How to Decrease Terrorism in United States


            Terrorism refers to the threat or premeditated use of violence by subnational groups, or certain individuals in order to achieve a social or political objective. These groups or individuals do so by intimidating large audiences past the immediate victims. Terrorism is marked by violence. Some terrorist groups engage in horrible attacks that generate revulsion or widespread anxiety. Attacks must have political motives in order for them to qualify as terrorism attacks. State terror refers to the attack where terrorism is limited to subnational agents, the government terrorizes its people. Terrorism also refers to those instances when a government aids terrorist groups by providing them with intelligence, funds or safe passage. The topic of terrorism has been researched severally by different scholars, but very few of their recommendations seems to effectively reduce terrorism. With the change in technology, terrorists gain better ways of conducting their attacks. Strategies designed to deal with terrorism should also be advanced for effectiveness. This article presents strategies that would help reduce terrorism in United States, and how the strategies would be evaluated for effectiveness.

Topic and Problem Statement

            Terrorism has been ongoing for long now. Although studies have been conducted on it, very few of them provide suggestions on effective solutions that can help reduce the menace. I choose this topic because terrorism leads to large losses. If a long-lasting solution is implemented on the fight against terrorism, United States and its citizens would cease experiencing the losses.

            Terrorism negatively affects United States economically. For instance, the sum of indirect and direct costs of the 11 September 2001 hijackings was estimated to be between $80 and $90 billion. On that financial year, 2001, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $10 trillion. This loss was a very big blow to the government economically. Immediate losses that result from terrorism are the direct losses experienced. These costs include values of injuries sustained, lives lost, reduced commerce, lost wages, clean up, destroyed goods, and structures damaged. Secondary or indirect costs are subsequent expenses that are related to the attack (Buesa et al., 2007). They include counterterrorism expenses, costs of enhanced security, insurance premiums and future commerce losses. Other costs would also include high compensations that are paid to individuals located in high-risk areas.

            All terrorist attacks have economic costs. The losses are not only incurred by citizens but the government also does.  Terrorism attacks that are large-scale negatively affect the percentage GDP. For instance, when a Madrid commuter train was bombed on March 2004, approximately 0.03% of GDP for Spain, $331.1 million, was affected (Buesa et al., 2007). The consequences of terrorism at the national level are sometimes lost GDP growth or reduced GDP. The attacks affect expenditures of the government, investments and consumption. When terrorism attacks are experienced in certain regions of United States, investments are lost in those areas because the investors perceive those areas as high risk regions. Investors from those regions transfer their funds out of those states to other states that have the same return rates and reduced terrorism risks.

            Terrorism is a vice that leads to major losses. Apart from what individual citizens’ losses, the nation makes more loses. When investors perceive the country as a terrorist’s prone region, they turn their investments elsewhere, leaving the country less invested. Lost investments leaves the area under-developed. The worst happens when an attack happens and destructions take place. Smith (2010) quotes president Obama saying that the biggest threat United States would face is the possibility of terrorists obtaining nuclear weapons. He argued that the security threat would be short-term and long-term at the same time. A nuclear weapon would cause harm to a very large area, therefore causing widespread losses.

            In the recent years, United States has been under the administration of presidents who heavily funded the war against terrorism. The administration of President Bush began the war on terrorism, and large amounts of the country’s budget were set aside for this purpose. This did not stop when President Obama took over. However, terrorism activities are still ongoing. For instance, on July 2014, Boeing 777, a Malaysian airline was shot near Russian border, killing crew members and 298 passengers. On August the same year, an American journalist as beheaded by an ISIS member. On December 2015, 14 U.S. citizens and more than 20 others were wounded in San Bernadino. On June 12, 2016, fifty people were killed and other 50 injured in a mass shooting that took place in a night club at Orlando (Randahl, 2016). These are recent terrorist attacks that have taken place even with the government investing heavily on antiterrorism. People question whether enough is being done to reduce terrorism. This article provides a proposal or researched strategies that can be used to reduce terrorism.

