War on Terror

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War on Terror
Clockwise from top left: Aftermath of the September 11 attacks; American infantry in Afghanistan; an American soldier and Afghan interpreter in Zabul Province, Afghanistan; explosion of an Iraqi car bomb in Baghdad
Clockwise from top left: Aftermath of the September 11 attacks; American infantry in Afghanistan; an American soldier and Afghan interpreter in Zabul Province, Afghanistan; explosion of an Iraqi car bomb in Baghdad.
Date 11 September 2001 – present
(15 years, 8 months and 1 day)[note 1]
Location Global (esp. in the Greater Middle East)
Status NATO-led international involvement in Afghanistan (2001–2014)

Insurgency in Yemen (1992–2015):[note 2]

Iraq War (2003–2011):

War in North-West Pakistan (2004–present):

  • Ongoing insurgency
  • Large part of FATA under Taliban control
  • Shifting public support for the Pakistani government
  • Killing of Osama bin Laden
  • Drone strikes being conducted by the CIA

International campaign against ISIL (2014–present):

Other:

Belligerents
Main participants:
 United States (leader)
 United Kingdom
 France
 Russia
 China[1][2]

Other countries:


(* note: most contributing nations are included in the international operations)

Main targets:

Flag of Taliban.svg Taliban
East Turkestan Islamic Movement


Commanders and leaders
George W. Bush
(President 2001–2009)
Barack Obama
(President 2009–2017)
Donald Trump
(President 2017–present)

Tony Blair
(Prime Minister 1997–2007)
Gordon Brown
(Prime Minister 2007–2010)
David Cameron
(Prime Minister 2010–2016)
Theresa May
(Prime Minister 2016–present)

Jacques Chirac (President 1995–2007)
Nicolas Sarkozy (President 2007–2012)
François Hollande(President 2012–present)
Vladimir Putin
(President 2000–2008, 2012–present)

Dmitry Medvedev
(President 2008–2012)
Jiang Zemin
(President 2001–2003)
Hu Jintao
(President 2003–2013)
Xi Jinping
(President 2013–present)

al-Qaeda

Osama bin Laden 
(Founder and first Emir of al-Qaeda)
Ayman al-Zawahiri
(Current Emir of al-Qaeda)
Saif al-Adel
(al-Qaeda Military Chief)
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi 
(Emir of al-Qaeda in Iraq)
Ilyas Kashmiri 
(Commander of Lashkar al-Zil)
Qasim al-Raymi
(Emir of AQAP)
Abdelmalek Droukdel
(Emir of AQIM)
Mokhtar Belmokhtar 
(Emir of AQWA)
Asim Umar
(Emir of AQIS)
Ahmad Umar
(Emir of al-Shabaab)
Abu Mohammad al-Julani
(Emir of al-Nusra Front)
Muhsin al-Fadhli 
(Leader of Khorasan Group)[37]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
(Caliph of ISIL)
Abu Ala al-Afri 
(Deputy Emir of ISIL)[38][39][40]
Abu Muslim al-Turkmani 
(Deputy Leader, Iraq)[41]
Abu Suleiman al-Naser 
(Head of War Council)[42]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Mohammad al-Adnani 
(Spokesperson for ISIL)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Omar al-Shishani 
(Senior ISIL commander)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Nabil al-Anbari (ISIL Emir of North Africa)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Abdullah al-Filipini (ISIL Emir of the Philippines)
Mohammed Abdullah
(ISIL Emir of Derna)
Ali Al Qarqaa
(ISIL Emir of Nofaliya)
Hafiz Saeed Khan  [43](ISIL Emir of Wilayat Khorasan)
Usman Ghazi[44][45]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abubakar Shekau[46]
(Emir of Boko Haram)

Taliban

Mohammed Omar
(1st Supreme Commander of the Taliban) 
Akhtar Mansour
(2nd Supreme Commander of the Taliban) 
Hibatullah Akhundzada
(Current & 3rd Supreme Commander of the Taliban)
Quetta Shura
(Senior Taliban council)

Abdul Ghani Baradar
Obaidullah Akhund 
Mohammad Fazl
Dadullah Akhund 

Tehrik-i-Taliban

Maulana Fazlullah
(Emir of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan)

Haqqani Network

Jalaluddin Haqqani 
(leader of the Haqqani network)
Sirajuddin Haqqani

East Turkestan Islamic Movement

Abdul Haq
(Emir of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement)

Abdullah Mansour
(Emir of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement)

The War on Terror (WoT), also known as the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is a metaphor of war referring to the international military campaign that started after the September 11th attacks on the United States.[47] U.S. PresidentGeorge W. Bush first used the termWar on Terror” on 20 September 2001.[47] The Bush administration and the Western media have since used the term to argue a global military, political, legal, and conceptual struggle against both terrorist organizations and against the regimes accused of supporting them. It was originally used with a particular focus on countries associated with Islamic terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda and like-minded organizations.

In 2013, President Barack Obama announced that the United States was no longer pursuing a War on Terror, as the military focus should be on specific enemies rather than a tactic. He stated, “We must define our effort not as a boundless ‘Global War on Terror,’ but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.”[48]

In 2017 Donald Trump assumed presidency of the United States and vowed that the fight against ISIL is his number one priority.[49][50] A series of airstrikes were carried out at an ISIL stronghold in Syria in March 2017 and the Trump Administration announced the sending of more troops to ISIL-held territories in the Middle East to continue the fight against the terrorist organization.[51][52][53] Trump has also agreed to work together and carry joint operations with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the ongoing war on terror.[54]

Etymology[edit source]

Letter from Barack Obama indicating appropriation of Congressional funds for “Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism”

The phrase “War on Terror” has been used to specifically refer to the ongoing military campaign led by the U.S., UK and their allies against organizations and regimes identified by them as terrorist, and usually excludes other independent counter-terrorist operations and campaigns such as those by Russia and India. The conflict has also been referred to by names other than the War on Terror. It has also been known as:

History of the name[edit source]

In 1984, the Reagan Administration used the term “war against terrorism” as part of an effort to pass legislation that was designed to freeze assets of terrorist groups and marshal the forces of government against them. Author Shane Harris asserts this was a reaction to the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, which killed 241 U.S. and 58 French peacekeepers.[62]

The concept of America at war with terrorism may have begun on 11 September 2001 when Tom Brokaw, having just witnessed the collapse of one of the towers of the World Trade Center, declared “Terrorists have declared war on [America].”[63]

On 16 September 2001, at Camp David, President George W. Bush used the phrase war on terrorism in an unscripted and controversial comment when he said, “This crusade – this war on terrorism – is going to take a while, … “[64] Bush later apologized for this remark due to the negative connotations the term crusade has to people, e.g. of the Muslim faith. The word crusade was not used again.[65] On 20 September 2001, during a televised address to a joint session of Congress, Bush stated that “(o)ur ‘war on terror’ begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.”[66]

In April 2007, the British government announced publicly that it was abandoning the use of the phrase “War on Terror” as they found it to be less than helpful.[67] This was explained more recently by Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller. In her 2011 Reith lecture, the former head of MI5 said that the 9/11 attacks were “a crime, not an act of war. So I never felt it helpful to refer to a war on terror.”[68]

U.S. President Barack Obama has rarely used the term, but in his inaugural address on 20 January 2009, he stated: “Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.”[69] In March 2009 the Defense Department officially changed the name of operations from “Global War on Terror” to “Overseas Contingency Operation” (OCO).[70] In March 2009, the Obama administration requested that Pentagon staff members avoid the use of the term and instead to use “Overseas Contingency Operation”.[70] Basic objectives of the Bush administration “war on terror”, such as targeting al Qaeda and building international counterterrorism alliances, remain in place.[71][72] In December 2012, Jeh Johnson, the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, stated that the military fight would be replaced by a law enforcement operation when speaking at Oxford University,[73] predicting that al Qaeda will be so weakened to be ineffective, and has been “effectively destroyed”, and thus the conflict will not be an armed conflict under international law.[74] In May 2013, Obama stated that the goal is “to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America”;[75] which coincided with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget having changed the wording from “Overseas Contingency Operations” to “Countering Violent Extremism” in 2010.[76]

The rhetorical war on terror[edit source]

Because the actions involved in the “war on terrorism” are diffuse, and the criteria for inclusion are unclear. Political theorist Richard Jackson has argued that “the ‘war on terrorism’ therefore, is simultaneously a set of actual practices—wars, covert operations, agencies, and institutions—and an accompanying series of assumptions, beliefs, justifications, and narratives—it is an entire language or discourse.”[77] Jackson cites among many examples a statement by John Ashcroft that “the attacks of September 11 drew a bright line of demarcation between the civil and the savage”.[78]Administration officials also described “terrorists” as hateful, treacherous, barbarous, mad, twisted, perverted, without faith, parasitical, inhuman, and, most commonly, evil.[79] Americans, in contrast, were described as brave, loving, generous, strong, resourceful, heroic, and respectful of human rights.[80]

