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The vital roles of intelligence and special military operations play a critical role in counter terrorism operations around the world. Without an effective well diversified intelligence community the military aspect of counter terrorism operations will have a limited impact on terrorism at best. Intelligence is the most important aspect of a well established counter terrorism philosophy. Countries who have created an exceptional counter terrorism intelligence community possess the ability to bring to the battlefield a highly trained and skilled counter terrorism military operations the world has ever seen. Through the experience of intelligence and military failures throughout the war on terrorism, the United States is still struggling to come to terms the importance of shared intelligence among the different government agencies and the U.S military intelligence assets. Developing intelligence into military action requires a great deal of sharing and analysis of all intelligence gathered. The use of military power in counter terrorism operations is without justification. Military strikes on terror compounds and hide outs around the world is important in order to prevent terrorist from committing extreme acts of violence. The use of special operations forces to counter terrorism is something that is required and needed because they have the ability to infiltrate into other countries and kill without being detected. Social media is being utilized to promote a terrorist agenda. They are able to reach millions of people world wide. The counter effort to this presents itself a unique problem especially in the United States. With the lapse in the Patriot Act, the federal government is restricted in the manner in which it can actively shut down web pages that are created in the U.S. because of the right to free speech.

Intelligence Gathering to Counter Terrorism

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has completed and extensive overhaul of its intelligence gathering capabilities following the Al Qaeda led attacks on the world trade centers and the pentagon. The intelligence capabilities of the U.S. domestic and international terror programs has seen a drastic rush of congressional oversight and emphasis how effective those programs really are, and how important sharing of information with different federal and state agencies is in order to prevent another massive intelligence failure. Through the failures of intelligence the FBI along with other leading intelligence agencies have begun to effectively share important information that is critical to the success of counter terror operations domestically and internationally( Svendsen,2012). The founding pillars of raw intelligence gather and the role that it plays in counterterrorism is the often overlooked aspect of human information and intelligence gathering. This critical pillar in information gathering and disbursement of key information by human informants who witness the buildup of arms and munitions by terror groups such as Boko Haram. They give very important information such as location of compounds, how many enemy combatants are on-site, and if there is any civilians in the immediate area which all are very important key elements to know in order to effectively execute a raid on those compounds(Kpedlah, 2018). Having the ability to deploy such assets as human informants on the battlefield gives not only the special operations teams the upper hand on the ground situation, it also gives combatant commanders the most update information as possible in order to formulate a well thought out executable domestic or military operation.

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Military Operations

The utilization of conventional military forces to combat terrorism around the world presents the U.S. government with a unique legality issue. Conventional forces are governed by the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of Modern War. The long term use of these forces to effectively combat terrorism around the world are limited to either the full use of ground forces, and air power separately or as a collective. However the use non-conventional military forces such as Delta, Force Recon, SEALS brings to the table a more lethal option for the U.S government to use which is not governed by the same laws. This option provides the U.S military with the ability to infiltrate foreign countries undetected and use extreme prejudice to kill adversaries that are residing in countries such as Iran and Pakistan. According to Dr. Cassidy, counterinsurgency military operations are nothing to new the U.S military when in fact the military has been trained to deal with type of warfare for since the beginning of the Vietnam campaign.(Cassidy, 2006). The only difference between those operations and today’s world operations is simply the naming convention of it. During Vietnam it was called counter guerrilla warfare, now is it called Counter terror operations. Fast forward too today’s climate of military operations, the foundation of any counter terror operations hinges on a two prong approach which the first approach is the use of non conventional forces supported by conventional forces such as air power in order to route out and kill terrorists where they stand(Cassidy, 2006).

Social Media and Counter Terrorism

It is important to shed light on how effective and important social media has been on the ability of groups such as ISIS to use media platforms to reach potential recruits, and financial support from around the world. The U.S. government’s attempts to counter terrorism online of the American citizen is simply extremely complicated and the legal issues surrounding this process is overwhelming at best. What is equally important is the programs that are in place to effectively track down terror recruiters by tracing there internet protocols (Aistrope, 2016). A Key aspect of counter-messaging of what the jihadist are posting online is by not allowing them to have access to the internet. In doing so, major world governments have effectively made it really hard for terror groups to recruit and request monetary support from people around the world (Kean, 2016). One of the biggest challenges that the western world faces is its lack of understand of the Islamic culture, different sub-languages and most important of the understanding of the Islamic faith as a whole.


The effectiveness of any counter terror operation whether those are domestic or international operations requires that there be a consistency in the flow of information between federal agencies and the military. With this combination of effective intelligence and combined with conventional and non-conventional military power wields an unprecedented counter terror force. Military power in a whole no longer has the advantage of discouraging the enemy from attacking the United States, the enemy’s thought process has changed they are no longer fear the thought of death which makes them a force to be reckoned with. To counter this process requires a group of individuals who are not bound by the legal ramifications of the Geneva Conventions and are willing to commit to using unprecedented violence in order to prevent people from committing acts of violence upon the civilian population . Using internet protocols to trace website locations and shut down terror groups ability to disseminate propaganda will help reduce their footprint in the digital universe. The new age of terrorism is upon us, and there weapon is digital and more dangerous than the use of violence itself to intimidate people. The greatest weapon a terrorist can wield against the United States is a radicalized mind of a child that they reached through the social media networks of the world.


  1. Aistrope, Tim (2016) Australian Journal of International Affairs, Social media and counterterrorism strategy.Volume 70, 2016 – Issue 2. Pgs. 121-138. Retrieved from:
  2. Cassidy, Robert M.(2006) Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror: Military Culture and Irregular War Retrieved from:
  3. Kean, Thomas H. (2018).Digital Counterterrorism: Fighting Jihadists Online
  4. Retrieved from:
  5. Kpedlah, Emmanuel K.(2018) The Role of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) in Counter-Terrorism: A Case of Boko Haram Retrieved from:
  6. Svendsen, Adam D.M. (2012) The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Change: Addressing US Domestic Counter-terrorism Intelligence. Vol. 27, issue 3, Pgs 370-391. Retrieved from:

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