War on Terror


American President George W. Bush declared The War on Terror in late 2001, proceeding 9/11; one of the most successfully orchestrate mass terror attacks in American history, killing 2996 civilians. The War on Terror varies from most other wars due to its non-discrimination, transnational nature. While other wars have targeted a state or an internal threat, Bush’s war often targets sub state groups and movement whom migrate and hide from authorities while launching attacks in the name of their cause. Consequently, while the war has not yet ended, it has evolved over time, with target combatants changing; as one threat diminishes, another surfaces. Targeted terror organisations have included al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS.


Global (mostly Middle East)

Deaths: Estimated between 1.3 and 2 million directly, many more from subsequent conflicts

Consequent Wars: Iraq War, Afghanistan War, Yemen Insurgency, Syrian War, War in North West Pakistan, Somali Civil War

Key Actors

Declared the War following a large-scale attack on the states. Leads many of the attacks and military efforts against combatants, often with the most troops or allied troops contributed to the cause.

The most well know terrorist group in the West during the 2000s. They launched the 9/11 terror attacks under the command of Bin Laden. They act under their Holy War against the United States, to raise awareness of the gross biases and lack of support for Muslims in conflict ridden countries.

The Iraq war was launched in 2003, and was commonly perceived as the main front of the war on terror for a prolonged period. The initial American presence in Iraq was justified through President Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and the governments alleged ties to terrorism. However, over time, this occupations legitimacy has been questioned; post Hussein’s Presidential rule.

 In 2001, the USA lodged its initial war in Afghanistan titled Operation Enduring Freedom, under the war on terror. This aimed to hunt down and dismantle al Qaeda. However, this in turn also meant the destruction of the Taliban; an organisation in control of the state that works with and harbors well known terrorists for their own benefit. This war ended in 2014, with another being declared in 2015 titled Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, with NATO and a coalition of other countries in support of the cause. While America and its allies continue to politicize the decision to extract forces, these efforts remain verbal and yet to be acted upon.

An illegitimate body that seized control over Afghanistan in the 2001, utilizing radicalized extremism and terrorism. Taliban presence has been an ongoing excuse for Western Allies to maintain a heavy presence within Afghanistan.

Emerged internationally in 2013. However, it has since overtaken al Qaeda’s presence in the Western Media circle. This terrorist organisation is multifaceted and ever changing. It focuses on claiming lands in Iraq and Syria, further destabilizing and fueling violence in regional conflicts. However, in its terrorist oriented sectors, ISIS insights violence about all non-members; claiming their jihadist behaviors are for the appeasement of Allah and to raise awareness of their State’s legitimacy or claim to lands. Furthermore, this terrorist group participates in terrorism and warfare in a variety of other destabilized regions within the Eurasian continent, recruiting while seizing land and power whenever they can.

There is ongoing debate and disagreement surrounding Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the War on Terror. Saudi Arabians fund a variety of terrorist groups, and a variety of jihadists such as the plane hijackers of 9/11, who were Saudi nationals. Furthermore, due to its economic and geographical position, the state has been heavily involved in an array of bombings and proxy warfare in a variety of locations destabilized by the war on terror, including Yemen or Syria.

A long-term host to violence due to its location. However, with the increased terror presence in the region from both al Qaeda and ISIS groups, the state has become heavily destabilized. This has resulted in various other actors such as the USA launching Navy Seal raids in Yemen to locate groups al Qaeda under the war on terror. Due to the increasingly destabilized and insecure nature of Yemen, another Civil War broke out in 2015.

While the Syrian crisis arose from a political sphere, this state became the ideal incubator for the growth and expansion of Islamic terrorism. The destabilization within the state created a power vacuum and a variety of vulnerabilities, in particular towards radicalization. Consequently, Syria has now become the home of various sub state groups, from Rebels and Kurds to the fully-fledged ISIS terror cult. This centralizes the actions of the USA in this crisis to focus on the destruction of terror presence rather than the reconstruction of the Syrian government.


9/11 Terrorist Attack – Al Qaeda hijacked 3 planes in the USA, crashing them into the Pentagon and the World Trade center, killing 2996 people.

US President George W. Bush declares a manhunt for the man responsible for 9/11; Osama bin Laden and declares a War on Terror.

he UNSC outlaws the actions and behaviors of terrorists in 9/11, while encouraging all states to assist in locating the perpetrators in order to hold them accountable.

USA and Canada align in the launch of homeland security investigations.

The use of force towards terrorists was authorized by the US congress, allowing the Armed Forces of USA to be utilized in the locating and arrest of any associated persons, or anyone assisting said perpetrators.

A Pakistani delegation attempted to appeal to the Taliban. Mullah Omar; the Taliban leader was told to hand over Osama bin Laden or the US Military would attack. Omar refused.

The USA gave the Taliban a final chance, demanding Osama bin Laden be handed over. Omar refused again, pressuring the US Government to follow through with the threat of war.

