tv Conference on Counterterrorism Nathan Sales CSPAN September 13, 2017 1:46pm-2:02pm EDT
commonwealth games over kuala lumpur? >> can i say to my honorable friend i'm grateful for his question. mr. speaker i notice my honorable friend is about to appear on a cham 4 program called celebrity first dates. what i'm -- mr. speaker, what i'm not sure about is whether my honorable friend is the celebrity or the first date. but he has raised the issue of the commonwealth games. obviously the commonwealth games being hosted in the uk in 2022 in birmingham would present a unique opportunity for the west midlands, and it would of course promote global britain across the commonwealth. the next step is for birmingham to demonstrate value for money in their bid. subject to that, i have no doubt that birmingham will continue the uk's rich history of hosting successful sporting events.
>> you can find today's entire session with british prime minister theresa may answering questions from members of the house of commons on our website at c-span.org. during thursday's washington journal, we are launching our 50 capitals tour for the c-span bus. join us at 7:00 a.m. eastern to learn more about your plan to visit every u.s. state capital. the 50 capitals tour, celebrating 25 years of the c-span bus program. coming up next here on c-span3 a discussion on the evolution of terrorism since 9/11. nathan sales is the state department's new coordinator for counter-terrorism and he talked about the threat of isis and initiatives to combat terror groups. this is hosts by the bipartisan policy center here in washington, d.c. it's now my pleasure to introduce nathan sales, the newly confirmed and appointed
coordinator for counter-terrorism at the u.s. state department. he was sworn in about four weeks ago on august 10th. as i think one of the first assistant secretaries of the state department. before joining the state, ambassador sales was a law professor at syracuse university college of law where he taught and wrote on the fields of counter-terrorism, security law, before that he was deputy for policy at the department of homeland security and has a long career in helping keep america safe. we are honored to have him present today's keynote. ambassador sales. thank you, blaze, for the introduction. thank you to the bipartisan policy center for inviting me to speak today. i would like to start with a special word of thanks to governor cain, congress hahn hamilton and mr. ben ven eetsz
for their excel work and leadership on the 9/11 commission. the 9/11 commission drove the nation's debate about how to respond to that dark day in our history. and it also served as a needed voice for the fems families of the victims. so governor, congressman, and mr. ben ven eats, thank you for your vital work which continues to play a central role? how we as a nation understand a terrorist threat and how we respond to it. i mean that in a very literal sense. two of your former staffers actually work for me at the state department i am keeping them busy oochltd i'm grateful to the policy center for inviting me and for keeping washington's focus on these vital issues. you put together a extraordinary program today and it is a real honor and a pleasure for me to be part of it. i was reading the tenth anniversary report card the other day and i was struck by the continued relevance of the
report and its 41 recommendations. one sentence standard out to he moo. we must constantly assess our vulnerabilities and anticipate new lines of attack. that's basically our job at the ct bureau. the runup to the anniversary of 9/11 is a time to steak stock, to reflect and to analyze our counter terrorism efforts. but it's also important and perhaps even more important to reflect on how our enemy has evolved. in these remarks i'll outline the different threats we've faced since 9/11. al qaeda, isis, and the emerging trend of what we might call self-directed terrorism. attacks inspired by not necessarily ordered or controlled by them. after that i'll explore our responses to date and where we think we should focus our efforts going forward. so let's start with the evolution of a terrorist threat over the years beginning with al qaeda. from the 1990s up until the present day, al qaeda has had
two salient features. first, it maintains a centralized command structure. osama bin laden at the top. terrorists at the bottom who receive orders and carry out instructions. second, al qaeda seeks to carry out large scale spectacular attacks on high profile targets n. the late 1990s we saw al qaeda's ability to make good on these threats. the bomb accident in east africa killed over 200 people and injured over 4,500 others. two years later on october 12th, 2000, al qaeda attacked the uss cole killing 17 american sailors and injuring 39. all of this led up to the plane's operation. on september 11th, 2001, 19 al qaeda operatives hijacked
four commercial jet liners and turned them into missile. two were felony into the world trade center causing them to collapse. a third hit the pentagon. the nerve center for the world's most powerful military. a fourth, perhaps bound for the capital building, crashed in a field near shanksville, pennsylvania. when the 40 passengers and crew of flight 93 stormed the cockpit in order to overcome the hijackers n. all nearly 3,000 people were killed that day and nearly 6,000 injured fast forward to 2014. after we killed osama bin laden, a new form of the same threats emerged. like its predecessor in afghanistan, isis developed a centralized command to order attacks outside of its false califet in iraq and syria. we witnessed its work in paris.
on november 13th, 2015, a group of suicide bombers and gun men dispatched by raqqa committed a series of six coordinated attacks. they targeted a soccer stadium, caves and restaurants, and a theater during a rock concert. 100 people were killed including 89 alone and another 400 injured. a new threat has arisen. tloi terrorist attacks are being carried out by individuals in small krecells. these smaller scale individually planned attacks often involve soft targets like hotels, tourist resorts and cultural sites. we've seen this deadly new trend across the world. places like berlin, london, manchester and nice.
