Thank you very much, Mr. President, and thank you to Ambassador Meza-Cuadra for your briefing as well as for your leadership as the chair of the CTC. We very much appreciate your work.
Over the past year, deadly terrorist attacks have killed hundreds of innocent civilians and injured countless more across the world, in places like the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Las Ramblas in Barcelona, the Al‑Rawdah Mosque in the Sinai, and the Save the Children office in Jalalabad, to name just a few. While we continue to destroy ISIS on and off the battlefields of Iraq and Syria and shut down al-Qa’ida and ISIS networks around the world, terrorists continue to evolve and adapt. The ability of these terrorist networks to exploit weaknesses in our defenses, both at critical infrastructure sites and soft targets all around the world, make clear that much more needs to be done.
That is why the United States strongly supported the adoption of Resolution 2341 a year ago and its goal of advancing efforts in all states to make concerted and coordinated efforts, including through international cooperation, to raise awareness and expand knowledge of the danger of terrorist attacks against critical infrastructure.
It is clear that al-Qa’ida and ISIS operatives, including returning foreign terrorist fighters and homegrown terrorists, continue to plot against critical infrastructure like airports, power plants, and government facilities despite nearly two decades of international effort since September 11, 2001, and we must better address those threats. However, we also need not forget that such operatives continue to attack soft targets such as sporting venues, theaters, and hotels, because they have historically received far less attention than critical infrastructure, and we all have paid dearly for it.
That is why we must continue to do more to assess and raise awareness of the actual risks; taking appropriate preparedness measures; promoting better interoperability, not only within governments and between governments but also with the public and private sectors; and ensuring resilience to attacks. We must continue to look to the United Nations, regional and international organizations, and Member States, to develop and share good practices and take all appropriate measures to manage the risk of terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure and soft targets.
For instance, since Resolution 2341’s adoption a year ago, the Global Counter Terrorism Forum has published the Antalya Memorandum on the Protection of Soft Targets in a Counterterrorism Context. The Antalya Memorandum contains good practices for both government and industry on how to increase awareness and preparedness for attacks against the public spaces where we gather to dine, shop, tour, and conduct business. These good practices reflect the collective expertise of more than 60 countries and 150 public and private practitioners from law enforcement, intelligence agencies, emergency management, and the private sector and are applicable globally to inform and guide government and industry in developing and refining policies and practices for soft target protection.
In the United States, we have incorporated the Antalya good practices into our domestic soft target security programs. We encourage others to do the same, and we continue to collaborate with international partners on how to implement most effectively these good practices as a means of promoting greater global preparedness for these types of attacks. We are also pleased that both Resolution 2395, renewing the Counterterrorism Executive Directorate’s mandate, and Resolution 2396, on returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters, reaffirm Resolution 2341 and the need to address risks associated with critical infrastructure and other particularly vulnerable targets from terrorist attack. We will be looking to CTED and other UN and international bodies such as the UN Office of Counterterrorism, INTERPOL, and the International Organization for Migration to assist Member States in improving their efforts to implement these resolutions and to facilitate needed technical assistance.
In the United States and many other countries, private companies own most of the critical infrastructure. Protecting such infrastructure is therefore a collaborative effort between the private and public sectors. And, this April, the United States will be hosting in Japan, under the auspices of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, a workshop on protecting soft targets from terrorist attack that highlights the importance of fostering public-private partnerships.
Resolution 2341 represented a significant step forward in the global response to protecting critical infrastructure from the threat of terrorist attack. Now, we must take concrete steps toward increasing our vigilance and adaptability toward this evolving threat, to better protect our citizens from future terrorist attacks. Many thanks, Mr. President.