Terrorism is difficult to define, according to Mark Burgess (2003), “Rather, as the difficulties involved in defining it reflect, terrorism has evolved considerably over the years, even if retaining some of the same characteristics that have historically typified it” (p.1). ‘War of Terrorism’ is an umbrella term that is applied to an international military campaign which is being jointly led by The United Nations and The United States of America. Historically speaking, USA had started a list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in the middle of the 1990s. Burgess (2005) specifically states,
The U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) began in 1997 as a method of tracking down and striking back against specific terrorist groups around the world. FTOs are designated as such based on a demonstrated capability and/or willingness to engage in terrorist methods that threaten the U.S. national security interests (p.1)
In this endeavor, they have support from the NATO organizations as well as some other countries that do not follow under the NATO category. UN has also been very strict on their stand on terrorists. According to UNODC (2006),
Since 1963, the international community has developed international legal instruments related to the prevention and suppression of international terrorism, which, along with relevant Resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, constitute the international legal regime against terrorism (p.1).
Initially the campaign was launched to eliminate top Islamic Terrorist Organizations like Al Qaeda. It was formerly launched by US President George W. Bush on September 20, 2001, after the World Trade Centre attacks. He said, quoted by Daniel Byman (2003), “Our 'war on terror' begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated” (p.1). It can be called as the largest display of military might since the World War II.
There were several objectives of the Bush Administration on the aspect, and they are discussed in the next segment. Firstly, the basic idea of the campaign was to defeat terrorists like Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and their organizations. The US military forces initially started to identify the bases of these organizations, and after they went to destroy them.
Secondly, identification of the sponsorships as well as the sanctuaries of these terrorists was hugely important in the issue of combatting terrorism. This was the first and most decisive step in the process of ending state sponsored terrorism. It can also be said that the first international venture to wipe out terrorism in a massive scale. Along with working extensively with the militarily efficient countries, it also focused on empowering the weak countries to grow on the aspects of national security. It also aimed to eliminate all the terrorist sanctuaries all over the World and stop all the paths that might help the terrorist to re-emerge. It was also a war of ideals too.
Again, a crucial aspect of the war on terrorism was to defend the fellow US citizens in their country as well as all over the World. It began in the USA with the successful implementation of the National Strategy for Homeland Security. There was a national awareness building campaign in America which had gathered positive responses from the American citizens. The government looked for strengthening their domestic security.
Moreover, they tried to point out all the different aspects that the terrorists seek in a country before attacking the country and tried to eliminate those threats. USA tried to enhance the security aspects and also tried to influence all the other countries to use these processes to make it a safer place.
History of Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda was formed during the Soviet War in Afghanistan. However, it got its modern formation in the year 1996 when Osama Bin Laden started the group named World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders or WIFJAJC which later named as Al Qaeda. It had its largest base in Afghanistan as the Taliban extremists were ruling there at that time.
In February 1998, Laden declared a war against the West and Israel, and later on the month of May, he released another video where he declared war on the USA and the West. The group had bombed the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, after which the USA government had started a military operation named Operation Infinite Reach in places like Sudan and Afghanistan. However, the operation failed to eliminate any leaders of the group. After that the terrorists tried to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport and in October 2000, there was a bombing in USS Cole.
The biggest terrorist attack in the history of mankind took place in the morning of September 11, 2001. It was the direct cause to launch the war on terrorism. George W. Bush used the term, later Obama (2009), in his inaugural speech refined the statement and said that “Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred” (p.1).
Both the term and the war along with the adopted policies have sparked a number of controversies. Some critics have mentioned that it was nothing but a unilateral preventive war, and there were a large number of human rights violations in the war along with violations of International Laws.
Operation Active Endeavor
This is the first of all the military operations in Afghanistan, and it was initiated by NATO in October 2001. It was a naval operation and mainly operated from the Mediterranean Sea. The main motto of the operation was to prevent the movements of militants along with the WMDs in different countries. Along with that it also helped to solve the illegal immigration problem of Greece.
Operation Enduring Freedom
This is the official name of the military action started by Bush Administration for the war in Afghanistan. It was aided with three other significant military actions, and all of them were intended to find out and subsequently destroy any Al-Qaeda related personals. On September 20, 2001, Bush issued an ultimatum to the Taliban Government to hand over Osama and all the leaders of his clan to America. According to the book published by CIPRA (2007)
Such state-sponsored terrorism remains a concern of the international community today (especially its Western constituents), although it has been somewhat overshadowed in recent times by the reemergence of the religiously inspired terrorist (p.1).
