Author Biography

Edwin Bakker is director of the Center for Terrorism & Counter Terrorism and professor in terrorism studies at Faculty Campus The Hague of Leiden University, The Netherlands. His research interests include developments in jihadi terrorism and impact management after terrorism-related incidents. He can be contacted at: e.bakker@cdh.leidenuniv.nl.



Subject Area Keywords

Counterterrorism, Global trends and risks, Homeland security, Methodology, Terrorism / counterterrorism, Threat assessment


This article analyzes a unique branch of terrorism literature—terrorism futures—by academics, think tanks, and governmental agencies published between 2000 and 2012. To this end, it examines over sixty publications that attempt to discern possible futures of terrorism. In general, the track record of forecasting terrorism has not been good. This is particularly true for major changes in the modus operandi of terrorism, the attacks on 9/11 being a case in point. The analyses of the future of terrorism shows an absence of methodologies, and the lack of theoretical foundations, which lead to limited insights about the causes of changes in terrorism. Most forecasts seem to say more about the present state of terrorism than about the future. The article concludes with a call for a more systematic approach grounded in theory and methodology in order to improve the quality of foresight studies, and to enable researchers to better understand how to assess, model, forecast, and respond to the future terrorist threat.