Brian Michael Jenkins

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Senior Adviser to the RAND President
Off Site Office


M.A. in history, University of California, Los Angeles; B.A. in fine arts, University of California, Los Angeles

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Brian Michael Jenkins is a senior adviser to the president of the RAND Corporation and author of numerous books, reports, and articles on terrorism-related topics, including Will Terrorists Go Nuclear? (2008, Prometheus Books). He formerly served as chair of the Political Science Department at RAND. On the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, Jenkins initiated a RAND effort to take stock of America's policy reactions and give thoughtful consideration to future strategy. That effort is presented in The Long Shadow of 9/11: America's Response to Terrorism (Brian Michael Jenkins and John Paul Godges, eds., 2011).

Commissioned in the infantry, Jenkins became a paratrooper and a captain in the Green Berets. He is a decorated combat veteran, having served in the Seventh Special Forces Group in the Dominican Republic and with the Fifth Special Forces Group in Vietnam. He returned to Vietnam as a member of the Long Range Planning Task Group and received the Department of the Army's highest award for his service.

In 1996, President Clinton appointed Jenkins to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. From 1999 to 2000, he served as adviser to the National Commission on Terrorism and in 2000 was appointed to the U.S. Comptroller General's Advisory Board. He is a research associate at the Mineta Transportation Institute, where he directs the continuing research on protecting surface transportation against terrorist attacks.

Previous Positions

Captain, U.S. Army Special Forces with service in the Dominican Republic and Vietnam; Deputy Chairman, Kroll Associates; member, White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security; adviser, National Commission on Terrorism; special adviser to the International Chamber of Commerce; board member, ICC Commercial Crime Services; member, U.S. Comptroller General's advisory board

Selected Publications

Brian Michael Jenkins, Stray Dogs and Virtual Armies: Radicalization and Recruitment to Jihadist Terrorism in the United States Since 9/11, RAND Corporation (OP-343), 2011

Brian Michael Jenkins and John Godges, eds., The Long Shadow of 9/11: America's Response to Terrorism, RAND Corporation (MG-1107), 2011

Brian Michael Jenkins, Unconquerable Nation: Knowing Our Enemy, Strengthening Ourselves, RAND Corporation (MG-454), 2006

Paul Wilkinson and Brian Michael Jenkins, eds., Aviation Terrorism and Security, Frank Cass Publisher, 2005

David Aaron, ed., Three Years After: Next Steps in the War on Terror, RAND Corporation (CF-212), 2005

Brian Michael Jenkins, Countering al Qaeda: An Appreciation of the Situation and Suggestions for Strategy, RAND Corporation (MR-1620), 2002

Paul K. Davis and Brian Michael Jenkins, Deterrence and Influence in Counterterrorism: A Component in the War on al Qaeda, RAND Corporation (MR-1619), 2002

Honors & Awards

  • Fulbright Fellow, University of San Carlos in Guatemala
  • Fellowship, Organization of American States

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: ABC; Associated Press; CBS; Chicago Tribune; Christian Science Monitor; CNN; Houston Chronicle; Los Angeles Times; MSNBC; NBC; New York Magazine; New York Times; The New Yorker; Newsweek; NPR; San Francisco Chronicle; Time Magazine; U.S. News & World Report; USA Today

Commentary: Los Angeles Times; Newsday; San Diego Union-Tribune; San Francisco Chronicle; United Press International

Video Interviews: Unconquerable Nation


  • A damaged picture of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Idlib, March 28, 2015

    Inside the Terrorist Factory

    As the civil wars in Syria and Iraq continue, they sharpen the sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shias, threatening the stability of the region and attracting a steady flow of foreign volunteers, effectively turning Syria and Iraq into a terrorist factory.

    Mar 30, 2015 | The RAND Blog and

  • Spanish police arresting a woman suspected of recruiting women to go to Syria and Iraq to support Islamic State insurgents

    The Allure of ISIS for Young Recruits

    Poverty and oppression may explain why people in some countries embrace violent extremism, but it does not account for the flow of Western volunteers or the dreamy allure of fighting for a faraway cause. Biographies of those who have reached out to participate in jihad suggest a variety of motives, including alienation, personal crises, dissatisfaction with empty spiritual lives, and adolescent rebellion.

    Mar 20, 2015 | The Hill

  • French special intervention police conduct a house-to-house search in Longpont, northeast of Paris, January 8, 2015

    Different Countries, Different Ways of Countering Terrorism

    France and the United States follow different approaches in dealing with terrorist suspects. This divergence reflects differences in the threat, historical experience, law, available resources, and public attitudes. France faces a more serious terrorist threat than the U.S. does.

    Mar 2, 2015 | The Hill

  • The new issue of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo titled 'C'est Reparti' ('Here we go again') in Nice, February 25, 2015

    Predicting the 'Dangerousness' of Potential Terrorists

    Predicting 'dangerousness' of potential terrorists is a hit-and-miss endeavor. Unless someone is waving a gun, it is extremely difficult. Even with direct access to the subject, parole boards, suicide prevention units and even trained clinicians get it wrong.

    Mar 2, 2015 | The Hill

  • A Paris crowd displaying the portraits of five of the people killed during the attack at Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015

    Attempting to Understand the Paris Attacks

    The investigation will eventually fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge of the events leading up to the attacks in Paris, but some questions will remain unanswered. Embedded in the unknowns are some of the chronic dilemmas faced by counterterrorist authorities everywhere.

