Chapter V. Strategy for Winning the War on Terror
Section Short-term - Prevent attacks by terrorist networks.
Strategy for Winning the War on Terror
Over the short term: Four priorities of action
The advance of freedom, opportunity, and human dignity through democracy is the long-term solution to the transnational terror movement of today. To create the space and time for this
long-term solution to take root, we are operating along four priorities of action in the short term.
1. Prevent attacks by terrorist networks. A government has no higher obligation than to protect the lives and livelihoods of its citizens. The hard core among our terrorist enemies cannot be reformed or deterred; they will be tracked down, captured, or killed. They will be cut off from the network of individuals, institutions, and other resources they depend on for support and that facilitate their activities. The network, in turn, will be deterred, disrupted, and disabled. Working with committed partners across the globe, we continue to use a broad range of tools at home and abroad to take the fight to the terrorists, deny them entry to the United States, hinder their movement across international borders, and establish protective measures to further reduce our vulnerability to attack.
Attack terrorists and their capacity to operate. The United States and our partners continue to take active and effective measures against our primary terrorist enemies and certain other violent extremist groups that also pose a serious and continuing threat. We are attacking these terrorists and their capacity to operate effectively at home and abroad. Specifically, through the use of all elements of national power, we are denying or neutralizing what our terrorist enemies need to operate and survive:
Leaders, who provide the vision that followers strive to realize. They also offer the necessary direction, discipline, and motivation for accomplishing a given goal or task. Most terrorist organizations have a central figure who embodies the cause, in addition to several operational leaders and managers who provide guidance on a functional, regional, or local basis. The loss of a leader can degrade a groups cohesiveness and in some cases may trigger its collapse. Other terrorist groups adapt by promoting experienced cadre or decentralizing their command structures, making our challenge in neutralizing terrorist leaders even greater.
Foot soldiers, which include the operatives, facilitators, and trainers in a terrorist network. They are the lifeblood of a terrorist group they make it run. Technology and globalization have enhanced the ability of groups to recruit foot soldiers to their cause, including well-educated recruits. We and our partners will not only continue to capture and kill foot soldiers, but will work to halt the influx of recruits into terrorist organizations as well. Without a continuing supply of personnel to facilitate and carry out attacks, these groups ultimately will cease to operate.
Weapons, the tools of terrorists and the means by which they murder to advance their cause. Terrorists exploit many avenues to develop and acquire weapons, including through state sponsors, theft or capture, and black market purchases. Our enemies employ existing technology explosives, small arms, missiles and other devices in both conventional and unconventional ways to terrorize and achieve mass effects. They also use non-weapon technologies as weapons, such as the airplanes on September 11. Our greatest and gravest concern, however, is WMD in the hands of terrorists. Preventing their acquisition and the dire consequences of their use is a key priority of this strategy.
Funds, which provide the fungible, easily transportable means to secure all other forms of material support necessary to the survival and operation of terrorist organizations. Our enemies raise funds through a variety of means, including soliciting contributions from supporters; operating businesses, NGOs, and charitable fronts; and engaging in criminal activity such as fraud, extortion, and kidnapping for ransom. They transfer funds through several mechanisms, including the formal banking system, wire transfers, debit or "smart" cards, cash couriers, and hawalas, which are alternative remittance systems based on trust. Effective disruption of funding sources and interdiction of transfer mechanisms can help our partners and us to starve terrorist networks of the material support they require.
Communications, which allow terrorists the ability to receive, store, manipulate, and exchange information. The methods by which terrorists communicate are numerous and varied. Our enemies rely on couriers and face-to-face contacts with associates and tend to use what is accessible in their local areas as well as what they can afford. They also use todays technologies with increasing acumen and sophistication. This is especially true with the Internet, which they exploit to create and disseminate propaganda, recruit new members, raise funds and other material resources, provide instruction on weapons and tactics, and plan operations. Without a communications ability, terrorist groups cannot effectively organize operations, execute attacks, or spread their ideology. We and our partners will continue to target the communication nodes of our enemy.
Propaganda operations, which are used by terrorists to justify violent action as well as inspire individuals to support or join the movement. The ability of terrorists to exploit the Internet and 24/7 worldwide media coverage allows them to bolster their prominence as well as feed a steady diet of radical ideology, twisted images, and conspiracy theories to potential recruits in all corners of the globe. Besides a global reach, these technologies allow terrorists to propagate their message quickly, often before an effective counter to terrorist messages can be coordinated and distributed. These are force multipliers for our enemy.
Deny terrorists entry to the United States and disrupt their travel internationally. Denying our enemies the tools to travel internationally and across and within our borders significantly impedes their mobility and can inhibit their effectiveness. They rely on illicit networks to facilitate travel and often obtain false identification documents through theft or in-house forgery operations. We will continue to enhance the security of the American people through a layered system of protections along our borders, at our ports, on our roadways and railways, in our skies, and with our international partners. We will continue to develop and enhance security practices and technologies to reduce vulnerabilities in the dynamic transportation network, inhibit terrorists from crossing U.S. borders, and detect and prevent terrorist travel within the United States. Our efforts will include improving all aspects of aviation security; promoting secure travel and identity documents; disrupting travel facilitation networks; improving border security and visa screening; and building international capacity and improving international information exchange to secure travel and combat terrorist travel. Our National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel and our National Strategy for Maritime Security will help guide our efforts.
Defend potential targets of attack. Our enemies are opportunistic, exploiting vulnerabilities and seeking alternatives to those targets with increased security measures. The targeting trend since at least September 11 has been away from hardened sites, such as official government facilities with formidable security, and toward softer targets schools, restaurants, places of worship, and nodes of public transportation where innocent civilians gather and which are not always well secured. Specific targets vary, but they tend to be symbolic and often selected because they will produce mass casualties, economic damage, or both.
While it is impossible to protect completely all potential targets all the time, we can deter and disrupt attacks, as well as mitigate the effects of those that do occur, through strategic security improvements at sites both at home and overseas. Among our most important defensive efforts is the protection of critical infrastructures and key resources sectors such as energy, food and agriculture, water,telecommunications, public health, transportation, the defense industrial base, government facilities, postal and shipping, the chemical industry, emergency services, monuments and icons, information technology, dams, commercial facilities, banking and finance, and nuclear reactors, materials, and waste. These are systems and assets so vital that their destruction or incapacitation would have a debilitating effect on the security of our Nation. We will also continue to protect various assets such as historical attractions or certain high-profile events whose destruction or attack would not necessarily debilitate our national security but could damage the morale and confidence of the American people. Beyond the Homeland, we will continue to protect and defend U.S. citizens, diplomatic missions, and military facilities overseas, as well as work with our partners to strengthen their ability to protect their populations and critical infrastructures.