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Taliban Group and Homeland Security Policy

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Terrorism has developed as a generally preferred tactic for the ideological extremists around the world which are adversely affecting, directly and indirectly, the lives of millions of people around the globe. The amplification of the law enforcement capabilities for counterterrorism around several nations has also led the United States (US) of America to develop specialized but limited military counter-terrorism capabilities. In the wake of the September 11th terrorist assault on the World Trade Center, a sequence of extraordinary events unfolded. The US government established the Department of Homeland security (DHS) with an endeavor to adapt the changes in the policies taken by the US in dealing with the terrorism issue.  The United States (US) and its allies became embroiled in the significant wars between Iraq and Afghanistan and rigorous steps were taken up by the government in order to find Osama Bin laden and its operation and the other terrorist organizations. Terrorism is a significant problem for America, a superpower that has seen one of the most catastrophic terrorist assaults in history (Bullock et al, 2012 p. xv).

The Taliban terrorist group Al Qaeda’s destruction of the world’s beautiful colossal core of commerce, the World Trade Center in the United States, rocked the strong pillars of the US security perimeter. Since then, the United States’ homeland security has been a top priority as a result of the susceptible danger posed by Al Qaeda. In the next section, which comprises the majority of the article, a short study of the terrorist group Al Qaeda will be provided.

            In 1979, radical Islamism burst onto the scene in its Shiite manifestation. In the same year the war in Afghanistan from the support of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan led to the evolution of radical Sunni Islamism. The movement ballooned up with all the Muslim countries and they turned against the United States as soon as Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was withdrawn from Afghanistan. The hostility towards the United States was manifested with an array of brutal assaults in the mid 1990s. The development of the Taliban terrorist group Al Qaeda was unfurled from there, and the world saw its ultimate deadly picture in the 9/11 attack. At the time, Al Qaeda was mostly made up of Afghan insurgency veterans fighting the Soviet Union, with a centralized leadership structure dominated by Egyptian organizations.  Most of the organizations’ plots were either controlled from the top notch hierarchy or were generally approved by the leadership.  The analysts elucidate the pre 9/11 Al Qaeda as similar to a corporation with Osama Bin Laden acting as the prime responsive Chief executive officer in the charge of issuing of the orders and also their respective solicitation from their subordinates (Chaliand & Blin, n.d., p. 10).

Taliban Group and Homeland Security Policy

The Ideology

            In 1998, the Al Qaeda and its associates spread religious propaganda which urged all the Muslims to “kill the Americans, both civilian and military, in every country in which it was possible to do so – in order to liberate Al-Aqsa mosque and the Holy Mosque (Mecca) from their grip and to move their armies out of all the lands of Islam” (Hellmich, n.d., p.2).  In the next three and a half years, the trans-national teams resulted in one of the most destructive acts of terrorism acts till date in the sake of Islam.  Since the events of 9/11, several issues which cropped up receiving more attention were the motivated mass killings of the civilians in the name of Islam. A large majority of population’s assumption was that the terrorist were actually suffering from chronic mental disorders and their religious rhetoric is merely a curtain for their political ambitions that reflected the very nature of Islamic extremism.

Researchers like Stephen Schwartz began to argue that Osama Bin Laden and his followers belong to the puritanical variant of Islam especially known as Wahhabism which is an extreme and intolerant Islamic Fascist sect and became the official cult of Saudi Arabia.  According to the researchers’ angle, Wahhabism is an extremist and latently dangerous monolithic school of thought. However the Encyclopedia of Islam states that term Wahhabism is in fact a foreign designation for a religious movement within the Islamic framework which was established in the eighteenth century by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al Wahhab. The followers regarded themselves as Sunnis and generally followed the doctrine of Ibn Taymiyya and were the advocator of strict literalism where the Quran is generally the core source of legitimacy. The confirmation was also that the Wahhabis went on uncompromising campaigns against the Sufis and the Shites and viewed the effective use of legitimizing the use of violence against them. The direct connection between Wahhabism and Al Qaeda is that the logic of Pan- Islam proclaimed by both Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Despite of the legacy of the violent campaigns Wahhabism evolved from the traditional beginnings with its standards moderated to a certain degree over the past century.  On one hand Osama Bin Laden and their other Islamic fundamentalists may be showing an exposure of the violent tradition and spirit espoused by Muhammed ‘AbdelWahhab but on the other hand the Wahhabi sheikhs in Saudi Arabia are generally against the suicide bombings (Hellmich, n.d., p.2).