    Feb 26, 2015 | The Hill

  • A man purported to be ISIS captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh in a cage in a still image from an undated video filmed from an undisclosed location, made available on social media on February 3, 2015

    ISIS's Calculated Barbarity

    ISIS's decision to murder its Jordanian hostage by burning him alive may turn out to be a strategic miscalculation, but it is not madness. Through self-selection, continued fighting, and the exaltation of unlimited violence, ISIS has created a cult whose members command and revel in displays of ever-increasing cruelty.

    Feb 10, 2015 | The Hill

  • A K-9 police unit keeps watch as passengers make their way through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

    Improving Domestic Security to Combat Today's Terrorist Threats

    Today, the U.S. confronts a multilayered terrorist threat and the recent spate of attacks in Europe underscores the necessity for ensuring that intelligence keeps up with it. Intelligence services must continue to prevent terrorist assaults dispatched from abroad, head off new shoe and underwear bombers, intercept individuals returning from jihadist fronts with terrorist intentions, while at the same time uncovering and thwarting homegrown plots.

    Jan 30, 2015 | The Hill

  • French Muslims hold an Islamic flag and a banner reading "Do not touch my prophet, anything but the Messenger of Allah" as they gather in central Paris January 18, 2015

    Eight Lessons from the Charlie Hebdo Attack

    Among the lessons to be learned from the attacks in Paris are that terrorism has many audiences, Al-Qaida remains a threat, would-be warriors are unconcerned with the schisms among jihadist camps, Europe has a more serious problem, such an attack could happen in the U.S., and intelligence is crucial.

    Jan 23, 2015 | Slate

  • A prisoner, behind bars

    A Grim Choice: The Attempted Rescue of Hostages

    Many described the attempt to rescue Luke Somers from al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen as 'botched,' suggesting it was badly or carelessly planned or executed. 'Desperate' may be more apt. Such measures aren't undertaken without a grim calculus weighing the chances of success against a range of other outcomes, most of which involve the hostages' doom.

    Dec 19, 2014 | The Hill

  • Militant Islamist fighters parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province

    When Jihadis Come Marching Home

    The existing pool of determined jihadists in America is very small and lacks training and experience, which fighting in Syria and Iraq would provide. Returning jihadi veterans would be more formidable adversaries. Still, the threat appears manageable using current U.S. laws and existing resources.

    Nov 19, 2014 | The Hill

  • U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency from the Justice Department in Washington January 17, 2014

    Is Obama a Modern-Day Quintus Fabius Maximus?

    Critics say President Obama dragged his feet on sending more troops to Afghanistan, on addressing the dangers in Libya, on providing support to Syria's rebels and, most recently, on initiating military action against Islamic State. But is that necessarily such a bad thing?

    Oct 22, 2014 | Los Angeles Times

  • Smoke rises after a U.S.-led airstrike in Kobani, Syria, October 10, 2014

    Air Campaign Against ISIS Is Just Getting Off the Ground

    More than 60 countries have joined the coalition against ISIS, with at least 12 participating in the air campaign. Eventually, this will be an impressive armada, but the campaign is still in its first stage, and most of the coalition participants joined the effort only recently.

    Oct 17, 2014 | The Hill

  • U.S. Army boots on sand

    What Could U.S. Boots on the Ground Do in Iraq and Syria?

    Before embracing American boots on the ground as a strategy to fight ISIS, it's essential to be clear about what they're going to do, what they may require, and what risks may be entailed.

    Oct 15, 2014 | Defense One

  • A masked man speaking in what is believed to be a North American accent in a video that Islamic State militants released in September 2014 is pictured in this still frame from video obtained by Reuters, October 7, 2014

    What Are ISIS's Options Now?

    In domestic debates about what the United States should do to blunt the threat posed by ISIS, Americans often forget the adversary also has options. A determined force, ISIS will counter the bombing campaign.

    Oct 10, 2014 | The Hill

  • Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby briefs reporters on airstrikes on ISIL  targets in Syria, Sept. 25, 2014

    An Inconvenient War

    Congress has not addressed President Obama's plans to take other military steps against ISIS. Some members of Congress do not want to vote on the use of military force until after the upcoming elections. Among these are some who fear their vote could cost them votes.

    Sep 25, 2014 | The Hill

  • A man holds up a sign in memory of U.S. journalist James Foley during a protest against the Assad regime in Syria in New York City, August 22, 2014

    Why the U.S. Swaps Prisoners but Doesn't Pay Ransom

    Reports that the United States refused to pay ransom for journalist James Foley, only weeks before it released Taliban prisoners in exchange for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, have caused confusion about U.S. policy. On the surface, it may seem inconsistent. Why release prisoners but not pay ransom?

    Sep 2, 2014 | The Hill

  • Smoke rises during clashes between Kurdish peshmerga troops and militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIL, on the outskirts of Sinjar, August 5, 2014

    Disrupting Terrorist Safe Havens

    Disrupting the terrorist safe havens in Syria and Iraq would require a balanced approach that makes the business of terrorist planning and training difficult without entangling U.S. forces in new conflicts and angering the very populations the United States seeks to assist.

    Aug 18, 2014 | The Hill

  • A militant Islamist fighter films his fellow fighters in a parade in Syria's northern Raqqa province, June 30, 2014

    An Evil Wind

    The threat of global terrorist enterprises has been enhanced by Western fighters joining al Qaeda offshoots like the Islamic State. With the terrorist threat evolving, the United States has little choice but to evolve with it.

