The Role of the US Department of State in Countering Terrorism

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The United States and its allies and partners continue to be vulnerable to attack by Terrorist groups such as ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and Hizballah. The US Department of State operates to make global harmony to subvert and defeat these enemies. In recent times, the dangers posed by these alliances have continued to mature.

The US Department works with foreign state partners to build the capacity to contain, lessen, detect, and react to terrorist threats. It includes a variety of diplomatic arrangements and foreign contributions.  Further, It possesses measures to bolster law enforcement and judicial capabilities. Moreover, expanding aviation and border security and deepening global information sharing are part of the strategy. It enables counter-terrorist financing, improves crisis response, and counter violent extremism.  

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The department fosters greater burden-sharing to handle terrorist threats. Its global engagement strategy enables countries to make counterterrorism capabilities in their regions. The State Department also performs closely with the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, and the Intelligence Community. It helps to conduct an integrated whole-of-government techniques to international counterterrorism.

It is important to note that U.S. law directs the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by April 30 of each year, a complete and comprehensive report on terrorism. It Concerns those countries and groups meeting measures placed forth in the legislation. This annual report is allowed Country Reports on Terrorism. 

In this effort to counter terrorism, The Bureau of Counterterrorism plays a vital role in the US. Its task is to promote U.S. national security by guiding the design of coordinated strategies. It includes approaches to defeating terrorism abroad and ensuring the counterterrorism collaboration of international partners.

Currently, Landberg, Christopher A. is an acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism and U.S. Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at the Bureau of Counterterrorism.

The Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT) also works to maintain partnerships. It involves civilian capacity and information sharing worldwide to counter evolving terrorist threats. It also assists in preventing the spread of violent extremism. CT designs, organizes and supervises foreign help to build the civilian capacities of foreign government partners. It counters terrorism and violent extremism effectively and sustainably. CT aims to make law enforcement and judicial abilities to counter attacks. It disrupts terrorist transit and detentions, investigates, prosecutes, and detains terrorists following the rule of law. 

Furthermore, to strengthen these efforts, CT strives to encourage the leadership of other governments to build capability in third countries in their areas. CT also seeks to boost partnerships and endeavors involving government and non-governmental players. It helps to counter the origins of violent extremist messaging, narratives, and recruitment. Significantly, the Bureau of Counterterrorism directs the Department of State in the government’s struggle to counter-terrorism to secure the United States against foreign terrorist dangers.

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The predecessor organization to the Bureau of Counterterrorism was the Office for Combating Terrorism. It was created in 1972. The step was taken on the advice of a special committee established by President Richard Nixon following the terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics. 

The committee decided that an office within the Department of State was required to coordinate day-to-day counterterrorism strategies. The aim was to design policy initiatives and reactions for the U.S. government. The Office for Combating Terrorism evolved into the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in 1985 and the Bureau of Counterterrorism in 2012.

1994 Congress officially directed the Bureau of Counterterrorism in Public Law 103-236 [H.R. 2333]. In 1998, Congress additionally described the role of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in Public Law 105-277 [H.R. 4328]: 

“There is within the office of the Secretary of State a Coordinator for Counterterrorism…who shall be appointed by the President, and with the advice and consent of the Senate…. The principal duty of the coordinator shall be the overall supervision (including policy oversight of resources) of international counterterrorism activities. The Coordinator shall be the principal adviser to the Secretary of State on international counterterrorism matters. The coordinator shall be the principal counterterrorism official within the senior management of the Department of State and shall report directly to the Secretary of State…The Coordinator shall have the rank and status of Ambassador at Large.”

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