The Bush administration has authorized the State
Department to develop what officials term a flexible policy toward state
sponsors of terrorism.
The policy was outlined in a National Security Council document that
details a new U.S. strategy to combat terrorism. The document said the State
Department would be the leading agency in the development of regional
anti-terrorism policies that would include such countries as Syria.
"We will not have a single, inflexible approach to handling the
recognized state sponsors of terrorism," the document, called "National
Strategy for Combating Terrorism," said. "Each case is unique, with
different interests and legacy issues involved. Each situation demands
specifically tailored policies."
Most of the countries deemed by the State Department as state sponsors
of terrorism are from the Middle East. They include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan
and Syria, according to Middle East Newsline.
The National Security Council document appeared to support the refusal
by the Bush administration officials to impose additional sanctions on
Syria. House and Senate members have considered the legislation, accusing
the administration of treating Syria differently from other state sponsors
"We are firmly committed to removing countries from the list once they
have taken the necessary steps under our law and policy," the document said.
"A checkered past does not foreclose future membership in the coalition
A senior administration official later said the State Department would
examine the countries believed to harboring terrorists. The official said
the United States would try to determine whether the terrorist presence is
the result of a weak government, military or law enforcement.
"We are actively engaged in those countries that are having problems
themselves," the official said. "Sometimes it's the military; sometimes it's
the intelligence; sometimes it's law enforcement: always with State
The National Security Council warned that the United States and its
allies will target terrorist groups, with a priority on those seeking to
obtain weapons of mass destruction. The document said the extent of U.S.
efforts will depend on the immediate threat of the group and U.S. national
The United States will assume a clear and pragmatic approach in
prosecuting the campaign against terrorism," the document said. "This will
include incentives for ending state sponsorship. When a state chooses not to
respond to such incentives, tough decisions will be confronted. At all times
within this new dynamic we will balance a nation's near-term actions against
the long-term implications and consequences."
The NSC said the U.S. intelligence community will consider the expansion
of recruitment, training, and operations. The intelligence community will
also expand and improve relations with U.S. allies in regions targeted for
"To synchronize this effort, the Department of State will take the lead
in developing specific regional strategies for the defeat of terrorism," the
document said. "We will further leverage regional relationships, by ensuring
appropriate allied participation with the regional Combatant Commanders as
they prosecute the war on terrorism."