Monday 10/24 - Brian Michael Jenkins - RAND Corporation - The terrorist threat in America

Monday 10/24
Brian Michael Jenkins
RAND Corporation
The terrorist threat in America

Today on HERE & THERE: Understanding the threat of terrorism in America – what assets account for this country’s real, if imperfect success, so far, in containing would-be domestic terrorists? RAND Corporation analyst Brian Michael Jenkins on identifying threats and combating them.” 

It’s one of my favorite love songs, by George and Ira Gershwin…Our Love Is Here to Stay.  How terrible that the lyrics should apply so well to terrorism.

“It’s very clear, terrorism is here to stay.  Not for a year, but ever and a day.”

Well, “ever and a day may” be worst-case analysis, but more than 15 years after the most famous terrorist attack in the United States, the murder of close to 3000 people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, no end to terrorism is in sight.

Over a period of just a few days this month, terrorist plots were reported foiled, and accused terrorists were captured, tried, or sentenced in Chemnitz, Germany; Sydney, Australia, Bangkok, Thailand, SE Turkey, NYC, Linden, NJ and two separate cases in Phoenix, AZ.

While virtually all the suspects in these cases claimed emotional ties, and some had actual business connections to the Islamic State, their attacks, planned and in some cases, executed probably had more in common with everyday muggings or assaults or vandalism than with the very complicated, very meticulously organized terrorist attacks like those in Nice and Brussels and Paris this year, and at the World Trade Center in 2001 and 1993.

They are example of what our guest today, Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Advisor to the President of the RAND Corporation, calls “pure terrorism.”  Brian has been one of America’s most respected analysts of Terrorism for more than 30 years.

Here is what he wrote, just last month: “Pure terrorism is truly random. It targets families strolling on a promenade in Nice, shoppers at a mall, a busy street in lower Manhattan. The message is not that the victims represent a certain group or are seen as “guilty” because of despised policies or actions. This is sheer spectacle. The message: No one is safe.”

But Jenkins, in his very next paragraph, puts that threat into perspective.  “Such attacks are statistically rare, representing a relatively tiny addition to the total volume of violent crime in the United States.”

Since 9/11, Jenkins points out, there have been an average of 6 to 7 jihad-inspired deaths a year in America, compared to America’s annual average of 14 to 15,000 homicides a year.



Brian Michael Jenkins is a senior adviser to the president of the RAND Corporation and author of numerous books, reports, and articles on terrorism-related topics, including Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?(2008, Prometheus Books). He formerly served as chair of the Political Science Department at RAND.

An expert on terrorism and transportation security, Jenkins has advised governments, private corporations, the Catholic Church, and the Church of England on terrorist threats over his nearly four decades of work as an analyst.




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