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Intelligence/Information Sharing in Combating Terrorism

This LibGuide is intended to provide a few starting points to assist you with your research on issues related to intelligence sharing in fighting terrorism, in particular in the NATO context.


According to the Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms published by the US Department of Defense (as of August 2017), Intelligence is defined as :

"The product resulting from the collection, processing, integration, evaluation, analysis, and interpretation of available information concerning foreign nations, hostile or potentially hostile forces or elements, or areas of actual or potential operations. 2. The activities that result in the product. 3. The organizations engaged in such activities."

Since 11 September 2001, NATO has sought to increase consultations on terrorism and terrorism-related issues among its members, as well as with non-member countries. Information-sharing and, more specifically, intelligence-sharing are key aspects of this exchange. (Source: Countering Terrorism NATO Topic page).

NATO Intelligence Structures

From the NATO Topic page on Countering Terrorism:

Since 11 September 2001, NATO has sought to increase consultations on terrorism and terrorism-related issues among its members, as well as with non-member countries. Information-sharing and, more specifically, intelligence-sharing are key aspects of this exchange.

At the 2002 Prague Summit, improved intelligence-sharing was identified as a key aspect of cooperation among Allies. A Terrorist Threat Intelligence Unit (TTIU) was set up under the NATO Office of Security at the end of 2003, replacing a temporary cell established immediately after the 11 September 2001 attacks. The TTIU functioned for the following seven years as a joint NATO body composed of officers from civilian and military intelligence agencies, having as its main task the assessment of the terrorist challenges, risks and threats to NATO and its member nations. To that end, the TTIU developed an efficient liaison mechanism with Allied intelligence services and national terrorism coordination centres. In addition, the TTIU shared terrorism-related information with partner nations.

Based on the decision taken at the 2004 Istanbul Summit to review the intelligence structures at NATO Headquarters, connections with partner nations have been improved. In that regard, a new intelligence liaison cell was created at SHAPE in Mons, Belgium, and an Intelligence Liaison Unit (ILU) at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

Within the framework of the comprehensive intelligence reform at NATO Headquarters that took place in 2010-2011, the TTIU’s functions were taken over by the newly created Intelligence Unit (IU) and the establishment of the Intelligence Steering Board (ISB). That transformation further enhanced the analytical approaches on terrorism and its links with other transnational threats. The current mechanism has also enhanced cooperation among the NATO civilian and military intelligence components, and preserved the previously developed mechanisms that ensure coherent intelligence-sharing with partners.

The joint civilian and military Intelligence Unit (IU) supports North Atlantic Council (NAC) deliberations and discussions on strategic issues of concern with intelligence-base analysis. The IU also supports senior civilian and military decision makers at NATO with intelligence-based analysis addressing identified subjects, including, but not restricted to: terrorism, instability, proliferation and other regional and transnational issues of concern for the Alliance.

The Civilian Intelligence Committee (CIC) is the sole body that handles civilian intelligence issues at NATO. It reports directly to the North Atlantic Council and advises it on matters of espionage and terrorist or related threats, which may affect the Alliance.(Source: NATO, updated 2014)

On 14 June 2016, NATO launched Unified Vision, a 'trial' managed by ACT and NATO HQ: "The Alliance’s ability to share and process complex intelligence was significantly improved through Unified Vision, a major 'trial' managed by Allied Command Transformation and NATO Headquarters in the context of NATO's Joint Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance, 14 – 29 June." (Exercise boosts NATO intelligence-sharing ahead of Summit, 29 June 2016)

At the Warsaw Summit in July 2016, Heads of State and Government agreed to establish a new Joint Intelligence and Security Division (JISD), in order to improve NATO's ability to draw on a wide range of intelligence resources. (Source: NATO). As a result, on 21 October 2016, NATO appointed its first Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence and Security with the aim of improving intelligence collaboration within the Alliance.

During their 15-16 February 2017 meeting in Brussels, NATO allied defence ministers decided to create a "new southern-oriented 'eyes-and-ears' hub in Naples" before the end of 2017. (Source: Defence Ministers agree on NATO Hub for the South, and Jane's Defence Weekly, 15 February 2017). This hub would facilitate the exchange and gathering of information "on important developments across our southern perimeter regarding the fight against terrorism. This is one of the key issues [that will come out of the ministers' meeting]."

Recommended Reading on NATO and Intelligence

"NATO works with affiliated United Nations (UN) bodies such as the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee, its Executive Directorate and the Security Council Committee 1540. It has also established contacts with the UN on its Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and works closely with UN agencies".

"Both NATO and the EU are committed to combat terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They have exchanged information on their activities in the field of protection of civilian populations against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks. The two organizations also cooperate in the field of civil emergency planning by exchanging inventories of measures taken in this area."

"NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) are working together to build security and promote stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. In recent years dialogue has expanded to include terrorism and other new security threats, which today constitute a priority area for each of the two organizations."

A selection of analyses: