An assessment of the global war on terrorism, 2001-2010
Alftimat, Abdalkhalq Ma'ruf.
Hafez, Mohammed M.
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There is no doubt that the 9/11 attacks constituted a new terrorism phenomena in terms of sophistication and scale of mayhem. U.S. policy makers had to consider at least three approaches in response to these attacks: the criminology or soft power approach, the war approach, and the root-causes and the battle of ideas approach. The U.S. pursued a total war on terrorism approach not only against al-Qaeda, but also against all other terrorists in world. The war approach that utilized the might of the American military against non-state actors has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives; millions have been injured and displaced as well. Yet, despite the war approach, al-Qaeda is still posing a great threat to the Unites States and its allies. Additionally, the rate of its attacks against American targets is ever-increasing. These facts force us to reexamine the effectiveness of the war approach nine years after to its commencement. This research examines the effectiveness of the war approach using metrics other than body count. It looks at the effect of the war on al-Qaeda's organizational structure. It major finding is that the war on terrorism has forced al-Qaeda to transform its organizational structures to al-Qaeda's advantage. The war helped al-Qaeda's organization to expand horizontally, creating new organizational mergers and affiliates, as well as making room for radicalizing aspiring jihadists. The organization has changed from a mere terrorist network to a radical social movement with an ideology and a brand name that has presence in more than 70 countries. Two new strategies are necessary to fight al-Qaeda effectively. First, the U.S. needs to distinguish between al-Qaeda and all other types of Islamist activism. The war approach should be limited strictly to fighting al-Qaeda alone. Second, the U.S. could benefit from adopting a "hybrid" approach where national and international legal cooperation is combined with a root causes and soft-power approach to separate al-Qaeda from its potential supporters.
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