Both the term and the policies it denotes have been a source of ongoing controversy, as critics argue it has been used to justify unilateral preventive war, human rights abuses and other violations of international law.[81][82]

Background[edit source]

Precursor to the 11 September attacks[edit source]

The origins of al-Qaeda can be traced to the Soviet war in Afghanistan (December 1979 – February 1989). The United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the People’s Republic of China supported the Islamist Afghan mujahadeen guerillas against the military forces of the Soviet Union and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. A small number of “Afghan Arab” volunteers joined the fight against the Soviets, including Osama bin Laden, but there is no evidence they received any external assistance.[83] In May 1996 the group World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders (WIFJAJC), sponsored by bin Laden (and later re-formed as al-Qaeda), started forming a large base of operations in Afghanistan, where the Islamist extremist regime of the Taliban had seized power earlier in the year.[84] In February 1998, Osama bin Laden signed a fatwā, as head of al-Qaeda, declaring war on the West and Israel,[85][86] later in May of that same year al-Qaeda released a video declaring war on the U.S. and the West.[87][88]

On 7 August 1998, al-Qaeda struck the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people, including 12 Americans.[89] In retaliation, U.S. President Bill Clinton launched Operation Infinite Reach, a bombing campaign in Sudan and Afghanistan against targets the U.S. asserted were associated with WIFJAJC,[90][91] although others have questioned whether a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan was used as a chemical warfare facility. The plant produced much of the region’s antimalarial drugs[92] and around 50% of Sudan’s pharmaceutical needs.[93] The strikes failed to kill any leaders of WIFJAJC or the Taliban.[92]

Next came the 2000 millennium attack plots, which included an attempted bombing of Los Angeles International Airport. On 12 October 2000, the USS Cole bombing occurred near the port of Yemen, and 17 U.S. Navy sailors were killed.[94]

September 11, 2001, attacks[edit source]

On the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 men affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners all bound for California. Once the hijackers assumed control of the airliners, they told the passengers that they had a bomb on board and would spare the lives of passengers and crew once their demands were met – no passenger and crew actually suspected that they would use the airliners as suicide weapons since it had never happened before in history, and many previous hijacking attempts had been resolved with the passengers and crew escaping unharmed after obeying the hijackers.[95][96] The hijackers – members of al-Qaeda’s Hamburg cell[97] intentionally crashed two airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Both buildings collapsed within two hours from fire damage related to the crashes, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, just outside Washington D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington D.C., to target the White House or the U.S. Capitol. None of the flights had any survivors. A total of 2,977 victims and the 19 hijackers perished in the attacks.[98]

U.S. objectives[edit source]

  NATO
  Major military operations (AfghanistanPakistanIraqSomaliaYemen)
  Other allies involved in major operations

Circle Burgundy Solid.svg Major terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda and affiliated groups: 1.1998 United States embassy bombings • 2. 11 September attacks 2001 • 3. Bali bombings 2002• 4. Madrid bombings 2004 • 5. London bombings 2005 • 6. Mumbai attacks 2008

The Authorization for the use of Military Force Against Terrorists or “AUMF” was made law on 14 September 2001, to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on 11 September 2001. It authorized the President to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on 11 September 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or individuals. Congress declares this is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The George W. Bush administration defined the following objectives in the War on Terror:[99]

  1. Defeat terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and demolish their organizations
  2. Identify, locate and demolish terrorists along with their organizations
  3. Deny sponsorship, support and sanctuary to terrorists
    1. End the state sponsorship of terrorism
    2. Establish and maintain an international standard of accountability concerning combating terrorism
    3. Strengthen and sustain the international effort to combat terrorism
    4. Work with willing and able states
    5. Enable weak states
    6. Persuade reluctant states
    7. Compel unwilling states
    8. Interdict and disorder Material support for terrorists
    9. Abolish terrorist sanctuaries and havens
  4. Diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit
    1. Partner with the international community to strengthen weak states and prevent (re)emergence of terrorism
    2. Win the war of ideals
  5. Defend U.S. citizens and interests at home and abroad
    1. Integrate the National Strategy for Homeland Security
    2. Attain domain awareness
    3. Enhance measures to ensure the integrity, reliability, and availability of critical, physical, and information-based infrastructures at home and abroad
    4. Implement measures to protect U.S. citizens abroad
    5. Ensure an integrated incident management capability

Afghanistan[edit source]

U.S. Army soldier of the 10th Mountain Division in Nuristan Province, June 2007

Operation Enduring Freedom[edit source]

Campaign streamer awarded to units who have participated in Operation Enduring Freedom

Operation Enduring Freedom is the official name used by the Bush administration for the War in Afghanistan, together with three smaller military actions, under the umbrella of the Global War on Terror. These global operations are intended to seek out and destroy any al-Qaeda fighters or affiliates.

Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan[edit source]

On 20 September 2001, in the wake of the 11 September attacks, George W. Bush delivered an ultimatum to the Taliban government of Afghanistan, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, to turn over Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda leaders operating in the country or face attack.[66] The Taliban demanded evidence of bin Laden’s link to the 11 September attacks and, if such evidence warranted a trial, they offered to handle such a trial in an Islamic Court.[100] The U.S. refused to provide any evidence.

Subsequently, in October 2001, U.S. forces (with UK and coalition allies) invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime. On 7 October 2001, the official invasion began with British and U.S. forces conducting airstrike campaigns over enemy targets. Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, fell by mid-November. The remaining al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants fell back to the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan, mainly Tora Bora. In December, Coalition forces (the U.S. and its allies) fought within that region. It is believed that Osama bin Laden escaped into Pakistan during the battle.[101][102]

In March 2002, the U.S. and other NATO and non-NATO forces launched Operation Anaconda with the goal of destroying any remaining al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Shah-i-Kot Valley and Arma Mountains of Afghanistan. The Taliban suffered heavy casualties and evacuated the region.[103]

The Taliban regrouped in western Pakistan and began to unleash an insurgent-style offensive against Coalition forces in late 2002.[104] Throughout southern and eastern Afghanistan, firefights broke out between the surging Taliban and Coalition forces. Coalition forces responded with a series of military offensives and an increase of troops in Afghanistan. In February 2010, Coalition forces launched Operation Moshtarak in southern Afghanistan along with other military offensives in the hopes that they would destroy the Taliban insurgency once and for all.[105] Peace talks are also underway between Taliban affiliated fighters and Coalition forces.[106] In September 2014, Afghanistan and the United States signed a security agreement, which permits the United States and NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan until at least 2024.[107] The United States and other NATO and non-NATO forces are planning to withdraw;[108] with the Taliban claiming it has defeated the United States and NATO,[109] and the Obama Administration viewing it as a victory.[110] In December 2014, ISAF encasing its colors, and Resolute Support began as the NATO operation in Afghanistan.[111]Continued United States operations within Afghanistan will continue under the name “Operation Freedom’s Sentinel”.[112]

International Security Assistance Force[edit source]

Map of countries contributing troops to ISAF as of 5 March 2010. Major contributors (over 1000 troops) in dark green, other contributors in light green, and former contributors in magenta.

December 2001 saw the creation of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to assist the Afghan Transitional Administration and the first post-Taliban elected government. With a renewed Taliban insurgency, it was announced in 2006 that ISAF would replace the U.S. troops in the province as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The British 16th Air Assault Brigade (later reinforced by Royal Marines) formed the core of the force in southern Afghanistan, along with troops and helicopters from Australia, Canada and the Netherlands. The initial force consisted of roughly 3,300 British, 2,000 Canadian, 1,400 from the Netherlands and 240 from Australia, along with special forces from Denmark and Estonia and small contingents from other nations. The monthly supply of cargo containers through Pakistani route to ISAF in Afghanistan is over 4,000 costing around 12 billion in Pakistani Rupees.[113][114][115][116][117]

Iraq and Syria[edit source]

A British C-130J Hercules aircraft launches flare countermeasures before being the first coalition aircraft to land on the newly reopened military runway at Baghdad International Airport

Iraq had been listed as a State sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. since 1990,[118] when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Iraq had also been on the list from 1979 to 1982; it was removed so that the U.S. could provide material support to Iraq in its war with Iran. Hussein’s regime had proven to be a problem for the UN and Iraq’s neighbors due to its use of chemical weapons against Iranians and Kurds in the 1980s.

Iraqi no-fly zones[edit source]

Following the ceasefire agreement that suspended hostilities (but not officially ended) in the 1991 Gulf War, the United States and its allies instituted and began patrolling Iraqi no-fly zones, to protect Iraq’s Kurdish and Shi’a Arab population—both of which suffered attacks from the Hussein regime before and after the Gulf War—in Iraq’s northern and southern regions, respectively. U.S. forces continued in combat zone deployments through November 1995 and launched Operation Desert Fox against Iraq in 1998 after it failed to meet U.S. demands for “unconditional cooperation” in weapons inspections.[119]

In the aftermath of Operation Desert Fox, during December 1998, Iraq announced that it would no longer respect the no-fly zones and resumed its attempts to shoot down U.S. aircraft.

