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Today’s Realities in the War on Terror

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were acts of war against the United States, peaceful people throughout the world, and the very principles of liberty and human dignity. The United States, together with our Coalition partners, has fought back and will win this war. We will hold the perpetrators accountable and work to prevent the recurrence of similar atrocities on any scale – whether at home or abroad. The War on Terror extends beyond the current armed conflict that arose out of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and embraces all facets of continuing U.S. efforts to bring an end to the scourge of terrorism. Ultimately, we will win the long war to defeat the terrorists and their murderous ideology.


  • We have deprived al-Qaida of safehaven in Afghanistan and helped a democratic government to rise in its place. Once a terrorist sanctuary ruled by the repressive Taliban regime, Afghanistan is now a full partner in the War on Terror.
  • A multinational coalition joined by the Iraqis is aggressively prosecuting the war against the terrorists in Iraq. Together, we are working to secure a united, stable, and democratic Iraq, now a new War on Terror ally in the heart of the Middle East.
  • We have significantly degraded the al–Qaida network. Most of those in the al–Qaida network responsible for the September 11 attacks, including the plot’s mastermind Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, have been captured or killed. We also have killed other key al–Qaida members, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the group’s operational commander in Iraq who led a campaign of terror that took the lives of countless American forces and innocent Iraqis.
  • We have led an unprecedented international campaign to combat terrorist financing that has made it harder, costlier, and riskier for al-Qaida and related terrorist groups to raise and move money.
  • There is a broad and growing global consensus that the deliberate targeting of innocents is never justified by any calling or cause.
  • Many nations have rallied to fight terrorism, with unprecedented cooperation on law enforcement, intelligence, military, and diplomatic activity.
  • We have strengthened our ability to disrupt and help prevent future attacks in the Homeland by enhancing our counterterrorism architecture through the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Director of National Intelligence, and the National Counterterrorism Center. Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted several serious plots since September 11, including al-Qaida plots to attack inside the United States.
  • Numerous countries that were part of the problem before September 11 are now increasingly becoming part of the solution – and this transformation has occurred without destabilizing friendly regimes in key regions.
  • The Administration has worked with Congress to adopt, implement, and renew key reforms like the USA PATRIOT Act that promote our security while also protecting our fundamental liberties.

Yet while America is safer, we are not yet safe. The enemy remains determined, and we face serious challenges at home and abroad.


  • Terrorist networks today are more dispersed and less centralized. They are more reliant on smaller cells inspired by a common ideology and less directed by a central command structure.
  • While the United States Government and its partners have thwarted many attacks, we have not been able to prevent them all. Terrorists have struck in many places throughout the world, from Bali to Beslan to Baghdad.
  • While we have substantially improved our air, land, sea, and border security, our Homeland is not immune from attack.
  • Terrorists have declared their intention to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to inflict even more catastrophic attacks against the United States, our allies, partners, and other interests around the world.
  • Some states, such as Syria and Iran, continue to harbor terrorists at home and sponsor terrorist activity abroad.
  • The ongoing fight for freedom in Iraq has been twisted by terrorist propaganda as a rallying cry.
  • Increasingly sophisticated use of the Internet and media has enabled our terrorist enemies to communicate, recruit, train, rally support, proselytize, and spread their propaganda without risking personal contact.