After the 9/11 attacks, a large number of countries have undertaken programmes to bring together all relevant information in the fight against terrorism, in order to be able to produce integrated threat assessments. Some of these initiatives have even included the establishment of new structures, often referred to as ‘fusion centres’. At the end of 2006, such a fusion centre was also set up in Belgium: the Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment.
In this book – that contains an introduction by Gilles de Kerchove, the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and a concluding chapter by professor Peter Gill – the Belgian Standing Committee I collects contributions from European countries that have created a similar body or that have attributed the ‘all-source threat assessment’ assignment to an existing body. Besides the EU Joint Situation Centre, no fewer than 19 EU member states participated. The result paints a specific and valuable picture and gives a unique insight into the way integrated analyses are produced, not in the least because all contributions were written by people from within the fusion centres; not by outsiders.
All chapters cover topics as the country’s intelligence and security landscape in the fight against terrorism, the drawing-up and dissemination of threat assessments, the legal framework, the organisation, resources, management and authority of the body or structure, internal and external review of the activities…
The resulting overall picture is perhaps best described as a kaleidoscopic vision. Some member states set up a new body; others used existing services. Sometimes, the methodology is highly formalised; others use informal arrangements and work through consultation forums. For some services threat assessment is their core business, for others just one aspect of their operations. Some services only carry out ad hoc analyses, some only strategic analyses, and some do both. In some countries, the integrated threat assessment assignment has been entrusted to several services at the same time, while other countries have clearly assigned the task to a single service.
To give structure to this profusion of information, Prof. Peter Gill, Honorary Fellow of the University of Liverpool and an authority in the field of intelligence studies, wrote the concluding chapter.
This book provides a comprehensive picture on which all countries can draw in order to write more accurate, reliable and timely threat assessments for policymakers or for operational services.
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