30 June 2003
"U.S. Anti-Terrorism Strategy," by Raphael Perl
(Terrorism is becoming more widespread, diffuse, and deadly) (2440)
Following is an article adapted from a speech by Raphael Perl, a
specialist in international affairs for the U.S. Congressional
Research Service, to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin,
Germany, June 30. No republication restrictions.
United States Anti-Terrorism Strategy
By Raphael Perl
(The author is a specialist in international affairs, U.S.
Congressional Research Service.)
It is indeed a pleasure to address your distinguished group on the
topic of United States counter-terrorism strategy, an issue of growing
concern to both our nations. In the United States and nations
throughout the world, anti-terrorism policy is evolving and adapting
to changes in the global environment and changes in the terrorist
Today, I will frame my remarks by highlighting changes in the global
environment that facilitate terrorism and alter the terrorist threat.
I will then focus on key components and directions of U.S.
anti-terrorism policy and the White House National Strategy for
THE CHANGING GLOBAL SECURITY AND TERRORIST THREAT ENVIRONMENT
The end of the cold war has increasingly brought with it a realization
that the security environment had shifted dramatically:
-- Weapons and technology that have been traditionally available only
to nation states appear to be devolving to individuals and to
transnational, or sub-national, groups and organizations;
-- Individuals and disaffected groups are seeking, and might gain
access to, weapons of mass destruction; and
-- Globalization, free trade, and the expansion of democratic regimes
provide opportunity for freer movement for terrorist and criminal
Hand in hand with changes in the global security environment has come
a recognition that terrorism is becoming more widespread, diffuse, and
It is widely recognized today that terrorism is becoming less
territorially defined and more global in reach, and that it is
becoming less overtly state-sponsored and more decentralized.
Moreover, some suggest that terrorism is becoming more anonymous and
that in the future it will be increasingly driven by global religious
and ideological agendas.
HOW IS UNITED STATES POLICY CHANGING IN LIGHT OF THE CHANGING GLOBAL
LANDSCAPE AND CHANGES IN THE TERRORIST THREAT?
Let us examine some of the prominent characteristics of current U.S.
Current U.S. anti-terrorism policy is to a major degree pre-emptive,
with top priority being given to threats from weapons of mass
President Bush made this clear in his May 21, 2003, remarks to the
U.S. Coast Guard Academy. "We will not permit terror networks or
terror states to threaten or blackmail the world with WMD."
A similar viewpoint was echoed by Secretary of State Colin Powell in
an address on June 14, 2003, to the annual convention of the
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in Washington.
Powell promised that the war against terrorism would remain
unremitting and ultimately successful. "We will continue to work with
our coalition partners to search out terrorists, smash their weapons,
smash their networks, and freeze their finances. There will be no
respite, no rest until terrorists and terrorism are defeated. And they
will be defeated."
U.S. POLICY CENTERS AROUND THE STRATEGIC CONCEPT OF DEFENSE-IN-DEPTH
The new global counter-terrorism strategy, released by the White House
February 14, 2003, focuses on identifying and defusing threats before
they reach U.S. borders. The strategy stresses that all instruments of
U.S. power -- diplomatic, economic, law enforcement, financial,
information dissemination, intelligence, and military -- are to be
called upon. The strategy fits into the wider strategic concept of
"defense-in-depth," which projects four concentric rings of defense
against terrorist attack against the United States:
-- The outermost ring consists of diplomatic, military, and
intelligence organizations, operating mostly overseas. One goal of
these organizations is to help pre-empt attacks on the U.S. homeland.
-- Organizations such as the Customs Service, Immigration and
Naturalization Service, and the Coast Guard -- all of which were
recently incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security --
constitute the next ring, which focuses on U.S. borders and the goods
and people that cross them.
-- The next ring includes federal, state, and local law enforcement
"first responders" such as the fire service, and the National Guard.
These operate for the most part within U.S. borders and are
responsible for protecting towns and cities. Private citizens, who are
being asked to report suspicious activity and take preventive action
to reduce vulnerability to perilous situations, are part of this ring
-- The final ring includes the private sector and federal agencies
that play a key role in safeguarding the facilities that comprise
critical physical infrastructures (e.g. transportation, financial,
telecommunications, and energy systems). So we see a strategy based on
pre-emption, with a focus on WMD, with a defense-in-depth framework.
