Radical Islamic Terrorism

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Contents

Radical Islamic Terrorism. 0

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Introduction. 0

Policy Memorandum.. 1

Description of the Problem.. 3

Identification of Key Institutions and Individuals Relevant to the Problem and its Solution. 4

Alternative Approaches to Solve the Problem.. 5

Approach Chosen among the Alternatives. 6

The Preferred Approach. 7

How to Implement the Preferred Approach. 8

References. 8

Introduction

Policy Memorandum

            One of the most serious problems that the United States faces today is radical Islamic terrorism. Jihadism and Islamic extremism continue to inspire many people to join terror cells that specialize in launching attacks against and the United States as well as its interests and allies. The problem is serious because of the mysterious way of terrorist groups’ mode of operation and opaqueness of their grievances. Nevertheless, Al Qaeda continues to demonstrate its ability to exploit U.S. vulnerabilities to launch deadly terrorist attacks. Despite U.S. efforts to fight terror in the post-9/11 era, radical Islamist terrorist networks continue to exist.

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To fight terrorists, the United States must cooperate with various state and non-state actors. For instance, allies such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have a critical role to play in the fight. Other institutions include the European Union, ASEAN, Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Nations, as well as military alliances such as NATO. This memo identifies four alternative solutions to the problem. The first alternative involves the United States decided to take a unilateral decision to mobilize its forces in military actions targeted at Al Qaeda cells. In the second alternative, the United States may choose to form a coalition with its closest allies. The third alternative requires the United States to present its suggestions on tackling global terrorism to the United Nations. The fourth alternative involves using a multifaceted approach, whereby the U.S. switches from one alternative to the other depending on prevailing contingencies and potential impact on the country’s security interests.

The most appropriate choice for the United States is the second alternative. This choice emerges from a selection approach that entails assessing all the alternatives in terms of cost and effectiveness. The choice fits in with the current interdependent world where security is a shared concern, particularly the fight against radical Islamist terrorism.In implementing it, the United States should focus on both long-term and short-term goals.

Description of the Problem

Although the U.S. government has killed many Al Qaeda members, including its leader Osama Bin Laden, it is yet to defeat the terrorist organization, meaning that the Islamic terrorist organization remains a serious threat to homeland security as well as U.S. interests abroad. In some defense policy circles, Al Qaeda is identified as the most serious threat to homeland security in the United States. Jihadism and Islamic extremism continue to inspire many people, especially in the Arab world to join terror cells that specialize in launching attacks against and the United States as well as its interests and allies. A major concern is that a growing number of Islamist cells that affiliate themselves to Al Qaeda have infiltrated many European countries, a phenomenon that could contribute to a rapid increase in the number of terrorist attacks in different parts of the world.

An element of mystery surrounds the operations of radical Islamic terrorist groups, such that it becomes difficult to identify their actual grievances. Another source of complexity arises from the ambivalence of many moderate Arab states, many of which have become major hideouts for Al Qaeda operatives. In such, there is a growing possibility of enhancement in the operational power of terrorist organizations. For these, it is inaccurate to say that the United States is on the verge of defeating Al Qaeda.

In an effort to advance its objectives, Al Qaeda has demonstrated its ability and willingness to exploit virtually all areas where the United States is vulnerable. For example, energy security portends a major problem for the country. The United States also continues to adopt measures aimed at curbing nuclear proliferation. Any efforts by a sovereign state to develop nuclear capabilities pose a serious threat to U.S. interests as well as homeland security mainly because of the likelihood that the nuclear weapons may end up in the hands of terrorists or rogue states.

As the United States endeavors to improve homeland security in the post-9/11 era, the focus is on the contributions that various efforts by Bush and Obama administrations to fight radical Islamic terrorism have made in making America a safer place to live. Despite a number of successes, numerous challenges have persisted. For example, U.S. defense strategies are still trying to figure out a way in which the U.S. can increase its military posture in the Arab world without triggering a rapid increase in defense costs as well as the number of grievances being used by radical Islamists as a justification for terrorist attacks

Unfortunately, the problem of terrorism is not as simple as it sounds. In their formative years, terrorist networks were a reserve of the Arab world and countries with large Muslim populations. Today, radical Islamic terrorism has become a global terrorist movement. Thus, there is no guarantee that America will be safer once it addresses the most significant challenges that are normally associated with an increase in terrorist attacks around the world.

Identification of Key Institutions and Individuals Relevant to the Problem and its Solution

Various state actors around the world such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Australia are important U.S. partners in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism. The UK, for instance, faces challenges that are more or less similar to those of the United States as far as the fight against terrorism is concerned. For example, from 1977 to 2000, the country suffered 350 terrorist attacks.[1]A nearly similar predicament is confronting other U.S allies in Europe, including France and Germany. This phenomenon has brought these allies together in forging a common front in the fight against terrorism. For example, in the 2003 Iraq invasion, the United States was immensely supported by the UK. In some cases, alliances with these allies as well as others around the world are being forged in the context of regional organizations such as the European Union, ASEAN, East African Community, African Union, and Gulf Cooperation Council as well as military alliances such as NATO.

The role of the United Nations, religious groups, and international media are also important for the U.S. to fight against radical Islamic terrorism.[2]Various UN Security Council resolutions are likely to lead to sanctions that may enhance U.S. strategic positioning in fighting radical Islamic groups. Similarly, there are many religious organizations in the Muslim world that are opposed to radicalism and whose contribution to the fight is important for the United States.

