Today, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron reaffirmed their commitment to continue close bilateral cooperation on global counterterrorism issues. For decades, and especially since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. and UK have engaged in unprecedented and unparalleled information-sharing and cooperation to strengthen our joint resolve and effectiveness against terrorist threats. Many of our joint achievements must remain secret, but we can acknowledge that day-to-day interaction by dedicated U.S. and UK professionals has led to many noteworthy successes, particularly against al-Qa’ida, its affiliates and adherents, saving countless lives.
Securing the U.S. and UK Homelands: U.S. and UK cooperation has led to the disruption of multiple terrorist operations planned on U.S. and UK soil. In 2006, close U.S.-UK cooperation led to the disruption of a large-scale al-Qa’ida plot against transatlantic aviation, which if executed would have had global impact. Critical information flow between the U.S. and UK governments led to the plotters arrests. In 2004, UK authorities disrupted a cell plotting to attack the New York Stock Exchange and World Bank headquarters, among other targets, in the United States.
Protecting Citizens from across the Globe: Bilateral counterterrorism cooperation has been essential in preventing numerous terrorist attacks over the last decade, including in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. Over the last decade, U.S. and UK Forces have seamlessly collaborated on CT-related combat operations, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, the U.S. is the UK’s closest foreign partner in helping to ensure a safe and secure Olympic Games in London; the event will attract over 2 million visitors from across the globe.
Safeguarding Global Transit: The U.S. and UK work closely to deter attacks that seek to exploit the global transit and communication system. Joint initiatives that advance transport security, counter piracy, defend cyber space and information systems, and interdict weapons smuggling serve to protect the means by which our increasingly interconnected world operates. In 2010, for example, British authorities removed from a U.S.-bound cargo plane an explosive device planted by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula that was set to explode over the United States.
Upholding Standards of Law and Order: Bilateral law enforcement and intelligence cooperation has led to arrest and conviction of numerous terrorist operatives and supporters. Whether it be the 2009 30-year conviction in the U.K. of a terrorist cell leader planning to blow up planes mid flight between the UK and America and Canada or the 2010 apprehension of a British Airways software engineer who was providing support to al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula attack planning, U.S. and UK law enforcement professionals uphold the highest criminal justice standards as they relentlessly work to protect the public.
Denying Terrorists Safe-Haven: The U.S. and UK share a common understanding of the underlying conditions that terrorists exploit to secure safe-haven. The governments consult each other regularly and maximize comparative advantages to ensure international development efforts, institution-building and reform initiatives and capacity building including building resilience to counter extremist ideology and undermining violent extremists’ attempts to justify terrorism. Our foreign assistance programs complement shared objectives and promote stability and security in some of the most difficult terrain around the world, including in Afghanistan, where our forces have been engaged since 2001. We collaborated to help set up the Global Counterterrorism Forum to mobilize resources and expertise for countries confronting the global threat. This shared vision was also displayed during the recent UK-hosted Somalia conference, as Secretary of State Clinton worked closely with PM Cameron and international attendees to forge a consensus in support of regional efforts to advance stability and governance in that war-torn country and terrorist safe-haven.
Confronting Emerging Transnational Threats: In addition to combating terrorism, the U.S. and U.K. are deepening cooperation against transnational organized crime, a significant and growing threat to our national and international security. Last July, the U.S. and U.K. coordinated the simultaneous release of their respective strategies on transnational organized crime, focusing on targeting major transnational criminal networks, combating the increase in kidnapping for ransom, and severing the linkages between crime and terrorism.