The attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 not only changed the daily lives of United States citizens, it also dramatically altered the way in which the government and military officials conduct counterterrorism. In the wake of the towers falling, the U.S. declared a war on Al Qaeda which relied on the traditional American tactic of using an abundance of brute force against the enemy. However, due to the decentralized nature of the terrorist network, as well as the fact that it spanned multiple countries, this approach proved inadequate.
In Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda, veteran New York Times correspondents Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker outline the ways in which military, espionage and law agencies have evolved over the past decade to more effectively deal with the threat of terrorism.
For instance, the authors learned it is not enough simply to fight Al Qaeda on the ground, but the military has to wage an “information campaign” via the Internet to combat terrorist efforts to communicate and spread propaganda.
In what other ways is the U.S. adapting to the new terrain of this type of war? What exact aspects of counterterrorism contributed to the ambush of Osama bin Laden? How will his death affect Al Qaeda and the way it is engaged by American forces? Is this a war that can ever be definitely won?
Eric Schmitt, co-author of Counterstrike: The Untold Story of American’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda