U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Top Private-Sector Security Concerns in 2008

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1 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Bureau of Diplomatic Security For Immediate Release Jan. 7, 2009 Contact: Brian Leventhal (office) (cell) Top Private-Sector Security Concerns in 2008 Private Sector Says Terrorism, Maritime Piracy, Corruption Among Growing Threats Terrorism loomed large as one of the top security concerns of 2008 for U.S. businesses, nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions operating overseas, according to private sector constituents of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). This past year we saw terrorist attacks against U.S. and other Western interests in northern Africa, the Arabian peninsula, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in Turkey, said Todd Brown, a Special Agent with the Department of State s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Executive Director of OSAC. And the targets of these attacks have been not only U.S. Government facilities and personnel, but in some cases U.S.-based businesses and non-governmental organizations. While not all terrorist incidents tracked by OSAC in 2008 involved U.S. victims, these attacks which often targeted other Western entities have raised concerns for U.S. firms and organizations operating in areas experiencing attacks, said Brown. The most significant such incident occurred in Mumbai, India, with the late November assault on landmark hotels and a Jewish community center, among other targets. This attack highlighted two growing concerns for the U.S. private sector: the perception of an increasing terrorist threat in India, and a broader concern for hotel safety worldwide. According to the year-end analysis of reports from OSAC members and other unclassified information, the U.S. private sector faced several other security threats abroad, including maritime piracy, corruption, and violence fueled by competition among drug lords vying for markets in the illicit drug trade. Clearly, the variety of security incidents of 2008 demonstrates that U.S. private-sector organizations must develop comprehensive security strategies, share and have access to timely threat information, and have response and recovery plans already in place to sustain their overseas operations in today s threat environment, Brown said. The OSAC analysis identified the sea lanes off the coast of Somalia as increasingly susceptible to maritime pirate attacks. Pirates seized more than 40 vessels off the Somali coast in 2008, threatening the safety of navigation, impeding trade, and increasing insurance costs for vessels operating in the Gulf of Aden.

2 Corruption in some European countries was another challenge that the U.S. private sector faced in OSAC members reported that greater demand by local officials for bribes to award contracts, issue permits, and provide other services as part of their official duties made it increasingly difficult to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The U.S. private sector became increasingly concerned in 2008 with the threat of rebel attacks in Colombia and drug cartel violence in Mexico, according to OSAC. Interest in business opportunities in Colombia resulted in U.S. firms asking OSAC about that nation s security environment and the threat posed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). OSAC noted that the Colombian government has achieved major successes against the FARC in recent years, while also recognizing that private industry remains concerned about continuing capabilities of the FARC and other illegal armed groups. Drug trafficking-related violence in Mexico hit an all-time high in 2008, said OSAC, leading many of its members to question the costs of operating in such an insecure environment, especially along the U.S.-Mexican border. From shootouts near facilities to a grenade attack at a national holiday event, the chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time increased markedly, particularly in major trafficking areas, including near the U.S.-Mexico border, the OSAC analysis reported. This year-end security review is based on reports from OSAC constituents, news media and other unclassified sources, and informational products developed by OSAC s regional specialists and delivered to its private-sector members throughout the year, explained Brown. By working with our OSAC partners, sharing our analysis, and pushing out our information, we aim to help the U.S. private sector better prepare for, respond to, and recover from the security challenges that may arise in the coming year, said Brown. The following is OSAC s list of the past year s top overseas security challenges to the American private sector. Top Private-Sector Security Issues Worldwide for 2008 AFRICA: Increased Maritime Incidents The international waters near Somalia, and particularly the Gulf of Aden, have seen increasing numbers of maritime pirate attacks. Of the 440 such attacks recorded off the Somali coast since 1984, more than 120 occurred in Merchant vessels, oil tankers, fishing boats, and recreational craft all risk seizure by pirates and having their crews held for ransom. The increase in incidents off the coast of Somalia has even prompted some foreign governments to send warships to the area as a preventive measure. Due to the high numbers of attacks and concerns that their vessels could be targeted, OSAC constituents have sought to enhance their security through such measures as traveling in convoys, hiring private security vendors, carrying non-lethal defensive weapons, using passive defense measures, and maintaining good communications at all times. Piracy and armed robbery at sea were also a problem in the Gulf of Guinea, where pirates attacking U.S. and other vessels along Nigeria s coast and off the shores of Cameroon, Benin

