Assessing Impact: A Measure of Effectiveness Model for Counterterrorism   [open pdf - 4MB]

From the Document: "Twenty years into the U.S. campaign against violent extremist organizations, researchers have yet to develop and employ consistent metrics for systematic evaluation of counterterrorism effectiveness. One potential method would be to rigorously assess how a formal designation of groups such as al-Qa'ida and ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] as foreign terrorist organizations changes their behavior and how, in the aggregate, the frequency, lethality, and impact of terrorist attacks by designated groups change after U.S. targeting compared to trends pre-designation. [...] Creative ways to analyze the overall effectiveness of the U.S. CT [counterterrorism] campaign can yield possible metrics to measure progress and help ground future analysis and decision-making in data-driven methods. To that end, this 'Research Short' proposes that researchers use publicly available data on the frequency, lethality, and destructiveness of the terrorist activities of Salafi jihadist groups before and after the official designation of the groups as a foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) as one approximate measure of U.S. Government effectiveness against their behavior over time. The 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act grants the Secretary of State the authority to designate groups as FTOs. Terrorist activities are defined by the U.S. State Department as 'premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant agents by subnational groups or clandestine agents.' FTO designation is unique in both the interagency and policy communities, as it creates a legally enforceable and publicly declared coalescence of U.S. military and intelligence resources against a named group."

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