    Jul 31, 2014 | Slate

  • Airline passengers wait in line before passing through a TSA checkpoint at LAX

    TSA's Cellphone Rule Part of Deadly Race

    While placing explosives inside a cellphone is plausible, it is almost impossible to do so with iPhones without rendering them non-functional, which is why the TSA is now checking cell phones are actually working.

    Jul 29, 2014 | CNN

  • Followers of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who fought U.S. troops under the banner of the Mehdi Army during the 2003-11 occupation, have returned as Sadr's new "Peace Brigades"

    Iraq Makes Strange Bedfellows

    In seeking to quell the unrest in Iraq, the United States must balance its own interests with those of a diverse cast of players that includes Iraq, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, an unpredictable and violent jihadist front and others.

    Jul 15, 2014 | U.S. News & World Report

  • Members of Shi'ite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq carry coffins of fighters killed in clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), July 7, 2014

    Further Observations on the Situation in Iraq

    It is difficult to see how the United States can favorably affect the situation in Iraq without making a costly and risky investment. But that does not mean doing nothing. An immediate objective is to contain the conflict.

    Jul 14, 2014 | The Hill

  • Volunteers, who have joined Iraqi security forces to fight against militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), gather in Najaf, June 18, 2014

    Iraq Observations

    Will the Obama administration be blamed for losing Iraq if it does not order military intervention? Or will history judge the president wise for keeping U.S. forces out of war? As Americans debate assisting Iraq, including the possibility of military intervention, here are 10 things to keep in mind.

    Jun 19, 2014 | The Hill

  • Protesters outside Nigeria's parliament demand security forces search harder for the 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram

    The Risks of Rescue

    As appealing as a successful mission to rescue the 200 school girls held hostage by Boko Haram in Nigeria might appear, the use of U.S. military assets to mount a rescue attempt would be a mistake.

    Jun 13, 2014 | The Ripon Forum

  • Protesters march in support of the girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington

    Nigeria's Inescapable Burden

    The historical record suggests that when many hostages are involved, rescues are bloody affairs. Early RAND research on hostage situations showed that of all the ways hostages may be killed—during the initial abduction, trying to escape, murdered by their captors or during the rescue—79 percent died during the rescue.

    May 19, 2014 | U.S. News & World Report

  • A commercial aircraft being serviced at an airport terminal

    The Breach of Security at San Jose's Airport Raises Broader Issues

    Those charged with security must think in terms of 360-degree security—not only screening passengers coming through the terminal, but also preventing unauthorized access to the aircraft from the air operations side of airport.

    May 13, 2014 | Mineta Transportation Institute

  • A member of the Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra fires during clashes with Syrian forces near Damascus

    When Terrorists Kill Terrorists

    Battles between rival rebel groups and within terrorist organizations are not uncommon. Terrorists may compete with each other, sometimes in deadly battles, for the control of sources of financing. Some of the internal struggles are about who will lead.

    May 5, 2014 | The Hill

  • Iraqi security forces arrest suspected militants of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Hawija on April 24

    A Bigger, but Less Unified, al Qaeda

    In the long run, al Qaeda might be able to reel in its more unreliable offspring, assert more control, demand their obedience, and call upon their resources to assist in global operations. But without a stronger center, that possibility seems remote.

    Apr 25, 2014 | The Hill

  • Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon as an explosion erupts on April 15, 2013

    After Boston, Beware DIY Attacks: Front & Center

    Orlando Sentinel editorial writer Darryl E. Owens interviewed Brian Michael Jenkins, senior adviser to the president of RAND. They discussed last year's Boston Marathon bombing and the current threat of terrorist acts in the United States.

    Apr 16, 2014 | Orlando Sentinel

  • Members of the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant are holed up in Fallujah along with Sunni fighters angry at Prime Minister Maliki over what they say are policies which discriminate against Iraq's Sunni minority

    Discord Among Terrorists

    Overall, divisions in Al Qaeda's ranks are good news for the United States. While the split will not end the jihadists' terrorist campaigns, it will preoccupy Al Qaeda's leaders and create uncertainty in its ranks.

    Feb 25, 2014 | The Mark News

  • Personnel from the Iraqi security forces arrest suspected militants of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant

    What Might Terrorists Do Next?

    No one can predict with any certainty what terrorists might do next. If there is one lesson America learned about counterterrorism on 9/11, it's that the coming attack may look nothing like those that preceded it.

    Feb 24, 2014 | Insurance Journal

  • Passengers line up in LaGuardia Airport as it was reopened after being evacuated due to a suspicious package being found by a baggage handler, February 4, 2014

    Experts Are Working to Develop Evidence-Based Ways to Measure Anti-Terrorism Efforts

    The effects of security measures ought not to be measured solely in terms of prevention. Different types of countermeasures produce different effects, such as deterrence, making it easier for security to intervene during an attempted attack, and providing visible security that reassures the public.

    Feb 7, 2014 | Inside Science

  • Masked Sunni gunmen chant slogans during a protest against Iraq's Shiite-led government

    Fight Today's Terrorist Threat, Not Yesterday's

    Counterterrorism is not just about daring raids and drone strikes. It is about the hard work of collecting and sifting through vast amounts of information and managing relationships among organizations that often regard sharing information as an unnatural act.

