The historical approach to counterterrorism was low key between 1969 and 2001. The fears of terrorism by American presidents and policy makers has always been there and dates back to the Ford-led administration. However, just like Richard Nixon, Ford downplayed the threat posed by terrorism and so did George W. Bush senior. While there have been growing threats of terrorist activities on a global scale, it was the September 11 attacks on mainland United States that made western governments and the international community as a whole to consider counterterrorism a top priority. While Clinton’s administration took the threat of terrorism with the seriousness it deserved, the Bush administration failed to accept the recommendations of its predecessor that Al-Qaeda was growing a threat to national and international security.
The U.S. is constantly obtaining information about possible terror alerts. This has been achieved through a network of interconnected government agencies and international police to ensure that every piece of intelligence is treated with the seriousness it deserves. Multiple threats in the arise worldwide, and the U.S forces should always be ready to combat any disaster. Religion has been vital in establishing in extremism in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa that has led to the rise of Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Lashkar-e-Tayibba (LeT) in Pakistan and India among other affiliates.
In retrospect, the current U.S. policies on counterterrorism should consider its stance on supporting elements of the Arab spring as this could lead to the mushrooming of hardcore Islamic fundamentalism groups. Secondly, the U.S. should offer both financial, intelligence, ideology, law enforcement and military support to regional efforts that counter terrorism networks by building reliable partner networks. During the Iraq and Afghan wars, the U.S. had a reliable partner in the United Kingdom. However, the Middle East countries of Iran and Syrian refused to support the American agenda. The only silver lining for the U.S. is that Saudi Arabia has been active in the fight against terror and radicalization. It is imperative to have reliable partners in the wake of extremism so as to protect the U.S. and the country’s allies.
A ‘US-Centric’ approach on terrorism has been used on an international platform. However, the U.S. government has failed in its efforts to deal with extremism from within. Security agencies involved in combating terrorism on a local platform has always looked for reasons not to be included in the fight. The FBI has for a long time feared its involvement in domestic counterterrorism operations whereas the CIA knows that such missions require a lot of political cover and support from all quarters. Interagency tensions between the State Department and the Federal Aviation Administration; the NSC, CIA and FBI have been detrimental to the implementation of counterterrorism policies with events such as the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing illustrating failure to curb violent extremisms and terrorism on U.S. mainland by relevant authorities.
With the U.S. considered to be anti-Islam by many radical societies in the Middle East, there is a need to neutralize such threats from a global perspective. Current technological advancements mean that terror networks are no longer confined to physical locations. Groups like ISIS and Al-Shabab have been able to recruit jihadists across the globe. Therefore, The U.S. should also take note that the issue of countering terrorism should be addressed with the soberness it deserves. The global strategies that can be used in countering terrorism, with the measures taken into use by Saudi Arabia a step in the right direction. Other than forming allies, sharing intelligence between agencies can go a long way in the quest to counter terrorism.