The effectiveness of US and NATO counter terrorism strategy to Al Qaeda
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is intergovernmental and was founded on 4th April 1949 as an alliance of various countries from Europe and North America (1). Originally, it had 12 independent countries as members who signed the North Atlantic Treaty. The membership has now grown to have 28 member countries (1). The countries came together to form an alliance that would safeguard their freedom and security through political and military means. If one country is attacked, the organization takes that attack to be directed to the organization and all of its members.
The membership to NATO is open to any countries that are in Europe and want to further the Treaty principles and help contribute to security in the region. The countries that are interested in joining are expected to meet certain goals before they join. This ensures that they are able to contribute and benefit at the same time. The organization declared the September 11, 2001 attacks on U. S as attacks on the 19 member countries at the time. This decision was the first step in campaigning against terrorism especially towards the al Qaeda group, which was responsible for that attack (2).
The al Qaeda is a terrorist network that is led by Osama bin Laden and was founded around 1988 (2). The group finances, recruits and trains fighters to be part of the resistance against the western countries especially the U. S. After the attack on America in September 11, 2001, the NATO and the U. S launched a war against the Al Qaeda based in Afghanistan to destroy all their bases and overthrow the rulers of the group and their allies who included the Taliban (1). The network has operations in more than 40 countries all over the world including North America and Europe (3).
They carry out some of their recruitments, fundraising and planning operations in some of the member countries of NATO and in various parts of America (3). After the terrorist attacks on the U. S, NATO military authorities were asked by the NATO defense ministers to come up with a counter terrorism strategy. The military authorities with the help of the North Atlantic Council were able to come up with a strategy that was approved and endorsed by the Heads of State and the governments in November 21, 2002 (4). The strategy involved defending the member countries against threats of terrorism especially the U.
S after the al Qaeda had declared war on the Americans. The counter terrorism strategy was designed to reduce the capabilities of the terrorist groups in training, planning, staging or executing any of their terrorist actions. The U. S also came up with a strategy that would help reduce any future threat that the network group would have on the Americans in the future. NATO and the U. S were to have forces that were trained, exercised and well maintained at all levels to help accomplish this strategy. Other member countries were also to supply the military army. The counter terrorism strategy has been in place since then and NATO and the U.
S continue to fight the al Qaeda, based in Afghanistan, using the strategies they put in place and with the help of the military provided by other countries in the NATO. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of NATO and the U. S counter terrorism strategy against the al Qaeda terrorist network. The terrorism fight towards the al Qaeda is one of the most highly risked tasks in the agenda of NATO and the U. S. NATO declared in 2006 that the use of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism will be among the top priority threats that it will fight against for the next 15 years.
This was to ensure that the citizens of the member countries go about their lives without the threat of terror challenging them. The organization has been engaging in a number of initiatives that are all focused on making terror threat a thing of the past. NATO has been leading a military campaign in Afghanistan on behalf of 41 nations (5). The U. S has been very supportive to the campaign and has sent some of its military personnel to join the other armies from the member countries The U. S has so far the biggest proportion of the NATO troops in the country. There are 65,000 troops in the country that belong to the U.
S and 103,000 troops from the other members of the NATO organization and its allies (6). The NATO has come up with several operations that it has been able to carry out successfully in the fight against terrorism. One of the operations it came up with is the naval operation called Operation Active Endeavour that was carried out to prevent the movement of terrorists and the weapons of mass destruction and enhance security. The NATO force has been able to achieve so much in the fight against the al Qaeda especially in Afghanistan. These achievements have taken time and effort to achieve, with the U.
S being the biggest supporter of all the operations of the NATO army. Planning and implementing the plans by the NATO security force in Afghanistan has taken several years and they have been effective and successful so far. NATO took over the leadership of ISAF in August 11 2003 and became responsible for the activities of the force, which included the coordination, command, and the planning of strategies (7). This is the force that the Alliance has used to conquer the Taliban and the al Qaeda forces especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan to maintain peace and stability to ensure that reconstruction and development takes place in the region.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has helped provide the stable environment in Afghanistan after combating Taliban extremists and other terrorists who were terrorizing the country. The ISAF operation started in 2003 and was mainly comprised of the U. S army. The first mission took place in Kabul, Afghanistan (7). Kabul is the capital city of the country and is the largest town in the country. The city was one of the towns that were under the control of the Taliban due to its strategic location and developments. The U. S led troops were able to come into the country and fight to regain the city.
