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The War on Terrorism (also referred to as the Global War on Terror, World War III, or Overseas Contingency Operation) is the common term for the military, political, legal and ideological conflict against what the effort's leaders describe as Islamic terrorism and Islamic militants, and was specifically used in reference to operations by the United States and its allies since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The stated objectives of the war in the US are to protect the citizens of the US and allies, to protect the business interests of the US and allies at home and abroad, break up terrorist cells in the US, and disrupt the activities of the international network of terrorist organizations made up of a number of groups under the umbrella of 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. In March 2009, the Obama administration requested that Pentagon staff members avoid use of the term, instead using "Overseas Contingency Operation". The administration has re-focused US involvement in the conflict on the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, the closing of Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan.
300px-US 10th Mountain Division soldiers in Afghanistan

War on Terrorism Edit

See also: Terrorism

Led by Osama Bin Laden, a radical Islamist trained by the US during the 1980s to conduct guerilla attacks against the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda formed a large base of operations in Afghanistan, which had been ruled by the Islamist extremist regime of the Taliban since 1996.

Following the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania,[16] 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 al-Qaeda.[17][18] Although others have questioned the Sudan plant's use as a chemical warfare plant [19] The strikes failed to kill al-Qaeda'a leaders or their Taliban supporters (targets included a civilian pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that produced much of the region's malaria drugs and around 50% of Sudan's pharmaceutical needs).

Next came the 2000 millennium attack plots which included an attempted bombing of Los Angeles International Airport. In October 2000 the USS Cole bombing occurred,[22] followed in 2001 by the September 11 attacks.[23]

By 2003, 12 major conventions and protocols were designed to combat terrorism. These were as well, adopted and ratified by a number of states to become international law. These conventions require states to co-operate on principal issues regarding unlawful seizure of aircraft for example, the physical protection of nuclear materials and freezing assets of militant networks.[24]

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.[25] Although both resolutions require mandatory annual reports on counterterrorism activities by adopting nations, the United States and Israel have both declined to submit reports.

Historical usage of phrase Edit

The phrase "War on Terrorism" was first widely used by the Western press to refer to the attempts by European governments, and eventually the US government, to stop attacks by anarchists against leaders and officials. (See, for example, The New York Times, April 2, 1881.) For example, on 24 January 1878, Russian Marxist Vera Zasulich shot and wounded a Russian police commander who was known to torture suspects. She threw down her weapon without killing him, announcing; "I am a terrorist, not a killer."

The phrase "war on terrorism" gained currency when it was used to describe the efforts by the British colonial government to end a spate of attacks by Zionist Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine in the late 1940s. The British proclaimed a "War on Terrorism" against Zionist groups such as Irgun and Lehi, and anyone perceived to be cooperating with them.

The Zionist attacks, Arab attacks and revolts, and the subsequent British crackdown hastened the British evacuation from Palestine. The phrase was also used frequently by US President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, to describe his campaigns against Libya and Nicaragua.[27]

On September 20, 2001, during a televised address to a joint session of congress, President George W. Bush launched his war on terror when he said, "Our 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." Bush did not say when he expected this would be achieved. (Previous to this usage, after stepping off the presidential helicopter on Sunday, September 16, 2001, Bush stated in an unscripted and controversial comment: "This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while." Bush later apologized for this remark due to the negative connotations the word crusade has to people of Muslim faith. The word crusade was not used again).[28]

US President Barack Obama has rarely used the term, but in his inaugural address on January 20, 2009, he stated "Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred."[29] It is likely that the phrase will fall into disuse, as one referring to failed concepts and strategies of his predecessor.[30] In March 2009 the Defense Department officially changed the name of operations from "Global War on Terror" to "Overseas Contingency Operation" (OCO).[5]

British objections to the phrase "war on terrorism" Edit

The Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the United Kingdom, Ken McDonald—Britain's most senior criminal prosecutor—has stated that those responsible for acts of terror such as the 7 July 2005 London bombings are not "soldiers" in a war, but "inadequates" who should be dealt with by the criminal justice system. He added that a "culture of legislative restraint" was needed in passing anti-terrorism laws, and that a "primary purpose" of the violent attacks was to tempt countries such as Britain to "abandon our values." He stated that in the eyes of the British criminal justice system, the response to terrorism had to be "proportionate, and grounded in due process and the rule of law":

“ London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered...were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, 'soldiers'. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London there is no such thing as a war on terror. The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws, and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement.[31] ”

In January 2009, the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, wrote "ultimately, the notion is misleading and mistaken" and later said "Historians will judge whether [the notion] has done more harm than good".[32][33]

US objectives Edit

US soldier of the 10th Mountain Division in NuristanThe George W. Bush administration defined the following objectives in the War on Terrorism:[34]

  • Defeat terrorists such as Osama Bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and destroy their organizations
  • Identify, locate and destroy terrorists along with their organizations
  • Deny sponsorship, support and sanctuary to terrorists
  • End the state sponsorship of terrorism
  • Establish and maintain an international standard of accountability with regard to combating terrorism
  • Strengthen and sustain the international effort to fight terrorism
  • Work with willing and able states
  • Enable weak states
  • Persuade reluctant states
  • Compel unwilling states
  • Interdict and disrupt material support for terrorists
  • Eliminate terrorist sanctuaries and havens
  • Diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit
  • Partner with the international community to strengthen weak states and prevent (re)emergence of terrorism
  • Win the war of ideals
  • Defend US citizens and interests at home and abroad
  • Implement the National Strategy for Homeland Security
  • Attain domain awareness
  • Enhance measures to ensure the integrity, reliability, and availability of critical physical and information-based infrastructures at home and abroad
  • Integrate measures to protect US citizens abroad
  • Ensure an integrated incident management capability

Campaigns and theaters of operation Edit

See also: Operation Enduring Freedom

See also: Operation Iraqi Freedom

Africa Edit

Horn of Africa Edit

US soldiers and French LegionnairesThis 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.