The Taliban Government, on their part, demanded all the proofs that would connect Al-Qaeda with the 9/11 attacks and offered to handle the trial in an Islamic way. However, the US Government denied any type of evidences and subsequently, on October of the year, the US forces along with the UK and other coalition forces invaded Afghanistan with the motto of ending the Taliban regime from the country. The official beginning of the operation was on October 7, 2001, when the British and US Air forces began aerial strikes over enemy targets.
The city of Kabul fell in their hands around the middle of November. All the Taliban and Al-Qaeda personals took shelter in the mountains of Afghanistan, mostly in the Eastern sides called Tora Bora. It is a common belief that at that time Osama Bin Laden fled the area and took shelter in neighboring Pakistan. It was reported Jayshree Bajoria (2011) that
Pakistan has emerged as a terrorist sanctuary for some of the world's most violent groups, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and homegrown militants, that threaten the stability of Pakistan as well as the region (p.1).
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Operation Anaconda began in March 2002 to destroy any remaining traces of Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces. It mainly focused on paces like Shah-i-Kot Valley and the mountains of Arma in Afghanistan where the Taliban forces suffered heavy casualties. Later, in 2002, the Talibani forces regrouped and started an insurgency attack on the joint forces. The Coalition forces also responded heavily. It continued for a long time. Finally in February 2010, the Coalition Forces began Operation Moshtarak in the southern regions of Afghanistan which was intended to finish all the remaining Talibani forces. As of now, there had been certain peace talks between the two groups.
Operation Enduring Freedom was also done in Philippines to end the Filipino Islamist Groups. The armed forces of Philippines and United States Special Operations Command, Pacific jointly embarked in the mission. The targets were Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) from their strong hold position in the island of Basilian.
Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa
It was an extension of the Operation Enduring Freedom operation but unlike all other operations it did not have a specific military organization as its target. It mainly focused on disrupting all the militant activities in the continent and helped the willing governments to ensure that all the militant cells were permanently closed. The basic importance of the operation was the participation of nine prominent countries. Here, we have to remember that the operation did not include Sudan, where there was a long standing Civil war that had claimed more than 40000 lives.
USA had listed Iraq as a powerful sponsor of international terrorism since 1990s after the regime of Saddam Hussein fall out of the favor of America. Historically speaking, the reign of Saddam was a continuous problem for the United Nations. Iraq had used chemical weapons in its war against neighboring countries like Iran.
The Iraq War began in the month of March, 2003. It started with an aerial attack and almost immediately, the US Armed Forces led a ground invasion of the region. There are controversies if that can be called as a part of war on terror, but as per the Bush Administration it was an important part of the process.
On April 2003, Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq fell, and Government led by Saddam Hussein was dissolved almost immediately. The official announcement of the end of major combat operations in Iraq happened on May 1, 2003 but later an insurgency that was directed against the US led coalition forces and the newly developed Iraqi military arose from nowhere.
It is important to note that Al-Qaeda led the armed insurgency, and it resulted in a far greater number of casualties than any of the earlier operations. Some of the leaders of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime also were a part of the movement. A number of Iraqi nationalists and Pan-Arab loyalists financed the insurgency. It was said that they were fighting the war to bring back the past glory of Islam.
In December of 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured, and he was later executed in the year 2006. It marked the end of the Iraq War. Cordesman and Burke (2004) reported that
The US-led coalition cannot be excused for its failure to reconstitute effective security forces and police, for trying to restrict the development of Iraqi armed forces to a token force to defend Iraq’s borders against external aggression, or for ignoring the repeated warnings from US military advisory teams about problems in the flow of equipment and in creating the necessary facilities (p.1).
Iraq will receive support from the United States and other prominent countries to re-establish their country. Belasco, (2011) categorically reports,
Of this $1.283 trillion total, CRS estimates that Iraq will receive about $806 billion (63%), OEF $444 billion (35%) and enhanced base security about $29 billion (2%), with about $5 billion that CRS cannot allocate (1/2%). About 94% of the funds are for DOD, 5% for foreign aid programs and diplomatic operations, and 1% for medical care for veterans (p.1).