The strategy also has a number of other central components.
THE NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR COMBATING TERRORISM
To support this defense-in-depth framework, the "National Strategy for
Combating Terrorism," a 30-page interagency document, was released by
the White House on February 14, 2003. The National Strategy for
Combating Terrorism is designed to complement other elements of the
National Security Strategy, including sub-strategies for homeland
security, weapons of mass destruction, cyberspace, critical
infrastructure protection, and drug control. While the National
Strategy for Homeland Security focuses on preventing terrorist attacks
within the United States, the National Strategy for Combating
Terrorism focuses on identifying and defusing threats before they
reach U.S. borders. President Bush, in his comments accompanying
release of the strategy, has stressed that all instruments of U.S.
national power are being called upon to take the fight to the
While pre-emption and military force remain important components, the
strategy recognizes that the war on terror will not be won on the
military battlefield and gives strong policy emphasis to strategic
long-term policy components such as law enforcement, public
information campaigns, and economic development. Earlier draft
versions of the strategy had placed even heavier emphasis on
international law enforcement cooperation as a policy pillar.
The strategy details a desired end-state where the scope and
capabilities of global terrorist organizations are downscaled to the
extent that they become localized, unorganized, un-sponsored, and rare
enough that they can be almost exclusively dealt with by criminal law
enforcement. To accomplish this mission, emphasis is placed on
international action by working with the willing, enabling the weak,
persuading the reluctant, and compelling the unwilling. One outcome of
the strategy is that economic development is formally enumerated as an
important factor in reducing conditions that terrorists exploit.
Arguably, the strategy also raises the priority of using information
programs to de-legitimize terrorism.
The intent of the strategy is to stop terrorist attacks against the
United States, its citizens, its interests, and U.S. friends and
allies around the world. Creation of an international environment
inhospitable to terrorists and their supporters is sought. The
administration's National Strategy for Combating Terrorism is founded
on four pillars -- defeating, denying, diminishing and defending to be
simultaneously acted on four fronts, i.e.:
-- Defeating terrorists together with U.S. allies by attacking their
sanctuaries; leadership; command, control, and communications;
material support; and finances. Components include: (1) identifying
and locating terrorists by making optimal use of all intelligence
sources, foreign and U.S., and (2) destroying terrorists and their
organizations by capture and detention, use of military power, and
through employment of specialized intelligence resources, as well as
international cooperation to curb terrorist funding;
-- Denying terrorists sponsorship, support, and sanctuary/safe havens.
A central strategy objective is to ensure that other states take
action against such elements within their sovereign territory.
Elements include: (1) tailoring strategies to induce individual state
sponsors of terrorism to change policies; (2) promoting international
standards for combating terrorism; (3) eliminating sanctuaries; and
(4) interdicting terrorist ground, air, maritime, and cyber traffic,
in order to deny terrorists access to arms, financing, information,
WMD materials, sensitive technology, recruits, and funding from
illicit drug activities;
-- Diminishing underlying conditions that terrorists exploit, by
fostering economic, social, and political development, market-based
economies, good governance, and the rule of law. Emphasis includes:
(1) partnering with the international community to alleviate
conditions leading to failed states that breed terrorism; and (2)
using public information initiatives to de-legitimize terrorism; and
-- Defending U.S. citizens and interests at home and abroad to include
protection of physical and cyber infrastructures.
INHERENT IN THESE FOUR PILLARS ARE THE FOLLOWING COMPONENTS:
Intelligence component. A policy of pre-emption requires sound
intelligence. The United States is currently involved in implementing
measures designed to better merge domestic with foreign intelligence;
law enforcement intelligence with national security intelligence.
Increasingly, U.S. counter-terrorism strategy incorporates a law
enforcement component, subject however to restrictions found in the
Posse Comitatus Act and reaffirmed in the Homeland Security Act which
prohibit involvement of the military in domestic law enforcement.
Central to the new National Strategy for Combating Terrorism is law
enforcement cooperation. For example, since September 11, 2001, the
FBI has initiated cooperative programs with Singapore, Malaysia,
Thailand, and Indonesia aimed at apprehending suspected terrorists and
has shared expertise and technology with the law enforcement agencies
of these nations.
