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Human and Technical Intelligence in Countering Terrorism Analytical Essay

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Updated: Sep 5th, 2019


Both human and technological systems continue to become more complicated by the day. In some cases, technology has proven so complex that even experts involved in various fields may not amicably understand their areas of specialisations (Clutterbuck 2013, p. 271).

Too often, when we tackle this subject, we focus on a broad area of specialisation that involves computational ambience, machinery, the internet, and the wherewithal. However, many other factors continue shape this discourse in ways that transform humanity in its endeavours.

How modern technology can be instrumental in counter terrorism continue to dominate debate with opinions split as to whether this might have negative or positive impacts on either side of the divide. Primakov (2004, p. 245) notes that the world currently relies on both human and technical intelligence to counter detect, deter, and thwart acts of terrorism before they strike.

However, as much as human and technical intelligence is effective in combating terrorism, terror groups equally benefits from these opportunities to extend their hegemony. This paper seeks to explore the magnitude to which modern human and technical intelligence is instrumental in combating terrorism.

Human and technical intelligence

Technical or artificial intelligence refers to the brainpower exhibited by machines in dissimulation through action, thinking skills, reasoning, and behavior. As a study in an academic field, artificial intelligence developers’ attempts to equip objects with animate abilities to imitate humans and even execute some of the duties performed by man (Sandin 2003, p. 34).

Mechanical engineers seek training in a wide range of technicalities that attempt to offer problem solving to which robot-like objects espouse such domineering intelligence to match human thinking skills (US Department of Mechanical Engineering 2013). It is still subject to debate as to whether these developments will ultimately culminate into a perfect art that can always take a place of the human mind.

With increased technology, computational proficiency guarantees mechanical engineers with the rare capacity to design and offer an insight into principles of integration and control especially for machinery equipment. This knowledge seeks to give robotic objects some air of human intellect capable of executing human orders.

As Sandin (2003, p. 75) observes, this science delves much in feedback mechanism, signal sensing and processing to efficiently design and integrate human accuracy with automated systems such as robots. For many, robots are merely objects that imitate insects, animals, and human beings.

However, in military science they could be effective gadgets for countering terrorism. While much these artificial animate objects capture our imagination, their designers dwell much on developing them to help intelligence authorities in executing some specific activities that could be risky for humans to undertake (Shi 2011, p. 56).

Many developers are already contemplating giving these objects enough intelligence to enable them interact reliably with the dynamics that are in common practice. In most cases, these objects have the endowment of doing some of the things deemed as too dangerous, boring, difficult to execute, or just extra ordinary in some way such as fighting terrorism.

Technical intelligence is common in most objects found in automotive, manufacturing industry, medical implements, and space exploration gadgets. Over a million different types of object-like robots exist within modern science with greater tendency to work with greater intelligence capable of detecting and fighting terror groups (US Department of Mechanical Engineering 2013).

Some robotic objects such as the Mars Exploration Rover, the Caribou, and drones have been used to assist the intelligence personnel in learning about possibilities that are either too dangerous or practically unsafe to explore (US Department of Mechanical Engineering 2013). Fighting terrorism is a high calling that sometimes extend to areas where there is biological attack.

Since robot-like gadgets do not breathe, it is easy for such gadgets to explore such regions and launch an attack or take photos. Objects with technical intelligence have features that enable them to perform their duties optimally. These characteristic consists of movement, energy, sensory, and intelligence analogous to that in human beings.

For an object to have artificial intelligence, it has to exhibit some animate qualities. Whether propelled by thrust, walking on human-like legs, or rolling on wheels, these objects have been instrumental in aiding human capacity to fight terrorism. For these objects to function, they have in-built human capacities that put them at par with human intelligence.

Unlike human beings, that have innate body power, an object that displays technical intelligence needs to power itself effectively and perform its functions as desired. A robot for example, must derive its power from electric charges, solar power, or battery (Shi 2011, p. 145). Furthermore, the ways these objects get their energy always depend on their designated function.