In simple words the members of the Al Qaida usually implement an extreme interpretation of the teachings of Islam which they believe is an obligation on the believers to fight and kill to achieve their aims.  But their ideals are rejected by all the eminent scholars of the world. Europe’s eminent scholars also have declared that Islam under no circumstances implements and permit terrorism and killings of civilians. According to them, terrorism is in direct contravention to the principles of Islam and a majority of the Muslims remain faithful to the teachings.

The claim of Al Qaeda is that the current impoverished state of several Muslim countries is the result of the fault of alliance between the Israel and the United States and the corrupt Muslim governments. Their assertion is that the solution to this problem is the mass scale eradication of the Western influences from the Muslim World. They are also in the proposition of the replacement of the existing government with a supranational caliphate and also are the advocators of a strict and exclusive form of government with particular emphasis on the interpretation of Sunni Islam. The administration of several Muslim governments is branded as apostates who generally do not adhere to the definition of true Islam. The secular republics and the religiously-based monarchies are attacked on the basis and stating them as guilty of apostasy regarded as an offense for which the Islamic law usually prescribes death sentence and the terrorists generally opting violent actions against those Muslim governments and the citizen of the states.

The opposition of the Western culture and their influences are generally regarded by the Al Qaeda as un- Islamic and it is rigidly opposed to the principles of democracy.  Al Qaeda has also released statements rejecting the democratic elections in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories. They view democracy as rival religion and the freedom of speech and freedom of religion are almost equivalent to apostasy whose solution is punishment to death. According to them the most acceptable form of government is a Caliphate based government based rigorously on the Sharia Law. But still their notion of Islamic Caliphate advocacy is not clear till date. Particularly stating, Al Qaeda robustly supports a very narrow interpretation of Sunnism which is the largest denomination of Islam and are vehemently opposed to the other Islamic denominations as well as the Sunni Muslims whom it recognizes as insufficiently pious.  Al Qaida and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan in the records of their killing list include thousands of both Shia and Sunni denominations. Finally, their rigid claim exposits that a sustained and long-term attack on Islam is on the ignition phase excavated by the Christian-Jewish alliance. In the support of this claim, they characterize the relation between the Muslims and Westerners as an extensive history of severe injustices and grievances but never mention the large evidences of positive relationship. As for example, Osama Bin Laden referred to the extreme torment of the Muslims in the former Yugoslavia as the fault of the Zionist-Crusader and their collaborators. But they never mentioned the facts that the NATO military intervention neutralized the conflicts of Bosnia and Kosovo with western countries saving hundreds of thousands of lives with the injection of humanitarian aid (AL QAIDA’S IDEOLOGY, n.d.).  And lastly, a leadership hierarchical structure of the group can be mentioned as follows:

Terrorist Group and Homeland Security Policy

(Borum & Gelles, 2005, p. 474)

Fig 1.  The leadership structure of the Al Qaeda

At the top level of hierarchy is Osama Bin laden whose designation is Emir-general and whose task is similar to that of a corporate chief executive officer. The direct coordinators of Osama Bin Laden are the Shura Majlis, who are his cabinet ministers or the council of leaders under the authorities of whom runs the military, legal, finance and media committees (Borum & Gelles, 2005, pp. 474-475)