In October 2002, the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) was established in Djibouti at Camp Le Monier. It contains approximately 2,000 personnel including US 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, Spain 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 US' "Operation Iraqi Freedom".[35]

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

The program expands as part of the Trans-Saharan Counter Terrorism Initiative as CJTF personnel also assist in training the armed forces of Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.[35] However, the War on Terror does not include Sudan, where over 400,000 have died in an-ongoing civil war.[36]

On July 1, 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.[37]

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 December 14, 2006, the US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer claimed al-Qaeda cell operatives were controlling the Islamic Courts Union, a claim denied by the ICU.[38]

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 Mogadishu. On December 20, the Islamic Courts Union launched an offensive on the government stronghold of Baidoa, and saw early gains before Ethiopia intervened in favor of the government.

By December 26, the Islamic Courts Union went into a "tactical retreat" towards Mogadishu, before again retreating as TFG/Ethiopian troops neared, leading 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. [39] On 30 December 2006, al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called upon Muslims worldwide to fight against Ethiopia and the TFG in Somalia.[40]

On January 8, 2007, the US launched the Battle of Ras Kamboni by bombing Ras Kamboni using AC-130 gunships.[41]

On September 14, 2009, US 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.[42] A Somali based al-Qaida affiliated group, the Al-Shabab Mujahideen Movement, has confirmed the death of "sheik commander" Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan along with an unspecified number of militants.[43] Nabhan, a Kenyan, was wanted in connection with the 2002 Mombasa attacks.

Europe Edit

Beginning in October 2001, Operation Active Endeavour is a naval operation of NATO started in response to the 2001 US attacks. It operates in the Mediterranean Sea and is designed to prevent the movement of militants or weapons of mass destruction as well as to enhance the security of shipping in general. The operation has also assisted Greece with its prevention of illegal immigration. Ongoing operations in the Balkans have also been redesignated as part of the War on Terrorism.

= Italy Edit

26 US citizens, believed to have been mostly working for the CIA, are facing trial, with Italian spies, on charges of abducting terrorism suspect Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr from a street in Milan in 2003, and flying him to Egypt where he was held for years without charge, and where he claims to have been tortured. Robert Seldon Lady, Milan CIA station chief at the time, was quoted by Il Giornale newspaper "I'm not guilty. I'm only responsible for carrying out orders that I received from my superiors," He denied criminal responsibility because it was a "state matter." "I console myself by reminding myself that I was a soldier, that I was in a war against terrorism, that I couldn't discuss orders given to me." Lady's retirement villa has been seized by magistrates to cover court costs.[45]

Middle East Edit

Iraq Edit

British soldiers in IraqIraq had been listed as a state sponsor of international terrorism by the United States since it fell out of US favour in 1990[46] . The regime of Saddam Hussein proved a continuing problem for the UN and Iraq’s neighbors in its use of chemical weapons against Iranians and Kurds.

After the Gulf War, the US, French and British militaries instituted and began patrolling Iraqi no-fly zones, ostensibly to protect Iraq’s Kurdish minority 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. US forces continued in combat zone deployments through November 1995 and launched Operation Desert Fox against Iraq in 1998 after it failed to meet US demands of "unconditional cooperation" in weapons inspections.[47]

Prior to Operation Desert Fox, US president William Clinton predicted "And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them." Clinton also declared a desire to remove Hussein from power and in the same speech said, "The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world." 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 Coalition aircraft.

Air strikes by the British and US against Iraqi anti-aircraft and military targets continued over the next few years. Also in 1998, Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, which called for regime change in Iraq on the basis of its supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction, oppression of Iraqi citizens and attacks on other Middle Eastern countries.

After the 2001 US attacks, the US government claimed that Iraq was an actual threat to the United States because Iraq could use its previously known chemical weapons to aid terrorist groups.

The George W. Bush administration called for the United Nations Security Council to again send weapons inspectors to Iraq (previous inspectors had been expelled after being caught spying for the US) to find and destroy the alleged weapons of mass destruction and for a UNSC resolution.[48][49] UNSC Resolution 1441 was passed unanimously, which offered Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" or face "serious consequences."

Resolution 1441 did not authorize the use of force by member states. The Iraqi government subsequently allowed UN inspectors to access Iraqi sites, while the US government continued to assert that Iraq was being obstructionist. [13]

In October 2002, a large bipartisan majority in the United States Congress authorized the president to use force if necessary to disarm Iraq in order to "prosecute the war on terrorism."[50] After failing to overcome opposition from France, Russia, and China against a UNSC resolution that would sanction the use of force against Iraq, and before the UN weapons inspectors had completed their inspections (which were claimed to be fruitless by the US because of Iraq's alleged deception), the United States assembled a "Coalition of the Willing" composed of nations who pledged support for its policy of regime change in Iraq.