we've also seen it closer to home. think of orlando and san bernardino. so what accounts for this rise of terrorism? i think there's two factors at work. first, isis is losing. they're crumbling. with support from the defeat isis coalition, local forces have liberated more than three quarters of territory isis once held in iraq and about two thirds of the territory it held in syria. this makes it harder for isis to plan external operations. second, isis is prolific use of social media has expanded the group's reach. the group is capable of radicalizing and giving advice over the internet on how to conduct attacks. aspiring jihadis able to attack at home instead of traveling to
the conflict zone. the question then becomes what do we do about it? how should the united states and its allies respond to these different kind of terrorist threats? after 9/11 we adopted a number of new tools that were geared at disrupting and degrading a centralized adver sarry like alside a al qaeda. intercept terrorist communications. one example is section 702 which made is easier to collect the e-mails and phone calls of nonamericans who were located overseas. we also ramped up our efforts to block terrorist financing. and we made border security a top priority. we started collecting fingerprints from visitors to this country. we signed agreements with partners around the world. and we started analyzing airline reservation data. this is known as passenger name
records or pnr to flag people who might deserve a little extra sk scrutiny at the custom's check point. these have proved effective against adversaries like al qaeda and isis. we'll need them for as long as that threat persists. but in an age of self-directed terrorism, they're not enough. why do i say that? well, consider surveillance. self-directed terrorists aren't necessarily communicating with headquarters. so they can be hard toer to monitor. or consider financing. self-directed terrorists don't need the deep pockets of a large organization to commit their atrocities. they can simply rent a truck and drive it into a crowd. or consider border security. self-directed terrorists don't need to travel. they don't have to cross borders to receive training, to receive
funding, or to carry out attacks. many of them are operating on their home turf. so what do we do about it? what do we do about the rise of self-directed terrorism? at bottom we need to ensure that our counterterrorism tool kit is flexible and nimble enough to address evolving terrorist tactics, technologies and trends. let me highlight a few specific measures that i think will be instrumental as we confront an increasingly decentralized self-directed terrorist threat. first the protection of soft targets. last month's attacks in barcelona were only the most recent reminder of the challenge of securing locations that by design are supposed to be opening and inviting. that's why the ct bureau is working with international partners under the global counterterrorism form to draft a set of good practices. we plan to finalize and announce these recommendations publicly in the near future. stay tuned.
in the meantime, we've been training partner countries who have the political will to protect their soft targets but who may lack the necessary resources to do so. for example, last year in response to an attack on the rad son blue hotel, funded a program to build crisis response teams in that country. on june 18th of this year terrorists attacked again this time at the hotel canagaba. the ct trained team led the counter assault killing the attackers and more importantly freeing civilians who were trapped in the hotel. second, there's information sharing. after 9/11 we tore down the information sharing walls that kept our cops and spies and soldiers from sharing information with one another and talking to one another. our friends and allies around the world need to do the same. for instance, the center of the barcelona plot was a convicted
criminal. head served a sentence for drug smuggling and had been ordered to be removed from the country of spain. but he wasn't on the radar of counterterrorism officials because none of his past offenses involved terrorism. this was also the case of the nice attacker who had a series of arrests and convictions of his own. these aren't coincidences. a recent study by the george washington university found that 57% of the people who were involved in terrorist attacks in europe and in north america between 2014 and 2017 have prior criminal histories. so we've got some work to do here. we need to step up our work with foreign counter parts, to dismantle the stove pipes, to tear down the walls that block the free flow of this kind of counterterrorism information. thi third, there's skpacapacity building. we're helping our partner countries improve terrorism
cases cases. we're building their ability to prosecute and a jude indicate terrorism related crimes. a good example comes from the bal cans. a transit route who are heading from syria or iraq or heading back home after serving in the conflict zone. in the past few years, 131 people have been convicted under newly passed foreign terrorist fighter laws in the balcans. justice department lawyers have assisted those prosecutors, an evidence organization, analysis, prosecution strategies, and case specific challenges through a case based mentoring program. there are now about 33 more defendants who have been indicted or are already on trial. all of them in kosovo. the terrorist threat is constantly evolving and we must e vof
evolve to meet that challenge. we must remain vigilant. we must update our tool kit to ensure that we have the capabilities that we need to confront the self-directed terrorism. the 9/11 commission had it exactly right. we must constantly assess our vulnerabilities and anticipate new lines of attack. and so governor, thank you and thank you your colleagues for that charge. thank you for the inspiration to continue your indispensable work of securing our home laland and protecting our people. thank you and thank you all. [ applause ] a live picture from capitol hill where the house ways and means sub committee on oversight is about to convene. they're holding a hearing on resolving taxpayer disputes. it was scheduled to start here at 2:00 p.m. but it looks like