Literature Review

            Terrorism has been actively under research in sociology, economics, political science and different related disciplines. Political science approached terrorism in a historical and conceptual perspective that lacked theoretical constructs and data on terrorist’s behavior. According to Bader and Berg (2013), the focus of the conceptual approach was on definition, terrorism causes, terrorists’ tactics and identity of terrorist movements and groups. This past approach left behind a lot of important considerations since it lacked data on essential terrorism.

            Later on, researchers conducted analytical studies on terrorism and concluded that terrorists were rational actors. They based rationality on prediction rather than on desires of terrorists’ objectives and tactics. Terrorists were said to be rational actors if they responded in a predictable manner when government policies changed their constraints. Analytical study on terrorism relied on gathering of event data (Eijkman, 2012). For instance, some researchers used skyjacking data from US Federal Aviation Association (FAA) to determine the effects of antiterrorism policies against skyjacking. The researchers found out the successful deterrents to skyjacking by application of concepts and methods from economic crime analysis.

In contrast to the research conducted in sociology, economics and political science fields in the past, analytical studies were effective because they helped to determine which counterterrorism policies were effective. For instance, when policies led to conviction likelihood, marshals’ use on planes, length of sentences, or metal detectors were used, the latter was found to be most effective after analysis. Use of metal detectors in airports was found to reduce skyjackings in US to 8.8 incidents annually. These studies are important because they provide some important ways that effectively reduced terrorism. The studies also point out some policies that were created and did not contribute to reduce terrorism. For instance, lengthening prison sentences for terrorists who were captured was not found to effectively reduce terrorism. However, these earlier analytical studies failed to stop 11 September 2001 heinous attacks and the modern forms of terrorism that are practiced.

Lots of research on terrorism have been carried out since 11 September 2001 heinous attacks. Most of the studies focused on finding out the causes of terrorism in United States. This is important because it provides guidance on the most effective solutions on terrorism. Perry and Minteh (2014) argue that even though more researches have been conducted, there is no consensus on the root cause of terrorism. Researchers are divided on factors such as economic discrimination, separatist/nationalist motives, political ideologies, religious fundamentalism and others which are related with marginalized groups. After 9/11, some researchers argued that transnational terrorism resulted from poverty (Kunreuther, Michel-Kerjan and Porter, 2013). Piazza (2006) showed that market opportunities had no relationship with terrorism. Such studies would be relevant in ruling out solutions that target on the poor communities in the fight against terrorism.

In their study, Krueger and Malečková (2013) state that polls along Gaza Strip and the West Bank indicated that an increase in educational level and incomes did not reduce terrorism. The authors ruled out this option because populations thought that lack of sufficient education and low income was the cause of individuals being recruited into terrorist groups. The authors showed that if political and civil liberties were controlled, there would be no association between terrorism and low incomes. The authors made a conclusion that it was not the lack of poverty, but rather, lack of political and civil liberties that caused terrorism. De la Calle and Sanchez-Cuenca (2012) also pointed out that people in poor countries focus on their daily survival while those in rich countries do not have grievances that would make them fuel terrorism.

In order to determine the root cause of terrorism, some research focused on the perpetrator countries, the venue attacked and the victims of attack. Their studies indicated that attacks in United States would be as a result of its ethnic and religious positions, wars, population and its GDP per capita. The researchers concluded that terrorism in US is negatively influenced by physical integrity rights, economic freedom, and law and order. These research studies also indicated that other countries are victims of terrorism because of their foreign investment portfolio, their involvement in wars, military spending, their population and their political proximity to that of the United States (Gassebner and Luechinger, 2011). Even though the researchers provided useful information that can be used in reducing terrorism, they failed to provide suggestions on strategies that might be useful in dealing with terrorism.