    Feb 7, 2014 | U.S. News & World Report

  • Security personnel patrol the Olympic Park at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games

    The Secretive Battle for Sochi

    Russia seems to be taking prudent steps to make the games the safe and secure display of athleticism and international good fellowship they once were. The outcome hinges on a pair of unknowns: the secret counterterrorism strategies Russian authorities have undertaken and the terrorists’ capacity for creativity and surprise.

    Feb 5, 2014 | CNN

  • airport security check with passenger walking through metal detector

    The Real Homeland Security Issues for 2014

    Americans should be able to discuss the terrorist threat and how best to meet it, how much of the country’s precious resources should be devoted to homeland security, and the impact intelligence efforts can have on personal privacy and freedom.

    Feb 5, 2014 | Slate

  • Russian Cossacks stand guard near the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi

    The Terrorist Threat to the Sochi Olympics

    From the Black September attacks on Israeli athletes in 1972, to the post 9/11 games in Salt Lake City, to the 2012 games in London, security has been a concern at all modern Olympics. Recent terrorist attacks in Russia, though, present particular concern as the world's athletes descend on Sochi.

    Jan 31, 2014 | The RAND Blog and

  • Syrian residents flee their homes following clashes between opposition fighters and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad

    Syria's Bloody Stalemate

    With little chance of a negotiated end to the fighting, the war in Syria is likely to drag on. And even if somehow the bloodshed were to end relatively soon, the war will leave a legacy of odium and thousands of fighters that will threaten the region and beyond far into the future.

    Jan 17, 2014 | U.S. News & World Report

  • A bomb ripped apart a bus in Volgograd on Monday, killing 14 people in the second deadly attack in 24 hours

    Why Did Terrorists Attack Volgograd?

    The Volgograd attacks have brought renewed world attention to the unresolved conflict in the turbulent Caucasus. The bombings no doubt have rattled Russian nerves. While Umarov's reputation among extremists will rise, President Putin's reputation as defender of Russia is at stake.

    Dec 31, 2013 | U.S. News & World Report

  • Free Syrian Army fighters in Aleppo's Sheikh Saeed neighbourhood

    Should the United States End Assistance to Syria's Rebels?

    The American investment in Syria thus far can be accurately described as timid and minimal. The United States can do more to assist the rebels without directly using American military power or sliding into a strategy of escalation.

    Dec 23, 2013 | The RAND Blog and

  • A suspected al Qaeda militant holds his head as he stands with co-defendants behind bars at the state security court of appeals in Sanaa March 2013

    Whither al Qaeda: A 'Tri-alogue' with Brian Michael Jenkins, Seth Jones, and Andrew Liepman

    Recent comments by key U.S. lawmakers have again raised the issue of where the United States is in its campaign against al Qaeda. This has left some to wonder if the terrorism threat is increasing and if Americans are not as safe as they were a year or two ago. Three senior RAND analysts offer their take.

    Dec 10, 2013 | The RAND Blog

  • A line of TSA personnel salute the U.S. Honor Flag procession as it leaves LAX at a ceremony in memory of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez November 6, 2013

    Want to Create Problems? Arm the TSA

    With its current 47,000 screeners, an armed TSA would become the federal government's largest armed entity outside of the military. In the eyes of many, arming TSA screeners would change the image of the organization from a service aimed at guaranteeing safe air travel to an unwanted imposition of federal authority.

    Nov 7, 2013 | Los Angeles Times

  • Delayed passengers stand behind a police cordon after a shooting incident at Los Angeles airport (LAX)

    Airport Violence—Not a New Phenomenon

    Shootings at airports are nothing new, writes Brian Michael Jenkins. In fact, they have regularly occurred worldwide in recent years. The motives have included terrorism, crime, and mental illness.

    Nov 2, 2013 | The RAND Blog

  • People hold posters of senior al Qaeda figure Abu Anas al-Liby during a demonstration over his capture by U.S. authorities

    How War on Terrorism Has Evolved

    Special operations to capture terrorists are more dangerous than drone strikes, and nimble terrorist adversaries will develop countermeasures to make them even more difficult. But they are politically more acceptable and offer opportunities for intelligence and the visible delivery of justice.

    Oct 24, 2013 | USA Today

  • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare homemade bombs in the Aleppo district of Salaheddine September 30, 2013

    Syria As We Know It Is Gone

    Other than as a geographic expression, Syria has ceased to exist, writes Brian Michael Jenkins. With Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah support, Bashar Assad's forces, at the moment, appear to have gained the initiative over a fragmented rebel movement.

    Oct 16, 2013 | U.S. News & World Report

  • Afghan men shout anti-U.S. slogans during a demonstration in Jalalabad province February 24, 2012

    10 Reasons U.S. Influence Has Fallen in the Middle East

    By most assessments, U.S. influence in the Middle East has dramatically declined since the Arab uprisings began in January 2011. Critics have blamed this on inept diplomacy by the current administration, but this is only a partial explanation for America's loss of authority in the region.

    Sep 16, 2013 | Slate

  • Ousted Yugoslav President Milosevic (center) with Yugoslav Defence Minister Ojdanic (left) and Serbian Police Minister Stojiljkovic (right) June 14, 1999

    Limited U.S. Military Strikes Do Not Unseat Dug-in Dictators

    Like the measured attacks that may soon strike Syrian targets, America's first military attacks on Serbia, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, and Afghanistan were not aimed at regime change. Their purpose was to retaliate for attacks or coerce changes in policy.

