Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies (CATS)

Focusing on asymmetric threats in the Information Age.


Magnus Ranstorp comments on the Christmas Day bombing attempt on an aircraft in the USA: "Wealthy, quiet, unassuming: the Christmas Day bomb suspect" (The Independent)

Dr. Magnus Ranstorp comments on Al-Qaeda threat: "Al-Qaeda threat remains: experts" (AFP, new window)

CATS presents four publications as full-text pdf files:

Gregory F. Treverton: Briding the Divide Between Scientific and Intelligence Analysis

This paper, which grew out of a workshop held in Stockholm in June 2009 that engaged Swedish and international representatives of both intelligence and various research communities, compares the views from various fields of research with intelligence. It asks both what aspects of research are most relevant for intelligence assessments and to what extent intelligence material could be affected by the practice of different theoretical approaches. It asks how remaining challenges could be addressed with the theories existing/emerging/still missing in the respective disciplines. It addressed two topics, more for the purpose of examining methods than on debating substance:

  • The intelligence implications of the global financial crisis;
  • The dynamics of terrorism/radicalisation and understanding of the threat environment (cultural understanding).

The common elements of the challenges terrorism poses for democratic nations were striking. Analytically, the comparison across issues illustrated the need for what is called "outreach" but is better described as deeper analytic engagement; for mentoring young analysts; for more openness and open publication; and for more tolerance of "being wrong."

Briding the Divide Between Scientific and Intelligence Analysis (PDF, 305 kB)

Gregory F. Treverton (ed.): New Frontiers in Intelligence

The transition from a small world with large threats, like nuclear war, to a large world with small threats, like terrorism, has overturned all the distinctions on which Cold War intelligence was based – intelligence-policy; analyst-collector; internal-external; intelligence-law enforcement. What can be learned from they way others do intelligence – from NGOs, to businesses to criminal gangs, to the police?

New Frontiers in Intelligence (PDF, 380 kB)

Gregory F. Treverton: Addressing "Complexities" in Homeland Security

"Complexities" and their close kin, "wicked problems", pose a sharp challenge for intelligence on terrorism and homeland security. Small groups form and reforming, seeking vulnerabilities, constantly adapting and thus interacting in ways that have no pattern comparable to those that usually exist for mysteries. How can intelligence make sense of complexities for the benefit of both policy-makers and operators in homeland security?

Addressing "Complexities" in Homeland Security (PDF, 281 kB)

Gregory F. Treverton: Approaches to "Outreach" in Intelligence

Too often intelligence agencies think of reaching out to expertise outside the government, if they think of it at all, as purely an opportunity for collection. It is not, for those experts being consulted will not long continue on that basis. It has to be a relationship, with information flowing in both directions. It is better conceived as external engagement than outreach. What are some of the forms that engagement might take?

Approaches to "Outreach" in Intelligence (PDF, 322 kB)

Publication published by Cambridge University Press:

Gregory F. Treverton and Wilhelm Agrell (eds.): National Intelligence Systems - Current Research and Future Prospects

A series of investigations, especially in the United States and Britain, has focused attention on the performance of national intelligence services. At the same time, the onset of an era of terrorism and a broad span of transnational security challenges have highlighted the crucial role of intelligence. This book takes stock of the underlying intellectual substructure of intelligence. For intelligence – as for other areas of policy – serious intellectual inquiry is the basis for improving the performance of real-world institutions. This volume explores intelligence from an intellectual rather than an organizational perspective. Instead, the aim of the book is to identify themes that run through these applications, such as the lack of comprehensive theories, the unclear relationships between providers and users of intelligence, and the predominance of bureaucratic organizations driven by collection.

A key element is the development – or, rather, nondevelopment – of intelligence toward an established set of methods and standards and, above all, an ongoing scientific discourse. Here, in the transformation from an experience-based protoscience to a science of intelligence in-being, the book argues, lies perhaps the most fundamental challenge for a field of immense impact on the international community, on nations, and on individuals.

Read more on the publisher's web site

Magnus Ranstorp contributes with a chapter in the book The World to Come – Post-G8 Ideas and Proposals (Bocconi University Press, 2009). Among the other contributors are US president Barack Obama, China's President Hu Jintao and Russia's President Dimitri Medvedev.

CATS participates in Project Aether, which lasts two years from April 2009. The project is funded by the European Commission Directorate-General Justice, Freedom and Security.

Magnus Ranstorp quoted in the Los Angeles Times about Hezbollah and a plan for terror action in Azerbaijan: "Azerbaijan seen as new front in Mideast conflict"

With compliments by Rory Medcalf, The Lowy Institute for International Policy, Sydney, Australia - Security Challenges, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Autumn 2009): Australia's Strategic Analysis Capabilities: Reaching Critical Mass (PDF, 101 kB)

Report by Magnus Ranstorp and Josefine Dos Santos: Threats to Democratic Values and Principles - the Current situation in Malmö (PDF, 157 kB) 2009-01-28

CATS and the Alexander Institute at Helsinki University have been approved a two-year EU-project (DG JLS) concerning CBRN-terrorism. Project Aether (2009-2010) will focus on preparedness and consequence management regarding air passenger transport security in the case of CBRN threat by terrorists. The project will negotiate approx. 10 million SEK. A large number of private partners are involved in the project like SAAB Security, Finnair etc.

Dr. Gregory Treverton comments on Leon Panetta as CIA director: 89.3 KPCC-FM Southern California public radio