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The Future of Terrorism

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 264 Dated: September 2009 Pages: 26-30
Date Published
November 2009
5 pages
Publication Series
This article contrasts the views on the terrorist threat and how it should be countered by two of the Nation's preeminent terrorism experts, Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University and a former senior executive of the Rand Corporation, and Marc Sageman, a scholar-in-residence at the New York Police Department and a former case officer with the CIA.
Hoffman believes the primary terrorist threat lies with al-Qaida slowly reconstituting itself in Pakistan, followed by renewed efforts to launch terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe. Sageman, on the other hand, contends that the terrorist threat has shifted from the core al-Qaida group in Pakistan to radicalized individuals who are forming attack groups in the United States and Europe. At its core, the debate between the two men concerns terrorist recruitment and organization and where it is occurring. Hoffmann and Sageman agree that understanding radicalization is vital to understanding terrorism; however, they strongly disagree on where radicalization occurs. If Hoffman's theory is correct, law enforcement officials would expect to find radicals trained through organized programs, most often overseas where the primary knowledge about training, tactics, and logistics is in the hands of a core group of leaders. On the other hand, if Sageman's theory is valid law enforcement officials would focus on identifying and countering sources of radicalization within the residents of their local jurisdictions. In support of this concern, a 2007 study funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) found that the radicalization of prisoners in the United States is occurring, mostly through personal inmate interactions. Such recruitment can lead to the development of small cadres of radicals who initiate terrorist operations in the United States without training or significant planning input from radical leaders abroad. 8 notes and 3 readings

Date Published: November 1, 2009