Ten Things You Should Know About the Bureau of Counterterrorism

Keeping America safe from terrorism begins abroad. In the race to protect the United States and stay "one step ahead," we must develop innovative strategies, creative diplomacy, and even stronger partnerships. How do we do it all? Here are ten things you should know about the new Bureau of Counterterrorism.

1. We build foreign counterterrorism capacity. We build international partner counterterrorism capacity in the civilian sector and contribute to efforts in the military and defense sectors. We develop and support implementation of antiterrorism assistance in the law enforcement, rule-of-law and counterterrorism finance sectors, on topics ranging from cyber-security to money laundering prevention to crisis response to prison de-radicalization.

2. We stood up and co-chair a new multilateral counterterrorism body. In 2011, we established the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). With 30 founding members (29 countries and the EU), the GCTF is a major initiative within the Obama Administration's broader effort to build an international architecture for dealing with 21st century terrorist threats. Two major deliverables announced at the September launch demonstrate the GCTF's action-oriented nature. The first was approximately $100 million, contributed by several members, to develop rule of law institutions. The United Arab Emirates announced the second: its intention to host the first ever international center of excellence on countering violent extremism, slated to open in Abu Dhabi in the fall of 2012. The forum is co-chaired by Turkey and the United States.

3. We counter violent extremism. To defeat terrorists, we must undermine their ability to recruit. We work to delegitimize the violent extremist narrative, to develop positive alternatives for populations vulnerable to recruitment, and to build partner government and civil society capacity to counter violent extremism themselves.

4. We engage with foreign governments. We hold regular bilateral, regional, and multilateral dialogues on shared counterterrorism issues and consult with foreign governments on urgent and emerging threats. Through bilateral and multilateral engagement we work with our more capable partners to enhance the abilities of countries around the world to counter terrorism and to cooperate more effectively together. We exchange intelligence, information, and best practices and procedures to ensure that we all are in the best possible position to thwart terrorist plots and take and keep terrorists off the streets. We help draft foreign counterterrorism laws. We routinely advise foreign governments on best practices for counterterrorism crisis management, and maintain cooperative research and development agreements with partner nations.

5. We respond to crises. We lead an interagency crisis response team, known as the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST). Established in 1985, the FEST is ready to travel at four hours notice to the scene of an overseas emergency and provide round the clock advice and assistance to Ambassadors and foreign governments facing crises. The FEST's interagency team has responded to real-world bombings, kidnappings, and other crises around the globe, and also supports and participates in training exercises for such incidents. FEST training and response activities have occurred in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe. We have deployed a FEST 31 times since 1989.

6. We strategize. We work closely with the National Security Staff and other agencies to develop, refine and implement U.S. counterterrorism strategy and operations to disrupt and defeat the networks that support terrorism.

7. We designate. We prepare designations that carry legal sanctions of State Sponsors of Terrorism, foreign terrorist organizations, entities and individuals, and countries not fully cooperating with U.S. counterterrorism efforts for consideration by the Secretary of State.

8. We support research and development. We co-chair (with the Department of Defense) the interagency Technical Support Working Group (TSWG). TSWG conducts the National Interagency Combating Terrorism Research and Development Program whose purpose is to enhance the counterterrorism technology and equipment capabilities of U.S. government agencies involved in counterterrorism activities.

9. We support the safe recovery of hostages. The Hostage Policy Subgroup refines and implements official U.S. government policy toward Americans taken captive abroad. We work closely with interagency partners to shape and guide implementation of hostage policy in a way that accomplishes the safe recovery of hostages, bringing of hostage-takers to justice, and the prevention of future incidents.

10. We strengthen homeland security. We work in partnership with DHS, as well as other agencies and bureaus, to strengthen international cooperation on a wide range of homeland security issues, including transportation security, the interdiction of terrorist travel, and critical infrastructure protection.



Bujar L.
January 5, 2012

Bujar L. in Kosovo writes:

Would like to talk to officials related to the point 3. Please advice.

Massachusetts, USA
January 7, 2012

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

Introducing Secretary of State Clinton's Quadrennial Diplomacy action agenda in full swing with the New Year. Now just how often do we get to say “Quadrennial Diplomacy”? I mean, wow! So if your on an interview...

And in keeping with the effective slogan “Ten Things You Should Know” and Rhonda Shore's introduction and reminder that terrorism begins abroad and that we must stay one step ahead-
The Bureau of Counterterrorism working multi and bilateral diplomacy channels. Les atouts unique to the State Department all the while helping to secure the homeland.
Ambassador Benjamin Special briefing Jan.4:

Well, we’re the State Department; we have a set of tools and a set of activities that others don’t do. No one else does the bilateral kind of diplomacy that we do with others on a number of different issues, whether it has to do with how we reduce the space that terrorist groups have to fundraise, to operate. We provide a lot of training. We fund other agencies of the U.S. Government to send their experts out to do it in countries around the world, whether it’s anti-money laundering, counterterrorism finance, border security, rule of law with regional resident-led legal advisors – a whole range of different things that are really in the diplomatic toolkit and that we work with our partners in the government to do. So these things couldn’t be done without a strong State platform for carrying them through.
Ambassador Benjamin also spoke to international cooperation as the unsung hero underscoring the role it will play adapting as necessary- Ambassador Benjamin:

Our ability to oversee and implement CT programs, which cover, by the way, everything from police training to countering the al-Qaida narrative, will be strengthened by the establishment of the bureau. The new bureau will lead the Department in U.S. Government efforts to reduce radicalization and mobilization abroad. It will work with the recently established Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications to de-legitimate the violent extremist narrative, to develop positive alternatives for populations that are vulnerable to recruitment, and it will work to partner with governments and civil society in building capacity to counter violent extremism.

Thank you for the post Rhonda Shore. The Special Briefing was very informative. Readers can walk away with an example of responsible resource management at the Dept. of State as no additional funds have been spent for the new bureau. Impressive, creative. What would Secretary Nides say?

“with just over one percent of the entire federal budget”... ah.

Virginia, USA
April 6, 2012

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

Has Osama in ladens right hand man been captured or killed yet? The Egyptian Doctor?

Daniel V.
California, USA
August 28, 2012

Daniel V. in California writes:

To Rhonda Shore

Based on my more than 50 years of studies and researches of insurgency and all types of violent crimes from Asian countries, the entire United States (except Alaska), Canada, Australia, Mexico and Western Europe, your items 1 to 10 are all wrong.

Here are a few items why your analysis and strategies are wrong:

1) Keeping America safe from terrorism begins at home;

2) Counterterrorism is counter-productive, ineffective, costly, creates casualties (civilians, military troops, law enforcement)

3) Counter violent extremism - the same as item 2.

4) Respond to crises - an effective counter-terrorism should have no crises

5) Engage with foreign governments - all governments are sharing the same ineffective strategies

6) Establishing the GCTF without ineffective, costly and counterproductive strategies is useless

7) Sanctions is a slow process

8) Support research and development - it is not possible to yield productive results as long as outdated law enforcement and military basic fundamentals are not changed

9) Co-chair with the Department of Defense - if the DOD is not capable of defeating the Talibans for 11 years, spending billions, creating casualties: civilians and troops, this effort is useless

10) If America can not even stop violence (Aurora, Colorado and Chicago, Illinois shootings); or the FBI's report that violence is down but the killing of officers is rising and they do not know why - with all these items unresolved, it would be impossible to strengthen homeland security.

Fortunately, my more than 50 years of studies allowed me to develop this kind of program:

"Control terrorism and all types of violent crimes, reduce prison population, create jobs to reduce the budget deficit, without raising taxes".

I do presentations, and I can answer all of the above items. I can also explain how the Department of Defense need only to spend only 10 percent out of the $87.7 billion dollars allocated for Afghanistan for 2013 and still defeat the Talibans; Stop the shootings in big cities (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, etc.);

Respectfully yours.

Posted by Rhonda Shore
January 4, 2012


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