Sample Article Analysis Paper on Tools and Tradeoffs: Confronting U.S Citizens Terrorist Suspects Abroad by Daniel Byman and Benjamin Wittes

Tools and Tradeoffs: Confronting U.S Citizens Terrorist Suspects Abroad by Daniel Byman and Benjamin Wittes

Article Analysis

The article Tools and Tradeoffs: Confronting U.S Citizens Terrorist Suspects Abroad by Daniel Byman and Benjamin Wittes discusses a variety of methods that the U.S government has used to deal with the U.S citizens’ terrorists’ suspects who are abroad. The article begins by discussing the American citizens who have moved to foreign countries to join jihadist cause and operate from there. This is particularly the suspects who have not attempted to go back to the U.S after moving abroad (Byman and Wittes, 2013).

Anwar Awlaki is one of the key American citizens who joined terrorist activities abroad who is crucial to the discussion in this article. This is because according to the Byman and Wittes he is considered one of “the most important and most dangerous traitor that America has had after the 9/11 terrorist attack (2013, p.5). Secondly, the activities of other American citizens in the jihadist cause abroad have been compared to those Anwar Awlaki to illustrate the roles played by different terror suspects abroad.  Based on the activities they undertake the suspects have been characterized to have operational or foot soldier roles. An operational suspect is considered to have a greater responsibility or role in planning and causing terror activities unlike the foot soldiers (Recker, 2014).  By providing the profiles of American citizens associated with terrorist activities abroad, the article brings out the reason behind the use of lethal force by the U.S government to target Anwar Awlaki while it applied different approaches for other suspects. It also shows the inconsistency in the kind of approaches used, resulting in gaps in the fight against terrorism. Other suspects discussed are categorized appropriately according to characteristics in each category like early fighters, higher-level figures, later convert cases and other cases (Byman and Wittes, 2013).

The article then discusses at length the different strategies that have been used to handle American terrorist suspects abroad. The strategies include using lethal force to target suspects, prosecuting them in the U.S, use of detentions through the military authorities, working with foreign governments to arrest, detain and prosecute the suspects and tolerating the suspects activities. The procedures applied in each of these approaches, the benefits as well as the disadvantages that arise from applying each of these methods have been highlighted and discussed in length. The article also explains the circumstances in which each of these approaches is best applicable (Byman and Wittes, 2013). For instance, the use of lethal force is only used when there is high terrorism threat associated with the activities of the suspect. On the other hand, criminal prosecution is more appropriate as the society is likely to accept it. However, it may be challenging to gather the required evidence that proves through a judicial process that the suspect is guilty beyond reasonable doubt (Recker, 2014).  Therefore, the article has successfully exhausted the benefits and costs of each approach and it is possible to identify the best approach for different approaches. The strategies used in handling the profiled suspects have helped in bringing out more clearly the application of these approaches. The article also mentions that the U.S government has made great efforts in handling jihadist activities abroad by Americans by using flexible and robust approaches. The authors mention that the propaganda is one of the significant gaps that affect the success of counterterrorism effort and there is need to develop legal solutions that will help in closing it. Byman and Wittes (2013) concludes by explaining that the U.S government needs to take more legal measures that will help in closing this gap and improving the available approaches.


Byman, D. and Wittes, B. (2013). Tools and Tradeoffs: Confronting U.S Citizens Terrorist Suspects Abroad. The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings.

Recker, K. E. (2014). Citizenship and terrorism: the significance of a pathway to citizenship on homeland security. NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA CENTER FOR HOMELAND DEFENSE AND SECURITY.