Ten years after the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, the world is at a moment of historic change and opportunity, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Millions of people are pushing their nations to move away from repression that has long fueled resentment and extremism. And this has discredited the extremist argument that only violence can bring about change. Against this backdrop, the death of Osama bin Laden has put al-Qaida on the path to defeat.
Despite these promising changes, a two-fold challenge remains: First to keep pressure on al-Qaida and its network. Second, to face down the murderous ideology that fueled bin Laden's rise and that continues to incite violence around the world.
A critical step in shutting down al-Qaida is to cut off its money supply. The U.S. works with scores of countries to put in place tough new legislation and help many of them disrupt illicit financial networks.
Even more than money, what sustains al-Qaida and its affiliates is the steady flow of new recruits. Slowing recruitment is a difficult task, but it begins by undermining extremist appeal. The U.S. has expanded outreach to Muslim communities and regularly participates in key media outlets presenting accurate views of U.S. policy.
Later this month, the U.S. will bring together allies, emerging powers, and Muslim-majority countries around a shared counterterrorism mission. Turkey and the United States will serve as founding co-chairs and will be joined by nearly thirty other nations. The goal is to identify terrorist threats and weaknesses, devise solutions, mobilize resources, and share best practices.
But perhaps the most important blow to al-Qaida and its hateful ideology is the political change being charted by countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Ultimately, democratic governments are better equipped than autocracies to stand up against terrorism for the long term. They offer outlets for political grievances; they create opportunities for upward mobility and prosperity that are clear alternatives to violent extremism. So the United States will continue to support the development of strong and stable democracies in the Middle East and North Africa.