Assessing Terrorist Motivations for Attacking Critical Infrastructure   [open pdf - 2MB]

"This study focuses on a subsidiary aspect of CI [Critical Infrastructure] threat assessment that has thus far remained largely unaddressed by contemporary terrorism research: the motivations and related factors that determine whether a terrorist organization will attack critical infrastructure. In other words, this research investigates: (1) why terrorists choose to attack critical infrastructure rather than other targets; (2) how groups make such decisions; (3) what, if any, types of groups are most inclined to attack critical infrastructure targets; and (4) which types of critical infrastructure terrorists prefer to attack and why. In an effort to address the above questions as comprehensively as possible, the project team employed four discrete investigative approaches in its research design. These include: (1) a review of existing terrorism and threat assessment literature to glean expert consensus regarding terrorist target selection, as well as to identify theoretical approaches that might be valuable to analysts and decision-makers who are seeking to understand such terrorist group decision-making processes; (2) the preparation of several concise case studies to help identify internal group factors and contextual influences that have played significant roles in leading some terrorist groups to attack critical infrastructure; (3) the creation of a new database--the Critical Infrastructure Terrorist Incident Catalog (CrITC)--to capture a large sample of empirical CI attack data that might be used to illuminate the nature of such attacks to date; and (4) the development of a new analytical framework--the Determinants Effecting Critical Infrastructure Decisions (DECIDe) Framework--designed to make the factors and dynamics identified by the study more 'usable' in any future efforts to assess terrorist intentions to target critical infrastructure."

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