On March 20, 2003, the invasion of Iraq was launched. The Bush administration insisted the invasion was the "serious consequences" spoken of in UNSC Resolution 1441.

Iraq's government was quickly toppled and on May 1, 2003, Bush stated that major combat operations in Iraq had ended.[51] However, an insurgency arose against the US-led coalition and the newly developing Iraqi military and post-Saddam government. This insurgency led to far more coalition casualties than the invasion.

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.[52]

After months of brutal violence against Iraqi civilians, 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 US 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%, and a more controversial possible increase in political and communal reconciliation in Iraq.

Lebanon Edit

In 2007, a conflict began in northern Lebanon after fighting broke out between Fatah al-Islam, an Islamist militant organization, and the Lebanese Armed Forces on May 20, 2007 in Nahr al-Bared, a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli. The conflict evolved mostly around the Siege of Nahr el-Bared, but minor clashes also occurred in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon and several bombings took place in and around Lebanon's capital Beirut.

Fatah-al-Islam has been described as a militant jihadist[53] movement that draws inspiration from al-Qaeda.[53] The US provided military aid to the Lebanese government during the conflict. On September 7, 2007 Lebanese government forces captured the camp and declared victory.

Saudi Arabia Edit

The latest wave of attacks in Saudi Arabia started with the bombing in Riyadh on 12 May 2003 by al-Qaeda militants. The attacks targeted the Saudi security forces, foreign workers, and tourists (mostly Western).

Yemen Edit

There had been a number of attacks against foreign targets in Yemen since the start of the WOT. Yemen has a weak central government and a powerful tribal system that leaves large lawless areas open for militant training and operations. Al-Qaida has a strong presence in the country.

Central Asia/South Asia Edit

India Edit

Attacks Indian Parliament attack – Srinagar – Akshardham Temple attack Kolkata 2002 – Rafiganj rail disaster – Mumbai 2002 – 1st Mumbai 2003 – 2nd Mumbai 2003 – 3rd Mumbai 2003 – Ayodhya – Delhi 2005 – Jaunpur 2005 – Varanasi – Jama Masjid – Mumbai 2006 – Malegaon – Samjhauta Express – Mecca Masjid – Hyderabad – Uttar Pradesh – Jaipur – Bangalore – Ahmedabad – 1st Delhi 2008 – 2nd Delhi 2008 – Western India – Agartala – Imphal – Assam 2008 – Mumbai 2008 – 1st Guwahati 2009 – 2nd Guwahati 2009

There has been a steady rise in Islamist terrorism over the course of the 1980s and the 21st century. The recent rise in prominence of several Pakistan and Kashmir-based terror groups, such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen and others in Kashmir has created grave problems for the country.

Major terrorist incidents in India carried out by Islamic groups include the 1993 Mumbai bombings, as well as terrorism in Kashmir such as Wandhama massacre, Kaluchak massacre, Chittisinghpura massacre and others.

Other deadly terrorist attacks in the rest of the country include:

  • The 2001 Indian Parliament attack.
  • Akshardham Temple attack.
  • 29 October 2005 Delhi bombings.
  • 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack in Ayodhya.
  • 2005 Jaunpur train bombing.
  • 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings.
  • 2006 Varanasi bombings.
  • The 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings.
  • Hyderabad bombings.
  • Jaipur bombings.
  • Bangalore bombings.
  • 2008 Ahmedabad bombings.
  • 13 September 2008 Delhi bombings.
  • 2008 Assam bombings.
  • And the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

In the aftermath of the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, tensions between India and Pakistan increased as India blamed Pakistan for not doing enough to contain anti-India terrorist groups based there. This resulted in massive troop build-ups along the Indo-Pakistani international border by both India and Pakistan resulting in fears of a nuclear war.

However, international diplomacy helped reduce tensions between the two nuclear weapons-armed states. Pakistan was also suspected to be behind the 2008 Indian embassy bombing in Kabul.[54][55]

Kashmiri insurgents, who initially started their movement as a pro-Kashmiri independence movement, have gone through a radical change in their ideology. They now portray their struggle as a religious one.[56] Morever millions of Kashmiri Hindus have been displaced from their traditional homeland for centuries by constant threats of Islamic militia in Kashmir valley.

Research and Analysis Wing, India's premier external intelligence agency, observed the growing link between Islamic terrorist groups based in Afghanistan and Kashmiri insurgents.[57] Al-Qaeda also lends ideological and financial support to terrorism in Kashmir, with Osama bin Laden constantly demanding that jihad be waged against India[58] and Islamic fundamentalist groups disseminating propaganda in many countries against India with rhetoric like "idol worshipers and Hindus" who "occupy Kashmir".[59]

The government and military of India have taken numerous counter-terrorist measures to combat rising terrorism in the country.[60] Some of these measures have been criticized by human rights groups as being too draconian, particularly in Kashmir.[61]

