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Instruments of Counterterrorism

NCJ Number
U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda Volume: 3 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2001 Pages: 10-13
Paul R. Pillar
Date Published
4 pages
This article discusses the different instruments needed to counter terrorism and their limitations.
A National Intelligence Officer (NIO) at the Central Intelligence Agency declared that every counter-terrorism tool had its limitations and that no one method would suffice alone but that many tools must be used together. Diplomacy, by creating both bilateral and multilateral counter-terrorist coalitions, is one of best methods to combat international terrorism. Diplomatic action also strengthens the moral basis and provides a legal framework, but the most obvious limitation is that terrorists do not change behaviors in response to treaties or resolutions. A second method was to use the criminal justice system. There, limitations include: low deterrence rates, leaders typically stay away from the crime scene, and prosecution of such cases poses practical problems in assembling evidence. A third tactic used in counter-terrorism is imposing financial controls. Although tracking the flow of terrorist money was extremely difficult, the NIO believed more could be accomplished to impede the their finances. A fourth method is military force, but the problem with this is the limited number of suitable targets to strike. Lastly, gathering good intelligence on terrorists is crucial, though extremely difficult, making analysis of information nearly as important as collection. Overall, even though it is difficult to use and coordinate these instruments, they are all critical in the fight against terrorism.