Domestic Terrorism

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Domestic terrorism involves violence against the civilian population or infrastructure of a nation—often but not always by citizens of that nation and often with the intent to intimidate, coerce, or influence national policy. RAND addresses national security and critical infrastructure needs through objective research that helps government agencies prevent and mitigate terrorist activities and improves disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

  • 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.

  • People line up to cast their ballots for the upcoming presidential election as early voting begins in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 6, 2020, photo by Megan Jelinger/Reuters

    Commentary

    Will There Be Domestic Terrorism During Election Season?

    Oct 7, 2020

    The COVID-19 pandemic has roiled the elections. The United States is deeply divided and the political system is polarized. Under these fraught circumstances, even a minor event can have far-reaching repercussions. What are the prospects for domestic terrorism in the context of U.S. elections?

Explore Domestic Terrorism

  • Blog

    Russian Propaganda, Domestic Terrorism, America's Electric Grid: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how Americans react to Russian memes on Facebook, the possibility of domestic terrorism during election season, protecting the U.S. electric grid, and more.

    Oct 16, 2020

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    The American Jihad Was a Failure. For Those Who Joined, It Was a Path to Destruction

    To keep the jihad going after 9/11, al Qaeda exhorted homegrown terrorists to take up arms in the United States. ISIS later made similar appeals. These calls to arms yielded some plots and a few attacks, but overall, the American jihad was a failure.

    Sep 23, 2020

  • Blog

    Radicalization, the Gender Pay Gap, Israel-UAE Deal: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the potential for a new era of radicalization, insights into the gender pay gap, why the Israel-UAE deal doesn't merit the hype, and more.

    Aug 21, 2020

  • A Boogaloo Boy stands with protesters demanding that federal officers leave the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 25, 2020, photo by Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Building the Boogaloo Brand: Why the Movement Succeeds in Attracting New Followers

    The Boogaloo should not be dismissed as disaffected far-right youth enamored with firearms. Several acts of political violence on American soil are connected to the movement, including homicides. It's a fast-growing, anti-government and anti-police movement with broad appeal.

    Aug 19, 2020

  • A member of the Three Percent militia in downtown Stone Mountain, Georgia, where various militia groups stage rallies, August 15, 2020, photo by Dustin Chambers/Reuters

    Commentary

    Could 2020 Spawn '70s-Style Radicalization and Violence?

    The U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic has further cleaved an already deeply divided society. The conditions facing the United States today are reminiscent of those that gave rise to the radicalism of the 1970s and could once again lead to political violence, including terrorism.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • Protesters with a group known as "Antifa", or anti-fascists, link arms at an event on the campus of the University of Virginia organized by the group Students Act Against White Supremacy marking the one year anniversary of a deadly clash between white supremacists and counter protesters August 11, 2018 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Multimedia

    The Consequences of Designating Antifa as a Terrorist Organization

    RAND senior policy researcher Heather J. Williams describes the major strategic changes that could occur if Antifa were designated as a terrorist organization.

    Aug 11, 2020

  • A man seated in front of a computer monitor in a dark room, photo by tommaso79/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Deadly Terrorist Threats Abound. Here Are the Key Dangers

    Today's self-selecting solo terrorists answer only to their god, whether seeking to destroy all government, pursuing racial separation or genocidal goals, expressing sexual dissatisfaction, or simply wanting to leave their mark. Military operations are irrelevant. This is a deeper societal problem.

    Jul 20, 2020

  • Counterterrorism police stand guard at the annual Gay Pride Parade in Greenwich Village, June 25, 2017, photo by PeskyMonkey/Getty Images

    Commentary

    The Growing Irrelevance of Organizational Structure for U.S. Domestic Terrorism

    For decades, America's primary terrorist threat came from groups based abroad. Today, a new crop of terrorist actors is emerging from within our own borders. Although diverse and for the most part unconnected to each other, they share a common objective of disrupting society and in the process, overturning existing norms if not the entire political, social, and economic order.

    Jul 2, 2020

  • Members of the Great Lakes anti-fascist organization (Antifa) fly flags during a protest against the Alt-right outside a hotel in Warren, Michigan, March 4, 2018, photo by Stephanie Keith/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Dangers of Designating Antifa as a Terrorist Organization Now

    The notion of designating Antifa as a terrorist organization may be intended to be a discrete act. But the precedent it would set could bring major strategic changes to how the United States uses counterterrorism laws, with uncertainties about whether those changes better serve national security.

    Jun 22, 2020

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: January-February 2020

    Feature stories spotlight research on America's fentanyl crisis and new approaches to clinical guideline development. The Commentary column features terrorism expert Colin Clarke on the threat of white supremacists in the United States.

    Jan 6, 2020

  • Blog

    White Supremacist Terrorism, Wildfires, the Dark Web: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on violent white supremacy, power outages to prevent wildfires, how to catch criminals on the dark web, and more.

    Nov 1, 2019

  • A man prays at a memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, following a mass shooting there four days earlier, October 31, 2018, photo by Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

    Commentary

    One Year After Tree of Life, We Still Aren't Talking Enough About Violent White Supremacy

    In the year since a gunman killed 11 worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the conversation about white supremacy has grown louder. But the United States still has a long way to go in dealing with this threat.

    Oct 27, 2019

  • Brian Jackson discusses terrorism prevention strategies for the federal government, the nature of the homeland terrorist threat, past and current terrorism prevention policies, and gives recommendations for policymakers in this Congressional Briefing.

    Multimedia

    How Do We Prevent the Next Homegrown Terrorist?

    What is the right terrorism prevention strategy for the federal government? Brian Jackson discusses the nature of the homeland terrorist threat, past and current terrorism prevention policies, and gives recommendations for policymakers.

    May 3, 2019

  • News Release

    Countering Violent Extremism Programs May Gain Insights from Each Other

    As countries around the world develop countering violent extremism (CVE) programs to prevent homegrown terrorism, there is a dearth of understanding about what types of such programs exist and which approaches are most effective. A new RAND Corporation report aims to help CVE program directors and policymakers in Australia place their efforts in context and identify promising approaches domestically and internationally.

    Apr 4, 2019

  • Cordon tape at the scene of an accident in Australia, photo by STRINGERimage/Getty Images

    Report

    Countering Violent Extremism Programs May Gain Insights from Each Other

    As countries around the world develop CVE programs to prevent homegrown terrorism, there is a dearth of understanding about what types of such programs exist and which approaches are most effective. Mapping CVE programs against goals and activity types could facilitate information exchange across countries.

    Apr 4, 2019

  • News Release

    Terrorism Prevention Programs Need Strengthening If They Are to Be Effective

    National capabilities for terrorism prevention, which refers to options other than traditional law-enforcement action to respond to the risk of individual radicalization to violence, are relatively limited. Most rely on local or non-government efforts, and only a subset receive federal support.

    Feb 14, 2019

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

    Research Brief

    How to Strengthen Terrorism Prevention Efforts

    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.

    Feb 14, 2019

  • Report

    Practical Terrorism Prevention: Executive Summary

    Researchers examined past U.S. countering violent extremism and terrorism prevention efforts and explored options to strengthen them. This document summarizes findings from the main report.

    Feb 14, 2019