Combating Terrorism:

Department of State Programs to Combat Terrorism Abroad

GAO-02-1021: Published: Sep 6, 2002. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 2002.

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Efforts to combat terrorism have become an increasingly important part of government activities. These efforts have also become important in the United States' relations with other countries and with international organizations, such as the United Nations (U.N.). The Department of State is charged with coordinating these international efforts and protecting Americans abroad. State has helped direct the U.S. efforts to combat terrorism abroad by building the global coalition against terrorism, including providing diplomatic support for military operations in Afghanistan and other countries. State has also supported international law enforcement efforts to identify, arrest, and bring terrorists to justice, as well as performing other activities intended to reduce the number of terrorist attacks. The State Department conducts multifaceted activities in its effort to prevent terrorist attacks on Americans abroad. For Americans traveling and living abroad, State issues public travel warnings and operates warning systems to convey terrorism-related information. For American businesses and universities operating overseas, State uses the Overseas Security Advisory Councils--voluntary partnerships between the State Department and the private sector--to exchange threat information. To disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations abroad, State has numerous programs and activities that rely on military, multilateral, economic, law enforcement, intelligence, and other capabilities. State uses extradition treaties to bring terrorists to trial in the United States and cooperates with foreign intelligence, security, and law enforcement entities to track and capture terrorists in foreign countries. If the United States has no extradition agreements with a country, then State, with the Department of Justice, can work to obtain the arrest of suspected terrorist overseas through renditions. The State Department leads the U.S. response to terrorist incidents abroad. This includes diplomatic measures to protect Americans, minimize damage, terminate terrorist attacks, and bring terrorists to justice. To coordinate the U.S. effort to combat terrorism internationally, State uses a variety of mechanisms to work with the Departments of Defense, Justice, and the Treasury; the intelligence agencies; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and others. These mechanisms include interagency working groups at the headquarters level in Washington, D.C., emergency action committees at U.S. missions overseas, and liaison exchanges with other government agencies.

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