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The Federal Bureau of Investigations ranks counterterrorism as its highest priority, and established its Counterterrorism Division to help identify and neutralize individuals and organizations that present a threat to national security. This division utilizes the enormous resources of the FBI to detect and dismantle the operations of groups like Al Qaeda, Hamas and Asbat an-Ansar. This includes investigating the activities of individuals and groups within the U.S. as well as in other nations.

The Scope of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division

In the wake of September 11, 2001, the FBI has adopted a pro-active strategy that seeks out groups who present a threat to the country to eliminate them before they can implement attacks on the U.S. or its allies.  In order to accomplish this enormous task, the FBI has redirected its efforts to investigating potential terrorists and producing evidence of their hostile intentions using a variety of surveillance, investigatory and detainment powers that have been granted by Congressional and Presidential action.


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The FBI has extended the scope of its activities to include the actions of people around the world.  In order to investigate potential threats, it has bolstered its intelligence gathering and analytical operations, as well as its tactical resources.  This two-pronged redistribution of resources better enables the FBI to recognize emerging threats so as to deploy the appropriate response to them.  This may include the insertion of a tactical team into a terrorist training facility in a remote location abroad, or freezing financial assets found in international banks, or even developing human intelligence sources within terrorist networks.

Operations Branches
The Operations Branches I and II are the primary tactical field departments of CTD and handle all of the major counterterrorism missions.  Branch I conducts operations at locations in other countries and is tasked with disrupting the activities of groups like Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Branch II is responsible for domestic terrorism that is conducted by individuals or members of terrorist organizations.  Branch II is also responsible some international operations including identifying and dismantling the financial networks of hostile organizations.

Analytical Branch
CTD’s Analytical Branch manages the division’s intelligence programs and supplies information to tactical personnel as well as key strategists throughout the agency and government. Comprised primarily of intelligence analysts and officers, the Analytical Branch gathers copious amounts of raw intelligence, evaluates and categorizes it, and produces insights and recommendations for field agents and decision makers.  The professionals of the Analytical Branch are also the primary process analysts that review the efficacy of intelligence, administrative and tactical operations in order to identify flaws and vulnerabilities in programs or in the overall intelligence network. Read more…

Operational Support Branch
The Operational Support Branch manages the many administrative functions necessary to coordinate the many counterterrorism operations and produce successful outcomes throughout. This department is often the point of contact with other federal agencies and managed FBI personnel detailed to those groups.  Among its responsibilities is the administration of the National Threat Center which is the central nerve center for all FBI counterterrorism operations. This organization maintains a constant vigil on the status of U.S. defense resources as well as hostile organizations, and alerts key agencies of an imminent attack. Read more…

Joint Terrorism Task Forces
JTTFs draw upon the personnel and expertise of many of the nation’s intelligence, law enforcement, and first response agencies to create highly functional and multi-jurisdictional units that can investigate, analyze and respond to potential terrorist activity.  Primarily led by FBI personnel, the JTTFs cultivate close cooperation between federal, state and local authorities to swiftly identify terrorists and prevent attacks on the public. JTTFs usually include linguists, investigators, intelligence analysts and tactical officers. Read more…

National Counterterrorism Center
The National Counterterrorism Center plays a vital role in coordinating all of the federal governments intelligence and counterterrorism operations.  The NCTC includes representatives from all major defense and intelligence agencies and facilitates the sharing of intelligence so that interagency barriers are mitigated. This center is under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and produces reports for key government officials including the President, the Cabinet and Congress. Read more…

Terrorism Fly Team
Terrorism Fly Teams are the elite tactical units deployed by the FBI to quickly respond to threats as they develop around the world.  These units possess a wide variety of skills that allow them to enter high risk situations, rapidly collect information and perform any of a number of tactical responses, including pursuit, apprehension or governmental interactions.  Terrorism Fly Teams are designed to deliver the most qualified agents and analysts to any location on the globe in a matter of hours, so that resolution of a threat can be had with all possible speed. Read more…

Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center
TEDAC is the federal government’s single organization devoted to the study of improvised explosive devices.  Operated and funded by the FBI, TEDAC collects IEDs from the military, law enforcement organizations and international agencies. Using a unique set of traditional and proprietary analytical techniques, the technical experts reconstruct exploded bombs, analyze them and produce reports for personnel in the field. Read more…

Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate
The WMDD is the FBI’s lead department in the study of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the organizations that currently own them, and terrorist groups or rogue nations that are eager to acquire them.  Comprised of three sections—Intelligence, Operations and Countermeasures—the WMDD retains a global perspective on the locations of known biological, chemical and nuclear stockpiles, as well as the technology and equipment necessary to manufacture them.  The WMDD also monitors the activities and communications of experts who may be capable of selling their knowledge to hostile organizations. Read more…

Genocide and War Crimes
The extreme nature of genocide and major war crimes lends itself to the support and use of terrorist methods. In order to prevent the spread of such abhorrent tactics that often help create individuals with terrorist mindsets, the Genocide and War Crimes Unit assists in the investigation of such events.  These units are often critical to collecting and analyzing forensic evidence, eliciting information from witnesses and conspirators, and the apprehension of war criminals. Read more…

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