This issue brief examines international terrorist actions and threats and the U.S. policy response. Available policy options range from diplomacy, international cooperation and constructive engagement to economic sanctions, covert action, physical security enhancement and military force. Questions relate to whether U.S. policy and organizational mechanisms are adequate to deal with both state sponsored or abetted terrorism and that undertaken by independent groups. Non-traditional harm such as computer "violence" may not be included as well. Such activity may well be on the rise. Faced with such prospects, governments are increasingly likely to consider utilizing covert operations to protect their citizenry. Another issue is whether PDD 62, which established a terrorism coordinator at the National Security Council (NSC), takes too much of the terrorism decision making process out of the realm of congressional oversight as NSC members do not generally testify before Congress. Radical Islamic fundamentalist groups pose a major terrorist threat to U.S. interests and friendly regimes. Nations facing difficult challenges include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, and to a lesser degree, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Iran has been aggressively seeking nuclear weapons technology and is seen as the most active state sponsor of the seven states on the State Department's terrorism list. Sanctions have not deterred such activity to any meaningful degree. Some see utility in creation of an informal "watch-list" of nations not currently qualifying for inclusion on the terrorism list.
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB95112