(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns announced approximately US2 million for counterterrorism training, during the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) that took place in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
"As a result of international cooperation, Al Qaeda is finding it more difficult to raise money, train recruits, and plan attacks outside the region. Its leadership has been dealt serious blows. In Yemen, thanks to a combination of international pressure and national leadership, Al Qaeda affiliates now hold little ground.
And in Somalia, Al Shabaab has gone from controlling most of the country's south and central regions and almost all of Mogadishu to scrambling for places to operate," said Burns.
Yet, according to him, serious threats remain, especially coming from the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region, stretching from Algerian Sahara to the Sudanese savannah.
"For some time, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has launched attacks and kidnaps from northern Mali into neighbouring countries," mentioned Burns. In fact, kidnaps for ransom, in his opinion, are now the preferred method of funding among terrorism groups.
Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Villy Svndal, also announced a budget of US28 million to fight terrorism."Denmark is paying special attention to the Sahel region and from 2013 until 2017 we will spend an additional US22 million for the Sahel, in community based initiatives aimed at preventing terrorism," he added.
Italian Undersecretary of State Staffan de Mistura pointed out that from Sahel to North Africa and beyond "Al Qaeda has created a belt of terror across Arabia".
Giving Italy's experience with mafia, de Mistura said his country has what it takes to help the counterterrorism battle. "You all know about Italy's problems with the mafia. The rule of the game is to follow the money, and this is where we can contribute," he pointed out.
During the GCTF meeting in the Capita, Hedayah, the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, which has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, was inaugurated.
The new centre is devoted to training, dialogue, collaboration and research to counter violent extremism. Hedayah will be independent from GCTF, but it hopes to have a close partnership with it. An Action Plan to help victims of terrorism has also been adopted during the meeting. British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt welcomed the opening of the centre that will work to counter violent extremism.
Speaking from Tunisia, where he is on an official visit, the minister said: "Today's launch in Abu Dhabi of the Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is an important milestone in the global fight against terrorism. In particular, I welcome the leadership that Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed has shown and the UAE's commitment to host the centre and make it a reality. The UK will continue to give it our full support.
We have nominated an expert to serve as a Member of the International Steering Board and are seconding a Director of Training and Capacity-Building into the centre's senior management team.