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War on terror

Military campaign following 9/11 attacks / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The war on terror, officially the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is a global counterterrorism military campaign initiated by the United States following the September 11 attacks and is also the most recent global conflict spanning multiple wars. The main targets of the campaign were militant Islamist and Salafi jihadist armed organisations such as al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their international affiliates, which were waging military insurgencies to overthrow governments of various Muslim-majority countries. Other major targets included the Ba'athist regime in Iraq, which was deposed in an invasion in 2003, and various militant factions that fought during the ensuing insurgency.

Quick facts: War on terror, Date, Location, Result, Bellig...
War on terror
Clockwise from top left: Aftermath of the 11 September attacks; U.S. servicemen boarding an aircraft at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan; an American soldier and Afghan interpreter in Zabul Province, Afghanistan; explosion of a car bomb in Baghdad

Photographs, clockwise from top left: Aftermath of the September 11 attacks; U.S. servicemen boarding an aircraft at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan; a U.S. 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.
DateMain phase: 14 September 2001[1]30 August 2021[note 1]
(19 years, 11 months, 2 weeks and 2 days)[note 2]

Major wars ended and heavy fighting mostly ceased

  • Low-level fighting continues in some places
  • Many terrorist groups disbanded or are heavily weakened

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)
Main opponents:

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

Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg Rishi Sunak
(Prime Minister 2022–present)

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

Flag_of_Russia.svg Mikhail Mishustin
(Prime Minister 2020–present)

Former leaders
Other leaders
Other former leaders
Flag_of_Jihad.svg Al-Qaeda Al-Qaeda_Flag_%281988-2001%29.svg Osama bin Laden 
(Founder and first Emir of al-Qaeda)
Al-Qaeda_Flag_%281988-2001%29.svg Ayman al-Zawahiri 
(2nd Emir of al-Qaeda)
Al-Qaeda_Flag_%281988-2001%29.svg Saif al-Adel
(al-Qaeda Military Chief)
Al-Qaeda_Flag_%281988-2001%29.svg Abu Musab al-Zarqawi 
(Emir of al-Qaeda in Iraq)
Al-Qaeda_Flag_%281988-2001%29.svg Ilyas Kashmiri 
(Commander of Lashkar al-Zil)
ShababFlag.svg Qasim al-Raymi 
(Emir of AQAP)
ShababFlag.svg Abdelmalek Droukdel 
(Emir of AQIM)
ShababFlag.svg Mokhtar Belmokhtar
(Emir of AQWA)
Flag_of_AQIS.jpg Asim Umar 
(Emir of AQIS)
Flag_of_the_Ba%27ath_Party.svg Iraqi Ba'ath Party
AQMI_Flag_asymmetric.svg Islamic State
Flag_of_the_Taliban.svg Taliban
Flag_of_Tehrik-i-Taliban.svg Tehrik-i-Taliban
Haqqani Network
Flag_of_Turkistan_Islamic_Party.svg East Turkestan Islamic Movement
Casualties and losses

4.5-4.6 million+ people killed[lower-alpha 1]
(937,000+ direct deaths, 3.6-3.7 million indirect deaths)[lower-alpha 2]

At least 38 million people displaced
(Per Costs of War)[lower-alpha 3]

The "war on terror" uses war as a metaphor to describe a variety of actions which fall outside the traditional definition of war. 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush first used the term "war on terrorism" on 16 September 2001,[27][28] and then "war on terror" a few days later in a formal speech to Congress.[29][30] Bush indicated the enemy of the war on terror as "a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them."[30][31] 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".[32] 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.[33] While "war on terror" was never used as a formal designation of U.S. operations,[34] a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal was and is issued by the U.S. Armed Forces.

With the major wars over and only low-level combat operations in some places, end of the war in Afghanistan in August 2021 symbolizes the visible ending of the war, or at least its main phase, for many in the West. The U.S. military ceased awarding the National Defense Service Medal for the Global War on Terrorism on 31 December 2022. As of 2023, various operations in the campaign are ongoing, including an ongoing counter-insurgency campaign in Somalia.[35][36] According to the Costs of War Project, the post-9/11 wars of the campaign have displaced 38 million people, the second largest number of forced displacements of any conflict since 1900,[37] and caused at least 4.5 million deaths (direct and indirect) in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Philippines, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. They also estimate that it has cost over $8 trillion for the US Treasury.[38][39][40][41]

Controversy over the war has focused on its morality, casualties and continuity; with critics questioning government measures to infringe civil liberties and human rights.[42] Controversial practices of Coalition military forces have been condemned; including drone warfare, surveillance, torture, extraordinary rendition and various war-crimes.[43][44][45] The participating governments have been criticized for implementing authoritarian measures, repressing minorities,[46][47] for fomenting Islamophobia globally,[48] and for causing negative impacts to health and environment.[49][50][51] Security analysts assert that there is no military solution to the conflict, pointing out that terrorism is not an identifiable enemy, and have emphasized the importance of negotiations and political solutions to resolve the underlying roots of the crises.[52]