Circling the Lion's Den

Commentary of Sara Daly

Sara Daly is an international policy analyst at RAND. Her research focuses primarily on international terrorism, insurgency, emerging threats, nuclear terrorism, and intelligence issues. She was representative at the Central Intelligence Agency's Counterterrorism Center at the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. Served five years as an intelligence analyst at CIA/CTC working on Middle Eastern and South Asian terrorism issues. Work at RAND includes a research on terrorist assessment, motivations, and capabilities. She is one of the authors of RAND research paper Coordinating the War on Terrorism. Daly comments for Agentura.Ru the problem of terrorism-related intelligence global sharing system :

- As I understand, the U.S. , Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have a long established system of intelligence sharing and exchange. How have their coordinating efforts changed since the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001?

- Although I do not have any particular insight into the relationships themselves, my opinion would be that they likely haven't changed that much because they were working well before September 11, 2001.  I would speculate that we may be sharing more threat-based information with our key English-speaking allies than we did before 9/11, relying more heavily on their assistance.  

- Is it true that these countries have created special coordinating centers (UKs Joint Terrorism Analysis Center; U.S.s National Counterterrorism Center; Australias National Threat Assessment Center; Canadas Integrated Threat Assessment Center; and New Zealands Combined Threat Assessment Group) for purposes of better tracking terrorist activities? Could you elaborate on how they are cooperating?

-  Yes, I believe these centers exist for this purpose and assume that they are working well, although I do not have any particular insight on this issue.   

- Was the UKUSAs ECHELON network used as a model for this new network of coordinating centers?

- I am not familiar with this network. 

- What political challenges (international and domestic) do the countries operating an intelligence-sharing network of this scale face?

- I would assume that intelligence-sharing networks face many challenges, to include coordinating how and when to share information that comes from different security services, integrating the cultures of the various security partners involved in the network, and vetting the quality of the intelligence information received. 

- How efficient is this collective terrorism tracking system?

- I would assume that the network was designed, at least in part, to improve efficiency, because you have representatives from partner security services co-located, rather than trying to coordinate intelligence sharing at a distance.  That said, it is difficult to create protocols and smooth out the logistics of sharing information with multiple security services, so there may be initial start-up costs of creating a collective terrorism tracking system that temporarily slows down the process.  But, in the long run, co-locating these services, who have shared protocols for sharing information should ultimately improve efficiency. 

- Why do you think European counties have refused to create integrated intelligence networks?

- Although I do not have any specific information on this issue, I would speculate that they do not create integrated networks either because the cultures of the various security services are not in favor of it due to competing interests or agendas, or because they believe their current system of sharing intelligence is working well and does not need to be changed. 

- What do you believe Russia s role should be within such an international intelligence sharing system?

- I believe Russia does share intelligence with its allies and should continue to do so, especially with reference to analysis that helps illuminate the threat we face from transnational terrorism, threat information that would help to stop future attacks, or to help allied partners better understand the role that Chechnya plays in the Salafi jihadi movement.