OAS Creates Counterterrorism Network

OAS Creates Counterterrorism Network

By Julieta Pelcastre / Diálogo
December 18, 2019

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The network seeks to prevent the operations and funding of terrorist groups through information exchange between partner nations.

In October 2019, the Organization of American States (OAS) announced the creation of the Inter-American Network on Counterterrorism, to exchange information and early warnings on threats in the hemisphere.

“Through this network, [partner] countries will be able to share terrorism alerts and advisories, notices of counterterrorism actions, and other relevant information without delay, a capability that does not currently exist,” Nathan Sales, coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State, told the press. “Terrorist activities have been detected in the continent, including funding for Hezbollah in the Tri-border area of Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay. We have to guarantee our focus on the threats of our neighborhood,” Sales added.

This project has a two-year period of implementation and will be carried out by the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE, in Spanish), which the OAS created two decades ago to prevent and counter violence in the hemisphere through information exchange networks, the OAS indicated.

CICTE’s purpose is to make the network operational in case of increased terrorist activity in the region, “or to confront criminal rings with these organizations to [be able to] disrupt their funding,” Yadira Gálvez, a defense and security specialist and scholar at the National Autonomous University of México, told Diálogo.

The creation of this network responds to a need several countries of the hemisphere expressed at the Second Hemispheric Ministerial Conference on the Fight against Terrorism, organized in Buenos Aires in July by the Argentine government. The conference sought to generate efficient mechanisms for information exchange using secure communication platforms to detect threats against the civil population ahead of time.

Conference attendees considered that transnational terrorism organizations such as the Islamic State group (IS), Al-Qaeda, and Hezbollah and their affiliates are a threat to citizens’ security inside and outside their territories, the Argentine Foreign Ministry told the press. For example, in February 2018, the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago detained an IS group that planned to carry out attacks during carnival celebrations, the ministry added.

“Other groups that are a major concern for Latin American countries are remnants of the National Liberation Army [ELN, in Spanish], the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and the Shining Path in Peru, which combine organized crime activities with terrorist attacks,” Gálvez concluded. “ELN members are also present in Cuba and Venezuela.”