Operation Iraqi Freedom[edit source]

The Iraq War began in March 2003 with an air campaign, which was immediately followed by a U.S.-led ground invasion. The Bush administration stated the invasion was the “serious consequences” spoken of in the UNSC Resolution 1441, partially by Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration also stated the Iraq war was part of the War on Terror; something later questioned or contested.

The first ground attack came at the Battle of Umm Qasr on 21 March 2003 when a combined force of British, American and Polish forces seized control of the port city of Umm Qasr.[120] Baghdad, Iraq’s capital city, fell to American troops in April 2003 and Saddam Hussein’s government quickly dissolved.[121] On 1 May 2003, Bush announced that major combat operations in Iraq had ended.[122] However, an insurgency arose against the U.S.-led coalition and the newly developing Iraqi military and post-Saddam government. The rebellion, which included al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, led to far more coalition casualties than the invasion. Other elements of the insurgency were led by fugitive members of President Hussein’s Ba’ath regime, which included Iraqi nationalists and pan-Arabists. Many insurgency leaders are Islamists and claim to be fighting a religious war to reestablish the Islamic Caliphate of centuries past.[123] Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces in December 2003. He was executed in 2006.

In 2004, the insurgent forces grew stronger. The U.S. conducted attacks on insurgent strongholds in cities like Najaf and Fallujah.

In January 2007, President Bush presented a new strategy for Operation Iraqi Freedom based upon counter-insurgency theories and tactics developed by General David Petraeus. The Iraq War troop surge of 2007 was part of this “new way forward” and, along with U.S. backing of Sunni groups it had previously sought to defeat, has been credited with a widely recognized dramatic decrease in violence by up to 80%.

Operation New Dawn[edit source]

The war entered a new phase on 1 September 2010,[124] with the official end of U.S. combat operations. The last U.S. troops exited Iraq on 18 December 2011.[125]

Operation Inherent Resolve (Syria and Iraq)[edit source]

Tomahawk missiles being fired from USS Philippine Sea and USS Arleigh Burke at IS targets in Syria

In a major split in the ranks of Al Qaeda’s organization, the Iraqi franchise, known as Al Qaeda in Iraq covertly invaded Syria and the Levant and began participating in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, gaining enough support and strength to re-invade Iraq’s western provinces under the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), taking over much of the country in a blitzkrieg-like action and combining the Iraq insurgency and Syrian Civil War into a single conflict.[126] Due to their extreme brutality and a complete change in their overall ideology, Al Qaeda’s core organization in Central Asia eventually denounced ISIS and directed their affiliates to cut off all ties with this organization.[127] Many analysts[who?] believe that because of this schism, Al Qaeda and ISIL are now in a competition to retain the title of the world’s most powerful terrorist organization.[128]

The Obama administration began to re-engage in Iraq with a series of airstrikes aimed at ISIS starting on 10 August 2014.[129] On 9 September 2014, President Obama said that he had the authority he needed to take action to destroy the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, citing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, and thus did not require additional approval from Congress.[130] The following day on 10 September 2014 President Barack Obama made a televised speech about ISIL, which he stated: “Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy”.[131] Obama has authorized the deployment of additional U.S. Forces into Iraq, as well as authorizing direct military operations against ISIL within Syria.[131]On the night of 21/22 September the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Jordan and Qatar started air attacks against ISIS in Syria.[citation needed]

In October 2014, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Defense considers military operations against ISIL as being under Operation Enduring Freedom in regards to campaign medal awarding.[132] On 15 October, the military intervention became known as “Operation Inherent Resolve”.[133]

Pakistan[edit source]

Following the 11 September 2001 attacks, former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf sided with the U.S. against the Taliban government in Afghanistan after an ultimatum by then U.S. President George W. Bush. Musharraf agreed to give the U.S. the use of three airbases for Operation Enduring Freedom. United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and other U.S. administration officials met with Musharraf. On 19 September 2001, Musharraf addressed the people of Pakistan and stated that, while he opposed military tactics against the Taliban, Pakistan risked being endangered by an alliance of India and the U.S. if it did not cooperate. In 2006, Musharraf testified that this stance was pressured by threats from the U.S., and revealed in his memoirs that he had “war-gamed” the United States as an adversary and decided that it would end in a loss for Pakistan.[134]

On 12 January 2002, Musharraf gave a speech against Islamic extremism. He unequivocally condemned all acts of terrorism and pledged to combat Islamic extremism and lawlessness within Pakistan itself. He stated that his government was committed to rooting out extremism and made it clear that the banned militant organizations would not be allowed to resurface under any new name. He said, “the recent decision to ban extremist groups promoting militancy was taken in the national interest after thorough consultations. It was not taken under any foreign influence”.[135]

In 2002, the Musharraf-led government took a firm stand against the jihadi organizations and groups promoting extremism, and arrested Maulana Masood Azhar, head of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and took dozens of activists into custody. An official ban was imposed on the groups on 12 January.[136] Later that year, the Saudi born Zayn al-Abidn Muhammed Hasayn Abu Zubaydah was arrested by Pakistani officials during a series of joint U.S.-Pakistan raids. Zubaydah is said to have been a high-ranking al-Qaeda official with the title of operations chief and in charge of running al-Qaeda training camps.[137] Other prominent al-Qaeda members were arrested in the following two years, namely Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who is known to have been a financial backer of al-Qaeda operations, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who at the time of his capture was the third highest-ranking official in al-Qaeda and had been directly in charge of the planning for the 11 September attacks.

In 2004, the Pakistan Army launched a campaign in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan’s Waziristan region, sending in 80,000 troops. The goal of the conflict was to remove the al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the area.

After the fall of the Taliban regime, many members of the Taliban resistance fled to the Northern border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan where the Pakistani army had previously little control. With the logistics and air support of the United States, the Pakistani Army captured or killed numerous al-Qaeda operatives such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, wanted for his involvement in the USS Cole bombing, the Bojinka plot, and the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The United States has carried out a campaign of Drone attacks on targets all over the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. However, the Pakistani Taliban still operates there. To this day it is estimated that 15 U.S. soldiers were killed while fighting al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants in Pakistan since the War on Terror began.[138]

Osama bin Laden, who was of many founders of al-Qaeda, his wife, and son, were all killed on 2 May 2011, during a raid conducted by the United States special operations forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.[139]

The use of drones by the Central Intelligence Agency in Pakistan to carry out operations associated with the Global War on Terror sparks debate over sovereignty and the laws of war. The U.S. Government uses the CIA rather than the U.S. Air Force for strikes in Pakistan to avoid breaching sovereignty through military invasion. The United States was criticized by[according to whom?] a report on drone warfare and aerial sovereignty for abusing the term ‘Global War on Terror’ to carry out military operations through government agencies without formally declaring war.

In the three years before the attacks of 11 September, Pakistan received approximately US$9 million in American military aid. In the three years after, the number increased to US$4.2 billion, making it the country with the maximum funding post 9/11.

Baluchistan[edit source]

Brahamdagh Bugti stated in a 2008 interview that he would accept aid from India, Afghanistan, and Iran in defending Baluchistan.[140] Pakistan has repeatedly accused India of supporting Baloch rebels,[141][142] and Wright-Neville writes that outside Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).[143]

The uprising in Baluchistan started after Pakistan invaded and occupied the territory in 1948. Various NGOs have reported human rights violations in committed by Pakistani armed forces. According to reports, approximately 18,000 Baluch residents are reportedly missing and about 2000 have been killed.[144]

Trans-Sahara (Northern Africa)[edit source]

Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara[edit source]

Northern Mali conflict.svg

Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) is the name of the military operation conducted by the U.S. and partner nations in the Sahara/Sahel region of Africa, consisting of counter-terrorism efforts and policing of arms and drug trafficking across central Africa.

The conflict in northern Mali began in January 2012 with radical Islamists (affiliated to al-Qaeda) advancing into northern Mali. The Malian government had a hard time maintaining full control over their country. The fledgling government requested support from the international community on combating the Islamic militants. In January 2013, France intervened on behalf of the Malian government’s request and deployed troops into the region. They launched Operation Serval on 11 January 2013, with the hopes of dislodging the al-Qaeda affiliated groups from northern Mali.[145]

Horn of Africa and the Red Sea[edit source]

Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa[edit source]

This extension of Operation Enduring Freedom was titled OEF-HOA. Unlike other operations contained in Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF-HOA does not have a specific organization as a target. OEF-HOA instead focuses its efforts to disrupt and detect militant activities in the region and to work with willing governments to prevent the reemergence of militant cells and activities.[146]

In October 2002, the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) was established in Djibouti at Camp Lemonnier.[147] It contains approximately 2,000 personnel including U.S. military and special operations forces (SOF) and coalition force members, Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150).

Task Force 150 consists of ships from a shifting group of nations, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Pakistan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The primary goal of the coalition forces is to monitor, inspect, board and stop suspected shipments from entering the Horn of Africa region and affecting the United States’ Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Included in the operation is the training of selected armed forces units of the countries of Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency tactics. Humanitarian efforts conducted by CJTF-HOA include rebuilding of schools and medical clinics and providing medical services to those countries whose forces are being trained.

