FBI agents are the national police force for the federal government, pursuing the most dangerous fugitives with broad-sweeping authority to bring to justice the worst crimes. Among the most exciting and dangerous jobs an FBI agent might be called upon to perform is counterterrorism.
Employment with the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, or CTD, is a highly sought-after job among Special Agents in the FBI, and the field involves several possible specialty areas. These include Counterterrorism Analysis, Field Intelligence, or as a part of a Joint Terrorism Task force or Counterterrorism Fly Team.
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What Is the Role of a Counterterrorism Agent?
Special agents who work in the CTD support the FBI’s absolute highest priority—national security. Working closely with Homeland Security and the National Security Administration as well as local and state law enforcement agencies, these agents seek to protect the United States and its interests against terrorist activities.
CTD agents track criminal activities both domestic and foreign. They identify people who espouse terrorist ideologies, who may be radicalized or work with terrorist organizations to harm U.S. citizens or our nation. They track and apprehend those criminals who are planning acts of violence on U.S. soil.
Working abroad, the CTD tracks the presence and locations of known terror organizations and works to identify new ones in the making. They gather information and intelligence about the groups, monitor human sources inside the organizations, and work to discover and dismantle the funding sources for these hostile groups.
Counterterrorism Specialties and Units
- Counterterrorism Analysis– Counterterrorism analysis agents provide knowledge, strategies and advice to help not just identify threats, but to combat them. They work closely with state, federal and local partner agencies to identify, track and stop threats before they begin. Explore the exciting career of counterterrorism analysis, why it’s vital to our nation’s security, and what you will do in this rewarding field.
- Counterterrorism Fly Team– A counterterrorism fly team is a highly-trained special missions force that is based out of FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and who stands ready to deploy at a moment’s notice anywhere in the world.
- Counterterrorism Operational Support– Counterterrorism is a complex field with a range of specialties, and these operations require extensive support and coordination efforts. That’s why the Operational Support Branch was brought into existence.
- Counterterrorism Operations– The field operations that work to bring down these terror organizations that threaten U.S. interests and citizens are coordinated and overseen by the FBI Counterterrorism Operations Branches. Explore the operations, responsibilities and activities of the FBI’s counterterrorism operations, and how they work to keep us safe from threats.
- National Counterterrorism Center– One of the most important aspects of the FBI’s counterterror responsibilities is the National Counterterrorism Center, or NCTC, which has important core missions and reporting responsibilities in protecting our nation from terror threats.
- Genocide War Crimes Unit– The Bureau’s Genocide War Crimes Unit (GWCU) is given responsibility to identify, track and capture suspects of war crimes and genocide, and bring them before the courts to face justice.
- Joint Terrorism Task Force– The Joint Terrorism Task Forces, under the auspices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are the United States’ first line of defense and front lines in the War on Terror. For those looking to undertake a career in counterterrorism, there is no better path to pursue than a career in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces.
- Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center– TEDAC, or the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center, is an organization within the FBI with interagency authority whose purpose it is to recover, receive, exploit and analyze IEDs (improvised explosive devices) used (or intended for use) by terrorists against U.S. interests.
- Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate– The FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate was established in July of 2006 to help create a coordinated and cohesive approach to all incidents related to CBRN material—that is, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear.
What Does a Counterterrorism Agent Do?
The job of a counterterrorism agent encompasses a range of specific responsibilities. These include:
- Tracking the communications and actions of domestic terrorists
- Investigating potential attacks and arresting the attackers
- Planning, coordination and execution of anti-terrorism missions
- Intelligence gathering related to the whereabouts of terrorist organizations
- Tracking terrorist technology and scientists including WMDs
- Dismantling terrorist funding and financial networks
- Addressing U.S. security vulnerabilities to shore up our defenses against terrorist acts.
- Working closely in coordination with the NSA, HSA, CIA and other federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies as well as local and state law enforcement.
How Well Does This Job Pay?
Federal government jobs are paid on a set scale. Special Agents in the FBI are paid at the GS-13 level, but can range up to GS-15 with the proper experience and advancement (supervisor or executive). This pay is for a 50-hour work week with 24-hour availability, and is subject to a cost of living adjustment from between 12.5% and 28.7%. The GS-13 paygrade is paid in steps, and as of 2016, Step 1 paid $73,846, while the highest base at Step 10 is $96,004. This translates to an hourly wage of between $35.38 and $46.00 per hour.
It is estimated that these jobs will increase steadily over the next ten years or so, given the increasing need for vigilant counterterrorism agents. If you have a passion for law enforcement and want to dedicate your life to protecting other people from dark and fringe elements, you should explore the requirements for becoming an FBI agent, and look into a career as a counterterrorism agent.