The troops were able to secure the region and made the Taliban who were close allies to al Qaeda abandon the city after months of fierce fighting and bombing. The war loads and the Afghan Northern Alliance came to control the city after the Taliban left. Many attacks have been carried out that target the government and the military troops but the NATO and the U. S troops have been able to maintain peace and stability in the city. This has allowed the people and the leaders to be able to establish an administration to lead the country.
The Afghan Transitional Administration was formed to take governance of the country with Hamid Karzai as their leader. Since then the ISAF troop has protected the area from the Taliban, the al Qaeda and the war loads in the region. The troop has been able to maintain peace in the city and the city has been developing. The city has been able to develop economically with various businesses growing. Banks have been able to operate in the region and factories have also been able to start operating. The government has been making the city greener and providing the residents of the city with a suitable place to live.
The ISAF troops have been offering training to the National Police and the National army of the country to be able to provide security in the region. NATO and the U. S troops expanded their operations to other regions of the country to offer the same protection against the al Qaeda and the Taliban terrorists. They moved to the northern side of the country in 2004 and later in 2005 they moved to the west (7). This was as a directive from the UN Security Council that gave the authorization for the ISAF troops to move throughout Afghanistan and provide stability throughout the country.
The Taliban has been living in the southern region of Afghanistan and this is considered their traditional home. NATO put over 9,000 troops in the southern region to disrupt the activities of the Taliban, criminals and other terrorists and criminals. The Taliban is a terrorist group that thrives in Afghanistan and has been involved in various terrorist attacks. The Taliban are said to be financed by the al Qaeda as they lay low due to frequent attacks that they have been facing from the U. S led NATO troops and other forces in Afghanistan (8). The stability of Kabul has enabled the U.
N and other international organizations set camp in the area to be able to assist the people in Afghanistan. The ISAF troops provide the security that is needed and avoid attacks to disrupt the efforts of the international organizations. The people are able to receive aid which is mostly food and safe water for drinking together with health services that are provided by these organizations. The presence of NATO and the U. S security forces in the capital has helped maintain stability in the region for the people to develop themselves and to ensure restructuring.
This has been seen as a successful achievement by the U. S and other countries of NATO and the world at large against the al Qaeda terrorist network. The forces have been able to reduce the insurgent activities of the Taliban and the al Qaeda in Afghanistan through its counter terrorism strategy. Through one of its operations called the Operation Medusa the troops have been able to achieve a lot against the terrorist network. The Operation Medusa started in September 2, 2006 in the country and was part of the War in Afghanistan (9).
The ISAF troops comprised of troops from 5 of the NATO member countries mainly the U. S, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and the U. K (5). The mission which involved the NATO troops was led by the Canadian team and aimed at establishing the control of government in a place called Panjwayi. The town was one of the areas that were considered to be strongholds of the Taliban, who were being supported financially by the al Qaeda. The operation crushed the efforts of the Taliban near Kandahar city which is where the small town is located. The NATO and U.
S security forces were able to conquer the area and force the Taliban out as well as ending their control of the town and all their operations. The Operation was launched with the sole intention of clearing out the Taliban group in their stronghold area and it was able to reclaim the small town for the Afghanistan government. The ISAF team was able to kill some of the Taliban and captured the others. This was a great achievement for NATO and the U. S troops since they were able to crush the Taliban and save the town. The freedom of the town however came at a cost.
Most of the homes and other buildings including mosques and vineyards were totally destroyed. The NATO commander however assured the people that they would help them rebuild the town (5). The ISAF troops were able to discover various tunnel systems, bomb making equipment and other arms and ammunition that were being used by the Taliban and the al Qaeda and they were able to destroy them. The operation was able to help the local people get back to their homes which they had abandoned after being terrorized by the Taliban and the al Qaeda.
The government and other non-governmental organizations were able to move freely in the region after the operation concluded and they have been helping in developing the region. The operation was seen as a decisive blow to the terrorist network especially towards the leaders and the extremists of the network. The network has since then dispersed after the severe attacks made against them (5). The authorities in the country with the help of the ISAF troops have been clearing the area and helping in reconstruction efforts and projects that are aimed to develop the area and help the people begin their normal lives.
Schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, power and water supplies have been improved and expanded making life better for the people in the region. Currently about 6 million children among them 2 million girls have been going to school everyday (5). A lot of money has been spent to reconstruct the roads and other infrastructure projects in the area. A $62 million road project has been reconstructed and over $324, 100, 000 has been used to develop over 238 projects (5). One of the operations that were part of the counter terrorism strategy that the NATO and the U.
S troops have been involved in, is the Operation Moshtarak. It was founded in 13th February 2010 with an aim to target the areas that were strongholds of the Taliban militants and drug traffickers (10). The operation was targeting the central Helmand province aiming to reduce the control of the insurgents and terrorists as well as reassuring the citizens of the region of security from the government. The operation was considered to be one of the biggest military operations launched in the region by the NATO troops. The troops are led by thousands of U.
S and British troops and they have been able to conquer areas that were considered to be strongholds of the Taliban and the al Qaeda (11). The ISAF troops have been able to use complex airborne strategies and assaults that have been able to bear fruits. The operation was designed to break the support of the Taliban force that has close allies to the al Qaeda. A lot of intelligence was gathered prior to the mission starting and the information was used to plan the attacks that were led by the U. S and the British troops who were over 2 thousand (11).
Spy planes were used to collect information and disrupt communication between the terrorist commanders. Several terrorists were killed as they were setting up roadside bombs and setting guns meant to target the aircrafts. The operation was designed to involve the afghan forces as they took over the area of Marjah from the terrorists and insurgents. The NATO and Afghan troops prepared and made their way to the town in readiness for the attack that would result in a change that would be fundamental to the entire nation of Afghanistan.
The operation which had been planned for over 2 months was aimed at securing the local population, killing and disarming the Taliban and other terrorists in the region. The operation started achieving its objectives as many of the fighters gave up their guns and surrendered with minimal resistance (11). The troops were then able to move to the other phase of the operation of stabilization where they took over the region and they started building new bases while encouraging the local people to return to their homes as the NATO and U. S security forces provided security in the area.
The government officials and the Afghan police were to enforce law and order in the region as the forces secured the area to prevent the terrorists from returning and taking over. This is one of the other achievements that the NATO and U. S troops have been able to achieve as they fight against the al Qaeda. By defeating the Taliban in the Helmand region and securing it the troops have been able to minimize the operations of the al Qaeda through the Taliban. Al Qaeda has been defeated and they have been unable to carry out a similar attack like that of September 11 on U.
S or other countries. They have been kept on their heels by the U. S and the NATO troops all over Afghanistan. They used to rule over the country of Afghanistan where they would train and plan their attacks on other countries. They had gained support from the Taliban who had turned the country over to them so that they could carry out their training and plan these attacks against Americans and other western countries. The troops were able to bring to an end the al Qaeda regime and made them disperse to neighboring Pakistan.
There are reports made in 2009 that have shown that the violent attacks from the al Qaeda have since then reduced and they remain far less than they were between 2004 and 2007 (12). In the process, several al Qaeda senior leaders have been killed. This were some of the most influential leaders and top operational commanders of al Qaeda who were responsible for the daily planning of activities of the terror groups all over the world. One of them was the mastermind of the September 11 attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) who was captured while in Pakistan.
Other al Qaeda operational leaders were however killed in 2008 (12). They were not known or famous for any attack but they were stopped before they could plan or launch any attacks that would have made them known. This was one of the counter terrorism strategies that were used to prevent the al Qaeda from carrying out more terrorist attacks. As a result there has been a decline in violence in the western country that originated from the al Qaeda network. The network of terrorists has suffered serious setbacks in their terrorism war against western countries.
The decline in violence has allowed the countries that they were controlling to develop politically (12). This is through the efforts of the NATO and U. S troops that have provided security and pushed the al Qaeda and the Taliban from these countries into hiding. Afghanistan for example has been able to carry out peaceful national elections twice and they have been able to elect President Hamid Karzai to rule and guide the country. This has been noted as one of the great achievements that the NATO and the U. S troops have been able to bring to the country since it declared war against the al Qaeda.
By helping the country develop its own governing body, they are helping the country be in a position to stand for itself and protect its people against the rule of the Taliban and al Qaeda. Another achievement that the U. S has been able to achieve is the elimination of the Taliban and the al Qaeda training camps in the country of Afghanistan. The safe havens for the al Qaeda have been destroyed and they no longer exist. The network can therefore not be in a position to carry out recruitment and training camps in the country to increase the number of followers.
