Terrorism

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The Munich Olympics. The Lockerbie bombing. Oklahoma City. 9/11. London, Madrid, Mumbai. Terrorism is by no means a localized or recent phenomenon. Similarly, efforts to both catalog and counter terrorism, both at home and around the world, have been a key focus of RAND research since the early 1970s.

  • A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces escorts a blindfolded civilian detainee suspected to be a member of Islamic State militants in Raqqa, October 12, 2017, photo by Issam Abdallah/Reuters

    Journal Article

    Options for Dealing with ISIS Foreign Fighters Detained in Syria

    May 31, 2019

    The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are holding thousands of fighters who had joined ISIS's ranks from abroad as well as members of their families. What the world does (or does not do) about them could affect the future stability of the region and the countries from which they came.

  • A French soldier uses a sniffer dog to check for explosives during an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29, 2019, photo by Benoit Tessier/Reuters

    Commentary

    Abandoning West Africa Carries Risks for U.S.

    Jan 3, 2020

    News that the U.S. Department of Defense is contemplating a major drawdown in West Africa comes as the region is in crisis. For Americans, the Sahel crisis raises a fundamental question: Beyond basic humanitarian concern, if the Sahel falls apart, why should Americans care?

Explore Terrorism

  • A memorial for victims of a mass shooting sits outside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 22, 2015

    Commentary

    How Do You Define Terrorism?

    The term “terrorism” remains contested. What constitutes a terrorist attack? Moreover, should groups who incite hatred be held responsible for such attacks—and be labeled as terrorists—even if they don't directly participate in the violence?

    Jun 4, 2018

  • Dissertation

    Value of Information for Policy Analysis

    This dissertation considers the viability of applying Value of Information methods in complex systems for policy analysis, concluding that these methods can be applied, but that different methods are appropriate in different cases.

    May 15, 2018

  • News Release

    3D Printing Could Disrupt Labor Markets and National Security

    While advances in additive manufacturing offer potential breakthroughs in prosthetic arms, jet engine parts, and a host of other products, 3D printing, as it is known, may also disrupt traditional labor markets and exacerbate existing security threats from violent actors.

    May 9, 2018

  • U.S. soldiers watch an Afghan soldier sign for the transfer of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to Afghan security forces on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, February 14, 2015

    Testimony

    A Path Forward for U.S. Government Spending in Afghanistan

    For more than 16 years, U.S. assistance to Afghanistan has been enormous in scale and complexity. But how effective is U.S. spending when it comes to building a stable democracy in Afghanistan? How can the United States reduce its financial commitment while mitigating risks?

    May 9, 2018

  • 3D printer and printable drone, gun, and airplane turbine.

    Article

    Four Ways 3D Printing May Threaten Security

    3D printing has the potential to improve lives. But it could also bring new perils, such as disrupting weapons regulations and jeopardizing manufacturing jobs. While there's reason to be cautious about this technology, there's also danger in overreacting and overregulating what could be a new era of innovation.

    May 8, 2018

  • 3d printing in progress

    Report

    Additive Manufacturing in 2040: Powerful Enabler, Disruptive Threat

    If additive manufacturing—also called 3D printing—continues to develop along its current trends, it could profoundly alter the global economy, international security, and the organization of society.

    May 8, 2018

  • Lorton, Virginia, June 6, 2017: Elizabeth and Ventoux, a canine/handler team with Virginia Task Force 1, participate in a training drill. They practiced searching for people trapped within the rubble pile.

    Brochure

    HSOAC Annual Report 2016–2017

    The Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC) 2016-2017 Annual Report offers an overview of HSOAC capabilities and highlights how RAND is supporting the mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

    May 7, 2018

  • A mourner writes a message on a makeshift memorial a day after a van struck multiple people along a major intersection in north Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 24, 2018

    Commentary

    The Continuing Plague of Vehicle Attacks: What Can Be Done?

    Attacks using vehicles like the one in Toronto this week are difficult to defend against, but that doesn't mean that law enforcement and local security forces can't make progress. There are four crucial elements to consider when thinking about mitigating the effects of ramming attacks.

