The session was part of the ICT's 16th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism: "Unpuzzling Terrorism". Mr. Rasmussen reviewed the threat landscape in the United States: the challenges, the successes, and the weak-points. He claimed the United States is succeeding in regards to intelligence and hard power. However, he noted that given terrorists' ability to adapt to security measures, the U.S. needs to change and evolve its security apparatus as well as to focus on homegrown extremism and radicalization.
Mr. Rasmussen gave a brief survey of the current threat landscape in the U.S. as well as an analysis of the successes and the failures of the fight against terrorism. The threat, Mr. Rasmussen explained, is not only more geographically expansive but also more challenging then it has ever been since the attacks on September 11, 2001. This is due to the ability of groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda to align their objectives with the agendas of local communities as well as their ability to inspire and radicalize those living in Western countries. Furthermore, these groups also have the ability to not only shorten the “flash to bang” ratio, but also to sustain their narratives of success despite their military losses. Mr. Rasmussen stated that overall the current situation is not only more challenging and unpredictable but also more difficult to respond to.
Mr. Rasmussen spoke about the areas in which he believed the U.S. had performed incredibly well and the areas where there is still work to be done. He began by giving a brief summary of the United States’ successes in terms of collecting intelligence and sharing it with their partners. He also emphasized the U.S.’ impressive edge in terms of hard power and their ability to disrupt and capture terrorists in their safe heavens. Even more so, Mr. Rasmussen praised the robust Homeland Security apparatus that the U.S. was able to develop after 9/11.
On the other hand, Mr. Rasmussen also recognized that the U.S. is becoming increasingly vulnerable due to its reliance on name-based systems of identity management. He argued that due to terrorists’ ability to adapt quickly to security measures, the U.S. needs to begin to use biometric information as the base for identification. Likewise, he recognized the importance of gathering intelligence from open source platforms such as social media. Mr. Rasmussen stated that the U.S has to focus more heavily on countering homegrown violent extremism and developing more effective de-radicalization programs. Furthermore, Mr. Rasmussen described the importance of challenging our definition of success, especially regarding conflicts that cannot be solved in matter of months. Finally, he reiterated the importance of developing more resilience as a society as a way of denying terrorists what they seek.