states within different member states. it's healthy to have the debate and that's what's going on including which is a good sign at the eu parliament increasingly because some of the instruments we're discussing have to be passed by the eu parliament. syria and iraq, yes, it would be extremely beneficial to defeat the islamic state there. these are training grounds for fighters.
this is where most of their command and control infrastructure is. and those are provided through the narrative. it's much more interesting to go fight for the caliphate and retake damascus, the caliphate capital rather than to blow one self up in a train station two blocks from where you grew up. yes, definitely. >> i won't let you escape so else. the question that makes us uncomfortable we recognize the humanitarian crisis of refugees flowing and we feel great sympathy for the refugees. but is there a counterterrorism problem? and we may feel quite unsympathic to some of the individuals who are making proposals which don't seem particularly well informed but restrictions on travel from those countries, but is this an issue we need to think about. is in fact the difficulties of getting a visa to the united
states one of the reasons we had fewer foreign directed terror attacks in the united states? >> the simple answer s-unfortunately, there's evidence of small numbers but very, very disturbing cases of terrorists who have been able to sneak into europe within the waves of legitimate refugees. that is something that we could contend with. if we put in place some of the measures that europe is spearheading. again as the eu terrorism report highlights there's a problem when europol puts in places measures and a significant fundamental of eu member states don't connect to it. that system will only be as effective as the, you know, lowest common denominator. so, i don't think that we should be tarring and feathering all the refugees. we need to recognize that, unfortunately, there have been
some really disturbing and because of the attacks devastating incidences of people being able to move within those larger waves of migration. but as we are putting in place more controls at the borders, by metrics, et cetera, if we can put these systems in place and make them actually work, we do have the capability of being able to make it much safer for europe, and not unlike we have done here in the united states. i want is true. here in the united states foupt get to the united states there's a multiple redundancy levels of checks. we should be able as human rights to be able to accommodate people fleeing death and destruction in a way that doesn't present us with the kind of immediate threat that we're facing from attacks like we saw on tuesday. >> as research director of the institute that tries to bring in people, nationals from some of
the countries concern i can tell you right now that many of these restrictions the u.s. government has put in place on travel by syrian and iraqi nationals very much impeding our work and our ability to interact with people from those countries. so do not be mistaken that my question implied a sympathy with that. over here, please. >> two quick questions. first it's become anecdotal that the belgians had a law or retricks that could you not invade a home, carry out police activity between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. is that true? the second point is talking about integration and anybody who served or worked in belgium i'm a retired foreign service officer belgium is the least integrated country in the world. the german speakers and the
third -- the third thing is when you're talking about europe and what is it three weeks ago a major bombing attack in istanbul precede ad few weeks before that by a major attack in ankara. as far as i know the man in europe is no longer in europe but is a member of nato and that was not brought up at all today. >> three important points. the latter wasn't brought up because we're focusing on europe and we can focus on other attacks around the world. it might be at some point. part of nato. not part of the eu. nothing to watch there. and if some of these press cases continue it's unlikely that they will be. on the anecdotal piece of it yes that was the case there was a ban on doing searches between certain hours and that was removed after the november attacks in paris.
finally on the issue of belgian integration i found it tremendously interesting in all of my meetings last week local, federal, every level you can imagine, not a single person in their opening remarks to me said anything about the integration issues among the different communities in belgium about the difficulties of navigating society except for a friend of mine, an american in belgium who told me parent anesthet over dia trash bin from the city blocking your driveway how many phone calls to how many different parts and layers of government, regional ly a regional, federal you have to call to get that issue involved in the neighborhood. so that's a very important point. >> yes.
