What the world faces now, are more localized threats in which local operatives launch periodic attacks against Western targets.
In a speech in Washington, President Barack Obama said al Qaida’s core is on the path to defeat in Pakistan and Afghanistan. What the world faces now, are more localized threats in which local operatives launch periodic attacks against Western targets.
“Most, though not all, of the terrorism we face is fueled by…a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West and that this violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause,” Mr. Obama said. “This ideology is based on a lie:”
“For the United States is not at war with Islam. And this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims – who are the most frequent victims of terrorist attacks.”
An effective U.S. counterterrorism strategy for the evolving threats, Mr. Obama said, will have a number of components. First, the U.S. “must finish the work of defeating al-Qaida and its associated forces. In Afghanistan, we will complete our transition to Afghan responsibility for security…And we will work with the Afghan government to train security forces and sustain a counterterrorism force which ensures that al-Qaida can never again establish a safe haven to launch attacks against us or our allies.”
Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort “not as a boundless global war on terror but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.”
Most of the time, President Obama said, those will be based on counterterrorism cooperation, involving gathering and sharing intelligence, and arresting and prosecuting terrorists.
Because al-Qaida and its affiliates have attempted to gain footholds in some of the world’s most difficult places, lethal, targeted action, including drone strikes, have been necessary. However, because of the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, and the progress made against al-Qaida’s core, the need for drone strikes will be reduced, and stricter conditions for their use, including for civilian protection, will be imposed.
Additionally, the U.S.’s comprehensive counterterrorism strategy will be to continue to use diplomatic engagement to try to help solve the underlying grievances that fuel extremism; support transitions to democracy; and extend foreign aid to build stronger and healthier societies worldwide.
“We will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings,” said Mr. Obama. “But what we can do. . .is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us. . .while all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend.”