    Sep 9, 2013 | The RAND Blog and

  • Supporters of Muslim Brotherhood during a protest in Cairo August 23, 2013

    What's Next for the Muslim Brotherhood?

    Some believe the Muslim Brotherhood should stay in the political game, adopting the role of loyal opposition. The Brotherhood would remain a minority party, but it could continue to hold offices, provide social assistance that the government does not, and demonstrate its continuing strength at the polls.

    Aug 26, 2013 | U.S. News & World Report

  • Afghan al Qaeda members captured in Decemeber 2001

    What Would al Qaeda's PowerPoints Say?

    Over the last 12 years, the campaign against al Qaeda has dominated U.S. policy. From this perspective, al Qaeda has been a beneficiary of the Arab uprisings in general and of recent events in Egypt and Syria in particular. The longer the turmoil continues, the greater al Qaeda's possible gains, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Aug 23, 2013 | The RAND Blog and

  • Mumbai at night

    Could Terrorists Pull Off a Mumbai-Style Attack in the U.S.?

    There is, at present, no known terrorist group in the United States that has the organization and human resources to assemble an operation of the complexity and scale of the Mumbai attack, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jul 10, 2013 | U.S. News & World Report

  • a woman talking to Boston police near site of Marathon bombings

    Crowd-sourcing Our Security

    Involvement can transform members of the public from helpless bystanders into active participants in their own defense, thereby reducing fear and alarm, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 13, 2013 | The RAND Blog and

  • Marines practicing a chemical, biological, or radiological attack

    The Syrian Chemical Weapons Conundrum

    Dealing with chemical weapons in Syria is a complicated and dangerous task, but nowhere near the challenge of securing a nuclear arsenal in a country consumed by crisis, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 1, 2013 | U.S. News & World Report

  • A crew member from Station Boston conducts security zones in the Boston Harbor

    The Day After

    The risk of overreaching in the name of homeland security is great. But the best and most likely outcome of this latest attack would be a measured security response built around Americans engaging anew in their own security, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Apr 19, 2013 | Slate

  • An army truck MZKT 79221 under missile Topol-M

    When Armies Divide: Securing Nuclear Arsenals During Internal Upheavals

    With an army divided, any type of foreign intervention would be complex and fraught with extraordinary risk—success would be a long shot. But the loss of a nuclear weapon or fissile material would change the world.

    Apr 12, 2013 | The RAND Blog and

  • A U.S. Marine vehicle on patrol outside of Fallujah.

    The Invasion of Iraq: A Balance Sheet

    The costly removal of Saddam Hussein won no applause, earned no gratitude, established no reliable ally, and produced no lasting strategic benefit, says Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Mar 22, 2013 | and

  • President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto

    Drug Cartels an X-Factor for Obama, Peña Nieto

    Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and President Obama both face daunting domestic challenges and have ambitious domestic agendas, but both presidents are savvy politicians who realize that each will benefit from the other's success, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Feb 20, 2013 | The Orange County Register

  • USARAF commander meets with Mauritanian senior leaders

    What Does the Amenas Attack Mean for U.S. Policy in Africa?

    Coinciding with continuing, contentious hearings on the U.S. response to last September's terrorist attack in Benghazi, the attack on the Amenas natural gas facility in Algeria has elevated a more general debate about the war on terrorism and U.S. policy in Africa, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jan 31, 2013 |

  • Algerian border guards man the post in Maghnia

    The Dynamics of the Hostage Situation at Amenas

    Looking at the turmoil in Libya following Qaddafi's removal; the overthrow of governments in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen; and Syria's ongoing civil war, it is easy to see why the Algerian government would view any manifestation of an Islamist resurgence as a threat that had to be promptly crushed, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jan 30, 2013 |

  • Armed Islamist fighters race near the Mauritania-Mali border

    The Motivations Behind the Amenas Terrorist Attack

    An attack of this complexity would have required months of reconnaissance, planning, recruiting of inside confederates, and training of participants. France's intervention in Mali was used to “justify” an attack that would likely have taken place anyway, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jan 29, 2013 |

  • Touareg rebels in Mali hoist a flag

    The al Qaeda Threat in North Africa

    Last week's terrorist attack at the In Amenas gas complex in Algeria, along with the recent success of the militant groups fighting government forces in Mali, indicate al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are gaining influence in North Africa. RAND experts weigh in on the latest developments.

    Jan 24, 2013 |

  • terrorists silhouette

    Generations of Terrorism

    Whatever its eventual outcome, Syria's civil war has already produced thousands of experienced jihadists who will continue to threaten the region for years to come, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 13, 2012 | and

  • Two clips from an assault weapon lie upon a table

    Latest Alleged Homegrown 'Terrorists' Fit the Mold

    For many U.S.-born terror recruits, the prospect of blowing things up is a solution to an unsatisfactory life. Terrorism does not attract the well-adjusted, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Nov 20, 2012 |

  • June 2012 protest in Mexico City's town center against the major presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto.

    Will Mexico's New President Continue the War on the Cartels?

