Threat Analysis

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Researchers collaborate across disciplines at RAND to evaluate terrorist, military, nuclear, cyber, and other threats to U.S. national security — identifying emerging threats, scrutinizing known risks, and evaluating potential strategic and tactical responses. Recent studies have included examinations of al Qaeda, the Afghan insurgency, and Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Explore Threat Assessment

  • Blog

    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

  • Testimony

    Counterterrorism and the Role of Special Operations Forces

    Over the long run, the persistent nature of the terrorism threat to the United States suggests that special operations forces should remain a key part of the struggle against al Qa’ida and other Salafi-jihadist groups.

    Apr 8, 2014

  • Report

    Armed Aerial Drones and U.S. Security

    While armed drones are not truly transformative weapons, they do offer the United States some significant advantages, particularly against enemies that lack air defenses. How the United States uses these weapons today and into the future will be important in shaping a broader set of international norms that discourage their misuse by others.

    Apr 7, 2014

  • Testimony

    The Extremist Threat to the U.S. Homeland: Addendum

    Document submitted on March 12, 2014 as an addendum to testimony presented before the House Homeland Security Committee on January 15, 2014.

    Mar 24, 2014

  • Blog

    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

  • Blog

    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

  • Blog

    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

  • Blog

    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

  • Testimony

    Back to the Future: The Resurgence of Salafi-Jihadists

    U.S. policymakers should be concerned about the number, size, and activity of al Qa'ida and other Salafi-jihadist groups. Some of these groups pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland, embassies, and citizens overseas, while others are currently targeting local regimes.

    Feb 4, 2014

  • Blog

    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

  • Blog

    Sochi and Singletons

    Given Russian capabilities, it would be surprising if a terrorist group was able to mount a successful large-scale, coordinated attack during the Games. For spectators and athletes alike, the more likely threat will be from individuals, acting alone outside of arenas and other official venues.

    Jan 31, 2014

  • Report

    Improving the U.S. Military's Understanding of Unstable Environments Vulnerable to Violent Extremist Groups: Insights from Social Science

    What factors create and perpetuate environments susceptible to insurgency, terrorism, and other extremist violence and instability? Twelve are presented to inform military decisions on allocation of analytic and security assistance resources.

    Jan 16, 2014

  • Testimony

    The Extremist Threat to the U.S. Homeland

    U.S. policymakers should be concerned about the number, size, and activity of al Qa'ida and other Salafi-jihadist groups. Some of these groups pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland, embassies, and citizens overseas, while others are currently targeting local regimes.

    Jan 15, 2014

  • Report

    Identifying Enemies Among Us: Evolving Terrorist Threats and the Continuing Challenges of Domestic Intelligence Collection and Information Sharing

    Officials, practitioners, and counterterrorism experts gathered this year to examine domestic intelligence and information sharing as they relate to terrorist threats.

    Jan 13, 2014

  • Blog

    Al Qaeda Is Down — Al Qaedism Isn't

    The counterterror campaign is a marathon run against a slowly declining revolutionary idea, al Qaedism, which will take many more years to stamp out fully. The U.S. should not lose sight of the fact that while 12 years of counterterrorism efforts have helped keep it safe, many more years of vigilance lie ahead.

    Jan 6, 2014

  • Report

    The U.S. Army in Southeast Asia: Near-Term and Long-Term Roles

    If the outlook in Southeast Asia deteriorates, the U.S. Army role should be increase security cooperation, conclude new regional basing agreements, expand disaster assistance, and create policies to encourage risk-averse Chinese behavior.

    Jan 6, 2014

  • Blog

    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

  • Report

    Toward Integrated DoD Biosurveillance: Assessment and Opportunities

    More near-real-time analysis and better internal and external integration could enhance the performance and value of the Department of Defense's biosurveillance programs. This study, conducted at the request of the Office of Management and Budget, finds that improvements are needed in key enablers, including funding.

    Dec 4, 2013

  • Research Brief

    Predicting Suicide Attacks: Characteristics of Bombings in Israel

    The threat of suicide bombings in the United States and elsewhere prompted the Department of Homeland Security to develop a method for predicting the determinants of suicide bombing attacks. This brief describes an assessment of how geospatial and sociocultural characteristics may help predict the timing and targets of terrorist attacks.

    Nov 7, 2013

  • Blog

    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