Combating Terrorism: Strategies and Approaches


William C. Banks, Renée de Nevers & Mitchel B. Wallerstein

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    To our students

    About the Authors

    William C. Banks is professor of law and public administration, as well as director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, at Syracuse University. He is recognized internationally as an expert on constitutional and national security law and counterterrorism. He has written extensively on national security, domestic and international terrorism, and emergency preparedness and response. He coauthored the definitive text in the field, National Security Law, Fourth Edition, and in 2007, Banks and coauthors Stephen Dycus and Peter Raven-Hansen published Counterterrorism Law to help define this emerging field. He has also served as special counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee and worked with the committee on the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Stephen G. Breyer.

    Renée de Nevers is assistant professor of public administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, teaching courses in international and national security. She has taught at the University of Oklahoma and was a research fellow at the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University; and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Her research interests include U.S. cooperation with multilateral institutions in combating terrorism, regulation of the private security industry, and the linkages between international norms and the use of force. She has written numerous articles on international security and is the author of Comrades No More: The Seeds of Change in Eastern Europe (2003).

    Mitchel B. Wallerstein is dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and professor of political science and public administration at Syracuse University. He has written numerous books, articles and studies on national security matters. Wallerstein previously was vice president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, where he directed the Program on Global Security and Sustainability. From 1993 to 1997, he served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for counterproliferation policy and as senior representative for trade security policy. During his tenure at the Department of Defense, he helped found and subsequently cochaired the Senior Defense Group on Proliferation at NATO. He has taught at M.I.T., George Washington University, Georgetown University, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies and recently was elected president of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs.

    Boxes, Tables, Figures, and Maps


    Six years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, terrorism and what to do about it remain in the vortex of policy, political, and legal debates and analyses in the United States. And it is not likely that there will be a significant downturn in the importance attached to combating terrorism anytime soon. Ironically, since the swift and effective U.S. campaign to remove the Taliban and al Qaeda from Afghanistan, al Qaeda has reportedly regrouped along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, terrorist cells have developed a lethal and effective franchise in Iraq, and the world has witnessed the emergence of “homegrown” terrorism in London and Madrid. Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to maintain that additional terrorist strikes on one or more domestic targets are likely, and it has argued successfully that the prospect of more terrorism targeting Americans justifies intrusive new measures to conduct surveillance, without a court order, of the electronic communications of those suspected of ties to terrorism.

    Combating Terrorism: Strategies and Approaches seeks to lay out in straightforward terms the challenges confronting U.S. decision makers today and for the foreseeable future as they attempt to anticipate and respond to terrorist threats. The aim of this book is to bring into focus the dominant set of policy problems posed by terrorism in the twenty-first century. Students will find the book particularly useful in helping them to understand what is admittedly a disturbing and complicated subject and in reaching their own conclusions about which responses are likely to be effective. The book concentrates primarily on terrorist activity aimed at the United States, whatever its source.

    Combating Terrorism has been written for undergraduate and graduate students studying terrorism and national or international security. It seeks to provoke thought and to generate understanding about some of this era's most vexing problems. Although this book assumes basic knowledge of U.S. government institutions and processes, any upper-division student should be able to work effectively with the text. The book also should be readily understandable to the layperson who is seeking an approachable explanation and enhanced understanding of issues that appear virtually every day in the newspapers and on television.

    The Approach and Organization of this Book

    Before the mid-1990s, terrorism occupied little space in the curricula of higher education or even in the popular literature. Even though terrorism has been a facet of international relations and internal strife within nations throughout human history, any attention to incidences of terrorism was typically treated within a survey of international relations, a history or political science course focusing on ethnic or religious groups within a region or nation-state, a seminar on foreign relations, or a criminal law course. After the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, terrorism gained some additional attention as an academic subject. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the launching of the “global war on terrorism” by the George W. Bush administration, the subject of terrorism became an overnight sensation; it has subsequently generated significant academic attention, both within traditional fields of study and as a new area. The newly emerging academic interest in terrorism is not likely to be short-lived. The growing disparity between the haves and have-nots, along with the demonstrated impact of asymmetric warfare waged by terrorists, signals that, like it or not, systematic and longer-term understanding of terrorism and the response to it will have to be part of higher education for many years to come.