    During his campaign, Enrique Peña Nieto, the victorious PRI candidate, promised frightened and war-weary Mexicans a reduction in the violence, but since his election victory in July, he has sounded more and more bellicose, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Nov 16, 2012 |

  • Airline passengers waiting to board

    TSA Procedures Need to Be Remade from Scratch

    It is time for a new approach to meeting America's next-generation aviation security needs, one that dodges the influence of politics and bureaucracies and relies instead on the resources and objectivity of independent researchers operating from a clean slate, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 28, 2012 | U.S. News & World Report

  • Syrian Scenarios

    The most likely outcome, in my opinion, may be no outcome at all, but instead a civil war lasting years. The conflict has become an existential struggle for its participants—their survival is at stake, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Aug 8, 2012 | and

  • An Assessment of the Current Terrorist Threat: A Resurgence of Iranian-Sponsored Terrorism

    An excerpt from Brian Michael Jenkins' testimony to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on July 11, 2012 titled

    Jul 23, 2012

  • Getting the Threat Right

    Would-be jihadist warriors are angry, eager for adventure, out to assuage personal humiliation and demonstrate their manhood. Many appear to be motivated by personal crises—terrorism does not attract the well adjusted, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jun 15, 2012 | CATO Unbound

  • A Final Word on the NDAA

    While I have no doubt of Levin's determination to protect the constitutional rights of American citizens, incremental adjustments and seemingly small compromises, each sensible under the circumstances, can have a cumulative effect that erodes the very liberty we are trying to protect, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 7, 2012 |

  • Is the War on Terror Over? Not Yet.

    Over time, al Qaeda could just fade away. Always resilient, it may morph to survive. Developments on any of several fronts might even enable it to rise again. In a long contest, surprises must be expected, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 2, 2012 | National Journal

  • The NDAA Makes It Harder to Fight Terrorism

    Much of the debate over this bill has focused on the political issue of executive authority versus rule of law. In doing so it has overlooked the indirect and insidious effects the new law may have on the United States' largely successful counterterrorist campaign, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Feb 1, 2012 |

  • Five Myths about 9/11

    Fear has made al-Qaeda the world's top terrorist nuclear power, yet it possesses not a single nuke. This is a lesson in how terrorism works, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 2, 2011 | The Washington Post

  • Is it Time to Consider a New Approach to Airline Security?

    It may be possible that the development and deployment of improved security technologies and reconfigurations of security checkpoints will keep security one step ahead of terrorist adversaries, but it also may be an appropriate time to explore fundamentally new approaches, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 1, 2011 | The Ripon Forum

  • Osama a Wizard of Illusion and Rhetoric

    Bin Laden was chairman of the board, not CEO, using his moral authority to urge his tiny army forward, pointing out new ways to kill Americans, encouraging followers to think outside the typical terrorist playbook, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jun 1, 2011 | The Providence Journal

  • Al-Qaeda after bin Laden

    Wary of communicating with each other and with al Qaeda's field commands, al Qaeda central could become more isolated, more dependent on its affiliates, allied groups, and individual acolytes, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 12, 2011 | National Journal

  • What Al Qaeda Is Thinking Now: Defanged, but Desperate to Show They're Still in the Fight

    There may be some spontaneous acts by individuals enraged by Bin Laden's death who are inspired to follow him into martyrdom. But these are the spasms of reaction, not planned retaliatory operations, and will not demonstrate that Al Qaeda can survive Bin Laden, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 4, 2011 | New York Daily News

  • Why Terrorists Attack Airports

    Attacks on airports give terrorists the symbolic value they seek and guarantee the attention of the international news media, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jan 25, 2011 | CNN

  • Book Review: 'Fallout' by Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz

    Anyone concerned about nuclear proliferation or interested in the world of espionage will want to read Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz's provocative new book, "Fallout: The True Story of the CIA's Secret War on Nuclear Trafficking," which tells a fascinating story whose characters come straight out of a spy novel, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jan 9, 2011 | Los Angeles Times

  • Our Foes Cannot Destroy This Nation

    We have come through wars, depressions, natural and man-made disasters, indeed higher levels of domestic terrorist violence than that we face today, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 27, 2010 |

  • Denying Homegrown Terrorists the Glory

    How should the United States counter homegrown jihadist terrorism? With al Qaeda and its jihadist allies extolling recent terrorist exploits in the United States, we must anticipate further attacks by terrorists who have been recruited and radicalized here in this country, writes Brian Jenkins.

    Jun 24, 2010 | and

  • 5 Reasons We're Safer From Terrorists

    Why aren't there more Times Square bombers? It is not a complaint, but a question that intrigues terrorism analysts. Why haven't more jihadist terrorist attacks been attempted in the United States since 9/11?, asks Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 12, 2010 | AOL News

  • Jihadist Threat Keeps Evolving

    The lesson of the Times Square attack is that the terrorist threat posed by the jihadist movement continues to evolve. It is today more decentralized, more dependent upon al Qaeda's affiliates, allies and individual acolytes to continue its global terrorist campaign, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 10, 2010 |

  • Al Qaeda Tipping Point? Still a Long Way to Go

    Although al Qaeda appears to be coming under pressure in some dimensions, I remain wary of calling a tipping point, and I am even more skeptical about the prospect of a knockout punch, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Apr 26, 2010 |

  • What We Can Learn from the Christmas Day Bombing Attempt

    President Obama's nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration said he would like U.S. airport screening to more closely resemble Israel's. Perhaps attention is turning to what really matters about the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253: what it can teach us about aviation security, write

    Mar 26, 2010 | The Washington Post

  • Jihad Jane and the Risk of Domestic Terrorism

    The revelation of the arrest in October of Colleen Renee LaRose, who had adopted the pathetically predictable nom de guerre Jihad Jane, once again focuses national attention on homegrown terrorism. But while worrisome, this threat needs to be kept in perspective, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Mar 12, 2010 | AOL News

  • How Can We Keep Los Angeles Secure?

