. . . in counter-terror strategy?
So says a provocative article in Foreign Policy:
In the weeks and months after the October 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 242 Americans, Reagan and his team became deeply concerned about the terrorism problem. But it was the abduction and torture of the CIA's Beirut station chief, William Buckley, in March 1984 that truly brought matters to a head. Secretary of State George Shultz called a Saturday meeting of terrorism experts, led by Brian Jenkins of the RAND Corporation, and the team brainstormed until a strategy emerged, one that called for something that strongly resembles the kind of campaign that Obama is now pursuing. Rather, the resemblance is in reverse, as Reagan's plan came first.
Soon after that weekend conclave of experts, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 138 -- most of which is still highly classified. Christopher Martin's declassified history of political and military policy during this period points out that the directive called for "secret FBI and CIA paramilitary squads and use of existing Pentagon military units -- such as Green Berets and the Navy SEALs -- for conducting what amounted to guerrilla war against guerrillas...a de factodeclaration of war."
The signal success of this first war on terror came in a campaign against the Abu Nidal Organization -- the al Qaeda of the ‘80s -- which was conducting terrorist hits for hire on behalf of Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Some of the network's hidden finances were detected and, instead of freezing or seizing these funds, they were covertly moved about in ways that convinced Abu Nidal that many of his operatives were embezzling. He had about a hundred of his agents bumped off, which did little good for the morale of the others. Soon the organization was all but defunct.
Full article here.