We Research

Research Philosophy & Program:

The Combating Terrorism Center is one of the leading academic institutions devoted to the study of terrorism. The four topical programs outlined below comprise the core of our research agenda, and reflect our understanding of the key contemporary terrorism issues sets facing academics and government officials. Our research agenda is informed by three core themes: studying emerging threats, challenging conventional logic and offering counter intuitive insights, and highlighting unique sources of information from around the world in our research products. Our commitment to rigorous analysis is complimented by a interdisciplinary approach which blends theoretical insights, deep religious and cultural understanding, and modern scientific method to generate practical conclusions for addressing the terrorist threat.

  • Syria: A Wicked Problem for All


    On August 26, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry called the recent use of chemical weapons outside of Damascus “undeniable” and a “moral obscenity.”[1] This is the latest chapter in an already complex civil war in Syria, a crisis that Kerry’s predecessor called a “wicked problem” for the U.S. foreign policy establishment.[2] That term was introduced 40 years ago by two professors of urban planning who were trying to identify what differentiated hard but relatively ordinary problems from those that were truly “wicked.”[3] In their interpretation, wicked problems feature innumerable causes, are tough to adequately describe, and by definition have no “right” answers. In fact, solutions to wicked problems are impossible to objectively evaluate; rather, it is better to evaluate solutions to these problems as being shades of good and …

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Research Areas and Featured Publications

Terrorist Ideology

Understanding the ideological underpinnings of violent groups is crucial to countering and defeating terrorist entities. This research program examines the ideas driving modern terrorism, the transmission of those ideas, and the doctrinal schisms within violent movements.

Terrorist Strategy and Structure

The landscape of terrorist actors and the strategies they employ are consistently evolving. The strategy and structure program examines the actors, organizational platforms, and violent methods that terrorists use in pursuit of their goals.

  • Gabriel Koehler-Derrick

South Asia

South Asia faces unique and complex challenges stemming from growing anti-Western sentiment, nuclear armed regional rivals, and a complex blend of militant actors. This research program contextualizes the nature of the terrorist threat emanating from and developing within Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh.

  • Anirban Ghosh
  • Arif Jamal
  • Christine Fair
  • Don Rassler
  • Nadia Shoeb

Emerging Threats

The Emerging Threats research program informs the academic and policy communities on nascent and underappreciated terrorist threats. This program looks across the phenomenon of terrorism and focuses on the evolution, innovation among existing terrorist actors, and the emergence of new threats.