Unlike human beings, to function in the capacity desired, a robot for instance, needs a fair degree of smartness. In essence, a great deal of software design becomes a necessity in the assembly of robotic objects. Unlike human beings that have natural sensory nerves, for robots to perform well, they must have the software to help them sense their immediate surroundings and act as programmed (Dick & Kandel 2005, p. 56).

While giving robotic objects sensory abilities such as chemical sensors (nose), light sensors to emulate the eyes, pressure, or touch sensors to emulate the hands), hearing sensors to emulate ears, and taste sensors (tongue) has the likelihood of giving robots human qualities. It must however, come out clearly that singularity with humanity as to take special parallelism with the human making is still far from reality.

Contribution of human and technical intelligence to counter-terrorism operations

The increased attention and use of drones, or perhaps aerial vehicles continue to spark debate about their widespread application and effectiveness in fighting terrorism (Stanford/NYU Report 2012). Much of the debate, according to Cavoukian (2012), centres on their state application for surveillance and warfare or at times by the media to grope raw photo footage of a particular event.

The application of drones especially in military airstrike and photo surveillance have all been great feats in combating terrorism (Cavoukian 2012). Moreover, anti-terror agencies equally use them for surveillance to enable them detect and deter terrorism.

However, the varying applications of drone technology necessitate the need for best practices to ensure the terror groups do not find use them for their advantage. The application of technical intelligence for the public good has to prioritise on several factors including human welfare in assisting the authorities in detecting and combating terrorism.

Terrorism continues to evolve with increase in technology. Today, terror groups such as Al-Qaida, ISIS, Al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram continue to device various means of survival to stay relevant. Armed aerial gadgets with technical intelligence make camera technology to be useful in tracing terror networks around the globe (Finn & Wright 2012).

Technical intelligence come with enhance flexibility since these gadgets have are not limited in their ability to go places. This flexibility gives way to a new task for intelligence agencies to fight terrorism without being intercepted by the terror groups (Stanford/NYU Report 2012).

As camera technology becomes more pronounced, the emergence of armed aerial gadgets suggest a wide range of concerns, ranging from relief supply, digital imaging, device development, to mobile airborne tracking (Finn & Wright 2012).

Drones particularly, have been instrumental in play board delivery, and a police crackdown on terror groups or monitoring their activities around the globe. Some drones have special uses with a radioactive monitoring device while others are effective in protecting wildlife or tracing lost games.

As concerns public policy and human privileges watch, the contemporary debate on the recent uses of drone culminating in the military strikes on civilians have narrowed down the debate to ethical and legal issues.

As Cavoukian (2012) argues, the legality of using drones to deliver military weapons for air strikes has been an emergent factor that questions its use by ordinary surveillance group such as the fourth estate (Finn & Wright 2012).

It is no doubt that this issue has given rise to a critical debate giving way to tentative and unprecedented legality tussle. If used in ways that project technology in bad light such as infringing on the rights of citizens, or in attacking the armed civil populations, then drones will be less effective in delivering their potentials.

Sophisticated policymaking as well as legal considerations is necessary in preventing the state from making military use of drones to be legitimate (Last 2005, p. 45). In addition, strict and firm measures regulating the commercial uses of drones are a necessity. Furthermore, restricting its use by the civil society will make drones to be an effective approach to embracing camera technology.

Many people, especially the civil society deem drones harmful, especially considering their recent uses in military air strikes, this notion is reversible if there is effective implementation if rules for its use. Moreover, its ability to take secret photos is nothing less than an infringement on the privacy of the citizens.

The civil society groups consider the widespread use of drones as watering down the privacy right of citizens, and the authorities must come with strict regulations to curb this phenomenon.

