The Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 covers events from January 1 to December 31, 2009. This publication, which fulfills a Congressional requirement, aims to enhance our collective understanding of the international terrorist threat. The report also serves as a reference tool to inform policymakers, the general public, and our foreign partners about our efforts, progress, and challenges in the campaign against international terrorism.
The first chapter provides a strategic overview of the terrorist threat to the United States and U.S. interests abroad, as well as a description of the setbacks and advancements of al-Qa’ida and its affiliated groups. The report also includes country-by-country discussions of foreign government counterterrorism cooperation as well as chapters on WMD terrorism, state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, and designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Transnational terrorism remains the foremost security threat the United States faces, and the Obama administration has been working to strengthen the nation’s counterterrorism strategy. An effective counterterrorism policy must go beyond the law enforcement, intelligence, and military efforts that thwart those who seek to harm the United States and its citizens. Under the President’s leadership, the administration is formulating policies that seek to shape and constrain the environments where terrorists operate. Central to this approach is taking steps to undermine the appeal of al-Qa’ida’s world view and to isolate violent extremists. Our actions are guided by a recognition of the phenomenon of radicalization and the need to prevent more people from committing themselves to violence. In every country where extremism has taken root, three questions guide our approach: Are our actions going to result in the creation of more terrorists? What can we do to shrink the potential pool of recruits? And what is necessary to minimize the near term as well as the long term threat to the United States?
As part of this effort, the administration is looking to address the “upstream” factors of radicalization. We are working to confront the political, social, and economic conditions that our enemies exploit to win over recruits and funders. We are also working to expand our foreign assistance to nations and communities where violent extremism has made inroads, such as Pakistan and Yemen.
As the six regional overviews in Chapter 2 show, each region possesses unique terrorist threats and radicalization dynamics. Therefore, the State Department and other U.S. agencies are working on Regional Strategic Initiatives with our embassies to devise tailored and collaborative strategies to match the particular radicalization profiles of affected communities. One-size-fits-all programs have limited appeal, while regional and trans-regional strategies have a better chance of succeeding and enduring.
Additionally, our counterterrorism strategy involves building a genuinely multilateral approach to this global threat. The United States has been working hard to reinvigorate alliances and strengthen existing partnerships; this is especially true in the arena of counterterrorism. Through consistent diplomatic engagement, we are seeking to boost the political will and strengthen the resolve of leaders around the world to confront terrorist threats. That will is essential for our long-term capacity building efforts. Ultimately, our success will hinge on strengthening the ability of others around the world to deal with terrorism in their countries and regions.
--Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator of Counterterrorism