Theoretical Explanation to the Terrorism Issue

            Terrorists have made the international environment unsafe. Their attacks all time are increasing and they remain high. The Islamic State and the Al Qaida are the two groups that compete for supporters by escalating brutality on U.S. citizens. Each of their effort seems to be working because they get new believers every time. The terrorists are now in control of large territories in Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria and Nigeria. Their target is the caliphate which rules from Mediterranean to Myanmar; and it is clear that they want to control U.S. through violence. For the last two decades, the United States administration has not been able to acknowledge the fact that the terrorism problems faced are large. The causes of the terrorists and the Islamic extremists run deeper. The solution should be more than bombing, invading regions and killing (Eski, 2016).

Deterring terrorist groups in United States has been a complex endeavor because of various reasons. First, terrorists have the will to risk anything because of their high motivation. They are willing to be suicide-bombers and put their lives at risk without any fear. Secondly, terrorist’s political goals are often ambiguous, idealistic, broad and unclear. This makes it difficult for defense forces to deal with them through their objectives. Thirdly, terrorists cannot be located easily. Terrorist groups and networks operate across nations, making retaliation difficult. The fourth thing is that, there are no clear decisions on how deterrence would work against the terrorist because they understand the policies in the United States (Perry and Minteh, 2014). They are aware that U.S. does not coexist with terrorism groups or any other networks with such aims, they know that the ultimate goal of U.S. is to eradicate them. In addition, terrorists are incited to retaliate. They always use damages that result from retaliatory efforts to provoke support for their broad cause.

Strategies to Reduce Terrorism in United States

            United States should reinforce their efforts of sharing International and domestic information. In order to protect U.S. citizens from terrorism threat, departments of homeland security, justice, state and intelligence agencies should increase their sharing of information. Some of the attacks happened in the past because of lack of shared information. At home, it is important for U.S. to improve inter-agency communication to ensure that all levels of government (local, federal and state) share the necessary information (Nouskalis, 2011). At the international level, U.S should take additional measures such as sharing data on expanded Passenger Name Record (PNR) and Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Sharing of this information will allow pre-screening of foreigners who are travelling to U.S without visas. VWP would promote national security because the focus would be on the high-risk individuals.

            The government should improve security at exits and entrance points to prevent travel of terrorists into American soils. In the past, the government has prevented terrorism travel through screening travelers in airports (Eski, 2016). While this does not seem to work effectively because terrorists still find their way in, it should not be stopped. The best ways to prevent terrorist travels is to frustrate the individuals before they begin. The best way to prevent travel would be by using law enforcement and intelligence analysts to carefully investigate the individuals before they reach airports. Security in the airports should act as the last defense line and suspicious individuals should be scrutinized, surveilled and inspected appropriately. In addition, gaps in preventing terrorist travels should be closed by improving the coordination of visa security between Homeland and State departments.

            America’s commitment to Middle East and Afghanistan should be renewed to eliminate build-up of terrorist havens. Other countries that support terrorists should also be held accountable. Terrorism requires a global solution because it is a global threat. To stop terrorism globally, U.S. should continually support NATO strategies in prevention of Taliban from regaining their influence in Afghanistan. This support should be in form of battle advice, training, air strikes and training. Pakistani government should continually be pressured to shut down terrorist groups such as the Haqqani network. U.S. should also campaign for nations to work together to stop the financing of terrorist groups and elimination of their safe havens.

            United States should design a detainment framework that is lawful to incapacitate and lawfully interrogate terrorists. According to American law (2015), U.S. had 107 detainees in Guantanamo bay in 2015. According to the law of war, United States has authority to detain individuals that engage in combatant actions such as belligerence acts until hostilities are ended, to keep them away from battle fields. The detention by military would enhance prosecution of terrorism way if the Congress authorizes it. Instead of Guantanamo Bay detention closure, the government should work with its administration to create a lawful framework for detainment to deal with combatants that are unlawful.

            Lastly, the government of United States should address the threat that State-Sponsored terrorism poses. So far, attention has not been focused on state-sponsored terrorism. On June 2011, White House released counterterrorism National strategy that only referenced Iran and left Syria behind. This shows how state-sponsored terrorism has been ignored in the past. It is now time that Iranian-supported terrorism is considered as significant as Al-Qaida. Although Iran is a state known globally to sponsor terrorism, Obama’s administration went on with the deal that allowed Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. U.S. should keep such nations away from such deals because they might later be used by terrorists against America.