Targeting of the Group and Rampant Attacks

The overthrow of Saddam Hussein with the Anglo-American invasion in 2003, Iraq turned out in a hub of asymmetric warfare accomplished by multifaceted Sunni revolutionaries. Particularly one of the striking phenomena was the rise of the mass casualty attacks on the Iraqi civilians chiefly domineered by the intense use of suicide bombers. Suicide attacks are generally attacks whose execution requires the death of at least one or more of the attackers. The number of suicide attacks has inflated over the last three decades with an estimated 2406 incidents attached with several campaigns between December 1981 and the end of December 2008 with an approximate death of around 24,383 and 26, 408 deaths ( Tosini, 2010, p. 272). After the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein, there was a scope for the Sunni insurgency to exploit the political and social opportunities. Apart from that there was a regular flow of voluntary militants for the suicide attacks (Tosini, 2010, p. 272). From the State Department’s Patterns of Global Terrorism, 2002, several attacks by the Al Qaeda can be accounted as follows:

In December 1992, there were three bombings targeted at the US troops in Aden, Yemen although no casualties were reported. In 1993, Al Qaeda claims to shot down US helicopters and killed US servicemen while they were in performing Operation Restore Hope. Osama Bin Laden was stated that the withdrawal of the US troops from Somalia was led by the Al Qaeda. In 1998, Al Qaeda Al Qaeda led bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania left 301 persons dead with more than 5000 injured in the process. In 1994, Al Qaeda targeted the plotting of assassination of Pope John Paul II during his visit in Manila. In 1995, Al Qaeda plotted rigorously in the assassination of the US president Bill Clinton during his visit in Philippines and also plotting of bombing a dozen of the trans-Pacific airline flights were chalked out. There were also instances of alleged attacks by the Al Qaeda post 9/11. In 11 April, 2002 the group reportedly bombed a synagogue in Tunisia killing 19 and left 22 injured. On 6th October, Al Qaeda reportedly directed a suicide attack on the French oil tanker of the coast of Yemen which killed 1 and injured 4 people. On 12th October attack on a nightclub in Bali killing almost 180 people. On 12th May, 2003, fourteen suicide bombers executed an suicide attack on three western housing complexes in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and killed 34 people which included 14 American people. On 20th November 2003, an organization called the Great Islamic Raiders’ Font receiving training from the Al Qaeda carried out suicide attacks against the British consulate and the HSBC bank in Istanbul, Turkey. In December 2001 suspected Al Qaeda associate Richard Colvin Reid attempted in the ignition of the shoe bomb on a transatlantic flight from Paris to Miami (Cronin, 2004, pp. 3-4).

Tactics

From its origin, Al- Qaeda underwent significant changes in several areas and its mode of operations, in its target selection strategies and in their tactics that it employs for the execution of its attacks. The most significant operational change has been the shifting of the center of the tactical planning from the base organization to the other associates or the affiliate organizations spread throughout the globe. It emphasized on the reduction of the role of the core leadership but this mechanism of the Al Qaeda was actually the sustained policy of its devastating power. Several members of other militant Islamist and radicals all around the world were among the thousands who imparted training in the Al- Qaeda camps. Some of them returned to their native lands and started nurturing cadre of support there. These fragmented groups were generally speculated to be of subordinate groups but these groups were actually the prime support system for the tactical operations for the transnational terrorist activities. Among the significant support groups the names which are note worthy are Al Al Ansar Mujahidin (Caucuses), Al Ithihad al Islami (Horn of Africa,  Jayash-e-Mohommad (South Asia), Jemmah Islamiyah (Southeast Asia), Salafi Group for Call and Combat (North Africa, Europe, and North America) Tunisian Combatants Group (Middle East). One of the tactical behavior of the group is the shifting of the target selection strategy from the high profile targets to more opportunistic and populated targets such as housing complexes, shopping centers and so on which are impractical to fully protect. The strategy has enhanced the group in the continuation of its process of annihilation. The patterns of the Al Qaeda have been much demonstrated on the method of non-technical technical skills among which the suicide attacks is the predominant one. But trends show that the group is actively concentrating on the development of the weapons of mass destruction. An example can be cited for the preparation of the USS Cole attack. Their plans failed in the when the attack boats sank down due to the excessive weight of the explosives loaded on board. But they remodified their plans and successfully executed a water-borne suicide attack against USS Cole in the harbor of Aden. In the post 9/11 era, with the tightening of the security in the Middle East it was found that Al- Qaeda carried out a two wave attack strategy, where the first assault was launched on the perimeter security providing access for the second attack wave to the primary target within (Borum & Gelles, 2005, pp. 477-479).