The Afghan forces are receiving training from the forces to equip them with the skills that they need to protect its people and ensure that they are in a position to fight the al Qaeda and the Taliban in case they were to come back to the country. The main aim of the NATO and the U. S teams in the country of Afghanistan is to make sure that all the activities of the al Qaeda are disrupted, dismantled and they are defeated. This is the main counter terrorism strategy that has been used by the Obama administration and has been endorsed by Prime Minister, Gordon Brown (13).
Obama dismantled the CIA program that detained and questioned senior al Qaeda leaders who had been captured and released detailed techniques that would be used to interrogate the high value detainees. His argument was that the al Qaeda forces would use the information of the techniques the CIA used, to train its members and operatives to be able to resist the interrogation techniques and avoid them revealing the plans for attacks. This was very critical and crucial intelligence that the al Qaeda would have and use against the efforts of the U.
S to curb terrorism. He therefore developed the strategy of killing the al Qaeda leaders arrested. There are some other indirect achievements that NATO and U. S have been able to bring against the al Qaeda and they have made the fight very effective. The war started by U. S and the NATO troops have brought against the al Qaeda network has made other countries aware of the imminent threat that the network and other terrorists have on security of their people. Other countries that are not members of NATO have been able to support the fight against the al Qaeda.
Countries like Philippines and Algeria have been able to kill some of the top leaders of the al Qaeda as a way of supporting the fight against the network. Algeria in 2007 killed the deputy commander of the terrorist group in Africa (12). A country like Saudi Arabia had been harboring some of the facilitators of the al Qaeda within the country. They were supporting the group by providing finances and recruits as well as justifying their efforts religiously and providing logistic support. The country had turned a blind eye to these facilitators until the NATO and U. S and troops started the fight against the network in Afghanistan.
The country has now been able to launch a crack down on terrorists that were in the country and they have detained over 100 al Qaeda operatives and other extremists that were said to be linked to the network. This has made the fight against the terrorist group more effective since other countries have been able to help keep the network on its heel by ensuring that they do not hide in these countries. The efforts of the NATO and U. S troops have been able to bear fruit with the local people who reside in the countries that were once controlled by the al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The locals have been in support of the activities of the troops to fight and eliminate the control of the al Qaeda and other groups that have been controlling them like the Taliban. A society poll carried out in Asia among the Afghan people shows that only 4% of the people expressed support towards the al Qaeda (12). The extremists in the country are also not gaining support from the locals. The al Qaeda and the Taliban have also lost support from some of their influential supporters since the U. S and the NATO troops started the fight against them.
The government of Pakistan which was once in support of the Taliban and the al Qaeda has also joined the fight against the two groups as was evidenced in the Swat Valley assault on the Taliban forces (12). Most of the attacks that are carried out by the groups lead to a lot of the victims being Muslims. Reports show that in 2007 the al Qaeda had killed 9, 500 Muslims (12). This is one of the reasons that have pushed the Muslim nations in the Middle East and South Asia loose support and popularity towards Osama bi Laden and his operatives.
A poll carried out in the year 2008 in Pakistan showed that Osama’s support had dropped from 70% in August 2007 to 4% in January 2008 (12). The poll was carried out in one of the base operations of the al Qaeda in the North West Frontier Province. A cleric that was credited by Osama bin Laden to be an important and ideological influence to the al Qaeda, Sheikh Salman al- Oadah in 2007 openly condemned the campaign of violence that the al Qaeda had started. This clearly shows that the al Qaeda is loosing support from some of its keen followers through the efforts of NATO and the U.
S. They have been able to portray a negative image of the al Qaeda and the Taliban making them loose support and confidence from their supporters. The women of Afghanistan have been set free and they can now easily walk in the streets freely without fear of intimidation or being oppressed by the Taliban and al Qaeda members. The women have also been given the freedom to hold jobs and given the chance to serve in parliament. This is a great achievement for the country and the women of Afghanistan as they are now able to exercise their rights.
