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.

  • A woman speaking in a community meeting, photo by Hero Images/Getty Images

    Research Brief

    How to Strengthen Terrorism Prevention Efforts

    Feb 14, 2019

    Shortfalls in national terrorism prevention efforts have come not only from limited programmatic focus and resource investment, but also from critics seeking to constrain or halt such efforts. The most effective path for the U.S. government would be to support state, local, nongovernmental, and private terrorism prevention efforts rather than building capabilities itself.

  • Armed fighters over a background of Syrian, Iraqi, and U.S. currencies and gold ingots, photos by zabelin, Cimmerian, Vitoria Holdings LLC, and johan10/Getty Images

    Report

    U.S. Efforts Are Essential to Counter an Islamic State Comeback

    Aug 8, 2019

    The Islamic State can no longer rely on local funding sources as it did when it controlled territory. But as an insurgency, its expenses are far lower. With revenue from criminal activities and the cash it hoarded, the group will survive as a clandestine terrorist movement. Counterfinance, intelligence, and possibly military action will be needed.

Explore Counterterrorism

  • News Release

    Family Is Greatest Factor That Causes Youth to Reject Violent Extremism

    Family influence is more important than peer groups in dampening a young person's propensity toward becoming a terrorist. Policies aimed at undermining radicalization should include teaching parents how to discuss detrimental messages on social media, as well as building programs to strengthen families' influence on youth and ties to communities.

    Sep 29, 2015

  • Palestinians watch Israeli heavy machinery demolishing vacant apartment blocs by order of Israel's high court, in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El near Ramallah July 29, 2015

    Report

    Family Is Greatest Factor That Causes Youth to Reject Violent Extremism

    Family influence is more important than peer groups in dampening a young person's propensity toward becoming a terrorist. Policies aimed at undermining radicalization should include teaching parents how to discuss detrimental messages on social media, as well as building programs to strengthen families' influence on youth and ties to communities.

    Sep 29, 2015

  • News Release

    Coalition Against the Islamic State Must Degrade the Group's Finances and Leadership

    Even before 2012, much was known about how the Islamic State financed and organized itself, established territorial control, and responded to airpower. That knowledge offers new insights into the group's weaknesses and guidance for combating it.

    Sep 28, 2015

  • Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad January 2, 2014

    Report

    Coalition Against the Islamic State Must Degrade the Group's Finances and Leadership

    Even before 2012, much was known about how the Islamic State financed and organized itself, established territorial control, and responded to airpower. That knowledge offers new insights into the group's weaknesses and guidance for combating it.

    Sep 28, 2015

  • U.S. Army Rangers prepare for extraction during Task Force Training on Camp Roberts, California

    Commentary

    U.S. Needs Larger Army, Not a Smaller One

    To meet potential challenges in the Baltics and Korea while at the same time countering the existing terror threat posed by the Islamic State group and dealing with other problems that will doubtless emerge, the United States would need more troops, not less.

    Sep 9, 2015

  • A Malian gendarme climbs stairs at the Byblos hotel, site of a siege over the weekend in which 17 people died in Sevare, Mali, August 11, 2015

    Commentary

    How to Defeat a New Boko Haram in Mali

    While there is a need for stepped up military and police efforts against the self-proclaimed Macina Liberation Front, Mali's policymakers and their international partners need to focus on countering revivalist Islam, ideally by promoting Mali's other Islamic traditions, while finding ways to calm the inter-communal competition.

    Sep 8, 2015

  • Testimony

    An Assessment of the Counter-ISIL Campaign: One Year after Mosul: Addendum

    Document submitted August 24, 2015 as an addendum to testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities on June 24, 2015.

    Aug 27, 2015

  • Afghan officials in Pakistan August 13, 2015 discussing reviving suspended peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, days after Taliban attacks killed dozens of people in Kabul

    Commentary

    Afghanistan, Choose Your Enemies Wisely

    The Taliban's new leadership may be the last decent opportunity for a political solution to the conflict. Without a solution, the Islamic State could make Afghanistan the next Iraq or Syria.

    Aug 24, 2015

  • A U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter flies over Kalam Valley during humanitarian relief efforts in Pakistan, August 2010

    Commentary

    Pakistan's Shocking Strategic Shift

    Pakistan's security policies have experienced striking but underappreciated shifts since 2001 along three dimensions: aggressive behavior, strategic orientation, and self-examination.

