• Terrorism Research: How RAND Defined and Built a New Field of Knowledge

    In 1972, amid a worldwide rash of bombings, hijackings, and hostage-takings, the U.S. government was wrestling with how to respond. How widespread were these violent groups? What security measures were necessary? Should the government ever negotiate with hostage-takers? RAND researchers offered help by turning to their specialty: data.

  • Understanding Bombers’ Motivations: A Historical Study

    The saga of bombers and the driving forces behind their acts is never-ending. A historical study of bombings and bomb makers reveals reoccurring themes that underlie most of these events. This article will provide an analysis of the circumstances that compel bombers to attack, which can help explain what inspired notable bombings of the past.

  • Extremist Propaganda Remained at Historic Levels in 2021

    The distribution of propaganda by racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) remained at historic levels across the United States in 2021, with a total 4,851 cases of racist, anti-Semitic and other hateful messages. The latest data comes amid a surge in anti-Semitic hate fliering in January and February targeting at least 15 states nationwide.

  • Which is the Bigger Threat: Offline or Online Radicalization?

    The Global Network on Extremism Technology (GNET) has just released a report which seeks answers to these questions: Are those radicalized offline or online more of a threat? Which group is harder to detect, more successful in completing attacks, and more lethal when they do so? Is the pattern different for youth versus older perpetrators and for men versus women?

  • Not a Suicide Pact: Urgent Strategic Recommendations for Reducing Domestic Terrorism in the United States

    America’s Bill of Rights protects U.S. citizens’ rights to free speech, to bear arms, and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, among other things. As the Supreme Court has consistently held, however, no right is absolute: All rights must be balanced against other societal needs, including and especially public safety. Barbara L. McQuade writes that as the threat of domestic terrorism metastasizes in the United States, Americans need to use the practical wisdom urged by Justice Robert L. Jackson – who, in 1949, advised that the Constitution is not “a suicide pact” — to ensure the survival of the republic.

  • Franco A.: A German Right-Wing Extremist Soldier's Double Life

    All eyes are on Frankfurt, on the trial of Franco A. a Bundeswehr soldier accused of plotting a terrorist attack while posing as a Syrian refugee. This week, he was taken into custody over fresh evidence.

  • U.S. Mired in “Heightened Threat Environment”: DHS

    DHS, in its updated National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin released Monday, says that the prevalence of conspiracy theories and bad or misleading information, online and in social media forums, is keeping the United States in a state of heightened alert when it comes to possible terror attacks. DHS warns that while many of the top threat streams have changed little over the past year, almost all of them are being amplified by the information environment.

  • How Radio Programming Can Fight Violent Extremism in West Africa

    A new study shows the potential of storytelling and narratives to address violent extremism. Radio dramas can increase intentions to collaborate with the police, increase prioritization of violent extremism as an important issue to be addressed by the government, and reduce justification of violent extremism, new experimental research shows.

  • Islamic State Leader Killed in U.S. Raid – Where Does This Leave the Terrorist Group?

    The operation against Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi arrives at a precarious time for the Islamic State group. The organization’s transition from an Iraq-centric movement to a global insurgency with affiliates dotted across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia is still relatively fresh. Leadership decapitation – or the targeted killing of militant groups’ top leaders – is a key component of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. It is widely used by many nations, including the United States.

    But terrorism experts don’t agree on how effective killing top leaders is.

  • Threats to the U.S. Jewish Community: The Facts

    According to the FBI’s annual data on hate crimes, defined as criminal offenses which are motivated by bias, crimes targeting the Jewish community consistently constitute more than half of all religion-based crimes.

  • What Does the Seditious Conspiracy Indictment Mean for the Oath Keepers?

    The Justice Department has raised the stakes with the seditious conspiracy charges filed on Jan. 12 against the Oath Keepers founder, Stewart Rhodes. Jon Lewis and Seamus Hughes write that “The anti-government movement in America is not based on one man or even one organization. There will be more extremist leaders like Stewart Rhodes in the future. However, the most recent prosecution may set the precedent of how to handle those who come after him.”

  • Warnings of “Civil War” Risk Harming Efforts Against Political Violence

    A year on from the Jan. 6 riots, experts warn of catastrophic political violence, while political commentators invoke the specter of the 1860s. Anjali Dayal, Alexandra Stark, and Megan A. Stewart write that the emerging cottage industry of speculation and alarm specifically about a civil war in the United States worries them. “The shape and content of this debate … risks mis-framing an urgent problem for non-specialist audiences.”

  • Hostage Situation Continuing in Texas

    The FBI joined local and state police to surround a synagogue in Coleville, Texas, a city of about 26,000 residents about 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth, where a man has been holding the rabbi and four other people hostage since late morning. A few minutes ago, the hostage taker released a man who was suffering from a medical condition.

  • U.S. Judge Orders Colombia’s Now-Demobilized Insurgents to Compensate Family of Kidnapped Politician

    A Pennsylvania federal judge ruled on Thursday that Colombia’s now-demobilized Marxist guerrilla, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), will have to pay $36 million in compensation to the son of Ingrid Bentacourt, a Colombian politician who was kidnapped by FARC in 2002 and held hostage for six years.

  • Civil War in the U.S. Is Unlikely Because Grievance Doesn’t Necessarily Translate Directly into Violence

    Claims that America is at the greatest risk of civil war since, well, the Civil War, recently received additional support from some experts in the field of political science. But civil wars are rare events. But even if a civil war in America is unlikely, this does not preclude the occurrence of other forms of less intense violence. Concerns about increased violent extremism in the United States recently led the U.S. Justice Department to establish a new domestic terrorism group.