one remark. i mentioned the attacks twice in my initial talk, but to be in the community and, you know, divided society issue, i think we're talking a lot about community and not enough about individuals. the individuals who joined isis do it -- i mean they do it -- they break with traditional islam that their parents practice. they break with traditional western environment of their own family when they are converts and once again they continues convert to islam, they convert to the isis interpretation of islam directly. some individuals among the students in far greater numbers than those who join the terrorist organizations join security forces in different countries and play a key role in following and infiltrating some of those networks. we should be careful sometimes
referring to communities only and not to individuals and individual trajectories not only have us miss the point in what's actually at stake but eventually plays in favor of the more radical who claims a monopoly on defining what the community should be and should do and be defined as, which is not what we're looking for. >> thank you. >> wait for a microphone. >> sometimes in life one should consider briefly consider america -- >> identify yourself. >> america could be wrong. israel has had zero casualties since september 11th. in italy on october 12th the day before the october 13th attack in paris italian authorities
arrested 17 people. one was mistaken identity. the other 16 had weapons. the question is this. the italians have had zero [ inaudible ] for example there are no office of counterterrorism does not exist in italy. the italians have 161 imams in prison. [ inaudible ] and they locked him up. >> and the question? >> the question is this, how come, how come these other jurisdictions, the french, the belgians continue to follow the italians because several european countries have now broken with the pact and have adopted the italian method because they do not wish for more terrorism. so the issue is how come you gentlemen have kept talking
about these problems as if they were inevitable, impossible, that's way it is, that's europe. italians have zero casualties. 45 italians have died in mali and bali in new york, belgium zero in italy. how come nobody pays attention to the italian model? >> i would challenge the idea that there's a separate italian model. you asked your question. several times. so i'll answer it. having spent time with law enforcement and intelligence in rome they do a great job. they are not acting alone. they are part of the european union. there's open borders. so there's a big element of skill and there's a big element of luck. god forbid there could be and i tack in italy tomorrow. i wouldn't be so brave as to say italy as got it right, rest of europe has got it wrong. there are other countries that
haven't had as many attacks. i wouldn't say it's a completely different model. i would say the nature of these communities are different in different places. the biggest thing to me in terms of brussels that we're focusing on because of this week's attacks they've known about these communities that were not integrated for a very, very long time. it wasn't a priority. now they are playing catch up. they can put in place and get funded the most sophisticated systems and strategies and it will still take time. so it's thrilling and wonderful that the italians have not had an attack domestically within italy. may it continue. i don't think i would be as bold as you are to say it won't happen or because they found the golden nugget. they are still part of the eu and there's a lot more they can still do as italian officials told me not that long ago. >> gentlemen, final word? >> i think it's what i
emphasized in my remarks which is the prevention angle. i think again, we are, the united states catching up to this pretty rapidly now in the need to invest more in prevention whether at the national, state or local level and it's not just involving government it's involving civil society, local leaders, municipal authorities, women, imams. it's a much more horizontal effort across communities and stakeholders and everyone talks about this. you know, you go to any country including italy, including brussels and belgium. they will talk this as if they believe it. and they really do believe it. the next step is resource it. until we start doing that it doesn't have to be through the effort to counterterrorism, doesn't have to be labelled
counterterrorism measure but i do think more investment has to be made in this area particularly but not only in europe. so that would be my sort of top line point. >> my last point would be to emphasize stakes are extremely high including for the united states and what's happening in europe. u.s. citizens have been killed in brussels. they can be targeted in europe. they can be targeted from europe. and also if you don't succeed in being up to the task which is a long task, some talk about the generational challenge, the u.s. might have to cope with a very different europe and that's something to bear in mind on this side of the pond. >> belgium doesn't have the largest number of foreign tourist fighters not overall, not in europe. but they do have the largest number per capita and so as i
think about this for what i want to say for one final comment i would say this. one thing that's unique in belgium and elsewhere in europe while we do have cases where religion, radical religion ideology plays a critical role that's not what we're seeing here. what we're shearing is that there is a religious piece but the recruitment of criminals, this zero to hero phenomenon is a huge problem. officials in brussels stress to me multiple times in multiple meetings that there's a religious component that the quote that people said over and over is salafism is mainstream in terrorist. each terrorists we're dealing with has been radicalized to salafism. maybe, maybe not because a lot of these kids as we said are being radicalized to the idea of the islamic state more than anything else.
they are not praying five times a day. they are still drinking alcohol. it's a different type and very, very fast hyper speed radicalism. and then i would say that this local prevent component that eric has pointed to is critically important. again, the belgians have in the past 15, 18 months put things in place. they trained up over 17,000 police officers in the types of things to look ron fournif look radicalization. they worked with social workers and teachers how to identify and react. they built particularity forms that meet once a week or every other week where people in the local government with the police, with people at the federal police level can meet and discuss things. they do have thing in place. finally i would stress one last time this issue of crime. so much so that the belgians have two separate lists.
