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.

  • Smoke superimposed over a mass grave of ISIS fighters found in 2017 near Fallujah, Iraq, photos by Iraqi ministry of defence and Marina/Adobe Stock; design by Peter Soriano/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Who Are America's Jihadists?

    Sep 11, 2020

    U.S. residents who plotted to carry out jihadist attacks at home and those who traveled or attempted to travel to join jihadists abroad represent two dimensions of the terrorist threat. But both types are driven by internal motivations and circumstances as much as they are inspired by external groups.

  • 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.

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  • 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

  • Commentary

    The Moscow Metro Suicide Attacks

    The tragic events on Moscow's Metro system highlight several issues of relevance to an increasing number of countries in the world, writes Lindsay Clutterbuck.

    Apr 2, 2010

  • 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

    Report

    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