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Combating Terrorism: A Joint Interagency Approach

January 7, 2005

The 11 September 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks shocked the world, especially the United States and its allies. The United States is unused to the experience of terrorism on its own shores. U.S. citizens have become accustomed to relatively peaceful lives in this country and to the continued expectation of such lives. As a result, this tragedy continues to trigger many questions about security, both at home and abroad. More than three years after its attacks on the U.S. mainland, al Qaeda continues as a movement while America struggles with intelligence reform, interagency friction and an elusive threat. Recent terrorist attacks worldwide demonstrate that al Qaeda is adapting to its setbacks in Afghanistan and looking for new opportunities to strike at U.S. and international interests. Although progress has been made in homeland security and the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), Americans should assume they will be attacked again.

Until the September 2001 attacks, terrorism was only a niche threat for the United States. Now it is at the forefront of the worldís attention, and strategists need to better understand terrorist organizations, tactics, politics, communications, ideology and personalities. A cogent understanding of terrorist networks would help produce an appropriate strategy and organization to detect, deter and defeat them.