Combating terrorism in America

Securing the United States’ borders including land, air, and sea from illegal entry by immigrants, and contraband such as weapons and drugs has been the face of America security structure especially in the wake of increased terror threat (Weintrit 2013, p. 5). The United States’ Patriot Act, was officially instituted in 2001 as the most sweeping enactment to counter terrorism following the 9/11 attack (Etzioni 2004, p. 75).

At the behest, the presumption of the act lies on its uniting and strengthening ability to provide among other things, appropriate tools necessary to intercept and thwart terrorism.

As an effective homeland security commitment to ensure the safety of the American people, the Patriot Act instituted the use of technical intelligence for surveillance and rapid tracking response including seizures and detention of suspected terrorist agents.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, Hoffman (2015, p. 76) notes that President Bush together with the Attorney General John Ashcroft effectively rallied the Congress to increase police and military powers of search, seizures, surveillance to use relevant intelligence to detect, arrest and detain terror suspects.

Among the key features of the Patriot Act included the Roving Wiretaps, which allowed the federal agency to use technical gadgets to wiretap any telephone conversations that terror suspects and agents might use to penetrate the security systems.

In the course of all these developments, Etzioni (2004, p. 125) notes that the federal agency became more consistent in the use of internet tracking as a means of fast tracking internet communication. The law enforcement authorities therefore had the capacity to interfere directly in the personal accounts of individuals using the internet without necessarily having to obtain warrants for such impersonations.

The Patriot Act also guaranteed the federal authorities the right to order for business records for private and public companies for litigation scrutiny and auditing by the federal authorities. In so doing, federal investigators were able to access information and communications from consumer purchases, bank records, credit cards, libraries as well as schools, and colleges.

Moreover, the Act instituted a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court with the capacity to issue search warrants at the request of an investigator to launch terrorist investigation on foreign visitation to America (Hoffman 2015, p. 76).

In addition, the Aliens Reporting and Detention Act authorises the Federal authorities to obtain personal documentations by foreign persons vising America and those found to be in America illegally risked detention and arrest without warrant.

Within the tenets of keeping with the traditions of the Patriotic Act, the federal authorities could seize the property or obstruct such logistics of suspected terrorists. Individuals whose property fall victim of the rule bear the duty of proof that the property in question was not for the purpose of terrorism and the provision also guaranteed no claim.

The detention as Etzioni (2004, p. 215) observes laws allowed the federal authorities to detain suspected terrorists and agents for lengthy periods during which interrogation and effective investigation for such persons will take place. The federal authorities became effective in fast tracking the indigenous American citizens from terrorist connections.

Patriot Act instituted prohibition against harbouring terrorists as a duty to thwart the emergent terrorist networks in America and other parts of the world. Harbouring individuals who have committed a felony amounting to terror and or are about to commit such acts of terrorism therefore became highly constrainable by the federal authorities.

In retrospect, the Patriot Act unleashed a tall order for the various institutions charged with the security of the American populations. In achieving the objectives of the Patriot Act, the American citizens became more involved in ensuring the smooth passage of the Act by showing a commitment to thwart terrorism by any means necessary including technical intelligence.

Terror suspects and agents by contrast carry the greatest responsibility for their crimes as provided for by the Patriot Act.

Terrorism and counter terrorism

When it comes to terrorism and counter terrorism, the intelligence becomes a powerful tool used in spreading information to a wide and expansive audience. The web particularly acts as both important facets of both human and technical facets of countering terrorism. Intelligence could be useful for security agencies to relay messages effectively in their explicit forms.

However, terror groups could as well use it to inspire a powerful revolution through dispensing information, disinformation, or misinformation to their affiliations to mount an insurgence (Johnson 2015, p. 5). Studies hold that when it comes to terrorism and counter terrorism, intelligence becomes a powerful medium to arouse the authorities to the occasion.

In most parts of the world, Kahl and Lynch (2013, p. 43) note that security agencies have used both human and technical intelligence as their campaign medium to put terror groups on toes. The trend according to Fluri (2005, p. 261) has been that the security agencies that use both of these forms of intelligence to fight terrorism have received wide acclaim.

In recent cases, the intelligence has been effective in denouncing governments seem inclined to support terrorist activities. Through intelligence, the web primarily fuelled revolutions such as those witnessed in the Arab spring. Opponents of these unpopular regimes used intelligence amicably to arouse the masses and call them to a duty of nationhood.

However, while the intelligence is such an empowering tool, concerns about cyber-crime are on the rise as fraudsters continue to seek a lifeline by expediting clandestine activities through the web. The web therefore, hosts several things, some of which are beneficial to fighting terrorism while on the other hand aid their activities.

Technical intelligence has become so much part of human intelligence, not only in America, but also in other parts of the world especially in the advent of fighting terrorism (Kahl & Lynch 2013, p. 45). Because of its rare ability to transform humanity, it is always easy to imply that the intelligence will always form part of the society and remain an open medium for human empowerment.

Most security systems as Dick and Kandel (2005, p. 245) note will always want it to remain an item to explore the world and bring great opportunities that technology offers. Away with the regulatory policy duties, through the intelligence, security agencies can always have the endowment to access any permissible content they want and this in turn has the capacity to help the security personnel to stay informed.

While it is true that some form of technical intelligence might warrant censorship, the onus should be on the security detail to guard their contents jealously. Through this, the security personnel are likely to build a robust network capable of combating terror groupings.

With increased terrorist activities taking place in most parts of the world, the society looks upon the security agencies to use any form of intelligence necessary to combat terrorism from all corners of the world. With the growth in technological inventions, information flow especially through the web continues to empower security agencies in their effort to combat terrorism.

In the course of these progresses, Johnson (2015, p. 10) notes that the world continues to grow into a global society in combating terrorism. The increased use of technology to thwart terrorism has greatly influenced human resource capacity to make business blossom, while effectively aiding in the effective administration of and coordination of government operations (Kahl & Lynch 2013, p. 48).

Both human and artificial intelligence continue to be empowering tools that offer greater prospect to security personnel to share information with broader audiences who are almost, always invisible. In the present, humanity devotedly uses the web to get across their ideas to millions of audiences elsewhere in an effort to stay informed and put terror groups on notice.

The application of intelligence by the security personnel according to Meara (2003, p. 67) continues to transform lives while extending an olive branch to technological advancements for human safety.

Through technology, governments with different terrorism concerns interact and by so doing, they use technical intelligence to transform the social and cognitive skills of their personnel in the effort of fighting terrorism (Johnson 2015, p. 12).

The foundation of the proposition for the efficacy of human and technical intelligence emanates from the fact that the intelligence is an empowering medium that is ordinary in essence and dear to human empowerment by fact. More than anything, intelligence is an intrinsic embodiment for technological expansion, and for that matter, its supremacy in fighting terrorism is unalterable.

Terrorism compromises the security of the world

With the security of the world under threat, humanity continues to live in peril and this reflects negatively on the socio-economic and political progress in areas subdued by the terror groups. Esfandiary and Tabatabai (2015, p. 8) suggest an urgent need for mobilisation between the security agencies in different countries and the international players to trace the foothold of terror groupings.

Different security agencies across the world understand the enormity of tackling terrorism menace from its very foundations in various parts of the world. Moreover, most security agencies are optimistic that the solution to the threats posed by terrorism must begin with thorough realignments for both the human and technical intelligence to counter the possible threat posed by terror groups.

Security agencies according to Kahl and Lynch (2013, p. 50) use both technical and human intelligence to volunteer a rich account of the strategies that these groups employ to survive counter terror attacks. Through intelligence, security agencies are optimistic that the very tricks that the terror groups employ to launch attacks could be useful in smothering them.

Security agencies hold that the first step in seeking solutions to terrorism menace is to understand the actions of the groups’ from their very point of view, which essentially is all that intelligence seeks to exploit. Esfandiary and Tabatabai (2015, p. 12) absolve the Muslim world of blame and warn that generalisations might be imprudent approach in the effort to counter terrorism.

Intelligence makes it easy to separate terrorists from ordinary civilisations that may be victims of the situation by either religious creed or ethnic orientations.

However, Farwell (2014, p. 49) strongly suggest intelligence could be useful in expediting strong action on governments that perpetuate the terrorism activities. Different terror organisations such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS have a strong backing from several Islamic states that give them a lifeline in their operations.

Intelligence offers an insight into the survival mechanisms of terror groups from using the Islamic state machineries to media fronts in perpetuating their propaganda and agenda. The media particularly, has been a formidable platform in the growth of ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

According to Farwell (2014, p. 50), the groups’ public relations infrastructures seem more inclined in building their credibility while seeking to justify their legacy. Farwell (2014, p. 52) argues that while the media has been instrumental in promoting the ideals of these heinous groups, it can as well be effective in negating the gains they have achieved over time.

The same sentiments are echoed by Klausen (2015, p. 5) in his article arguing that the Islamic extremist seem to have a well-coordinated IT experts and social media administrators that help in extrapolating the groups vendetta through social media platforms such as Facebook, twitter handle, Skype, and the You tube.

While Farwell (2014) gives a detailed account of how social media has propelled the legacy of ISIS particularly, he warns of an impending danger in possible cyber terrorism that ISIS might soon deploy. Klausen (2015, p. 8) notes that to sensitise its following, ISIS uses great intelligence to inspire psychological warfare in propagating religious and political propaganda to recruit prospective members into the fighting squad.

Notably, intelligence agencies opine that the first step in defeating terrorism is to extract the Muslim thinking that it has built around it. There is need to tell the world that ISIS is a terror squad that uses religious undertones to justify its crimes.

Klausen (2015, p. 12) and Farwell (2014, p. 53) concur that governmental intelligence must be stepped up to track terror groups’ airwaves and destroy their networks in all parts of the world.

Religious extremism is the baseline of the terror networks in all parts of the world today. Various intelligence agencies have sought to trace the origin of Jihad that seems to be the core of terrorism. In so doing, they find a rich link between the modern day Islamic religious Jihad and the rise of terror networks as having close links with religious extremism.

Gerges (2014, p. 339) takes on this perspective and volunteers a glimpse into the historical context of Islamic extremism under the guise of Jihad. Islamic religious aggression is not something new to intelligence agencies across the world; it has its genesis from the Quran Jihad (Gerges 2014, p. 340).

The same observation is presented by Hecan (2014), who traces the origin of Al-Qaeda to its rich ties with the ideological conflicts in Middle East and rise of the Cold War. Different intelligence groups give separate evidence of the atrocities already committed by the Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia as attributions for the group’s discontent with the current state of affairs in regions in which it operates.

Al-Qaeda particularly has always been in existence for many years and it has evolved over time to give rise to other sub terror groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab. Having gone through an arduous metamorphosis, Gerges (2014, p. 342) opines that dealing with the terrorism is not an event but rather a process that must involve insightful human and technical intelligence.

Terror groups have invested much time in seeking harmony with the Muslim faith to justify their Jihadist extremism, hence the need to use greater human and technical intelligence to diffuse such propaganda.


In today’s technological world, information and communication technology has created room for empowerment. Different groups and individuals use this noble cause in different ways including negative ones such as cyber-crimes and terrorism. Intelligence has been instrumental in fighting terrorism as well as in aiding the operations of terror groups around the world.

Security agencies employ both human and technical intelligence to detect, intercept, and thwart terrorism while on the other hand terror groups use this enablement in reaching out to their audiences to carry out terror activities in target areas.

However, both human and technical intelligence has handled security agencies around the world a powerful weapon in hacking the administration records of terror groups to seek information pertinent to their operations and counter their activities.


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