Domestic Terrorism


Domestic terrorism involves violence against the civilian population or infrastructure of a nation—often but not always by citizens of that nation and often with the intent to intimidate, coerce, or influence national policy. RAND addresses national security and critical infrastructure needs through objective research that helps government agencies prevent and mitigate terrorist activities and improves disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

Explore Domestic Terrorism

  • LED map of the continental United States


    Election 2016: The Domestic Issues

    RAND offers a unique take on the big domestic issues facing America: research that is independent, reliable, and rigorously nonpartisan.

    Oct 3, 2016

  • A man arrives at the World Trade Center complex on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, September 11, 2016


    Fifteen Years After 9/11: A Preliminary Balance Sheet

    Fifteen years after 9/11, the United States is better organized and equipped to combat terrorism. But the country still faces a multi-tiered threat, and its citizens remain fearful.

    Sep 21, 2016

  • A house damaged by a tornado


    Designing Compensation Funds After Disasters

    Man-made and natural disasters in the United States can cause personal injury and property damage to dozens, and sometimes even thousands, of people. Sometimes victim compensation programs are created afterwards. Program designers must consider fairness to victims, timely compensation, and low transaction costs.

    Jul 6, 2016

  • A member of the Peshmerga forces inspects a tunnel used by Islamic State militants in the town of Sinjar, Iraq


    Islamic State May Be Down, but It's Far from Out

    The Islamic State's loss of territory, money, and recruits would seem to demonstrate significant progress by the U.S.-led coalition. But if there is one accepted truism in the battle against the group, it is that its leaders intend to fight to the death to establish an Islamic caliphate.

    May 23, 2016

  • A police line separates people attending the Freedom of Speech Rally Round II from counter demonstrators outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix, Arizona, May 29, 2015


    Anti-Muslim Demonstrations Don't Make Us Safer

    Anti-Muslim demonstrations complicate efforts to combat terrorism. They also exaggerate the threat, perpetuate overblown fears, and punish innocents who may be on America's side.

    May 12, 2016

  • Journal Article

    'Beyond Procedural Justice': The Significance of Personal and Community Relationships in Countering Terrorist Recruitment

    The Procedural Justice Model has traditionally been associated with the fields of sociology and criminology as a means for those representing the criminal justice system, in particular the police, to interact and engage with local communities, build trust, develop legitimacy and establish institutional authority.

    Mar 9, 2016

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter stands with Col. Otto Liller as he is greeted by Iraqi Major General Falah al Mohamedawi (L) at the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service Academy in Baghdad, July 23, 2015


    Solving the Geometrical Problem of Terrorism

    Think of terror organizations as being composed of four elements, organized in concentric circles with the leaders at the center bull's eye, operational elements in the second ring, supporters in the third, and sympathizers in the fourth. Neutralizing each group will require different strategies.

    Jan 13, 2016

  • Flowers and candles are displayed at a makeshift memorial after the December 2, 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, California


    How Terrorists Get Here

    Of 134 jihadist-inspired terrorists who have carried out or plotted attacks in the United States since 9/11, 96 were U.S. citizens and 19 others were legal permanent residents. While some level of comfort may be drawn from the fact that terrorists are not pouring into the country, there is no basis for complacency.

    Dec 18, 2015

  • The logos of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are seen on computer terminals


    Jihadist Conspirators in the United States

    A review of how terrorists arrived in the United States in the past can help the government prioritize its efforts and resources. But it may not be a reliable indicator of how terrorist organizations could attempt to bring violence to America in the future.

    Dec 10, 2015

  • President Barack Obama speaks about counterterrorism and the U.S. fight against the Islamic State, December 6, 2015


    If Terrorism Is Homegrown, a Visa Overhaul Won't Keep Americans Safe

    Despite being the focus of renewed scrutiny, only three people involved in terrorist incidents have entered the United States via the visa waiver program in the past quarter-century.

    Dec 7, 2015

  • A tank of the Syrian National Army in the outskirts of Damascus on September 21, 2013


    The Dynamics of the Conflicts in Syria and Iraq and the Threat Posed by Homegrown Terrorists and Returning Western Fighters

    The fighting in Iraq and Syria is likely to continue. How will the dynamics of these conflicts shape the region and events beyond? And what threat do Westerners who've joined jihadists on these battlefields and homegrown terrorists pose to the U.S. homeland?

    Nov 18, 2015

  • Candles in the French national colours are placed near the Bataclan concert hall the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris, November 14, 2015


    Big Questions Facing France

    In Paris, the heavily armed terrorists reportedly struck at six locations, including restaurants, a football stadium, and a theater during a rock concert. It seems clear the killers must have had some confederates. That would mean some terrorists are still at large.

    Nov 14, 2015

  • U.S. Army Specialist visits his former high school as part of the Army Special Recruiter Assistance Program


    Go Slow on Arming Recruiters

    Several important voices have argued for arming military recruiters in the wake of the recent shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Giving them a chance to fight back against an active shooter may be a sound proposition, but practicalities of military recruiting suggest a patient and thoughtful policy review.

    Jul 31, 2015

  • A Syrian refugee shows his passport after he and others were rescued by a Greek coast guard patrol boat, May 29, 2015


    Admitting Syrian Refugees: The Intelligence Void and the Emerging Homeland Security Threat

    The deeply intertwined wars in Syria and Iraq continue to impact U.S. national security. Based on threats posed by a number of terrorist groups in the region, it's important to examine potential risks from increased refugee flows and ensure that the U.S. refugee program safeguards national security.

    Jun 24, 2015

  • Testimony

    There Will Be Battles in the Heart of Your Abode: The Threat Posed by Foreign Fighters Returning From Syria and Iraq: Addendum

    Document submitted on April 17, 2015 as an addendum to testimony presented before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on March 12, 2015.

    Apr 17, 2015

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


    Syria and Iraq: 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

  • 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

  • Testimony

    Containing Middle East Terror: Measures to Reduce the Threat Posed By Foreign Fighters Returning from Syria and Iraq

    Testimony presented before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security on March 17, 2015.

    Mar 17, 2015

  • Militant Islamist fighters ride horses in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province, June 30, 2014


    The Threat Posed by Foreign Fighters Returning from Syria and Iraq

    An estimated 3,400 foreign fighters have come from Europe and other Western countries to join jihadist fronts in Syria and Iraq. What is the threat posed by these Western fighters? And how can the U.S. better identify and intercept returning foreign fighters from countries covered by the Visa Waiver Program?

    Mar 12, 2015

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: March-April 2015

    This issue of RAND Review reports on American jihadists and the threat of homegrown terrorism in Europe, drug-resistant superbugs and the economic costs of antimicrobial resistance, profiling, resilient cities, and recent philanthropic gifts to RAND.

    Mar 4, 2015