Terrorism Threat Assessment


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


    U.S. Efforts Are Essential to Counter an Islamic State Comeback

    Aug 7, 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


    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

  • The under-construction One World Trade Center stands over New York's Manhattan skyline on August 24, 2011, photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters


    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 26, 2011

  • Testimony

    The Future of Al Qa'ida

    Even after the death of Osama bin Laden, al Qa'ida and allied groups continue to present a grave threat to the United States and its allies by overseeing and encouraging terrorist operations, managing a robust propaganda campaign, conducting training, and facilitating financial assistance.

    May 24, 2011

  • Commentary

    Al-Qaeda after bin Laden

    Wary of communicating with each other and with al Qaeda's field commands, al Qaeda central could become more isolated, more dependent on its affiliates, allied groups, and individual acolytes, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 12, 2011

  • Report

    Resource-Constrained Spatial Hot Spot Identification

    Describes a methodology for identifying areas where problem events are more pronounced and directing resources toward those areas.

    May 11, 2011

  • Commentary

    Can You Help Stop Terror Plots?

    Of the plots foiled in the last 10 years on U.S. soil, the would-be terrorists came from many different ethnic groups. We know of no cases where ethnic profiling helped stop a terrorist plot, write John Hollywood and Kevin J. Strom.

    May 10, 2011

  • Commentary

    Could Bin Laden's Death Prompt a Cyber Attack?

    A truly monumental attack that could cripple key U.S. computer systems — something akin to the Stuxnet worms attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure, for example — would take many months of planning, significant expertise, and a great deal of money to pull off, writes Isaac Porche.

    May 6, 2011

  • Commentary

    What Al Qaeda Is Thinking Now: Defanged, but Desperate to Show They're Still in the Fight

    There may be some spontaneous acts by individuals enraged by Bin Laden's death who are inspired to follow him into martyrdom. But these are the spasms of reaction, not planned retaliatory operations, and will not demonstrate that Al Qaeda can survive Bin Laden, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 4, 2011

  • Testimony

    The Al Qa'ida Threat in Pakistan

    Even before the killing of Osama bin Laden, with the growing instability across the Arab world, some argued that the primary al Qa'ida threat now comes from the Persian Gulf or North Africa. While these regions certainly present a threat to Western security, al Qa'ida's primary command and control structure remains situated in Pakistan.

    May 3, 2011

  • Commentary

    What Is the Terrorism Threat Now? The Local Level

    How should police and intelligence agencies deal with the specter of homegrown terrorism? One of the best tools available is intelligence gleaned from the local community, writes Peter Chalk.

    Mar 10, 2011

  • Report

    Early Observations on Possible Defenses by the Emerging Threat Agent Project

    Gaps in defenses against chemical and biological weapon agents can pose a serious risk to U.S. military operations. This paper summarizes early expert observations about the threat and possible responses.

    Jan 19, 2011

  • Testimony

    The al Qaeda-Inspired Terrorist Threat: An Appreciation of the Current Situation

    In testimony presented before the Canadian Senate Special Committee on Anti-terrorism, Brian Michael Jenkins assesses al Qaeda and its influence in 2010, and compares it with the organization it was in 2001, at the time of the September 11 attacks.

    Dec 6, 2010

  • Report

    Deradicalization Process Is Essential Part of Fighting Terrorism

    Counter-radicalization programs in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe indicate that deradicalizing Islamist extremists may be even more important than getting them to simply disengage from terrorist activities.

    Nov 9, 2010

  • Commentary

    Our Foes Cannot Destroy This Nation

    We have come through wars, depressions, natural and man-made disasters, indeed higher levels of domestic terrorist violence than that we face today, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 27, 2010

  • Report

    Counterinsurgency in Pakistan

    The rising number of terrorist plots in the United States with links to Pakistan—most recently the failed car-bombing in New York City—is partly a result of an unsuccessful strategy by Pakistan and the U.S. to weaken the range of militant groups operating in Pakistan.

    Jun 2, 2010

  • Commentary

    Jihadist Threat Keeps Evolving

    The lesson of the Times Square attack is that the terrorist threat posed by the jihadist movement continues to evolve. It is today more decentralized, more dependent upon al Qaeda's affiliates, allies and individual acolytes to continue its global terrorist campaign, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 10, 2010

  • Commentary

    Al Qaeda Tipping Point? Still a Long Way to Go

    We are still too close to the events to discern the long-term trajectory of the campaign against al Qaeda. And almost nine years after 9/11, analysts are still remarkably divided in their assessments of al Qaeda's current situation, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Apr 26, 2010