Counterterrorism

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Terrorism has been a long-standing challenge for the international community. With its significant body of work on terrorism, RAND has an impressive record of advising the public on individual preparedness, first responders on crisis management, and policymakers on counterterrorism strategies at home and abroad.

  • Iraqi forces advance against Islamic State militants in western Mosul, Iraq, March 6, 2017

    Report

    Rolling Back the Islamic State

    Apr 20, 2017

    The Islamic State has lost substantial control of territory and people. But the group still conducts and inspires attacks around the world. The United States should pursue a light rollback strategy that relies on local forces backed by U.S. special operations troops, intelligence assets, and airpower.

  • 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

    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 Counterterrorism

  • Soldiers of the Burkina Faso Army stand at attention at Camp Zagre, Burkina Faso, on February 27, 2017, at the opening of Flintlock 2017. The annual exercise, sponsored by the U.S. Africa Command, aims to strengthen security institutions, promote multilateral information sharing, and develop interoperability among partner nations in the Trans-Sahara region.

    Research Brief

    How to Reform Security Sector Assistance in Africa

    U.S.-provided security sector assistance (SSA) in Africa has largely failed to achieve its goals. Substantial changes are required if SSA is to have the impact the United States intends. These changes need to be made in strategies, programs, and evaluations.

    Sep 13, 2018

  • U.S. Army soldiers and members from the Zambian Defense Force work together during a daytime tactical movement at exercise Southern Accord 15 in Lusaka, Zambia, August 5, 2015

    Report

    Effects of U.S. Security Sector Assistance in Africa

    U.S.-provided security sector assistance in Africa has had a mixed record since the Cold War. But when implemented along with peacekeeping operations, U.S. assistance has had a positive impact on outcomes like the incidence of civil wars, terrorist attacks, and state repression.

    Sep 13, 2018

  • Report

    A Developmental Approach to Building Sustainable Security-Sector Capacity in Africa

    In this report, RAND researchers analyze options and recommend changes to improve the sustainability of security sector assistance in African partner nations, deriving insights from the development community.

    Sep 13, 2018

  • French President Emmanuel Macron gives a speech at an international conference to discuss ways of cutting funding to terrorist groups, at the OECD headquarters in Paris, France, April 26, 2018

    Testimony

    Current Trends in Terrorist Financing

    How do terrorists generate income? And how might ISIS, the wealthiest group in history, seek to use its funds to make a comeback? Terrorist financing has evolved, making it difficult to counter. But these efforts must continue to keep ISIS isolated from external patrons and state sponsors.

    Sep 7, 2018

  • A drone is used to survey high-voltage power lines of electric company Westnetz near Wilnsdorf, Germany, July 11, 2018

    Commentary

    Approaching a 'New Normal': What the Drone Attack in Venezuela Portends

    The attempt to assassinate Venezuelan President Maduro showed that drones are easy to use and difficult to defend against. Commercial off-the-shelf technology is easy to acquire. It is imperative that counterterrorism specialists begin planning a robust response to the threat.

    Aug 13, 2018

  • Testimony

    The Challenges and the Benefits for U.S. National Security of Providing Foreign Assistance to Afghanistan: Addendum: Responses to Post-Hearing Questions for the Record

    Document submitted June 28, 2018, as an addendum to testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management, on May 9, 2018.

    Jun 29, 2018

  • The Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, September 12, 2013

    Commentary

    Maintaining Europol Security Ties After Brexit

    Europol is a highly effective organization that is essential to addressing transnational crime in today's interconnected world. Britain could make continuing membership in Europol one of its highest priorities during Brexit negotiations.

    Jun 18, 2018

  • U.S. soldiers watch an Afghan soldier sign for the transfer of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to Afghan security forces on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, February 14, 2015

    Testimony

    A Path Forward for U.S. Government Spending in Afghanistan

    For more than 16 years, U.S. assistance to Afghanistan has been enormous in scale and complexity. But how effective is U.S. spending when it comes to building a stable democracy in Afghanistan? How can the United States reduce its financial commitment while mitigating risks?

    May 9, 2018

  • Lorton, Virginia, June 6, 2017: Elizabeth and Ventoux, a canine/handler team with Virginia Task Force 1, participate in a training drill. They practiced searching for people trapped within the rubble pile.

    Brochure

    HSOAC Annual Report 2016–2017

    The Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC) 2016-2017 Annual Report offers an overview of HSOAC capabilities and highlights how RAND is supporting the mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

    May 7, 2018

  • A mourner writes a message on a makeshift memorial a day after a van struck multiple people along a major intersection in north Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 24, 2018

    Commentary

    The Continuing Plague of Vehicle Attacks: What Can Be Done?

