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RAND is a world leader in research on terrorism, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, disaster management, and homeland security—topics that affect a wide variety of policy areas and challenge individuals and nations worldwide.

  • A color-coded image showing the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) measured around Raqqah, Syria, including the city's border, image by the RAND Corporation

    Project

    When the Islamic State Comes to Town: Iraq and Syria from Space

    Sep 12, 2017

    Using satellite imagery and a novel analytic approach, RAND experts developed a fine-grained, data-driven assessment of economic life inside ISIL's caliphate.

  • Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front move toward their positions near al-Zahra village, north of Aleppo city, November 25, 2014, photo by Hosam Katan/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Moderate Face of Al Qaeda

    Oct 24, 2017

    Al Qaeda in Syria cut ties with its parent organization to portray itself as a legitimate, capable, and independent force in the Syrian civil war. The group appears dedicated to helping Syrians prevail, and now that ISIS has lost its capital in Raqqa, al Qaeda may be the only group viewed as militarily capable of challenging the Assad regime.

Explore Terrorism and Homeland Security

  • Pedestrians Walking along 5th Avenue in New York City, June 14, 2016

    Report

    American Jihadists Are Made in the U.S.A., Not Imported

    Homegrown terrorism accounts for most of the terrorist activity in the United States since 9/11. A review of 86 plots to carry out attacks and 22 actual attacks indicates that vetting people coming to the U.S. cannot identify those who will radicalize in the U.S.

    Nov 20, 2017

  • Protective barriers are placed along a bike path near a memorial to remember the victims of the New York October 31 attack, in New York City, U.S., November 3, 2017

    Commentary

    America Is Great at Fighting Terrorism, but Terror Is Alive and Well

    When terrorists adopt a strategy of pure terror, it is challenging to prevent attacks like those seen in Nice, Columbus, London, Barcelona, or New York. Instead, strategies are needed to counter terrorism's ultimate aim, to instill fear, and to remove some of the incentives of those who might be motivated to conduct them.

    Nov 16, 2017

  • Somali fighters belonging to Ahlusunah warjama, a moderate sect fighting against the hardline Al-Shabaab insurgents, display weapons during a parade in Mogadishu, July 31, 2010

    Commentary

    Why Africa Could Provide an 'ISIS Renaissance'

    ISIS has been one of the most formidable and well-organized terrorist groups in history and it would be naive to assume that ISIS will simply cease operations in the face of recent losses. More likely, the group, along with its many followers, will attempt to disperse to a new base, and parts of Africa are likely targets for a new caliphate.

    Nov 15, 2017

  • Syrian Democratic Forces fighters ride atop of military vehicle as they celebrate victory in Raqqa, Syria, October 17, 2017

    Commentary

    Why the Fall of the 'Caliphate' in Syria Will Not Ease Western Security Concerns

    A Syria and Iraq free of ISIS do not, unfortunately, free the West from the ISIS threat. Instead, ISIS is likely to either disperse, with its followers prepared to carry out a range of further attacks, or attempt to regroup in the fragile states of Africa.

    Nov 3, 2017

  • Police investigate a pickup truck used in an attack on the West Side Highway in lower Manhattan in New York City, November 1, 2017

    Commentary

    New York Terror Attack: Can Vehicle Attacks Be Prevented?

    The recent vehicle attack in Manhattan was the deadliest terror attack on New York since 9/11. Preventing every attack is unrealistic, but with increased vigilance, cooperation with law enforcement, and intelligence sharing, citizens can help mitigate the threat of terrorism.

    Nov 1, 2017

  • Police look toward the scene of a pickup truck attack on West Side Highway in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31 2017

    Commentary

    Terrorism Fatigue

    By continually staking claim to big and small terrorist attacks, regardless of target selection or casualty count, ISIS has attempted to instill a sense of omnipresent and unpredictable danger. And in the process, terrorism fatigue may be setting in around the world.

    Nov 1, 2017

  • A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) employee waits for the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump during a visit at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., August 4, 2017

    Commentary

    Reauthorizing DHS: Contemplating Major DHS Organizational Realignments

    As Congress considers DHS reauthorization, having clear organizational realignment principles could help assess the degree to which expectations will be met. Those principles could examine whether mission effectiveness would improve and whether implemented changes would introduce new issues.

