War on terror

The war on terror, officially the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is an ongoing international counterterrorism military campaign initiated by the United States following the September 11 attacks.[31] The main targets of the campaign are militant Islamist and Salafi-Jihadist armed organisations such as Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and their international affiliates; which are waging military insurgencies to overthrow governments of various Muslim countries.[32][33]

War on terror

Photographs, clockwise from top left: Aftermath of the September 11 attacks; American servicemen boarding an aircraft at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan; an American soldier and Afghan interpreter in Zabul Province, Afghanistan; explosion of an Iraqi car bomb in Baghdad.
Map: Countries with major military operations of the war on terror.
Date15 September 2001[1]–present[note 1][note 2]
(21 years, 4 months, 2 weeks and 2 days)

Al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen (since 1998):[note 3]

War in Afghanistan (2001–2021):

Iraqi conflict (since 2003):

American-led intervention in the Syrian civil war (2014-present)

Insurgency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (2004–present):


Main countries:

(note: most contributing nations are included in the international operations)
Terrorist groups:

Former groups:
Commanders and leaders
Joe Biden
(President 2021–present)

Rishi Sunak
(Prime Minister 2022–present)

Emmanuel Macron
(President 2017–present)
Élisabeth Borne
(Prime Minister 2022–present)
Vladimir Putin
(President 2000–2008, 2012–present,
Prime Minister 2008–2012)

Mikhail Mishustin
(Prime Minister 2020–present)

Former leaders
Other leaders
Other former leaders
Al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden 
(Founder and first Emir of al-Qaeda)
Ayman al-Zawahiri 
(2nd Emir of al-Qaeda)
Saif al-Adel
(al-Qaeda Military Chief)
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi 
(Emir of al-Qaeda in Iraq)
Ilyas Kashmiri 
(Commander of Lashkar al-Zil)
Qasim al-Raymi 
(Emir of AQAP)
Abdelmalek Droukdel 
(Emir of AQIM)
Mokhtar Belmokhtar
(Emir of AQWA)
Asim Umar 
(Emir of AQIS)
Islamic State
Haqqani Network
East Turkestan Islamic Movement
Casualties and losses
900,000+ people killed[29]At least 37 million people displaced
(Per Costs of War)[30]

The "war on terror" uses war as a metaphor to describe a variety of actions which fall outside the traditional definition of war taken to eliminate international terrorism. 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush first used the term "war on terrorism" on 16 September 2001,[34][35] and then "war on terror" a few days later in a formal speech to Congress.[36][37] Bush indicated the enemy of the war on terror as "a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them."[37][38] The initial conflict was aimed at al-Qaeda, with the main theater in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a region that would later be referred to as "AfPak".[39]

The term "war on terror" was immediately criticized by individuals including Richard Myers, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and eventually more nuanced terms came to be used by the Bush administration to define the campaign.[31] While "war on terror" was never used as a formal designation of U.S. operations,[40] a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal was issued by the U.S. Armed Forces.

On 23 May 2013, President Obama announced that the Global War on Terror was over,[41][42] indicating that the U.S. would not wage war against a tactic but would instead focus on a specific group of terrorist networks.[43][44] The rise of the Islamic State led to the global Operation Inherent Resolve, and an international campaign to destroy the terrorist organization.

The notion of a "War on Terror" was contentious, with critics charging that it has been used to reduce civil liberties and infringe upon human rights,[45] such as controversial actions by the U.S. including surveillance, torture, and extraordinary rendition, and drone strikes that resulted in the deaths of suspected terrorists but also civilians.[46][47][48] Many of the U.S.' actions were supported by other countries, including the 54 countries that were involved with CIA black sites,[49] or those that assisted with drone strikes.[50]

Criticism of the war on terror has focused on its morality, efficiency, and cost. According to a 2021 study conducted by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the several post-9/11 wars participated in by the United States in its war against terror have caused the displacement, conservatively calculated, of 38 million people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Philippines and Pakistan; 26.7 million people have returned home following displacement.[51] The study estimated these wars caused the deaths of 897,000 to 929,000 people, including over 364,000 civilians, and cost $8 trillion.[52][53] Critics accuse participating governments of using the "War on Terror" to repress minorities or sideline domestic opponents,[54][55] of mainstreaming Islamophobia,[56] and have criticized negative impacts to health and the environment, resulting from the "War on Terror".[57][58][59] Critics assert that the term "war" is not appropriate in this context (much like the term "war on drugs") since terror is not an identifiable enemy and it is unlikely that international terrorism can be brought to an end by military means.[60]

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