Measurement of Strategies’ Effectiveness

To evaluate whether shared information has impact on decreased terrorism, security agents should provide monthly reports stating what information was shared and the part it has played in the fight against violent attacks. If the report shows that sharing information helps reduce terrorism attacks, then the strategy is a successful one. In the second strategy to discourage terrorists from travelling, security agencies should also provide monthly reports on the number of individuals who have been inspected, scrutinized and surveilled as a result of suspicion. Successful identification of terrorists should be marked to discover their trends. If there are no suspects scrutinized after the implementation of this strategy, then it would be concluded that it is not a successful one.

To determine whether the detainment framework works lawfully to interrogate terrorists and the unlawful combatants, the number of sentenced individuals should be recorded annually. If the number of prosecuted individuals increases, it would be an indication that the strategy is not working effectively. Individuals should become discouraged as the lawful framework is implemented, and this should make their numbers to keep decreasing annually.

In conclusion, terrorists need to organize themselves and plan before they carry out their violence plans. In order to do so, they require supporters and recruits, weapons, funds, material support (hiding places and information), access to their vulnerable targets and the ability to travel without impediment. Strategies that would reduce terrorism in the United States would require strategic and comprehensive approaches that would rely on a wide range of measures and policies. The strategies would involve sharing of important information between various agencies, creation of policies that allow the government to deal with unlawful combatants, creation of global relationships to solve the global issue of terrorism and eliminating all gaps that enable terrorist to travel. These strategies would only be proved effective if constant reports indicate that the particular strategy is working. If the constant reports fail to show any particular progress on a strategy, it would be better to do away it them or improve it.


American law, (2015). Treatment of U.S. Detainees at Guantánamo Bay. The American Journal of International Law, 99(1), 261.

Bader, B. & Berg, N. (2013). The Influence of Terrorism on Expatriate Performance: A Conceptual Approach. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(4), 539-557.

Buesa, M., Valiño, A., Heijs, J., Baumert, T., & Gomez, J. G. (2007). The Economic Cost of March 11: Measuring the Direct Economic Cost of the Terrorist Attack on March 11, 2004 in Madrid. Terrorism and Political Violence, 19(4), 489-509.

De la Calle, L. & Sanchez-Cuenca, I. (2012). Rebels without a Territory: An Analysis of No territorial Conflicts in the World, 1970-1997. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 56(4), 580-603.

Eijkman, Q. (2012). Counter-Terrorism, Technology and Transparency: Reconsidering State Accountability. Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Studies.

Eski, Y. (2016). The War on Meaninglessness: A Counter-Terrorist Self through an Absent Terrorist Other. Ethnography.

Gassebner, M., & Luechinger, S. (2011). Lock, Stock, and Barrel: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Determinants of Terror. Public Choice, 149(3-4), 235-261.

 Krueger, A. B., & Malečková, J. (2013). Education, Poverty And Terrorism: Is There A Causal Connection? The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 17(4), 119-144.

 Kunreuther, H., Michel-Kerjan, E., & Porter, B. (2013). Assessing, Managing, and Financing Extreme Events: Dealing with Terrorism (No. w10179). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Nouskalis, G. (2011). Biometrics, E-Identity, and the Balance between Security and Privacy: Case Study of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) System. The Scientific World JOURNAL, 11, 474-477.

Perry, A. & Minteh, B. (2014). Home Grown Terrorism in the United States (US): Causes, Affiliations and Policy Implications. SSRN Electronic Journal.

Piazza, J. A. (2006). Rooted in poverty? Terrorism, Poor Economic Development, And Social Cleavages 1. Terrorism and Political Violence, 18(1), 159-177.

Randahl, D. (2016). Terrorism and Public Opinion: The Effects of Terrorist Attacks on the Popularity of the President of the United States. Terrorism and Political Violence, 1-11.

Smith, J. (2010). Terrorism – Causes and Consequences. Global Research. Retrieved 18 November 2016, from

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