Capabilities

            The capabilities of the group are immense. The nexus of its strength lies in the decentralized structure of the organization. It may have hundreds of thousands of trained member across the globe for the purpose of executing jihad. It also serves as the focal point of a channel of network which includes the Sunni Islamic extremist groups with members of Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, and the Harakat ul-Mujahidin. The group’s chief Osama Bin Laden was a member of a billionaire family who owns the Bin Ladin Group construction empire and the mammoth revenue generation of millions and millions of dollars has also been used in the financing of the operation of the group.  The maintenance of the money making process comes from the huge donations from the like-minded supporters and also include donations from the Muslim Charitable organizations. The raw capabilities of the group have been testified by the world in the devastations of the event of 9/11 (Al Qaeda, n.d.).

Overall Goals

            Al Qaeda’s goal is the establishment of a pan-Islamic Caliphate all over the world with the coordination of the allied Islamic extremist groups in the task of over throwing the regimes that it thinks to be non Islamic and also the eradication of the Westerners and the non-Muslims from Muslim countries. In February 1998, the terrorist group issued a statement that it was the duty of all the Muslims to kill the US citizen-civilian or military or their allies everywhere on this globe. Their prime agenda of Jihad (the holy war) are based on three pillars. Firstly, their concern was the establishment of the rule of God on the earth. Secondly, their goal is in the establishment of the martyrdom in the cause of the God and lastly the purification of the ranks of Islam from the elements of depravity. In 1998, Al Qaeda issued in the declaration stating all the Muslims to kill the Americans including all the civilians “as well as those who are allied with them among the helpers of Satan” (Al Qaeda, n.d.). 

Analysis of Statements and Propaganda Made by Al Qaeda at Different Times

            The statements and the propaganda spread by this extraordinary terrorist group are manifold. However the scope of discussion is limited. So concentration is focused on some of the statements and propaganda spread by the group from time to time in the manifestation of fear among the common people and hatred against the western world especially America. On September 2000, a video tape was released on Al-Jazeera where the grave warning of al-Zawahiri states that, “Enough of words. It is time to take action against the iniquitous and faithless force which has spread troops through Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia”.  Six days after the bombing of the USS cole, a leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group was stated saying that, “They [Jews and Americans] must realize that we have no other option but to besiege their embassies and military and civilian centers in our countries, which are numerous…let the embassies and centers be burned down, ships and destroyers destroyed and individuals killed”. On December 2001, the CIA released the “Dinner Party Tape” where Bin Laden describes the planning for the attack of September 11 (Timeline of al-Qaida statements, n.d.). Even after the death of Osama Bin Laden, the anguish of the group was burst out and with respect to their chief stated in a media report that, “He refused to accept vice in exchange for his religion, or to submit and be humiliated by the misguided and the receivers of the wrath [of God], who have been stricken by disgrace and misery. The sheikh faced the weapon with weapon, force with force, and accepted to challenge the supercilious throngs that came out arrogantly and ostentatiously with their machinery, gear, aircrafts, and armies” (Excerpts from ‘al-Qaeda’ statement on Bin Laden’s death, 2011).  When Bin Laden was killed they demanded his body from the American authorities and warned the Americans that any mishandling of their chief’s corpse will not be tolerated. They also claimed that, “The corpse should be handed over to their families. Otherwise, any mistreatment will open for you multiple doors of evil for which you can only blame yourselves. We call on all Muslims to carry out their duty to demand this right” (Excerpts from ‘al-Qaeda’ statement on Bin Laden’s death, 2011).  The analysis of the statements provides us a transparent view about the hatred of the group towards the Americans and their immense degree of possessiveness for the establishment of their religion with the foul practice of violence and mass destruction.