The program expands as part of the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative as CJTF personnel also assist in training the armed forces of Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Mali. However, the War on Terror does not include Sudan, where over 400,000 have died in an ongoing civil war.

On 1 July 2006, a Web-posted message purportedly written by Osama bin Laden urged Somalis to build an Islamic state in the country and warned western governments that the al-Qaeda network would fight against them if they intervened there.[148]

Somalia has been considered a “failed state” because its official central government was weak, dominated by warlords and unable to exert effective control over the country. Beginning in mid-2006, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), an Islamist faction campaigning on a restoration of “law and order” through Sharia law, had rapidly taken control of much of southern Somalia.

On 14 December 2006, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer claimed al-Qaeda cell operatives were controlling the Islamic Courts Union, a claim denied by the ICU.[149]

By late 2006, the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia had seen its power effectively limited to Baidoa, while the Islamic Courts Union controlled the majority of southern Somalia, including the capital of Mogadishu. On 20 December 2006, the Islamic Courts Union launched an offensive on the government stronghold of Baidoa and saw early gains before Ethiopia intervened for the government.

By 26 December, the Islamic Courts Union retreated towards Mogadishu, before again retreating as TFG/Ethiopian troops neared, leaving them to take Mogadishu with no resistance. The ICU then fled to Kismayo, where they fought Ethiopian/TFG forces in the Battle of Jilib.

The Prime Minister of Somalia claimed that three “terror suspects” from the 1998 United States embassy bombings are being sheltered in Kismayo.[150] On 30 December 2006, al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called upon Muslims worldwide to fight against Ethiopia and the TFG in Somalia.[151]

On 8 January 2007, the U.S. launched the Battle of Ras Kamboni by bombing Ras Kamboni using AC-130 gunships.[152]

On 14 September 2009, U.S. Special Forces killed two men and wounded and captured two others near the Somali village of Baarawe. Witnesses claim that helicopters used for the operation launched from French-flagged warships, but that could not be confirmed. A Somali-based al-Qaida affiliated group, the Al-Shabaab, has verified the death of “sheik commander” Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan along with an unspecified number of militants.[153] Nabhan, a Kenyan, was wanted in connection with the 2002 Mombasa attacks.[154]

Philippines[edit source]

Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines[edit source]

U.S. Special Forces soldier and infantrymen of the Philippine Army

In January 2002, the United States Special Operations Command, Pacific deployed to the Philippines to advise and assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines in combating Filipino Islamist groups.[155] The operations were mainly focused on removing the Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) from their stronghold on the island of Basilan.[156] The second portion of the operation was conducted as a humanitarian program called “Operation Smiles”. The goal of the program was to provide medical care and services to the region of Basilan as part of a “Hearts and Minds” program.[157][158] Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines disbanded in June 2014,[159]ending a successful 12-year mission.[160] After JSOTF-P had disbanded, as late as November 2014, American forces continued to operate in the Philippines under the name “PACOM Augmentation Team”, until February 24, 2015.[161][162]

Yemen[edit source]

The United States has also conducted a series of military strikes on al-Qaeda militants in Yemen since the War on Terror began.[163] Yemen has a weak central government and a powerful tribal system that leaves large lawless areas open for militant training and operations. Al-Qaeda has a strong presence in the country.[164] On 31 March 2011, AQAP declared the Al-Qaeda Emirate in Yemen after its captured most of Abyan Governorate.[165]

The U.S., in an effort to support Yemeni counter-terrorism efforts, has increased their military aid package to Yemen from less than $11 million in 2006 to more than $70 million in 2009, as well as providing up to $121 million for development over the next three years.[166]

U.S. Allies in the Middle East[edit source]

Israel[edit source]

Israel has been fighting terrorist groups such Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, who are all Iran’s proxies aimed at Iran’s objective to destroy Israel. According to the Clarion Project: “Since 1979, Iran has been responsible for countless terrorist plots, directly through regime agents or indirectly through proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah.[167] In 2006, U.S. President [George W Bush] said that Israel’s war on terrorist group Hezbollah was part of war on terror.[168]

Saudi Arabia[edit source]

Saudi Arabia witnessed multiple terror attacks from different groups such as Al-Queda whos leader Osama Bin Laden delcared war on the Saudi government. On June 16, 1996, the Khobar Towers bombing took place in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. soldiers. It is widely thought that Iran orchestrated it. The 9/11 Commission concluded that Hezbollah, likely with the support of the Iranian regime, was the perpetrator. It said there are “signs” that Al-Qaeda also played a role.[167]

Libya[edit source]

On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military action in Libya, ostensibly to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. The United Nations Intent and Voting was to have “an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute crimes against humanity” … “imposing a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace – a no-fly zone – and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters.” The resolution was taken in response to events during the Libyan Civil War,[169] and military operations began, with American and British naval forces firing over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles,[170] the French Air Force, British Royal Air Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force[171] undertaking sorties across Libya and a naval blockade by Coalition forces.[172] French jets launched air strikes against Libyan Army tanks and vehicles.[173][174] The Libyan government response to the campaign was totally ineffectual, with Gaddafi’s forces not managing to shoot down a single NATO plane despite the country possessing 30 heavy SAM batteries, 17 medium SAM batteries, 55 light SAM batteries (a total of 400-450 launchers, including 130-150 SA-6 launchers and some SA-8 launchers), and 440-600 short-range air-defense guns.[175][176] The official names for the interventions by the coalition members are Opération Harmattan by France; Operation Ellamy by the United Kingdom; Operation Mobile for the Canadian participation and Operation Odyssey Dawn for the United States.[177]

From the beginning of the intervention, the initial coalition of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain, UK and US[178][179][180][181][182] expanded to nineteen states, with newer states mostly enforcing the no-fly zone and naval blockade or providing military logistical assistance. The effort was initially largely led by France and the United Kingdom, with command shared with the United States. NATO took control of the arms embargo on 23 March, named Operation Unified Protector. An attempt to unify the military leadership of the air campaign (while keeping political and strategic control with a small group), first failed over objections by the French, German, and Turkish governments.[183][184] On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone, while command of targeting ground units remains with coalition forces.[185][186][187] The handover occurred on 31 March 2011 at 06:00 UTC (08:00 local time). NATO flew 26,500 sorties since it took charge of the Libya mission on 31 March 2011.

Fighting in Libya ended in late October following the death of Muammar Gaddafi, and NATO stated it would end operations over Libya on 31 October 2011. Libya’s new government requested its mission to be extended to the end of the year,[188] but on 27 October, the Security Council voted to end NATO’s mandate for military action on 31 October.[189]

An AV-8B Harrier takes off from the flight deck of the USS Wasp during Operation Odyssey Lightning, August 8, 2016.

NBC News reported that in mid-2014, ISIS had about 1,000 fighters in Libya. Taking advantage of a power vacuum in the center of the country, far from the major cities of Tripoli and Benghazi, ISIS expanded rapidly over the next 18 months. Local militants were joined by jihadists from the rest of North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Caucasus. The force absorbed or defeated other Islamist groups inside Libya and the central ISIS leadership in Raqqa, Syria, began urging foreign recruits to head for Libya instead of Syria. ISIS seized control of the coastal city of Sirte in early 2015 and then began to expand to the east and south. By the beginning of 2016, it had effective control of 120 to 150 miles of coastline and portions of the interior and had reached Eastern Libya’s major population center, Benghazi. In spring 2016, AFRICOM estimated that ISIS had about 5,000 fighters in its stronghold of Sirte.[190]

However, the indigenous rebel groups who had staked their claims to Libya and turned their weapons on ISIS — with the help of airstrikes by Western forces, including U.S. drones, the Libyan population resented the outsiders who wanted to establish a fundamentalist regime on their soil. Militias loyal to the new Libyan unity government, plus a separate and rival force loyal to a former officer in the Qaddafi regime, launched an assault on ISIS outposts in Sirte and the surrounding areas that lasted for months. According to U.S. military estimates, ISIS ranks shrank to somewhere between a few hundred and 2,000 fighters. In August 2016, the U.S. military began airstrikes that, along with continued pressure on the ground from the Libyan militias, pushed the remaining ISIS fighters back into Sirte, In all, U.S. drones and planes hit ISIS nearly 590 times, the Libyan militias reclaimed the city in mid-December.[190] On January 18, 2017, ABC News reported that two USAF B-2 bombers struck two ISIS camps 28 miles south of Sirte, the airstrikes targeted between 80 and 100 ISIS fighters in multiple camps, an unmanned aircraft also participated in the airstrikes. NBC News reported that as many as 90 ISIS fighters were killed in the strike, a U.S. defense official said that “This was the largest remaining ISIS presence in Libya,” and that “They have been largely marginalized, but I am hesitant to say they have been eliminated in Libya.”[190]

Other military operations[edit source]

Operation Active Endeavour[edit source]