    Oct 30, 2017

  • Iraqi security forces stand guard in an oil refinery, north of Baghdad, in Baiji, Iraq, October 16, 2015

    Commentary

    Oil, Extortion Still Paying Off for ISIS

    ISIS's oil revenues declined from a peak of $40 million per month in 2015 to $4 million per month as of early October 2017. Despite the massive reduction, it's still a substantial amount of money for a group whose expenditures decrease with the size of the population and territory it controls and decreased recruitment.

    Oct 27, 2017

  • A woman seeking asylum has her fingerprints taken by a U.S. Customs and Border patrol officer at a pedestrian port of entry from Mexico to the United States, in McAllen, Texas, U.S., May 10, 2017

    Commentary

    Reauthorizing DHS: Improving Operational Control

    One area of focus in the debate on reauthorizing the Department of Homeland Security should be its role in directing homeland security operations. The debate should include a comprehensive discussion of the future role for the department headquarters.

    Oct 23, 2017

  • A view of the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington, October 4, 2013

    Commentary

    Reauthorizing DHS: Aligning Requirements, Research, Development and Acquisition

    As part of the discussion about reauthorizing the Department of Homeland Security, Congress might want to consider how to improve acquisitions. Rather than focusing only on the steps in the acquisition process, that discussion could also include consideration of pre and post-acquisition activities.

    Oct 23, 2017

  • A Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bus is seen parked outside a federal jail in San Diego, California, U.S. October 19, 2017

    Commentary

    Reauthorizing DHS: The Case for Reauthorization

    Reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security is vital to clarifying responsibilities and setting expectations for the continued evolution of the department. Policymakers might also wish to conduct an external review, which could help inform a broader future reform bill.

    Oct 20, 2017

  • Journal Article

    Bush, Obama, And Trump: The Evolution Of U.S. Counterterrorist Policy Since 9/11

    9/11 and the U.S response that followed profoundly affected America's political landscape and its culture, perhaps permanently.

    Oct 6, 2017

  • Police officers check the identity cards of a people as security forces keep watch in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 24, 2017

    Commentary

    All That Could Go Wrong When Jihadists Return Home — to China

    About 300 of Western China's Uighurs, the Sunni Muslim indigenous ethnic minority, went to Syria to join ISIS. Now that the caliphate is collapsing, Beijing could soon find itself in the crosshairs of a religiously motivated, battle-hardened crop of returning terrorists.

    Sep 29, 2017

  • Iraqi security forces inspect the site of a bomb attack at a police checkpoint on a highway near the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya, Iraq, September 14, 2017

    Commentary

    How ISIS Is Transforming

    The campaign to counter ISIS has made significant progress, but predictions of the group's demise are premature. It is transitioning from an insurgent organization with a fixed headquarters to a clandestine terrorist network dispersed throughout the globe.

    Sep 25, 2017

  • Suspected former Islamic State (IS) fighters Ayoub B. (R) and Ebrahim Hadj B. (L), hide their faces as they wait for the start of their trial in a courtroom in Calle, Germany November 30, 2015

    Commentary

    How Will Authorities Know When Foreign Fighters Have Returned?

    As the Islamic State's territory shrinks and its prestige declines, militants will try to find their way home. Many foreign fighters began as criminals, and many might turn to crime on their return. One of the most productive ways to identify and disrupt returning fighters is to focus on the criminal underworld.

    Sep 25, 2017

  • News Release

    Satellite Imagery Analysis Reveals Economic Decay Within Islamic State

    The Islamic State contributed to a 23 percent reduction in the GDP of cities under its control, based on novel applications of satellite-derived data. Over the course of its peak territorial control and decline through mid-2016, the economy of the Islamic State showed clear signs of decay across multiple sectors.

    Sep 13, 2017

  • A man and a boy ride a bicycle past a damaged mosque along a deserted street filled with debris in Deir al-Zor, Syria, March 5, 2014

    Report

    ISIL's Negative Economic Impacts on Iraq and Syria

    The Islamic State reduced the GDP of cities under its control by 23 percent. The group was able to maintain stable conditions in parts of Mosul and Raqqah, but conditions elsewhere deteriorated under poor governance and an inability to defend its territory from military opposition.

    Sep 12, 2017

  • A police van parks near pots placed to prevent possible attacks on a pedestrian street in Madrid, Spain, August 18, 2017

    Commentary

    Vehicular Terrorism: Weighing the Benefits, and Worth, of Prevention

    The terrorist attack in Barcelona has added urgency to discussions of what can be done to prevent terrorists from using vehicles as weapons. Many potential security measures would be disruptive, costly, and could easily be circumvented by a determined terrorist.

    Sep 5, 2017