Key Issues > Countering Overseas Threats
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Countering Overseas Threats

The U.S. National Security Strategy calls for a “whole of government” approach—including diplomacy and development as well as defense and intelligence capabilities—to counter overseas threats to the U.S. homeland and U.S. interests.

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The United States has invested tens of billions of dollars in efforts to counter overseas threats over the past decade. These efforts, led by the Departments of State and Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other agencies, have included providing assistance to enhance the capability of foreign partners to combat terrorist networks, counter violent extremism, and confront transnational criminal organizations. For example, GAO has recently issued reports that examined and, where appropriate, made recommendations on the following:

  • Transparency and sustainability of billions of dollars in U.S. funds focused on securing and stabilizing Afghanistan and preventing the return of al Qaeda and other extremist groups.
  • The use of security and civilian assistance to counter terrorist threats emanating from outside the United States.
  • Oversight and accountability of U.S. security assistance.
  • Vetting of recipients of U.S. security assistance.
  • Counternarcotics and related security efforts in Central America and the Caribbean.

Reported Terrorist Attacks by al Qaeda and al Shabaab in Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT) Countries, 1998-2012

Reported Terrorist Attacks by al Qaeda and al Shabaab in Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT) Countries, 1998-2012

Notes: Terrorist events conducted by al Qaeda and al Shabaab are included in the graphic. This graphic only includes events that the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism identified as events (1) aimed at attaining a political, economic, religious, or social goal; (2) occurring where there was evidence of an intention to coerce, intimidate, or convey a message beyond the immediate victims; (3) falling outside legitimate warfare activities and the parameters of international humanitarian law; and, (4) that are not ambiguous as to their nature as terrorist incidents. Successful and unsuccessful attacks are included. Terrorist event information is drawn entirely from publicly available materials and reflects what is reported in those sources. (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism). (2012). Global Terrorism Database, Incidents Over Time. Retrieved from on May 6, 2014.)

Key Terrorist Groups in Northwest Africa and Their Regions of Operation, 2009-2014

	<strong>Key Terrorist Groups in Northwest Africa and Their Regions of Operation, 2009-2014

Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

Combating Terrorism:

U.S. Efforts in Northwest Africa Would Be Strengthened by Enhanced Program Management
Published: Jun 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 24, 2014.

Combating Terrorism:

State Department Can Improve Management of East Africa Program
Published: Jun 17, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 17, 2014.


Oversight and Accountability of U.S. Assistance
Published: Jun 10, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 2014.


Key Oversight Issues for USAID Development Efforts
Published: Mar 13, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 2014.

Countering Overseas Threats:

Gaps in State Department Management of Security Training May Increase Risk to U.S. Personnel
Published: Mar 10, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 10, 2014.

Countering Overseas Threats:

DOD and State Need to Address Gaps in Monitoring of Security Equipment Transferred to Lebanon
Published: Feb 26, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 2014.

Combating Terrorism:

DHS Should Take Action to Better Ensure Resources Abroad Align with Priorities
Published: Sep 25, 2013. Publicly Released: Oct 25, 2013.

Central America:


Reporting on Visa Delays That Disrupt U.S. Assistance Could Be Improved
Published: May 7, 2013. Publicly Released: May 7, 2013.

U.S. Assistance to Yemen:

Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Emergency Food Aid and Assess Security Assistance
Published: Mar 20, 2013. Publicly Released: Mar 20, 2013.

International Affairs:

Status of Funding, Equipment, and Training for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative
Published: Mar 20, 2013. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 2013.

Security Assistance:

Evaluations Needed to Determine Effectiveness of U.S. Aid to Lebanon's Security Forces
Published: Mar 19, 2013. Publicly Released: Mar 19, 2013.

Building Partner Capacity:

Key Practices to Effectively Manage Department of Defense Efforts to Promote Security Cooperation
Published: Feb 14, 2013. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 2013.


Key Oversight Issues
Published: Feb 11, 2013. Publicly Released: Feb 11, 2013.

Security Assistance:


Example of Saudi Government Sponsored TV Advertisement Countering Terrorism
GAO Visit to a Saudi Government Operated Rehabilitation Center
Smuggling of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Materials from Pakistan to Afghanistan
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