    Aug 12, 2015

  • Tunisian soldiers and police patrol near Algeria's border in Kasserine, Tunisia July 4, 2015 after an Islamist militant attack on a beach hotel that killed 38 foreigners

    Commentary

    Algeria: The Bastion of North Africa

    Algeria could be a key regional partner for the United States and France in security and counterterrorism efforts against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. It has a clear interest in quelling the threat posed by regional jihadists and it has local knowledge that could be helpful to U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

    Aug 11, 2015

  • Firemen work around the World Trade Center after both towers were attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001

    Commentary

    The 1970s and the Birth of Contemporary Terrorism

    While terrorism worldwide has increased over the past four decades — and the threat of terrorism continues to dominate Americans' fears — the 14 years since 9/11 have been tranquil on the home front compared to the violent 1970s.

    Jul 30, 2015

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Strategic Rethink: Choices for America in a Turbulent World

    In this July 2015 Congressional Briefing, Ambassador James Dobbins discusses the report he coauthored with Howard Shatz and David Ochmanek, Choices for America in a Turbulent World. This is the first paper in the "Strategic Rethink" project, in which RAND researchers examine the most consequential choices that are likely to face this president and the next.

    Jul 24, 2015

  • Glowing globe

    Project

    The RAND Strategic Rethink Project

    The RAND Strategic Rethink project explores important strategic questions facing the United States, producing a guide for policymakers, citizens, educators, and the media on the most critical global choices and challenges facing the country.

    Jul 23, 2015

  • News Release

    With Upcoming 2016 Election, Global Power Shifts Will Face the Next U.S. President

    Chaos in the Middle East, Russian intervention, Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, climate change, and a decline in U.S. military readiness have raised questions about how America envisions its role in a turbulent geopolitical environment. Nevertheless, the world is not falling apart and these difficulties are not beyond the United States' ability to manage.

    Jul 23, 2015

  • World puzzle

    Report

    Choices for America in a Turbulent World

    Today, the United States faces no existential threat. Rather, it confronts an unusually wide and diverse array of challenges. What strategic choices does it have in dealing with these challenges—and tomorrow's?

    Jul 23, 2015

  • Anti-government protesters at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev on January 25, 2014

    Commentary

    Reports of Global Disorder Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

    Deterring Russia, channeling growing Chinese power, and working with others to dismantle the Islamic State are daunting challenges—but not greater than rebuilding post-World War II Europe, containing the Soviet Union, ending the Cold War, and promoting democratic governance throughout much of the modern world.

    Jul 22, 2015

  • A poster of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, and others behind Iranian, Syrian, Lebanese, and Hezbollah flags during Resistance and Liberation Day celebrations in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, May 25, 2014

    Commentary

    Global Terror Network Will Get a Boost from Iran Nuclear Deal

    Iranian sponsorship of terrorist organizations cannot be divorced from the negotiations because the sanctions that will be lifted provide new sources of funding to reinforce the Iran threat network. A global strategy to address the Iran threat network is essential to stability in the region.

    Jul 15, 2015

  • A U.S. Army sergeant assists Iraqi army soldiers as they practice Military Operations in Urban Terrain procedures at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq

    Commentary

    Training Foreign Military Forces: Quality vs Quantity

    The American model for large-scale development of partner nation armies is failing. The push for numbers and the attendant dilution of training is at odds with building a cohesive army with the will to stand and fight, predicated upon an unproven assumption that a “large footprint” is itself a decisive strategy.

    Jul 15, 2015

  • U.S. soldiers rush a building during a platoon live-fire demonstration for Iraqi army trainees and officers on Camp Taji, Iraq, Feb. 5, 2015

    Commentary

    An Authorization for the Fight Against the Islamic State

    The U.S. military is conducting some 2,000 airstrikes a month against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria but progress is slow and the terrorist group has expanded far beyond those two countries. Congress needs now more than ever to take up the issue of authorizing the use of military force.

    Jul 9, 2015

  • A checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on March 10, 2012

    Commentary

    Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    If neither victory nor a political settlement are likely in the short term, and if complete withdrawal is unpalatable, then the United States must ensure that its support of Afghanistan remains politically sustainable.

    Jul 6, 2015