Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Bush administration, military and intelligence officials have reason to believe that a combination of efforts could deter terrorists, a strategy similar to the one that helped protect the U.S. from a Soviet nuclear attack during the cold war, reports the New York Times. The newspaper describes “outlines of previously unreported missions to mute Al Qaeda's message, turn the jihadi movement's own weaknesses against it and illuminate Al Qaeda's errors whenever possible.”
A primary focus is cyberspace. To counter terrorists’ efforts to plot attacks, raise money, and recruit members on the Internet, the government has mounted a secret campaign to plant bogus e-mail messages and Web site postings, with the intent to sow confusion, dissent, and distrust among militant organizations. American diplomats are working behind the scenes with Middle Eastern partners to amplify the speeches and writings of prominent Islamic clerics who are renouncing terrorist violence. Local authorities are experimenting with ways to keep potential terrorists off guard. In New York City, as many as 100 police officers from every precinct converge twice daily at randomly selected times and at randomly selected sites, like Times Square or the financial district, to rehearse responses to a terror attack. The operations are believed to crucial to keep extremists guessing as to when and where a large police presence may materialize at any hour. “What we've developed since 9/11, in six or seven years, is a better understanding of the support that is necessary for terrorists, the network which provides that support, whether it's financial or material or expertise,” said Michael Leiter, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center.