    Attacks using vehicles like the one in Toronto this week are difficult to defend against, but that doesn't mean that law enforcement and local security forces can't make progress. There are four crucial elements to consider when thinking about mitigating the effects of ramming attacks.

    Apr 26, 2018

  • Destroyed buildings during sunset at the frontline in Raqqa, Syria, October 6, 2017

    Commentary

    Defeating the ISIS Nostalgia Narrative

    It is crucial that the United States and its coalition partners take into consideration and preempt the ISIS nostalgia narratives that may seek to define the group's legacy and prepare a foundation for its resurgence throughout the Middle East and beyond. The legacy ISIS should be remembered for is one of misery and despair.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • A soldier stands guard in a tower overlooking Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay naval base, Cuba, December 31, 2009

    Commentary

    Now's the Time to Act on Guantanamo

    Most of the 41 terror suspects who remain confined at Guantanamo Bay are unlikely to be released from custody any time soon. But the possibility that new detainees may soon be sent to the facility argues for early action to accelerate the legal proceedings against those already being held.

    Apr 16, 2018

  • Turkish flag flutters at Turkey's border gate with Syria, overlooking ruins of buildings destroyed during fighting with the Islamic State militants in Kobani, Syria, October 11, 2017

    Commentary

    Turkey's Double Standard: How Ankara's Actions Contradict Its Claims of Opposing the Islamic State

    Turkey wants to take credit for the demise of the Islamic State, insisting that Turkey's actions in northern Syria have helped lay the groundwork for a sustainable peace. But the evidence clearly suggests otherwise.

    Apr 13, 2018

  • A member of al Qaeda's Nusra Front near Idlib, Syria, December 2, 2014

    Commentary

    Do Terrorist Groups Really Die?

    The persistence of al Qaeda and ISIS underscores terrorist groups' adaptability in the 21st century. Both organizations maintain global, regional, and local influence in the face of immense pressure. As terrorist groups fall, the West should watch them closely to prevent a resurgence.

    Apr 9, 2018

  • London skyline with overlay of the UK and EU flags

    Commentary

    'Zero-sum' Approach to Defence and Security During Brexit Negotiations Risks a Less Secure UK and EU

    It is in the interest of neither the UK nor the EU to have a 'zero sum' approach to defense and security during Brexit negotiations. Both sides have plenty to lose if it turns into a 'messy divorce.'

    Apr 4, 2018

  • Turkish forces patrol an area in Afrin, Syria, March 22, 2018

    Commentary

    What's Turkey Trying to Achieve in Syria?

    Turkish President Erdoğan is attempting to cement his political legitimacy among Syrian Sunnis by portraying himself as their savior. If the United States withdraws from Syria after the mission to defeat ISIS is complete, it will essentially be ceding the advantage to Erdoğan, who can continue pushing his agenda.

    Apr 2, 2018

  • Passengers walks past sign prior to immigration control

    Commentary

    European Security Cooperation Should Remain Comprehensive—Especially After Brexit

    During Brexit negotiations, it could be tempting for the UK and EU to use certain security structures as 'bargaining chips'. However, it is in no one's interests for both sides to adopt a 'zero-sum' approach to security discussions.

    Mar 28, 2018

  • Multimedia

    Overcoming the Threats of Our Strategic Competitors

    What weapon systems and posture enhancements should Congress and the Defense Department consider to ensure that America is prepared for responsive and resilient operations in theaters of potential conflict? In this Congressional briefing, RAND's David Ochmanek discusses findings from his recent research.

    Mar 27, 2018

  • British mother Tareena Shakil, who took her 14-month-old son to Syria to join ISIS fighters, was jailed for six years on February 1, 2016

    Commentary

    Not All Returning 'Jihadi Brides' Are Dangerous

    Since the fall of the ISIS caliphate in late 2017, Western societies have expressed concern about the possibility of returning foreign fighters. It is not just returning men that worry governments. The prospect of women, known as “jihadi brides,” returning to the West, often with children born under ISIS rule, is also a potential problem.

    Feb 28, 2018

  • Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) members hold an Islamic State flag, which they pulled down, during the war between Iraqi army and PMF against Islamic State militants in Tal Afar, Iraq, August 27, 2017

    Commentary

    Expanding the ISIS Brand

    Since its founding, the Islamic State has consistently expanded and contracted in order to achieve its objectives. To discern how ISIS might continue to expand, it makes sense to trace Al Qaeda's trajectory, which followed a similar pattern in the 2000s.

    Feb 19, 2018