Homeland security is a basic term that goes on to provide security efforts to protect the countries against the terrorist activities. Basically, it is a security term that was initialed after America had undergone 9/11 terrorist attacks. Initially the basic aspect of the homeland security was to reduce the vulnerability of America to terrorists as well as it aimed to minimum any type of damage that can happen from any type of terrorist attack inside the country as well recover from different terrorist attacks, as well as ensure that these types of attacks do not happen again. United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is the department that looks after the homeland security of United States of America.
Homeland Defense or HD is the aspect of protection of the general United States territory, sovereignty etc against all the different types of external threats that is quite common in recent history. The term homeland security is a really vast concept in the back drop of United States of America. There are 187 federal agencies and different departments that are included in the Homeland Defense and Homeland Security Department. Departments like the United States National Guards, the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, United States Customs and Border Protection, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Secret Services, Transportation Security Authority, the 14 different agencies that goes to form the United States Intelligence community and also the Civil Air patrol are some of the very important divisions of United States Homeland Security.
Many of the administrative activities of the offices mentioned above were included in the United States Department of Homeland Security of DHS. The departments like FBI and CIA were never the part of Homeland Security. But the DOD and the Department of Health and Human Services play very important roles in the homeland security. The basic actions of homeland security are co-ordinate by the Homeland Security Council.
The Homeland Security is a combined national effort of the United State to keep the country out of harms way and also aim to reduce the vulnerability of the country to aspects like terrorism. There are some very important aspects of homeland security:
- It prepares the country and the different departments for emergency responses in times of attacks in aspects like medical, police, fire personals etc.
- Development of both the domestic and international intelligence based activities.
- Development of the critical infrastructure and protection of perimeter.
- Biodefense as well as defense against any type of radiological and radioactive elements.
- Increase security on transport, with a special eye of marine and aviation
- Border Security.
There is a general conflict between the bodies of International Law and the laws that are being used under the Homeland Security. For example we can talk about the unlawful combatant. Here, by the convention the prisoners that are being captured by the military do not conform with the conditions of the convention which is heavily criticized in the International Arena, along with several other aspects.
Homeland Security Act:
Homeland Security Act was enacted on 25th November, 2002. The aftermath of 9/11 attacks as well as the incident of mailing anthrax spores were two most important reasons of the of passing the act which was supported by 118 members of US Congress. President George W. Bush had signed the law in November 2002. After that HAS had started a new division called the United States Department of Homeland Security and the post of Secretary of Homeland Security was created. As per importance it is the second largest federal government organization, only after the Department of Defense, created with the National Security Act of 1947. Customs Services, U.S. Secret Services and Coast Guard etc are some of the most important departments that regularly collaborate with thhe department. There are 17 titles of Homeland Security Act 2002, which is documented under the Public Law. These departments are as follows:
- Department of Homeland Security.
- Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
- Science and Technology in the support of Homeland Security
- Directorate of Border and Transport Security.
- Emergency Preparedness and Response
- Treatment of Charitable Trusts for Members of the Armed Forces of the United States and other Governmental Organizations.
- Coordination With Non-Federal Entities; Inspector General; United States Secret Service; Coast Guard; General Provisions
- National Homeland Security Council
- Information Security
- Department of Justice Divisions
- Airline War Risk Insurance Legislation
- Federal Workforce Improvement.
- Arming Pilots Against Terrorism
- Corrections To Existing Law Relating To Airline Transportation Security
- Conforming and Technical Amendments.
The Foreign Policy of USA
In today’s context, Edwards, Wattenberg and Lineberry (2011) note, it can be safely said that USA is the only existing superpower of the World. The problem with the USA is that it is really vulnerable to the animosities of all the other countries. It is important that America should change the basic tone and attitude of its foreign policy. There have been huge criticisms regarding the ‘Bunker Mentality’ of the Bush administration, which had really been non-productive in most of the sectors.
It is important to take a new foreign policy that will explain the aspects of Islamic Jihadism to the American people in a better way. If one looks back at the history of America, one will be amazed to see how America had thrived on the aspects of diversity, in different fields like religion, ethnicity etc. The basic rule of war is to know the enemy, and most of the Americans never had any idea about the opponents.