However, increased vigilance by Indian security forces has had a positive impact with the number of terrorist attacks declining sharply in 2007.[62] India is considered to be one of main allies in the war on terrorism[63] and has worked closely on counter-terrorism activities and training with several countries such as United States,[64] Japan,[65]China,[66] Australia,[67] Israel,[68] United Kingdom,[69] and Russia.[70]

India has been criticized over its anti-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir, the heavy-handed response to unrest in which 40 people—the vast majority unarmed civilian protesters—were killed by Indian armed forces could lead to the "Talibanisation of the Kashmiri separatist struggle."[71]

Afghanistan Edit

  • US soldiers in southeastern Afghanistan check their coordinates during a combat patrol

British ISAF soldier in Helmand Province

  • US Army Chinook helicopter in AfghanistanOn September 20, 2001, in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States, George W. Bush delivered an ultimatum to the Taliban government of Afghanistan to turn over Osama bin Laden and al-*Qaeda leaders operating in the country or face attack.[72] The Taliban demanded evidence of bin Laden's link to the September 11 attacks and, if such evidence warranted a trial, they offered to handle such a trial in an Islamic Court.[73] *The US refused to provide any evidence.

In October 2001, in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States, US forces (with some coalition allies) invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime which had control of the country. On October 7, 2001 the official invasion began with British and US forces conducting aerial bombing campaigns.[74]

Waging war in Afghanistan had been of a lower priority for the US government than the war in Iraq. Admiral Mike Mullen, Staff Chairman the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that while the situation in Afghanistan is "precarious and urgent," the 10,000 additional troops needed there would be unavailable "in any significant manner" unless withdrawals from Iraq are made. Mullen stated that "my priorities . . . given to me by the commander in chief are: Focus on Iraq first. It's been that way for some time. Focus on Afghanistan second."[75]

Pakistan Edit

The Saudi born Zayn al-Abidn Muhammed Hasayn Abu Zubaydah was arrested by Pakistani officials during a series of joint U.S. and Pakistan raids during the week of March 23, 2002. During the raid the suspect was shot three times while trying to escape capture by military personnel.

Zubaydah is said to be a high-ranking al-Qaeda official with the title of operations chief and in charge of running al-Qaeda training camps. [14] Later that year on September 14, 2002, Ramzi Binalshibh was arrested in Pakistan after a three-hour gunfight with police forces.

Binalshibh is known to have shared a room with Mohammad Atta in Hamburg, Germany and to be a financial backer of al-Qaeda operations. It is said Binalshibh was supposed to be another hijacker, however the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected his visa application three times, leaving him to the role of financier. The trail of money transferred by Binalshibh from Germany to the United States links both Mohammad Atta and Zacarias Moussaoui. [15]

On March 1, 2003, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was arrested during CIA-led raids on the suburb of Rawalpindi, nine miles outside of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. Mohammed 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 September 11 attacks.

Escaping capture the week before during a previous raid, the Pakistani government was able to use information gathered from other suspects captured to locate and detain Mohammed. Mohammed was indicted in 1996 by the United States government for links to the Oplan Bojinka, a plot to bomb a series of U.S. civilian airliners.

Other events Mohammed has been linked to include: ordering the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the USS Cole bombing, Richard Reid's attempt to blow up a civilian airliner with a shoe bomb, and the terrorist attack at the El Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has described himself as the head of the al-Qaeda military committee. [16]

Amidst all this, in 2006, Pakistan was accused by NATO commanding officers of aiding and abetting the Taliban in Afghanistan;[76] but NATO later admitted that there was no known evidence against the ISI or Pakistani government of sponsoring terrorism.[77] However in 2007, allegations of ISI secretly making bounty payments up to CDN$ 1,900 (Pakistani rupees. 1 lakh) for each NATO personnel killed surfaced.[78]

The Afghan government also accuses the ISI of providing help to militants including protection to the recently killed Mullah Dadullah, Taliban's senior military commander, a charge denied by the Pakistani government.[79] India, meanwhile continues to accuse Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence of planning several terrorist attacks in Kashmir and elsewhere in the Indian republic, including the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings, which Pakistan attributes it to "homegrown" insurgencies.[80]

Many other countries like Afghanistan and the UK have also accused Pakistan of State-sponsored terrorism and financing terrorism. The upswing in American military activity in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan corresponded with a drastic increase in American military aid to the Pakistan government.

In the three years before the attacks of September 11, Pakistan received approximately $9 million in American military aid. In the three years after, the number increased to $4.2 billion, making it the country with the maximum funding post 9/11.[81]

Such a huge inflow of funds has raised concerns that these funds were given without any accountability, as the end uses not being documented, and that large portions were used to suppress civilians' human rights and to purchase weapons to contain domestic problems like the Balochistan unrest Pakistan has stated that India has been supporting terror groups within FATA and Balochistan with the aim of creating unrest within the country which has also been blamed for the diversion of funds.[82][83][84]

Waziristan Edit

In 2004 the Pakistani 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 region.

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 Shaikh Mohammed, wanted for his involvement in the USS Cole bombing, Oplan Bojinka plot and the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

However, the Taliban resistance still operates in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas under the control of Haji Omar.[85] United States has carried out a campaign of Drone attacks on targets all over Federally Administered Tribal Areas

Southeast Asia Edit

Indonesia Edit

In 2002 and again in 2005, the Indonesian island of Bali has been struck by suicide and car bombings that killed over 200 people and injured over 300. The 2002 attack consisted of a bomb hidden in a backpack exploding inside of "Paddy's Bar", a remote controlled car bomb exploding in front of the "Sari Club" and a third explosion in front of the American consulate in Bali.