U.S. counter-terrorism policy also has a strong economic component
with both defensive and pre-emptive characteristics. On the defensive
side of this economic component, much attention is being given to
minimize disruption of the American economy by terrorists by
protecting economic infrastructures. A major function of the
Department of Homeland Security [DHS] is to assess the vulnerability
of critical infrastructures. Supporting such efforts is a growing use
of risk analysis and threat matrixes.
On the pre-emptive side of the economic component, the Bush
Administration has proposed a Millennium Challenge Account which would
increase foreign economic assistance starting in fiscal year 2004 to a
level which would be $5 billion [$5,000 million] higher by fiscal year
2006. Currently, U.S. economic aid worldwide totals $12.87 billion
[$12,870 million]. Aid would go to countries that have demonstrated
sound development practices and over time the new aid would be limited
to countries with a per capita annual income of less than $2,975.
Also evident is a growing counter-drug component. In the wake of the
events of September 11th, the international community has placed
emphasis on curbing financing of terrorists groups, and has
dramatically enhanced efforts to limit and seize sources of terrorist
funding. This has spawned renewed focus on the narcotics trade as a
source of funding for such groups. Even in instances where groups do
not actively work together, the synergy of their separate operations
and shared efforts at destabilization pose an increasing threat.
And of course, there is a military component. This military component
is reflected in the war in Iraq; U.S. operations in Afghanistan;
deployment of U.S. forces around the Horn of Africa, to Djibouti, and
the former Soviet Republic of Georgia; and ongoing military exercises
in Colombia. President Bush has expressed a willingness to provide
military aid to "governments everywhere" in the fight against
terrorism. The U.S. is also undergoing a shift in overseas base
locations to tactically support a more flexible strategy allowing for
extended global military reach.
On the home front, U.S. policy increasingly has a homeland security
focus. The newly created Department of Homeland Security is the
biggest reorganization of the federal government in America's history,
incorporating 22 government agencies and some 179,000 people into a
single organization charged with coordinating the nation's domestic
response to terrorism. The budget of the new department is roughly
equal in amount to 10 percent of the nation's defense budget. For
fiscal year 2003, 44 percent of federal law enforcement positions and
48 percent of federal law enforcement funding have been transferred to
Central to the U.S. government approach to combating terrorism is the
issue of counter-proliferation with a strong emphasis on proactive
counter-missile technology proliferation. In the words of Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld in his June 11, 2003, address to the Marshall
Center in Garmisch, Germany:
"If we are to deal with these new dangers, we need new tools of
international cooperation, including new authorities to prevent --
and, if necessary, interdict -- the import, the export and the
transshipment of weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles, and
WMD-related materials from and between and to terrorist states. We
also need to strengthen existing mechanisms for international security
"We are working to transform our Department of Defense in the United
States. And we are also working with our allies to help transform NATO
from a 20th-century defensive alliance, into a 21st-century alliance
capable of projecting power out of area, with leaner command
structures, and a rapid response force that can deploy in days instead
In a speech in Krakow, Poland, on May 31, 2003, President Bush
proposed a Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) aimed at keeping
WMD materials out of the hands of terrorists and rogue nations.
Germany was one of 11 nations participating in a June 12, 2003,
follow-up meeting in Madrid interested in changing international law
to stop the spread such weapons.
Legislation is also currently pending in the U.S. Congress -- the
Missile Threat Reduction Act of 2003 [HR 1950], which calls for a
U.S.-led effort to seek a binding international instrument to restrict
the trade of offensive ballistic missiles. Also called for is United
States' sponsorship of a U.N. Security Council Resolution prohibiting
U.N. members from "purchasing, receiving, assisting or allowing
transfer of" missile or missile- related equipment and technology from
North Korea, and which would permit interdiction, seizure, or
impoundment of North Korean missiles or related technology and
The administration's National Strategy for Combating Terrorism
continues to emphasize President Bush's counter-terrorism doctrine of
pre-emptive deterrence. In what some interpret as an important policy
declaration, the strategy links the goals of promoting economic
development to those of reducing conditions that terrorists exploit.
The degree to which funding will be committed to support this policy
is yet to be determined, but if implemented, a policy adopting
economic development linkages could have far-reaching implications on
the structure and implementation of U.S. foreign aid programs, and
possibly U.S. partnership support for multilateral assistance
initiatives. Moreover, a law enforcement-focused approach, as
envisioned by the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, could be
seen as less controversial by potential coalition members, and may
lead to increased support for the administration's counter-terror
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)