The Department of State released the annual Congressionally mandated Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 today. U.S. law requires the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by April 30 of each year, a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation.
The Country Reports on Terrorism 2008's"Strategic Assessment"chapter highlights terrorism trends and ongoing issues in 2008. This chapter sets the scene for the detailed analysis that follows. Significant achievements in border security, information sharing, transportation security, financial controls, and the killing or capture of numerous terrorist leaders have reduced the threat. But the threat remains, and state sponsorship, improved terrorist propaganda capabilities, the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction by some terrorist groups and state sponsors of terrorism, and terrorist exploitation of grievances represent ongoing challenges.
The terrorist groups of greatest concern – because of their global reach – share many of the characteristics of a global insurgency: propaganda campaigns, grass roots support, transnational ideology, and political and territorial ambitions. Responding requires a comprehensive response that focuses on recruiters and their networks, potential recruits, the local population, and the ideology. An holistic approach incorporates efforts aimed at protecting and securing the population; politically and physically marginalizing insurgents; winning the support and cooperation of at-risk populations by targeted political and development measures; and conducting precise intelligence-led special operations to eliminate critical enemy elements with minimal risk to innocent civilians.
Significant achievements in this area were made this year against terrorist leadership targets, notably the capturing or killing of key terrorist leaders in Pakistan, Iraq, and Colombia. These efforts buy us time to carry out the non-lethal and longer term elements of a comprehensive counterterrorist strategy: disrupting terrorist operations, communications, propaganda, subversion efforts, planning and fundraising, and preventing radicalization before it takes root by addressing the grievances that terrorists exploit and discrediting the ideology that provides their legitimacy. Actions that advance these strategic objectives include building and strengthening networks among governments, multilateral cooperation, business organizations, and working within civil society. It is crucial to empower credible voices and provide alternatives to joining extremist organizations.
Working with allies and partners across the world, we have created a less permissive operating environment for terrorists, keeping terrorist leaders on the move or in hiding, and degrading their ability to plan and mount attacks. Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Jordan, the Philippines, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other partners played major roles in this success. Dozens of countries have continued to pass counterterrorism legislation or strengthen pre-existing laws that provide their law enforcement and judicial authorities with new tools to bring terrorists to justice. The United States has expanded the number of foreign partners with which it shares terrorist screening information. This information serves as an important tool for disrupting and tracking travel of known and suspected terrorists.
Read the full report.