The building that houses the Executive Committee of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure is in a walled compound in the center of the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. I had the good fortune to be among the few Americans invited to take a peek inside.
Since its official opening in June 2004, the anti-terrorism center, or RATS, has fostered coordinated policies and joint action on potential terrorist threats in SCO member states. It also has planned SCO exercises and organized efforts to disrupt terrorist financing and money laundering.
Like the US Embassy, RATS headquarters has its own housing and dining facilities inside the compound, located in downtown Tashkent. But unlike the American Embassy, I encountered no security after the lone guard waived our embassy car through the gate. The current executive director, who happened to be out of town during my visit, is a Kyrgyz citizen; the next director will be from China and a Russian national will lead the RATS Executive Committee in 2014. A couple of dozen staffers work at the RATS compound.
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Richard Weitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.