    This book is our contribution to this understanding of terrorism. A central strength of the book is its interdisciplinary approach. The problems posed by terrorism are multidimensional, and, to be successful, strategies developed as a response must draw on a variety of disciplines and perspectives. Thus uniquely, Combating Terrorism pays considerable attention to legal issues, including civil liberties problems, interdictions and extradition, money laundering, and international organized crime. The book's ten chapters systematically describe and assess the range of strategies, policy options, and approaches that the United States employs—or could employ—for responding to terrorism. The introductory chapter defines the subject and provides its historical perspective, then assesses the strategies and approaches generally available to counter terrorism. Chapter 2 identifies and assesses the modern terrorist threat. The remaining eight chapters explore the approaches in depth, from looking at why terrorists might strike and what might be done to lessen the root causes of terrorism to using military force to combat terrorism. In between, law enforcement and investigation, planning for homeland security, responses to terrorist incidents, international cooperation, and the use of the media and public affairs function are considered.

    Each chapter introduces the approach or strategy featured, suggests the issues and questions addressed in the chapter, and then presents case studies that explicate the themes. These case studies are designed to give students a quick study and analysis of a particular terrorist incident and provide further insight into the complexities of combating terrorism. The case studies bring the materials to life and provide excellent material for teachers to use in generating discussion, projects, or opportunities for writing papers or engaging in further research. Boxed features offer interesting asides and conclude with provocative questions to aid in student learning. Each chapter also summarizes what has been presented and concludes with a list of readings for additional information.

    We, the authors, are closely affiliated with the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT), an academic center jointly sponsored by the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Law at Syracuse University. In keeping with the mission of INSCT, we bring political science, public affairs, law, and government service backgrounds to our abiding interest and deep commitment to the problems posed by terrorism. Also, as we do in our academic endeavors at Syracuse, we believe that the issues presented by terrorism are best understood and analyzed through the prism of varying disciplinary perspectives, a sentiment that motivated the writing of this book. The pages of this book reflect the influences of our different backgrounds. We hope that readers will agree with us that our differences strengthen the final product.


    We have enjoyed working with the excellent staff at CQ Press. At each step of the process, CQ Press provided us with enthusiasm, support, and direction. Chief acquisitions editor Charisse Kiino encouraged us to develop this book, and Kristine Enderle nurtured the manuscript as its development editor. Freelance copy editor Sabra Bissette Ledent was superb, and the production editors, including Anna Socrates, did first-rate work while keeping us on schedule. We also appreciate the thoughtful contributions of our reviewers for CQ Press: Kimberly Fox, Shippensburg University; James Lutz, Indiana University–Fort Wayne; Harold Molineu, Ohio University; Stephen Sloan, University of Central Florida; and Barry Steiner, California State University–Long Beach. We would also like to acknowledge the excellent research assistance provided by Lacey I. Rubin and Jesse Blinick, and the support of Syracuse students affiliated with the Student Association on Terrorism and Security Analysis (SATSA), whose enthusiasm and dedication helped to develop and sustain INSCT and our work on this book.

  • Notes

    1. Abouhalima, an Egyptian and former fighter in the Afghan resistance against the Soviet Union, was a follower of Sheikh Rahman. Ajaj arrived in New York City on the same flight from Pakistan as Ramzi Yousef. John V. Parachini, “The World Trade Center Bombers (1993),” in Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, ed. Jonathan B. Tucker (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000), 185–206.

    2. Yasser Arafat, “Address to the UN General Assembly” (November 13, 1974), in The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict, ed. Walter Laqueur (New York: Bantam, 1976), 510.

    3. For a description of al Qaeda's organizational structure, see Valdis E. Krebs, “Uncloaking Terrorist Networks,”

    4. Brian Michael Jenkins, “International Terrorism: A New Mode of Conflict,” in International Terrorism and World Security, ed. David Carlton and Carlo Schaerf (London: Croon Helm 1975), 15.

