Terrorism

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The Munich Olympics. The Lockerbie bombing. Oklahoma City. 9/11. London, Madrid, Mumbai. Terrorism is by no means a localized or recent phenomenon. Similarly, efforts to both catalog and counter terrorism, both at home and around the world, have been a key focus of RAND research since the early 1970s.

  • 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, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    Disrupting Terrorist Safe Havens

    Aug 18, 2014

    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.

Explore Terrorism

  • 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

    Commentary

    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

  • U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015

    Blog

    State of the Union 2015: Clarion Calls on Terrorism, Cyber, Education, and More

    The agenda President Barack Obama outlined in his State of the Union address can perhaps best be characterized as broad, mirroring the range of diverse and emerging issues facing the U.S. in 2015.

    Jan 21, 2015

  • Protesters set fire to U.S. and Israeli flags to protest the Israeli offensive in Lebanon in front of Istanbul University after Friday prayers in Beyazit Mosque in Istanbul, August 4, 2006

    Blog

    Dialogue on Asymmetric Threats Concludes Two-Day Workshop on U.S. and Israeli Security Challenges

    Few nations have more experience with asymmetric conflicts than Israel and the United States. At the National Press Club in Washington, Brian Michael Jenkins of RAND and Admiral Amichay Ayalon, former director of Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, discussed the dynamics of the changing security environment.

    Jan 16, 2015

  • News Release

    New Book About 'Eurojihad' Explores Evolution of Radical Networks Threatening Europe, U.S.

    Europe is central to Islamist terror organizations and the sources of radicalization of these individuals go far deeper than the current situation in Iraq and Syria. European governments are moving beyond policing and security measures by addressing the factors that encourage and facilitate radicalization and recruitment — approaches that might also be of value to the United States.

    Jan 14, 2015

  • t-call-experts-hr

    Multimedia

    Call with the Experts: Implications of the Paris Shootings

    In this excerpt from an exclusive RAND Policy Circle Call, RAND terrorism experts discuss the deadly shootings at the satirical news magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris that have raised fears of a larger, more coordinated form of religiously-motivated terrorism throughout Europe and the West.

    Jan 14, 2015

  • Muslims hold placards as they march towards the U.S. embassy in London, May 2011

    Report

    New Book About 'Eurojihad' Explores Evolution of Radical Networks Threatening Europe, U.S.

    Europe is central to Islamist terror organizations and the sources of radicalization of these individuals go far deeper than the current situation in Iraq and Syria. European governments are moving beyond policing and security measures by addressing the factors that encourage and facilitate radicalization and recruitment — approaches that might also be of value to the United States.

    Jan 14, 2015

  • Candles and a placard that reads 'I am Charlie' at the French embassy in Berlin, January 7, 2015, tributes to victims of a shooting at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris

    Blog

    Terror in Paris, Answers from RAND Experts

    The attack that claimed the lives of 12 people in the offices of a Paris-based satirical magazine sent waves of terror and disbelief across France today. RAND experts discuss what the terrorists stand to gain from the attack, what it could mean for Muslims around the world, and more.

    Jan 7, 2015

  • A prisoner, behind bars

    Commentary

    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

  • An airline passenger stands in a full-body scanner at a TSA checkpoint at LAX in February 2014 after U.S. authorities issued a warning to airlines to watch out for militants who may have hidden bombs in their shoes

    Commentary

    What Research Says About Profiling

    When police take action on the basis of race, creed, or ethnicity it is corrosive, unfair, ineffective, and can stoke the flames of police-community tension. But as we have found from a variety of assessments, law enforcement is best served when it bases its activities on risk—not on personal characteristics.

    Dec 18, 2014

  • A hostage runs toward a police officer outside Lindt cafe, where other hostages are being held, in Martin Place, Sydney, December 15, 2014

    Blog

    Could the Sydney Café Siege Happen Elsewhere?

