National Security Experts


Brian Michael Jenkins

Biography provided by participant

Brian Michael Jenkins is considered to be one of the leading authorities on terrorism and international crime. A decorated combat veteran and former captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces, he served in Latin America and for three years in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He initiated the RAND Corporation's research on terrorism in 1972. From 1989 to 1998, Jenkins was Deputy Vice Chairman of Kroll Associates, an international private investigative firm. Jenkins returned to RAND in 1998. He also directs research on transportation security at the Mineta Transportation Institute, and is an advisor to the International Chamber of Commerce. In 1996, President Clinton appointed Jenkins to be a member of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. Jenkins also serves as a member of the Comptroller General's Advisory Group. He is the author of Unconquerable Nation: Knowing Our Enemy, Strengthening Ourselves (2006). His latest book is Will Terrorists Go Nuclear? (2008).

Recent Responses

May 1, 2012 07:21 PM

The War on Terror, whatever Washington chooses to call it, is far from over. To be sure, al Qaeda’s operational capabilities have been degraded. Its once easily accessible training camps in Afghanistan have been dispersed. Its terrorist networks have been largely dismantled. Its leadership has been decimated by arrests and drone strikes. Its sinews of command are frayed. Al Qaeda’s old guard, now holed up on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been reduced to a few hundred men at most. Unprecedented cooperation among intelligence services and law enforcement worldwide has made al Qaeda’s operating environment more hostile. The group has not been able to carry out a major successful terrorist attack in the West since 2005. Al Qaeda today is far more dependent on its affiliates, on allied groups that have absorbed its ideology, and on its ability to inspire homegrown terrorists—whose turnout, thus far, has been meager. Of course the death of Osama bin Laden one year ago had a

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May 12, 2011 05:37 PM

The death of Osama bin Laden will have sent remaining al Qaeda leaders diving for cover. Drone strikes already have decimated their number. Bin Laden’s death represents a major breach of security. His lieutenants must worry that documents captured at his hideout will lead the Americans to them, or that Pakistan, embarrassed by al Qaeda’s presence in Pakistan and America’s humiliating raid, may preempt further American strikes with apprehensions of terrorist leaders. No mode of communication is safe for the terrorist leaders. It is the line-level, individual instruments of al Qaeda’s terrorist enterprise who seek martyrdom, not its general command.

Al Qaeda will seek to carry out some dramatic act of revenge—eventually--to demonstrate to its foes, and more importantly its followers that bin Laden’s death does not end the terrorist campaign. But al Qaeda would be doing exactly the same thing had bin Laden not been killed.

Meanwhile, bin Laden’s death may inspire spontaneous attacks by self-proclaimed jihadists anywhere in t

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September 27, 2010 12:39 PM

I am traveling in India now where concerns are high about the possibility that foreign or homegrown terrorists may attack the country during next week’s Commonwealth Games. Such concerns are understandable where in the past decade, jihadist fanatics have attacked India’s Parliament, blown up trains, and, less than two years ago, launched a three-day suicide assault on Mumbai, in all, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. Added to this is an unfortunate history of communal violence between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities that has, since 2001, produced riots and other clashes that, according to official statistics, have left 2,234 dead and 21,460 injured. This is considered an improvement over the even bloodier 1990s. Tensions are high as people await a high court’s final decision on Ayodha, a holy site claimed by both Hindus and Muslims, and the cause of past bloodshed.

With three shooting wars between mostly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan since the 1947 partition, several military confrontations between the two nuclear powers, plus an undu

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May 10, 2010 08:40 AM

The attempted attack in Times Square has less to do with blowback, more to do with the jihadists’ current situation. U.S. counter-terrorist efforts have reduced al Qaeda central’s ability to launch terrorist operations worldwide, and have managed to thwart most domestic attempts like this one, but the jihadists remain determined and authorities will never be able to intercept every terrorist plot. That almost any determined terrorist group—or individual terrorist—can attack something, somewhere, somehow, we have known long before 9/11.

The lesson of the Times Square attack is that he terrorist threat posed by the jihadist movement continues to evolve. It is today more decentralized, more dependent upon al Qaeda’s affiliates, allies and individual acolytes to continue its global terrorist campaign. A continuing stream of communications from al Qaeda leaders and spokesmen exhort would-be jihadists, wherever they are, to do whatever they can.

Other galaxies in the jihadist universe like the Pakistani Taliban, influenced by al Qaeda’s

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April 26, 2010 08:57 AM

Although al Qaeda appears to be coming under pressure in some dimensions, I remain wary of calling a tipping point, and I am even more skeptical about the prospect of a knockout punch. We are still too close to the events to discern the long-term trajectory of the campaign against al Qaeda. And almost nine years after 9/11, analysts are still remarkably divided in their assessments of al Qaeda’s current situation, specifically the current role played by al Qaeda’s central command.

Al Qaeda Central’s capability to project power in the form of terrorist attacks has diminished. There have been no successful centrally-directed terrorist attacks in the West since 2005. Authorities have uncovered and foiled numerous terrorist plots, some centrally-connected. These indicate intent but lack of craft. Those attacks that have occurred comprise lone gunmen or inept bombers. Clearly, al Qaeda confronts a quality control problem.

A front-by-front appreciation of the situation shows weaknesses and strengths. Al Qaeda’s top leadership remains at lar

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