Behind The Counterterrorism Center

National Strategy for Combating Terrorism cover over US flag and The White House AP Photo/The White House/CBS

The National Counterterrorism Center is staffed with top intelligence officers in constant contact with one another. The top-secret facility was set up to overcome the rivalries between intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI, which failed to share vital clues about the al Qaeda plot to attack the United States on Sept. 11.


What is counterterrorism?
Counterterrorism refers to the practices, tactics, and strategies that governments, militaries, and other groups adopt in order to fight terrorism. Counterterrorism is not specific to any one field or organization; rather, it involves entities from all levels of society. For instance, businesses have security plans and sometimes share commercial data with the government.

Click here for an interactive about the Sept. 11 Commission's findings and recommendations.


What does the National Counterterrorism Center do?
It is the nerve center of the war against terror. It is a 24/7 operations center where all the intelligence collected by 18 different agencies is supposed to come together. It serves as the central knowledge bank on known and suspected terrorists and international terror groups, as well as their goals, strategies, capabilities, and networks of contacts and support.

The center was created to conduct strategic operational planning for counterterrorism activities, integrating all instruments of national power, including diplomatic, financial, military, intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement activities within and among agencies.


Who is the director?
On June 10, 2005, President Bush named Retired Vice Adm. John Scott Redd to lead the National Counterterrorism Center. Redd is a 36-year Navy veteran and was commander of the Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Middle East. Most recently, he served as deputy administrator and chief operating officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.

Redd reports directly to the President.


What role do the FBI and CIA play?
Carrying out the operational plans is left to the CIA, the FBI and Defense Department units, along with diplomats and Treasury Department officials where appropriate.






Learn more about counterterrorism:

Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism

• Take a look at the National Counterterrorism Center's Web site.

• Read more from The State Department's National Strategy for Combating Terrorism

The Institute for Counter-Terrorism

Executive Order National Counterterrorism Center


  • Melissa McNamara

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