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Last Updated:10/25/01
Excerpt from State Department Daily Briefing, October 22, 2001
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 22, 2001

QUESTION: And on Colombia, Phil, there have been new developments inside the Government of Colombia in terms of the negotiations with the FARC, and also actions to combat the acts -- the killing of people, civilians by this terrorist group.

They present a new set of measures, for the first time recognizing -- the Government of Colombia -- the FARC as a terrorist group. Have you guys been looking at these measures introduced?

MR. REEKER: Certainly we have recognized the FARC as a terrorist group for some time, as you know, from regularly reading and referring to our annual Patterns of Global Terrorism Report. In addition to the FARC, the ELN and this year, since September 10th, the AUC organizations in Colombia, have all been designated under our law as foreign terrorist organizations.

I am not aware of the specifics of the Colombian developments. I would be happy to check into that and see if we had anything to add. But as you know, we have been very supportive of President Pastrana and his Plan Colombia, his strong counter-narcotics program. We have talked about, our Patterns of Global Terrorism has talked about, the links between these terrorist organizations with narcotics trafficking as well. So those are issues that remain of great concern to us.

...

QUESTION: To follow up on Jesus' question, I would like to know your impression about the Colombian Government today is going to present a strong bill -- anti-terrorism bill. It contains heavy penalties to combat terrorists. It is important, a statement from Colombian Government against terrorism campaign?

MR. REEKER: Not having actually seen the bill or knowing what the Colombian Government is going to do, I can't really comment on it. But certainly our stand against terrorism has been quite clear for a long, long time. But particularly since September the 11th, when we have seen the tragic results of what these terrorists can do to our country. This is a global threat. We are working with a worldwide coalition of the civilized world to stamp out terrorism, focusing right now on al-Qaida, using all the tools available to us, that is financial and economic steps we can take, diplomacy, where we are working with countries all over the world and keeping in a close dialogue on counter-terrorism issues with many countries.

We are using law enforcement cooperation. You have seen reports of arrests, you have seen countries passing laws or introducing legislation to tighten up on terrorists, to take away their ability to take advantage of open societies, to take advantage of the global financial network. These are the steps we have to take, not to jeopardize our values and what is important in our lives, but to disallow the terrorists from using those aspects of our society, of the 21st century, to use those against us for their own twisted means and aims.

So we will continue working with countries in our coalition. Different countries will be called on to do different things at different times. But we certainly applaud all steps taken in this direction and, like I say, I can't comment specifically on the Colombian steps but I know we will continue to have a strong dialogue with our friends in Colombia.

QUESTION: I have one other question, I'm sorry. Colombian army found a secret document which belonged to the AUC. That document contained a list of names. These are men who are supporting AUC. Actually, the document shows that people supporting paramilitaries have been sending checks from USA, US banks. So is the USA helping Colombian authorities in this investigation?

MR. REEKER: I am not aware of that specific document or that specific thing. I am aware that, on September the 10th, we formally designated the AUC as a terrorist organization under our law. So it now appears on the list and we spoke about that at some length on September the 10th. So that joins the other two organizations that had been previously designated and have since been re-designated as foreign terrorist organizations in Colombia.

I know that we have a counter-terrorism dialogue in terms of part of our relationship with Colombia. I don't have anything specific for you on that. I wasn't even aware of those reports. But just the other day, I issued a statement condemning a terrorist action taken by the AUC in terms of murdering a number of civilians, innocent civilians, and we condemned that most roundly.

QUESTION: Have you been following the people who are supporting paramilitaries from USA banks in the United States?

MR. REEKER: I think I just indicated that I don't have any information on the reports you are talking about.

As of October 25, 2001, this document was also available online at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2001/index.cfm?docid=5491
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