Terrorism Threat Assessment

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In light of the global increase in the number and lethality of terrorist attacks, it has become imperative that nations, states, and private citizens become more involved in a strategic vision to recognize, prepare for, and — if possible — prevent such events. RAND research and analysis has provided policymakers with objective guidance and recommendations to improve preparedness, international collaboration, response, and recovery to this global threat.

  • 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.

  • A young boy waves a black flag inscribed with Islamic verses at a rally of Tunisian Salafi Islamists in the central town of Kairouan, May 20, 2012, photo by Anis Mili/Reuters

    Report

    What Will Drive the Next Generation of Salafi-Jihadis?

    Aug 22, 2019

    Continued economic stagnation and a high youth unemployment rate, exacerbated by the Muslim youth bulge, could lead to failed expectations and spur radicalization among disenchanted Gen Z Muslims. And this cohort's familiarity with the internet could foreshadow an adaptive, tech-savvy terrorist threat.

Explore Terrorism Threat Assessment

  • Famous mural of Statue of Liberty with a skull face in front of an American flag, former US Embassy, Tehran

    Commentary

    Would Iran Turn to Terror?

    In a conflict with the United States or Israel, Tehran could turn to terror tactics—directly or indirectly through proxies—to create leverage when it is significantly outmanned and outgunned against conventional military forces, writes Alireza Nader.

    Oct 3, 2012

  • Airline passengers waiting to board

    Commentary

    TSA Procedures Need to Be Remade from Scratch

    It is time for a new approach to meeting America's next-generation aviation security needs, one that dodges the influence of politics and bureaucracies and relies instead on the resources and objectivity of independent researchers operating from a clean slate, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 28, 2012

  • Testimony

    New Challenges to U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts: An Assessment of the Current Terrorist Threat: Addendum

    Document submitted on August 24, 2012 as an addendum to testimony presented before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on July 11, 2012.

    Aug 27, 2012

  • Syrian rebel fighters pose for a picture in Hama, Syria, July 20, 2012

    Commentary

    Al Qaeda's War for Syria

    Assuming Assad's regime eventually collapses, a robust al Qaeda presence will undermine transition efforts and pose a major threat to regional stability, writes Seth Jones.

    Jul 27, 2012

  • Regent Street London Olympics 2012

    Commentary

    The Olympics and Terrorism: Why the Games Remain an Appealing Target

    While it is quite clear that attacking an event as internationally iconic as the Olympics would be attractive to modern terrorist groups with global aspirations, their ability to do so successfully and shift focus and attention from the competition and achievements of the Games to the terrorist groups' agendas is far less certain, writes Brian Jackson.

    Jul 25, 2012

  • U.S. Marines assigned to Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team

    Blog

    An Assessment of the Current Terrorist Threat: A Resurgence of Iranian-Sponsored Terrorism

    The future threat posed by Iranian-sponsored terrorism will be contingent upon Iran's calculations of risk. The current shadow war could escalate further if Iran thinks military attack by either Israel or the United States is inevitable and imminent or, obviously, if hostilities begin.

    Jul 23, 2012

  • Testimony

    New Challenges to U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts

    The United States confronts a more diverse terrorist threat in 2012 than it has in the past. Al Qaeda has exploited the turmoil created by the Arab uprisings to make tactical advances and open new fronts. In addition, several incidents in the past year suggest a resurgence of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

    Jul 11, 2012

  • Journal Article

    National Insecurity: Just How Safe Is the United States?

    Given the threats it faces, from nuclear-armed autocracies to terrorists, the United States cannot afford to scale back its military.

    Jul 1, 2012

  • A man on a computer in a dark room

    Commentary

    Getting the Threat Right

    Would-be jihadist warriors are angry, eager for adventure, out to assuage personal humiliation and demonstrate their manhood. Many appear to be motivated by personal crises—terrorism does not attract the well adjusted, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jun 15, 2012

  • Armed militant

    Commentary

    A Year After Osama bin Laden's Death, Obituaries for al Qaeda Are Still Way Too Premature

    Predictions of al Qaeda's imminent demise are rooted more in wishful thinking and politicians' desire for applause lines than in rigorous analysis, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Apr 24, 2012

  • Three Islamic women

    Commentary

    Terror's 'Invisible Women'

    For their part, a younger generation of female jihadists has come to believe that acts of violence can be just as liberating politically and spiritually for women as for men, writes Karla Cunningham.

    Apr 4, 2012

  • Report

    Conflict with al Qaeda Will Continue Into Its Third Decade, Although Tactics May Change

    While al Qaeda's capacity for large-scale attacks has been drastically reduced and the organization seriously weakened, the United States can expect to continue its battle with the terrorist group for many years to come.

    Feb 16, 2012

  • News Release

    Conflict with al Qaeda Will Continue Into Its Third Decade, Although Tactics May Change

    While al Qaeda's capacity for large-scale attacks has been drastically reduced and the organization seriously weakened, the United States can expect to continue its battle with the terrorist group for many years to come.

    Feb 16, 2012

  • A street in Qom, Iran

    Commentary

    Al Qaeda in Iran

    Iran is in many ways a safer territory from which al Qaeda can operate. The United States has targeted al Qaeda in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries, but it has limited operational reach in Iran, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Jan 29, 2012

  • Testimony

    Al Qaeda After Bin Laden: Implications for American Strategy: Addendum

    Document submitted on November 1, 2011 as an addendum to testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, on June 22, 2011.

    Nov 2, 2011

  • Commentary

    Five Myths about 9/11

    Fear has made al-Qaeda the world's top terrorist nuclear power, yet it possesses not a single nuke. This is a lesson in how terrorism works, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 2, 2011

  • Report

    Reintegrating Afghan Insurgents into Their Local Communities

    Former Taliban and other insurgents provide an invaluable source of information on their previous colleagues, and can ultimately cause momentum to shift toward counterinsurgent forces. Steps can be taken to increase the likelihood of reintegrating fighters into their communities.

    Jul 20, 2011

  • Testimony

    Al Qaeda after bin Laden

    We have greatly reduced al Qaeda's capacity for large-scale attacks, but the terrorist campaign led by al Qaeda may go on for many years. It is fair to call it a war, without implying that, like America’s past wars, it must have a finite ending.

    Jun 22, 2011

  • Commentary

    Osama a Wizard of Illusion and Rhetoric

    Bin Laden was chairman of the board, not CEO, using his moral authority to urge his tiny army forward, pointing out new ways to kill Americans, encouraging followers to think outside the typical terrorist playbook, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jun 1, 2011

  • Commentary

    Glimpse of bin Laden Techniques in Captured Records of al-Qa'ida in Iraq

    Captured financial documents of al-Qa'ida's Iraq affiliate in Anbar Province revealed its internal operations and enabled one of the most comprehensive assessments of an al-Qa'ida linked group, write Benjamin Bahney, Renny McPherson, and Howard J. Shatz.

    May 27, 2011