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Fact Sheet: Combating Terrorism Worldwide

August 06, 2007

What The United States And Its Partners Are Doing To Fight Al Qaeda And Other Terrorists

"We've done a lot of work since September the 11th to make this country safe, and it is safer, but it's not completely safe. It's important for the American people to understand there are cold-blooded killers who want to come to our homeland and wreak havoc through death."

- President George W. Bush, 8/3/07

We Are Confronting The Threat From Al Qaeda And Degrading Their Capabilities

Since 9/11, The United States Has Been On The Offense Against Our Enemies. We have built new institutions to better coordinate homeland defense and intelligence collection, developed new tools to monitor and track terrorists and their finances, established new coalitions to combat violent extremists wherever they reside, and marshaled national resources to attack the terrorist enemies at war with us.

The United States And Our Allies Have Captured Or Killed Dozens Of Senior Al Qaeda Leaders Since 9/11. Senior leaders include:

  • Abu Mus'ab al Zarqawi: Commander of al Qaeda in Iraq; before 9/11, Zarqawi ran a terrorist camp in Afghanistan; had longstanding relations with senior al Qaeda leaders and had met with Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri.
  • Muhammad ‘Atif: Bin Laden's deputy before 9/11 and al Qaeda's military chief.
  • Abu Faraj al Libi: Al Qaeda's manager, a subordinate only to bin Laden and Zawahiri.
  • Khalid Shaykh Mohammad: One of history's most infamous terrorists and one of al Qaeda's most capable senior operatives. He was the driving force behind the 9/11 attacks.
  • Abu Zubaydah: A leading extremist facilitator who operated in the Afghanistan/ Pakistan region in the mid 90's. At the time of his capture, Abu Zubaydah was trying to organize an attack in Israel.
  • Ramzi bin al Shibh: A key facilitator for the 9/11 attack and a lead operative in a plot to hijack aircrafts and crash them into Heathrow Airport.
  • Abd al Hadi al-Iraqi: Osama bin Laden tried to send Iraqi-born terrorist Abd al Hadi al Iraqi to Iraq. Abd al Hadi had been a senior advisor to bin Laden and served as his top commander in Afghanistan. He also directed plots to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Abd al Hadi never made it to Iraq, as he was captured in late 2006.
  • Fatah Da'ud Mahmud al Mashadani: Al Qaeda in Iraq Media Emir; intermediary between al Qaeda Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al Masri and senior al Qaeda leadership.

The United States And Its Partners Have Disrupted Numerous Al Qaeda Terrorist Plots Since 9/11.

  • Passenger Airplane Plot: In January 2006, bin Laden warned the American people: "Operations are under preparation and you will see them on your own ground once they are finished." Seven months later, British authorities broke up one of the most ambitious known al Qaeda threats related to the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks: a plot to blow up passenger airplanes flying to America. Our Intelligence Community believes that this plot was just two or three weeks away from execution. If it had been carried out, it could have rivaled 9/11 in death and destruction.
  • Belgian Arrests Of Cell Facilitating Bombers Into Iraq. In November 2005, Belgian authorities arrested members of a terrorist cell facilitating the movement of suicide bombers into Iraq.
  • Brooklyn Bridge: In 2003, and in conjunction with a partner nation, the US Government arrested and prosecuted Iyman al Faris, who was exploring the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Faris ultimately pleaded guilty to providing material support to al Qaeda and is now in a federal correctional institution.
  • East Coast Airliner Plot: In mid-2003, the US and a partner uncovered and stopped a plot led by a suspected senior al Qaeda operative named Abu Bakr al Azdi to attack targets on the East Coast of the US using hijacked commercial airplanes.
  • The West Coast Airliner Plot: In mid-2002, the US disrupted a plot to attack targets on the West Coast of the US using hijacked airplanes. During a hearing at Guatanamo Bay, Khalid Shaykh Mohammad stated that the intended target was the Library Tower in Los Angeles.

We Remain On The Offense Against Terrorists Abroad, While We Defend Against Attacks On The Homeland, U.S. Interests Abroad, And Our Friends And Allies.