Operation Active Endeavour is a naval operation of NATO started in October 2001 in response to the 11 September attacks. It operates in the Mediterranean and is designed to prevent the movement of militants or weapons of mass destruction and to enhance the security of shipping in general.[191]

Fighting in Kashmir[edit source]

Political Map: the Kashmir region districts

In a ‘Letter to American People’ written by Osama bin Laden in 2002, he stated that one of the reasons he was fighting America is because of its support of India on the Kashmir issue.[192][193] While on a trip to Delhi in 2002, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld suggested that Al-Qaeda was active in Kashmir, though he did not have any hard evidence.[194][195] In 2002, The Christian Science Monitor published an article claiming that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates were “thriving” in Pakistan-administered Kashmir with the tacit approval of Pakistan’s National Intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence.[196] A team of Special Air Service and Delta Force was sent into Indian-administered Kashmir in 2002 to hunt for Osama bin Laden after reports that he was being sheltered by the Kashmiri militant group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.[197] U.S. officials believed that Al-Qaeda was helping organize a campaign of terror in Kashmir to provoke conflict between India and Pakistan. Fazlur Rehman Khalil, the leader of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, signed al-Qaeda’s 1998 declaration of holy war, which called on Muslims to attack all Americans and their allies.[198] Indian sources claimed that In 2006, Al-Qaeda claimed they had established a wing in Kashmir; this worried the Indian government.[199] India also argued that Al-Qaeda has strong ties with the Kashmir militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan.[200] While on a visit to Pakistan in January 2010, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that Al-Qaeda was seeking to destabilize the region and planning to provoke a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.[201]

In September 2009, a U.S. Drone strike reportedly killed Ilyas Kashmiri, who was the chief of Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, a Kashmiri militant group associated with Al-Qaeda.[202][203] Kashmiri was described by Bruce Riedel as a ‘prominent’ Al-Qaeda member,[204] while others described him as the head of military operations for Al-Qaeda.[205] Waziristan had now become the new battlefield for Kashmiri militants, who were now fighting NATO in support of Al-Qaeda.[206] On 8 July 2012, Al-Badar Mujahideen, a breakaway faction of Kashmir centric terror group Hizbul Mujahideen, on the conclusion of their two-day Shuhada Conference called for a mobilization of resources for continuation of jihad in Kashmir.[207]

American military intervention in Cameroon[edit source]

In October 2015, the US began deploying 300 soldiers[208] to Cameroon, with the invitation of the Cameroonian government, to support African forces in a non-combat role in their fight against ISIS insurgency in that country. The troops’ primary missions will revolve around providing intelligence support to local forces as well as conducting reconnaissance flights.[209]

International military support[edit source]

The United Kingdom is the second largest contributor of troops in Afghanistan

The invasion of Afghanistan is seen to have been the first action of this war, and initially involved forces from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Afghan Northern Alliance. Since the initial invasion period, these forces were augmented by troops and aircraft from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway amongst others. In 2006, there were about 33,000 troops in Afghanistan.

On 12 September 2001, less than 24 hours after the 11 September attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., NATO invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and declared the attacks to be an attack against all 19 NATO member countries. Australian Prime Minister John Howard also stated that Australia would invoke the ANZUS Treaty along similar lines.[210]

In the following months, NATO took a broad range of measures to respond to the threat of terrorism. On 22 November 2002, the member states of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) decided on a Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, which explicitly states, “[The] EAPC States are committed to the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms and human rights, as well as the rule of law, in combating terrorism.”[211] NATO started naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction as well as to enhance the security of shipping in general called Operation Active Endeavour.

Support for the U.S. cooled when America made clear its determination to invade Iraq in late 2002. Even so, many of the “coalition of the willing” countries that unconditionally supported the U.S.-led military action have sent troops to Afghanistan, particular neighboring Pakistan, which has disowned its earlier support for the Taliban and contributed tens of thousands of soldiers to the conflict. Pakistan was also engaged in the War in North-West Pakistan (Waziristan War). Supported by U.S. intelligence, Pakistan was attempting to remove the Taliban insurgency and al-Qaeda element from the northern tribal areas.[212]

Terrorist attacks and failed plots since 9/11[edit source]

Al-Qaeda[edit source]

Since 9/11, Al-Qaeda and other affiliated radical Islamist groups have executed attacks in several parts of the world where conflicts are not taking place. Whereas countries like Pakistan have suffered hundreds of attacks killing tens of thousands and displacing much more.

There may also have been several additional planned attacks that were not successful.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)[edit source]

So far, there has been only one failed plot by ISIL:[citation needed]

Post 9/11 events inside the United States[edit source]

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement helicopter patrols the airspace over New York City

In addition to military efforts abroad, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush Administration increased domestic efforts to prevent future attacks. Various government bureaucracies that handled security and military functions were reorganized. A new cabinet-level agency called the United States Department of Homeland Security was created in November 2002 to lead and coordinate the largest reorganization of the U.S. federal government since the consolidation of the armed forces into the Department of Defense.[citation needed]

The Justice Department launched the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System for certain male non-citizens in the U.S., requiring them to register in person at offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The USA PATRIOT Act of October 2001 dramatically reduces restrictions on law enforcement agencies’ ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records; eases restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States; expands the Secretary of the Treasury‘s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and broadens the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the USA PATRIOT Act’s expanded law enforcement powers could be applied. A new Terrorist Finance Tracking Program monitored the movements of terrorists’ financial resources (discontinued after being revealed by The New York Times). Global telecommunication usage, including those with no links to terrorism,[218] is being collected and monitored through the NSA electronic surveillance program. The Patriot Act is still in effect.

Political interest groups have stated that these laws remove important restrictions on governmental authority, and are a dangerous encroachment on civil liberties, possible unconstitutional violations of the Fourth Amendment. On 30 July 2003, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the first legal challenge against Section 215 of the Patriot Act, claiming that it allows the FBI to violate a citizen’s First Amendment rights, Fourth Amendment rights, and right to due process, by granting the government the right to search a person’s business, bookstore, and library records in a terrorist investigation, without disclosing to the individual that records were being searched.[219] Also, governing bodies in many communities have passed symbolic resolutions against the act.

John Walker Lindh was captured as an enemy combatant during the United States’ 2001 invasion of Afghanistan

In a speech on 9 June 2005, Bush said that the USA PATRIOT Act had been used to bring charges against more than 400 suspects, more than half of whom had been convicted. Meanwhile, the ACLU quoted Justice Department figures showing that 7,000 people have complained of abuse of the Act.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began an initiative in early 2002 with the creation of the Total Information Awareness program, designed to promote information technologies that could be used in counter-terrorism. This program, facing criticism, has since been defunded by Congress.

By 2003, 12 major conventions and protocols were designed to combat terrorism. These were adopted and ratified by many states. These conventions require states to co-operate on principal issues regarding unlawful seizure of aircraft, the physical protection of nuclear materials, and the freezing of assets of militant networks.[220]

In 2005, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1624 concerning incitement to commit acts of terrorism and the obligations of countries to comply with international human rights laws.[221] Although both resolutions require mandatory annual reports on counter-terrorism activities by adopting nations, the United States and Israel have both declined to submit reports. In the same year, the United States Department of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a planning document, by the name “National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism”, which stated that it constituted the “comprehensive military plan to prosecute the Global War on Terror for the Armed Forces of the United States…including the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and a rigorous examination with the Department of Defense”.

On 9 January 2007, the House of Representatives passed a bill, by a vote of 299–128, enacting many of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission The bill passed in the U.S. Senate,[222] by a vote of 60–38, on 13 March 2007 and it was signed into law on 3 August 2007 by President Bush. It became Public Law 110-53. In July 2012, U.S. Senate passed a resolution urging that the Haqqani Network be designated a foreign terrorist organization.[223]

The Office of Strategic Influence was secretly created after 9/11 for the purpose of coordinating propaganda efforts but was closed soon after being discovered. The Bush administration implemented the Continuity of Operations Plan (or Continuity of Government) to ensure that U.S. government would be able to continue in catastrophic circumstances.

Since 9/11, extremists made various attempts to attack the United States, with varying levels of organization and skill. For example, vigilant passengers aboard a transatlantic flight prevented Richard Reid, in 2001, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, in 2009, from detonating an explosive device.

Other terrorist plots have been stopped by federal agencies using new legal powers and investigative tools, sometimes in cooperation with foreign governments.[citation needed]

Such thwarted attacks include:

The Obama administration has promised the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, increased the number of troops in Afghanistan, and promised the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq.

