United Kingdom's War Against Terrorism Essay

Length: 11 pages Sources: 11 Subject: Terrorism Type: Essay Paper: #79660640 Related Topics: Domestic Terrorism, War On Terror, Censorship, Humanitarian Intervention
Excerpt from Essay :

United Kingdom Government Response to Post-9/11 Attacks of Islamic Terrorism

Terrorism, in the context of the United Kingdom, is not new. Developed through the past century in response to the increasing rates of terrorism, the United Kingdom's modern counter-terrorism strategies encompass elements of continuity and change. Despite the significant development, there is no change to its fundamental structure as its terrorism agencies carry out similar functions in response to the challenges of globalization and the Islamic radicalism that increases the rates of terrorism (Curtis, 2010). The effects of terrorism are varied. They range from social, economic, and political effects that affect the overall performance and competitiveness of the economic prospects of a state. Basing on this, the question in focus for most across the United Kingdom, as well as, the other regions of the world has been the readiness of the agencies "modus operandi" in countering the effects of Islamic and other forms of terrorism. To date, significant evidence from the United Kingdom has prevented up to twelve-terrorist plots in Britain. Despite the success, intelligence failure in preventing the occurrence of the terrorist attack as in the case of September Eleven attack on the U.S. is considered a significant failure of the security intelligence to maintain the health of the state (Foley, 2009).

Therefore, to understand the response of states to the increasing cases of terrorism as in the case of the September 11 attack, this essay assesses the response of the UK Government to post-September 11 threat of Islamic Terrorism. The essay is structured into three parts to create an understanding of the response. The first section provides a brief analysis of the conceptualization of the failure of the intelligence bodies prior to the attack that has been used in the UK to develop responsive strategies against Islamic and other forms of terrorism. The second-section analyzes the involvement of the UK agencies before and between the September 11 attacks, while the third section assesses the response of the UK to post-September 11 attacks. Cumulatively, the analysis aims at creating an understanding of the manner the UK has responded to Islamists attacks post-September 11. As such, it shows the ways in which the UK has invested in the weaknesses identified from other states to build better intelligence system that prevents future occurrences of similar or more devastating cases of terrorism.

Conceptualizing intelligence failure that led to September 11 attacks

Significant evidence shows that no universally accepted definition of intelligence failure exists as it can occur at various levels and comes in different forms. Field (2009) simply defines intelligence failure as a process whereby there is a "warning failure" at a pint of the intelligence cycle, intelligence information collected, analyzed, or spread without substantial warning of an attack. Issues such as assuming the reliability of the sources of the terrorist attack during the initial collection of intelligence information and analysis alongside the use of deception techniques contribute to intelligence failure. According to Andrew (2009), organizational inertia and structure can also compound to the failure by failing to challenge the dominating assumptions, thereby, the vulnerability to Islamic terrorist attack. As such, the above makes inarguable that combining them made the U.S. more vulnerable to the September 11 attacks.

Intelligence failure might also happen at the level of dissemination of intelligence information, where there is the circulation of the information to other liaison partners, intelligence agencies, policy makers, and external bodies. According to Hitchens (2003), the collectors of intelligence information that have made the results have political bases have made the most significant mistakes seldom. The political nature of the intelligence information makes it difficult for the responsible agencies to convince the policy makers of their credibility and reliability, hence, increased likelihood of terrorism. Notwithstanding such, Walker (2002) appreciates that it becomes necessary for the consideration of the limits of intelligence to create a better understanding of the concept of intelligence failure. The limits of intelligence states that intelligence agencies cannot prevent the occurrence of intelligence failures in all cases. As such, the limits of intelligence create a different...


Although Islamic terrorism is not considered a "security agency," they do not improve their security abilities using deception knowledge and techniques of the UK signals intelligence operations. Similarly, evidence of the failure of intelligence can occur at any level as identified above, all, which led to the September 11 attacks (Curtis, 2010).

