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Remarks by Attorney General Holder at the Media Availability Following Meeting with European Union Officials About Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Other Areas of Mutual Concern


Washington, DC
United States

Thank you all for being here.  It has been a pleasure to welcome so many of my colleagues and counterparts to Washington, D.C., for this week’s important ministerial meeting.

Over the past two days, we have discussed the considerable work that’s currently enabling the U.S. and the EU to coordinate on common threats – in addition to the steps that we can, and must, take together in the days ahead.

In the last year alone, our nations have taken tough, coordinated action against cyber criminals, online child pornographers, and transnational organized crime.  We had the privilege of hearing today from some of our lead prosecutors on the Game Over Zeus cyber investigation and the action against Tor dark markets, including the second edition of the Silk Road website, that have taken place over the past few days.  Both, of course, involved U.S. authorities and multiple EU member states.

And we also have heard how we have worked together against traditional organized crime groups, including ’Ndranghta – where our coordinated work with Italy led to 25 arrests in New York and Calabria earlier this year.

Importantly, we also discussed a number of steps that the U.S. – and the EU and its member states – can take together to address the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, including through information sharing, investigations and prosecutions, and countering violent extremism.

One important area, we agreed, was developing the capabilities of our partner governments to deal with foreign terrorist fighters.

The Department of Justice is part of a U.S. Government-wide effort in this regard.

I can announce today that, with the support of the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, the Department of Justice has detailed federal prosecutors and senior law enforcement advisors to reside in key regions – including the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa – to work with countries seeking to increase their capacity to investigate and prosecute foreign terrorist fighters.

The Department of Justice has advisors residing in four Balkans countries.  And we will soon be placing a regional counterterrorism advisor in the area.

Justice Department prosecutors have also been placed in ten countries in the Middle East and North Africa.  These personnel will provide critical assistance to our allies in order to help prosecute those who return from the Syrian region bent on committing acts of terrorism.

Our counterterrorism prosecutors here in the U.S. also travel to other countries to collaborate with their counterparts.

And we have assigned a U.S. prosecutor as the Interim Director of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, or IIJ – located in Malta – which provides a forum to discuss the Foreign Terrorist Fighter problem and work with international partners to arrive at solutions.

The Justice Department provides vital expertise and support to the IIJ, in partnership with the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, and in collaboration with the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate.

Finally, we are working with other partners, including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, to help build the capacity of partners world-wide to engage in mutual legal assistance on cases involving terrorism and transnational crime.

Our goal in all these efforts is to build the capacity to fight Foreign Terrorist Fighters within the rule of law – so we can stop the flow of fighters into conflict regions, stem the tide of violence, and aggressively combat violent extremism.

As our discussions have shown, in all of these areas, we can succeed only as partners.  And I am happy to have partners such as these on both sides of the Atlantic.

I appreciate this chance to join so many invaluable colleagues and counterparts here in Washington, as we keep advancing these critical discussions – and building on the great work that’s underway.  And I look forward to all that our nations must – and surely will – achieve together in the months and years ahead.

Thank you.

Updated August 18, 2015