you, Johnnie [Sutton]. Good afternoon
It is good to see so many of you here,
from so many different agencies responsible
for protecting the southwest border. And
a special welcome to our friends and partners
In just a few days the second anniversary
of the 9/11 attacks will be upon us. Nothing
has been easy about the past two years.
But I think we can look back and say,
we have made a difference. We are working
together in ways that we could have hardly
imagined on September 10, 2001. And I
applaud and thank all of you for coming
together this week as we keep looking
for new opportunities to protect the border
and, by extension, our country.
This afternoon, I want to begin by taking
a broad look at the fight against terrorism.
Then I want to discuss the focus of this
conference protecting the southwest
border against terrorism and how the FBI
fits into that picture.
Let me start with the successes, and there
have been many thanks to all of
you and your colleagues across the nation
and around the world.
In key ways operationally, financially,
and structurally al Qaeda is a
Thanks largely to the American military,
al Qaeda no longer has a safe haven in
Afghanistan where it can plan, train,
and indoctrinate new recruits. Without
a home base, it is much, much harder for
al Qaeda to organize and even communicate.
One of the largely untold success stories
post-9/11 is terrorist financing. Today,
we have an entirely new capability within
the FBI, Customs, and Treasury that can
chase the terrorist money trail around
the globe. We are not only drying up sources
of funding from businesses and charities
worldwide that are false fronts for terror;
we are also analyzing financial activities
in ways that enable us to establish links
between terrorists, to spot potential
planning, and to uncover cells. Following
the money trail essentially takes us from
one terrorist to the next.
That leads me to my next point, which
is our success at dismantling the core
leadership of al Qaeda. The running list
of high-level operatives killed or captured
since 9/11 reads like a "who's who"
of terrorism: Mohammed Atef, Abu Zubaydah,
Ramzi Binalshibh, and one of al Qaeda's
highest ranking operatives, Khalid Shaikh
The latest figure to be tracked down is
an individual by the name of Hambali.
Hambali was picked up in Thailand a few
weeks ago. He was al Qaeda's chief operative
in Southeast Asia, someone we believe
was the architect of the Bali bombing
last fall and the attack in Jakarta last
The capture of these individuals and many
others is important for a number of reasons.
It deprives al Qaeda of leadership and
years of experience that are not easily
replaced. At the same time, for us it
has produced a wealth of intelligence.
Our interrogations of these individuals
have given us important insights into
how al Qaeda thinks and operates
as well as the various targets it is considering.
In some cases, it has even led us to various
operatives who were planning attacks.
Most of the successes I have talked about
have been overseas. But there has also
been outstanding work here in the United
States. We have rolled up a number of
terrorist cells and apprehended conspirators
from Buffalo to Detroit, from Ohio to
Seattle and Portland. Most recently, in
New Jersey, a British arms dealer was
arrested for allegedly trying to sell
the first in a line of shoulder-fired
missiles. He thought his customers were
terrorists who planned to use the missiles
against commercial airliners in the U.S.
Instead, they were undercover agents of
the FBI and Russian security. Few cases
so clearly illustrate the new threats
and the new partnerships it takes to defeat
The cumulative result of these successes
and many others that will probably
never be public is a terrorist
organization that is on the run. Al Qaeda
has been stripped of key leadership, major
sources of funding, and a secure base
from which to operate. As we have seen,
al Qaeda is still capable of carrying
out attacks, some quite deadly. But these
attacks whether in Indonesia or
Saudi Arabia or Morocco have only
served to further galvanize those nations
and the larger world community. The cooperation
and intensity of focus that we in the
FBI have seen from Africa to the Middle
East to the islands of Southeast Asia
has been unprecedented. And that is making
an important difference.
None of this, however, means that we can
afford to let our guard down. The al Qaeda
network has been compared to a virus
and that is probably a good analogy in
that al Qaeda keeps adapting. If we harden
one set of targets, it goes after another.
If we knock out one capability, it develops
With each passing week, I feel more comfortable
that we are addressing the threat here
in the U.S. that we know who is
here and what they are up to. But, there
may be terrorists in this country
lying low in cells waiting to be activated
that we do not yet know about.
