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‘This is not the Obama admin’: Bolton unveils Trump’s new far-reaching counter-terrorism strategy

‘This is not the Obama admin’: Bolton unveils Trump’s new far-reaching counter-terrorism strategy
The Trump administration has put together a six-prong counter-terrorism strategy that does not focus on a single organization and is going to “pursue terrorists at source,” national security adviser John Bolton told reporters.

Speaking on a conference call on Thursday, Bolton said the US will seek to counter “all” terrorists and their ideologies, rather than a specific organization. The strategy he described involves pursuing terrorists at the source, isolating them from support and combating propaganda and radicalization. Defensive activities would include modernizing and integrating counter-terrorism tools, protecting US and allied infrastructure, and strengthening partnerships with allies.

“This is not the Obama administration, would be my message to Iran and anybody else,” Bolton said.


Iran appears to be a major focus of the new strategy, with Bolton saying that the Trump administration’s objective is there to be “no waivers” for sanctions against Tehran. He also accused Iran of being the “world's central banker for international terrorism since 1979,” referring to the year when the pro-US monarchy was overthrown by Islamic revolutionaries.

China also has a prominent place in the strategy, with Bolton calling Vice President Mike Pence’s speech about Chinese meddling in US elections “very important.”

“I’ve never seen anything like the scope of Chinese activities,” Bolton said, adding that “there will be more on this subject in the weeks and months ahead” and that “much of what we know remains classified.”

Another notable departure from the Obama administration’s counter-terrorism strategy is climate.

“I don't think climate change is a cause of international terrorism,” Bolton said.

The strategy

Following the briefing, the White House released the document on its website. It calls the new strategy's approach "more agile and expansive," while extending the focus from certain groups to all the possible threats that "seek to use violence to undermine the United States and disrupt the American way of life."

"The new strategy focuses the United States on countering all terrorists with the intent and ability to harm our country," the White House statement reads.

The strategy states that Guantanamo Bay – which President Obama unsuccessfully tried to shut down – will remain open and operational, and calls to "maximize the utility" of it.

It also claims that under Trump's leadership, the US and its global partners have "decimated ISIS and pushed the group to the brink of extinction in Iraq and Syria," adding that nearly all of the territory previously held by the group has been recaptured and more than 7.5 million people have been freed from its "oppressive rule."

In addition to naming Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, the strategy names dozens of other Islamist terrorist groups that pose a threat to the US. Among them are Boko Haram, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba.

The strategy lists its six major aims as pursuing terrorists, isolating terrorists, modernizing counter-terrorism tools, protecting US infrastructure, countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment, and strengthening the counter-terrorism abilities of Washington's international partners.

Another line of attack seeks to restrict travel and funding of suspected terrorists, meaning more US surveillance of global travel and banking.

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