    1. Bruce Schneier, “Terror Profiles by Computers Are Ineffective,” Newsday, October 21, 2003.

    2. Nasra Hassan, “An Arsenal of Killers,” New Yorker, August 2001.

    3. Marc Sageman, Understanding Terror Networks (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004).

    4. For further details on the Rajneeshi cult's use of a biological weapon, see W. Seth Carus, “The Rajneeshes (1884),” in Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, ed. Jonathan B. Tucker (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000), chapter 8.

    5. Louise Shelley and Robert Orttung, “Criminal Acts: How Organized Crime Is a Nuclear Smuggler's New Best Friend,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (September–October 2006): 22–23.

    6. Ibid., 23.

    7. See, for example, Graham Allison, Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe (New York: Henry Holt, 2004); Charles Ferguson, William C. Potter, and Amy Sands, The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism (Monterey, Calif.: Center for Non-Proliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, 2004); or Brad Roberts, ed., Hype or Reality: The “New Terrorism” and Mass Casualty Attacks (Alexandria, Va.: Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, 2000).

    1. Marc Sageman and others have noted that none of the September 11 terrorists came from prototypically poor and underprivileged families. See Marc Sageman, Understanding Terror Networks (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004).

    2. Intifada is an Arabic word that means “uprising.” There have been two intifadas. The first began in 1987 and ended with the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993. The second intifada began in 2000 and has continued on and off until the present day.

    3. The idea of creating a pan-Islamic state in Southeast Asia appears closely connected to the professed goal of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to reestablish an Islamic caliphate across much of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

    4. It may well be argued that such perceptions of cultural threats are not unique to radical Islam and that, for example, the reaction among conservatives in Europe to the cultural practices of unassimilated immigrants from Asia and Africa is a manifestation of the same phenomenon.

    5. Salafism is a puritanical fundamentalist movement whose adherents reject contemporary Islamic teachings in favor of a return to the Salaf, or Islam, as it was practiced during the first three generations after Muhammad founded Islam.

    6. The caliphate is the theoretical government that would govern the Islamic world under Islamic law; a caliph would rule as head of state. From Muhammad's rule until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, various empires called themselves caliphates.

    7. For example, Osama bin Laden has at times demanded the “return” of territory that is currently part of Spain.

    8. The phrase “clash of civilizations” was coined by Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington, and is fully described in his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996).

    9. Huntington, Clash of Civilizations, 265–272.

    10. The reference here is to the Christian crusaders who participated in a series of seven military campaigns in the Middle East between 1095 and 1291. Those campaigns sought to retake Jerusalem and to convert Muslims to Christianity.

    11. There are no reliable statistics on the number of closed-circuit television surveillance units in Britain, but the estimates range up to four million.

    1. U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, “Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies,” Washington, D.C., June 2005.

    2. Paul Sperry, “When the Profile Fits the Crime,” New York Times, July 28, 2005,

    3. Raymond Kelly, police commissioner, New York Police Department, quoted in Malcolm Gladwell, “Troublemakers: What Pit Bulls Can Teach Us about Profiling,” New Yorker, February 6, 2006.

    4. Ibid.

    5. U.S. Code 18 (2004), §2339B(a)(2).

    6. U.S. Code 8 (2004), §1182(a)(3)(B)(i)(IV&V).

    7. U.S. Code 18 (2004), §2339B(a)(1).

    8. U.S. Code 8 (2004), §1189(a)(1).

    9. United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972) at 313.

    10. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Final Report (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2004).

    11. Ibid., 357.

    12. Ibid., 399–400.

    1. United States v. Rahman, 189 F. 3d 88 (2d Cir. 1999).

    2. Ibid.

    3. Humanitarian Law Project v. Reno, 205 F. 3d 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).

    4. See United States v. Lindh, 212 F. Supp. 2d 541 (E.D. Va. 2002).

    5. Ibid.

    6. “A Panicky Bill” (editorial), Washington Post, October 26, 2001, A34.

