The Bureau of Counterterrorism leads the Department of State in the whole-of-government effort to counter terrorism abroad and to secure the United States against foreign terrorist threats.
The predecessor organization to the Bureau of Counterterrorism was the Office for Combating Terrorism, created in 1972 upon the recommendation of a special committee appointed by President Richard Nixon following the terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics. The committee determined that an office was needed within the Department of State to provide day-to-day counterterrorism coordination and to develop policy initiatives and responses for the U.S. government. The Office for Combating Terrorism became the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in 1985, and the Bureau of Counterterrorism in 2012.
In 1994, Congress officially mandated the Bureau of Counterterrorism in Public Law 103-236 [H.R. 2333]. In 1998, Congress further defined the role of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in Public Law 105-277 [H.R. 4328]:
“There is within the office of the Secretary of State a Coordinator for Counterterrorism…who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate…. The principal duty of the coordinator shall be the overall supervision (including policy oversight of resources) of international counterterrorism activities. The Coordinator shall be the principal adviser to the Secretary of State on international counterterrorism matters. The coordinator shall be the principal counterterrorism official within the senior management of the Department of State and shall report directly to the Secretary of State…The Coordinator shall have the rank and status of Ambassador at Large.”