The Dynamic Terrorist Threat

The Dynamic Terrorist Threat: An Assessment of Group Motivations and Capabilities in a Changing World

Kim Cragin
Sara A. Daly
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 126
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1782af
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  • Book Info
    The Dynamic Terrorist Threat
    Book Description:

    As the war on terrorism wages on, our nation's policymakers will continue to face the challenge of assessing threats that various terrorist groups pose to the U.S. homeland and our interests abroad. As part of the RAND Corporation's yearlong "Thinking Strategically About Combating Terrorism" project, the authors of this report develop a way to assess and analyze the danger posed by various terrorist organizations around the world. The very nature of terrorism creates a difficulty in predicting new and emerging threats; however, by establishing these types of parameters, the report creates a fresh foundation of threat analysis on which future counterterrorism strategy may build.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3621-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. SUMMARY
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xix-xx)
  9. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-6)

    On September 5, 1972, eight Palestinians entered the dormitory of Israeli Olympians in Munich, West Germany, and kidnapped nine athletes.¹ By conducting this attack, the terrorists hoped to obtain the release of 236 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, catapult their cause into the international spotlight, and make the presence of Palestinians felt at a gathering that had ignored them.² After hours of negotiations, the terrorists were allowed to move the hostages to a West German air base and planned to fly to Egypt for a prisoner exchange. But German police forces attempted to rescue the hostages, opening fire on the...

  10. Chapter Two ASSESSING TERRORIST THREATS
    (pp. 7-24)

    This chapter develops a framework for evaluating the threats that various terrorist groups pose to the United States, using the twin criteria ofintentionsandcapabilities.¹ To do this, we first establish five degrees of anti-U.S. sentiment, our measure of particular terrorist groups’ desire to attack the U.S. homeland and U.S. interests overseas. Similarly, we also articulate five different capability indicators for militant organizations that conduct terrorist attacks. By understanding terrorist groups in this framework, policymakers can compare the relative threats that such groups pose to the United States. Finally, we apply this framework, evaluating 22 terrorist groups according to...

  11. Chapter Three TERRORIST GROUPS’ CAPABILITIES
    (pp. 25-60)

    On August 7, 1998, at 10:30 a.m., a truck bomb exploded outside the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 213 people and injuring about 4,000.¹ Approximately nine minutes later, in a coordinated attack, another truck bomb killed 11 more people at the U.S. embassy in Tanzania.² Before and since these attacks, terrorists have kidnapped U.S. citizens, bombed U.S. businesses, and hijacked U.S. airplanes. Between 1968 and 1998, more than 3,300 terrorist attacks were conducted against U.S. targets overseas.³ This chapter examines the tools that terrorist groups use to sustain these and other types of attacks.

    To do this, we first...

  12. Chapter Four TERRORIST GROUPS AS DYNAMIC ENTITIES
    (pp. 61-84)

    Terrorist groups do not stand still. They grow and sometimes fade, responding to changes in their political, social, economic, and security environments. The previous two chapters presented a framework for assessing the relative threats, capabilities, and requirements of terrorist groups in the context of the struggle against terrorism. Yet these chapters do not address how terrorists might evolve within the framework. To address this issue, we discuss in this chapter some of the terrorist groups that have shown significant changes over time—and what appears to have caused these shifts. We do not propose a new model, in addition to...

  13. Chapter Five CONCLUSION
    (pp. 85-88)

    The September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon illustrate the difficulty in forecasting new and emerging trends in terrorism. The intelligence and security communities clearly were tracking the activities of Osama bin Laden and his “World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders” long before September 11. This was shown, for example, when the U.S. government conducted retaliatory missile strikes against bin Laden’s group in Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998. Yet many members of the counterterrorism community appear to have underestimated either the network’s degree of hostility toward the United States or its...

  14. Appendix TRENDS IN TERRORIST ATTACKS
    (pp. 89-92)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 93-106)