INTERNATIONAL COUNTER-NARCOTICS EFFORTS, INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST -- HON. TOM LANTOS (Extension of Remarks - January 27, 1993)
HON. TOM LANTOS
in the House of Representatives
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27, 1993
- Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, at the recent Interparliamentary Meeting of the U.S. Congress and European Parliament, my distinguished colleague, Congressman Ben Gilman of New York, delivered the following remarks on the subjects of international counter-narcotics efforts, international terrorism, and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Mr. Gilman's remarks reflect his superior grasp of the issues that will continue to pose great challenges to our Nation's domestic and international security. I insert his comments in the Record and I urge my colleagues to give them the attention they deserve.
Chairman Donnelly, Chairman Lantos and colleagues: As we discuss how to address the multi-faceted challenges of the post-Cold War era, we need to strike a balance between meeting new challenges and continuing to engage enduring problems. We must focus attention on the new trouble spots in Bosnia, Somalia, and Central Asia. We must work together to sort out economic and trade relationships in this new era of interdependence. We must address environmental degradation and the spread of diseases which ignore international borders. But we also need to maintain and refine our responses to lingering transnational threats such as terrorism and narcotics. I would like to briefly outline some recent developments in international narcotics trafficking, particularly in Europe, and suggest some courses of action for the future.
All of us are aware of the grim impact of the illicit narcotic trade. Illegal drugs--and the violence associated with their trafficking--threaten to overload criminal justice systems, overwhelm health care systems, and even undermine democratic political systems. Despite large annual appropriations in the U.S. throughout the 1980s, and increased international commitment, the dangers of illicit drugs will be with us throughout the 1990s.
All the signals from the past year indicate an expansion of the threat posed by narcotics trafficking. The welcome--and long overdue--demise of communism in Europe has had the unfortunate result of opening new markets and new methods for international narcotics traffickers. In part this is due to the massive social dislocation and economic hardship in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In part it is due to the dismantling of a respressive security apparatus without replacing it with effective law enforcement.
Most ominously, however, we have seen the ever-flexible drug lords take advantage of ready-made `black market' networks and shadow economies to distribute narcotics in new areas. Smuggling and distribution links so useful in providing such `luxuries' as blue jeans, radios and whiskey have easily made the transition to the illicit drug traffic. Financially beleaguered governments can rarely find adequate resources to train, equip and pay effective law enforcement agencies--especially when police in the not so-distant-past were the agents of state terror rather than of public safety.
For many years, Americans have warned our European friends that cocaine would not remain an American problem. No one can dispute that the Colombian cocaine cartels are alive and well
- throughout Europe. Last November, British authorities seized 1.1 tons of pure cocaine valued at nearly $250 million in a single London warehouse raid--the largest seizure in British history. Just last month, Colombians carrying cocaine were arrested in Austria. Operatives from the Cali cocaine cartel have been at work in at least 10 European Countries. Large seizures of cocaine in the Polish port of Gdansk--at least one of which was destined for Czechoslovakia--have occurred. Last fall in Denmark, police captured locally-produced `crack' cocaine--the particularly virulent form of the drug which has ravaged so much of America. Cocaine processing labs have been found in Portugal, Spain and Italy, and cocaine seizures were made in Iceland, Finland, Luxembourg and virtually every other European nation in 1992.
- Cocaine use in Europe is not yet at the epidemic levels seen in the United States but that may just be a matter of time. Heroin remains the `drug of choice' for hard-core abusers in Europe. Last year witnessed new developments in the heroin threat as well. There are reports that the war in former Yugoslavia has led to a rerouting of heroin shipments from Southwest Asia through Rumania and Hungary. Evidently, in an effort to obtain hard currency, the government of Kazakhstan legalized opium poppy production last year. Two new countries have now joined the list of major opium poppy producers: China--where opium production has been non-existent for decades--and Colombia--where opium had never been grown.
- The narcotics threat also includes synthetically-produced drugs. Last month, German police seized 3 tons of amphetamines, the largest seizure of its type. The drugs were shipped as air freight from Riga, Latvia. Poland has become a leading manufacturer of amphetamines for the West European market. In many major cities throughout the former Soviet Union, synthetic drug laboratories have been discovered.
- The threat of international narcotics traffickers--and the appropriate response--is not limited to the production and transit of the drugs themselves. Drug trafficking can be fought by limiting illicit access to the precursor and essential chemicals used in processing. Drug trafficking can be fought by attacking the profits laundered by the drug cartels. And drug trafficking can be fought through a coordinated and cooperative international response.
- Cocaine, heroin and amphetamines cannot be produced without key chemicals for processing. Since 1988, the United States has had an impressive chemical diversion control regime which has prevented illicit chemical use without impeding legitimate trade. While the European Community has developed precursor chemical legislation, implementation and the issuance of regulations have been delayed. European nations need to do more to implement effective control of the precursor and essential chemicals necessary for illicit drug production. Controlling precursor and essential chemicals may not be as glamorous as high-profile drug raids, but it is a vital element in a strategy of making the traffickers' task more difficult.