  • Constantly Evaluating The Threat: Every day, the U.S. Government's intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security communities review current threats and how to address them. Every week, senior counterterrorism officials meet at the White House to review the current and strategic threat and to organize efforts to wage the War on Terror. The President continues to receive regular al Qaeda-related intelligence briefings and homeland security updates from top Administration officials.
  • Adapting To The Threat: Homeland security and law enforcement agencies have been reviewing their current operations and are enhancing, where necessary, efforts to better respond to and address the heightened threat environment.
  • Amplifying Our Cooperation With Key Allies: We are working with key partners to undermine al Qaeda's attempts to access and co-opt regional networks for their own strategic purposes.
  • In Iraq, the U.S. is working closely with the Government of Iraq to target al Qaeda and ensure that al Qaeda and other terrorists do not gain a safe haven that would endanger American citizens and embolden the enemies of a free Iraq.
    • More than 155,000 U.S. troops, supported by more than 10,000 Coalition soldiers from 33 nations, are working side by side with over 300,000 Iraqi Security Forces to help secure the population and set conditions for political progress.
    • Al Qaeda in Iraq has been dislodged from its former stronghold of Ramadi, and is facing increasing backlash from its operations and goals in several regions in Iraq, including Baghdad and Diyala. Al Qaeda in Iraq has experienced a number of recent leadership losses, yet it remains capable of mounting spectacular suicide attacks which threaten the stability of Iraq's government.
    • Tribal resistance in Anbar is spreading to other Sunni regions of Iraq and tribes are effectively striking back against al Qaeda in many places.
    • Our own Special Operations Forces have been extremely successful in targeting and eliminating al Qaeda leaders in great numbers throughout Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq is increasingly hindered.
  • In Afghanistan, the United States and its allies have shown a continued commitment to defeating terrorism since Operation Enduring Freedom began.
  • The United States and the international community are committed for the long term to ensuring a democratic, stable, and peaceful Afghanistan that is inhospitable to terrorism. The Afghan people can rely on the U.S. Government and our Allies and partners.
    • The levels of US troops, troops from other nations, and Afghan security forces have increased since 2002. There are now approximately 23,500 US troops, 26,300 troops from other nations, and 114,600 Afghan security forces on the ground in Afghanistan.
    • The international community is helping Afghanistan replace the brutal rule of the Taliban with the rule of law. The United States has built or renovated 40 judicial facilities in Afghanistan, distributed more than 11,000 copies of the Afghan constitution, and trained more than 750 Afghan judges and lawyers and prosecutors.
    • The United States and the international community have built hundreds of new schools for Afghanistan and 5.5 million Afghan children are now in school – including 2 million girls. The Taliban and their terrorist allies only seek destruction, attacking 20 schools in the first week of July, threatening teachers, and killing innocent schoolgirls.
    • U.S. assistance for Afghanistan's reconstruction from FY 2001- FY 2007 totals over $23 billion, and the administration has requested an additional $4.8 billion in FY 2008.
    • A secure environment is necessary to help the Government of Afghanistan with reconstruction and development. We and our ISAF Allies and partners are implementing a comprehensive approach in Afghanistan that integrates stability operations with economic revitalization, the development of infrastructure, better governance, public diplomacy, a sound approach to counter-narcotics, and cooperation with Pakistan.
  • In Pakistan, we continue to work with President Musharraf and the Government to capture key al Qaeda operatives and to put pressure on al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The Pakistanis understand the threat that al Qaeda and violent extremism pose to their country and the region, and we will continue to work with them to deny Pakistan as a safe haven for terrorists.
  • Pakistan has worked closely with the United States to secure the arrest of terrorists like Khalid Shaykh Mohammad, Abu Zubaydah, and Ramzi bin al Shibh. Pakistan has killed or captured hundreds of suspected and known terrorists, including Mullah Obaidullah, who ranked second in the Taliban hierarchy at the time of his capture.
  • About 100,000 Pakistani troops are deployed in the region near the Afghan border, and hundreds of Pakistani security forces have given their lives in the battle to combat terrorism post-9/11.
  • Pakistan provides vital logistical support to coalition forces in Afghanistan.
  • President Musharraf has a comprehensive strategy that combines three critical components--strengthened governance, increased economic development, and improved security--aimed at eradicating extremism in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
  • In North Africa, we are working with our partners to counter al Qaeda's further expansion in the Maghreb – evident in the emergence of "al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" (AQIM). This group claimed responsibility for recent terrorist bombings in Algeria, including the April 11 attacks, which resulted in the death of a number of civilians.
  • In the Persian Gulf, we continue to strengthen efforts to dismantle terrorist cells, stem terrorist financing, and undercut the ideology used by al Qaeda and its supporters to justify the murder of innocents.
  • In Europe, we continue to build strong relationships with allied governments to increase information sharing and counterterrorism cooperation while also building awareness of the nature of the threat and the challenges posed to Europe as terrorists exploit existing infrastructures to support their operations.
  • In Southeast Asia, we continue to build strong relationships and assist host nation counterterrorism efforts, resulting in the disruption of local plots and terrorist networks known to target Western interests. We also continue to cooperate with the Indonesian government on its counterterrorism efforts, which has led to the arrests and killings of several key Jemaah Islamiyah figures.
  • We are looking at additional ways of disrupting al Qaeda's network, including even more aggressively countering al Qaeda's violent message and their attempts at exploiting the grievances and suffering of local groups for their own benefit.

