So that’s the current threat. Lethal, yet less capable, al-Qaida affiliates, threats to diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad, homegrown extremists. This is the future of terrorism. We have to take these threats seriously and do all that we can to confront them. But as we shape our response, we have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11.
In the 1980s, we lost Americans to terrorism at our embassy in Beirut, at our Marine barracks in Lebanon, on a cruise ship at sea, at a disco in Berlin, and on a Pan Am flight, Flight 103, over Lockerbie. In the 1990s, we lost Americans to terrorism at the World Trade Center, at our military facilities in Saudi Arabia, and at our embassy in Kenya.
These attacks were all brutal. They were all deadly. And we learned that, left unchecked, these threats can grow. But if dealt with smartly and proportionally, these threats need not rise to the level that we saw on the eve of 9/11.
Moreover, we have to recognize that these threats don’t arise in a vacuum. Most, though not all, of the terrorism we face is fueled by a common ideology, a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West and that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause. Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam. And this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims -- who are the most frequent victims of terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, this ideology persists.
And in an age when ideas and images can travel the globe in an instant, our response to terrorism can’t depend on military or law enforcement alone. We need all elements of national power to win a battle of wills, a battle of ideas.
So what I want to discuss here today is the components of such a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy. First, we must finish the work of defeating al-Qaida and its associated forces. In Afghanistan, we will complete our transition to Afghan responsibility for that country’s security. Our troops will come home. Our combat mission will come to an end. And we will work with the Afghan government to train security forces, and sustain a counterterrorism force which ensures that al-Qaida can never again establish a safe haven to launch attacks against us or our allies.