As Americans remember and honor those we lost ten years ago, homeland security officials warned of a "credible but unconfirmed" al Qaeda threat tied to the 9/11 anniversary. This alert highlights three fundamental facts of life in 2011. First, both in improving and reorganizing the response at home, and taking the fight to al Qaeda abroad, the US has had significant success in combating terrorism. Second, while mass casualty events, such as we saw ten years ago, are less likely as a result, smaller-bore plots are a continued concern. Finally, the American people's vigilance and resilience is the deciding factor in our strength. As New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference yesterday, "the best thing we can do to fight terrorism is to refuse to be intimidated by it." Juliette Kayyem, former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, told the National Security Network, "This is exactly how information should be shared. Domestic law enforcement, local and state officials and first responders working together. They are being honest about we know and what we don't." The tenth anniversary is a moment of remembrance and national unity - something that al Qaeda cannot bear.
From the bevy of coverage, reminiscences and commentary in the lead-up to the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, three themes emerge. We pay tribute to those we lost and all those who serve - whether in our armed forces, as first responders or as citizens building up our communities - by learning the lessons of what has worked, and what has not, over the last decade. We can be proud, as a nation, of our resilience, our institutions and our values. And we can resolve to strengthen our institutions and prize our unity in diversity going forward - and in so doing, defeat terrorists' aim of sowing fear, disunion and overreaction.
Ten years ago America and the world were shocked by the most horrific foreign attack on U.S. soil in our history. In the decade since we have learned a great deal about ourselves, about how to handle the terrorist threat and about what works and doesn't work in combating terrorism.
Washington, D.C. - Ten years ago, America and the world were shocked by the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks perpetrated by al Qaeda. In a new paper, "Lessons In Counterterrorism Ten Years After 9/11: What Works And What Doesn't" theNational Security Network outlines lessons military and security experts have drawn from the experiences of the past decade, and what that means for counterterrorism policy going forward:
As we approach the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, experts in and out of government are reviewing the successes and mistakes of the approach to counterterrorism that has dominated the decade. Yesterday, the Obama administration released its first National Counterterrorism Strategy outlining its overall approach to combating terrorism. It highlights the need for whole-of-government efforts that go beyond any one agency or tool; for partnerships built on trust between nations and within our own society; and for standing strongly with our own institutions and values to face terror with resilience. These lessons have been outlined again and again by experts in terrorism and national security. New polling this week also showed that the American people clearly prefer this results-oriented approach to doubling down on failed policies of the past.
Today, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the chairman and co-chairman of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, spoke with a panel of terrorism and homeland security experts, about the status of terrorism nine years after the tragic 9/11 attacks. The conveners of the event, the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Security Preparedness Group, are also releasing a report by Peter Bergen and Bruce Hoffman, two of the world's foremost experts on terrorism and al Qaeda. The report outlines the changing nature of al Qaeda's strategy from large scale 9/11-style attacks to a more "diversified" approach that seeks to overwhelm its adversaries with small-scale attacks and cause overreaction from America both at home and abroad.
This weekend, America will mark the nine-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Experts agree that much is going right in the struggle against terrorism: extremist groups are under pressure and counterterrorism efforts have "reduced the overall threat from what it was a few years ago." Yet at home our airwaves are flooded with a narrative of overreaction, intolerance and fear that runs counter to America's resilience and undercuts the strength of our society. The recent wave of Islam-bashing not only runs counter to core American principles, but also our security interests. General David Petraeus said this weekend that a planned Koran burning in Florida "put[s] our troopers and civilians in jeopardy and undermine[s] our efforts to accomplish the critical mission here in Afghanistan." The broader issue of Islam-bashing that we have seen in recent weeks - particularly from fringe conservative political leaders - also feeds into the ‘clash of civilizations' meme that al Qaeda promotes and uses as a recruitment tool. Taliban propagandists have called the rhetoric "a gift." We can best serve our security, and honor the memory of those who died, by soberly reflecting upon our strengths and challenges - not giving into the hysteria that terrorists seek to promote.