one they call their consolidated lists for their security primarily terrorism cases of i think it's about 675 persons. they also have a separate list they call the jib, the joint information box which is a parallel list primarily for people they know in the criminal context. because so many of these people like saleh abdelslam police had to admit we knew him, we knew him as a petty criminal not a big criminal and wasn't going to mosque and involved in terrorism but because they find so much overlap they are looking to consolidate these lists and that's probably a good idea. >> i would like to thank you all for consolidating our insights on this matter. i'm sorry to say we'll be returning to the subject again in the future. [ applause ] >> thank you both very much.+++y
unfortunately, that's what we're seeing again in my community and across the united states. unfortunately, more americans have died from drug-related overdoses than -- in one year, than all that were killed in the lengthy korean war. if the current trend continues, the annual death rate could climb beyond those killed in vietnam, over that multi-year struggle, in one year. the graph from "the washington post" illustrates the disturbing rise in drug overdoses between 1999 and 2014. now of the 47,000, more than 10,000 americans died of heroin-related overdoses. heroin use is increasing at a faster rate. you want to talk about a war on women and a war on our young
people, the heroin deaths are killing our women twice the rate of men and 109% more with our youth. unfortunately, we've seen, according to the centers for disease control and prevention, that, again, with heroin use -- deaths among our youth, between 18 and 25 in the past decade have soared and again lead the statistics -- the deadly statistics. across all demographics, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths has increased 286%. while the exact cause of this epidemic is up for debate, many experts believe the use of other drugs is also a driving factor.
addiction to other drugs, such as prescription painkillers and marijuana potentially open the door to an epidemic now destroying families and communities. those addicted to other drugs turn to heroin to get a similar high, because it's cheaper and more readily available. mexican drug cartels have established heroin trafficking routes here in the united states and coming across our borders. now we see increased supplies in recent years. had a chance to talk with my police chiefs and law enforcement folks in the district, our hida folks, our dea folks, and we're seeing an incredible supply and we'll have some questions about that -- where that is specifically coming from. we know a lot of it is coming across the mexican border.
the impact, unfortunately, is felt in communities across the nation. just a few weeks ago, i met with -- again, all of the local officials, and we have one of my local officials who we'll hear from in a few minutes, teresa jacobs, our county mayor in orange county, who has been forced to deal with the heroin epidemic in central florida, in her county.úox(÷ and orange county alone and you'll hear more about this, we had 475 related heroin bookings in 2013. by the end of 2015, last year, we had 840. the majority of those arrested were between the age of 18 and 44. the obama administration unfortunately, i believe, has been sending mixed signals about the use of substances such as marijuana, which is one of the gateway drugs. talk to anyone who's in counselling treatment,
rehabilitation, and you'll find out that marijuana is a gateway drug and many of the heroin users start there and work their way up the chain of deadly drugs. according to the national institute on drug abuse, now listen to this, more high school seniors are now using marijuana than cigarettes. a policy that has been adopted unfortunately has consequences. the just say no drug policy which was championed by the late first lady nancy reagan, has turned into a just say okay policy. and now we're seeing the consequences. while improving treatment is a key, enforcement is and must remain an essential part of combatting heroin epidemic.
when i talk to the police chief and i saw the numbers in our locale, i said, well, it looks like you've been able to keep the lid on some of this, although it is now at epidemic proportions. and they tell me, he said, this is only because we have now antidotes that can bring these people back. the only reason we aren't seeing double or triple the deaths is because our law enforcement and our first responders can bring these people back, if they can get to them in time. not only illegal immigrants are flowing over the mexican border, but also illegal drugs. we know that is the main source of the supply of heroin, cocaine, and a host of -- and marijuana and a host of other deadly narcotics. stopping deadly drugs from entering the united states is a federal responsibility, and
we'll hear from some of those officials engaged in that war. new statistics show federal drug prosecutions unfortunately are down 6% in the last year, 2015. this comes after a 14% drop since the beginning of the obama administration so-called smart on crime initiative. our frontline law enforcement officers, if we're going to save more of these kids and others who are overdosing, they should be equipped with the resources to prevent and save them from overdose deaths. not just our emergency medical officers. the ems people get there usually after the first responders and it may be too late. so this is something else we've learned from our local task force and law enforcement officials. one of the police chiefs in my
district informed me that just within the last month or so, we had one student who had to be revived from overdosing three times in one week. that's astounding. what's astounding is he's still alive and we were able to catch that. speaker ryan announced addressing this current epidemic as a priority and the senate has acted on some legislation. i believe that -- i believe that this is absolutely critical that this whole drug situation, including the heroin epidemic become a priority for this congress. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses today as we examine how to protect our communities from this fast-growing and sky rocketing national epidemic. i'm now pleased to yield to our ranking member, mr. cummings. and mr. cummings was my ranking member, we together led the effort from '98 to 2000.
