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.

  • Smoke superimposed over a mass grave of ISIS fighters found in 2017 near Fallujah, Iraq, photos by Iraqi ministry of defence and Marina/Adobe Stock; design by Peter Soriano/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Who Are America's Jihadists?

    Sep 11, 2020

    U.S. residents who plotted to carry out jihadist attacks at home and those who traveled or attempted to travel to join jihadists abroad represent two dimensions of the terrorist threat. But both types are driven by internal motivations and circumstances as much as they are inspired by external groups.

  • Dilapidated structures are seen in Marawi City, Philippines, May 11, 2019, abandoned two years since pro-Islamic State militants began their attacks there, photo by Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

    Project

    Evaluating Programs That Counter Violent Extremism

    Sep 9, 2020

    Countries around the world are fighting a growing threat of violent extremism. Many have begun implementing countering violent extremism (CVE) interventions to prevent radicalization. Have these programs been effective?

Explore Counterterrorism

  • A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel rides on a truck with a mounted weapon at Manbij countryside, Syria, December 28, 2018

    Commentary

    The United States Can't Rely on Turkey to Defeat ISIS

    Relying on Turkey to shoulder the burden of countering the Islamic State will provide the terrorist group with an opportunity to revive itself at a critical stage in the fight. Turkey's main focus is on the Kurds and Erdogan's opposition. Eradicating the Islamic State is a secondary priority that has often been ignored.

    Jan 2, 2019

  • U.S. Soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018

    Commentary

    Trump's Syria Withdrawal: Right Idea, Wrong Way, Wrong Time

    President Trump's desire to withdraw from Syria is consistent with his and his predecessor's national strategies, but the manner in which the decision has been taken is highly counterproductive. Unless modified it could have disastrous consequences, says James Dobbins.

    Dec 26, 2018

  • News Release

    Islamic State Proves Greater Draw for U.S.-Born Recruits Than al Qaeda

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been more successful than its predecessor organization, al Qaeda, in drawing Americans to its cause. Whereas al-Qaeda was more reliant on preexisting connections to the region or Islam, an ISIL candidate recruit is more likely to be younger, less educated, and a U.S.-born citizen.

    Dec 18, 2018

  • Police officials stand on the sidewalk as cars drive on the road in front of the Pulse night club, following a shooting in Orlando, Florida, June 21, 2016

    Report

    Trends in the Draw of Americans to Foreign Terrorist Organizations from 9/11 to Today

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been more successful than its predecessor organization, al Qaeda, in drawing Americans to its cause. Americans drawn to ISIL are more likely to be younger, less educated, Caucasian/white or African American/black, and to have been born in the United States.

    Dec 18, 2018

  • Blog

    Refugees, Brexit, Cannabis: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how Syrian refugees can contribute to local economies, prospects for Brexit, marijuana legalization, and more.

    Dec 14, 2018

  • An Islamic State flag flies over the custom office of Syria's Jarablus border gate near the Turkish town of Karkamis, in Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 1, 2015

    Commentary

    The Future of the Global Jihadist Movement After the Collapse of the Caliphate

    The future of the global jihadist movement is likely to resemble its past, with groups of militants dispersing to new battlefields, from North Africa to Southeast Asia. The Islamic State could become even more dangerous and challenging for counterterrorism forces, as its splinter groups threaten renewed and heightened violence throughout the globe.

    Dec 11, 2018

  • A smartphone showing the Islamic State logo in front of a screen showing the Telegram logo in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, November 18, 2015

    Commentary

    ISIS's Social Media Use Poses a Threat to Stability in the Middle East and Africa

    The importance of social media in projecting violent extremist propaganda and recruiting foreign fighters is well documented. As ISIS attempts to regroup and recuperate, investigating its use of information and communication technologies could be important to understanding the group's plans to regain territorial control.

    Dec 11, 2018

  • Man using a laptop in a dark room

    Report

    Assessing Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism

    Efforts to counter violent extremism online have grown, but measuring their impact is complicated. An assessment of one such campaign finds that individuals searching for violent jihadist or far-right content clicked on ads that offered alternative narratives at a rate on par with industry standards.

