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Counterterrorism: Al Qaeda Training Manual


The events of September 11, 2001 undoubtedly forever changed the perception of terrorism among Americans. As a result of the retaliatory attacks launched by the US against Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization has changed its tactics significantly. Some of the new tactics adopted by Al Qaeda are articulate in a training manual retrieved from the house of an Al Qaeda member. This paper will articulate the implications of the information contained in the training manual for counterterrorism as well as develop strategies that can be used to address the terrorist threats against the US.

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Implications for Counterterrorism

The Al Qaeda Manual (2011) advocates that individuals or small groups of people should kill those who represented the oppressive form of social order. From this, it is clear that terrorists not favor localized cells to huge centralized organizations. This localized cells are able to operate with little guidance or support of the major organizations. While such cells are by far less formidable than the large well organized organizations, their survivability is guaranteed as a result of their autonomous nature.

By the end of 2002, the US treasury department had succeeded in freezing off assets belonging to terrorism organizations and their financiers worth more than $121 million (Perl, 2003). This freezing of bank assets was a major blow to terrorist organizations. As such, the ability of terrorists to move and operate internationally was greatly hampered. Due to this targeting of large organizations and their finances, terrorist organizations have changed the manner in which they fund their members. The members are provided with some amount of seed money and instructed to raise the rest by doing business with part of the initial seed money.

Another fact uncovered from the training manual is the significant change in targets by terrorist organizations. The manual encourages the members to strike at the enemy population indiscriminately (The Al Qaeda Manual, 2011). This indicates that terrorist groups have shifted their attacks from hard targets such as military installations and embassies to soft target such as population centers.

Counterterrorism Strategy

One of the ways in which the United States government has reduced the influence of terrorism organization is through the identification of states which sponsor terrorism and the subsequent blacklisting of the same as primary threats to the United States and its allies (Perl, 2003). This strategy has greatly diminished the resources of the terrorist organization therefore decreasing their effects. Even so, terrorist organizations continue to raise funds by encouraging members to invest their money for profit or trade in drugs. A crack down on these illegal activities will further limit the finances of the terrorist organizations.

Another measure which should be taken is the closer scrutiny of passports and other identification documents from foreign nationals. This is because terrorist member organizations are encouraged to make use of falsified documents (The Al Qaeda Manual, 2011). Forged documents are preferred since they make it difficult for the real identity of the person to be established even if they commit a terrorism act. To deal with this, the government should increase screening at all ports of entry. Once a person is caught with falsified documents, they should be interrogated so as to find out if they are affiliated with a terrorist organization.


The events of September 11 acted as a turning point of how the international community in general and the United States in particular perceived terrorism. The modes of operation of terrorist groups also changed so as to align themselves with the new challenges and opportunities that availed themselves as a result of the 9/11 attacks. This paper has reviewed the implications of the new tactics taken up by terrorists. From this paper, it is clear that Al Qaeda has adapted itself so as to survive in the post 9/11 world. The only way in which the US can be secured is by taking up counter terrorism strategies that take into consideration the changes that terrorist organizations have undergone.

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Perl, R. (2003). Terrorism, the Future and U.S. Foreign Policy. Web.

The Al Qaeda Manual (2011). Declaration of Jihad (Holy War) Against the Country’s Tyrants. Military Series

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