i remember going into baltimore with him and conducting hearings there when the people were dying on the streets in huge numbers. unfortunately back sliding and here we are today. but he did a great job trying to save people in his community and he's now the ranking member of our full committee. mr. cummings? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for holding a hearing on america's heroin and opioid epidemic. i want to take a moment before i start to extend our prayers to the people of brussels, belgium. >> i would join you. and i would ask everyone for just a moment of silence if we could.
thank you, mr. cummings. >> thank you, mr. chairman. today's hearing is about a national public health emergency and we need to treat it like one. people are dying in baltimore, orlando, salt lake city, manchester, and cities all across our nation. we can no longer ignore this public health emergency. congress needs to put its money where its mouth is and actually help, help our states fund treatment programs to stop this epidemic in its tracks. drug treatment facilities without adequate funding are like firemen trying to put out a raging inferno without enough water. last week, leader pelosi sent a letter urging speaker ryan to
schedule a vote on $600 million in emergency funding to help states address this epidemic before this recess week. our colleague from connecticut representative courtney, has already introduced this bill in the house, and senator shaheen has been pressing this legislation in the senate. congress should not leave town until we take emergency action to increase funding to help states combat this epidemic. we must also fully fund president obama's budget request for $1.1 billion in 2017. this crisis will not end in a day. it will take our sustained commitment, and every one of us owes it to our constituents to make that a priority. they want us to take action and they want us to take action now. let me tell you why federal
funding is so important. in my hometown of baltimore, i witnessed with my own eyes, in my own neighborhood, the destruction drug addiction inflicts on our communities. the first time i ever heard of a drug overdose death was 55 years ago from heroin. 55 years ago. i didn't understand it then. it's a young man in our neighborhood who we looked up to, who turned to heroin, named bebe, and i can remember being so confused as to what this was all about. so i've seen vibrant neighborhoods and hard-working families and communities destroyed. in baltimore, where many of the victims were poor and black, this went on for decades.
our nation should treat this issue like a war rather than a public health emergency. we incarcerated generations, rather than giving them the treatment they needed. now things are changing. between 2006 and 2013, the number of first-time heroin users nearly doubled. about 90% of these first-time users were white. this epidemic has become a runaway train barrelling through every family and every community in its path. it has no respect for barriers. it is now responsible for the deaths of 78 americans every single day. every single day. why is this happening? in part, it's a result of doctors overprescribing pain medication and drug companies
urging them on so that they can make massive profits. i'd like to enter into the record an op-ed that appeared in the "baltimore sun" on march 19th. >> without objection, so ordered. >> i just want to read just a paragraph from this article. it says, "prescriptions of opioids have been traditionally limited to cancer, pain, and comfort measures. but in the mid '90s, drug companies began marketing these pills as a solution to a new plethora of ailments. in their efforts to expand the market, producers understated and willfully ignored the powerfully addictive properties of their drugs. the promotion of oxycontin by purdue pharma was the most aggressive marketing of a schedule 2 drug ever undertaken by a pharmaceutical company.
the sackler family, which owns stamford, connecticut-based purdue pharma, achieved a place on forbes' 2015 list of america's wealthiest families. the sacklers, the richest newcomers to the list, are worth an estimated $14 billion. $14 billion. now, going on, so as she explains, the united states has only a 5% -- in this article, we have 5% of the world's population, but we consume 80% of the world's painkillers. tweet that. 5%, ladies and gentlemen, of the world's population, but 80% of the painkillers we consume. so, yes, i believe it was
unconscionable that our nation ignored this issue for decades, but now republicans and democrats are starting to work together. and i thank god that this day has finally come, and the stars are starting to align for meaningful change. we now have people like orrin hatch, chris christie, rob portman, kelly ayotte and mike pence realizing the gravity of this crisis and supporting more funding to help our cities and states. they're beginning to realize that this is not an urban issue, a rural issue, a black issue, a hispanic issue, or a white issue. this is an american issue that affects your sisters, your brothers, your sons, and your daughters. there's something else we must do. we can no longer allow drug companies to keep ripping off taxpayers for life-saving
medications. the chairman mentioned just a moment ago the drug naloxone and its live-saving effects. cities all around the country have recognized the need to equip their first responders, police officers, and public health officials with naloxone, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses in a matter of minutes. but their efforts have been directly undermined by corporate greed.