The Atlantic Council’s Counterterrorism Study Group is a bipartisan network of former US government professionals with experience in counterterrorism policymaking and operations. Participants include former senior officials who have served in both Democratic and Republican administrations on the National Security Council staff; at the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security; as agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal law enforcement agencies; and at the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Counterterrorism Center, and other elements of the US intelligence community. The Counterterrorism Study Group hosts meetings under the Chatham House Rule with current executive branch counterterrorism professionals; with members of Congress and key Congressional staff with responsibilities for counterterrorism laws, policies and resources; and with foreign counterterrorism partners. Many participants regularly offer public commentary on counterterrorism subjects, but their individual views should not be understood to reflect the views of other participants of the Counterterrorism Study Group.

Engage with our 9/11 series as we continue forecasting the future of counterterrorism

Participants
Javed Ali
Former Senior Director for Counterterrorism
National Security Council
Mark Mitchell
Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism
US Department of Defense
Graham Brookie
Former Advisor to the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (Homeland Security Advisor)
National Security Council
Michael (Mick) Mulroy
Former CIA Officer;
former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East
US Department of Defense
Matt Castelli
Former CIA Officer; former Director for Counterterrorism
National Security Council
Mike Nagata
Former Director, Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning
National Counterterrorism Center
David Cohen
Former Deputy Director for Operations, Central Intelligence Agency; former Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence, New York City Police Department
Michael R. Ortiz
Former Deputy Coordinator for Countering Violent Extremism
Department of State
Chris Costa
Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Counterterrorism
National Security Council
Barry Pavel
Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict
US Department of Defense
Kirsten Fontenrose
Former Senior Director for Gulf Affairs
National Security Council
Pamela Quanrud
Former Director, Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS
US Department of State
Danny Glaser
Former Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes
US Department of the Treasury
Norman Roule
Former National Intelligence Manager for Iran
Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
Robert Grenier
Former Director of the Counterterrorism Center
Central Intelligence Agency
Nathan A. Sales
Former Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS 
US Department of State
Christopher K. Harnisch
Former Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism
US State Department
Francis X. Taylor
Former Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis,
US Department of Homeland Security;
former Coordinator for Counterterrorism,
US Department of State
Luke Hartig
Former Senior Director for Counterterrorism
National Security Council
Russ Travers
Former Deputy Homeland Security Adviser
National Security Council
Bernard Hudson
Former Chief of Counterterrorism
Central Intelligence Agency
Thomas S. Warrick
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism Policy
Department of Homeland Security
Tina Kaidanow
Former Coordinator for Counterterrorism
US Department of State
William F. Wechsler
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combatting Terrorism
US Department of Defense
Matthew Levitt
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Intelligence and Analysis
US Department of the Treasury
Owen West
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict
US Department of Defense
Mike LeFever
Former Director, Strategic Operational Planning
National Counterterrorism Center
Lee Wolosky
Former Special Counsel to the President
White House Counsel’s Office
Mary McCord
Former Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security
US Department of Justice
Michael McGarrity
Former Assistant Director of Counterterrorism
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Former Counterterrorism Study Group members who have returned to government service
Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
US Department of State
Josh Geltzer
Deputy Assistant to the President & Deputy Homeland Security Advisor
National Security Council
Christopher Maier
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations / Low-Intensity
US Department of Defense
Matt Olsen
Assistant Attorney General for National Security
US Department of Justice
Nick Rasmussen
Counterterrorism Coordinator
US Department of Homeland Security
Anne Witkowsky
Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations
US Department of State
Previous speakers – 2020
Christopher C. Miller
Former Director
National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)
Ambassador Nathan Sales
Former Ambassador-at-Large and former Coordinator for Counterterrorism, and Acting Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
US Department of State
Dr. Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani
Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution
Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar
Dr. Julia Nesheiwat
Former Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security & Resilience
National Security Council
Previous speakers – 2021
Mr. Laurent Nuñez
National Coordinator of Intelligence and Combat against Terrorism
Presidency of the French Republic
Mr. Tom Hurd
Former Director General
Office for Security and Counterterrorism of the United Kingdom
Dr. Hamdullah Mohib
Former National Security Advisor
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Christopher Maier
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations / Low-Intensity Conflict
US Department of Defense
Josh Geltzer
Deputy Assistant to the President & Deputy Homeland Security Advisor
National Security Council
John T. Godfrey
Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Acting Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS
US Department of State
Ambassador Roger D. Carstens,
Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs
US Department of State
Christine “Christy” Abizaid
Director
National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)
Previous speakers – 2022
John D. Cohen
Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of Intelligence and Analysis
US Department of Homeland Security
Lt. General Tariq Al Hassan
Chief of Public Security, Ministry of Interior
Kingdom of Bahrain
Rear Admiral Milton James Sands III
Commander, Special Operations Command Africa
US Special Operations Command
Defense Analysts
The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defence
The Kingdom of Norway
Kevin Strompf
Acting Senior Director for Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime
National Security Council
Congressman Michael Waltz
Florida’s 6th Congressional District
US House of Representatives
Ambassador Roger Noble
Ambassador for Counterterrorism, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Australia
Samantha Vinograd
Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention and Senior Counselor for National Security
US Department of Homeland Security
Raffi Gregorian
Director and Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General
United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT)

*Not all speakers hosted by the group are listed above.

The future of counterterrorism: Twenty years after 9/11

National security experts examine how the United States and its allies and partners must reimagine their counterterrorism strategies to counter the next terrorist threat.

Explore the series Watch the launch

Issue briefs and reports

Oct 20, 2020

Improving counterterrorism and law enforcement cooperation between the United States and the Arab Gulf States

By Thomas S. Warrick, Joze Pelayo

Thomas S. Warrick and Joze Pelayo present recommendations to improve and increase cooperation in civilian counterterrorism, law enforcement, border security, and aviation security between the United States and the Arab countries of the Gulf.

Defense Industry Defense Policy

All content

New Atlanticist

May 23, 2024

General CQ Brown, Jr., on the US role in Gaza, Ukraine, and other crises around the world

By Katherine Walla

It’s time to plan for the long term in the Middle East, the general said at an Atlantic Council event.

Conflict Crisis Management

New Atlanticist

May 21, 2024

Congress should save the Sentinel ICBM—its true value is more than simply its cost

By James McCue

The value of the new intercontinental ballistic missile program should be measured over its full lifetime and not just by its current price tag.

Defense Technologies National Security

In the News

May 20, 2024

Polymeropoulos on a Cipher Brief podcast about Havana Syndrome

On May 20, Forward Defense nonresident senior fellow Marc Polymeropoulos spoke on a Cipher Brief podcast titled “Is Russia Attacking U.S. Government Employees Using High-Energy Weapons?” about Havana Syndrome.

Conflict Intelligence

New Atlanticist

May 17, 2024

NATO must ‘win up front but be ready to win long’ in modern warfare, says General Christopher Cavoli

By Katherine Walla

At an Atlantic Council Front Page event, Cavoli spoke about the war in Ukraine, NATO’s modernization efforts, the China challenge, and more.

Defense Industry Defense Policy

In the News

May 5, 2024

Polymeropoulos cited in The Spectator “Is Havana Syndrome real?”

On May 5, Forward Defense nonresident senior fellow Marc Polymeropoulos was cited in a Spectator article by John Foreman about Havana Syndrome.

Intelligence Non-Traditional Threats

In the News

May 5, 2024

Starling and Gen. Cartwright publish in Defense One emphasizing the value of a new image for special operations forces

On May 5, Forward Defense Director Clementine Starling and Atlantic Council Board Director General James E. Cartwright, USMC (Ret.), published commentary in Defense One about the value that special operations forces (SOF) have in today’s great power competition. They argued that SOF should reinforce not only their direct-action capabilities, but also the indirect competencies—special reconnaissance, […]

Conflict Crisis Management

In the News

May 2, 2024

Vinograd on CBS about President Biden’s comments on university campus protests for Palestine

On May 2, Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Samantha Vinograd appeared on CBS News commented on the public safety factors in President Biden’s comments about student protests for Palestine on university campuses.

Civil Society Conflict

In the News

Apr 25, 2024

Brooks interviewed for History Channel “The Great War”

On April 25, it was announced that an interview with Forward Defense nonresident senior fellow Max Brooks will be included in The History Channel’s upcoming two-part documentary series “The Great War” premiering on May 27-28. “The Great War” explores the critical years of 1917 and 1918, weaving together the stories of three different groups showcasing […]

Conflict Defense Policy

Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.

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