Sunday, November 18, 2001

‘One for all,
all for one’ effort
needed to beat terror

Unprecedented cooperation
among intelligence, military, law
enforcement agencies is required

By Myron R. Fuller
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Cleveland, Ohio. >> U.S. military forces, law enforcement and intelligence agencies will be successful in the campaign against terrorism and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will turn in an exemplary performance as it has done during most of the past 90 years through world wars, crime waves and domestic conflicts that have threatened freedom and tranquility in this country.

This will come about this time, however, only if they forge the strongest and most cooperative commitment yet from all relevant government agencies at home and from associates abroad.

This will require unprecedented exchanges of intelligence not only between U.S. agencies but from like organizations that collect and disseminate intelligence throughout the world.

So far, this coordination has been missing. It is abundantly clear that the lack of intelligence, cooperation and strategy within the United States and at critical points of leadership around the globe set this country up for the horrors of Sept.11.

This lack of intelligence, human intelligence in particular, which has been the essence of FBI success against all significant crimes in the past, has left law enforcement and intelligence agencies groping for understanding and solutions. The lack of interagency cooperation, not only at home but also with critical foreign agencies, has left the United States grasping for information that is out of reach.

A strategy that engages not only the FBI but all U.S. agencies to investigate acts of terrorism, to consider the root causes of terrorism, and to predict conspiracies of terrorist acts has not been clearly defined. On an even broader perspective, a global strategy against terrorism from the United Nations has been totally ignored.

Having served for 30 years in the FBI, including 20 years in management and four years as Special Agent in Charge of the Honolulu Division, my perspective has been formed from having had the responsibility for FBI counterterrorism and other investigations of transnational crimes, intelligence development, liaison and training for the 46 nations of the Asia Pacific region, representing more 50 percent of the earth's population.

Although there are countries in this region that are not enthusiastic about cooperating with the United States, most do in varying degree to help defeat terrorism and to solve serious transnational crimes. These countries have mutual concerns and are crucial for the formulation of global strategy in the eastern hemisphere and indeed, the entire world.

During the late 1990s, the FBI in Honolulu focused on the regions of Pakistan-Afghanistan-India-Nepal and Philippines- Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand to investigate acts of terrorism against Americans. These regions also were engaged for training, liaison and information exchange to enhance understanding and cooperation on organized crime, illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, human smuggling and, of course, terrorism.

While the Philippines would be problematic for acts of terrorism by known extremists groups there, the most troubling was evidence of growing signs of extremism and an increase in terrorist acts in Pakistan, with known connections with Afghanistan and other countries around the globe. Investigations resulted in remarkable evidence linking these acts to a larger and broader scheme of individuals with ties to international terrorist organizations.

The cutting edge for an international task force and intelligence center against terrorism and crimes affecting U.S. borders was formulated by the FBI's Honolulu Division for the Asia-Pacific region. Active working relationships were developed with foreign law enforcement officials and country leaders, and with organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asia Nations and with U.S. embassy country teams. The FBI has nine legal attaches in embassies throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Initiatives were tailored after the concepts of the East-West Center and the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, both in Honolulu and chartered in the spirit of information exchange and cooperation. These initiatives were made in concert with relevant U.S. intelligence agencies and with the U.S. Pacific Command, which controls U.S. military forces in the region from its headquarters here.

However, without the support of a global strategy in Washington, D.C., to collect, analyze and disseminate intelligence and to organize cooperation from all relevant U.S. agencies and foreign entities, much of this effort came to a dead end in compartmentalized bureaucracies inside the capital Beltway.

The Central Intelligence Agency, for example, promised transparency and a seamless exchange of intelligence on terrorism. However, this exchange was limited and impeded by outdated dissemination procedures or in some instances, the CIA's reluctance to meet with the FBI on critical investigations of terrorism. Further, FBI headquarters was reluctant to expend limited counterterrorist resources in Asia and the Pacific, which is far from the the Beltway.

The FBI and law enforcement officials across the country have become highly skilled in responding to crimes and managing crises, including tactical operations almost any place on earth. Law enforcement agencies have excelled in investigating illegal drug trafficking inside the United States, but have failed to stop the merchants of narcotics operating outside our borders.

It took 50 years for U.S. law enforcement officials, intelligence agencies and finally the armed forces to conclude that they could risk trusting Mexico and Colombia in the fight against illegal drugs. Although the Drug Enforcement Administration has led the way in Mexico, South America and Thailand in coping with drug trafficking, its success has been limited to the narrow bureaucratic dimensions of U.S. strategy on narcotics.

Only recently has the United Nations, at the risk of alienating a few nations, announced efforts to support the reduction of terrorism.

AmericaNS place trust and confidence in the FBI, in our men and women who wear the uniform and many other U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to win this war against terrorism. We cannot wait decades or even a few years for these components to put their collective arms around the problem through intelligence, cooperation and strategy.

This concept, this art of war, has been repeatedly successful against domestic crime problems and so should it be against the international terrorist.

Myron R. Fuller, the former special agent in charge
of the Honolulu Division of the FBI, retired in
June and now works in corporate security.

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