Anticipating Rare Events: Can Acts of Terror, Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction or Other High Profile Acts Be Anticipated? A Scientific Perspective on Problems, Pitfalls and Prospective Solutions   [open pdf - 3MB]

"This white paper covers topics related to the field of anticipating/forecasting specific categories of 'rare events' such as acts of terror, use of a weapon of mass destruction, or other high profile attacks. It is primarily meant for the operational community in DoD, DHS, and other USG agencies. […] The body of work before you should be viewed as the commencement of a journey with a somewhat murky destination-an exploration of terra incognita. Indeed the challenge addressed in this white paper, that of anticipating 'rare events' is daunting and represents a gathering threat to national security. The threat is supercharged by the increasing lateral connectedness of global societies enabled by the internet, cell phones and other technologies. This 'connected collective' as Carl Hunt has termed it, has allowed violent ideologies to metastasize globally often with no hierarchical, command-directed rules to govern their expansion. It is the emergent franchising of violence whose metaphorical 'genome' is exposed to constant co-evolutionary pressures and non-linearity that results in continuous adaptation and increasing resiliency making the task of effectively anticipating their courses of action all the more difficult. So what distinguishes a rare event in the context of national security? The easy response is to describe them as unlikely actions of high consequence and for which there is a sparse historical record from which to develop predictive patterns or indications."

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