Combating Terrorism:

Interagency Framework and Agency Programs to Address the Overseas Threat

GAO-03-165: Published: May 23, 2003. Publicly Released: May 23, 2003.

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Coordination of federal programs to combat terrorism overseas became even more critical as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. In response to these attacks, the federal government has taken unprecedented political, diplomatic, legal, law enforcement, financial, military, and intelligence actions to combat terrorism abroad. Among these actions is the publication of a series of new national strategies to combat terrorism. Congress asked that we develop baseline information identifying and describing federal programs and activities to combat terrorism overseas. This report describes the interagency framework and policies for planning and coordinating federal efforts to counter international terrorism. It identifies the relationships between and among the new national strategies to combat terrorism. It also describes the federal programs and activities governmentwide to detect and prevent terrorism, disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations, and respond to terrorist incidents overseas. Finally, it provides detailed matrices of selected departments' programs and activities to combat terrorism overseas. We briefed Congress previously on the preliminary results of our work and issued an interim report on Combating Terrorism: Department of State Programs to Combat Terrorism Abroad. This report contains the final results of our review.

Combating terrorism overseas falls under an interagency framework of plans, agency roles, and interagency coordination mechanisms. In general, the National Security Council manages this interagency framework. The President, National Security Council, and federal agencies have published a series of related directives and new national strategies to guide federal efforts. To implement the directives and strategies, various federal agencies are assigned key roles and responsibilities based on their core missions. Given the number of agencies involved, there are also a number of interagency mechanisms to coordinate across agencies in both Washington, D.C., and overseas. Within this framework, efforts to combat terrorism overseas can generally be divided into programs and activities to (1) detect and prevent terrorism, (2) disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations, and (3) respond to terrorist incidents.

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