- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday told an anti-terrorism committee of the Organization of American (OAS) States that U.S. law enforcement authorities are working successfully with their global counterparts to identify, locate, disrupt and dismantle terrorist cells.
"On September 11, 2001, the day terrorists struck the United States, the foreign ministers of the Organization of American States were convened in Peru to express our common commitment to democracy and respect for human rights," Mr. Ashcroft said in a speech to the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism.
"Without hesitation, the Organization of American States expressed its shock and outrage, becoming the first multilateral organization to condemn officially the attacks. We in the United States have not forgotten these timely expressions of solidarity and support," he said.
Mr. Ashcroft urged the committee to tighten international borders and move to enforce strict banking laws in an effort to disrupt terrorists' activities and funding two positions the OAS already has endorsed. The committee is expected to approve a resolution encouraging member nations to strengthen immigration and financial laws.
The attorney general noted that the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington killed more than 3,000 people, including people from 78 different nations adding that it was not the first time Western Hemphishere nations had been victimized.
"Many countries in the Western Hemisphere have long suffered this scourge … the carnage that day sent not just the United States but the hemispheric community and all the civilized world into mourning," he said. "And our mourning has given way to a still-unsated hunger for justice."
Mr. Ashcroft said the committee's plan for promoting tighter border and financial controls came as a "promising start" to the enhancement of all OAS member states' practical ability to prevent terrorist acts, and to respond effectively when attacks occur.
Mr. Ashcroft also said:
Operation Enduring Freedom successfully toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan, exposed its widespread unpopularity among the Afghan people and routed al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The Taliban's power as a military force, and as a force to terrorize the Afghan population, "is no more, and the Afghan people have welcomed their newfound freedom."
The United States has led an international effort to choke off the funding that sustains terrorism with the signing by President Bush of an executive order authorizing the freezing of the assets of organizations and individuals linked to global terrorism.
The FBI created an interagency investigation group to examine the financial arrangements used to support terrorist attacks, working with officials from the Justice, Treasury and State departments to identify the financial infrastructure of terrorist organizations worldwide.
The United States has created the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, which will deny entry into the country of persons suspected of being terrorists and locate, detain, prosecute and deport terrorists already in the United States.

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