The Taliban and the al Qaeda are against women getting jobs or serving in positions of leadership. Now that NATO and the U. S have helped eliminate the control of the two networks the women are able to exercise their rights and live free and enjoy their freedom. The effectiveness of NATO and the U. S can however be challenged on various occasions against the al Qaeda. They have been focusing on the Taliban who are close allies to the al Qaeda and making them disperse into hiding in fear of their lives.
The al Qaeda has been using the Taliban since their existence is being challenged. They are therefore financing the activities of the well-established Taliban forces that are thriving in numbers (8). The al Qaeda in the meanwhile has been going into hiding especially their leaders in other countries that are making them plan their next moves and their future. The al Qaeda main leader, Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts are unknown together with the other senior leaders of the network group. However, there are speculations that they could be in Pakistan hiding.
NATO and the U. S troops have gone into the country seeking the al Qaeda forces and their leaders to kill them. In September 2008, NATO and the U. S troops invaded the country in their first ground operation. The forces were dropped from two choppers in the middle of the night in one of the Pakistani villages called Musa Neeke. They were targeting the locals for about half an hour and this was one of the daring acts that NATO and the U. S had carried out in the war against terror in Pakistan. Warplanes and other helicopters from NATO and the U.
S were common in the region as a way to carry out attacks against the al Qaeda in the country but so far none of them had included operations on the ground. Jet fighters were spotted the same night hovering in the area as a way of protecting the coalition soldiers as they carried out the mission. The soldiers forced their way into three houses which were owned by Wazir tribesmen. The soldiers then indiscriminately fired their guns killing 15 people in their sleep. Among those who were killed included women and children. The families of Faujan Wazir, Faiz Mohammad Wazir and Nazar Jan were also killed (14).
The other members of the family were injured seriously. Villagers were informed on the incident in the morning through loud speakers in the village mosques. All the villagers who were killed were killed while they were sleeping. Villagers later protested against the attack and the lack of security being offered by the Pakistani security personnel. Some of the protestors said that the massacre that was carried out at night was not justified as the innocent villagers were farmers and they did not have anything to do with the Taliban or the al Qaeda.
The attack was also condemned by the Pakistan government who clarified that they had not allowed the U. S and the NATO forces to launch attacks in the country (14). These are some of the merciless killings that NATO and the U. S have carried out as they search for the al Qaeda in various countries. Their methods and strategies are being questioned by human rights organizations as they are killing more innocent civilians in a bid to capture and kill the terrorists they have been searching.
Some of the operations that have been carried out in various countries such as Afghanistan have resulted to a high number of civilian deaths. The troops try to justify these claims by saying that the deaths were unavoidable and that was the best chance that they had to take out the terrorists. NATO has carried out three mistaken airstrikes that have resulted in a number of civilian deaths. One of the attacks that were carried out mistakenly targeted three civilian vehicles that left 27 civilians dead and about a dozen injured.
This happened in Afghanistan’s central province, Uruzgan. Among those who were killed were women and a child. Afghan officials have reported that in the year 2010 alone there have been over 170 deaths that have been carried out by the U. S and the NATO troops (15). This was during the months March and April. The deaths are said to have increased by 33% from last year. The U. S and the NATO troops had however warned hat the number of deaths that would be experienced would be the highest number that Afghanistan will have experienced during the operation (15).
The Afghanistan president has been condemning the deaths saying that they are unjustifiable. NATO officials have apologized and admitted to the mistakes. They have also confirmed that they have tried to reduce the number of civilian deaths. The attacks have occurred during the operation Moshtarak that has been led by the U. S and Britain though the NATO officials refuted claims that the attacks were part of the operation. These incidents have led to some countries that are part of the Operation Moshtarak claiming that they will withdrawal.
This is particularly the Dutch troops who are about 2000 in the NATO troops that are part of operation Moshtarak (16). Though NAO and the U. S counter terrorism strategy has led to some undesired consequences and effects, the strategy can be said to be effective and successful. Some lives have been lost as the al Qaeda was being fought but so many lives have been saved in the long run. Various attacks have been stopped before they happened and the ability of the al Qaeda leaders to plan other attacks that would have resulted to the loss very many lives in the future has been reduced.
The forces of NATO and the U. S continue to target the network and its allies in a bid to prevent attacks in the future that will lead to more loss of lives. This does not justify the innocent deaths of civilians caused by these forces. NATO and the U. S should embark on some strategies that will reduce or eventually eliminate the loss of civilian lives as they carry on their counter terrorism strategies.
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