E.g., 04/22/2024
E.g., 04/22/2024
Countering Terrorist Mobility: Shaping an Operational Strategy
February 2006

Countering Terrorist Mobility: Shaping an Operational Strategy

This report by Susan Ginsburg, former Senior Counsel of the 9/11 Commission, examines how counterterrorism strategy relates to border security and immigration reform, and how terrorist mobility should be countered. The author argues that terrorist mobility—although clearly linked to the phenomenon of global migration—comprises a set of problems distinct from the challenges of controlling large-scale immigration to the United States. Based on this premise, she calls for the need to establish a terrorist mobility strategy as a distinct component of counterterrorism policies and tactics. The report, one of the preparatory reports for the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future, outlines key elements of an effective terrorist mobility strategy and provides recommendations for carrying out its priorities.

The proposed strategy aims to deter, exploit, and defend against terrorist mobility thorough eight actions: establishing high standards of knowledge, targeting terrorist travel facilitators, attacking illicit travel networks, investing in the ability to track terrorists en route, improving terrorist detection within the legal immigration system, denying terrorist access through illegal entry channels, creating a systematic approach to constraining terrorist mobility, and strengthening preventative measures through post-attack analysis.

The author forwards that effective implementation of such a strategy will require new arrangements within the government—specifically, narrowing the historical foreign-domestic divide in government management, bridging the immigration/intelligence/law enforcement divides, and integrating state and local officials into a broad national effort to develop and apply terrorist mobility information. The report also identifies current organizational gaps, most notably: strategic operational leadership and systematic coordination across existing capacities; a designated operational unit charged with undermining international terrorist travel; and a framework for scrutinizing terrorist travel documents and investigating suspected terrorists.

Table of Contents 


I. Defining Terrorist Mobility

II. Purposes of a Strategy for Constraining Terrorist Mobility

III. Elements of a Terrorist Mobility Strategy

IV. Direction, Management, and Organization of a Terrorist Mobility Strategy

V. National Strategic and Statutory Framework

VI. Conclusion