Cover: Technology Acquisition by Terrorist Groups

Technology Acquisition by Terrorist Groups

Threat Assessment Informed by Lessons from Private Sector Technology Adoption

Published 2001

by Brian A. Jackson

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Because of the importance of technology to the operations of modern terrorist groups, the factors that affect the technological sophistication of extreme organizations are of great interest. In this article, the process through which terrorist groups seek out and deploy new technology is examined by bringing to bear the deep literature that exists on technology adoption by commercial organizations. A framework is described that delineates not only the factors that influence a group’s decisionmaking processes surrounding new technology but also the obstacles that stand in the way of the successful absorption and use of unfamiliar technologies by a terrorist organization. This framework, by taking a holistic view of the entire technology adoption process, sets out a methodology to both more reasonably predict the outcome of a group’s technology-seeking efforts and to speculate about its future innovation efforts. Such a technology focused viewpoint provides a route to more fully inform risk assessment, especially with regard to the low probability-high consequence technologies that have served as the focus of much recent counterterrorist deliberation. The lessons provided by the framework with respect to weapons of mass destruction terrorism and to novel counterterrorist routes are discussed.

Originally published in: Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Vol. 24, 2001, pp. 183-213.

This report is part of the RAND reprint series. The Reprint was a product of RAND from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.