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By Eric Sayers.  Mr. Sayers is a graduate student in political science at the University of Western Ontario, and is an editorial assistant at the Center for Security Policy.


The events of September 11, 2001 forced the United States of America to recognize the strategic importance that sanctuaries provided to terrorist networks like al-Qaeda. A sanctuary, or black hole. as a recent study by the Center for Strategic Studies termed it, can be defined as a territory where a terrorist organization is able to openly operate. This territory is considered safe either because the sovereign government in which the sanctuary exists has allowed it to exist, or because the government lacks the ability to police the territory in question.1 With regards to the actual physical location of sanctuaries, the US National Strategy for Combating Terrorism recognizes that: .physical sanctuaries can stretch across an entire sovereign state, be limited to specific ungoverned or ill-governed areas in an otherwise functioning state, or cross national borders.

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Center for Security Policy

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