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Considering the Future of the War on Terror

11:51 AM, May 2, 2011 • By CHARLIE SZROM
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We should focus on forcing a sea change in how local authorities deal with al Qaeda. Pakistan’s continued sheltering of Lashkar e Tayyiba operatives complicit in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks should received renewed attention; indeed, since bin Laden’s death, India has already issued a call for the transfer of such individuals. Even more outrageous is Pakistan’s continued sponsorship of terror groups, such as the Haqqani network, that kill American and allied soldiers and Afghan civilians in Afghanistan, or Islamabad’s refusal to deal with other terror plot-producing safe havens located in the northwestern portion of the country.

The U.S. needs a strategy that prioritizes the reduction of support and operating space for terror groups over cordial relations with on-again, off-again allies. Without friendly operating environments, terrorist groups will be unable to concoct plots, train operatives, and shelter leadership. In Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and West Africa, al Qaeda franchises and affiliates have become stronger in the last several years. Bin Laden’s death presents the U.S. with a real opportunity to shift the momentum on the ground back in our favor. A comprehensive strategy that rolls back al Qaeda’s territory and leverages success against the enemy network in one zone to defeat in another can make May 1, 2011 the true beginning of the end for al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Charlie Szrom is an associate at DC International Advisory.

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