The final result of the war on terror is the creation of an environment that will be inhospitable to terrorist everywhere in the World, and this required an innovative and adaptive strategy. Another important thing is that the US Government needed full support of the other Governments along with cordial co-operation. In the moment, it can be said that a number of Governments have been really eager to support the war on terror, but still America has not received the support of some of the prominent governments in the endeavor.
Effects and Recommendations
One of the most important aspects of executing the war on terror in a proper way is to apply the sustained global pressure over the enemy. USA has to impose unsolvable dilemmas on the leaders of the countries that have always been the safe haven for terrorists. There are two types of effects, short and long term effects. But in the case, both will have to be undertaken simultaneously, but it may take a long time to obtain the desired results.
In most cases, the terrorists rely on the freedom of actions, and in many cases their activities are defined by the active and tactically important support from the local residents of the areas from which they mainly operate. To become successful in the long term endeavor it is important to generate enduring effects on the enemy supply system that will finally deny the basic sources of power to the militants and terrorists. All the international partners have to work towards achieving the same goal.
However, in the aspect the military means will not be the only thing, but it will need all the concerted efforts of the countries fighting together. Terrorism is basically an international problem. It is not a problem for America, and hence all the countries of the World will surely benefit from that. For war on terror, the scope is much broader than a single landscape or only the display of military might. It aims to develop a global team which is dedicated to defeating and ending a global problem. Along with that it aims to develop a better understanding of the terrorist networks and activities, and to put pressure from all the sides to have a cumulative and definitive effect on the common enemy. This is why the war on terror has created controversies in America.
Though it was thoroughly documented, it can be safely said that the ‘war on terrorism’ is nothing but a fabrication. It can be said that Al Qaeda is nothing but a US sponsored ‘intelligence and military squad’ which was created to counter the Russians on the Afghan soil, and Osama bin Laden is nothing but a monster created by the USA. According to BBC News (2001), “He received security training from the CIA itself, according to Middle Eastern analyst Hazhir Teimourian” (p.1).
He was recruited at the time of Soviet-Afghan War to fight off the Soviet invaders. Laden, along with the able help of the Pakistani Army and intelligence later successfully used his recourses to train Mujahideen. At that time, CIA encouraged the endeavor, who wanted to project the Afghan War into a war of the Muslim countries against the autocracies of the Soviets. More than 35000 radical Muslim fighters from over 40 countries took an active part in the war, and more than 100000 radical believers were affected mentally.
After some times, the tables had been turned. USA and the West became the enemies of the Muslim radicals and they started attacking these targets. 9/11 was just the direct cause of the beginning of the war, initially; USA was planning to counter the terrorist attacks for a long time. Most importantly, as the only super power of the World, it was not a good advertisement for the country that it was getting constantly hit by the Islamic terrorists.
It can be said that the pretext of waging the war was a lie. Here, many people stress on the fact that realities had been turned around, and acts of war are being promoted as ‘humanitarian interventions’ aimed to restore democracy to certain parts of the World. In doing so, America herself has been faced with some grave crises. Most importantly the economy of the country had taken a solid beating. According to Nancy Youssef (2011) “The ripple effects on the U.S. economy have also been significant, including job loss and interest rate increases, and those effects have been underappreciated”(p.1). Expenditures on the aspects like health and education had been curtailed to help the military-industrial curtail. Jack Kenny (2011) reported that “Conservatively estimated, the war bills already paid and obligated to be paid are $3.2 trillion in constant dollars. A more reasonable estimate puts the number at nearly $4 trillion.” (p.1).
The basic pressure was mostly on the common American people who form the lowest part of the food chain. However, the process surely strengthened the domestic security of America and the Homeland Security Department was created as a direct conclusion. Most countries and the UN have been quite sympathetic and supportive of America’s war on terror. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, the hostile Governments had been overthrown by the war and the place has been taken by two different pro-American Governments. American military bases have been constructed in the areas.
The American media were successful in giving the war a humanitarian angle with their continuous propaganda, and it surely heralded more public sympathy than any earlier war involving American Armed Forces. Ultimately, the war gave terror a face, which really advertised the war on an international level. In the process millions of common people both in and outside America have been thrown into poverty, different countries have been changed into open territories, but still it had its benefits. It was instrumental in eliminating some of the most feared forces of the World, it some how created a sense of relief in the minds of the common people of America and the Western World. This will always be one of the most important results of the war on terror.