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

  • Commentary

    Below the Radar

    The string of recent arrests involving American citizens in terror plots against the U.S. have highlighted what appears to be a trend in transnational Islamist terrorism: growing domestic radicalization, writes Peter Chalk.

    Mar 18, 2010

  • Commentary

    Jihad Jane and the Risk of Domestic Terrorism

    The revelation of the arrest in October of Colleen Renee LaRose, who had adopted the pathetically predictable nom de guerre Jihad Jane, once again focuses national attention on homegrown terrorism. But while worrisome, this threat needs to be kept in perspective, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Mar 12, 2010

  • Commentary

    How Can We Keep Los Angeles Secure?

    High-ranking officials in Washington tell Americans that the threat from terrorists—principally self-radicalized homegrown terrorists—is high. Do terrorists pose a threat to Los Angeles, and if so, what should ordinary citizens do? asks Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Mar 5, 2010

  • Commentary

    Terrorists Will Strike America Again

    America's tolerance for terrorism cannot be zero. Although we obviously aim to do as much as possible, preventing every attack is an unattainable goal. The country needs to steel itself for the near-certainty that there will at some point be another major strike on U.S. territory, writes Gregory F. Treverton.

    Jan 19, 2010

  • Commentary

    How a Decade of Terror Changed America

    Two foiled airliner bombings bracket a decade that changed the world's understanding of terrorism as a new form of global warfare and has had profound ramifications we are still coming to grips with in the U.S., writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 30, 2009

  • Testimony

    Understanding Terrorist Motivations

    In testimony presented before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, Kim Cragin discusses how and why individuals become susceptible to recruitment by al-Qaeda and associated movements.

    Dec 14, 2009

  • Commentary

    A Year After Mumbai, Lashkar's Threat Has Only Grown

    One year ago, 10 gunmen from a Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba laid siege to Mumbai. Lashkar's main enemy is India, but it has also waged a peripheral jihad against the United States and its allies since shortly after 9/11, writes Stephen Tankel.

    Nov 25, 2009

  • Dissertation

    Finding Needles in a Haystack: A Resource Allocation Methodology to Design Strategies to Detect Terrorist Weapon Development

    Presents a methodology to design strategies for detecting terrorist weapon development and shows how it might be used to detect development of improvised explosive devices and radiological dispersal devices.

    Aug 10, 2009

  • Commercial Book

    Intelligence for an Age of Terror: New Book Examines Implications of Terrorism for U.S. Intelligence

    Because terrorism is not confined to national boundaries, it puts pressure on the U.S. both at home and abroad, forcing intelligence and law enforcement—the CIA and the FBI—to work together in new ways. This requires new means of sharing not just information but also analysis across the federal system.

    May 19, 2009

  • Chess pieces on a chess board against a sunset


    Assessment Framework Can Help Security Planners Decide Which Hypothetical Threats To Worry About

    Concerns about the panpoply of possible terrorist attacks are central to the design of security efforts to protect both individual targets and the nation overall. Two questions can be posed to assess the novelty and ease of execution of emerging threats, allowing security planners to both learn from new threats and prioritize.

    May 7, 2009

  • Commentary

    South Asia's Taliban Problem: Multiple Threats From Multiple Groups

    For India, the development of a conducive environment on its western flank for groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad has already resulted in sophisticated terrorist attacks on Indian soil. While there is good reason for India and its neighbors to be concerned, there is considerable misunderstanding of the threat, writes Seth Jones.

    Apr 14, 2009

  • Commentary

    Mumbai's Terrifying Logic

    We tend to describe terrorism as senseless violence, but it seldom is. If we look at the attacks from the attackers' perspective, we can discern a certain strategic logic, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 9, 2008

  • Commentary

    The Backlash Against Terror

    The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, are part of a disturbing trend across the Muslim world of groups that target civilians in the name of Islam. Less visible to Western eyes, but potentially just as significant, is a growing backlash among Muslims who condemn such attacks as unethical, writes Seth Jones.

    Dec 8, 2008

  • Research Brief

    Consequence Prevention: A New Model for Addressing Uncertainty About Terrorist Threats

    To help policymakers deal with the uncertainty surrounding the nature of future terrorist threats, traditional terrorism prevention measures should be integrated into a portfolio that also includes measures that mitigate an attack's consequences.

    Dec 7, 2008

  • Multimedia

    Brian Michael Jenkins Discusses "Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?"

    Offering insights into vital questions of national security, presidential decisionmaking, and terrorist motives, world-renowned terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins examines how terrorists think about nuclear weapons and nuclear terror.

    Aug 6, 2008

  • Research Brief

    How Terrorist Groups End: Implications for Countering al Qa'ida

    This research brief describes an analysis of how terrorist groups end. The evidence since 1968 indicates that most groups have ceased to exist as a result of police and intelligence actions or of political accommodations, not military efforts.

    Jun 30, 2008

  • Journal Article

    Jama'at Al-Fuqara': An Overblown Threat?

    No abstract is available for this document.

    Dec 31, 2007

  • Journal Article

    Defining Terrorists' Information Requirements: The Modified Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (ModIPB) Framework

    Considerable existing literature on terrorism contains limited discussions of what terrorists need to know in order to plan their attacks. This article focuses explicitly on terrorist information needs and specifies a list of intelligence requirements for attacks against the transportation infrastructure. ...

    Dec 31, 2007

  • Report

    International Cooperation Needed to Keep Terrorists from Gaining Advanced Weapons

    International cooperation is needed to keep a new generation of advanced conventional weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists. Efforts should focus on making security forces aware of the emerging threats and developing safeguards for the most potent of the weapons.

    Aug 27, 2007

  • Commentary

    Combating Radicalization

    Nothing is more important in the global war on terrorism than reducing the production of new terrorists, writes Brian Michael Jenkins in a commentary appearing in United Press International.

    Aug 23, 2007