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International Cooperation, Not Unilateral Policies, may be the Best Counterterrorist Strategy
Unformatted Document Text:  States is extremely challenging. Clarke and Newman (2006:154) conclude that: “Terrorists are constrained by geography. Like criminals, they will choose targets that are close to their operational base.” Foreign attackers typically face an environment in which they have an imperfect understanding of local language, culture, and daily life. This impediment may explain why recent research (Smith and Damphouuse, 2009) has shown that international terrorist attacks against the United States have a much longer planning time horizon than attacks by domestic groups. To overcome cultural and linguistic obstacles, foreign attackers will probably be more likely than domestic attackers to rely on immigrant communities or Diaspora within the target country. Similar reasoning leads Clarke and Newman (2006:143) to conclude that “externally based terrorists will mount their attacks from locations that are as close as possible to the target.” Put in another way, foreign terrorist groups need locals. Thus a recent report by the U.S. State Department (2008) stresses the importance to al Qaeda of local recruits, especially in the West. More generally, the results underscore both the atypicality and the lethal ingenuity of the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda was able to engineer 9/11 without using locals, but instead relied on specially trained and highly qualified foreign operatives. The ability to commandeer such assets is undoubtedly rare. Second, compared to the percentage of total attacks on U.S. targets, the total percentage of fatalities suffered by U.S. targets is nearly twice as high. This finding suggests that when foreign terrorists do succeed in striking outside their domestic base of operations, they aim to cause large numbers of casualties. As Clarke and Newman (2006:154) observe, in situations where terrorists have but one opportunity to carry out an 9

Authors: LaFree, Gary. and Yang, Sue Ming.
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States is extremely challenging.  Clarke and Newman (2006:154) conclude that: 
“Terrorists are constrained by geography.  Like criminals, they will choose targets that 
are close to their operational base.”  
Foreign attackers typically face an environment in which they have an imperfect 
understanding of local language, culture, and daily life.  This impediment may explain 
why recent research (Smith and Damphouuse, 2009) has shown that international terrorist 
attacks against the United States have a much longer planning time horizon than attacks 
by domestic groups.  To overcome cultural and linguistic obstacles, foreign attackers will 
probably be more likely than domestic attackers to rely on immigrant communities or 
Diaspora within the target country.   Similar reasoning leads Clarke and Newman 
(2006:143) to conclude that “externally based terrorists will mount their attacks from 
locations that are as close as possible to the target.”  Put in another way, foreign terrorist 
groups need locals.  Thus a recent report by the U.S. State Department (2008) stresses the 
importance to al Qaeda of local recruits, especially in the West.  More generally, the 
results underscore both the atypicality and the lethal ingenuity of the 9/11 attacks.  Al 
Qaeda was able to engineer 9/11 without using locals, but instead relied on specially 
trained and highly qualified foreign operatives.   The ability to commandeer such assets is 
undoubtedly rare.    
Second, compared to the percentage of total attacks on U.S. targets, the total 
percentage of fatalities suffered by U.S. targets is nearly twice as high.  This finding 
suggests that when foreign terrorists do succeed in striking outside their domestic base of 
operations, they aim to cause large numbers of casualties.  As Clarke and Newman 
(2006:154) observe, in situations where terrorists have but one opportunity to carry out an 
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