The first official usage of the phrase War on Terror by President Bush as a public declaration of war.

The Taliban deliver their final verdict on the conviction of Osama bin Laden, officially rejecting the US demand.

USA, with the support of Canada and other allies, invaded Afghanistan, declaring Operation Eagle Assist in the manhunt for al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Operation Active Endeavor began. This was a USA-NATO maritime mission. The aim was to prohibit the movements of both terrorists and WMD within the Mediterranean Sea.

The USA Patriots Act is introduced. This was a congressional bill allowing the government to monitor, listen and essentially spy on citizens who may be linked to terrorism. While the bill originally had a 5-year sunset provision, it was re-extended by both presidents Bush and Obama.

Begun to branch into Kyrgyzstan, a location at risk of insurgent dilemmas. USA had previously run training projects, however the war on terror called for training the Kyrgyzstan servicemen in order to secure the border.

The USA opened the Guantanamo Bay Detention camp for terrorists and alleged terrorists. Guantanamo Bay is an isolated island where detainees are held indefinitely as USA prisoners, and are forced to endure harsh living conditions.

he allies ventured into the Southern Philippines on the continued manhunt for al Qaeda members and Osama bin Laden.

The UNSC adopted Resolution 1390, enforcing tighter restrictions regarding bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Taliban. This was a call for all states to freeze funds, refuse the sale of arms and deny entry of all three parties.

Despite previous backlash from training non-allied state citizens, the US lodged a training and arming mission in Georgia for 18 months.

Operation Mountain Lion is launched in coordination with Operation Ptarmigan and Operation Jacana to prevent combatant control in Gardez then to eliminate the terror presence in Khots and Pakita Province.

Operation Enduring Freedom expands into the African Horn region.

The Bali Bombings attack, with 202 casualties and 209 injured.

UNSC adopted Resolution 1441. This was a call for Saddam Hussein to cease Nuclear developments in compliance with the Nuclear Proliferation act, allowing him a final opportunity to comply.

The CIA began a series of drone strikes in Yemen on al Qaeda’s Yemen and Saudi Arabia sub sects.

al Qaeda commit the Mombasa attacks in Kenya, killing 13 and injuring 80 people.

Global-scale protests against the anticipated Iraq War; with nearly 3,000 public protests occurring.

Colin Powell addressed the UNSC, declaring that President Hussein had been attempting to obtain key components in the construction of Nuclear Weapons.

The Iraq War was launched as a preemptive war in justification. This was led by a US coalition in a plot to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s Presidency and prevent the further construction of WMD. Furthermore, this was justified as necessary to prevent terrorist actors obtaining WMD.

US and Iraqi Kurdish forces eliminate the AAI terrorist group.

An al Qaeda affiliate organisation conducted the Casablanca Bombings in Morocco. 45 people killed and over 100 were injured.

JI and al Qaeda bomb the Marriott Hotel in Indonesia. 12 are killed and 150 people injured.

Pakistani forces attacked and killed the leader of the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement and other alleged terrorists.

al Qaeda commit the Istanbul bombings in Turkey. 57 people were killed and 700 injured.

US Forces successfully captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq during Operation Red Dawn.

Philippines terrorist group Abu Sayyaf (ASG) carryout the SuperFerry attack. The attacks inclued 14 bombings and killed 114 people.

The Madrid Train bombings in Spain, killed 191 and left 2,000 people injured. The attacks were carried out by members of al-Qaeda. 

The Battle of Wana between Pakistan and al Qaeda forces marked the beginning of the North-West Pakistan War.

al-Qaeda kill 22 people and injure 25 in the Khobar Massacre in Saudi Arabia.

CIA utilised unmanned drones to bomb targets in NW Pakistan including Taliban and al Qaeda.

Beslan school siege in Russia. There were 1,100 hostages, of which 354 were killed and 783 injured.

 Australian Embassy bombing in Indonesia kills 8 and injures 150.

US, Iraq and Kurdish forces fought to regain Mosul proceeding al Qaeda in Iraq lodging various ambushes and attacks on the city.

Operation Matador – US forces work to secure and block terrorist group flows entering Iraq via Syria.

Islamic Terrorist Attack, known as the London bombings and often referred to as 7/7, was carried out by 4 suicide bombers, who killed 52 people and left 700 injured.

Operation Sayeed begins. It was an umbrella operation in Iraq aimed at eliminating AQI’s presence in the region, led by the US.

The second Bali bombings in Indonesia leave 20 dead and more than 100 injured.

al Qaeda in Iraq commit the Amman bombings in Jordan. The attack leaves 60 killed and 115 injured.

Al Qaeda in Iraq coordinated offenses to take land, declaring the Islamic State of Iraq, in Diyala Governorate. Soon after, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared the new caliphate, uniting AQI and the Mujahideen.