Analysis of US Homeland Security Against the Al-Qaeda

             The colossal loss of several lives from the terrorist attack of 9/11 by the terrorist group Al Qaeda not only shook the economy, socio-political structure of United States, but it also it put up a big question mark on the security paradigm of the country. The United States have adapted more rigorous steps for strengthening the security of the country through the establishment of the Homeland Security for tackling strictly the counter terrorism activities with special emphasis on restricting the endeavors of Al Qaeda. The Department of the Homeland security’s counter terrorism responsibilities focuses on three prime goals. The goals are chiefly prevention of the terrorist attacks, prevention of the unauthorized acquisition, importation, movement, or use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials and capabilities within the geographical boundaries of the country and the reduction of the vulnerability of the critical infrastructure and the essential leadership and major events regarding the terrorist attacks (Prevent Terrorism and Enhance Security, 2012). In response to the attack of the world trade centre, on October 7, 2001, a massive air operation known as the Operation Enduring Freedom with the inclusion of some ground forces was launched against Afghanistan. Both United States and the United Kingdom notified to the United Nations that the Operation Enduring Freedom was an exercise of the individual and collective self-defense in compliance with the terms of United Nations Charter Article 51, which permits the use of the force in the self defense against the armed attack (Connell, 2002, p. 1).

The Notion of Pre-Emptive Self Defense Strategy

In the introduction of the National security strategy of the USA, President Bush stated that America “America is at war. This is a wartime national security strategy required by the grave challenge we face—the rise of terrorism fueled by an aggressive ideology of hatred and murder, fully revealed to the American people on September 11, 2001. This strategy reflects our most solemn obligation: to protect the security of the American people” (Gray, 2006, p. 555).  The 2006 National Security Strategy emphasizes on the 2002 National Security strategy and brings with it the controversial use of force.  Immediate measures were taken for the homeland security after 9/11 event.  The USA patriot Act was passed by the Congress and signed by President George Bush on October 26, 2001. The Act included the use of greater range of tools for fighting terrorism, enabled information sharing, updated laws in the reflection of the new technology and increased penalties and addition of new offenses for terrorism related crimes.  The Homeland Security Act of 2002 was signed by George Bush on November 2002 which was aimed at the minimization of the damage, optimal assistance in the recovery from the terrorist attack.  Among the other policies which were signed were the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (2002), National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets (2003), National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (2003), and The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (2003).  Again the 2006 council explored the need for the transformation of the defense of the nation in response to the end of the Cold war and the emergence of the new threats from the terrorist attacks following 9/11.  The doctrine of pre emptive self defense was infused within the National Strategy.  The option of pre emptive self defense has long been in the option list of United States for preventing the hostile acts which threatens the national security aspect.  In this context, there was a suggestion for the fundamental change in the law of using the force, in particular on the scope of self defense. The international law recognized the use of force against the imminent attack was permissible and explored on the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of present day’s adversaries (Gray, 2006, p. 556).

Pervasive Drone Attacks

            The neutralization procedure of the Al Qaeda activities, the United States of America has vehemently used the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to launch attacks.  The primal goal is the degradation of the target’s capacity in undertaking political and violent action. Propaganda is a key output for several terrorist organizations and it is also a long standing priority for al Qaeda. One of the central goals of United States foreign policy is the disruption and destruction of the Al Qaeda operations along the Afghan/ Pakistani border.  Although it is a difficult phenomenon as the government of Pakistan will not allow the US military forces for the operation in their country.  The drones are basically remotely piloted with installed surveillance technology and accurate missiles which are capable of loitering the terrorists’ stronghold. The drone strikes were very scarcely undertaken since 2006, but now it has become a predominant component of American counter terrorism efforts (Smith & Walsh, 2012, pp. 1-6).  On the other hand, propaganda is a key output for several terrorist organizations and it has been the long standing priority of the Al Qaeda (Drone Strikes and Terrorism, n.d. ) . Emir Osama Bin Laden has himself stated that, “the media war of this century is one of the strongest methods”.  His deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri claimed that, “We are in a battle and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.” (Smith & Walsh, 2012, p. 25) The propaganda output also acts as the proxy for Al Qaeda’s capacity of organization which is observable and quantitatively measurable.  It can be said that more the value of the propaganda output more is the spread of the messages of the terrorist group and vice versa.  The table below depicts the number of drone strikes and their corresponding propaganda output starting from 2006 to 2011.  For a more clear representation a diagrammatic exposition is provided below it to analyze the net effect of the drone strikes on the propaganda output.