The 2005 attack consisted of 2 suicide bombings, the first near a food court in Jimbaran, the second in the main square of Kuta. The group Jemaah Islamiyah is suspected by Indonesian authorities of carrying out both attacks.

On September 9, 2004, a car bomb exploded outside of the Australian embassy in Jakarta, killing 10 Indonesians and injuring over 140 others; despite conflicting initial reports there were no Australian casualties.[86] Foreign Minister Alexander Downer reported that a mobile phone text message was sent to Indonesian authorities before the bombing warning of attacks if Abu Bakar Bashir was not released from prison.[87]

Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was imprisoned on charged of treason for his support of the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings.[88]

On November 9 2005, bomb-making expert and influential figure in Indonesian terrorist organization, Azahari Husin was killed in a raid at Malang, East Java[89]. However, Azahari's protege, Noordin M. Top, who was also in the raided safehouse, managed to escape. Top is a recruiter, bomb maker, and explosions expert for Jemaah Islamiyah.[90]

On July 17 2009, 2009 Jakarta bombings happened, two top hotels in the city, JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, were the targets. Nine were killed including two suicide bombers, and injuring 50. Following the attacks, the country's anti-terrorist unit, Detachment 88 succeeded to arrest and kill several active terrorists in the country including Ibrohim, the recruiter and field coordinator of the attack, and Noordin M. Top, the mastermind and the most wanted Islamic militant in South East Asia. Top was killed in Indonesian police raid in 17 September 2009[91][92].

Top's death was "a huge blow for the extremist organizations in Indonesia and the region" according to South East Asian terrorism expert, and director of South East Asia International Crisis Group, Sidney Jones[93]. With Azahari Husin and Noordin Top out of the picture, the country's terrorist organization practically had no charismatic and consistent leader although several, especially Noordin's cell, were still hunted down by Detachment 88.

Philippines Edit

US Special Forces soldier and infantrymen of the Philippine armyIn 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. The operations were mainly focused on removing the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) from their stronghold on the island of Basilan.

The United States military has reported that they have removed over 80% of the Abu Sayyaf Group members from the region. 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.

Thailand Edit

The South Thailand insurgency is a separatist campaign, which is taking place in the predominantly Malay Pattani region, made up of the three southernmost provinces of Thailand, with violence increasingly spilling over into other provinces. Although separatist violence has occurred for decades in the region, the campaign escalated in 2004.[94] In July 2005 the Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, assumed wide-ranging emergency powers to deal with the insurgency. In September 2006, Army Commander Sonthi Boonyaratkalin was granted an extraordinary increase in executive powers to combat the unrest.[95] Soon afterwards, on 19 September 2006, Sonthi and a military junta ousted Thaksin in a coup. Despite reconciliatory gestures from the junta, the insurgency continued and intensified. The death toll, 1,400 at the time of the coup, increased to 2,579 by mid-September 2007.[96] Despite little progress in curbing the violence, the junta declared that security was improving and that peace would come to the region in 2008.[97] The death toll surpassed 3,000 in March 2008.[98]

Northeast Asia Edit

Korean Peninsula Edit

The effort to compel supporters of terrorism to cease and desist was stated as a central focus of the war by former United States President George W. Bush.[99] The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was described as part of an "Axis of Evil" alongside Iran and Iraq by the former President in his State of the Union Address on January 29, 2002. The term "Axis of Evil" was used by Bush in order to describe governments that he accused of supporting terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction.[100]

The U.S. Military has maintained a presence on the Korean Peninsula since the signing of the Korean Armistice, which abruptly ended the Korean War in a stalemate.[101] There is a current mandated strength of over 28,000 U.S. troops[102] on the peninsula as part of United States Forces Korea to assist in defending the South from invasion, as well as over 37,000 troops ashore and 13,000 troops afloat[103] in and around Japan as part of United States Forces Japan (heavily situated on the island of Okinawa) to provide as an immediate theater force multiplier.

The North was, up until October 11, 2008, on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, which is maintained by the United States Department of State.[104] The country was initially added to the list in 1988 becase they had sold weapons to terrorist groups and gave asylum to Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction members. The country is also responsible for the Rangoon bombing and the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858.[105] Past sponsorship of terrorist organizations, specifically supplying terrorist organizations with weapons, made North Korea an immediate concern for Western Allies in the War on Terrorism. Pyongyang's ongoing nuclear weapons program only increased this concern.[106]

Negotiations with Pyongyang led to the North being notified that they would be removed from the list in exchange for dismantling their nuclear weapons program. On June 26, 2008, Then-President Bush announced that he would remove North Korea from the list. On October 11, the country was officially removed from the list for meeting all nuclear inspection requirements.[107]

The North has since resumed their nuclear weapons program, and withdrew from the Korean Armistice on May 27, 2009.[108] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has since stated she is considering taking measures to once again add North Korea to the List of State Sponsors of Terrorism.[109]

North America Edit

United States of America Edit

United States Customs and Border Protection officers.Further information: Detentions following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack A $40 billion emergency spending bill was passed by the United States Congress, and an additional $20 billion bail-out of the airline industry was also passed.

