Terrorism and Counterterrorism after September 11th   [open pdf - 127KB]

The enormity and sheer scale of the simultaneous suicide terrorist attacks on September 11 eclipses anything previously seen -- either individually or in aggregate, says Bruce Hoffman, vice president and director of the RAND Washington office. "It calls, unquestionably, for a proportionate response of unparalleled determination and focus such as we see today in our actions both in the United States and abroad, as well as one that utilizes the full range of formidable tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, military, and economic." The significance of the September 11th incidents from a terrorist operational perspective is that simultaneous attacks -- using far more prosaic and arguably conventional means of attack (such as car bombs, for example) -- are relatively uncommon. For reasons not well understood, terrorists typically have not undertaken such coordinated operations. This was doubtless less of a choice than a reflection of the logistical and other organizational hurdles that most terrorist groups are not able to overcome. Indeed, this was one reason why we were so galvanized by the synchronized attacks on the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam three years ago. The orchestration of that operation, coupled with its unusually high death and casualty tolls, stood out in a way that, until September 11th, few other terrorist actions had: bringing bin Laden as much renown as infamy in many quarters. While much attention is currently focused on the military options being exercised in South Asia, they are only one instrument that the United States can bring to bear in the struggle against terrorism. Our efforts need to be fully coordinated, sustained, and prolonged. They will require commitment, political will, and patience. They must have realistic goals and not unduly raise or create false expectations. And, finally, they must avoid cosmetic or "feel-good" physical security measures that contribute only tangentially, if at all, to the enhancement of national as well as international security. In conclusion, it must be appreciated that the struggle against terrorism is never-ending. By the same token, our search for solutions and new approaches must be equally continuous and unyielding, proportional to the threat posed by our adversaries in both innovation and determination.

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Terrorism: Threat Assessment, Countermeasures and Policy: U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda: An Electronic Journal of the U.S.Department of State, v.6, no.3, p. 22-24
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