‘The Compleat Analyst’: contemplating strategic intelligence in an age of international terrorism

15 November 2012

Drawing an analogy between the specialist skills needed in fishing to that of strategic intelligence analysis, this paper revisits the selection criteria for analysts who focus on terrorism.

As the global terrorist environment has changed significantly in the post-2001 era, additional analytical capabilities need to be considered. These capabilities include not only the traditional expectations of particular personal attributes and intellectual engagement, but the capacity for analysts to operate effectively across multiple agency and jurisdictional boundaries, to integrate knowledge drawn from local regional and global perspectives, and an ability to understand the impact of tactical actions upon strategic objectives.

It addresses three key questions:

1. What constitutes a strategic intelligence analyst in this day and age, and how might we identify such a rare creature?

2. What is it about modern terrorists and their international habitat that makes them different from other more traditional subjects for intelligence analysis?

3. Are there any special skills needed to catch international terrorists, or at least to analyse and report on modern terrorism?

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