Greater coordination between countries throughout the Western Hemisphere will be needed to stem the threat of ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan told representatives of 13 North, Central and South American countries on Dec. 11.
“Transnational terrorism poses an immediate threat to us here in the Western Hemisphere,” Sullivan said. “Although the perceived center of gravity seems far away, groups like ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Lebanese Hezbollah operate wherever they can find recruits, raise support, operate unchecked and pursue their terrorist agendas. Keeping our citizens safe and secure requires constant vigilance and adequate resources… We must each do our part and work together to defend our citizens, our countries and the values we hold dear.”
The Ministerial on Counterterrorism Cooperation in the Western Hemisphere was held at the State Department’s Loy Henderson auditorium, and was attended by officials from the Bahamas, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Jamaica, Peru, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. Brazilian officials also participated, but in an observatory role.
“Each of your delegations has traveled here today because you recognize, as we do, that global terrorist threats are evolving every day, that our governments have vital experiences and information to share with one another, and that the only way to counter the serious challenges that remain is by working together,” Sullivan said. “ISIS and al-Qaida broadcast their global vision loudly. Even as ISIS clings to its last territory in Syria, it is through its videos and carefully calibrated public messaging that they can continue to assert a longer worldwide fight.”
Sullivan also noted the FBI arrest of two Hezbollah operatives in the United States in 2017, in which a New York-based operative was apprehended for “surveilling military and law enforcement facilities” and the Detroit-based operative surveilled U.S. and Israeli targets in Panama and the Panama Canal.
A follow-up meeting between the parties will be held next summer in Argentina to discuss progress toward greater cooperation.