Casualties[edit source]

According to Joshua Goldstein, an international relations professor at the American University, The Global War on Terror has seen fewer war deaths than any other decade in the past century.[224]

There is no widely agreed on figure for the number of people that have been killed so far in the War on Terror as it has been defined by the Bush Administration to include the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and operations elsewhere. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the Physicians for Social Responsibility and Physicians for Global Survival give total estimates ranging from 1.3 million to 2 million casualties.[225] Some estimates for regional conflicts include the following:

Child killed by a car bomb in Kirkuk, July 2011

File:CollateralMurder.ogv

Footage of leaked Apache gunship strike in Baghdad, July 2007

  • Iraq: 62,570 to 1,124,000
  • Iraq Body Count project documented 110,937–121,227 civilian deaths from violence from March 2003 to December 2012.[226][227][228]
  • 110,600 deaths in total according to the Associated Press from March 2003 to April 2009.[229]
  • 151,000 deaths in total according to the Iraq Family Health Survey.[230]
  • Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted 12–19 August 2007 estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War. The range given was 946,000 to 1,120,000 deaths. A nationally representative sample of approximately 2,000 Iraqi adults answered whether any members of their household (living under their roof) were killed due to the Iraq War. 22% of the respondents had lost one or more household members. ORB reported that “48% died from a gunshot wound, 20% from the impact of a car bomb, 9% from aerial bombardment, 6% as a result of an accident and 6% from another blast/ordnance.”[231][232][233]
  • Between 392,979 and 942,636 estimated Iraqi (655,000 with a confidence interval of 95%), civilian and combatant, according to the second Lancet survey of mortality.
  • A minimum of 62,570 civilian deaths reported in the mass media up to 28 April 2007 according to Iraq Body Count project.[234]
  • 4,409 U.S. military dead (929 non-hostile deaths), and 31,926 wounded in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom.[235] 66 U.S. Military Dead (28 non-hostile deaths), and 295 wounded in action during Operation New Dawn.[235]
  • Afghanistan: between 10,960 and 249,000[236]
  • According to Marc W. Herold’s extensive database,[238] between 3,100 and 3,600 civilians were directly killed by U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom bombing and Special Forces attacks between 7 October 2001 and 3 June 2003. This estimate counts only “impact deaths”—deaths that occurred in the immediate aftermath of an explosion or shooting—and does not count deaths that occurred later as a result of injuries sustained, or deaths that occurred as an indirect consequence of the U.S. airstrikes and invasion.
  • In a pair of January 2002 studies, Carl Conetta of the Project on Defense Alternatives estimates that “at least” 4,200–4,500 civilians were killed by mid-January 2002 as a result of the war and Coalition airstrikes, both directly as casualties of the aerial bombing campaign, and indirectly in the resulting humanitarian crisis.
  • His first study, “Operation Enduring Freedom: Why a Higher Rate of Civilian Bombing Casualties?”,[241] released 18 January 2002, estimates that, at the low end, “at least” 1,000–1,300 civilians were directly killed in the aerial bombing campaign in just the three months between 7 October 2001 to 1 January 2002. The author found it impossible to provide an upper-end estimate to direct civilian casualties from the Operation Enduring Freedom bombing campaign that he noted as having an increased use of cluster bombs.[242] In this lower-end estimate, only Western press sources were used for hard numbers, while heavy “reduction factors” were applied to Afghan government reports so that their estimates were reduced by as much as 75%.[243]
  • In his companion study, “Strange Victory: A critical appraisal of Operation Enduring Freedom and the Afghanistan war”,[244] released 30 January 2002, Conetta estimates that “at least” 3,200 more Afghans died by mid-January 2002, of “starvation, exposure, associated illnesses, or injury sustained while in flight from war zones”, as a result of the war and Coalition airstrikes.
  • In similar numbers, a Los Angeles Times review of U.S., British, and Pakistani newspapers and international wire services found that between 1,067 and 1,201 direct civilian deaths were reported by those news organizations during the five months from 7 October 2001 to 28 February 2002. This review excluded all civilian deaths in Afghanistan that did not get reported by U.S., British, or Pakistani news, excluded 497 deaths that did get reported in U.S., British, and Pakistani news but that were not specifically identified as civilian or military, and excluded 754 civilian deaths that were reported by the Taliban but not independently confirmed.[245]
  • 2,046 U.S. military dead (339 non-hostile deaths), and 18,201 wounded in action.[235]
  • Pakistan: Between 1467 and 2334 people were killed in U.S. drone attacks as of 6 May 2011. Tens of thousands have been killed by terrorist attacks, millions displaced.
  • Somalia: 7,000+
  • In December 2007, The Elman Peace and Human Rights Organization said it had verified 6,500 civilian deaths, 8,516 people wounded, and 1.5 million displaced from homes in Mogadishu alone during the year 2007.[247]
  • USA

Total American casualties from the War on Terror
(this includes fighting throughout the world):

U.S. Military killed 7,008[235]
U.S. Military wounded 50,422[235]
U.S. DoD Civilians killed 16[235]
U.S. Civilians killed (includes 9/11 and after) 3,000 +
U.S. Civilians wounded/injured 6,000 +
Total Americans killed (military and civilian) 10,008 +
Total Americans wounded/injured 56,422 +

[251][252][253][254][255]

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has diagnosed more than 200,000 American veterans with PTSD since 2001.[256]

  • Yemen

Total terrorist casualties[edit source]

On December 7, 2015, the Washington post reported that since 2001, in five theaters of the war (Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Somalia) that the total number of terrorists killed ranges from 65,800 to 88,600, with Obama administration being responsible for between 30,000 and 33,000.[257]

Costs[edit source]

A March 2011 Congressional report[258] estimated spending related to the war through the fiscal year 2011 at $1.2 trillion, and that spending through 2021 assuming a reduction to 45,000 troops would be $1.8 trillion. A June 2011 academic report[258] covering additional areas of spending related to the war estimated it through 2011 at $2.7 trillion, and long-term spending at $5.4 trillion including interest.[note 4]

According to the Soufan Group in July 2015, the United States government spends $9.4 million per day in operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.[259]

Expense CRS/CBO (Billions US$):[260][261][262] Watson (Billions constant US$):[263]
FY2001-FY2011
War appropriations to DoD 1208.1 1311.5
War appropriations to DoS/USAID 66.7 74.2
VA Medical 8.4 13.7
VA disability 18.9
Interest paid on DoD war appropriations 185.4
Additions to DoD base spending 362.2–652.4
Additions to Homeland Security base spending 401.2
Social costs to veterans and military families to date 295-400
Subtotal: 1283.2 2662.1–3057.3
FY2012-future
FY2012 DoD request 118.4
FY2012 DoS/USAID request 12.1
Projected 2013–2015 war spending 168.6
Projected 2016–2020 war spending 155
Projected obligations for veterans’ care to 2051 589–934
Additional interest payments to 2020 1000
Subtotal: 454.1 2043.1–2388.1
Total: 1737.3 4705.2–5445.4

Criticism[edit source]

Participants in a rally, dressed as hooded detainees

Criticism of the War on Terror addressed the issues, morality, efficiency, economics, and other questions surrounding the War on Terror and made against the phrase itself, calling it a misnomer. The notion of a “war” against “terrorism” has proven highly contentious, with critics charging that it has been exploited by participating governments to pursue long-standing policy/military objectives,[264] reduce civil liberties,[265] and infringe upon human rights. It is argued that the term war is not appropriate in this context (as in War on Drugs) since there is no identifiable enemy and that it is unlikely international terrorism can be brought to an end by military means.[266]

Other critics, such as Francis Fukuyama, note that “terrorism” is not an enemy, but a tactic; calling it a “war on terror”, obscures differences between conflicts such as anti-occupation insurgents and international mujahideen. With a military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and its associated collateral damage, Shirley Williams maintains this increases resentment and terrorist threats against the West.[267] There is also perceived U.S. hypocrisy,[268][269] media-induced hysteria,[270] and that differences in foreign and security policy have damaged America’s reputation internationally.[271]

Other Wars on Terror[edit source]

In the 2010s, China has also been engaged in its War on Terror, predominantly a domestic campaign in response to violent actions by Uighur separatist movements in the Xinjiang conflict.[272] This campaign was widely criticized in international media due to the perception that it unfairly targets and persecutes Chinese Muslims,[273] potentially resulting in a negative backlash from China‘s predominantly Muslim Uighur population.

