Terrorism and Homeland Security

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RAND is a world leader in research on terrorism, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, disaster management, and homeland security—topics that affect a wide variety of policy areas and challenge individuals and nations worldwide.

  • A former Islamic State prison in the town of Tabqa, after Syrian Democratic Forces captured it from Islamic State militants, Syria, May 12, 2017, photo by Rodi Said/Reuters

    Commentary

    ISIS: Weakened but Still Potent

    May 18, 2017

    ISIS is being defeated as an insurgency while preparing to transform into a clandestine terrorist group. But ISIS will continue to pose a serious threat to the countries where it operates and to the Western nations that it targets as it evolves.

  • Members of the Free Syrian Army distribute humanitarian aid to residents left in Harem town, Idlib Governorate, October 28, 2012, after Syrian jets bombarded Sunni Muslim regions across the country, photo by Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

    Report

    The U.S. Strategy to Defeat the Islamic State Needs an Overhaul

    May 8, 2017

    A broader strategy to beat the Islamic State should address the conditions that allowed the group to emerge and thrive. A long-term commitment is required to establish legitimate governance in Iraq and Syria and reconcile the disenfranchised Sunni Arab populations with their governments.

Explore Terrorism and Homeland Security

  • Closeup of a hand using a digital tablet

    Commentary

    Following Online Footprints to Catch Terrorists

    Millions of people leave behind online footprints each day, giving law enforcement and intelligence experts the chance to construct a profile of who is more likely to commit violence in the name of a murderous ideology.

    Dec 28, 2015

  • A Super Scooper aircraft battles a 40-acre fire east of the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles

    Commentary

    Wildfires Getting More Destructive

    The potential for smoke to harm air quality and cause health problems was especially acute in 2015 because a record number of wildfires broke out in the United States. Pre-wildfire season preparedness could go a long way toward protecting public health.

    Dec 28, 2015

  • A Kurdish refugee woman from Syria walks with her children at a refugee camp in Suruc, Turkey, November 17, 2014

    Report

    Lessening the Risk of Refugee Radicalization: Lessons from the Past

    Radicalization among refugee populations, such as the millions currently fleeing Syria, is not inevitable. Rather, comprehensive policies that go beyond immediate life-saving needs can mitigate the risk. But such policies were rare in past crises and even today can be difficult to put in place and sustain.

    Dec 28, 2015

  • A no-school sign is pictured at Florence Nightingale Middle School in the Cypress Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, December 15, 2015

    Commentary

    How Terrorist Threats Against LA and New York Schools Exposed Weaknesses

    The handling of terrorist threats on Los Angeles and New York City schools calls into question the ability of national and local government to coordinate a terrorist crisis involving two or more cities.

    Dec 23, 2015

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

    Commentary

    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

  • Financial system representation

    Report

    The National Security Implications of Virtual Currency

    Could a non-state actor deploy a virtual currency to disrupt sovereignty and increase its political or economic power? How might a government or organization successfully disrupt such a deployment?

    Dec 16, 2015

  • Protesters from the online activist group Anonymous

    Commentary

    Anonymous vs. ISIS: Wishing the Vigilante Hackers Luck Against the Murderous Jihadists

    While ISIL uses the Internet to recruit fighters and incite violence, the Anonymous counter initiative could lower the volume of the online echo chamber, and yield support for the war against ISIL and its extremist ilk.

    Dec 14, 2015

  • Ambulances at Russell Square, London after the 2005-07-07 bombings

    Project

    Tactical Approach to Counter Terrorists in Cities

    Addressing terrorist threats to urban spaces is a particularly challenging task in the current security climate. As one of the 11 research institutes participating in the project, RAND Europe is contributing to building a decision making framework that (i) supports security forces in responding more effectively to prevent attacks or (ii) limits their consequences in urban environments.

    Dec 14, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Using Causal Models in Heterogeneous Information Fusion to Detect Terrorists

    We describe basic research that uses a causal, uncertainty-sensitive computational model rooted in qualitative social science to fuse disparate pieces of threat information.

    Dec 14, 2015

  • Armed police officers on guard near Buckingham Palace, London, for Trooping the Colour, June 16, 2012

    Report

    Tactical Approach to Counter Terrorists in Cities

    Counterterrorism technologies and diverse partnerships are essential when dealing with terrorist threats in urban areas. The TACTICS project team, commissioned in light of the increased threat of terrorism in European cities, has developed a technology-ready concept that could support counterterrorism operations across Europe.

    Dec 14, 2015

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

    Testimony

    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

  • Barrels of fuel are displayed inside a damaged, non-functioning petrol station in Aleppo, Syria, January 13, 2015

    Testimony

    The Role of Oil in ISIL Finances

    Sales of oil and refined oil products are the most important single source of recurrent revenues for ISIL. Targeting ISIL's oil loading facilities and heavy trucks can weaken the group, but this alone will not lead to its demise.

    Dec 10, 2015

  • Soldiers from 7th Special Forces Group Airborne are suspended by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during a training event Eglin Air Force Base, February 5, 2013

    Commentary

    ISIS vs Special Ops

    However critical to the fight against ISIS, using special operations forces for raids represents only half of the needed military adjustment. The other half is the effort to build indigenous forces capable of taking and holding territory in Iraq and Syria.

    Dec 8, 2015

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

    Commentary

    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

  • Marines scan the area for insurgent activity during a general support flight over Helmand province, Afghanistan

    Commentary

    To Defeat ISIS, Focus on Its Real Sources of Strength

    The threat ISIS poses today is graver than ever for two reasons: its war chest and its ability to attract foreign recruits are both at their peak. Redoubling international efforts to cut off ISIS from these two pillars of its war machine is necessary to sap the group's strength.

    Dec 4, 2015

  • A Syrian refugee carries his son through a rainstorm at the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of Idomeni, November 27, 2015

    Commentary

    To Undermine ISIS, We Should Welcome Syrian Refugees

    Demonstrating American goodwill to Syrian refugees is the best way to help defeat ISIS and rehabilitate America's image in the chaotic Middle East.

    Dec 3, 2015

  • 2nd Lt. Mary Kauffman, Ohio Army National Guard, crawls through mud during the Warrior Dash Aug. 11, 2013, in North Lawrence, Ohio

    Report

    Demystifying the Citizen Soldier

    This report analyzes the National Guard's centrality to American national security, the idea that it prevents the United States from fighting controversial foreign wars, and its claim to embody the concept of the citizen soldier.

    Dec 3, 2015

  • Report

    Improving DoD Support to FEMA's All-Hazards Plans

    Reviews and analyzes how the U.S. Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency work together to plan and execute disaster response activities, and recommends areas for improvement.

    Nov 30, 2015

  • A Belgian police officer stands guard outside a school in central Brussels, November 25, 2015

    Commentary

    Brussels Locked-Down Heartbeat: A View from Within

    To understand Molenbeek, the Brussels district that can be linked to most of the terror attacks on European soil in the past 18 months, it's necessary to examine the broader political and cultural context in Belgium.

    Nov 27, 2015

  • President Francois Hollande delivers a speech for the 70th General Conference of UNESCO in Paris, France, November 17, 2015

    Commentary

    France Is Right to Stay the Course

    President Hollande announced that 30,000 Syrian refugees would be welcomed in France, honoring the commitment France made to its European partners before the Paris attacks. Altering its policy would only give the terrorists what they want.

    Nov 25, 2015