Select a terrorist organization likely to conduct a major and imminent attack within the United States, and complete an in-depth profile on the group you selected. 

1) Introduction:

Select a terrorist organization likely to conduct a major and imminent attack within the United States, and complete an in-depth profile on the group you selected.

2) Terrorist Group Profile (Organizational Assessment):

For this midterm, write a 5-7 page research paper that provides a description of the organization’s ideology, goals & objectives, leadership, funding, and terrorist capabilities. Describe the groups’ known or suspected weapons/lethal agents and delivery methods, and the tactics, techniques and procedures that they may use here in the homeland.

Make sure you pick either an international terrorist group from the Department of State list of foreign terrorist organizations, or if you pick a domestic group make sure it is really a terrorist organization (not just radicals). The Counter Extremist Project also has good details on Extremists Groups (but make sure to pick a terrorist organization). For example, neither the KKK or Antifa are considered terrorist group (or even illegal in fact), they are domestic hate/extremists groups which have each had individual members conduct violent acts and murder. For more on that, see the FBI’s definition for international terrorism and domestic terrorism (while either a domestic or international group can work for these papers, overseas terrorist groups are the best ones to facilitate your following research papers). This first Red Cell paper is only to set you up to be able to research and write on how to conduct intelligence operations to protect the Homeland (the following papers). So a domestic terrorist group may make your progress and final papers harder to write if the group is not sending terrorists from overseas.

3) Hypothetical Terrorist Attack: 

In your paper describe in detail at least one major hypothetical terrorist attack on the U.S. Homeland by this group — an event that could happen in the immediate future (an imminent attack). You do not need advance permission from the instructor on which group you choose, but if you are considering a group unlikely to attack the U.S, Homeland, then pick a different group that could potentially do so.

You can describe the full spectrum of capabilities the group has to conduct attacks on our Homeland in your paper from a specific single site attack (an iconic building), to complex synchronized or multi-city attacks, or even the use of WMDs. Describe only the terrorist capabilities and weapons that are relevant to an attack on our homeland (for example it does not matter that ISIS had battle tanks and other major weapons for this paper, only what they have that could be brought here to attack the US, or acquired here). You need to explain what the impending terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland would look like and how they would do it — such as attacking a specific sporting event or a certain target you select for the organization. When it comes to picking a target(s) in one or multiple cities for your hypothetical attack(s) you can use your imagination and try to think like a terrorist (big impact, well covered by media, and fear spreading), or you can also considered the list of 31 DHS designated “High-Risk Jurisdictions” to select from (page B-2).

Also, it needs to be a planned attack by a group or at least a cell from the group, it can NOT be a lone wolf nor can the attack be by a radicalized individual or citizens. While these homegrown attacks are much more likely, these lone wolf or radicalized individuals attacking within the U.S do not allow you to develop your future research papers on how to collect, analyze and then disrupt these attacks (the topics of your progress and final papers).

In sum, you must describe a specific physical attack (not just a cyber attack) on a target or targets that you assess the organization capable of conducting, and it must be an attack within the U.S. Homeland and be conducted by a trained group or a cell of terrorists (not homegrown or cyber only attack). In other words, if you pick al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL then the attack cell needs to come from overseas like happened on 9/11 or with the 2009 underwear bomber on coming into Detroit or the NY City subway bombing plot, also in 2009 (a traditional terrorist cell that was trained overseas). Tell us how it was planned, surveyed, how they got in the U.S., how many there are in the attack cell, etc etc. If you are stumped on what they could target specifically, then I suggest this article Soft Targets are Easy Terror Targets.

Conducting a successful major terrorist attack is complicated operation involving a lot of planning, resourcing, reconnaissance, and rehearsals. Most groups use the terrorist attack cycle and include separate teams or cells for each of the following functions: support and logistics, weapons and bomb-making, reconnaissance and scout teams, as well as the attack cell itself. In your paper consider how your selected organization will use the terrorist attack cycle (see the below STRATFOR video for more) and make sure to specify exactly how many terrorists are in this attack cell. Also specify how they will do the scouting and reconnaissance, how will logistical and other support be secured, in what manner will practice runs and rehearsals take place, and exactly how will the attack unfold – so you need to specify how exactly they will attack and what exact location or target will they attack in one specific city (or multiple simultaneous attacks within one or more cities).

So for your Red Cell papers, have your selected terrorist group use a cell of at least 3 personnel in the attack cell and use an attack model. Some example terrorist attack models include: Tokyo sarin gas attack 1995, or the London subway/bus bombings of 2005. You could also describe a complex attack using multiple teams like happened in Mumbai India in 2008, the West Gate Mall Kenya in 2013, the Paris attack in 2015 (to name a few). But an attack by a single individual is NOT what we are looking for since a lone actor (an inspired/radicalized individual) is not an attack by a terrorist cell (so no homegrown only attacks). Make sure to explain exactly how many terrorists are in the attack cells; who did the scouting/reconnaissance; who is providing logistical and other support, how they infiltrated into the US, etc.

You may find this 3 minute STRATFOR Video on the terrorist attack cycle useful.

For more details see this 6 page appendix A on the Terrorist Planning Cycle in the Military Guide to Terrorism in the Twenty First Century (page 121).