And there may be operatives waiting to
slip across our borders in ways we have
not foreseen. It is these possibilities
that call for our continuing vigilance.
Now, let me turn to another front on the
war on terror, and that is the southwest
border. The events of 9/11 clearly changed
our view of our nation's borders. The
19 hijackers all came into this country
legally and without great difficulty.
We now know that our borders must be our
first line of defense. The American people
expect us to stop those who would do us
harm from entering the United States
without hindering the free flow of immigrants
and imported goods that are part and parcel
of having an open society and a strong
None of the 19 hijackers came through
the southwest border. But they did live
along the border in cities like Phoenix
and San Diego. Al Qaeda also has a presence
in the Tri-Border Region in South America.
We all know that it is not too difficult
to get a tourist VISA and come into the
U.S. across the border. And there are
plenty of targets in this part of the
world. So clearly, your collective efforts
here in the southwest cannot be understated.
When it comes to working with you to protect
the border, the FBI's focus is essentially
First, in partnership with all of you,
particularly through our Joint Terrorism
Task Forces, our job is to run down each
and every threat quickly and without
fail. That means getting the facts, conducting
the interviews, doing the polygraphs,
and the like. Terrorism is our top priority,
and it is clear within the FBI: there
must not be a single counterterrorism
lead or threat that goes unaddressed.
In some cases, we may have to pull an
Agent off a bank robbery or a drug case
to make that happen. But I assure you,
we are not backing off our criminal responsibilities
not only because they strengthen
our ties with you, whether it is at the
local, state, federal, or international
level, but also because of the growing
link between criminal and national security
threats. We know, for example, that terrorists
use credit card frauds and narcotics to
generate money for their operations. We
also see particularly at the border
how international organized crime
and drugs threaten national security.
So we will stay engaged where we bring
something unique to the table whether
it is helping with the sniper case in
West Virginia or supporting a drug task
force on a major narcotics investigation.
Second, it is important for the FBI to
provide you with threat information that
impacts your agencies, your departments,
and your communities. The new, interconnected
world we live in and the threats
posed by global networks of terrorists
and criminals means that what happens
in Riyadh or Buenos Aires or New York
City may impact your work here at the
We in the FBI recognize that because we
have a foot in both worlds, we are a bridge
between law enforcement and the intelligence
community. And because of our physical
presence across the border and overseas,
we are also a bridge between law enforcement
in the U.S. and worldwide. The FBI is
and has to be a key conduit for sharing
That said, I can tell you that the FBI
is taking and has taken a number of steps
to improve our ability to share information.
In the short term, we have done things
like granting thousands of security clearances
to law enforcement executives, producing
weekly intelligence bulletins, and increasing
the number and the size of our JTTFs.
We are also standing up an intelligence
program in the FBI that will be on par
with our other investigative programs.
Spearheading that effort is a long-time
expert that we brought over from NSA
Maureen Baginski. Maureen believes
as I do that the FBI has historically
done a good job at gathering intelligence
and analyzing threats. What we have not
done as well is to recognize that you
are key consumers of that information
and that we have to meet your needs just
as surely as we meet our own. That is
driving much of the change in the Bureau.
Most importantly, we are working to build
pipelines that will give you direct access
to threat information and web-based access
to FBI intelligence products.
We can now build those pipelines thanks
in large part of the USA Patriot Act,
which removed the legal barriers that
had prevented the full exchange of information
between law enforcement and the intelligence
Getting information flowing more freely
and more quickly between and among our
agencies is critical to having all of
us on the same page when it comes to understanding
and responding to threats. It is critical
to our ability to "connect the dots"
in ways that are preventative and predictive.
And for all of us, it means safer communities,
a safer nation, and a safer world. That
is why I applaud the formation of a new
International Terrorism Task Force with
our Mexican counterparts.
The spectre of another 9/11 and all the
other interconnected threats we face today
compel us to be not just partners, but
a community that thinks together, plans
together, and acts together. We are becoming
that community more and more every day.
This conference is another sign of that
fact. So thanks again for being here,
for all your hard work these past two
years, and your continuing support of
Have a great conference, and God bless.