    High-ranking officials in Washington tell Americans that the threat from terrorists—principally self-radicalized homegrown terrorists—is high. Do terrorists pose a threat to Los Angeles? asks Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Mar 5, 2010 |

  • How a Decade of Terror Changed America

    Two foiled airliner bombings bracket a decade that changed the world's understanding of terrorism as a new form of global warfare and has had profound ramifications we are still coming to grips with in the U.S., writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 30, 2009 | AOL News

  • Afghanistan: A Marathon, Not a Prize Fight

    President Obama's decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan reflects a nation deeply divided on the war. There are compelling arguments on both sides, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 1, 2009 |

  • How Russia Can and Can't Help Obama

    In hindsight, KGB analysts and Soviet officials were extraordinarily prescient about the perils of Islamist terrorism and the fallout from the Afghan jihad. But could Russia, for all its faults and foibles, be a more valuable counterterrorism partner today, asks Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Aug 26, 2009 |

  • Who Has the Will to Fight Piracy?

    The recent French and American rescues of hostages held by pirates off the coast of Somalia were necessary and proper. No one believes these actions will end piracy. But unless we impose risks on the pirates--which means taking some risks ourselves--piracy will certainly flourish, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Apr 21, 2009 |

  • The Torture Debate, Redux

    Former Vice President Cheney has been insisting again that the coercive interrogation techniques used against terrorism detainees after 9/11 prevented attacks on the United States.... His assertions merit more careful examination, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Apr 1, 2009 |

  • Could Mexico Fail?

    The lawlessness along the mexicanborder has gone way beyond alocal crime wave: there has beena dramatic increase in armed robberies, not by lone gunmen but by heavily armed gangs. Kidnappings and homicides are way up—and not just murders but beheadings.... It is starting to look like a terrorist campaign, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Feb 13, 2009 | Homeland Security Today

  • The Obama Withdrawal From Iraq: How Fast?

    The debate over withdrawal of American forces from Iraq has effectively ended: Troops will begin withdrawing in early 2009.... What is not yet entirely clear is what type of residual American force may remain in Iraq, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 16, 2008 |

  • Mumbai's Terrifying Logic

    We tend to describe terrorism as senseless violence, but it seldom is. If we look at the attacks from the attackers' perspective, we can discern a certain strategic logic, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 9, 2008 | United Press International

  • How Will Obama First Be Tested?

    Vice President-elect Biden was on solid historical ground. He was not implying that there is a band of bad guys hiding in some cellar conjuring up a crisis specifically to take on Obama. It is simply that, many new American presidents have confronted major foreign policy crises within their first year in office, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 8, 2008 |

  • Obama's First International Crisis

    When Sen. Joe Biden observed during the presidential campaign that a new President Barack Obama "will be tested by an international crisis within his first six months in power," he was on solid historical ground, writes Brian Jenkins.

    Nov 16, 2008 | The San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Georgia Dispute Derails Bid to Stop Nuke Terrorism

    Given American concerns about nuclear proliferation and the possibility of nuclear terrorism, tying U.S.-Russian cooperation in the nuclear domain with the current Russia-Georgia quarrel may amount to shooting ourselves in the foot in a misguided attempt to punish Russia, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Oct 6, 2008 | Providence Journal

  • Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?

    America is uniquely susceptible to nuclear terror. Beneath our characteristic national optimism lie seams of anxiety, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 12, 2008 | United Press International

  • A Nuclear 9/11?

    Will terrorists go nuclear? It is a question that worried public officials and frightened citizens have been asking for decades. It is no less of a worry today, as we ponder the seventh anniversary of 9/11, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 12, 2008 |

  • A New Tact on Iraq

    American troops are likely to be needed in Iraq for years to come. Few insurgencies end in less than 10 years, and the conflict in Iraq is an especially complex mixture of guerrilla warfare, sectarian violence and virulent organized crime, writes Brian Michael Jenkins in a commentary appearing in

    Aug 25, 2007 |

  • Combating Radicalization

    Nothing is more important in the global war on terrorism than reducing the production of new terrorists, writes Brian Michael Jenkins in a commentary appearing in United Press International.

    Aug 23, 2007 | United Press International

  • Nuclear Terror: How Real?

    Nuclear Terror: How Real? in Washington Times

    May 13, 2007 | Washington Times

  • Not Every Tragedy Has a Solution

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Not Every Tragedy Has a Solution, in

    Apr 18, 2007 |

  • Old Front Against Terrorism

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Old Front Against Terrorism, in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    Jan 14, 2007 | San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Terror War Uncertainties

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Terror War Uncertainties, in United Press International.

    Oct 6, 2006 | United Press International

  • State of Terrorism Address: What Would Osama Bin Laden Say to Jihadists Five Years Later?

    Published commentary by RAND staff: State of Terrorism Address: What Would Osama Bin Laden Say to Jihadists Five Years Later?, in the Los Angeles Times.

    Sep 11, 2006 | Los Angeles Times

  • Safer, But Not Safe

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Safer, But Not Safe, in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    Sep 10, 2006 | San Diego Union-Tribune

  • The Threat of Oil Jihad

    Published commentary by RAND staff: The Threat of Oil Jihad, in United Press International.

