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Rethinking the post-9/11 strategy

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That assessment prompted derision among some conservative security analysts who contend the "war on terror" is being waged successfully and should continue as is.

They argue that the number of terrorist attacks around the world has actually been declining since 2003. The only reason US intelligence assessments indicate an increase is because they include terrorist attacks in Iraq. These analysts argue those should be categorized as war crimes, not terrorist attacks.

"We are winning the war on terror, in fact we've almost won the war on terror," says the Heritage Foundation's James Jay Carafano.

"Terrorist attacks have been declining since 2003," he says. If you look at the polling numbers on [Osama] bin Laden ... they're way down in the Islamic world. Essentially, the only thing left to be done is to get into Pakistan and root out the tribal areas" where Bin Laden is thought to be hiding.

Security experts who favor a change in antiterrorism strategy agree there have been some successes in the fight against Al Qaeda, particularly in Iraq. But they disagree with Mr. Carafano's analysis on several fronts. First, they contend it's important to look at the number of attacks carried out by Al Qaeda and its sympathizers separately from other global terror attacks. That's because most international terrorist attacks are not targeted at the United States, while destroying the US remains one of Al Qaeda's primary goals.

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