    7. The Paquette Habana, 175 U.S. 677 (1900).

    8. CNN,

    9. United States v. Yousef, 327 F. 3d 56 (2d Cir. 2003).

    10. U.S. Code 18 (2000), §2332(b).

    11. U.S. Code 18 (2000 & Supp. IV 2004), §2339(a).

    12. U.S. Code 18 (2000 & Supp. IV 2004), §2339(b).

    13. United States v. Goba, 220 F. Supp. 2d 182, 190–191 (W.D.N.Y. 2002) (quoting the defendants in the case).

    14. Senate Subcommittee on the Judiciary, Hearing on DOJ Oversight: Preserving Our Freedom While Defending Against Terrorism, 107th Cong., 1st sess., 2001.

    1. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “U.S. Crisis Relocation Planning,” Washington, D.C., 1981, 7.

    2. Ibid.

    3. Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, U.S. Code 42 (West 2003 and Supp. 2006), §§5121–5206.

    4. Office of Homeland Security, “The National Strategy for Homeland Security,”

    5. Ibid.

    6. Ibid.

    7. Ibid.

    8. White House, “Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-5,”

    9. Federation of American Scientists,

    10. Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terrorism (New York: Free Press, 2004).

    11. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Final Report (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2005), 262.

    12. U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century,

    13. James Jay Carafano and David Heyman, “DHS 2.0: Rethinking the Department of Homeland Security,” at

    1. Amy E. Smithson and Leslie-Anne Levy, Ataxia: The Chemical and Biological Terrorism Threat and U.S. Response (Washington, D.C.: Henry L. Stimson Center, 2000), 269–270.

    1. “The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other,” Pew Global Attitudes Project, June 22, 2006,; “A Rising Tide Lifts Mood in the Developing World,” Pew Global Attitudes Project, July 24, 2007,

    2. Richard Lugar, “The U.S.-Russian Front against Terrorism and Weapons Proliferation,” July 18, 2002,

    3. “Secretary General Offers Global Strategy for Fighting Terrorism in Address to Madrid Summit,” UN Press Release SG/SM/9757, March 10, 2005.

    4. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Final Report (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2005), 381–383.

    5. Financial Action Task Force,

    1. Jenkins quoted in “Terrorism Found Rising, Now Almost Accepted,” Washington Post, December 3, 1985, A4; Thatcher quoted in David L. Paletz and Alex F. Schmid, eds., Terrorism and the Media (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1992), 123.

    2. Brigitte L. Nacos, Mass-Mediated Terrorism: The Central Role of the Media in Terrorism and Counterterrroism (Lanham, Md.: Rowan and Littlefield, 2002), 10.

    3. Al-Zawahiri quoted by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, February 17, 2006.

    4. Ronald Dick, assistant director, FBI, and head, U.S. National Infrastructure Protection Center, quoted in Gabriel Weimann, “How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet,” United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C., March 2004.

    5. Ibid.

    6. Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft, 303 F. 3d 681, 683 (6th Cir. 2002).

    1. “U.S. Conducts a Second Airstrike Inside Somalia,” New York Times, January 25, 2007.

    2. Michael R. Gordon and Tim Weiner, “A Nation Challenged: The Strategy,” New York Times, October 16, 2001, A1.

    3. The separate military commands were long referred to as CINCs, or commanders in chief for the different theaters of operation, but in October 2002 Defense Secretary Rumsfeld changed these titles to combatant commanders. The goal was to reserve the title of commander in chief for the president.

    4. Barton Gellman, “CIA Weighs ‘Targeted Killing’ Missions,” Washington Post, October 28, 2001, A01.

    5. Jason Burke and Imitiz Gul, “The Drone, the CIA, and a Botched Attempt to Kill bin Laden's Deputy,” Observer, January 15, 2006.

    6. This cooperation evolved after September 11; before then, U.S. officials had complained about the lack of cooperation in investigating the USS Cole bombing and other terrorist attacks in which suspects hiding in Yemen were potentially involved.

    7. In Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004), 150.

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