The Role of Intelligence in Counter Terrorism Policing

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Law enforcement and intelligence measures are a fragment of an all-inclusive structure of measures planned for the methodical prevention and suppression of terrorism. The definition of intelligence in this instance is the output of professional organisations that accumulate, examine and action classified information to justify political decision making in the sphere of tactical and critical security policy (Derencinovic 2007). The need to face terrorism is found in every realm of life including security, prevention as well as the legal and moral principles in terms of human rights and intelligence interrogations (Kaplan 2005). Intelligence in counterterrorism is multifaceted although to gain information to preempt terrorist threats and attacks on innocent civilians, the use of torture is used in many forms and many arguments for the use of torture use a utilitarian stance on the topic. This is shown in many cases where intelligence in counterterrorism was used to extract confessions and other important information from terrorists (Argomaniz 2015). This essay will discuss and explore the conceptual role intelligence plays in counterterrorism along with an analysis on how intelligence fits into the counterterrorism policing. Following on from this some of the more controversial methods of gathering intelligence will be explored in regards to both torture and the use of questionable agents and whether they can be justified. Lastly, utilitarian arguments will be investigated naming some cases that was used in practice.

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Counterterrorism involves the practice of military tactics, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies to tackle or prevent terrorism. Counterterrorism strategies incorporate police and domestic intelligence and focuses on organised ambushes before occurrence. It integrates measures that are required for a rapid reaction and retrieval in the case that a terrorist attack occurs (Kern 2009). These key measures are motivation, capability, opportunity, incarceration and punishment, response and recovery and all play a pivotal part in the role of intelligence in counterterrorism and aids in preemptive attacks (Derencinovic 2007). Motivation eliminates the rationale that causes people to support terrorists, their groups and ideologies. Using military strikes and the like can decimate the capability of the known terrorist groups from executing their plans (Bodies of Evidence 2016). Having substantial collaboration with law enforcement, government agencies and intelligence creates less opportunity for terrorists to attack specific targets. In counterterrorism, punishment and justice has an effect in both a domestic and international context in that domestically arrests can be conducted before attacks with the apprehension of terrorists through accumulation of evidence (Derencinovic 2007). Internationally, using intimidation, coercion and torture to dismantle any camps and assets of terrorists. These measures are ultimately used to remove terrorists from society and victims of these terrorist attacks receive the justice they are owed. Lastly the response and recovery measure is used to curtail fatalities and assign aid to the injured as well as identify possible attacks previous to attacks with a quick response (Derencinovic 2007). For all these key measures there are multiple types of intelligence that are used to accommodate these important concepts.

Research has shown that there are many types of intelligence that can and are used in counterterrorism and strategies associated to this. The types that are mostly used though are that of Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) and Strategic and Tactical Intelligence (Argomaniz 2015). These forms are used within intelligence networks and agencies to provide vital local expertise to be able to share a specialized proficiency and understanding in a particular field to disseminate terrorist attacks (Kaplan 2005). Whilst the use of these measures are imperative there is a series of actions that need to be processed to gaining a victorious outcome against terrorism and attacks. They are the planning of intelligence gathering, the collection of evidence, the actioning of this evidence in an edited report, examining the information and lastly circulating the information for application and action by agencies (Derencinovic 2007). The two most commonly used way to gain information to prevent terrorist attacks is through the use of torture or informants.

Torture that intelligence agencies use can be loosely defined as the intentional infliction of pain on a person/s solely at the assailant’s forbearance. It is partitioned in compliance following the cause for which torture is implemented. It may be used to gain a confession or to gather information in this instance (Armshaw 2011). There are many forms of torture on terrorist such as waterboarding, extended subjection to harsh lights and loud music, use of phobias, beatings and continuous interrogation with several interrogators in alternating domains with these forms being used in such cases like Guantanamo Bay (Lacopino and Xenakis 2011). Researchers have stated that a person’s stance on torture is dependent on traditional ideology and torture should be managed by legal warrant stipulations (Luban 2005). Intelligence agencies and the like use torture to gather information in regards to possible terrorist attacks before they actually happen. An example of intelligence using torture and it being accepted is through the ticking time bomb theory (Buffachi and Arrigo 2006). This theory was coined to make people see that torture can be useful and takes on a utilitarian approach. It states a scenario where a terrorist is tortured to extricate information of a live bomb that has been placed in a non-combatant area and to gain the information needed to find the bomb a form of torture is inflicted upon a terrorist (Spino and Cummins 2014). Researchers go on to say that if one person needs to be tortured in some form to gain the information need to make sure thousands of civilians are safe then it should be used (Arrigo 2004). This argument has become a superior line of persuasion used by policy advisors to substantiate a sanctioned program of torture and was known to be used in Guantanamo Bay as well as Abu Ghraib (Buffachi and Arrigo 2006). Another controversial method is that of the use of unreliable and untrustworthy agents within the organisations.

Once the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers in New York City occurred the intelligence led police have convicted terrorists more so and of those cases informants have played a pivotal role (Stein 2016). There are at present around 1500 informants that the FBI preserve with most being instructed to penetrate Muslim groups and for every informant that is documented there are anywhere up to four unconfirmed informants (Kamali 2017). When looking at counterterrorism, the state and security forces need to gain information of groups to be able to prevent attacks or threats and due to the secrecy and operational policies of terrorist groups, intelligence and other forces beliefs was that of acquiring knowledge through the use of informants (Cochrane and Monaghan 2012). The penetration of a terrorists rank was productive ammunition in the modern era as terrorists attain their strategic hardness from concealment and immediately after the groups and their strategies are revealed, the security forces can then eliminate them (Buffachi and Arrigo 2006). An example of informants being used to gain information for security forces was their existence in the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland which provided intelligence to distort any campaigns and inflict mistrust within terrorist classifications. The war activity by terrorists intimidated the existence of the state and dispensed peril to public safety bringing hostility to the security forces (Kamali 2017). Whilst this occurred all forces including the military, police and other intelligence services were accountable for tackling the actions of terrorists. Informants and the information they provided to security forces were seen as vital to aid in the prevention of terrorist attacks and threats (Kern 2009). It was seen after the success of using these preventative measures that the use of informants was a new concept to gaining information. Unfortunately this was short lived as the military found that some information that the informants had obtained was not accurate as in the case of Operation Demetrius during the ‘Troubles’ and that innocent republican suspects were being detained and unfortunately they were older men or veterans (Cochrane and Monaghan 2012). This form of gaining information is very erroneous due to the inaccurate information that can be obtained through informants.

Responding to terrorism, an extensive perspective is needed, as intelligence, law enforcement and the like are directly a part of an entire group of counterterrorism implementations. Whilst the use of torture is looked down upon in many situations, when approaching terrorist attacks and/or threats and gaining information for the sake of saving innocent lives the utilitarian approach of hurting one person for a small amount of time for the savior of others is known to be the best form of gathering information from terrorists that intelligence policing and agencies can use. Additional research on the origin of terrorism and its developing strategies should demonstrate useful to policy makers as well as intelligence agencies.

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