The Bush administration’s terrorism-fighting strategy has not significantly undermined al-Qaeda’s capabilities, according to a major new study that argues the struggle against terrorism is better waged by law enforcement agencies than by armies. The study by the nonpartisan Rand Corp. also contends that the administration committed a fundamental error in portraying the conflict with al-Qaeda as a “war on terrorism,” reports the Washington Post. The phrase falsely suggests that there can be a battlefield solution to terrorism, and symbolically conveys warrior status on terrorists, it said.
“Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors,” authors Seth Jones and Martin Libicki write in “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al-Qaeda,” a 200-page volume released yesterday. The study was based in part on an analysis of more than 600 terrorist movements tracked over decades by Rand and the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. Jones and Libicki sought to determine why such movements ultimately die out, and how lessons from recent history can be applied to the current struggle against al-Qaeda.