Methods of Counter-Terrorism

Written by shane hall
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Methods of Counter-Terrorism
Heightened security at airports is one of many antiterrorism methods. (airport scenery image by Galyna Andrushko from

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States heightened the necessity of implementing counter-terrorism methods for federal officials. President George W. Bush and Congress created the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, charging it with leading the nation's efforts to gather intelligence on terrorist activities and preventing future attacks. Governments in the U.S. and around the world rely on a range of tactics to reduce the threat of terrorism. These counter-terrorism methods include intelligence operations and heightened security measures.

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Intelligence and Information Sharing

The Brookings Institution and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), two respected think tanks in Washington, D.C., have criticised the existing intelligence apparatus in the United States as based on a Cold War model, in which information is closely guarded and disseminated on a strict need-to-know basis. Brookings contends that such a model does not fit counter-terrorism intelligence, which requires a freer flow of information among federal, state, and local authorities. When methods of terrorist attacks and their targets become unpredictable, greater information sharing is necessary for effective antiterrorism measures, Brookings analysts James Steinberg, Mary Graham, and Andrew Eggers write.

Local Agencies As First Responders

CSIS, in a publication on military intelligence and counter-terrorism, emphasises the importance of local authorities, such as police and security forces, as first responders against terrorist threats. CSIS states that these agencies are best equipped to handle low-level terrorism. Like Brookings, CSIS advocates greater intelligence sharing, stating that hoarding information only aids terrorists.

International Development Assistance

The Quaker Council on European Affairs, in a report on counter-terrorism in the European Union, criticised intelligence-based activities as having only limited value. The council, which advocates policies consistent with the values of the Quaker faith, contends that development assistance to underdeveloped and politically weak nations will promote more stability, equity, and respect for human rights in those countries, blunting the nihilistic appeal of many terrorist organisations.

Cyber Security

Computer security has become a key concern in the digital age. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognises this, counting cyber security among its counter-terrorism priorities. Under the leadership of a National Cyber Security Center, the department works with governments and the corporate sector to secure and prevent cyber attacks against the nation's computer networks, guarding against security breaches and the theft of valuable information.

Israeli Measures

Political scientist and policy analyst Jonathan B. Tucker writes that Israel has a long history of counter-terrorism activities from which the U.S. and other nations can learn. Israel's methods against terrorism have included in-depth intelligence gathering, which has enabled Israeli officials to prevent some terrorist attacks and arrest suspected terrorists. Other Israeli techniques include targeted killings of terrorist group members and domestic security measures, such as placing sky marshals on airline flights.

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