    Mar 3, 2006 | United Press International

  • Lessons for Intelligence in the Campaign Against al Qaeda

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Lessons for Intelligence in the Campaign Against al Qaeda, in Vanguard magazine.

    Mar 2, 2006 | Vanguard

  • Just Starting: The War Against Terror

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Just Starting: The War Against Terror, in Newsday.

    Jan 25, 2006 | Newsday

  • Misjudging The Jihad: Briefing Osama on All the War's Wins and Losses

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Misjudging The Jihad: Briefing Osama on All the War's Wins and Losses in the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Nov 13, 2005 | San Francisco Chronicle

  • Terror in Historical Context

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Prepare for Disaster in the United Press International.

    Oct 28, 2005 | United Press International

  • Let Sgt. Friday Fight Terror

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Let Sgt. Friday Fight Terror in the Los Angeles Times.

    Sep 25, 2005 | Los Angeles Times

  • Democracy's Defense: Values and Justice

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Democracy's Defense: Values and Justice in the Baltimore Sun.

    Sep 11, 2005 | Baltimore Sun

  • Four Years After 9/11, War on Terror Slogs On

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Four Years After 9/11, War on Terror Slogs On in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    Sep 11, 2005 | San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Selecting for Security

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jul 26, 2005 | Newsday

  • The Lessons of London

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jul 17, 2005 | San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Strategy: Political Warfare Neglected

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jun 26, 2005 | San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Can the Iraq Beast Be Tamed?

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    May 18, 2005 | Boston Globe

  • The Men Who Pursued Paradise in Destruction

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    May 15, 2005 | Los Angeles Times

  • Kidnappings in Iraq Strategically Effective

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Apr 29, 2005 | Chicago Tribune

  • Bin Laden and His Special Effects

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Feb 4, 2005 | Chicago Tribune

  • Iraq: Not Terrorist Central

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jan 30, 2005 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Semantics are Strategic in the War on Terror

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 30, 2004 | The Globe and Mail

  • The Four Defensive Measures Against Terrorism

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 24, 2004 | 24 Chasa

  • The View from Ground Zero: Is America Safer?

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 12, 2004 | San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Looking for 'High Noon' in a Hundred Years' War

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Aug 22, 2004 | San Diego Union Tribune

  • World Becomes the Hostage of Media-Savvy Terrorists

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Aug 22, 2004 | USA Today

  • Don't Move Too Fast on Intelligence Reform

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Aug 17, 2004 | The Hill

  • Trains, Buses and Terror

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    May 3, 2004 | Mercury News

  • Bin Laden May Be Fishing for Allies on Europe's Secular Left

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Apr 25, 2004 | Los Angeles Times

  • Does Terrorism Work?

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Mar 21, 2004 | Mercury News

  • 'Axis of Evil' Versus 'Chain of Evil'

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Feb 1, 2004 | Los Angeles Times

  • From 'White' Christmas to 'Orange' Christmas

    From 'white' Christmas to 'orange' Christmas

    Dec 25, 2003 | San Diego Union Tribune

  • Killing bin Laden, et al, Is No Help

    Today's emblem of terror is Osama bin Laden. If bin Laden were a fictional villain created by Hollywood, his death or capture would end the reign of terror he has visited upon the world. Al-Qaida would fold its tent. The violent jihad that bin Laden has endeavored to inspire and direct would fade away. And, as a result, the world would return to quieter and less threatening times.

    Dec 3, 2003 | Newsday

  • Breach of Airline Security Is Nothing to Panic About

    The arrest of Nathaniel T. Heatwole on charges of smuggling box cutters, bleach and matches aboard two commercial airliners reminds us that, despite significant improvements since Sept. 11, our security systems are not perfect. They never will be.

    Oct 21, 2003 | Los Angeles Times

  • Connect the Cops to Connect the Dots

    commentaries by RAND Staff: insightful commentaries on current events, published in newspapers, magazines and journals worldwide.

    Jun 1, 2003 | The San Diego Union Tribune

  • All Citizens Now First Responders

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Mar 24, 2003 | USA Today

  • What If We Don't Attack Iraq?

    So-called allies have denounced U.S. plans to fight Saddam Hussein. Brian Michael Jenkins says they might not like the consequences of our inaction, either.

    Mar 16, 2003 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Countering al-Qaeda: The Next Phase in the War

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 8, 2002 | San Diego Union Tribune

  • Fliers Have Reason to Jettison Jitters

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 3, 2002 | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • Put Brains Behind Airway Safety

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jul 30, 2002 | New York Daily News

  • Get Used to It: Our Airports Are Vulnerable to Terrorism

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jul 25, 2002 | Los Angeles Times

  • Face Terror with Better Spying, Not Moats of Fear

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jul 10, 2002 | Los Angeles Times

  • Safeguarding the Skies

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 30, 2001 | San Diego Union Tribune

  • This Time It Is Different

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 16, 2001 | San Diego Union Tribune

  • A Confounding, Complex Tragedy

    Without external assistance, Colombia cannot defeat the guerrilla-gangster Minotaur that consumes it. It is in our national interest to help. At the same time, it is necessary that we fully comprehend the harsh realities we and our Colombian allies face.

    Jun 17, 2001 | San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Disloyalty Feeds on Cash, Flesh and Thrills

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Feb 22, 2001 | Los Angeles Times

  • Terrorist Trials Serve U.S. Strategy

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jan 7, 2001 | Los Angeles Times