U.S. Policy on Terrorism

Overview on the U.S. policy on terrorism.
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U.S. Policy on Terrorism

The official U.S. policy on terrorism embraces three stated goals: to make no concessions to and strike no deals with terrorists, to bring terrorists to justice for their crimes, and to isolate and apply pressure to states that sponsor terrorism to force them to change their behavior.

A cornerstone of this policy has been the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which afforded law enforcement officials a variety of powers designed not only to help bring terrorist to justice, but to prevent attacks from occurring in the first place. The Antiterrorism Act prohibits American citizens and organizations from providing financial or other material assistance to terrorist groups (as formally designated by the Secretary of State), and requires U.S. financial institutions to block the funding of such groups and associated individuals. It also allows the deportation and the denial of U.S. visas to known terrorists.

Recognizing, however, that no legislation can eliminate the possibility of terrorist attacks (and the likelihod that the United States will remain a popular target for such attacks), the U.S. government has spent billions of dollars to protect American interests at home and abroad. Since the 1983 suicide bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, U.S. embassies have been designed and constructed with security in mind. Unlike the now-demolished facility in Nairobi, more modern embassies are generally built in remote locations and surrounded by fortified security walls (the Nairobi embassy's location — at a busy downtown intersection — partially accounts for the high casualties suffered in that attack). Recent months have also seen greatly increased security at government facilities not only abroad, but in the United States, as well.

Terrorists, however, have not restricted their attacks to official targets; Saudi terrorist organizer and financier Osama bin Laden has encouraged violence against all Americans —soldiers and civilians— in Muslim lands. In an effort to protect Americans living and traveling abroad, the State Department publishes travel warnings and consular information sheets on foreign countries.


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