    Apr 26, 2018

  • Destroyed buildings during sunset at the frontline in Raqqa, Syria, October 6, 2017

    Commentary

    Defeating the ISIS Nostalgia Narrative

    It is crucial that the United States and its coalition partners take into consideration and preempt the ISIS nostalgia narratives that may seek to define the group's legacy and prepare a foundation for its resurgence throughout the Middle East and beyond. The legacy ISIS should be remembered for is one of misery and despair.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • A police notice is attached to screening surrounding a restaurant which was visited by former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia before they were found on a park bench after being poisoned in Salisbury, Britain, March 19, 2018

    Commentary

    Arms Control Hostage to Skripal and Syria Attacks

    Two prominent poisoning assassination attempts and Kremlin denials of gas attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad raise doubts about Moscow's commitment to the purposes of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Never has the future of negotiated arms control involving Russia been at greater risk.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • Syrian medical staff take part in a training exercise on how to treat victims of chemical weapons attacks, Gaziantep, Turkey, July 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Are Chemical Weapons Becoming a Tacitly Accepted Weapon of War?

    The international community should consider serious options to hold perpetrators of chemical attacks accountable and stop further attacks. These are not easy choices. But the alternative is accepting that long-held norms are crumbling, and the world is sliding back to a time when inhumane tools of war were common.

    Apr 18, 2018

  • An officer with Schertz Police Department holds a FedEx truck from entering the scene of a blast at a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas, U.S., March 20, 2018

    Commentary

    Austin Bombings Highlight a Potential Vulnerability in the Mail Delivery System

    USPS is better than private couriers at identifying and detecting suspicious packages. Given that they are increasingly handling "last mile" delivery, how can private mail delivery offices better detect and safely handle suspicious mail?

    Apr 17, 2018

  • A soldier stands guard in a tower overlooking Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay naval base, Cuba, December 31, 2009

    Commentary

    Now's the Time to Act on Guantanamo

    Most of the 41 terror suspects who remain confined at Guantanamo Bay are unlikely to be released from custody any time soon. But the possibility that new detainees may soon be sent to the facility argues for early action to accelerate the legal proceedings against those already being held.

    Apr 16, 2018

  • Turkish flag flutters at Turkey's border gate with Syria, overlooking ruins of buildings destroyed during fighting with the Islamic State militants in Kobani, Syria, October 11, 2017

    Commentary

    Turkey's Double Standard: How Ankara's Actions Contradict Its Claims of Opposing the Islamic State

    Turkey wants to take credit for the demise of the Islamic State, insisting that Turkey's actions in northern Syria have helped lay the groundwork for a sustainable peace. But the evidence clearly suggests otherwise.

    Apr 13, 2018

  • A member of al Qaeda's Nusra Front near Idlib, Syria, December 2, 2014

    Commentary

    Do Terrorist Groups Really Die?

    The persistence of al Qaeda and ISIS underscores terrorist groups' adaptability in the 21st century. Both organizations maintain global, regional, and local influence in the face of immense pressure. As terrorist groups fall, the West should watch them closely to prevent a resurgence.

    Apr 9, 2018

  • News Release

    RAND Study Examines Ways U.S. Can Better Counter Political Warfare

    The United States needs to improve the ways it combats adversaries adept at using political warfare tactics to achieve their goals and undermine U.S. interests and allies.

    Apr 5, 2018

  • The official mascot for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Zabivaka, is on display, with a tower of the Kremlin seen in the background, in central Moscow, Russia November 29, 2017

    Commentary

    Hit Russia Where It Hurts: Take Away World Cup

    After a chemical attack in Great Britain, U.K., U.S. and other governments responded unilaterally. But this crime cries out for a more collective response. Revoking Russia's right to host the World Cup tournament would be a powerful signal of global outrage and would hit Putin where it hurts.

    Apr 5, 2018

  • Chess board made out of a world map

    Report

    Countering Modern Political Warfare

    Both state and nonstate actors—including Russia, Iran, and ISIS—practice political warfare in unique ways. How can the United States, along with its allies and partners, respond to or engage in this type of conflict to protect U.S. interests?

    Apr 5, 2018

  • London skyline with overlay of the UK and EU flags

    Commentary

    'Zero-sum' Approach to Defence and Security During Brexit Negotiations Risks a Less Secure UK and EU

    It is in the interest of neither the UK nor the EU to have a 'zero sum' approach to defense and security during Brexit negotiations. Both sides have plenty to lose if it turns into a 'messy divorce.'

    Apr 4, 2018

  • Journal Article

    Terrorism Before and After 9/11: A More Dangerous World?

    This research aims to present a focused and balanced reckoning of the "global war on terror" (GWOT) by comparing it to the era immediately preceding it. The results do not generally comport with popular or mainstream accounts of terrorism.

    Apr 3, 2018