RAND/Terrorism expertise

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The RAND Corporation has been an influential institution in terrorism studies since the 1970s and says it "remains dedicated to an investigation of the origins, development, and implications of terrorism for policy officials, the private sector, and first responders."[1]

In her study of the terrorism research field, Edna Reid describes how RAND's research developed over the years in collaboration with other right-wing think-tanks and research centres:

During the 1970s, governments, international organizations, and research centers such as the RAND Corporation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Georgetown University, and the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv University…sponsored numerous terrorism conferences, research projects, specialized anthologies, study groups, and official inquiries into terrorism. The efforts helped to nurture terrorism research and create numerous forums which allowed cross-fertilization of ideas, sharing of resources, and creation of an invisible college of terrorism researchers. [2]

Tracing the growth of the field from its origins to the present, Reid found that RAND and its British offshoot the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence as a result of these networks continue to exert an enormous influence over the study of and understanding of terrorism:

Both RAND and CSTPV are major centers for the recruitment, nurturing, and training of researchers in contemporary terrorism. Results further indicate that newer and highly cited (core) researchers, such as Rohan Gunaratna, an expert on al Qaeda and a former research associate at CSTPV, (a former Ph.D. student of Bruce Hoffman at St. Andrews; Hoffman is currently Vice President at RAND), are influenced by the early terrorism authors and their research foci. [3]

According to RAND's own account it "began exploring [terrorism] in the wake of the murder of Olympic athletes in Munich",[4] although Brian Houghton writes that RAND's terrorism research began two years earlier in 1970.[5] RAND's terrorism work was first developed by its resident counter-insurgency expert during the 1970s and 1980s Brian Jenkins, who oversaw RAND's terrorism work until 1989. The focus during the 1970s seems to have been on the development of a database of terrorism incidents called the RAND Terrorism Chronology Database[6]. A 1998 RAND Press Release suggests that RAND's in depth research into terrorism did not start until the early 1980s. The press release boasts that:

Terrorism studies as a scholarly discipline date to the launching of RAND’s own research effort in the early 1980s. In addition to identifying trends in terrorist activity and counter-terrorist strategy, the program has made major contributions in analyzing such problems as hostage situations, possible terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction, constraints on intelligence gathering in a free society, and the threat of attacks on nuclear installations and other sensitive targets.[7]

During the 1980s RAND maintained a Security and Subnational Conflict Group, which in addition to maintaining the terrorism database, sponsored conferences and seminars, published articles and monographs dealing with terrorism and counterinsurgency, and provided experts to those in need.[8] In 1989 Jenkins left RAND and Bruce Hoffman - who had been affiliated with RAND since the early 1980s - assumed directorship of the terrorism programme.[9] In 1994 Hoffman left the RAND staff to set up the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews. At St. Andrews Hoffman continued to consult for RAND[10] and predictably RAND developed close connections to the new Centre. They collaborated on the terrorism database until 1997 and to this day share staff and board members.

From 2001 RAND's terrorism project received substantial funds from the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (which in turn is heavily funded by the Department of Homeland Security). Between 2001 and 2006 MIPT accounts reveal that RAND received over $2.6 million from MIPT.[11] The funds were either partly or wholly for RAND's part in the development of the now discontinued Terrorism Knowledge Base which combined RAND's information with several other sources. MIPT discontinued the Terrorism Knowledge Base in March 2008, making RAND's research was no longer publicly available. RAND however continues to develop its Worldwide Terrorism Incident Knowledge Database which is currently maintain by Michael Wermuth and Kim Cragin.[12]

RAND's other major terrorism related project is the Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy which it runs jointly with the corporate security company Risk Management Solutions (RMS).[13] The Center was set up in 2002 and focuses on the financial implications of terrorism, dealing with risk management, insurance, liability, and compensation.[14]

RAND has also developed the RAND Voices of Jihad Database, a compilation of speeches, interviews, statements, and publications of jihadist leaders. Nearly all content is in English translation, and has been collected from publicly-accessible websites.[15] The database mimics similar projects undertaken by less prestigious instutions such as the Investigative Project or the NEFA Foundation.

Resources



References

  1. RAND Website, RAND Voices of Jihad Database, (accessed 30 May 2008)
  2. Edna F. Reid, Hsinchun Chen, ‘Mapping the contemporary terrorism research domain’, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 65 (2007) 42–56
  3. Edna F. Reid, Hsinchun Chen, ‘Mapping the contemporary terrorism research domain’, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 65 (2007) 42–56
  4. RAND Website, The RAND Worldwide Terrorism Incident Knowledge Database Project, (accessed 22 March 2008)
  5. Brian K. Houghton, 'Terrorism Knowledge Base: A Eulogy (2004-2008)', Perspectives on Terrorism Volume II, Issue 7
  6. RAND Corporation News Release, 'BRUCE HOFFMAN TO HEAD RAND’S WASHINGTON OFFICE. LEADING TERRORISM EXPERT RETURNS AS THINK TANK BEEFS UP PROGRAM. ALSO BACK AT RAND: BRIAN JENKINS', 31 August 1998
  7. RAND Corporation News Release, 'BRUCE HOFFMAN TO HEAD RAND’S WASHINGTON OFFICE. LEADING TERRORISM EXPERT RETURNS AS THINK TANK BEEFS UP PROGRAM. ALSO BACK AT RAND: BRIAN JENKINS', 31 August 1998
  8. see Rand Corporation, extract from The "Terrorism" Industry
  9. RAND Corporation News Release, 'BRUCE HOFFMAN TO HEAD RAND’S WASHINGTON OFFICE. LEADING TERRORISM EXPERT RETURNS AS THINK TANK BEEFS UP PROGRAM. ALSO BACK AT RAND: BRIAN JENKINS', 31 August 1998
  10. RAND Corporation News Release, 'BRUCE HOFFMAN TO HEAD RAND’S WASHINGTON OFFICE. LEADING TERRORISM EXPERT RETURNS AS THINK TANK BEEFS UP PROGRAM. ALSO BACK AT RAND: BRIAN JENKINS', 31 August 1998
  11. for more information see Former Board Members and Staff on Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism
  12. RAND Corporation Website, The RAND Worldwide Terrorism Incident Knowledge Database Project, (accessed 30 May 2008)
  13. RAND Corporation Website, Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy, (accessed 30 May 2008)
  14. RAND Corporation Website, About the Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy (accessed 30 May 2008)
  15. RAND Corporation website, RAND Voices of Jihad Database