The War on Terrorism, also known as the War on Terror, is the common
term for the various military, political and legal actions initiated by
the United States government, in response to the September 11th, 2001
The official objectives of the 2001 War on Terrorism are to counter
terrorist threats, prevent terrorist acts and curb the influence of
terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda. 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 preemptive war,
human rights abuses and other violations of international law.
Terrorist organizations, chiefly al-Qaeda, carried out attacks on the
U.S. and its allies throughout the last few years of the 20th century.
The 1993 World Trade Center bombing by Al-Qaida was the first of many
terrorist attacks upon Americans during this period.
Later that year, in the Battle of Mogadishu (1993), Somali militia
fighters loyal to warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid took part in an assault
upon US forces in Somalia, killing 19 members of the US military.
President Clinton subsequently withdrew US combat forces from Somalia
(there originally to support UN relief efforts), a move described by
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as evidence of American weakness.
These attacks were followed by others including the 1996 Khobar Towers
bombing in Saudi Arabia, and the 1998 United States embassy bombings in
Tanzania and Kenya. Also in 1998 came the World Islamic Front
declaration of February 23rd, 1998, entitled "Jihad Against Jews and
Crusaders", which described the actions of Americans as conflicting
with "Allah's order", and stated the Front's "ruling to kill the
Americans and their allies, civilians and military, is an individual
duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is
possible to do it."
Led by Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaida had by now formed a large base of
operations in Afghanistan, which had been ruled by the Islamic
extremist regime of the Taliban since 1996.
Following the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, President
Bill Clinton launched Operation Infinite Reach, a bombing campaign in
Sudan and Afghanistan against targets associated with al-Qaeda. The
strikes failed to kill al-Qaeda'a leaders or their Taliban supporters
(buildings destroyed by the Americans included a civilian
pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that produced 90% of the region's anti-
Next came the 2000 millennium attack plots, which included an attempted
bombing of Los Angeles International Airport.
In October of 2000, the USS Cole bombing occurred, followed by the
September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. The attacks of 9/11 created an
immediate demand throughout the United States for a decisive response,
leading to an invasion of Afghanistan dubbed Operation Enduring
Freedom, which removed the Taliban from power and ended al-Qaeda's use
of the country as a terrorist base.
In 2001, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1373,
which obliges all States to criminalize assistance for terrorist
activities, deny financial support and safe haven to terrorists and
share information about groups planning terrorist attacks.
In 2005, the Security Council also adopted resolution 1624 concerning
incitement to commit acts of terrorism and the obligations of countries
to comply with international human rights laws. 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.
Stated U.S. objectives and strategies
The Bush Administration has defined the following objectives in the War
Number of persons killed in the "War
on Terrorism" as defined
There is no widely agreed on figure for the number of people that have
been killed so far in the "War on Terrorism" as it has been defined by
the Bush Administration to include the war in Afghanistan, the war in
Iraq, and operations elsewhere. Some estimates include the following:
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