Russia has also been engaged on its own, also largely internally focused, counter-terrorism campaign often termed a war on terror, during the Second Chechen War, the Insurgency in the North Caucasus, and the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[274] Like China‘s war on terror, Russia‘s has also been focused on separatist and Islamist movements that use political violence to achieve their ends.[275]

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15 YEARS OF TERROR, AN ANIMATED TIME-LAPSE

[7.4][Islamic group] Al-Nusra Front

Al-Nusra Front
Arabic: جبهة النصرة لأهل الشام‎
Participant in the Syrian civil war
Flag of Al-Nusra Front
Active 23 Jan 2012 – present[1]
Ideology SunniIslamism Salafist jihadism Islamic fundamentalism
Leaders Abu Mohammad al-Golani[2]
Area of operations Syria
Strength 6,000[3]-7,000[4]
Allies Ahrar ash-Sham

Al-Tawhid Brigade

Syrian Islamic Front

Islamic State of Iraq

Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar

al-Qaeda in Iraq

Ghuraba al-Sham

Fatah al-Islam

Opponents Syrian Armed Forces

Democratic Union Party

Ghuraba al-Sham

Al-Abbas brigade

Hezbollah

The Al-Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra (Arabic: جبهة النصرة لأهل الشام‎ Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahl ash-Shām, “The Support Front for the People of Greater Syria“) is an Al Qaeda associate operating in Syria.[9] The group announced its creation on 23 January 2012 during the Syrian civil war.[10] It is described as “the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force.”[11] The group was designated by the United Nations,[12] the United States in December 2012,[13] Australia in June 2013[14] and the United Kingdom in July 2013[15] as a terrorist organisation. In April 2013, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant released an audio statement announcing that Jabhat al-Nusra is its branch in Syria.[6] The leader of Al Nusra, Abu Mohammad al-Golani, denied the merger but affirmed their allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.[16] By May 2013, a faction of Jabhat loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq leadership began acting under the name of the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.” [17][18][19]

Ideology

The group is generally described as being made up of Sunni Islamist mujahideen. Its goal is to overthrow the Assad government and to create a Pan-Islamic state under the Sharia (the moral code and religious law of Islam) and aims to reinstate the Caliphate.[20] It encourages all Syrians to take part in the war against the Syrian government.[21] In an interview with a UAE newspaper, Abu Ahmed, a man identifying himself as the al-Nusra military commander for the Hasakah Governorate, described the organisation’s goals as deposing Bashar al-Assad, and then establishing a state ruled by the Sharia.[22] Alcohol, tobacco and entertainment considered immoral would be banned, but the rules would be introduced gradually and after giving people advice first. Members of the group are accused of attacking the religious beliefs of non-Sunnis in Syria, including the Alawis.[23] New York Times journalist C. J. Chivers cites “some analysts and diplomats” as noting that al-Nusra Front (and also the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) “can appear less focused on toppling” the al-Assad government than on “establishing a zone of influence spanning Iraq’s Anbar Province and the desert eastern areas of Syria, and eventually establishing an Islamic territory under their administration.”[24] Members of the group have referred to the United States and Israel as enemies of Islam[23] and warned against Western intervention in Syria.[20] Syrian members of the group claim they are only fighting the Assad government and would not attack Western states.[20] The United States accused it of being affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq;[25] in April 2013 the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq released an audio statement affirming this connection.[6]

History

The Quilliam Foundation, in a briefing paper, reports that many of the groups members are Syrians who were part of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi‘s Islamist network fighting the American forces in Iraq. Many of these Syrians remained in Iraq after the withdrawal of American forces, but upon the outbreak of Syrian civil war in 2011, the Islamic State of Iraq sent the Syrian mujahideen and individual Iraqi experts in guerrilla warfare into Syria. A number of meetings were held between October 2011 and January 2012 in Rif Dimashq and Homs where the objectives of the group were determined.[26] The al-Nusra Front released its first public statement on 24 January 2012 in which they called for armed struggle against the Syrian government. The group claimed responsibility for the 2012 Aleppo bombings, the January 2012 al-Midan bombing, the March 2012 Damascus bombings[10] the murder of journalistMohammed al-Saeed[27] and possibly the 10 May 2012 Damascus bombings.[citation needed] Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has said that al-Qaeda in Iraq members have gone to Syria, where the militants previously received support and weapons, in order to join the al-Nusra Front.[28] They are considered to be the best trained and most experienced fighters amongst the Syrian rebels.[29] The group has refused calls for a ceasefire in Syria.[30] US intelligence agencies had originally suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq for the bombings in Aleppo and Damascus.[21] Iraq’s deputy interior minister said early February that weapons and Islamist militants were entering Syria from its country.[31] The Front claimed credit for suicide attacks in the Syrian capital of Damascus as well as in Aleppo. The Front is one of two Islamist militant groups based in Homs battling the Assad government.[citation needed] The Institute for the Study of War, speculating on the origins of Al-Nusra Front, linked it with Syrian government sponsorship of Islamist militant groups fighting Coalition troops during the Iraq War. The group grew in late March and April 2012 after many leading militants from Lebanese Fatah al-Islam and Palestinian groups joined the leadership and were able to secure sponsorship of key jihadi ideologues including Sheikh Abu al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Tahawi, and Sheikh Abu al-Zahra al-Zubaydi.[32] In May 2013, al-Nusra members allegedly possessing 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) of sarin gas were arrested in Turkey.[33] However, this was later refuted by Turkish government officials, stating they “denied media reports that a small amount of the nerve agent sarin had been uncovered.”[34]

Founding

The Al Nusrah Front announced the formation of the “Free Ones of the Levant Brigades” in a YouTube video statement that was released on January 23. In the statement, the group claimed that it attack the headquarters of security in Idlib province.[35] “To all the free people of Syria, we announce the formation of the Free Ones of the Levant Brigades,” the statement said, according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal. “We promise Allah, and then we promise you, that we will be a firm shield and a striking hand to repel the attacks of this criminal Al Assad army with all the might we can muster. We promise to protect the lives of civilians and their possessions from security and the Shabiha [pro-government] militia. We are a people who will either gain victory or die.” [35] All statements and videos by the Nusra Front have been released by its media outlet, al-Manarah al-Bayda (The White Minaret), via the leading Jihadist webforum Shamoukh al-Islam.[1] The name, al-Manarah al-Bayda, is believed to allude to a hadith or Islamic tradition of the second coming of Jesus, who will descend to Earth east of Damascus and do battle with the Antichrist.[36]

Attacks

During the Syrian civil war, the group launched many attacks, mostly against targets affiliated with or supportive of the Syrian government. As of June 2013, al-Nusra Front had claimed responsibility for 57 of the 70 suicide attacks in Syria during the conflict.[37] One of the first bombings for which al-Nusra was suspected of and the first suicide attack of the war came on 23 December 2011, when two seemingly coordinated bombings occurred in the Syrian capital of Damascus, killing 44 people and wounding 166.[38] The al-Midan bombings of January 2012 were allegedly carried out by a fighter named Abu al-Baraa al-Shami. Footage of the destruction caused by the blast was released on a jihadist forum.[21] The video asserts that the “martyrdom-seeking operation” was executed “in revenge for our mother Umm Abdullah – from the city of Homs- against whom the criminals of the regime violated her dignity and threatened to slaughter her son,” SITE reported. The video shows “an excerpt of allegiances, operations, and training of the al-Nusra Front” as well as a fighter “amongst the masses in a public demonstration, advising them to do their prayers and adhere to the rituals of Islam.”[citation needed] The 10 May 2012 Damascus bombings were allegedly claimed by Al-Nusra Front in an Internet video,[39] however, on 15 May 2012, someone claiming to be a spokesman for the group denied that the organization was responsible for the attack, saying that it would only release information through jihadist forums.[40] On 29 May 2012, a mass execution was discovered near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor. The unidentified corpses of 13 men had been discovered shot to death execution-style.[41] On 5 June 2012, the Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the killings, stating that they had captured and interrogated the soldiers in Deir ez-Zor and “justly” punished them with death, after they confessed to crimes.[42] On 17 June 2012, Walid Ahmad al-Ayesh, described by Syrian authorities as the “right hand” of the Al-Nusra Front, was killed when Syrian authorities discovered his hiding place. He was reportedly responsible for the making of car bombs that were used to attack Damascus in the previous months.[43] The Syrian authorities reported the killing of another prominent member of the group, Wael Mohammad al-Majdalawi, killed on 12 August 2012 in an operation conducted in Damascus.[44] On 27 June 2012, a group of Syrian rebels attacked a pro-government TV station in the town of Drousha, just south of the capital Damascus. The station’s studios were destroyed with explosives. Seven people were killed in the attack on Al-Ikhbariya TV, including four guards and three journalists.[45] Al-Nusra claimed responsibility for the attack and published photos of 11 station employees they kidnapped following the raid.[46] In mid-July 2012, Mohammed al-Saeed, a well-known government TV news presenter, was kidnapped by the group. On 3 August 2012, al-Nusra published a statement saying that al-Saeed had been executed.[27][47] The scene at Saadallah Al-Jabiri Square after the attacks on 3 October 2012 On 3 October, three suicidecar bombs exploded at the eastern corner of the central Saadallah Al-Jabiri Square killing 48 people,[48] as it was announced by the Ministry of interior. More than 122 people were reported to be heavily injured.[49] Al-Nusra claimed responsibility for the attack.[50] The bombs targeted the Officers’ club and the nearby buildings of the Touristic Hotel and the historic “Jouha Café”. The hotel received major damage while the café was entirely destroyed. A small building within the Officers’ club was ruined as well.[51][52] The al-Nusra Front also claimed responsibility for attacking numerous Syrian military bases: including a Syrian air defense base near Aleppo on 12 October 2012, the Hanano barracks in Aleppo city and the Suluq barracks in Raqqah. In the air defense base assault they reportedly destroyed buildings and sabotaged radar and rockets after overrunning the base in cooperation with the al-Fajr Islamic Movement and a group of Chechen fighters. During the storming of the Hanano barracks 11 soldiers were killed and they held the complex for six hours before retreating. They also claimed killing 32 soldiers during the raid on the Raqqah base.[53] In October 2012, they joined other rebels in an attack on the Wadi Deif base around Maraat al Numan, in a prolonged fighting that turned into a siege of the base. [54] They also led an attack on the Taftanaz Air Base in November 2012, an important and strategic base for the Syrian army, containing up to 48 helicopters.[29] The group seized three army checkpoints around Saraqeb at the end of October 2012, forcing the Syrian Army to withdraw from the area the next day. In the battle, 28 Syrian soldiers were killed as well as five Nusra fighters. Some of the captured soldiers were summarily executed after being called “Assad dogs”. The video of these executions was widely condemned, with the United Nations referring to them as probable war crimes.[55][56] Members of the al-Nusra Front carried out two suicide attacks in early November 2012. One occurred in a rural development center in Sahl al-Ghab in Hama province, where a car bomb killed two people; while the other occurred in the Mezzeh neighbourhood of Damascus, where a suicide bomber killed 11 people.[57] The SOHR claimed a total of 50 soldiers were killed in the Sahl al-Ghab attack.[58] Al Jazeera reported on 23 December 2012 that the al-Nusra Front had declared a “no-fly-zone” over Aleppo, using 23 mm and 57 mm anti-aircraft guns to down planes. This would include commercial flights which al-Nusra believed transported military equipment and troops. In a video sent to Al Jazeera, they warned civilians against boarding commercial flights.[59] In February 2013, Al Nusra fighters were involved in fighting in Safira with regime reinforcements, preventing these forces from reaching their destination of the city of Aleppo. A monitoring group claims this resulted in more than two hundred casualties over a period of two weeks.[60] The Agenzia Fides, official news agency of the Vatican, reported that on Sunday, 23 June 2013, members of Jabhat al-Nusra attacked a Christian convent in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, and removed and brutally beheaded Syrian Catholic priest François Murad and two of his assistants who had sought sanctuary there after their monastery was destroyed.[61] The group has taken part in military operations with the Free Syrian Army.[62] Abu Haidar, a Syrian FSA co-ordinator in Aleppo‘s Saif al-Dawla district said that Al-Nusra Front “have experienced fighters who are like the revolution’s elite commando troops.”[63] Al-Nusra now controls Ash-Shaddadeh, a town of roughly 16,000.[64]

Relationship with other rebel groups

Al-Nusra Front has been a great help to Syrian rebels in the Battle of Aleppo. One rebel said that members of the group “rush to the rescue of rebel lines that come under pressure and hold them […] They know what they are doing and are very disciplined. They are like the special forces of Aleppo”. He added: “The only thing is that they are too radical”.[30] After the US designated al-Nusra Front as a terror group, a Free Syrian Army (FSA) leader in Aleppo berated the move and a FSA spokesman in Aleppo said “We might not share the same beliefs as Jabhat al-Nusra, but we are fighting the same enemy”.[65] However, some rebels are worried by their extreme beliefs and tactics.[20][30] The FSA has consistently condemned al-Nusra Front’s use of suicide bombs.[30] It accuses al-Nusra Front and others of “hijacking a revolution that began as an uprising to demand a democratic system”.[20] The leader of a rebel group in Idlib Province said “We are not fighting Bashar al-Assad to go from living in an autocratic to a religious prison”.[20] A “senior political official” of the FSA said “Their presence is reducing the popular support that we desperately need in areas where we operate […] I appreciate their motives for coming to Syria. We cannot deny Muslims their right to jihad, but we want them to leave”.[30] In some parts of Syria, “Jihadist and secular rebel groups watch each other’s military bases warily, unclasping the safety catches on their guns as they pass”.[20] Some members of the FSA believe that, after the Assad government has been overthrown, the next war will be between the FSA and the Islamists.[20]

Relationship with National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and opposition forces

The leader of the National Coalition for Opposition Forces and the Syrian Revolution, Moaz al-Khatib, called on the US to reconsider its decision to list the al-Nusra Front as a foreign terrorist organization; al-Khatib has stated that all rebel forces whose main goal is the “the fall of the regime” should be left alone.[66] After the listing of al-Nusra as a terrorist organisation by the US in December 2012, a group of 29 opposition groups, including both fighting units and civilian organisations signed an online petition calling for demonstrations in its support.[67] On 14 December 2012 thousands of Syrians protested against the US move, under the slogan of “There is no terrorism in Syria except that of Assad.”[68]

Relationship with the Islamic State of Iraq

In April 2013, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, released a recorded audio message on the Internet, in which he announced that Jabhat Al-Nusra was an extension of Al Qaeda in Iraq in Syria.[6] Al-Baghdadi said that Abu Mohammad al-Golani, the leader of Jabhat Al-Nusra, had been dispatched by the group along with a group of men to Syria to meet with pre-existing cells in the country. Al-Baghdadi also said that the Islamic State of Iraq had provided Jabhat Al-Nusra with the plans and strategy needed for the Syrian Civil War and had been providing them funding on a monthly basis.[69] Al-Baghdadi declared that the two groups were officially merging under the name “Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham.”[69] The next day the leader of Al Nusra, Abu Golani, denied that any such merger exists, while reiterating that Al Qaeda and Al Nusra Front are still allies. Golani is quoted as saying “We inform you that neither the al-Nusra command nor its consultative council, nor its general manager were aware of this announcement. It reached them via the media and if the speech is authentic, we were not consulted.”[16] In May 2013, a video was released on the Internet showing masked men publicly execute three captured Alawite officers in the eastern town of Raqqa, the men identified themselves as being members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham. [17] In the same month, Reuters reported that the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had traveled from Iraq to Syria’s Aleppo Governorate province and began attempting to take over the leadership of al-Nusra. There were media reports that the group had suffered a split, with many of al-Nusra’s foreign fighters operating under the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and many Syrian Nusra fighters leaving the group to join other Islamist brigades.[17][18] In June 2013, Al Jazeera reported that it had obtained a letter written by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, addressed to both Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abu Mohammad al-Golani, in which he ruled against the merger of the two organisations and appointed an emissary to oversee relations between them and put an end to tensions.[70] Later in the same month, an audio message from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was released in which he rejects Zawahiri’s ruling and declared that the merger of the two organisations into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was going ahead. This sequence of events is said to have caused much confusion and division amongst members of Al-Nusra.[19]

Support from outside Syria

According to former deputy Prime Minister Abdüllatif Şener, Turkey has supported al-Nusra with “a large volume of heavy weapons.”[71][72][73][74][75]

Strategy and resources

  • car bombs;
  • suicide attacks;
  • destroying checkpoints;
  • arson attacks on liquor shops;
  • execution of media professionals;
  • assassination of political and military figures and shabiha[26]

Chemical weapons

According to former defense correspondent Kenneth R. Timmerman writing in September 2013, sources with access to intelligence reports had told him that “intelligence reports from French and Jordanian military intelligence show that the jihadist al-Nusra front rebels acquired similar rockets and chemical agents earlier this year when they overran a chemical weapons depot in Aleppo on May 17 and captured a rocket unit in Daraa no[t] long afterward”.[76] On 30 May, Turkish newspapers reported that Turkish security forces had arrested Al-Nusra fighters in the southern provinces of Mersin and Adana near the Syrian border and confiscated 2kg of sarin gas.[77][78] The governor of Adana claimed that the security forces had not found sarin gas but unknown chemicals without further explanation.[79] The Turkish Ambassador to Moscow later said that tests showed the chemical seized was anti-freeze, not sarin.[80] In September six of those arrested in May were charged with attempting to acquire chemicals which could be used to produce sarin; the indictment said that it was “possible to produce sarin gas by combining the materials in proper conditions.”[81] The indictment said that “The suspects have pleaded not guilty saying that they had not been aware the materials they had tried to obtain could have been used to make sarin gas. Suspects have been consistently providing conflicting and incoherent facts on this matter.” The suspects were said to be linked to Al-Nusra and to Ahrar al-Sham.[82][83]

Organization and structure

The leader of al-Nusra is a man who goes by the name of Abu Mohammad al-Golani (or Julani), which implies that he is from the Golan Heights. Very little is known about him, with even his nationality unclear. [26] As of early 2013 al-Nusra is estimated to have around 6,000 members. The structure of the group varies across Syria, in Damascus the organisation operates in an underground clandestine cell system, while in Aleppo the group is organised along semi-conventional military lines, with units divided into brigades, regiments and platoons.[26] All potential recruits must undertake a 10-day religious-training course, followed by a 15-to-20-day military-training program.[1] Al-Nusra contains a hierarchy of religious bodies, with a small Majlis-ash-Shura (Consultative Council) at the top, making national decisions on behalf of the group. Religious personnel also play an important role in the regional JN leadership, with each region having a commander and a sheikh. The sheikh supervises the commander from a religious perspective and is known as dabet al-shar’i (religious commissioner). [26] Al-Nusra “appears to be the only rebel group in Syria which has members inside a number of government institutions, including the government security apparatus and military units. Particularly in Damascus, spying systems are sophisticated.” [26]