The Justice Department launched a Special Registration procedure for certain male non-citizens in the U.S., requiring them to register in person at offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

In addition to military efforts abroad, in the aftermath of 9/11 the Bush Administration increased domestic efforts to prevent future attacks. A new cabinet level agency called the United States Department of Homeland Security was created to lead and coordinate federal counterterrorism activities.

The USA PATRIOT Act removed legal restrictions on information sharing between federal law enforcement and intelligence services and allowed for the investigation of suspected terrorists using means similar to those in place for other types of criminals. A new Terrorist Finance Tracking Program monitored the movements of terrorists' financial resources (discontinued after being revealed by The New York Times newspaper). Telecommunication usage by known and suspected terrorists was studied through the NSA electronic surveillance program.

Political interest groups have alleged 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 July 30, 2003, the ACLU filed the first legal challenge against Section 215 of the Patriot Act, claiming that it allows the FBI to violate a citizen's 1st Amendment rights, 4th Amendment Rights, and right to due process, by having the ability to search business, bookstore, and library records in a terrorist investigation—without disclosing to the individual that records were being searched.[110] Also, governing bodies in a number of communities have passed symbolic resolutions against the act.

In a speech on June 9, 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 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) quoted Justice Department figures showing that 7,000 people have complained of abuse of the Act.

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 counterterrorism. This program, facing criticism, has since been defunded by Congress.

Various government bureaucracies which handled security and military functions were reorganized. Most notably, the Department of Homeland Security was created to coordinate "homeland security" efforts in the largest reorganization of the U.S. federal government since the consolidation of the armed forces into the Department of Defense.

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, Islamic extremists made various attempts to attack the US homeland, with varying levels of organization and skill. For example, in 2001 vigilant passengers aboard a transatlantic flight to Miami prevented Richard Reid (shoe bomber) 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.

Such thwarted attacks include;

  • A plan to crash airplanes into the U.S. Bank Tower (aka Library Tower) in Los Angeles;
  • The 2003 plot by Iyman Faris to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City;
  • The 2004 Financial buildings plot which targeted the International Monetary Fund and World *Bank buildings in Washington, DC, the New York Stock Exchange and other financial institutions;
  • The 2004 Columbus Shopping Mall Bombing Plot;
  • The 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot which was to involve liquid explosives;
  • The 2006 Sears Tower plot;
  • The 2007 Fort Dix attack plot;

and the 2007 John F. Kennedy International Airport attack plot. To date, no attacks by Islamic terrorists on the US homeland have been successful since September 11, 2001.

Recently the House of Representatives passed a bill enacting many of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, something the Democrats campaigned on as part of their "100 hour plan". The bill passed in the House 299-128 and is currently still being considered in the U.S. Senate. So far funding has not been appropriated for the enactments.[111]

South America Edit

Colombia Edit

Following the September 11 attacks the United States government increased military aid to Colombia. In 2003, 98 million dollars were spent for new Pentagon training and equipment for the Colombian military.

The purpose of which was to help the Colombia government fight the FARC rebel group which is regarded by the U.S. as a terrorist group. It has also been alleged that the Communist rebel group has connections to the drug cartels of South America.[112][113][114][115]

International military support Edit

The first wave of attacks were carried out solely by American and British forces. 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 September 12, 2001, less than 24 hours after the attacks in New York City and Washington, 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 declared that Australia would invoke the ANZUS Treaty along similar lines.

In the following months, NATO took a wide range of measures to respond to the threat of terrorism. On November 22, 2002, the member states of the EAPC decided on a Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism which explicitly states that "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."[116] 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.

The invasion of Afghanistan is seen as the first action of this war, and initially involved forces from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Afghan Northern Alliance.

Support for the United States 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 neighbouring 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 Waziristan War. Supported by U.S. intelligence, Pakistan was attempting to remove the Taliban insurgency and al-Qaeda element from the northern tribal areas.

The International Security Assistance Force Edit

Main article: International Security Assistance Force

Current ISAF contributors in dark green, future in light green, and former in cyan. The United Kingdom is the second largest contributor of ISAF troops in Afghanistan.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 (latter 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).

Summary of major troop contributions (over 400, 1 December 2008)

ISAF total:50,700
United States: 19,950 (total number of U.S troops in Afghanistan is 48,250 including National Guard.)     
United Kingdom: 8,745     
Germany: 3,600     
Italy: 2,850     
France: 2,785     
Canada: 2,750     
Netherlands: 1,770     
Poland: 1,130     
Australia: 1,090     
Turkey: 860     
Sweden: 820     
Spain: 780     
Romania: 740     
Denmark: 700     
Bulgaria: 460     
Norway: 455     
Czech Republic: 415

Criticisms of U.S. objectives and strategies Edit

Main article: Criticism of the War on Terrorism

The War on Terrorism as indefinite and indeterminate Edit

Policy experts have criticized the "War on Terrorism" as an irresponsible metaphor, arguing that "war" must by definition be waged against nations—not against broad and controversial categories of activity such as "terrorism". Cognitive linguist George Lakoff writes:

Literal—not metaphorical—wars are conducted against armies of other nations. They end when the armies are defeated militarily and a peace treaty is signed. Terror is an emotional state. It is in us. It is not an army. And you can’t defeat it militarily and you can’t sign a peace treaty with it.