Years Drone Strikes Al Qaeda Propaganda   Output
2006 2 935
2007 4 1528
2008 32 1414
2009 53 2830
2010 118 1725
2011 55 1077

Table 1. (Smith & Walsh, 2012, p. 25)

Terrorist Group and Homeland Security Policy

Fig 2. (Smith & Walsh, 2012, p. 25)

The results of the drone strikes on the propaganda output are dicey. It has been found that the magnitude of the propaganda output with the drone strikes have fluctuated.  This could possibly signify that the drones have killed many militants associated with the groups but it has not been very effective in undermining its ability to undertake and execute complex actions. The drone strikes also entail some political costs to the United States. Criticisms have also cropped up which states that they also kill non combatants and innocent people.  The United States overestimated the gains of the drone strikes in neutralizing the Al Qaeda movements (Smith & Walsh, 2012, p. 24). However the greatest achievement for the US is the assassination of the Al Qaeda supremo through a secret air borne strike in Pakistan.  More drone attacks have been conducted under the administration of Barrack Obama. US army base Pentagon has now 7,000 aerial drones as compared to around 50 a decade ago. $ 5 million has been allotted for the drones in the 2012 budget (Predator Drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), 2012).

Criticisms

            In the National Security Strategy, USA reaffirms the controversial doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense as the crucial parameter in the war on terror post 9/11.  But it fails in providing a detailed explanation of the examination of pre-emption.  The questions are exposed regarding the 2002 US National Security Strategy that what will be the trigger pre emptive action when the action against the non state actors and the degrees forces required for the pre-emptive action are still in an un-resolved state.  The promise made by the government that the reasons for the actions will be clear is in dubious state of clarity and lacks in the way of specific guidance.  One of the striking features is that US makes no reference to the international law and incorporates the role of the UN Security Council.  Another primal focus of the strategy is the promotion of democracy but it does not intervene in the legal right for the use of force in this purpose and makes passing references to the humanitarian intervention.  The other countries states that they face new threats from the international terrorists and also the threat of mass destruction weapons.  The 2006 National strategy stresses on the 2002 Strategy but the focus in the 2002 strategy was the threat posed by Iraq and North Korea but in the new strategy the threat shifted to Iran and Syria who are accused of state sponsors of terror by Hizbollah and Al-Qaida (Gray, 2006, p. 555). In case of the drones usage, ethical issues have cropped up which includes the less involvement of the human and it will lead to the risk free combat for the US soldiers which will reap them undue advantages and will spoil the ethics of warfare. Again the innocent people getting victimized in the process are also serious loopholes of the drone attacks (Markoff, 2009).

