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Speeches and Remarks

Op-Ed: The Lasting Impact of 9/11 by Ambassador Lisa Kubiske

September 11, 2011

Ten years ago, on September 11, 2001, violent extremists killed nearly 3,000 people in a series of brutal attacks in the United States, including four Hondurans.  The lives of families and friends were altered irreparably that day, and they continue struggling with the impact of their loss.

And it changed the world. In the United States and worldwide, we were determined to overcome the threat and restore our path to better lives.  We were determined – and resilient.  Our spirit held.  We improved security, prevented attacks, and came to understand better the need to address the conditions that lead people to believe they have no recourse other than extremism.

The world has indeed changed, but many of those changes have led us toward solutions to counter extremist organizations of all types who attempt to assert power by using acts of mass murder.  This is true of historical allies of the U.S. —who have built stronger networks of information sharing for law enforcement, among other measures— and of the people in countries in the Arab world who are advocating for new democratic leadership.

Over the last ten years, those who suffered as a result of terrorist attacks have come together to create policies promoting security cooperation as well as fiscal transparency.  As a result, the ability for extremist groups to fund attacks has diminished.  Improved communication between law enforcement bodies has led to prevention of multiple attacks and the capture of the criminals who planned them.  It has also contributed to the systematic dismantling of extremist networks like al-Qaeda.  We have learned, time and again, the importance of preventing violence, rather than simply reacting to it.

The same kind of innovation and resilience can be found among the Honduran people, who are being terrorized by criminal groups in their own towns and cities.

Narcotraffickers and the gangs that support them are hardly different from terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.  They launch savage attacks on people to intimidate entire communities and instill fear in the public at large.

As a result, Hondurans feel less safe and suffer the economic consequences of insecurity.

But even in my short time here, it is clear to me that Hondurans are fighting back –fighting back with steps toward more transparent governance, toward investigating and prosecuting criminal cases, and toward creating jobs and opportunities for more and more Hondurans.  I’ve seen that Hondurans are resilient too, and they clearly see the way forward.

The Congress of Honduras recently took the important step of passing the Counter-Terrorism Financing law in December last year.  The new law allows for better investigations of money laundering and terrorist financing, requires international cooperation in seizing assets of terrorist groups, obligates the capture of anyone suspected of financing terrorism in any country, and gives Honduras jurisdiction over terrorist financing crimes even if acts of terrorism were not planned for Honduran soil.

This legislation will not only aid the international community in preventing violent acts abroad, it will damage narcotrafficking groups who rely on crimes such as money-laundering to support their deadly activities.

The events of September 11, 2001 taught the U.S. and our friends throughout the world that we are all in this fight together.  As we mourn those we have lost to violence, and honor those who serve their countries and communities, we recognize that Hondurans and Americans have an important goal in common: We want to live lives full of opportunity and free from fear.  Though there is much work left to do, we can proudly say that we are already on the path toward achieving our goal.