3 and Equatorial Guinea, became bolder - operating more regularly and farther offshore than in years past. For example, assailants operating in the coastal waters of Nigeria attacked one vessel 75 miles off shore, compared to the 10 to 15 miles at which similar attacks occurred the previous year. AFRICA: al-qa ida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in West and North Africa al-qa ida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) continued to commit deadly attacks in Algeria and expanded its operations in the region. AQIM demonstrated increased ambition and capability during the past year, launching a series of attacks across multiple borders and using kidnapping and a range of other illicit activities to finance its activities. August in particular was a violent month for AQIM in Algeria; nearly 60 people were killed in a series of vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks. The group typically targeted military and police forces, government buildings, and transportation sites, but also exploited individual targets of opportunity. The group targeted Western interests, including the shuttle bus of a Canadian engineering firm in August 2008, Austrian tourists in Tunisia, and the Israeli Embassy in Mauritania. Significantly, a Mauritanian citizen was linked to one of the attacks, indicating that the group had attracted regional support for its actions. AQIM s activities in 2008 raised U.S. private-sector concern that AQIM not only remains an undiminished threat, but also that it will continue to attempt large-scale, mass casualty attacks targeting their interests. AMERICAS: Rebel Activities With continued economic growth in Colombia, the U.S. private sector remained interested in the security and political stability of the country. In 2008, many industries inquired about Colombia's overall security situation and the country's largest domestic terrorist group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also know as the FARC. While the Colombian government has achieved major successes against the FARC in recent years, the U.S. private sector remained concerned about possible retaliation by the group. In 2008 alone, private industry has been victimized by bombings, kidnappings and extortion committed by members of the FARC and smaller criminal organizations claiming to be a part of the rebel group. AMERICAS: Drug Cartel Violence Throughout 2008, organized criminal violence in Mexico hit an all-time high, as the Government of Mexico confronted trafficking organizations and corrupt officials working with them. There were more than 5,300 cartel-related homicides in the first 11 months of the year a 117% increase over 2007, according to the Mexican Attorney General. The U.S. private sector continued to express concern about operating in such an insecure environment, especially along the U.S.-Mexican border, where trafficking organizations have engaged in violent confrontations with Mexican law enforcement agencies. From shootouts in public areas to a grenade attack at a national holiday event, the chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time increased markedly, particularly in major trafficking areas, including near the U.S.- Mexico border. ASIA: Resource Shortages Resource shortages continued to plague countries throughout East Asia and the Pacific. With their expanding economies and burgeoning populations, many countries in Asia faced difficulty in providing energy supplies sufficient to meet growing demand. Rolling blackouts in Karachi resulted in civil unrest and a decrease in productivity for businesses operating there. In China, where a high volume of U.S. companies have operations, intermittent blackouts presented challenges to operational continuity. In India, diversion of water resources to industrial use led to civil unrest and direct action against the private sector. "In Indonesia, which in previous years has experienced serious disorder due to price hikes, protests took place in 2008 over price increases for fuel, soybeans and other products." SOUTH ASIA: Terrorism Emanating from the Pakistani-Afghan Border Region The terrorist threat emanating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, including Pakistan s Northwest Frontier provinces and the Federally Administered Tribal Area, remained a top security concern for Asia and the rest of the world. Extremist groups such as the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, and al- Qa ida continued to take advantage of the lack of government control of the area to recruit, plan, organize, and conduct terrorist attacks on both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border. Groups in the area routinely

