Counterterrorism Policies and Strategies

Subject: Warfare
Pages: 5
Words: 1262
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: Bachelor


Counterterrorism is the acts, practices and procedures that different states of the world use in the retaliation against acts and threats of terrorism. It is the mandate of all the governments of the world to protect their subjects and ensure that peace and security is maintained within its borders. Due to this fact, all sovereign states of the world have stand by bodies and authorities that respond to any threats of national security. These bodies include the military, state police, local authorities and other authorised agencies such as the FBI and the CIA in USA and Mi6 in the UK1. The world has enjoyed tremendous developments in the last few years as a result of globalization and technological advancements. This has made cross border transactions and interactions to be much easier. However, these advancements have also increased terrorism. Terrorist now find it easier to recruit individuals, increase their influence and attack their targets with much ease2. It is due to this fact that different states have developed different policies and strategies to combat terrorism. The aim of this paper therefore is to critically analyze the counterterrorism strategies of Israel, France and UK and determine their similarities and differences with Obamas counterterrorism strategies.

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Obamas Regime Counterterrorism Strategies

In the year 2010, President Obama issued a counterterrorism strategy that aimed at guaranteeing the safety and security of the United States of America and its citizens. To achieve this, he aimed at disrupting and eventually bringing to an end the activities of al-Qaida and any other terror groups or individuals who are affiliated to this terror gang. He made it clear that the United States is not at war with the Middle East or the members of the Islamic religion but with al-Qaida and its affiliates3. The Obamas regime counterterrorism strategy is based on the previous strategies that the United States had against terrorism. However, this strategy is more specific since it only aims at targeting al-Qaida and its affiliates. To ensure that this objective is executed to perfection, this strategy requires a multidepartment and multinational assistance and cooperation. This is due to the current counterterrorism demands that go beyond the intelligence, army support and counterterrorism laws that the United States currently has4.

To ensure that this strategy is carried out the most peaceful manner that respects the rights and freedoms of individuals, there are several policies that have been developed which act as guidelines. First, this strategy is expected to be carried out in a manner that adhered to the core values of the United States of America. These values have been part of the US culture since the country gained its independence. Secondly, in combating terrorism, USA aims at building partnerships with other nations that have a common interest with regards to the war against terrorism. Here, USA has been and will continue to partner up with other nations and international bodies such as the United Nations in combating terrorism. Third, Obamas administration aims at applying CT tools and capabilities in the most appropriate means. As terrorism evolves with time, the state has to modify its existing tools and techniques and adopt modern means of fighting this predicament. Finally, Obamas regime seeks to build a culture of resilience within its borders. This will increase the protection of key assets of the United States and in turn will reduce the options that al-Qaida and its affiliates have. The counterterrorism strategy advanced by Obama has so far proven to be effective. In 2011, US navy seals managed to kill the leader of al-Qaida. The nation thus believes that it is a matter of time before the terror gang and its affiliates come to an end.

Israel Counterterrorism Strategy and Policies

Israel is perhaps the country that implemented the most rigorous counterterrorism strategy in the modern world. Founded in 1948, the nation has experienced a number of terrorist attacks within and outside its borders5. Due to this fact, the nation developed and passed the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance on the day the nation was founded. The government also established Shin Bet, an independent organization whose main aim is to ensure the safety of the citizens of Israel and protected the boundaries of the nation. The activities of Shin Bet can be compared to those of the Department of Homeland Security in the US and the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance can be compared to the Counterterrorism Strategy of the Obamas regime. However, whilst the counterterrorism strategies of the US have been effective both in the short run and in the long run, the strategies of Israel have proven to be effective only in the short run. The killing of Hamas bomb engineer, Yahya Ayyash in 1996 paralysed the operations of the terror group for some time. However, after a while, there were in a series of bus bombings that reduced the popularity of Peres and his consequent defeat by Binyamin Netanyahu6. Unlike the US that prefers air strikes against its terrorist targets, Israel always uses foot soldiers in order to reduce civilian casualties. This strategy has been extensively used in the Gaza strip and in Lebanon.

France Counterterrorism Strategy and Policies

Like the US, France also has a counterterrorism strategy that is under the docket of the Interministerial Liaison Committee against Terrorism that is chaired by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence7. The anti-terrorism activities of the state are controlled by the Anti-Terrorism Co-ordination unit. Just like the US, France has laws and regulations that ensure that terrorism is conducted in the most effective and efficient manner in accordance to the human rights laws. However, the nation practices intense arrests, interrogations and trials against victims of terrorism. This has brought about huge criticisms from the international community against the state. However, the government states that these measures have been fruitful in combating terrorism in the nation.

UKs Counterterrorism Strategy and Policies

Like the US, Israel and France, UK also has a counterterrorism strategy called CONTEST8. This strategy has been modified to meet the demands of terrorism threats and acts that the nation is currently facing. The aim of this strategy is to ensure that the United Kingdom and its interests are protected against terrorism. This will assure the citizens of the kingdom about their safety and the safety of their properties. The CONTEST has four pillars of concentration. These are:

  1. Pursue – Stop the occurrence of terrorism within the kingdom
  2. Prevent – Prevent individuals from supporting terrorism or joining any terrorist groups.
  3. Protect – Protect citizens of the kingdom and their properties
  4. Prepare – Means of responding to an attack if an attack cannot be stopped or has occurred.

However, unlike the US, UKs counterterrorism strategy is not on a specific group but focuses on all the terror gangs that pose imminent danger to the kingdom. However, it should be noted that al-Qaida is one of the target terror groups although its influence has greatly reduced after the death of their leader, Osama Bin Laded.

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It has been identified that all states have a mandate of protecting their citizens and interest within and outside their borders against terrorism. It is due to this fact that most nations have counterterrorism strategies. USA, France, Israel and UK all are facing threats against al-Qaida and other terror gangs. All these states have specific bodies that deal with terrorism. However, unlike the US that only focuses on al-Qaida, these other nations focus on other terror gangs. Despite the differences that exist in their strategies, it is evident that terrorism has reduced and the world is much safer.


  1. Byman, Daniel. “Israeli Counterterrorism: Tactics over strategies.” The Economist. Web.
  2. Department of Homeland Security. “National Strategy of Counterterrorism.” The White House. Web.
  3. Home Office. “Counter-Terrorism Strategy.” Home Office. Web.
  4. Norman, Polmar and Thomas, Allen. Spy Book: The Encyclopedia of Espionage. London: Random House, 1998
  5. Sciolino, Elaine. “Frances Terrorism Strategy Faulted.” The New York Times. Web


  1. Polmar Norman and Allen Thomas, Spy Book: The Encyclopedia of Espionage( London,Random House, 1998), p.144
  2. Polmar Norman and Allen Thomas, Spy Book: The Encyclopedia of Espionage( London,Random House, 1998), p.211
  3. Department of Homeland Security, “National Strategy of Counterterrorism,” The White House.
  4. Department of Homeland Security, “National Strategy of Counterterrorism,” The White House.
  5. Byman, Daniel, “Israeli Counterterrorism: Tactics over strategies,” The Economist.
  6. Daniel Byman, “Israeli Counterterrorism: Tactics over strategies,” The Economist.
  7. Elaine Sciolino, “Frances Terrorism Strategy Faulted,” The New York Times.
  8. Home Office, “Counter-Terrorism Strategy,” Home Office.