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.

  • People walk on the street, where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his caliphate back in 2014, in the old city of Mosul, Iraq, October 27, 2019, photo by Abdullah Rashid/Reuters

    Commentary

    Baghdadi's Death Will Make Global Affiliates More Independent

    Oct 28, 2019

    The recent death of Islamic State leader and self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a major blow to the Islamic State. Baghdadi held a kind of elusive charisma for the organization. He will be replaced, but this does not mean that the Islamic State will simply go back to business as usual.

Explore Terrorism Threat Assessment

  • Two clips from an assault weapon lie upon a table

    Commentary

    Latest Alleged Homegrown 'Terrorists' Fit the Mold

    For many U.S.-born terror recruits, the prospect of blowing things up is a solution to an unsatisfactory life. Terrorism does not attract the well-adjusted, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Nov 20, 2012

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Multimedia

    A Conversation with Harold Brown, Former U.S. Defense Secretary

    In a conversation with former Northrop Grumman CEO Kent Kresa, Brown shares stories from his new book, Star-Spangled Security: Applying Lessons Learned over Six Decades Safeguarding America, and reflects on what those experiences teach us about current and future challenges facing the United States and the world.

    Nov 17, 2012

  • June 2012 protest in Mexico City's town center against the major presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto.

    Commentary

    Will Mexico's New President Continue the War on the Cartels?

    During his campaign, Enrique Peña Nieto, the victorious PRI candidate, promised frightened and war-weary Mexicans a reduction in the violence, but since his election victory in July, he has sounded more and more bellicose, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Nov 16, 2012

  • Testimony

    Benghazi and Beyond: What Went Wrong on Sept. 11, 2012 and How to Prevent it from Happening Again

    Among security considerations for diplomatic missions abroad is the amount and type of support provided by the host government, the method for acquiring knowledge of what is happening outside the embassy in the surrounding neighborhoods, and the actual structure of the buildings and layout of the diplomatic compound.

    Nov 15, 2012

  • Iraqi Army soldiers practice prior to an urban operations live-fire exercise at Camp Taji in December 2010

    Commentary

    Difficult Questions on Today's Terrorist Threat

    Much like the struggle against the Soviet Union and Communism during the Cold War, it appears increasingly likely that the struggle against radical Islamic groups will last several decades, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Oct 22, 2012

  • Announcement

    Brian Michael Jenkins Selected for World Economic Forum

    Brian Michael Jenkins, senior adviser to the president of RAND, has been chosen as a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Terrorism. He will travel to Dubai in mid-November to attend what is billed as the world's largest brainstorming meeting, with thought leaders from WEF's Network of Global Agenda Councils.

    Oct 17, 2012

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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