Terrorism in the United States

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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.

  • Social media network over a world map, composite image by denisismagilov and Piotr Krzeslak/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Map of Online Violent Extremist Rhetoric Can Inform Counter-Efforts

    Jun 7, 2022

    An analysis of White identity terrorism and racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism discourse on social media finds that this content is largely created and fueled by users in the United States. A national strategy to counter these threats is needed.

  • Illustration of online extremists by Jessica Arana/RAND Corporation from Sean Rayford/Alamy; dem10/Getty Images; sestovic/Getty Images; Dilok Klaisataporn/Getty Images; Comstock/Getty Images

    Report

    How Extremism Operates Online

    Apr 12, 2022

    Extremist groups use internet-based tools for financing, networking and coordination, recruitment and radicalization, inter- and intra-group knowledge transfer, and mobilization to action. How do internet users engage with these efforts? And can the internet be leveraged to counter extremism?

Explore Domestic Terrorism

  • The U.S. Capitol at sunset on the eve of the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the building, in Washington, January 5, 2022, photo by Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

    Testimony

    Extremist Use of Online Spaces

    Extremist content can be found in all corners of the internet. How do the characteristics of online spaces contribute to individual radicalization? And how may the internet have helped foster conditions that contributed to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol?

    Apr 27, 2022

  • Blog

    RAND Commentary Highlights of 2021

    Vaccine rollouts, an attack on the U.S. Capitol, massive ransomware attacks, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, record numbers of job openings and people quitting, and more. RAND researchers weighed in on all these topics and more.

    Dec 21, 2021

  • Multimedia

    RAND Video Highlights of 2021

    The best RAND videos from the past year brought our research to life in new ways. From the sidewalks of Pittsburgh to preschools in the Middle East, see how people around the world are using RAND research to make their communities safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.

    Dec 20, 2021

  • Barbed wire and protective fencing surrounds the U.S. Capitol, as the sun sets in Washington, February 21, 2021, photo by Al Drago/Reuters

    Multimedia

    RAND Remote: America's Response to Terrorism

    In this RAND Remote conversation, Brian Michael Jenkins, senior adviser to the RAND president, and senior behavioral scientist Rajeev Ramchand discuss how the terrorism threat to America has changed over the past 20 years.

    Dec 16, 2021

  • Multimedia

    Combating Extremism in the U.S. Military

    RAND military sociologist Marek N. Posard describes the threat of extremism in the U.S. military, the ways in which extremism develops, and strategies the military could use to combat extremism.

    Dec 9, 2021

  • A woman with a smartphone is seen in front of social media logos, May 25, 2021, photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Report

    Understanding the Online Extremist Ecosystem

    By the early 2010s, it was clear that the internet provided white supremacists and other extremists a tool to operationalize their hateful ideas and cause real-world harms. How can the average user understand their risk of exposure to extremist content and make informed decisions about the platforms they use?

    Dec 2, 2021

  • A cyclist rides along fencing surrounding the U.S. Capitol that was erected in the wake of the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., July 8, 2021, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    Politicians Face Violence and Threats from Voters—and Each Other. Are We Nearing a Civil War?

    Does America's increasingly uncivil behavior mean we are heading toward civil war? The historical record seems to indicate that the country has a high tolerance for violence without breaking apart. But the threat of civil wars cannot be dismissed.

    Nov 15, 2021

  • Blog

    North Korea, Sexual Violence in the U.S. Military, America's Labor Shortage: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on dealing with a nuclear North Korea, preventing sexual violence in the military, supporting immigrant children in U.S. schools, and more.

    Nov 5, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Classifying acts of violence: Understanding how acts of violence are classified by subject matter experts

    RAND Europe was commissioned to conduct a study on how acts of violence are classified by different subject matter experts. The findings demonstrate ongoing difficulties in classifying acts of violence and inform recommendations for policymakers.

    Oct 27, 2021

  • Marines with Combat Marksmanship Coaches Reserve conduct the new Annual Rifle Qualification at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, September 21, 2021, photo by Lance Cpl. Samwel Tabancay/U.S. Marine Corps

    Report

    How Could the U.S. Military Counter Extremism in Its Ranks?

    The U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, 2021 drew attention to the involvement of current and former service members in extremist groups. There are some terrorism prevention programs in the civilian sector that might help the Department of Defense address the issue.

    Oct 25, 2021

  • Blog

    China and Russia, Wages and Insurance, Refugees and Technology : RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on China-Russia ties, considerations when raising the minimum wage, how refugees use digital devices, and more.

    Oct 15, 2021

  • Blog

    Four-Day School Weeks, Domestic Terrorism, North Korea: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the trade-offs of a four-day school week, how to counter domestic violent extremism, racial disparities in who is convicted of more-serious speeding charges, and more.

    Oct 8, 2021

  • Trump supporters battle with police at the west entrance of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2021, photo by Stephanie Keith/Reuters

    Commentary

    Countering Domestic Terrorism May Require Rethinking U.S. Intelligence Strategy

    The United States is deeply divided, its political system polarized. Getting counterterrorism wrong could make the situation worse. The challenge is to isolate and contain violent extremists without turning them into political martyrs or half the country into enemies of the state.

    Oct 5, 2021

  • U.S. soldiers gather as the sun sets at Camp Williams, Utah, April 16, 2021, photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brent Powell/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Institutions May Be Key to Countering Extremism in the Military

    Extremism is a symptom of broader social and political headwinds within civilian society. By using existing support programs, military leaders may be able to effectively confront these headwinds early and channel them in productive ways that ultimately preserve the effectiveness and readiness of the U.S. military.

    Oct 4, 2021

  • Jessica Marie Watkins (second from left) and Donovan Ray Crowl (center), both U.S. veterans who have since been indicted for their roles in the Capitol riot, in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2021, photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    Report

    Reducing the Risk of Extremist Activity in the U.S. Military

    The majority of military personnel are not extremists. But to address their potential exposure to and involvement in extremist activities, commanders who are tasked with combating extremism could receive some support from existing programs that promote diversity and inclusion and prevent violence.

    Sep 16, 2021

  • The east front of the U.S. Capitol seen through a shattered door on January 7, 2021, the day after the riot, photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

    Essay

    Violent Extremism in America: Pathways to Deradicalization

    Ideologically inspired violence is a serious threat to U.S. national security. Research on effective strategies to fight it has often failed to engage the people who might know best: those who have lived that life and left it behind. Researchers partnered with antiextremism support groups to change that.

    Sep 8, 2021

  • Violent Extremism in America: Can it be Stopped?

    Multimedia

    Violent Extremism in America: Can It Be Stopped?

    Co-authors of the RAND report, Violent Extremism in America, discuss the findings from their interviews with former members of radical organizations.

    Jul 7, 2021

  • Protesters gather during the Indiana Stop Asian Hate Rally on Monument Circle in Indianapolis, Indiana, March 27, 2021, photo by USA Today Network via Reuters

    Research Brief

    What Former Extremists and Their Families Say About Radicalization in America

    Violent extremism is an evolving, ongoing threat in the United States. Interviews with former extremists—and their families and friends—offer insights into how individuals become radicalized, how they leave extremist groups, and what communities can do to stop the growth of extremism in their area.

    Jun 25, 2021