Alternative Approaches to Solve the Problem

The first alternative is that the United States may decide to take a unilateral decision to mobilize its forces in military actions targeted at Al Qaeda cells, hideouts, sponsors, and affiliates. This approach would require the country to take the initiative by setting an example to other countries on how to maintain an aggressive stance against terrorists.

In the second alternative, the United States may choose to form a coalition with its closest allies, mainly United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Australia to forge a common front in the fight against terror. Such a coalition would not only ease the U.S. defense expenditure budget, but it would also pass a strong message to terrorist groups and their sympathizers. 

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The third alternative would require the United States to present its suggestions on tackling global terrorism to the United Nations and use its influence within the Security Council to pursue its security objectives. This option would be greatly inspired by the Security Council’s past effort that led to the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Committee under Resolution 1373 as well as the Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee under Resolution 1267.[3]

The fourth alternative involves using a multifaceted approach, whereby the U.S. switches from one alternative to the other depending on prevailing contingencies and potential impact on the country’s security interests. It is anchored on the view that different terrorist threats call for different responses. For example, if the United States had gathered credible intelligence about an impending attack prior to 9/11, it would have been necessary to launch a preemptive strike. On the other hand, it may have been better to invade Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 respectively through a coalition similar to the one that is currently being used to fight the Islamic State.[4]

Approach Chosen among the Alternatives

The best choice is made by simply determining which alternative has been tried, tested, and proven to be the most cost-effective strategy in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism. Cost is a major factor in the development of a counter-terrorism strategy. One way through which a huge counter-terrorism budget may be justified is by assessing the potential economic consequences of a terrorist attack on certain targets. Indeed, the fiscal effects of the war on terrorism are enormous. For example, between 2003 and 2004, the budget of the U.S. Homeland security doubled to reach over US$30 billion.[5] It would be important to determine whether such huge costs translated into effectiveness in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.

The Preferred Approach

This paper proposes that the second alternative is the most appropriate choice. This is because it is not only less costly but also more effective. It fits in with the current interdependent world where security is a shared concern, particularly the fight against radical Islamist terrorism. The first alternative failed during the Bush administration possibly because of the failure to acknowledge the interdependent nature of global security concerns. 

On the other hand, the third alternative involves lower costs but may be deficient in terms of effectiveness. In most cases, the UN opposes the use of military action even when such action is necessary because of its desire to be seen to be promoting international peace. Moreover, whenever the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Taliban, the resulting negative human rights concerns created a setback primarily because of the conventional argument that terrorism thrives in situations where human rights are being trounced through political oppression.

The fourth alternative allows the United States to adjust its responses based on numerous factors, including cost and effectiveness. However, it has made the U.S. smack of indecisiveness during the first term of the Obama administration.[6]This means that the United States may incur huge expenses but end up with little or nothing to show for it due to poor execution.

How to Implement the Preferred Approach.

This alternative should be implemented through short-term and long-term goals. The short goals include creating structures for coordination for shared intelligence and joint military operations, setting up of shared military budget for counterterrorism operations, and the setting up of strong institutions on which to anchor the coalition’s activities. The long-term goals include teaming up with allies to enhance the legitimacy of the fight against terrorism across the world, building capabilities for the establishment of a balance between U.S. national interests and the collective interests of allies, and continuous deployment of strategic capabilities of the allies to regions that are likely to be targeted by radical Islamist terrorists in readiness for a preemptive strike or other deterrence measures.

References

Bentley, M. & Holland, J. (2014). Obama’s Foreign Policy: Ending the War on Terror. New York, NY: Routledge.

Foot, Rosemary. ‘The United Nations, Counter-Terrorism, and Human Rights: Institutional Adaptation and Embedded Ideas.’ Human Rights Quarterly, 29 (2007), 489–514.

Jordan, Amos., Taylor, Jr., William., Meese, Michael and Nielsen, Suzanne. American National Security, 6th edition. Baltimore:  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

Katzman, Kenneth., Blanchard, Christopher., Humud, Carla., Margesson, Rhoda and Weed, Matthew. The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. Policy. Washington, D.C: Congressional Research Service, 2015.

Schneider, Friedrich.,Brück, Tilman and Meierrieks, Daniel. The economics of terrorism and counter-terrorism: A survey (Part II). CESifo working paper Public Finance, No. 3012, 2010.

Wiktorowicz, Quintan. ‘Radical Islam Rising: Muslim Extremism in the West.’ London: Rowman& Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005.


[1]QuintanWiktorowicz, Radical Islam Rising: Muslim Extremism in the West. (London: Rowman& Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005).

[2]Amos A. Jordan, William J. Taylor, Jr., Michael J. Meese and Suzanne C. Nielsen, American National Security, 6th Edition. (Baltimore:  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).

[3] Rosemary Foot, ‘The United Nations, Counter Terrorism, and Human Rights: Institutional Adaptation and Embedded Ideas.’ Human Rights Quarterly, 29 (2007), 489–514.

[4] Kenneth Katzman, Christopher M. Blanchard, Carla E. Humud, Rhoda Margesson, and Matthew C. Weed. The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. Policy. (Washington, D.C: Congressional Research Service, 2015).

[5] Friedrich Schneider, TilmanBrück, and Daniel Meierrieks,Theeconomics of terrorism and counter-terrorism: A survey (Part II). CESifo working paper Public Finance, No. 3012, 2010.

[6]Michelle Bentley and Jack Holland. Obama’s Foreign Policy: Ending the War on Terror. (New York, NY: Routledge, 2014).

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