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Concept.png "Counter-terrorism"  SourcewatchRdf-icon.png 4
Interest of • Jonathan Davis
• International Centre for Counter-Terrorism
• Le Cercle
• Mike Smith
• University of St. Andrews

"Counter-terrorism" is a part of the military-industrial-terrorism-congressional complex. Since September 11, 2001, governments around the world have diverted a lot of resources to opposing "terrorism", resulting in a boom for the MICC in general, and manufacturers of weapons and mass surveillance equipment.


The 1979 JCIT was an important meeting to establish and standardise the ideology of "counter-terrorism". At least 4 of the speakers at that meeting had attended one or more meetings of Le Cercle. Cercle members also have set up organisations which promoted their narrative about "terrorism" and offered jobs to "terror experts".


"Counter terrorism" employs cutting edge technology

In some countries, "counter-terrorists" are legally permitted to use violent methods such as assassinations or torture[citation needed] to oppose "terrorists". These is rarely referred to as such - alternative language such as "targeted killings" or "preemptive neutralization" is preferred.[1]

"Terrorism research"

Full article: Stub class article Terrorism research

"Terrorism research" is conducted by a number of research institutions, perhaps most notably the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews.


NYPD Counter-terrorism.jpg

In US in particular, many groups such as police forces and intelligence agencies have developed "counter-terrorism" branches which have been criticised for profiling (and sometimes harassing) non-violent, law-abiding activists such as peace campaigners. Their lack of oversight and close liaison with corporations have been criticised, especially the establishment of quasi autonomous fusion centers.[2]

Often these special forces are created in the immediate aftermath of a violent "terrorist" incident, such as the National Investigation Agency, which was created in response to the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Counter-terrorist hotlines

Many countries are encouraging people to report "suspicious behaviour". This is sometimes left undefined, but sometimes a checklist is published, such as "appearing to study CCTV or other security arrangements".[3]


Many national governments are engaged in the business of "counter terrorism".


The UK government's 2006 policy on combating terror lays particular emphasis on "Islamist terror", noting for example:

“The current threat from Islamist terrorism is serious and sustained. It is genuinely international in scope, involving a variety of groups, networks and individuals who are driven by particular violent and extremist beliefs. It is indiscriminate – aiming to cause mass casualties, regardless of the age, nationality, or religion of their victims; and the terrorists are often prepared to commit suicide to kill others. Overall, we judge that the scale of the threat is potentially still increasing and is not likely to diminish significantly for some years.

 (July 2006)  - [4]

This is all the more remarkable since, according to Europol, less than 1% of terrorist incidents in Europe are by Islamic terrorists. Sociology professor David Miller has suggested that arms of the UK government such as MI5 are deliberately encouraging Islamophobia through such documents and through information provided to the commercially-controlled media.[5] This would fit with Sibel Edmonds' revelations about Operation Gladio B.


Full article: CONTEST

In 2003, the UK government launched CONTEST, a "counter-terrorism" strategy. This was focused on "Islamic terror" and was widely criticised by civil liberties advocates and others, who suggested that it was being used to excuse unwarranted mass surveillance.[6]

ACT: Action Counters Terrorism

Full article: Action Counters Terrorism

In March 2017, the UK government launched ACT: Action Counters Terrorism, an updated "branding platform" for its "counter-terrorist" efforts.


The Chinese government is organising "counter-terror exercises".[7]


"Counter-terrorist" teams are not used only on "terrorists". The military (SWAT team) ethos facilitates use of "counter-terrorist" forces on civilian targets such as Ian Puddick.[8]



The global business of "counter-terrorism" has boomed since the attacks of September 11, 2001, resulting in a large expansion of everything from research and development of new mass surveillance technologies to conferences to "anti-terror legislation". New and heavily funded government agencies such as the US Department of Homeland Security with its Transportation Security Administration subsidiary have become a source of lucrative government contracts. A small number of large corporations have profited greatly from the ability to get these government contracts, often through an opaque process clouded with claims of "national security".

"Counter terrorism professionals usually possess at least a four-year bachelor’s degree and may look forward to a median salary of $77,210 annually."[9]


Nafeez Ahmed wrote in December 2015 that data from the US state department reveals that in spite of a great increase in expenditure on "Counter-terrorism", the number of "terrorist" attacks had increased by around 6500% since 2001.[10]



     Page name     TypeDateAuthor(s)Subject(s)Description
Action Counters Terrorism
National Counterterrorism Center
Terror drillTerror drills are part of the "war on terror". In theory, they help defend against "terrorists". In practice, many such events seem to coincide with or immediately presage actual attacks.
UN/Security Council/Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate
War on TerrorThe campaign, launched by the USA under the Presidency of George W. Bush with the support of the UK, and most NATO members (at least formally) and other Western-aligned countries. Nominally a response to the events of 11 September 2001, its stated objective is the elimination of so called 'terrorist organisations', it was in fact conceived long before by a group of terrorist experts, including his father and the groundwork laid at a 1979 conference in Jerusalem.

Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
The Government Sector extract from The "Terrorism" Industrybook extract1989Edward S. Herman
Gerry O'Sullivan
Unthinking extremism - Radicalising narratives that legitimise surveillancepaper26 October 2015Ben Harbisher

Related Quotation

Internet/Censorship“For some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift”Tony AbbottSeptember 2014

An official example

Operation Nicole
== Rating ==
4star.png 8 November 2017 Robin  A recent and rather brief but helpful article
This article has good information, but lacks a historical overview of the topic, and could do better at clarifying the legal status of counter-terrorists.