United Kingdom Intelligence and Islamic Terrorism before September 11 Attacks

Celso (2014) identifies that the governments of the United Kingdom, for decades, have had colluded relationship with the radical Islamic forces to promote sustainability of particular foreign policy objectives. The collusion began during the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union (1979-89) where diplomatic, financial, and military backing was provided by the United Kingdom (Britain) and the United States to the Islamist organizations. The conflict provided the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks with the opportunities to forge connections with the Al Qaeda before that resulted in the orchestration of the terrorist attacks on the West. Significant evidence has it that the United Kingdom has adopted various change strategies to counter Islamic terrorism. For instance, the introduction of the ASCRIBE initiative countered the growth and flourishing of seriously organized crimes through the enhanced definition of the roles of the counter-terrorism agencies. Similarly, the United Kingdom Government created the MI5 to counter the threats of the Islamists Terrorism. As such, considering this provides opportunities for the analysis of the lessons the UK learnt from its past relationship with the Islamists prior to the September 11 attacks, thereby, better understanding of the responsive strategies adopted post the attacks (Walker, 2002).

The Response of the UK Government to Post-September 11 attacks to Threats of Islamic Terrorism

Evidently, the previous encounters of the UK with the Islamic Terrorists provided it with significant insights into the weaknesses of its intelligence system and the need for the adoption of responsive strategies against Islamic terrorism. However, Hewitt (2008) argues that the response of the United Kingdom Government response to the September 11 attacks showed a "reactive," politicized, and short-term mentality. Such is evidenced by the quick move of the government to introduce Acts such as the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act that focused on the adoption of strategies aiming at prevention of terrorist attacks across the United Kingdom. The main characteristic of the act was its provision for the deportation and internment of the non-United Kingdom citizens who were believed to be involved in activities contributing to terrorism. Similarly, the act advocated the adoption of other strategies such as the stricter measures related to immigration and border controls to prevent entry of terrorists to the United Kingdom. As such, the move of the government of the United Kingdom to view terrorism as a "foreign" entity that could be managed using "foreign policy" signified the reactive, politicized mentality, and short-term nature of the strategies adopted by the UK government (Segell, 2006).

As a component of the United Kingdom Government's contest strategy, the UK intelligence faced significant pressure that resulted in the consideration of different approaches to prevent terrorism in the UK. One of such strategies was increasing the allocation of resources to the intelligence community alongside its structural extension to enhance its effectiveness in adopting the desired countering mechanisms. After the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the UK Government increased the allocation of the resources to the intelligence community, resulting in the expansion of the agencies' capabilities to prevent and respond to terrorism. The expansion of the United Kingdom's intelligence community focuses on the external threats that increased susceptibilities of the countries to terrorism and provide it with the desired basis for pursuing its goal of countering domestic terrorism (Dokos, 2007).

However, empirical evidence as presented by Curtis (2010) shows that the decision to increase resource allocation to the intelligence community disadvantaged other sectors significantly. For example, the decision arguably affected the GCHQ that received 6% of the total budgetary allocation, thereby, increasing the challenges caused by the revolution of the global communications system. Indeed, the heightened visibility of the transnational Islamic terrorism as evidenced by the September 11 attacks highlighted the weaknesses with the SIGINT networks of security intelligence across the world. For instance, it showed that the intelligence system used by states such as the U.S. And the UK had analytical deficits evidenced by the disparities in the intelligence information collected and analyzed. As such, the Government of the United Kingdom acted in response to the identified weaknesses by increasing the personnel involved in countering terrorism and increased resource allocation by 40% to address the crisis. Despite the above prompt initiatives, Benthem (2001) recognizes…

Sources Used in Documents:


Andrew, C.M. 2009. Defend the realm: the authorized history of MI5. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Bamford, B. 2004. The United Kingdom's "War Against Terrorism." Terrorism and Political Violence, 16(4), 737-756.

Benthem, J.F. 2001. Proceedings of the eighth Conference on Theoretical Aspects of Rationality and Knowledge 2001, Siena, Italy, July 08-10, 2001. San Francisco, Calif.: M. Kaufmann.

Celso, A. 2014. Al-Qaeda's Post-9/11 Devolution The Failed Jihadist Struggle Against the Near and Far Enemy.. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Cite this Document:

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"United Kingdom's War Against Terrorism", 29 July 2014, Accessed.2 February. 2023,

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