National security adviser John Bolton answers questions from the media during a press briefing on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 at the White House in Washington, D.C.

National security adviser John Bolton answers questions from the media during a press briefing on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Thursday approved a new national strategy for counterterrorism to protect the country against future terrorist attacks.

This is the first effort to update former President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism strategy released in 2011.

White House officials announced the plan, saying it was more comprehensive than previous approaches and focuses more on ideology-driven terrorists and incorporates new ways of battling related attacks.

“I am committed to protecting the United States and its interests abroad from the threat of terrorism,” Trump said Thursday in a White House statement. The strategy “will help protect our great nation, enhance our national security, and guide our continued effort to defeat terrorists and terrorist organizations that threaten the United States.”

In June 2011, then-White House official John Brennan announced a new Obama national strategy for counterterrorism, which focused on the U.S. campaign against al-Qaida and its affiliates.

On Thursday, National Security Adviser John Bolton called the new plan the “first robust counterterrorism strategy” since 2011. He also said the Trump administration has already taken steps to address terrorists who pose a threat to the United States.

“We will not focus on a single organization but will counter all terrorists with the ability and intent to harm the United States, its citizens and our interests,” Bolton said during a White House briefing with reporters.

In 2011, the Obama administration released a 20-page counterterrorism strategy report when it announced its new plan. However, the Trump White House had yet to release a detailed guide for its new strategy as of Thursday afternoon.

Trump said in his statement that the United States has accelerated efforts to defeat terrorists under his leadership and lauded other changes such as in May pulling out of the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The administration has also supported significant increases in defense spending. The $716 billion 2019 National Defense Authorization Act and its companion legislation for defense spending authorization were passed into law in time for the start of the fiscal year Monday.

The new counterterrorism strategy is an important next step, Trump said.

“Working with coalition partners, we have decimated ISIS in Syria and Iraq,” he said. “Likewise, I ended United States participation in the horrible Iran deal, which had provided a windfall for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies, funding Iran’s malign activities throughout the world.”

The new counterterrorism strategy outlines the approach of the United States to counter the increasingly complex and evolving terrorist threats, according to the statement.

The strategy entails pursuing terrorists to their source, isolating them from their sources of support and modernizing tools to fight terrorism, the White House said Thursday in a second statement. It also focuses on protecting U.S. infrastructure, countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment and boosting work with international partners.

“The new strategy builds on lessons learned from past counterterrorism efforts and offers a new path toward strengthening the security of Americans,” the statement reads. Twitter: @cgrisales

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