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Conducting_Terrorist_Threat_Analyses - Conducting Terrorist...

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Conducting Terrorist Threat Analyses by Michael W. Collier, Ph.D. Eastern Kentucky University Introduction This handout provides an analytic framework for predicting the targets and types of attacks that may be used by a selected terrorist group. Terrorism is an extremely complex human behavior and a number of methods or techniques have been developed in the intelligence community and academia for making such predictions. The framework in this handout blends a basic Rational Choice approach used in academia with a number of structured analytic techniques used in the intelligence community. By calling on a number of proven structured analytic techniques and setting them within a Rational Choice framework, we can predict the most likely target locations to be selected and types of attacks to be used by a selected terrorist group. Currently, terrorist attacks within the United States are considered high-impact/low- probability threats. This means that while the probability of a terrorist attack is low, if one does occur, the potential impacts in terms of property damage, personnel casualties, and disruption of critical US infrastructures could be severe. Conducting high- impact/low-probability analyses , as is the approach covered in this handout, helps ensure policy-makers and tactical commanders are warned about unexpected but not completely impossible events. Such analyses also assist intelligence officials in developing Indications and Warning (I&W) Problems, which allow analysts to alert policy-makers and tactical commanders when such threats are about to materialize. I&W Problem development is the key element that allows intelligence officials to devise data collection plans to counter threats. One of the formulas used for risk assessment offers: R = (C x V x T), where R equals Risk, C equals Consequences (damage, casualties), V equals Vulnerability, and T equals Threat. The analytic framework in this handout focuses on determining the Threat (T) in this formula. However, as you learn the framework presented in this handout, you will see that the T is not a standalone factor, but can only be estimated with careful consideration of both the C and V factors. In other words, C, V, and T are inter-related in a much more complex manner than the R = (C x V x T) formula offers. Rational Choice: A Basic Primer Rational Choice Theory is one of two research approaches considered by academia as formal modeling tools (a combination of Complexity, Chaos, and Catastrophe theories being the second technique). (Note: Statistical procedures are not formal modeling tools.) Rational Choice Theory is a very powerful research tool. It can be used to develop new theory by highlighting the causal mechanisms associated with human behaviors. It can be used as an analytic framework in case studies to explain human behavior. It can also be used to predict human behavior as we will be doing in this handout. Rational Choice analyses make the researcher designate in detail the 1
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