"International terrorism has long been recognized as a foreign and domestic security threat. The tragic events of September 11 in New York, the Washington, D.C., area, and Pennsylvania have dramatically re-energized the nation's focus and resolve on terrorism. 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. The September 11th terrorist incidents in the United States, the subsequent anthrax attacks, as well as bombings of the U.S.S. Cole, Oklahoma City, World Trade Center in 1993, and of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, have brought the issue of terrorism to the forefront of American public interest. 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. […] Looming over the entire issue of international terrorism is a trend toward proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). For instance Iran, seen as the most active state sponsor of terrorism, has been aggressively seeking a nuclear arms capability. Iraq is thought to be stockpiling chemical and biological agents. Also, indications have surfaced that the Al Qaeda organization attempted to acquire chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. As a result, stakes in the war against international terrorism and its supporters are increasing and margins for error in selecting appropriate policy instruments or combinations of them to prevent terrorist attacks are diminishing correspondingly."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB95112