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Policy Analysis

Policy Focus 92

Countering Transnational Threats: Terrorism, Narco-Trafficking, and WMD Proliferation

Matthew Levitt and Michael Jacobson

Also available in

Counterterrorism Lecture Series, Volume 2

February 2009

As the Obama administration begins formulating its national security strategy, the incoming team will assess the terrorist threat and counterterrorism environment they have inherited. To that end, The Washington Institute's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence has compiled and analyzed six new lectures in an ongoing Institute series featuring senior U.S. counterterrorism officials.;

Featured presentations:
  • Kenneth Wainstein, homeland security advisor, discussing the WMD terrorism threat
  • Michael Braun, assistant administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, speaking about the nexus between drugs and Middle Eastern terrorist groups
  • Ted Gistaro, national intelligence officer, assessing the state of the threat posed by al-Qaeda
  • Mario Mancuso, undersecretary of commerce, addressing U.S. counterproliferation efforts against Iran
  • Tom Fingar, chairman of the National Intelligence Council, surveying what the terrorism landscape might look like in 2025
  • Michael Vickers, assistant secretary of defense, on the role of special operations forces in combating the global terrorist networks

Fighting Transnational Threats provides a variety of official perspectives on U.S. counterterrorism issues from the law enforcement, intelligence, and military communities. The first volume in the series, Terrorist Threat and U.S. Response: A Changing Landscape (September 2008), features lectures by National Counterterrorism Center director Michael Leiter, Deputy National Security Advisor Juan Zarate, and Department of Homeland Security undersecretary Charlie Allen, among others. The lecture series will continue in 2009, with senior-level speakers from the Obama administration offering their comments on the challenges facing the United States, as well their initial thoughts on where U.S. counterterrorism strategy is headed.


Matthew Levitt is a senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. Previously, Dr. Levitt served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department, where he played a central role in efforts to protect the U.S. financial system from abuse by terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other rogue actors. He is the author, most recently, of Negotiating under Fire: Preserving Peace Talks in the Face of Terror Attacks.

Michael Jacobson, previously a Washington Institute Soref fellow, is a senior fellow in Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. Previously he served as senior advisor in the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and as counsel on the 9-11 Commission. His areas of focus include sanctions and financial measures to combat national security threats, as well as other issues related to counterterrorism, national security law, and intelligence reform. He is the coauthor, with Matthew Levitt, of the recent Institute study The Money Trail: Finding, Following, and Freezing Terrorist Financing.

  • 38 pages