Counter Terrorism Degree’s, Training, & Career Opportunities

Terrorism Defined

World Trade Center Bombing September 11, 2001

Terrorism is the methodical use of fear and terror both physically and threatened in the service of power, coercion, and disruption. Acts of terrorism are often violent in nature with the intention of heightening fear among people and are usually motivated by ideological, religious, or political reasons. It involves acts of violence against innocent civilians and non-combatants, which has traditionally been considered un-lawful and highly unethical practices for resolving conflicts and grievances. In addition to unlawfulness, the sheer violence and bloodshed of innocent people is devastating and deeply disturbing.

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The most prominent example in the United States is the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 where almost 3,000 innocent civilians died. Another devastating act of terrorism that did not involve international actors was the Oklahoma City Bombing by Timothy McVeigh in 1995. Terrorism can occur in the form of explosives, biological agents, cyber security attacks on critical infrastructure, and virtually any act that instills fear, uncertainty, and terror.

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What careers are available in counter terrorism?

Oklahoma City Bombing

There are a number of agencies with positions that either directly or indirectly work in the service of counter terrorism. For example, a border patrol agent is tasked with ensuring that those with terrorist motives are kept from entering our country. Diana Dean, a border patrol inspector in Washington state prevented a terrorist with intentions of bombing the Los Angeles (LAX) airport from entering our borders in December of 1999. Untold numbers of lives were saved because of the training and skill employed on that day in a sleepy border town.

Counter terrorism analysts within the Department of Homeland Security are tasked every day with gathering and disseminating intelligence from a variety of sources and finding patterns that point to terrorist activity or plotting. Local law enforcement play a role by interacting with other agencies such as CPB (Customs & Border Patrol), Department of Homeland Security intel, the FBI, and several other agencies to track down, inspect, or apprehend suspects and uncover plots. Read about the variety of roles that were played by multiple departments and agencies shortly after the Oklahoma City Bombing that lead to the location and arrest of Timothy McVeigh.

How do I obtain a counter terrorism degree? What will I learn?

Many schools now offer a criminal justice degree with a concentration in counter terrorism, homeland security degree’s, and emergency management. A degree in criminal justice with a counter terrorism focus will cover topics such as:

  • Terrorist motives
  • Terrorist recruiting & movements
  • Terrorism and human rights
  • Pre-emptive actions
  • Military role in terrorism
  • Terrorism intelligence gathering
  • Detection and pattern technology
  • Cyber-terrorism
  • Biological & Chemical Terrorism
  • Target-hardening
  • Disaster and incident recovery

How is “hands-on” counter terrorism training conducted?

Your future role in homeland security or counter terrorism will often dictate the type and depth of training you receive. Terrorism can occur from activities both inside and outside our nation’s borders and the training and intelligence required can be quite different. Counter terrorism training may involve intelligence-gathering, legal aspects, investigating suspicious activity, biological detection, preventative measures, and pursuing suspects.

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What is the Department of Homeland Security’s role in counter-terrorism?

The Department of Homeland Security was formed shortly after the events of 9/11 in an effort to ensure that departments and agencies communicate openly and efficiently with one another, sharing intelligence, and cooperating in the common efforts of anti-terrorism and security on our soil. We’ve put together a resource to better understand the structure and function of the various divisions within The Department of Homeland Security.

What is SLATT? (State & Local Anti-Terrorism Training)

SLATT stands for State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training and is funded by Department of Justice. The program is intended to assist local and state officers with information and resources on both “home grown” and international terrorist activities. According to the SLATT website, the program provides on-site pre-incident training and can tailor the training for a specific agency. The training addresses a wide range of topics on pre-incident preparation, investigation, prevention, and interdiction.

Homeland Security: US Border Facts

United States Border Patrol & Customs departments are charged with protecting and securing our borders. There are over 7,000 miles of borders between the US & our neighbors to the north & south.

Learn more about how to become a Border Patrol Agent.

U.S. Border Patrol Training »

The U.S. Border North & South

The International Boundary between the United States & Canada is the longest in the world, and covers over 5,525 miles.

The Border between the United States & Mexico totals 1,969 miles, and is the most frequently crossed international border in the world (250 million people anually)

Current Threat Level

National Threat Advisory:


Significant Risk of Terrorist Attacks