Strategies for counter-terrorism in United States
September 9/11 is a day that many people will never forget. It’s a day that’s the world’s peace was on the line. The attack on the world’s trade center proved that terrorism is a real threat in the world. That day I watched TV in shock watching people crying and wailing in pain. Many souls perished in the attack and others were maimed seriously. Counter-terrorism is an action taken to prevent the activities of political groups who use violence to try to achieve their aims. To come up with an effective counter-terrorist strategy, state government need the aim terrorists ‘ interest and goal in their state and what they aim to achieve in their mission. This analysis entails how terrorism occurs and the strategies that America has taken to counter it and challenges of each strategy.
The word terrorism originates from the word terrero which is in Latin, meaning fear. Usually terrorists are taken as Middle Eastern men who are motivated by their beliefs to harm innocent people. Unfortunately this vice is diverse, found everywhere in the world and used for any imaginable goal. Mostly terrorists are religiously or politically motivated. There are those homegrown and international. For the homegrown they organize and do it in their country (Cindy C Combs, 2003).
The word terrorism brings fear into many people while others misunderstand it. Terrorists are usually ideologically motivated whereby they use violence towards civilians so as to create fear and panic hoping to change policies or laws in a given country. There various practices used by terrorists to propagate their activities. One way terrorists is to create civil disorder. This can vary from legal protestation to illegal intimidation to the government. Various countries condone different dissent levels whereas in other peaceful assembly this is taken as terrorism. For sure destructive terrorism forms are religious, political, and quasi political. The political terrorist performs the terrorism hopping to change policies, normally in reference to profession, color or creed. The quasi political terrorism is one whereby terrorist’s tactics are used for personal gain. Finally religious terrorism looks at proliferating a person’s belief in the expense of others (Cindy C Combs, 2003). A firm stand should be taken against terrorism since it is very cruel and unjust.
Terrorism goes in and around diplomatic process with a purpose of disrupting safety and peace so as to achieve a goal. For many terrorists, a mission successful is considered when thousands of helpless, children and women lie as corpses in the streets. What many terrorist do is to set as small bomb maybe in a building which results in killing say, forty people and later detonate a larger bomb when crowd of people, policemen and medics gather to witness the outcome.
Terrorists attacks have taken place like hundred times in America and the exact figures are not clear since distinction between political violence and the domestic one is blurred. From the year 1999, there have been over fifty terror attacks which are separate, on domestic soil. According to the FBI’s NCTC records, there were over eleven thousand five hundred terror acts in the entire world by the year 2011. These attacks occurred in seventy two countries and led to approximately fifty thousand casualties of which thirteen thousand two hundred of the fifty thousand casualties suffered extreme trauma.
Each American government agency concerned with counterterrorism, has a purpose in the war against terror. The mission of Federal Bureau of Investigation is to counteract terrorist cells and operatives in United States and to aid in dismantling terrorists networks globally. In United States, numerous agencies including State Department, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency are mandated to counter terrorism. The main objective of the National Counter-terrorism Center is to orchestrate and integrate the formidable abilities of the American government devoted to defeating the threat of international terrorism and reducing the terror to Unites States interests at home and overseas (Jim S., 2001).
Counter terrorism strategy was paramount in the US national security even before the September 9/11 attacks. This is depicted whereby from the year 1958 to the year 1999, over forty legal acts dealing with war reinforcement against terrorism in a ranging degree were adopted. This acts brought about empowering of the state authority and also the agencies of law enforcement to detect and also repress the terrorism act in United States and overseas.
Most of the states use varied goals and sub-goals that dictate their counterterrorism policies. These vary depending on the state’s economic and political situation. Some of these goals include; preventing the attack, getting rid of terrorists and motivation and minimizing casualties and damages should the terrorist attack occur (Michael B. Kraft, Edward M., 2012).
Over the decade, United States has had high level of involvement in counter-terrorism actions. The time of struggle during which it fought against terrorism can be divided into two phases: this is after and before the occurrence of the 11th Sep, 2001. Phase one of counterterrorism is in relation to 1980s to 1990s. In this phase there were clear distinguished tendencies such as: use of military forces and new technologies. They used of military forces to fight international terrorist especially bombing their bases and their agencies. One of these operations was held during autumn-inter the year 2001 in Afghanistan. According to Bush G.W, they joined hands with the afghan people to overthrow the Taliban regime— the defenders of the al-Qaida network- and supported a new democratic government to rise in its place. In the field of information technology, there has been a defense by the United States: the data system and the supervisory control that are applied in the oil and gas industries, pharmaceutical. In the water supply system, and in chemicals are very vulnerable since the implementation of the information technology. The attack of computers by viruses will have to play a vital role in military. Moreover, united States plan a major role in helping train new agents for counterterrorism in other countries.
Phase two started since autumn the year 2001. Thousands of people from eighty eight countries died as a result of 11th September attack. This attack led to the realization of the vulnerability of any country in the hands of terrorist. These have led to expansion of anti-terrorism cooperation in many countries. According to Paul Pillar, CRI agent who is working on Middle East countries and south Asia,’ the campaign against terrorism must be as diverse as terrorism itself’. He gave the difference among the following various counterterrorism measures; (1) The diplomacy which recognizes no borders among states, (2) the combination of many measures that complement one another, (3) blocking financial support to terrorists groups or even their sponsoring states. They would also try to track their cash flows though very difficult, (4) use of a considerably weak military force. Terroristic bases are normally not large targets and therefore easy to destroy unlike the military bases which presents a large stationary, (5) intelligence activity is the most crucial tool to deal with terrorism. The challenge with this tool is that most of the terrorists’ data is fragmented, pregnant with meanings and usually highly questionable, (6) they would also combine different measures which complement each other.
One of the America’s main strategies of combating terrorism is diplomatic actions and economic sanctions against countries that tend to back-up terrorism activities. The best example of this is the United Nations mandating and leading international sanctions against West African country—Libya due to the role it played in backing up terrorists who were involved in the bombing of Pan Am 103 in the year 1988.this was the first action that the entire world community took against terrorism. The United States sternly led this action with nations now being aware that US would discipline nations that support terrorism (Spindlove, C. E., 2007)..
The second strategy which included objectives and policies such strengthening coalitions to beat global terrorism was initiated in the year 2002.the main objective of this strategy is to compel other nations’ government to indentify and destroy terrorist organizations. For instance, when President George Bush was planning war on Iraq, he encouraged Americans to use the full influence they have and work hand in hand with allies and friends to ensure that all actions of terrorists are illegal so that terrorism is perceived as unacceptable behavior that no reputable government can support. This strategy depicts America as using a policy of global coercion but at the time of this strategy, America was waging a war on Iraq. One of the main challenges of this strategy is that it used weapons of mass destructions and the fear of terrorism to help gain back-up for the war using a policy of ‘’your nation is either with us or against us.’’ (Spindlove, C. E., 2007).
The former U.S.A president said that the United States can no longer rely on deterrence to keep the terrorists at bay or defensive measure to thwart them at the last moment. The fight must be taken to the enemy, to keep them on the run. In order to succeed, America need the support and concert action of friends and allies (Bush G.W., 2010, p.8). Conquered with the president, “in this task of eradication, “deterrence” is a mere tactic…..to succeed in the long run, however ,the united state must address root causes or a next generation of terrorists will emerge. “They promised to make better the performance of making of decision, action and also for centralized decisions. They also said that the actions would be decided by those who can understand the political, military and also economic boundaries. They are the central authorities. Broad-front strategy, though seen as unwise and wasteful is what united state should conduct. As they have been dealing with issues of terrorists organizations, such as al Qaeda, the U.S.SA as realized that the head or the heat of the beast is never single. This means that the center of gravity to look at when attacking may not be there. Bush G.W. has outlined the main objects in the plan of fighting terrorism in United States. He said that the fight entails use of military force including other national power instruments to kill or catch the terrorists, refuse to give them safe haven, or power over any nation. Block them from getting access to WMD, and obstruct their means of support. This plan is also targeted on continuation of political reforms to guard peaceful Muslims in the whole world in their faith. He also said that responsible Islamic leaders should dissociate from an ideology that alters and exploits the Islam for ends that are destructive and rapes a proud religion. (Bush G.W., 2010, p.23).
The main counterterrorism plans are based on pre-emption, prevention, consequence management and defense. America is pursuing preemptive and proactive strategies to combat terrorism. The American security strategy is that of protection of its citizens and assets as it sees deterring and defeating terrorists as the ground for this defense. One of the main challenges of these policies is that they have internal conflict within themselves. On one hand, they seek to promote free and open societies globally while on the other hand, they seek to fight tyranny and terrorists. These strategies contradict each other as America is seen as promoting free and open societies while it benefits itself.
US usually attach much importance to getting from friendly countries rights to use their territory and tools for the USA armed forces, together with making the improved operating basis in dangerous and regions that are unstable. Today American troops are all over in one hundred and thirty countries of the world, in regards to Heritage Foundation. Most of these troops are majored in Arabic countries, together with Iraq base, Qatar, Kuwait and also in UAE (Spindlove, C. E., 2007).
In conclusion terrorism is a danger to world’s peace and stability. No groups of people should kill innocent people in the name of religion politics or ethnicity. Instead people from all religions, political or ethnic background should co-exist together and embrace peace. Unfortunately the terrorists consider a mission successful when hundreds of innocent souls lie in pools of blood. World leaders should unite their people and encourage them to shun away from terrorism and other related violence. The America’s counterterrorist policy is based on prevention; deterrence, pre-emption and limiting consequences if the act cannot be prevented. It also uses coercion as a strategy to help to strengthen coalitions for its strategies. America feels that exclusive of strong alliances and support from its friends and allies, terrorism will continue to grow and at one point, be a danger to its people and assets.
Bush, George W. (2010). Decision Points. Crown Publishers. pp. 399–400. “Palestinian extremists, many affiliated with the terrorist group Hamas, launched a wave of terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in Israel…My views [on Israel and Hamas] came into sharper focus after 9/11.”
Cindy C Combs (2003), Terrorism in the Twenty First Century, (3rd Edition, New Jersey: Pearsons Educ. Inc.)
Jim Saxton. (2001). Patterns of Global Terrorism and Threats to the U.S:Hearing before the Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism. Washington D.C: Diane Publishing Co.
Michael B. Kraft, Edward Marks.(2012) . U.S Government Counterterrorism: A Guide to Who Does What. New York:CRC press.
Paul R. Pillar.(2003). Terrorism and U.S Foreign Policy: Washington, D.C: R.R. Donnelley and Sons Harrisonburg, Virginia
Spindlove, C. E. (2007). Terrorism Today. The Past, The Players, The Future. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.