    Dec 10, 2018

  • A U.S. soldier takes part in a defense exercise with British and Lithuanian soldiers in Mikyciai, Lithuania, June 17, 2017

    Report

    Rethinking the U.S. Approach to Force Planning

    The force planning standard used since the end of the Cold War is ill-suited for today. Force planning should focus on modernizing the capabilities and posture of U.S. forces to better enable them to deter and defeat aggression by China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Salafist-jihadi groups.

    Nov 28, 2018

  • A member of the NYPD bomb squad walks outside the Time Warner Center in Manhattan after a suspicious package was found at CNN headquarters, New York City, October 24, 2018, photo by Kevin Coombs/Reuters

    Commentary

    Suppressing Motivation, Legitimacy Can Help Avoid Political Violence

    The threat of political violence is real and growing, but there are concrete things that can be done to reduce the risks. Solutions might include repeated statements from leaders that fear of people because of their ethnicity, religion, party, or social grouping is wrong and that violence against them is illegitimate and against American values.

    Nov 28, 2018

  • Brian Michael Jenkins at the One Night with RAND event on November 8, 2018

    Blog

    Reflecting on the Past to Counter Future Terrorism

    One Night with RAND brought together leaders in business, government, academia, and philanthropy to pay tribute to Brian Michael Jenkins and mark his 50-year affiliation with RAND and his substantial body of research on terrorism. Jenkins and other experts discussed the evolution of terrorism and strategies for countering it in the future.

    Nov 14, 2018

  • Refugees and migrants try to warm themselves up, Indjija, Serbia, October 5, 2016

    Commentary

    In Refugee Vetting, How Good Is Good Enough?

    A security policy that depends too heavily on vetting, and expects it to be foolproof, is likely to fall short. A better security standard the administration could consider is not whether vetting failures ever occur, but rather whether they pose an acceptable risk to the United States.

    Nov 1, 2018

  • Report

    Evaluating interventions that prevent or counter violent extremism: A practical guide

    This document provides an overview of data collection methods and evaluation designs suitable for evaluating interventions and programmes designed to prevent and counter violent extremism and radicalisation.

    Oct 30, 2018

  • Cameroonian President Paul Biya casts his ballot while his wife Chantal Biya watches at a polling station during the presidential election in Yaounde, Cameroon October 7, 2018

    Commentary

    Cameroon's Days as Reliable U.S. Partner May Be Numbered

    The Cameroonian government is becoming more authoritarian under President Paul Biya. His re-election could be bad news for Cameroon and the region, but also for the United States.

    Oct 26, 2018

  • Report

    Counterterrorism evaluation: Taking stock and looking ahead

    This report presents the results of a study investigating how evaluations of counterterrorism and preventing and countering violent extremism policies were designed and conducted over the last five years and what practical lessons can be drawn.

    Oct 24, 2018

  • Journal Article

    Evaluation in an Emerging Field: Developing a Measurement Framework for the Field of Counter-Violent-Extremism

    This report seeks lessons from the evidence-based healthcare movement, which has a track record of using evaluation to develop practice, to consider what it might take to develop evaluation capacity in the emerging field of counter-violent-extremism.

    Oct 12, 2018

  • Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) run across a street in Raqqa, Syria, July 3, 2017

    Commentary

    The Power of Affiliates: Which ISIS Franchise Could Become the Most Capable?

    With ISIS's caliphate in ruins, one of its affiliates could grow to become even deadlier and more capable than the core organization was during its peak. And with franchise groups and affiliates across the globe, there's no shortage of contenders to supplant ISIS as the world's most dangerous terrorist group.

    Oct 9, 2018

  • Journal Article

    Adaptation by Intelligent Adversaries to Defensive Measures: Framing Adaptation Options and Demonstrating Assessment of Attacker Preferences Using Proxy Intelligence Data

    Addressing adaptation by adversaries and its implications for security planning requires understanding the ways attackers can respond to new defensive measures. This paper demonstrates an analysis of such preferences using open source data.

    Oct 2, 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