The attack took place on American soil, but it was an attack on the heart and soul of the civilized world. And the world has come together to fight a new and different war, the first, and we hope the only one, of the 21st century. A war against all those who seek to export terror, and a war against those governments that support or shelter them.
-- President George W. Bush, October 11, 2001
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, President George W. Bush announced a comprehensive plan to seek out and stop terrorists around the world. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were part of the Global War on Terror, or “GWOT,” but the term was also used to describe diplomatic, financial, and other actions taken to deny financing or safe harbor to terrorists. Coalition partners from around the world also participated in the GWOT.
On September 20, 2001, President George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban stop harboring members of al-Qaeda, and warned that the GWOT would not end until terrorism was eradicated.
Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.
-- President George W. Bush, September 20, 2001
On September 24, 2001, the President announced that he had signed an executive order to freeze the assets of terrorist groups and other entities that funded terrorist activity. This was the beginning of efforts to deny financing to terrorists and terrorist groups.
And, by the way, this list is just a beginning. We will continue to add more names to the list. We will freeze the assets of others as we find that they aid and abet terrorist organizations around the world. We've established a foreign terrorist asset tracking center at the Department of the Treasury to identify and investigate the financial infrastructure of the international terrorist networks.
-- President George W. Bush, September 24, 2001
On October 7, 2001, the President announced that the United States had begun military action in Afghanistan. The initial strikes were against al-Qaeda terrorist training camps and Taliban military installations. In addition to military action, the United States and Coalition allies would provide humanitarian aid to the citizens of Afghanistan.
At the same time, the oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America and our allies. As we strike military targets, we'll also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan. The United States of America is a friend to the Afghan people, and we are the friends of almost a billion worldwide who practice the Islamic faith. The United States of America is an enemy of those who aid terrorists and of the barbaric criminals who profane a great religion by committing murder in its name.
-- President George W. Bush, October 7, 2001
Once the GWOT had begun, the United States used a military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a detention facility for terrorists. In early 2002, the White House released a fact sheet on the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Detainees were to be tried under military commissions. These commissions were struck down by the Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, after which the United States Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
In 2002 and early 2003, the United States began exerting pressure on Iraq to follow through on its commitments to improve human rights, release prisoners, break ties with terrorists, and destroy weapons of mass destruction. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell each addressed the United Nations regarding the dangers of Saddam Hussein’s regime and its refusal to disarm.
On March 19, 2003, the efforts culminated in military operations to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
Although combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended, other aspects of the Global War on Terror - such as efforts to prevent the financing of terrorism - continue to this day.