    As the world mourns those lost in the Sydney café siege, investigations have begun examining the efficacy of Australia's anti-terrorism measures and details about the background and motives of the gunman. At the same time, terrorism experts are reflecting on where else such an attack could emerge.

    Dec 17, 2014

  • Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (L) discusses a report on the CIA's anti-terrorism tactics on the floor of the U.S. Senate as Senators Debbie Stabenow (rear) and Patty Murray look on, Washington, December 9, 2014

    Commentary

    Why the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA May Both Be Right

    Given that many questions of fact regarding the CIA's program of enhanced interrogation techniques can probably never be conclusively answered, the real issue comes down to a value judgment: whether inflicting physical pain on prisoners is an acceptable means of reducing the risk of terrorist attacks.

    Dec 12, 2014

  • Posters of a boy, killed in Shi'ite-Sunni violence, displayed on his grave in Sanaa, Yemen, November 17, 2014

    Commentary

    The Tortured Roots of Sectarian Violence

    The recent increase of sectarian terrorism is best understood as a product of the ancient Sunni-Shiite divide, the growth of modern-day extremist groups, the Iranian-Saudi rivalry, and the growing phenomenon of fractured states.

    Dec 12, 2014

  • Rob Cox and Kenneth Feinberg at RAND's Politics Aside 2014

    Blog

    In the Wake of Disaster: Practical and Philosophical Challenges of Victim Compensation

    When tragedy strikes, Kenneth Feinberg is often the person companies and governments turn to for help to determine appropriate monetary compensation. At RAND's Politics Aside event last week, he shared some of his thoughts on what goes into making those decisions, and why it's so important to meet with victims.

    Nov 20, 2014

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

    Commentary

    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

  • A masked man speaking in what is believed to be a North American accent in a video that Islamic State militants released in September

    Report

    When Jihadis Come Marching Home

    Although the numbers of Westerners slipping off to join the jihadist fronts in Syria and Iraq are murky, U.S. counterterrorism officials believe that those fighters pose a clear and present danger to American security.

    Nov 18, 2014

  • Militant Islamist fighters wave the ISIS flag atop a tank on the streets of northern Raqqa province, Syria, June 30, 2014

    Testimony

    Countering ISIL's Financing

    Stolen oil, extortion revenue, and access to international financial systems have enabled ISIL to build wealth. Helping Iraq and regional partners target financial facilitators and local revenue sources can reverse ISIL funding.

    Nov 13, 2014

  • Oil barrels under a clear, blue sky

    Commentary

    The Upside of Lower Oil Prices

    Movement toward sharply lower oil prices should be a prominent component of any strategy directed at disabling many of the world's most disruptive threats: Iran's nuclear development, ISIS, Hamas attacks on Israel, and Russia's threat to Ukraine.

    Oct 17, 2014

  • A man holds up a knife as he rides on the back of a motorcycle in celebration after Islamic State militants took over Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria, August 24, 2014

    Commentary

    Hit the Islamic State's Pocketbook

    The Islamic State is the world's richest terrorist group, with estimated assets of $1 billion to $2 billion. Airstrikes may disrupt the flow of oil and profits, but they won't lead to the group's financial ruin anytime soon. The Islamic State will bring in an estimated $100 million to $200 million this year.

    Oct 6, 2014

  • A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes against ISIL targets Sept. 23, 2014

    Commentary

    War with ISIS: What Does Victory Look Like?

    We should start the campaign with an achievable definition of victory and a reasonable expectation about what that will take. We want to degrade ISIS so its ability to attack us and our interests is minimized, and to aid allies like Iraqis and Middle Eastern governments who are willing to commit even limited forces.

    Sep 25, 2014

  • Kurdish Peshmerga forces guard their position near Tal Afar, west of Mosul against Islamic State militants

    Blog

    RAND Experts Discuss U.S. Strategy on ISIS

    President Obama outlined a strategy last week to deal with the threat posed by the terrorist group known as ISIS. RAND experts discuss the speech and the follow-up efforts so far.

    Sep 15, 2014