Our Enemies Have Not Succeeded In Launching Another Attack On Our Soil, But They Have Not Been Idle.

Our Enemies Have Plotted Against The U.S. But Have Thus Far Not Succeeded In Attacking Us – In Part Because We Have Taken Bold Actions At Home And Abroad To Keep Our People Safe. Al Qaeda-inspired plots have been disrupted in the United States:

  • Los Angeles Plots. A homegrown prison network—Jamiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh (JIS)—plotted in 2005 to attack Los Angeles military recruitment centers and Jewish targets. Plotting was disrupted by arrests.
  • Illinois Holiday Season Arrest. In December 2006, a Rockford, Illinois man was arrested for planning to attack a Chicago-area shopping mall using grenades during the holiday shopping season.
  • Fort Dix Plot. In May 2007, the FBI arrested six al Qaeda-inspired individuals plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix Army Base in New Jersey. The plotters had purchased weapons for the attack, and had been planning it since January 2006.
  • JFK Airport Plot. In June 2007, four individuals were charged with plotting to blow up major fuel tanks at JFK Airport. Three of the individuals were arrested and the US is pursuing extradition of the fourth.

Since 9/11, Al Qaeda And Those Inspired By Its Hateful Ideology Have Carried Out Terrorist Attacks In More Than Two Dozen Nations. We have seen continuing terrorist attacks since 9/11:

  • Samarra Mosque Bombings: On February 22, 2006, al Qaeda destroyed the Shiite al Askariya Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, igniting sectarian strife that caused many thousands of innocent Iraqi deaths. On June 13, 2007 bombers attacked the mosque again and destroyed both minarets.
  • Bombing Of UN Headquarters In Iraq: On August 19, 2003 truck bombs destroyed the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, killing 22, including UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, and injuring 200.
  • London Subway Bombings: On July 7, 2005 suicide bombers targeted subways and a bus in London, killing 52 and injuring 700.
  • Port Aqabah Attacks: On August 19, 2005 three rockets fired at two U.S. Navy ships in al Aqabah port in Jordan.
  • Jordan Hotel Bombings: On November 9, 2005, suicide bombers targeting Western hotels in Amman, Jordan killed 60 and injured 115.
  • Madrid Bombings: On March 11, 2004 bombers targeted a Madrid subway, killing 191 and injuring 600.
  • Bali Bombings: Bombs at nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia killed 202 on October 12, 2002, and three separate attacks on October 1, 2005 killed 25 more.
  • Manila Superferry Attack: An attack on a superferry on February 27, 2004 claimed the lives of 116 victims.
  • Car Bombs In The UK: On June 30, 2007 an attempted suicide car bombing targeted the Glasgow (UK) airport, causing damage but no fatalities. The day before, two car bombs were discovered and disabled before detonation.
  • Bombings In Algeria: On April 11, 2007, suicide car bombers in Algeria targeted a government building and police station in Algiers and Bab Ezzouar, killing 33 and injuring 222.
  • 2003 Najaf Car Bombings. On August 29, 2003 car bombers near Imam Ali Mosque in An Najaf killed at least 125, including top Shiite cleric Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, and injured 100.
  • Ashura Bombings. On March 2, 2004, bombers targeted hiites celebrating Ashura. Suicide bombers using IEDs and grenades attacked the Holy Shrine of al Kadhamiya in Baghdad and the al Hussein and al Abbas Mosques in Karbala, killing nearly 200 civilians and injuring hundreds. Suspects arrested for the attacks had ties to the terrorists Zarqawi.
  • Balad Bombings. On September 29, 2005 three coordinated suicide car bombs targeted shops, a market, and large crowds in Balad; killing 103 and injuring 110.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Combating Terrorism Worldwide Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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