FILE ID:97020503.tgi


(Law officers from some 80 nations trained) (1200)
By Jim Fuller
USIA Staff Writer

(Over the past dozen years the participants in a small but effective
U.S. foreign assistance program have been working to strengthen
security forces in countries around the world)

A relatively small U.S. program to train and equip countries to fight
international terrorism has been invaluable in strengthening U.S.
relationships with other governments and in protecting the lives of
diplomats overseas.

The U.S. Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) Program
provides this assistance to friendly governments that face a
significant threat from terrorism. Since its inception in 1983, the
program has provided training to over 19,000 individuals from more
than 80 countries. The training ranges from bomb detection and
deactivation to hostage negotiations, dignitary protection, crime
scene investigation, and airport security.

Though small, the ATA Program is growing. "The budget has gone up for
the last three years," said ATA Director Burley Fuselier in an
interview. "It started at roughly $2 million per year 14 years ago.
Congress has been a very strong proponent of the program and we have
seen our resources climb even in this resource-deficient era." The
projected budget for fiscal year 1998 is $19 million.

In addition to the ATA Program, other federal agencies including
Defense, Justice, Transportation, Treasury, and the Central
Intelligence Agency also provide counterterrorism training assistance.

Fuselier said such programs are needed because international terrorism
can strike anywhere. Many terrorist groups have demonstrated an
ability to extend their reach to distant parts of the world. In early
1995, for example, Middle East terrorists, including participants in
the New York World Trade Center bombing in 1994, conspired in Manila
to blow up U.S. passenger airliners in Asia.

"While terrorism by national governments has declined, the number of
small independent terrorist cells is increasing," Fuselier said. "They
may not be as large or as well-financed as the national entities of
the past, but they're as dangerous and deadly. So the training is very
important to ensure that there is a joint effort worldwide to defeat

Fuselier said that while the main purpose of the ATA Program is to
provide assistance to the international community in dealing with
terrorism, the program also helps protect American lives and property
overseas by improving the effectiveness of a nation's security forces.

In fact, Fuselier said one of the major benefits of the program is the
way it strengthens working relationships and coordination with other
countries. Such ties are invaluable when specific terrorist threats or
incidents require close cooperation between U.S. and foreign

"The level of support rendered to our diplomatic missions abroad
subsequent to the training has demonstrated the substantial benefits
of the program," Fuselier said. "In Latin America, for example, we've
had numerous threats that were perceived to be directed against our
missions, and just on a simple telephone call, we would receive an
enormous amount of support that would never have been available

Decisions on the selection of countries to receive ATA training are
made by the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for
Counterterrorism. Assistance is considered a priority for friendly
countries that face existing or potential terrorist threats, but
cannot meet those threats with their own resources. Also given high
priority are countries with a substantial U.S. presence, and those
that provide the last point of departure for airline flights to the
United States.

For example, Peru, Turkey, Argentina, and Chile received extensive ATA
training during FY 1995 because of the recurring and persistent
terrorist activity in those countries. Also, countries that have
played an important role in the Middle East peace process, such as
Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, have experienced significant terrorist
activity and thus continue to be among the principal recipients of ATA

Russia and Ukraine received substantial training in airport security
management as part of their transition to more democratic security and
law enforcement organizations.

The State Department also reviews the human rights record of a country
before agreeing to provide assistance through the ATA Program. And
assistance may be suspended if a country's record of human rights
practices has fallen below acceptable standards.

Once a country is selected, a small department-led team of experts
visits the country to assess the country's ability to control its
international borders, protect its infrastructure, and protect its
national leadership and the diplomatic corps. The department's Bureau
of Diplomatic Security then prepares plans for training courses based
on the assessment.

According to Fuselier, training focuses on enhancing the antiterrorism
skills of a country's police, law enforcement, and security officials.
All participants must come from the public safety sector. The training
of military personnel is prohibited.

"However, if a military officer is seconded to a civilian police
organization for an extended period of time, which is often the case
in the Eastern European states or Latin America, he or she is allowed
to receive the training," Fuselier said.

Most training takes place at various U.S. locations and is provided by
federal, state, and local authorities, and by private contractors.
However, in a effort to reach more people and reduce costs, more and
more of the training is being conducted overseas. According to
Fuselier, nearly every type of training course -- including airport
and maritime security, crisis management, document screening, hostage
negotiation, crime scene investigation, and dignitary protection --
can now be conducted in-country.

"We will also send specialists from the Federal Bureau of
Investigation or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to a
country for two-to-three weeks to consult on a particular problem,"
Fuselier said. "We will even send professors to their police academies
to help them design certain course materials."

Recently, police academy directors from 17 Latin American countries
arrived at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia to
learn how to develop a network of law enforcement and anti-terrorism
training for the Latin American community.

Fuselier said that every training course must also be consistent with
the values of democracy and human rights.

"In every training course we review international accords on human
rights and how they apply to the use of force in dealing with
terrorism," he said. "Human rights concerns can come into play during
the interview of a suspected terrorist or if it is necessary to
eliminate civilian privileges during times of crisis."

The ATA Program can also allocate up to 30 percent of its annual
budget to provide training-related equipment and commodities to
participating countries. The program spent over $1 million in FY 1995
to provide countries with items such as bomb X-ray machines, metal
detectors, dogs for explosive detection, kits for crime scene
investigations, and portable telephones for hostage negotiations.

Fuselier concludes that the main objective of the ATA Program is to
make countries self-sufficient in their ability to counter
international terrorism.

"The goal of any foreign assistance program is to go out of
existence," he said. "We are supposed to bring assistance to the
problem, make the recipient self-sufficient, and then move on."