Terrorist Plots Against the United States

What We Have Really Faced, and How We Might Best Defend Against It

by Kevin J. Strom, John S. Hollywood, Mark Pope

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This chapter describes the results of an analysis of 150 completed and foiled terrorist plots against the United States from 1995 to 2012 to better understand the true nature of the terrorist threat faced by the United States. The findings focus on the types of terrorist ideologies and motivations most represented, the magnitude of attacks, how plots are most often thwarted and by whom, and the missed clues in successful attacks. Overall, the United States has been more successful at thwarting terrorist plots in the years since 9/11 than compared to the 6 years prior. From 1995 to 2012, plots by Al Qaeda and affiliated related movements (AQAM) constituted almost 40% of all plots. White Supremacist-related and Militia/Anti-Government-related plots combined accounted for about another 40%, with the remaining plots due to a variety of motivations.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Methods and Plots Coding Scheme

  • Chapter Three

    Results

  • Chapter Four

    Discussion and Conclusions

This research was funded by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and conducted within RAND's Homeland Security and Defense Center.

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