Dr. David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency and counterterrorism advisor to Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has asserted that:

We must distinguish Al Qa'eda and the broader militant movements it symbolises—entities that use terrorism—from the tactic of terrorism itself. In practice, as will be demonstrated, the 'War on Terrorism' is a defensive war against a world-wide Islamist jihad, a diverse confederation of movements that uses terrorism as its principal, but not its sole tactic.

Francis Fukuyama, a prominent former neoconservative, has made the similar point that:

The term 'war on terrorism' is a misnomer, resulting in distorted ideas of the main threat facing Americans today. Terrorism is only a means to an end; in this respect, a 'war on terror' makes no more sense than a war on submarines.

The term "terrorism" has been also been characterized as unacceptably vague. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime observes:

The lack of agreement on a definition of terrorism has been a major obstacle to meaningful international countermeasures. Some have often commented that one state's "terrorist" is another state's "freedom fighter".

Opponents critical of this inherent subjectivity point out that governments such as Iran, Lebanon, and Venezuela consistently use the term "terrorism" to describe actions taken by the United States.

In an article published in October 29, French Army officer LTC Jean-Pierre Steinhofer described war on Terror as a "semantic, strategic and legal perversion. . . Terrorism is not an enemy, but a method of combat."

Further criticism maintains that the War on Terrorism provides a framework for perpetual war; that the announcement of such open-ended goals produces a state of endless conflict, since "terrorist groups" can continue to arise indefinitely. President Bush has pledged that the War on Terrorism "will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated".[130] During a July 2007 visit to the United States, newly appointed British Prime Minister Gordon Brown defined the War on Terror, specifically the element involving conflict with Al Qaeda, as "a generational battle".

The War on Terrorism as counterproductive Edit

A number of security experts, politicians, and policy organizations have claimed that the War on Terrorism has been counterproductive: that it has consolidated opposition to the U.S., aided terrorist recruitment, and increased the likelihood of attacks against the U.S. and its allies. In a 2005 briefing paper, the Oxford Research Group reported that:

Al-Qaida and its affiliates remain active and effective, with a stronger support base and a higher intensity of attacks than before 9/11. ...Far from winning the 'war on terror', the second George W. Bush administration is maintaining policies that are not curbing paramilitary movements and are actually increasing violent anti-Americanism.

The South African Mail & Guardian describes research commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence which concluded:

The war in Iraq ... has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim world ... Iraq has served to radicalise an already disillusioned youth and al-Qaeda has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology to act.

Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, research fellows at the Center on Law and Security at the NYU School of Law, have argued that the "globalization of martyrdom" potentiated by the Iraq War:

Has generated a stunning sevenfold increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional terrorist attacks and thousands of civilian lives lost.

The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate issued the following among its "key judgments":

The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

On September 19, 2008, the RAND Corporation presented the results of a comprehensive study for "Defeating Terrorist Groups" before the United States House Armed Services Committees. RAND's testimony began with the thesis statement:

The United States cannot continue conducting an effective counter-terrorism campaign against al Qa’ida without understanding how terrorist groups end.

Their conclusions included strong proposals for strategic policy changes:

[The U.S. military] should generally resist being drawn into combat operations in Muslim countries where its presence is likely to increase terrorist recruitment.

and recommended, "ending the notion of a 'war' on terrorism" and "Moving away from military references would indicate that there was no battlefield solution to countering terrorism."

In conclusion, the RAND study advised:

By far the most effective strategy against religious groups has been the use of local police and intelligence services, which were responsible for the end of 73 percent of [terrorist] groups since 1968.

Double standards Edit

Others have criticized the U.S. for double standards in its dealings with key allies that are also known to support terrorist groups, such as Pakistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly stated that in the "war against terrorism," “the central front is Pakistan"; Pakistan has also been alleged to provide Taliban operatives with covert support via the ISI.[137] These accusations of double dealing regard civil liberties[138] and human rights as well as terrorism. According to the Federation of American Scientists, "in its haste to strengthen the "frontline" states' ability to confront transnational terrorist threats on their soil, and to gain the cooperation of regimes of geostrategic significance to the next phases of the "War on Terrorism", the administration is disregarding normative restrictions on U.S. aid to human rights abusers."[139] Amnesty International has argued that the Patriot Act gives the U.S. government free rein to violate the constitutional rights of citizens.[140] The Bush administration's use of torture and alleged use of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons have all fueled opposition to the War on Terrorism.[141][142][143] [144]

Decreasing international support Edit

In 2002, strong majorities supported the U.S.-led War on Terrorism in Britain, France, Germany, Japan, India, and Russia. By 2006, supporters of the effort were in the minority in Britain (49%), France (43%), Germany (47%), and Japan (26%). Although a majority of Russians still supported the War on Terrorism, that majority had decreased by 21%. Whereas 63% of the Spanish population supported the War on Terrorism in 2003, only 19% of the population indicated support in 2006. 19% of the Chinese population supports the War on Terrorism, and less than a fifth of the populations of Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan support the effort. Indian support for the War on Terrorism has been stable.[145] Andrew Kohut, speaking to the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, noted that, according to the Pew Research Center polls conducted in 2004, "majorities or pluralities in seven of the nine countries surveyed said the U.S.-led war on terrorism was not really a sincere effort to reduce international terrorism. This was true not only in Muslim countries such as Morocco and Turkey, but in France and Germany as well. The true purpose of the war on terrorism, according to these skeptics, is American control of Middle East oil and U.S. domination of the world."[146]

