DHS taps key architect of 9/11 response to oversee domestic counterterrorism efforts

A key architect of the U.S. response to 9/11 has been tapped to coordinate and amp up domestic counterterrorism efforts, Yahoo News has learned.

Nicholas Rasmussen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, is heading to the Department of Homeland Security to oversee counterterrorism prevention, intelligence, policy and other efforts across the department and component agencies like the Secret Service, TSA and Customs and Border Protection.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Rasmussen’s appointment and several new plans in an internal announcement emailed to agency employees on Tuesday and obtained by Yahoo News.

“As the Department’s Counterterrorism Coordinator, Nick will report to the Secretary and serve as the principal counterterrorism adviser to our senior leadership,” the announcement said. “He will lead efforts to coordinate counterterrorism-related activities across DHS and with our interagency partners, oversee the National Terrorism Advisory System, and help advance our participation in Joint Terrorism Task Forces.”

DHS “will also be establishing a task force, overseen by the CT Coordinator and composed of personnel assigned from DHS Components and agencies,” the announcement said. “The task force will support the CT Coordinator’s mission to unify our activities, identify opportunities to enhance our capabilities, and build greater cohesion across the Department to combat targeted violence and terrorism.”

Mayorkas noted that Rasmussen previously served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center from 2014 to 2017. Most recently, he was the executive director of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.

In June, DHS launched an "urgent review" into the department's domestic terrorism and targeted violence efforts across its agencies and divisions after the deadly attacks in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., Yahoo News reported.

The review was done to determine if the massive department stood up after 9/11 to thwart foreign terrorist attacks needed to be restructured to counter domestic terrorism threats and acts of targeted violence like mass shootings.

Former Counterterrorism Coordinator John Cohen, who left the position in March, said he supports DHS’s appointment of Rasmussen. “Nick’s experience in the Intelligence Community and as the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center will serve him well as he performs the critical role at DHS,” Cohen told Yahoo News.

At the Eradicate Hate Summit in Pittsburgh last month Rasmussen politely declined to confirm rumors circulating around the domestic terrorism prevention conference about his return to government.

But in a keynote panel discussion on lessons learned in the aftermath of the Buffalo attack, he provided some clues about his vision.

“Hold your federal government accountable," he said. "Hold your law enforcement authorities accountable. Hold your tech companies accountable for the environments we are in. But solutions can and will be found on local levels.”