The first major stages of unrest arose in Somalia due to Islamist insurgency.

US airstrike of Baquba against AQI, killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

US backed Ethiopian troops invade Somalia to attack the Islamist insurgents.

Al Qaeda in Iraq declares themselves (officially) the Islamic State of Iraq.

Saddam Hussein finally sentenced to death on December 30 in Baghdad.

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Operation Enduring Freedom expanded into the Trans Sahara region to counter insurgent based conflicts in Somalia, Sudan, Libya and various other countries within the Trans Sahara region.

al Qaeda forces kill 33 people and injure 130 in the Algiers bombing in Algeria.

Lebanese forces successfully fought Jund al-Sham and Fatah al-Islam terrorist groups.

Pakistani troops were sent to confront the Taliban presences in Pakistan. This came to be known as the first battle of Swat.

Existence of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was officially announced and present in Pakistan.

US Operation Enduring Freedom expands into the Caribbean region. This was to lower terror rates particularly in Trinidad and Tobago through military support and ground presence.

Danish Embassy bombing in Pakistan, 7 killed and 20+ injured. The attack was carried out by members of al Qaeda.

US Joint Special Operations Command shut down all known jihadist Websites.

The American Embassy in Yemen is attacked, with 6 killed, 12 injured.

Lashka-e-Taiba’s Mumbai attack in India leaves 600 injured and 154 people dead.

Within a month of the Somalia War ending (30 January, 2009), another war began with al-Shabbab continuing terror efforts within the state.

Conflict between Russia and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) begins in Northern Caucasus.

Boko Haram insurgent group lead a rebellion in Nigeria.

US President George W. Bush no longer in control. President Barrack Obama downplays the war on terror in new policy focuses. Obama is more focused on ending the war rather than fueling ongoing conflicts.

 Al-Shabaab and al Qaeda declare a mutual alliance.

Osama bin Laden was successfully located and killed by US Navy Seals.

 US officially withdrew troops from Iraq. Ending the long running war in Iraq.

Conflict in Northern Mali is initiated by al Qaeda affiliates and nationalist rebels who launch an offensive against the Mali government.

Islamic State of Iraq expanded into Syria in the new Syrian Civil War. Now titles ISIL, and later ISIS.

Reyhanli bombings in Turkey leave 52 dead and 140 injured. Insurgent group unidentified, however suspects include ISIL, al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda factions.

Westgate Shopping Mall attack, carried out by al Shabaab in Kenya. 67 people killed, with 175 injured.

ISIL and its allied insurgent groups begun the Anbar Campaign.

al Qaeda ends its alliance with ISIL

Operation Enduring Freedom – Kenya ended.

SIS and Iraq Ba’ath Party launched a Northern Iraq offensive, taking regions including Saladin, Nineveh Governorate, Kikuk and Diyala Governorate; including Mosul.

War on Terror is reignited; with a focus on intervention in Iraq and the elimination of ISIS, led by the USA.

US-led International Campaign against ISIS leads to intervention and US presence in Syria.

ISIS announce the establishment of ISIS-YP in Yemen.

NATO officially ends combat operations in Afghanistan. This ends this phase in the Afghan War.

Post-ISAF and post-NATO involvement phase of the Afghan War continues.

Egyptian military attacked an ISIS position in Libya during the Libyan Civil War.

Operation Enduring Freedom Philippines was ended.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Increased al Qaeda presence in Yemen escalates tension, triggering the Yemen Civil War.

 Ramadan Attacks, by ISIS and Al-Shabaab, in France, Kuwait, Syria, Somalia and Tunisia. 403 people are killed and 336 injured.

Iraqi and Iranian forces with support from the allies, launch campaign to regain lands taken by ISIS.

ISIS kills 43 people in Beirut bombings in Lebanon, more than 240 people are injured.

The Paris Attacks, in Paris and Saint-Dennis, France. Various attacks and bombings committed by ISIS killed 137 people and left more than 400 injured.

An ISIS bombing in Brussels, Belgium killed 31 people and injured 300.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces aligned in an attempt to regain control over Mosul and defeat ISIL.

President Donald Trump signs Executive Order 13769 Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. This order prohibited migration from several States, including the Middle East and Northern Africa. Syrian, Sudan, Somali, Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Libyan refugee admissions were also suspended for months. However, later became blocked on the grounds of being discriminatory and unconstitutional. Also known as the Muslim Ban’.

United States Secretary of Defense announced that the US National Security Department would be refocusing towards Great Power Interactions rather than pursuing the War on Terror as heavily.

How can you help?

Due to the plethora of displaced Kurds, organizations like the Centre for Kurdish Progress and the Kurdish Human Rights watch have been cardinal in helping provide resources to Kurdish refugees. The former helps advocate for Kurds in various countries, helping legitimize their struggles, while the latter assists in providing economic assistance to displaced Kurds.

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