How We Work

NCTC was created from a post-9/11 world in which the United States Government (USG) reorganized and restructured the Intelligence Community (IC) in order to protect and secure our nation from terrorist attacks.  President George W. Bush, by issuing Executive Order 13354, and the Congress of the United States (US), by passing the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004, reformed our nation’s intelligence enterprise, with a specific focus on intelligence related to terrorism.  These foundational documents define NCTC’s principal roles, missions, and responsibilities—mainly to analyze the threat using all available USG information, to share terrorism-related information with our partners across the counterterrorism (CT) enterprise, to maintain the single authoritative USG database of known and suspected terrorists, and to integrate the national CT effort through effective planning and strategy development.

NCTC performs five key missions in support of our Nation’s CT efforts.  The Center is authorized to access to all terrorism-related information held by the USG.  NCTC’s unique authorities effectively bridge the divide between foreign and domestic intelligence, thereby allowing the Center to bring a whole-of-government approach to each mission area.


Threat Analysis

analyze icon Under IRTPA, NCTC serves as the primary organization in the USG for analyzing and integrating all intelligence possessed or acquired by the USG pertaining to terrorism and CT except intelligence pertaining exclusively to domestic terrorism. NCTC has a responsibility to inform its partners on all international terrorism issues, and unique authorities allow personnel to analyze intelligence collected both inside and outside the US.


Identity Management

nctc profile icon NCTC has the statutory responsibility to serve as the central and shared knowledge bank on known and suspected terrorists and international terror groups, as well as their goals, strategies, capabilities, and networks of contacts and support. To fulfill this role, NCTC maintains the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), the USG’s central classified repository for all known or suspected international terrorists and their networks of contacts and support.  The responsibility for maintaining a repository of terrorist identities was identified as one of the principal duties identified for TTIC and TIDE now includes biographic information, such as names and dates of birth; biometric information, such as photos; and derogatory information explaining a subject’s link to terrorism. NCTC receives international terrorism information from law enforcement and intelligence partners and consolidates it into TIDE, which is an analytic tool as well as a database.  NCTC uses the information in TIDE to support screening activities across the USG.  NCTC provides agencies, departments, and organizations charged with adjudicating travel applications—such as non-immigrant visas and applicants from Visa Waiver Countries, and USG immigration benefits, including refugees and individuals in DHS detention—with terrorism information related to the applicant or petitioner.  NCTC screens all travelers bound for the US for a nexus to terrorism against TIDE and other NCTC terrorism intelligence holdings.  NCTC’s screening is part of a multilayered approach that has streamlined operations, removed stovepipes, and increased transparency across agencies.


Information Sharing

sharing icon NCTC ensures that other agencies with CT missions have access to and receive intelligence needed to accomplish assigned activities. NCTC’s analysis is coordinated throughout the IC, supporting senior policymakers and other members of the policy, intelligence, law enforcement, defense, homeland security, and foreign affairs communities.


Strategic Operational Planning

nctc gear icon NCTC also has the statutory responsibility to conduct strategic operational planning for CT activities across the USG, integrating all instruments of national power—diplomatic, financial, military, intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement within and among the agencies. In this role, NCTC ensures unity of effort for the USG. Planning efforts include broad strategic plans as well as specific action plans to maximize coordination on key issues. NCTC also leads interagency task forces designed to analyze, monitor, and disrupt potential terrorist attacks. 


National Intelligence Management

integrating icon NCTC’s role as NIM CT requires integrating the CT mission across intelligence functions, disciplines, and activities to achieve unity of effort and effect. NCTC leads US IC efforts to optimize CT community performance and capabilities, and advocates on behalf of the CT community to ensure the US IC is postured to support national strategy and policy objectives. NCTC ensures that collection activities for CT are responsive to and inform analytic judgments and that analytic activities produce intelligence judgments, identify intelligence gaps, and provide the basis for guidance to collectors.  This includes informing and aligning the US IC’s activities against the highest priority terrorism threats.