Author/s: Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG)
Published in National Security Journal, 27 November 2020
Environmental Threat Assessment
CTAG analysts assess the general likelihood of a threat of physical harm (from terrorism, violent protest or violent crime) occurring in a particular environment, usually a specified country. This likelihood assessment, represented by a threat level, is the baseline assessment for the environment. An overview of the process, using the example of assessing the likelihood of a terrorist attack, is as follows:
1. Assessment of the likelihood there are individuals in the environment with intent to conduct an attack. For example, there are likely individuals in the environment with the current intent to conduct an attack.
2. Assessment of the likelihood of individuals in the environment assessed as having current intent and who have, or could acquire, capability to conduct an attack. For example, it is likely individuals in the environment assessed to have current intentions to conduct an attack have, or could acquire, the capability to conduct the intended attack.
3. Assessment of the likelihood of physical harm occurring in the environment, and identification of the appropriate threat level. For example, CTAG assesses the terrorism threat level in Country X is MEDIUM; terrorist attack is assessed as feasible and could well occur.
Specifically Targeting Threat Assessment
An assessed environmental threat level does not necessarily dictate the assessed threat level for a New Zealand Interest, Major Event, or Travel of Internationally Protected Persons (IPP) present or occurring in that environment. Rather, an assessment pertaining to one of these interests can be conducted by way of a Specifically Targeting Threat Assessment (STTA). The same process used for an Environmental Threat Assessment is applied, but focuses on the likelihood of a terrorist attack (for example) targeting a New Zealand Interest, Major Event or IPP within the context of the relevant environment. An example of a resulting threat level assessment is as follows:
CTAG assesses the threat of terrorism specific to [Major Event A] is LOW; terrorist attack is assessed as a realistic possibility.
An STTA threat level will almost always be consistent with, or lower than, the assessed environmental threat level. A Threat Stream Threat Assessment may result in a temporary exception to an Environmental Threat Assessment or STTA.
Threat Stream Threat Assessment
A particular threat emanating from a specific group or individual within an environment is referred to by CTAG as a Threat Stream. Threat Stream Threat Assessments (TSTAs) therefore assist with determining if a Threat Stream is consistent with the assessed Environmental Threat Level.