Report: US counterterrorism strategy fails to address Islamic threat

The current US counterterrorism strategy is shortsighted and narrow and must adapt to an evolving global Jihadi threat, a new report says.  

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

The American counterterrorism strategy in fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) and other Muslim terror groups risks becoming irrelevant to the new and evolving threat posed by the global Jihadi movement, a new report warns.

The American Enterprise Institute, which authored the report, said that the strategy “misconceptualizes the enemy as a set of discrete groups and individuals to defeat and kill,” which has been US policy since the onset of the war on Islamic terrorism. It “wrongly emphasizes a kinetic approach,” meaning assassinations of individuals, as a means to addressing threats these groups pose to American interests, the report said, adding that a broader approach is required.

The report further charges that current US policy “underestimates the importance of the Salafi-jihadi movement that persists beyond the defeat of specific threat groups” and does not account the terror groups’ “reprioritization of its efforts” and its ability to regroup and morph at different places across the globe, despite losing battles in other areas.

The Salafi-jihadi movement has the ability to “evolve according to circumstances, adapt to US counterterrorism policies and learn from failures,” it added. The terrorists have “generated key adaptations” that will continue to challenge the current US approach to fighting al Qaeda, ISIS, and any other Islamic terror groups.

Report author Katherine Zimmerman noted several of the adaptations that the global Jihadist movement has undergone, including their integration into local conflicts to co-opt insurgencies and capture local governance structures, and by doing so achieving local objectives in controlling governance.

These adaptations have enabled the Jihadi movement to expand into Sunni communities and entrench themselves with little to no opposition from the West, she said. She further warned that these integrated terrorists seek to gain local hegemony, and through that influence, power and expansion.

Zimmerman cautioned that the terrorists’ various adaptations have set them “on course to succeed in its overarching objective, which is to transform the Muslim-majority world according to its vision of governance and order, and strengthens the movement overall.”

America’s counterterrorism strategy is too narrow as its “framing of the threat does not address the full scope and scale of the Salafi-jihadi movement nor account for how the movement operates today,” she opined.

According to Zimmerman, the current US approach to counterterrorism will “continue to yield short-lived victories at the expense of winning the long war.”

“Only by adapting to the new reality of the enemy and orienting on the full breadth of the Salafi-jihadi movement” will the US defeat the global Jihadi threat, she stated..