Stella Rimington, former head of the British intelligence service MI5 has criticised the war on terror as a "huge overreaction", and had decried the militarization and politicization of the U.S. efforts to be the wrong approach to terrorism.[147] David Milliband, UK foreign secretary, has similarly called the strategy a "mistake".[148][149]

Abuse of power Edit

The War on Terrorism has been viewed by some as a pretext for reducing civil liberties.[150]

The NSA electronic surveillance program and DARPA's Total Information Awareness were two examples of post-September 11 government monitoring programs.

A controversy also erupted concerning National Security Letters, issued by the federal government and not subject to prior judicial review. These letters demanded information the government asserted was relevant to a terrorism investigation, but also contained a gag order preventing recipients from revealing the existence of the letter. Critics contend this prevents public oversight of government investigations, and allows unreasonable search and seizure to go unchecked. The American Civil Liberties Union complained that Section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act removed the need for the government to connect recipients to a terrorism investigation, widening the possibility for abuse.

The Protect America Act of 2007 was also controversial for its lack of judicial review.

In October 2008, British PM Gordon Brown used the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to freeze Icelandic holdings in Great Britain during the Icelandic financial crisis. Iceland's prime minister Geir Haarde protested against what he described "a terrorist law being applied against us", calling it "a completely unfriendly act". Iceland is a founding member of NATO.

Role of U.S. media Edit

Researchers in the area of communication studies and political science have found that American understanding of the war on terror is directly shaped by how the mainstream news media reports events associated with the war on terror. In Bush’s War: Media Bias and Justifications for War in a Terrorist Age[156] political communication researcher Jim A. Kuypers illustrated "how the press failed America in its coverage on the War on Terror." In each comparison, Kuypers "detected massive bias on the part of the press." This researcher called the mainstream news media an "anti-democratic institution" in his conclusion. "What has essentially happened since 9/11 has been that Bush has repeated the same themes, and framed those themes the same whenever discussing the War on Terror," said Kuypers. "Immediately following 9/11, the mainstream news media (represented by CBS, ABC, NBC, USA Today, New York Times, and Washington Post) did echo Bush, but within eight weeks it began to intentionally ignore certain information the president was sharing, and instead reframed the president's themes or intentionally introduced new material to shift the focus."

This goes beyond reporting alternate points of view, which is an important function of the press. "In short," Kuypers explained, "if someone were relying only on the mainstream media for information, they would have no idea what the president actually said. It was as if the press were reporting on a different speech." The study is essentially a "comparative framing analysis". Overall, Kuypers examined themes about 9-11 and the War on Terror that the President used, and compared them to the themes that the press used when reporting on what the president said.

"Framing is a process whereby communicators, consciously or unconsciously, act to construct a point of view that encourages the facts of a given situation to be interpreted by others in a particular manner," wrote Kuypers. These findings suggest that the public is misinformed about government justification and plans concerning the war on terror.

Others have also suggested that press coverage has contributed to a public confused and misinformed on both the nature and level of the threat to the U.S. posed by terrorism. In his book, Trapped in the War on Terror[157] political scientist Ian S. Lustick, claimed, "The media have given constant attention to possible terrorist-initiated catastrophes and to the failures and weaknesses of the government's response." Lustick alleged that the War on Terror is disconnected from the real but remote threat terrorism poses, and that the generalized War on Terror began as part of the justification for invading Iraq, but then took on a life of its own, fueled by media coverage.

Media researcher Stephen D. Cooper’s analysis of media criticism Watching the Watchdog: Bloggers As the Fifth Estate[158] contains many examples of controversies concerning mainstream reporting of the War on Terror. Cooper found that bloggers' criticisms of factual inaccuracies in news stories or bloggers’ discovery of the mainstream press’s failure to adequately check facts before publication caused many news organizations to retract or change news stories.

Cooper found that bloggers specializing in criticism of media coverage advanced four key points. Firstly, that mainstream reporting of the war on terror has frequently contained factual inaccuracies. In some cases, the errors go uncorrected; moreover, when corrections are issued they usually are given far less prominence than the initial coverage containing the errors. Secondly, they claimed that the mainstream press has sometimes failed to check the provenance of information or visual images supplied by Iraqi "stringers" (local Iraqis hired to relay local news). Next, they argued that story framing is often problematic; in particular, "man-in-the-street" interviews have often been used as a representation of public sentiment in Iraq, in place of methodologically sound survey data; and lastly, that mainstream reporting has tended to concentrate on the more violent areas of Iraq, with little or no reporting of the calm areas.

David Barstow won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting by connecting the Department of Defense to over 75 retired generals supporting the Iraq War on TV and radio networks. The Department of Defense recruited the retired generals to sell the war to the American public. Barstow also discovered undisclosed links between some retired generals and defense contractors. Barstow reported "the Bush administration used its control over access of information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse"