Terrorism is one of the greatest concerns troubling governments from across the world, including ours. As a matter of fact, terrorism has become a global threat with terror formations like Al-Qaeda, the ISIS, and Al-Shabaab visiting terror on innocents, all in an attempt to advance selfish and misguided interests. For this reason, the relevance of developing sound counter-terrorism plans cannot be overstated.
It is important to note, from the onset, that the development of counterterrorism plans is largely a multiagency affair. It mainly involves the assessment of threats, interagency cooperation and coordination, and action plan formulation. When it comes to threat assessment, this remains a critical role due to the need to assess emerging (as opposed to past or pre-existing) terrorist threats, while at the same time mapping out the most appropriate strategies to address the said threats. On this front, two sources of threats are taken into consideration, i.e. external and domestic threats. While external threats emanate from elements seeking to bring about or effect widespread political changes, internal threats emanate from extremists keen on bringing about specific political or social changes. Currently, the U.S. faces an international breed of terrorists who operate from both within and outside the country's borders. The need to assess this threat is therefore a key issue in the development of counterterrorism plans. In the transport sector, for instance, threat assessment involves the recognition of the potential security incidents (The U.S. Department of Transportation, 2003).
There is also the interagency aspect of the planning process that has to be fostered. In this case, all the agencies, departments, as well as centers must come together and organize periodic engagements. This is critical for purposes of ensuring that all the relevant stakeholders not only contribute, but are also kept fully informed about counter-terrorist plans.
It is important to note that when preventive measures are properly employed as well as resourced, vulnerability to terrorist attacks reduces significantly. Response could, in this case, assume various formats: i.e. elimination of established patterns, coordination of physical security measures, etc.
The development of counterterrorism plans involves many players. To begin with, there is the law enforcement community with the key players on this front falling under the Justice Department. These include the FBI, the CIA and the U.S. Marshals Service. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, "for countering terrorism, the dominant agency under Justice is the Federal Bureau of Investigations" (The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, 2005, p. 74). It is important to note that as the authors of this document further point out, the bureau does not possess a general grand of authority when it comes to the formulation or development of counterterrorism plans. Instead, its mandate is largely determined by the relevant statutory authorizations. There is also the U.S. Marshal Service that has special fugitive tracking capabilities (The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, 2005).
Other key players in the formulation of counterterrorism plans include The White House and Congress. The Department of Defense is also critical when it comes to the formulation of counterterrorism plans. Some of the intelligence agencies falling under the Department of Defense are the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. There is also the State Department and the U.S. Department of Transportation. According to U.S. Department of Transportation (2003), FBI threat assessments indicate that public transportation remains one of the top risk areas as far as terrorist attacks are concerned and…
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