4 conspired to kidnap and assassinate workers from nongovernmental organizations, including the assassination of a USAID contractor in November. These extremists also have conducted suicide attacks on Western interests in the area, such as the September 2008 vehicle bomb at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and the January 2008 assault on the Serena Hotel in Kabul. EUROPE: Transnational and Indigenous Terrorism in Europe Europe remained under threat from both transnational and indigenous terrorist groups. While the region has not seen a large-scale terrorist attack since the 2005 London transit bombings, the threat of such an attack remained a top security concern. Underscoring the concern over the potential for future terrorist attacks, governments in several countries, including the United Kingdom and The Netherlands, continued to operate at heightened threat levels. According to several al-qa ida messages disseminated via the Internet and other media, attacks in and against Western nations remained a top objective of al-qa ida and other global Islamic radical organizations inspired by the group. Additionally, based on investigations into disrupted plots in Europe over the past few years, experts assess that Islamic terrorists continue to strive for attacks on the continent which will cause indiscriminate mass casualties. To reduce this threat, counterterrorism efforts of the European nations have aggressively targeted terrorist elements over the past few years and conducted numerous arrests and prosecutions of operatives at all levels of terror networks. Additionally, many private sector security managers in Europe remained concerned about the danger of complacency among staff, and continued to urge vigilance and awareness of the current security environment. EUROPE: Corruption and Rule of Law A series of political and business scandals over the past year raised concerns among OSAC constituents that corruption in many European countries is on the rise. Contributing factors in certain countries include: a declining economy fueling crime rates, pervasive influence of organized criminal groups on markets and governments, and limited rule-of-law. In Eastern European countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania, OSAC constituents expressed particular concern over corruption and increased difficulty maintaining compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act due to greater insistence on bribes for contracts and permits. Problems were particularly evident in Russia, with on-going concerns about corporate raiding, the takeover of businesses by dubious means, including misuse of government agencies by government and non-government actors, and those connected with criminal organizations. MIDDLE EAST: al-qa ida in Yemen and al-qa ida in Saudi Arabia: Activities and Cooperation U.S. interests saw bold attacks in Yemen this year, including the multiple vehicle-borne improvised explosive attacks against the U.S. Embassy Sana a on September 17, OSAC's constituents expressed concern about future attacks in Yemen and the potential for instability in Yemen to adversely impact Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia s security forces have in the last few years effectively countered the local terrorist threat of al-qa ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has led some remaining AQAP fighters to relocate to more permissive operating environments. AQAP statements have encouraged Saudi fighters to travel to Yemen to train with al-qa ida in Yemen (AQY) fighters and launch future cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia. AQAP previously targeted American firms and personnel in Saudi Arabia, and therefore any increased capability of its fighters is a concern to OSAC constituents. About OSAC The Overseas Security Advisory Council was established in 1985 as a Federal Advisory Committee with a U.S. Government Charter to promote security cooperation between the U.S. Department of State and American business and private sector interests worldwide. With a constituency of more than 3,500 U.S. companies and other private-sector organizations with overseas interests, OSAC operates a Web site (www.osac.gov), which offers its members the latest in safety- and security-related information, public announcements, warden messages, travel advisories,

5 significant anniversary dates, terrorist group profiles, country crime and safety reports, special topic reports, foreign press reports, and much more. The OSAC staff includes international security research specialists dedicated solely to serving the U.S. private sector. Additionally, OSAC has a network of 100 country councils around the world that brings together U.S. embassies and consulates with the local U.S. community to share security information. OSAC is co-chaired by the Director of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and a selected representative of the private sector. The OSAC Executive Director is a Diplomatic Security Special Agent. About The Bureau of Diplomatic Security The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the U.S. Department of State s law enforcement and security arm. The special agents, engineers, and security professionals of the Bureau are responsible for the security of 285 U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world. In the United States, Diplomatic Security personnel investigate passport and visa fraud, conduct personnel security investigations, and protect the Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States. More information about the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security may be obtained at

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