Challenges for US Counter-terrorism Efforts

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Challenges for US Counter-terrorism Efforts

As a direct consequence of September 11, a number of substantial challenges lie ahead in the area of counter-terrorism.. The most prominent of these is the changing nature of the terrorism phenomenon. In past years, when terrorism was largely the product of direct state sponsorship, policymakers were able to diminish prospects for the United States becoming a target using a combination of diplomatic and military instruments to deter potential state sponsors. Today, however, many terrorist organizations and individuals act independently from former and present state sponsors, shifting to other sources of support, including the development of transnational networks.

Many terrorism experts have suggested a shift in the type of violence terrorists are willing to inflict. Terrorism statistics indicate an overall reduction in the number of terrorism incidents per year, but an increase in the number of victims per incidents. While the number of historical cases of terrorists using CBRN weaponry is low, this trend toward increasing violence and less state control may drive certain terrorist groups toward unconventional weapons. On the other hand, the reduction in direct state support may decrease the terrorist's ability to acquire or independently develop CBRN weapons. These shifts have produced a number of policy and program initiatives designed to better deter and prevent future acts of terrorism while also building a national capacity to effectively respond to terrorism incidents involving the full range of weapon types.

A key challenge is working both at home and abroad to identify, track, and defeat terrorist groups before they undertake acts of violen...

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As we move forward after September 11, terrorism receives increased attention in the foreign policy, national defense, and law enforcement communities. As we assess and formulate our international and national commitments, policymakers are likely to consider possible impacts of terrorism on those commitments and on public and political support vital to those commitments. The challenges facing us in assessing threats, allocating resources, and insuring an effective congressional role in counter-terrorism policy are complex. But inherent in challenges are opportunities to bring together the diverse elements of the counter-terrorism community to share information, experiences, ideas, and creative suggestions about how to effectively deal with this growing national security, law enforcement, and public policy concern.

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