- While we all applaud the steps agreed to at Maastricht, we must remember that more open borders and the freer movement of goods, services and people will have an impact on the narcotics trade. We must pay special attention to financial institutions--and the potential for laundering drug profits--as monetary integration continues, and especially as deregulation and privatization of banking systems proceeds in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Strengthening money laundering legislation and closer international cooperation on investigations are essential to hitting the traffickers in their pocketbooks.
- The tentacles of the drug cartels know no international borders. Their ability to corrupt, kill and addict is not limited to the Western Hemisphere. Last fall, in an unprecedented enforcement operation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration scored a major success in targeting the money laundering infrastructure of the Cali cocaine cartel. I mention `Operation Green Ice' as a final example of how the drug threat has become a transnational threat. Green Ice involved law enforcement personnel from 8 countries on 3 continents, and shattered key elements of the Cali money laundering infrastructure. More than $50 million in drug profits were seized in the U.S., Italy, Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom. Most troubling about Green Ice was the ironclad confirmation of extensive links between Italian organized crime on the Cali cartel. Green Ice confirmed that international criminal organizations form alliances, share information and assets, and coordinate activities in ways that law enforcement is only beginning to address.
- Operation Green Ice is the latest manifestation of a bold new strategy designed to target and dismantle drug trafficking organizations. Simply seizing drugs and tracking aircraft will not inflict lasting harm on the traffickers; seizing their assets, arresting their leaders and incapacitating their networks WILL. Absolutely crucial to this strategy is the cooperation of law enforcement agencies in many countries. I applaud the work of European law enforcement in working with the U.S. DEA on multinational investigations.
- There is a full recognition in the U.S. that no single method--or single nation--will be sufficient to end the drug scourge. While I have addressed supply reduction and international enforcement issues today, rest assured that America understands the need to reduce demand. Without education to prevent drug abuse and without treatment to aid those already addicted, enforcement efforts will be doomed to fail. Many of the nations you represent have significant and increasing addict populations.
- Our nations have come a long way down the road of understanding the mutual threat we face. More and more of our European friends understand that coca grown in Peru is no more a purely American problem than opium produced in Burma is a purely European dilemma. Multinational efforts are advancing and will make a difference. The most comprehensive anti-drug agreement ever drafted, the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs, has now been ratified by more than 60 countries. The United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) has been revitalized under energetic new leadership. Multinational cooperative efforts hold the key to the counternarcotics future.
- International efforts to coordinate on precursor chemical control, on money laundering, and on enforcement operations are beginning to pay dividends. Our task is to continue to work together to end the narcotics curse in all of our countries.
Chairman Donnelly, Chairman Lantos and colleagues: Although international terrorism may appear to be declining, a wide range of terrorist groups have been striking against European and other targets. We are all aware of the most recent wave of bombings in the United Kingdom. I firmly believe that violence only begets further violence and that the tensions in Northern Ireland must be resolved at the negotiating table.
And who can forget the devastating terrorist bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires last year, in a country where a brutal attack of this nature was completely unexpected?
Thus, there is continuing concern about terrorist attacks, perhaps by those hoping to disrupt the Middle East peace process or avenge Iraq's military defeat, or by local groups such as the Basques in Spain, Dev Sol, the PKK in Turkey and November 17 in Greece.
We also must continue to monitor developments in the Sudan, where the fundamentalist government is actively supporting violent Islamists in the region with the assistance of Iran.
Other trouble spots exist. For instance, a recent terrorist bombing in Yemen killed an Austrian tourist, and an explosion damaged a hotel that had been used by American forces providing logistical support for the Somalia relief effort.
Civilized nations must unite to keep up pressure on the countries that provide support for international terrorism. State supporters of terrorism typically provide money, weapons, logistics and safe havens to strengthen terrorists' ability to conduct lethal attacks. While Libya has made some progress in reducing its support for terrorist groups, Tripoli continues to evade the U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed for the Qadhafi government's involvement in the bombing of Pan Am 103 and UTA 722.
It is vital that we all work to implement the Security Council's sanctions against Libya. If Libya fails to comply with the Security Council Resolutions, the Council may have to take new steps as early as April, when it next reviews the matter. Enforcing the sanctions will maintain the pressure on Qadhafi to end his support for international terrorism and allow U.S. or British courts to bring to trial the Libyan officials indicted
- for bombing Pan Am 103. Similarly, no government should tolerate the bootlegging of aircraft spare parts and other equipment to Libya.
- Iran, the primary state sponsor of terrorism today, supports groups such as Hizballah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad which engage in terrorist actions aimed at derailing the Middle East peace process. The Iranian government is also rearming, seeking weapons of mass destruction and abusing basic human rights. The recent executions and imprisonment of members of the Baha'i community in Iran and the continuing harassment of that group is shocking and inexcusable.
- European states are to be commended for working together to ensure that the relaxation of border controls in Western Europe does not make it easier for terrorists to evade detection and arrest. I understand that the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties is proposing measures to harmonize the EC's counter-terrorism laws. The Council of Europe Headquarters in Strasbourg already has compiled a digest of counter-terrorism laws of member nations, the United States and Canada. The U.S. Government is eager to provide current versions of U.S. laws for this effort, and to offer any other cooperation that may be needed.
