Striving for Community Resilience and Cultivating Partnerships: An Overview of the National Strategy for Counterterrorism

August 9th, 2011

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It is now the year 2011.  Ten years ago, on September 11, the U.S. encountered terrorism of historical proportions as al Qa’ida attacked several prominent sites in the United States, affecting everyone in our Nation in some way.  But these attacks did not shatter the American will and spirit.  Since then, homeland security infrastructures have been built, counterterrorism systems have been put into place, and America began the healing process through action and rebuilding.  This year, al Qa’ida’s top leader, Osama bin Laden was killed by a team of Navy Seals.  His death, however, does not mark the end of the al Qa’ida regime, and that is why President Obama’s administration continues its commitment to end terrorism by continuing to reinvigorate the United States’ strategies and vision with the release of the National Strategy for Counterterrorism (hereinafter “Strategy”) this past June.

The overall focus of the Strategy not only explores terrorism on a domestic level, but also at the international level, specifically on the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia.  The President’s strategy reflects a collaborative and persistent nature of engaging Muslim communities around the world by countering al Qa’ida ideology with strategies and policies that uphold America’s core values, building and harnessing partnerships, applying appropriate counterterrorism tools and capabilities, and building a culture of resilience.  The Administration’s goals continue to not only protect U.S. citizens, but also to weaken al Qa’ida and its supporters by depleting their resources and by depriving them of their means.  Key points of this Strategy are highlighted below in more detail and can be downloaded online at: www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/counterterrorism_strategy.pdf.

Principles that guide our Nation’s counterterrorism efforts include:

·       Adhering to U.S. core values, including:  respect for human rights; encouraging responsive governance; respect for privacy rights, civil liberties and civil rights; balancing security and transparency of government; and upholding the rule of the law.

·       Building security partnerships:  Collaborating with key partners and allies to share the burdens of common security.

·       Applying counterterrorism tools and capabilities appropriately:  Remaining proactive in U.S. efforts by evaluating current tools and capabilities and ensuring that counterterrorism efforts adhere to our Nation’s laws, values and objectives.

·       Building a culture of resilience:  Creating a culture of preparedness and resilience that will allow the U.S. to prevent and/or respond to and recover from any potential acts of terror.

The Strategy’s goals include:  

·       Protecting the American people, homeland and interests;

·       Disrupting, degrading, dismantling, and defeating al Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents;

·       Preventing terrorists’ development, acquisition, and use of weapons of mass destruction;

·       Eliminating safe havens that harbor terrorists and terrorism activities;

·       Building enduring counterterrorism partnerships and capabilities;

·       Countering al-Qa’ida ideology and its resonance and diminishing the specific drivers of violence that al- Qa’ida exploits; and,

·       Depriving terrorists of their enabling means such as eliminating supporting funding streams, access to material resources, and their ability to exploit media and the internet to communicate their ideology.

As we move forward with the next 10, 50 or 100 years, the September 11th terrorist attacks will recede to a memory for those of us who lived through them, a story for the next generation to hear about, and a legacy for a nation who focused on building resilience, rather than dwelling in the past, being proactive rather than reactive, and institutionalizing successful practices to prevent future acts of terrorism.  The threat of terrorism will never go away completely, and that is why it’s imperative for our Nation to continue to build on the last 10 years and strive for the highest level of practices, policies, and infrastructure to protect our country and its citizens.

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