Recent Trends and Future Prospects of Terrorism in the United States
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CA
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This report examines recent trends and future prospects of terrorism in the United States and assesses their implications for the possibility of a terrorist group attempting an act of nuclear terrorism involving either the theft of a weapons system or strategic nuclear material or an attack on a weapons facility. An emerging trend of ideologically motivated terrorism by groups espousing white supremacist and anti-federalist beliefs or opposing specific issues such as abortion has largely supplanted the ethnic centered violence that dominated earlier domestic terrorist activity. The threat to U.S. nuclear weapons facilities from unknown terrorist groups in this country cannot be considered high at this time. There is no evidence to suggest that any of the organizations reviewed in this study have seriously contemplated a nuclear- related act, nor is there any indication that any group is poised to undertake such an attack in the future. Nevertheless, trends in the terrorist activities of certain groups must be considered in the context of possible operations directed against nuclear weapons sites. Members of these groups are considerably more skilled with weapons than are other terrorist in this country, they possess large stockpiles of sophisticated weapons, they are well trained guerrilla warfare and survival techniques, and they possess an apocalyptic vision of the future-factors that make them the most likely domestic terrorists to attempt an act of nuclear terrorism. In sum, while the volume of annual terrorist incidents in the United States is relatively small, the emerging trends merit intensive and continuing attention.
- Unconventional Warfare