- Also of great concern is the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, more accurately called political Islam. The U.S. Government is carefully watching the evolution of this Islamic resurgence and is concerned that some factions have an anti-American orientation. From Morocco to Egypt and from Jordan to Israel, political Islamists are increasing their violent activities in order to attain their political goals. For example, the president of Algeria was assassinated last year, allegedly by security personnel with pro-fundamentalist connections. In addition, European tourists in Egypt have recently been killed by violent Egyptian Islamists.
- This month, Arab interior ministers from Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia, officials representing governments deeply concerned about the connection between fundamentalism and violence, unanimously adopted a statement condemning terrorism in all its forms, methods and sources and all forms of its material and moral support.
- Unfortunately, our discussions about political Islam often overlook the important fact that Israel is being challenged by Islamists in the West Bank and Gaza, in Israel proper and in southern Lebanon. In recent months, violent fundamentalists have called for the destruction of Israel, opposed the ongoing Middle East peace talks, and killed seven Israeli security and military personnel. In an effort to disrupt the activities of HAMAS (the Islamic Resistance Movement) and the Islamic Jihad, Israel expelled over 400 political Islamists in December.
- I recently wrote a detailed article on political Islam entitled `Political Islamists as an Activist Minority in Israel' that will soon be published. I would like to share this article with all of you and have attached it to this presentation.
- A decade ago, civilized nations seemed paralyzed by a wave of terrorist assaults, and the Western world seemed powerless against the violent few. Since then, the international community has made major progress in combatting the scourge of terrorism. Today, it is the terrorists who are on the defensive because of our cooperation, our joint efforts and confidence-building measures among our governments.
- International cooperation against the terrorist menace has produced impressive results. Let's continue to cooperate in future years.
Chairman Donnelly, Chairman Lantos and colleagues: Since our last encounter, much has happened which will impact upon events in the Middle East and ongoing efforts to achieve a comprehensive and lasting settlement.
Last month I was pleased to be confirmed by my Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives as the Ranking Republican for the Foreign Affairs Committee. Accordingly, I look forward to working with you in this new capacity, though my service as the Ranking Republican on our committee's Europe and Middle East Subcommittee will continue uninterrupted.
With the upheaval and violence in so many parts of the world, including the successor states, the Balkans, parts of Africa, and the ever-challenging Middle East, we face numerous predicaments as we endeavor to alleviate tensions and fashion viable solutions to these critical regional problems. Despite unique characteristics inherent in each region, the root of these problems are religious fundamentalism and nationalism.
Since we last convened, elections in Israel and the United States have produced new leaders. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of the Labor Party has assembled a left-leaning coalition government which has taken over the reins of the Middle East Peace Talks from Likud-led Yitzhak Shamir's government.
Despite the change in philosophy the new government has toward the disputed areas, and prospects for negotiations with the Palestinians and Israel's Arab neighbors, the cabinet strongly supported the decision to deport for two years over four hundred radical Palestinian activists affiliated with `HAMAS', a Moslem Fundamentalist terror organization. HAMAS is not only responsible for years of terrorist acts within the State of Israel, but threatens the governments of Egypt and Jordan as well. It vies for power with the Palestine Liberation Organization, receives funding from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Succor from Syria.
Though condemned by many, Israel remains united that it acted correctly. As the world has not acknowledged the violence and killings of Israeli soldiers and police that sparked the deportations, economics minister professor Shimon Shetreet stated, `It was a price worth paying if it preserves the peace talks and enhances public safety.'
In protest against Israel's actions towards HAMAS, the Arab delegations boycotted the last day of last month's round of peace talks. While speculation now centers on whether the Arab delegations will attend the first round in February after President-elect Clinton takes office, conventional wisdom dictates that they will appear, if only not to offend our newly offended Chief Executive.
It is still too soon to know the extent and direction of the role President-elect Clinton wishes to take regarding the talks, since his campaign focused primarily on the need for domestic change.
Yet the controversy generated by Israel's deportation of HAMAS Members to a no-man's-land section of Lebanon has now been eclipsed by growing confrontations with Saddam Hussein, who seems intent on testing American and Allied resolve regarding the no-fly zone.
On this issue, President-elect Clinton has indicated he will not falter, and that the government of Iraq is not to assume that U.S. policy will be any more flexible. While we are always reluctant to use force, persistent and egregious violations of internationally imposed conditions and human rights cannot be condoned.
In that vein, Syria's apparent suspension of travel permits for its tiny Jewish community continues to be of tremendous concern. While the European Parliament not long ago cleared a European Community aid package worth $185 million for Syria, since supporters argued the situation had improved, it has become increasingly clear that almost no travel permission has been granted to any Syrian Jew since the middle of October.
Accordingly, though Syrian government officials continue to claim that the travel policy has not changed, support for an additional $200 million in aid cannot be forthcoming unless this most important violation of human rights has been addressed and corrected.
Let me conclude by affirming a continued commitment to democracy and pluralism, as well as stability and human rights. We can further these tenets by careful and thoughtful assessment, tempered by decisiveness and rooted in conviction.