Al Qaeda After Osama Bin Laden

In the past year Al Qaeda went through a series of shocking blows with the death of its supremo Osama Bin laden last spring in dramatic raid in a compound in Pakistan by the US army’s secret operation.  President Obama in a statement claims that, “it marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda” (The War on Terror After Osama bin Laden, 2011).  Al Qaeda now is not the same as it was on September 11, 2001, when it was headed by Osama Bin Laden. Now the organization is much less hierarchical and more diffuse ( Schmitt, 2011). From a strategic point of view, the death of Al Qaeda Emir, can escalate the possibility of the demolition of the presence of the United States in Afghanistan and bring back more lethal destruction in the country.  With the death of Bin Laden, the global war on terrorism could ignite into a next level and the ramifications are uncertain.  The intelligence and the police work will face new challenges (The War on Terror After Osama bin Laden, 2011).   The future activities of the Al Qaeda are a big question to the American security authorities. However three fundamental trajectories are explored for their future endeavor.  Firstly there is the possibility of resurgence of the core-driven al Qaeda with the uprising of the central group as the vanguard force that Osama Bin Laden once envisioned.  Secondly, when the core loses its prominence the affiliated groups could rise in driving the movement further.  With the recent success against the Al Qaeda core may give rise to the decline in the efforts of the public and US congressional pressure for the continuation of the counter terrorism activities and also results in the tax cuts in the budget for counter terrorism. With the weakening of the Al- Qaeda core, the affiliates of the Al Qaeda notably AQAP has strengthened and may emerge in the forefront with its devastating stature. Another key to the emergence of the Al Qaeda is the possibility of the rise of a strong, charismatic emir.  However after Osama Bin Laden, Zawahiri have to overcome his own limitations and rally back the group in the transformation of the group into a cohesive identity and re launch its activities in the global terrorist operations. A second case may be attributed to the rise of the affiliate groups which can become the focal point of the movement.  In the face of the affiliate driven Al Qaeda , the landscape of terrorism will be enhanced and attacking one group will not degrade the capabilities of the others.  Another troublesome situation could arise where the movement will be entirely driven by the lone wolves. In the coming years it may happen that the counter terrorism pressure will degrade Al Qaeda and its affiliates to such an extent that they will be forced to dissolve. But that will not lead to the termination of their ideology. Their violent message could be spouted by radical orators attracting new and disaffected individuals and brainwash them and will convince them to adapt violent actions. This policy will not be a new tactic for Al Qaeda, rather it will be an intensification of their focus in the encouragement of individual action (Smith & Walsh, 2012, pp. 6-7). 

Counter Policies

In recent years the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has emphasized on the construction strong partnerships in a variety of nations, including with important European allies.  With stations across 75 nations, DHS personnel are working 24×7 with the international partners for the implementation of a wide range of security programs which includes mutual information sharing systems. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano emphasized the vital role these systems functioning in the defense of the country against terrorist threats (Smith & Walsh, 2012, p. 8). Cyber mechanism for countering terrorist insurgencies have been enthralled special emphasis in the Obama administration. Former President George Bush left behind a secret computer virus which Obama utilized for crippling down the Iran’s nuclear program. Mr. Obama personally engaged in the decision of using the virus which was known as Stuxnet intended for slowing down Iran’s progress and destroy its nuclear enrichment equipment. From the very beginning Obama concentrated on the use of sophisticated techniques including cyber weapons and technically more lethal weapons in the counter terrorism activities ( Shear, 2012).

Conclusion

            The influence of Al Qaeda has been the most predominant threat to the security arena of US and its foreseeable future will be also the foremost threat to the US security and safety. The nature of the influence and the threat has been changed over the past one and a half decades and the network has learned from its success and failures and has implemented rigorously to the security and intelligence reports in order to thwart the United States security paradigm.  Emphasis of the group have been more inspirational rather than tactical leadership and for that a series suicide bombing cases have been encountered.  They have also shifted their targets to small populated areas like shopping centers, community halls and maritime targets. Al Qaeda has literally transformed from a group to an organization promoting and executing strict anti- west ideology. These strategies have to be understood in hardcore fashion in order to develop appropriate and effective strategies for defeating them. USA declared war against Afghanistan and followed the pre-emptive self defense policy and well used violent and coercive methods in curbing down the groups’ activities. Frequent use of unmanned drones has been used against the terrorists and aerial attack ultimately led USA to kill Osama Bin Laden. But ethical issues have been cropped up regarding the usage of unmanned drones. The threat after Bin Laden is also omnipotent. The global network of the group is really an added threat to the United States. The US homeland security should also concentrate on the areas beyond America’s border in order to better counter Al Qaeda and the global threat of terrorism.

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