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.

  • Commentary

    Yes to Striking Iranian-Backed Militants

    Strikes against state-backed militias like the Houthis degrade these groups' military capabilities. But such strikes will almost certainly not deter the group from launching additional attacks. They could, however, take key capabilities and leaders off the battlefield, challenging Iran and the militias it backs to field the same quantity and quality of attacks in the future.

    Feb 26, 2024

  • Commentary

    The Promise—and Pitfalls—of Researching Extremism Online

    How big of a problem is extremism in the United States and around the world? Is it getting worse? Are social media platforms responsible, or did the internet simply reveal existing trends? We have few answers because this research is easy to do poorly and hard to do well.

    Jul 17, 2023

Explore Counterterrorism

  • Smoke rises following an Israeli strike as Palestinians fleeing north Gaza due to Israel's military offensive move southward at the central Gaza Strip, March 15, 2024, photo by Ahmed Zakot/Reuters

    Commentary

    Learning from the War on Terror

    What's been happening in Gaza suggests that none of the lessons from 20 years of global counterterrorism conflicts were implemented there. In addition to the needless destruction and tragic loss of life in Gaza, from a military and intelligence perspective, all the hard-gained lessons from the global war on terror have been wasted.

    Mar 21, 2024

  • Israeli women, one covered with an Israeli flag, stand in front of a wall of photos of Israelis held hostage by Hamas in Gaza in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 03, 2023, photo by Gili Yaari/NurPhoto/Reuters

    Commentary

    Free Hamas Leaders to Free Hostages? The Bangkok Solution Is Gaining Steam.

    Israel reportedly has offered to allow Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and other Hamas commanders safe passage into exile in return for the release of all the Israeli hostages. The circumstances are very different but the offer recalls past resolutions of hostage crises.

    Feb 16, 2024

  • Armed men on the beach with the Galaxy Leader, seized by Yemen's Houthis in November, anchored off the coast of al-Salif, Yemen, December 5, 2023, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Search for a High Seas Solution

    While Western military action against the Houthis has increased, the Red Sea crisis is sailing through opaque waters. Short-term military action might help with the immediate crisis, but shipping routes will remain vulnerable unless the world recognizes its exposure to threats and cooperates to defend them.

    Jan 17, 2024

  • The faces of hostages kidnapped by Hamas are projected on the outer wall of the Old City of Jerusalem, in Jerusalem, Israel, November 6, 2023, photo by James Oatway/Reuters

    Commentary

    Five Potential Next Steps for the Hostage Situation in Gaza

    In hostage negotiations, rarely are there good options—just bad and less bad. The case of the remaining hostages held in Gaza offers no easy resolution. Yet history may point to an acceptable way out.

    Dec 22, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    Assessing Shifts in U.S. Department of Homeland Security Targeted Violence Prevention Efforts Through Early 2022

    This report characterizes changes made in U.S. Department of Homeland Security efforts to prevent targeted violence, including the extent of change and how those changes responded to concerns about efforts to counter violent extremism.

    Nov 30, 2023

  • A chair for each Israeli held hostage by Hamas in Gaza at “Hostages Square” outside the Art Museum of Tel Aviv, in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 3, 2023, photo by Gili Yaari/Reuters

    Commentary

    The History of Hostage Negotiations Tells Us Empathy Isn't Enough

    History offers no prescriptions on how to bargain for human life. The circumstances of each case differ, but lessons can be learned.

    Nov 3, 2023

  • diplomacyU.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Central Asian states' foreign ministers in Astana, Kazakhstan, February 28, 2023, photo by Olivier Douliery/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Case for Greater U.S. Engagement in Central Asia

    Central Asia's souring relations with Russia and growing skepticism of Chinese influence have created a rare and valuable window of opportunity for the United States to bolster its image through greater long-term investment in the region.

    Sep 11, 2023

  • A hacker in a dark room with several laptops and a map of Australia, composite image from South_agency and inkoly/Getty Images

    Report

    How Violent Extremists Behave Online

    Exploitation of the internet by violent extremists is as old as the technology itself. But ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE) actors generally, and especially in online spaces, have been adapting to and adopting the evolving technological landscape in more sophisticated ways.

