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By Michael Corcoran
Counterterrorist Training

The ability to set up basic counterterrorism and
intelligence operations is the starting point for an
effective approach to combating and preventing
future problems. By gaining the skills necessary for
intelligence collection and analysis, counterterrorism
analysts will have the essential tools to identify
suspected targets and determine terrorist threats.
Knowledge of current terrorist organizations and
what tactics they employ will help prevent future
attacks and develop relevant contingency plans for
when attacks happen.  Counterterrorism training
encompasses a long list of activities that range from
clandestine to liaison operations overseas or
investigations on national security crimes. Other
forms of counterterrorism training include
counterintelligence, law enforcement intelligence
analysis, and fusion analysis, to name a few.  

A challenge for anyone in the counterterrorism field
is to foresee what event a terrorist might be
planning. By possessing deeper knowledge of who
these terrorist organizations are and what type of
strategies they use, analysts can be one step ahead
of any terrorist threat. Analysts in the
counterterrorism field must become adept at risk
assessment as well as the more narrow threat
assessment, which includes the identification of
threats, an assessment of vulnerabilities and the
likelihood of an attack, as well as an evaluation of
the impact of such an attack. Employment of game
theoretic analysis also provides a more analytical
approach to threat and risk assessment.

Counterterrorism Careers

Counterterrorism careers make up a large part of
the strategic security industry. As previously
mentioned, just about every type of agency is
looking for individuals with experience in
counterterrorism.  Many of these agencies have
created their own counterterrorism divisions. There
are many different areas of expertise in just this
one field.  These agencies are looking for analysts,
specialists in terrorist strategy and target selection,
technology specialist and weapons specialist to
name a few.

In 2004 President George W. Bush established the
National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), later that
same year Congress passed the Intelligence Reform
and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA). This act
placed the NCTC with the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence. The creation of the NCTC has
linked together all the agencies to prevent terrorism
in the U.S. and overseas.  Agencies such as the
NCTC demonstrate the importance and need for
people with backgrounds in counterterrorism.
Counterterrorism
Analysis
The Importance of
Counterterrorism
Analysis
in the Private
and Public Sector
While pundits have bantered endlessly about the
definition and theories of terrorism, many people
are unaware of the role played by counterterrorism
analysts in all sectors of employment in the
strategic security field. This article seeks to provide
a quick overview of counterterrorism and
counterterrorist analysts within this larger field.

There is no single definition of terrorism. Almost
every U.S. agency has come up with its own
definition of terrorism that best fits the core values
of what that agency is trying to protect. While there
is no right or wrong definition, there are similarities
among each definition. For the sake of this piece,
terrorism is defined as the use of violence or threat
of violence by a group or individuals to achieve
objectives of political, economic or social demands
by targeting human beings or property.

Often used as a buzzword in today’s media driven
world, terrorism is an issue that cannot go
unchecked. The threat of an attack on a nation from
a group or an individual is a concern of government
officials and citizens alike. The ways these attacks
are executed often never take into consideration
the fundamental human freedoms of the innocent.  
Since September 11th, policies such as the Patriot
Act have been implemented to counter these
terrorist acts.  Knowledge of how and why terrorist
commit these acts of violence has been crucial in
indentifying and preventing possible terrorist
actions.

While an understanding of the history of terrorism
and terrorist theories is important, what is integral
to contemporary analysts is the ability to use that
knowledge in practice – the practice of
counterterrorism operations. Counterterrorism is
not simply some theoretical field or body of
knowledge. Rather, the field of counterterrorism
operationalizes theories of terrorism and terrorist
analysis in order to implement strategies to prevent
and counter future terrorist attacks.

The need for qualified individuals in this field is
growing. Every sector of service and protection has
a need for someone with knowledge in the
counterterrorism field. Ranging from top
government agencies to local law enforcement, the
ability to protect people from terrorist acts is
crucial. But what does one need to know to be
effective in counterterrorism?

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