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Abstract

The central image in most people’s mind, when discussing islamistic terrorism, is 9/11; the
twin towers reduced to rubble, the brief moment the world’s only super power reeled from the
blow, and the waging of “The War on Terrorism” which immediately lifted terrorism from
low politics to high. This thesis discusses which means and strategies can be used in the fight
against islamistic terrorism in light of US security policy, and against whom and by whom
they must be used. Further an analysis of Islamism and the terror; goals, organisation and
modus operandi.

Geographically the focal point is the Middle East as a hearth of islamistic terror, exemplified
by three cases; Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. Islamistic terrorism has a world spanning scope,
and as a result Realism is a key component in the analysis due to its focus on power, interests
and rationality, which are essential to almost any analysis of international relations: The
actors in this analysis are states, groups of states, institutions within states and terrorist
networks; the focus being on states sponsoring terror and/or seeking WMD capabilities.
Islamism is an ideology, representing a political, religious and militant aspect of Islam, with a
global Islamic caliphate as final aim. Terror stemming from this movement is different from
previously seen terror in almost every aspect. The supreme (and practically unattainable) aim
aside, its goals shift according to contemporary issues en vogue, its targets can be anything or
anyone, and the individual terrorist is expendable. These changing goals are, however
backwards it seems, a sign of rationality, showing that the organizations are motivated by
survival and acquiring power and influence, thus, leaving them in position to be analysed in a
realist framework.

The conclusion is that strategies such as containment, deterrence, coercive diplomacy, use of
force (pre-emption/prevention), HUMINT, international cooperation, engagement and long
term reduction of systemic causes and a general marginalisation of islamistic ideology
through democratization etc., must be tailored in specific combination, working on two levels:
targeting states and the terrorist networks themselves (their training bases, recruiting grounds
and financial infrastructure, etc). States or groups thereof, are the primary actors having
sufficient capacity to implement such strategies.