    Jun 28, 2023

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Terrorism, Dynamic Commitment Problems, and Military Conflict

    Why do states initiate costly wars when the risk posed by terrorism appears marginal? We present two explanations and empirical evidence.

    Jun 21, 2023

  • The word 'words' printed on a brass plate

    Report

    Language, Labels, and the DHS Lexicon: Analysis to Support a More-Inclusive Lexicon for Securing the Homeland

    The authors analyze U.S. Department of Homeland Security documentation, processes, and procedures and then identify ways to improve them and to create an organizational culture that supports the lasting implementation of more-inclusive terminology.

    Jun 19, 2023

  • Instructors and soldiers from Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Niger during U.S.-sponsored exercises at the international counterterrorism academy in Jacqueville, Ivory Coast, March 14, 2023, photo by Luc Gnago/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Case for a Governance-First U.S. Security Policy in the Sahel

    Both terrorism and coups are on the rise in the Sahel. To reverse this troubling trend, the United States could ramp up support aimed at improving security governance, professionalizing militaries, and strongly sanctioning all forms of military takeovers in the region. This would require a real shift from the current U.S. security approach in the region.

    Jun 8, 2023

  • A collection of banknotes from different countries of the world, including U.S. dollars, Saudi riyals, Kuwaiti dinars, Emirates dirhams, and European euros, image by Tamer Soliman/Getty Images

    Report

    Countering Violent Nonstate Actor Financing

    How do violent nonstate actors finance their operations? What do they use this financing for? And what can the U.S. Army do to disrupt these efforts?

    May 16, 2023

  • The Proud Boys, Patriot Front, and other right-wing extremists protest a drag queen event at First Christian Church of Katy in Katy, Texas, September 24th, 2022, photo by Reginald Mathalone/Reuters

    Commentary

    The United States Needs a Moonshot to Prevent Extremism from Metastasizing

    Extremism is like cancer: It will always exist, but ignoring it runs the risk that it rears its ugly head, metastasizing throughout the country. The United States needs to ensure it has the proper tools to diagnose extremism in its earliest stages, and that the agencies tasked with protecting our democracy have the capability to get it into, and keep it in, remission.

    May 16, 2023

  • RAND's 75th anniversary logo over a global network, image by RAND Corporation and spainter_vfx/Adobe Stock

    Blog

    RAND Turns 75: A Look Through the Decades At World-Changing Research

    From anticipating the Space Age in the 1940s to studying gun policy and COVID-19 responses in the 2020s, RAND is celebrating 75 years of research that has made a difference.

    May 8, 2023

  • A fake visualization shows person icons over a map of the world

    Report

    Terrorism Net Assessment

    In this report, the authors offer a preliminary conception of how to determine the capabilities the United States needs to remain safe from international terrorism.

    May 2, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    20 Years After the Iraq War, China-Russia Ties, Correctional Education: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on reflecting on the Iraq War, the pandemic and prison education, North Korea’s latest threats, and more.

    Mar 24, 2023

  • A statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein remains in front of a destroyed communication center in Baghdad, Iraq, March 28, 2003, photo by Reuters Photographer/Reuters

    Q&A

    Twenty Years After the Iraq War, a Q&A with RAND Experts

    On the 20th anniversary of the war in Iraq, RAND experts discussed what the war means for the people of Iraq and the veterans who fought there, what lessons the U.S. military learned (or did not learn), and what effect it has had on the balance of power in the Middle East and the global reputation of the United States.

    Mar 21, 2023

  • U.S. Army soldiers conduct a convoy in support of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve near northeastern Syria, September 21, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Michael West/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Appreciating U.S. Ground Force Contributions to Operation Inherent Resolve

    Defeating ISIS hinged on a ground fight, requiring the grueling liberation of territory kilometer by kilometer. While Iraqi forces bore the brunt of frontline fighting, U.S. forces were also engaged in on-the-ground combat operations that hastened the defeat of ISIS. Appreciating such contributions will be necessary to distill the right lessons so that we might correctly apply them to future irregular warfare.

    Jan 25, 2023