"International terrorism has long been recognized as a serious foreign and domestic security threat. This issue brief examines international terrorist actions and threats and the U.S. policy response. As the 9/11 Commission report released on July 19, 2004, concludes, the United States needs to use all tools at its disposal, including diplomacy, international cooperation, and constructive engagement to economic sanctions, covert action, physical security enhancement, and military force. A modern trend in terrorism is toward loosely organized, self-financed, international networks of terrorists. Another trend is toward terrorism that is religiously- or ideologically-motivated. Radical Islamic fundamentalist groups, or groups using religion as a pretext, pose terrorist threats of varying kinds to U.S. interests and to friendly regimes. A third trend is the apparent growth of cross-national links among different terrorist organizations, which may involve combinations of military training, funding, technology transfer, or political advice. 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 secretly conducting a longstanding uranium enrichment program, and North Korea has both admitted to having a clandestine program for uranium enrichment and claimed to have nuclear weapons. (See CRS [Congressional Research Service] Issue Brief IB91141, 'North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program'.) On December 19, 2003, Iran signed an agreement allowing international inspections of nuclear sites; on December 21, 2003 Libya announced similar intentions. Indications have also surfaced that Al Qaeda has attempted to acquire chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons. As a result, stakes in the war against international terrorism are increasing and margins for error in selecting appropriate policy instruments to prevent terrorist attacks are diminishing."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB10119
U.S. Department of State: http://fpc.state.gov/