Threat Assessment of Physical Attacks of Electric Infrastructure: How Do Terrorist Groups Select Their Targets? [open pdf - 14MB]
From the dissertation Abstract: "There appears to be no shortage of government and academic reports asserting the imminent threat of terrorist attacks of America's electric power grid. This assumption has become a recurrent theme, shaping many of the electric utility industry's current regulations. Such attacks could pose a severe risk to millions of Americans' health and well-being and exact an economic toll in the billions of dollars. However, these fears are primarily based on anecdotal data with little supporting empirical evidence. This research examines the likelihood that sub-state actors will select electric infrastructure as a legitimate target for attack. This study is presented in three primary stages: (1) The research establishes a set of organizational and environmental decision factors that are believed to influence target selection; (2) it examines the statistical frequency of previous electric infrastructure attacks and their relationship to these factors; and (3) it develops a model to estimate the conditional probability of future attacks. The work is explicitly focused on the threat of physical attacks in the context of a general discussion of risk, commonly defined as a combination of threat, vulnerability, and consequence--R=f(T,V,C). The data were collected from the University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), Global Terrorism Database. The research included 121,628 terrorist attacks from 2000 through 2018, 1,198 electric infrastructure attacks, and 521 specific attacks conducted by 71 different terrorist groups in 38 countries. The study presents essential findings for policymakers, government and industry regulators, academic and research institutions, intelligence analysts, and other stakeholders."
2020, James D. Madia. Posted here with permission. Documents are for personal use only and not for commercial profit