suicide terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, US security strategy, US policy, military roadmap


The international political landscape of the 21st century is strewn with terrorist groups that choose to act violently in order for their political messages to be heard. Around the world groups have been formed to defend their ideologies and fulfill their political agendas through acts of terrorism. The Baader-Meinhof Gang [also known as the Red Army Faction], the Weather Underground, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, HAMAS, and the Irish Republican Army have existed for many decades. They represent only a small handful of terrorist groups that have kidnapped, targeted public institutions with bombs, and employed suicide terrorism. More often than not innocent civilians become involved in the carnage of an act of terrorism when they are caught off guard as unassuming bystanders. On September 11th, 2001 both the American public and US government officials bore the weight of that horrific day. Since 9-11, Americans were robbed of their sense of safety, and the American dream of tranquility was shattered. A general unease spread from the wreckage of the World Trade Centers, and with the passing of time a keen sense of awareness about terrorism took its place. The events of 9/11 have made US citizens fully cognizant that there are many actors actively plotting the destruction of the US. Now, eight years later, Americans live with the daily realization that such a heinous act could happen again, in some other unimaginable form. For the US government, the past eight years have been marked with as many successes as failures. The consequences of the inability of the US intelligence community to foresee the international plot unfolding, within and outside of the homeland, resulted in a major reorganization within the US government. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established on November 25, 2002, and was created solely to address US vulnerabilities highlighted by the actions of nineteen al-Qaeda suicide terrorists. The DHS' main responsibility is to improve communication and information sharing among various intelligence-gathering agencies, so another attempt to plan an attack like 9/11 on US soil would be foiled before it materialized. The US government would no longer be noncommittal in the face of terrorism, as it had before 9/11. Clear messages to terrorists were sent on October 7th, 2001, through the US invasion of Afghanistan, and subsequently on March 20th, 2003 through the US invasion of Iraq. Thus, the US' stance on the War on Terrorism was effectively and clearly communicated to al-Qaeda and throughout the rest of the world. The US might once have been labeled a paper tiger, but hitting the US at the core of their financial and military symbols struck a nerve. The terrorist attacks of 2001 taught the US government a vital lesson, but the military campaigns of Afghanistan and Iraq would demonstrate that the US had even more to learn about the newest military tactics and techniques employed by the enemy, and how these tactics impacted on US military operations, strategies, and policies.


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Graduation Date



Sadri, Houman A.


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science








Release Date

February 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)