Effectives of Counterterrorism Measures before and After 9/11 Attack

The 9/11 terrorist attack elicited consternation across the world. The scale of devastation witnessed as a result of large scale property destruction and life extermination still lingers in the memory of the international community in general and Americans in particular.

The 9/11 attack was not the first terrorist attack to be experienced in the United States.

Prior to 2001, under President Clinton, the United States experienced several major attacks. The most devastating of them was the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the bombing of Oklahoma City in the year 1995. However, during these two previous terrorist incidences, there were no drastic reactions from the government agencies to improve the state of security in the country.

The 9/11 attack was a demonstration to the United States that the law enforcement agencies were not fit to combat the modern sophisticated terror attack thus prompting the creation of the homeland security.

Evolution in Counterterrorism

The security agencies were swift to react and arrest the people who masterminded the bombing of the World Trade center. Within few days after the attack, the FBI and the department of justice swung into action and the perpetrators of the attack were tracked down.

First, the remnants of the truck that was used for the attack was utilized to identify one of the perpetrator, Mohammed Salameh. He had rented the truck but later reported that the truck had been stolen. The engineer who had bought the chemical that were used to manufacture the bomb, Nidal Ayyad, was also arrested.

The person who helped mix the chemicals, Mahmoud, was also arrested within few days after the attack. The arrest of these three persons led the FBI to a mosque that was headed by a radical cleric, Sheikh Omar, who was inciting his followers that it was their duty to fight against America because it was oppressing Muslims. The FBI also learnt of plots by extremists to bomb major New York landmarks, which included Lincoln tunnels and Holland. These particular plots were thwarted.

The various arrests and subsequent prosecution and conviction of the suspects made Clinton complacent. The impression perceived by the president was that the law enforcement system was well equipped to combat terrorism. The moment Oklahoma bomb attack turned out to be an American antigovernment, and not a Muslim extremist, Clinton focused more on equipping the ICA and FBI.

The president issued a directive that was to the effect that the U.S stop defeat and respond swiftly to terrorist attacks aimed at America and its citizens. The president termed terrorism as a normal crime and equipped the law enforcement agency to combat it (Vanhala, 2011).

The 9/11 Awakening

The report tabled by the 9/11 commission pointed out that the planner of 9/11, Khalid, was a relative to the person who masterminded the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. The degree of devastation planned by Khalid was to be grievous than what happened during 9/11 (Vanhala, 2011).

The U.S noted that the terrorist have even turned planes meant to carry passengers into weapons of mass destruction. It was evident that the law enforcement agency was not fit to combat the new invention by terrorist to instill terror.

The department of homeland security was formed in this new dawn. The main reason as to why the attack was not detected and deterred by the security agencies was because of lack of coordination, intelligence, and sharing of information (Ward and Mabrey, 2006).

The homeland security policing is a direct response to 9/11 attack and a pro-active organ that amalgamates the traditional criminal and traffic law enforcement (which are reactive organs). The organ has a high intelligence and utilizes innovative skills and sharing of information to combat terrorist attacks (Charvat, 2012).

The main feature that characterizes homeland security policing is their enlarged mandate in local counterterrorism intelligence. Homeland security policy tries to bring the invisible to visibility (Romaniuk, 2012). The entry points into the United States are currently under thorough surveillance of the homeland security to ensure borders are secure and only legal immigrants gain ingress into United States (Pinkowski, 2008).

The operations of the homeland security are based of risk assessment and vulnerabilities (Ward and Mabrey, 2006).

The law enforcement officers were unable to deter and/or combat the historical terrorist attacks on the American soil due to lack of proper intelligence, coordination, and sharing of information. The current department of homeland security has ensured that there is a very high level of intelligence, secured boarders, coordination, and sharing of information within the security agencies.

If these measures were in place from the time terrorism became a threat to the national and international peace, the attacks would have been thwarted with greater ease.


Concisely, the 9/11 attack was a demonstration to the United States that the law enforcement agencies were not fit to combat the modern sophisticated terror attacks. The creation of the department of homeland security in response to the attack has been an effective tool to detect and deter terror plots before they materialize to catastrophic disasters.

If such measures were in place, terror attacks such as the bombing of the World Trade center and Oklahoma City would not have taken place.

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