The National Counter-Terrorism Center

The National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) was established in 2004 to enhance that intelligence from all sources about potential terrorists and terrorist plots against the US are made available to analysts and security agencies to facilitate planning and appropriate responses (National Counterterrorism, 2016).Thus, the NCTC acts as the center for joint operational planning and joint intelligence to foil all terrorist activities against the US thus it is a member of the US Intelligence Committee (USIC).  The NCTC  chairs USIC meetings about terrorist groups’ capabilities,  intentions, and plans that pose threat to US interests home and abroad, and facilitates efficient and effective allocation of government resources to analyze and plan appropriate action.  Further, the NCTC makes an interagency-coordinated analysis on terrorism and issue advisories, alerts, and warnings for appropriate actions (Allen, 2013). Further, the center manages Joint Operation Centers to provide insightful and situational analysis of emerging terrorism-related issues and events throughout the world and maintains the national repository of identified and assumed terrorists. Additionally, the center delegates responsibilities to lead departments for counterterrorism activities in line with the law to eliminate duplication of efforts and enhancing effectiveness in terrorism-related intelligence and course of action (NCTC, 2016)

It is not all information that is received by the NCTC that is regarded as intelligence; NCTC analysis all raw intelligence before integrating the report to USIC and draw intelligence. Thus, after getting this threat information, the NCTC will form the Joint Counter-terrorism Assessment Team (JCAT) to evaluate the ability of the source to access such information as well as the chain within which such information has passed through before reaching the NCTC (Streissguth, 2012). Fortunately, the information about the alleged travel of the suspected terrorism to Pakistan is from human intelligence (HUMINT) source and has just passed through the FBI thus may be credible. The NCTC will then evaluate the credibility, the extent to which the information can be believed both in context and in time, as well as its reliability, whether the information is an accurate representation of the event reported.  If NCTC determines that information received is from sources with appropriate access, has passed through few chains of commands and is reliable and credible as is the above information, it passes it to the USIC to promote planning of counter-terrorism measures (Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group, 2011).

After receiving and verifying the credibility and reliability of information about the suspected terrorist traveling into the US, the NCTC will disseminate the same to different security and intelligence agencies of the US, and appoint the department that will lead the different roles and responsibilities depending on their constitutional roles and responsibilities (ITACG, 2011). The appointment will help in eliminating duplication of efforts that may cause inconsistencies. The NCTC will also ensure continued sharing of the information between all departments and bodies forming the USIC to enhance efficiency, and help in pooling government resources (Allen, 2013).

The NCTC acts in partnership with different organizations, among them the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Department of Defense, Departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) among others to enhance counter-terrorism measures. The received, verified reliable information will be classified as “For Official Use Only (FOUO),” and thus will be disseminated on "need-to-know" basis. The role of pursuing and apprehending the suspected terrorist within the US lies within the mandate of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, as such, the NCTC will appoint the lead team to prevent conflict of interests that may lead to inefficiencies in the process (Best, 2011).  The lead team, most likely the FBI, will be expected to establish a Joint task force comprising of law enforcement officers such as local DHS, as well as intelligence officers such as the CIA officials. FBI will be liable for collecting more information that will lead to the arrest of the terrorists and eventually pursue and possibly arrest him with the help of local law enforcement officers and the DHS.   Since the above terrorism is of an international nature, the CIA will be included in the task force to assist in gathering information about the activities of the terrorists in Pakistan. The CIA may alert and work with Pakistan’s intelligence in collecting sufficient intelligence that will lead to the arrests of terrorists based in the northern parts of Pakistan (ITACG, 2011).

Besides the important role of promoting sharing of information and delegating roles and responsibilities to different departments, the NCTC assumes the leading role of pooling all sources of intelligence and developing assessments and warning. The center does this by promoting interagency intelligence sharing and directing the roles and responsibilities of different bodies in counterterrorism plans. All intelligence is recorded in NCTC database and used to warn and prevent future terrorist threats to U.S. national security (Streissguth, 2012).

In retrospection, the NCTC was formed to promote interagency coordination and cooperation in sharing intelligence pertinent to terrorism activities within and outside the US. The NCTC chairs counterintelligence meetings in the USIC, delegates roles and responsibilities of lead counter-intelligence teams, pools resources for counterintelligence services and creates terrorism database to help prevent future terrorist threats to U.S. national security.

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