01.07.10

Ranking the Terror Hubs

With Yemen and Nigeria now on the terror radar, The Daily Beast, in partnership with leading security experts, identifies and ranks the 12 countries most likely to spawn the next 9/11.

With Yemen and Nigeria now on the terror radar, The Daily Beast, in partnership with leading security experts, identifies and ranks the 12 countries most likely to spawn the next 9/11, from Somalia to surprises like Algeria.

The attempted bombing of Flight 253 on Christmas Day, followed by a successful suicide attack in Afghanistan that killed seven CIA agents tracking al Qaeda served as sober reminders that this new decade will be just as fraught with terror risks as the last. So which countries pose the gravest threat? Where should we be focusing our resources?

To try to answer those questions, we partnered with two of the top organizations involved in tracking terror prospects, and attempted to rank, as definitively as possible, the worst terror hubs in the world.

Click the Image to View Our Gallery of the 12 Countries Most Likely to Spawn the Next 9/11

In trying to quantify a terror hot-spot, we decided to look at two measures. First, the threat that terror groups based in that country pose to the outside world. Second, the level of continued terrorism and mayhem within that country.

Gerald Posner: Did Pakistani Spies Help CIA Bomber?From there, it was a three-step process. First, we developed a short list of countries to rank by cross-tabulating the 14 whose nationals and travelers automatically receive airport security screening, based on new Obama administration mandates, with those that were the subject of a U.S. State Department travel warning in 2009. That left us with 12 (Cuba and Libya fell off the list of 14.)

To rank the external terrorism threats—the potential to serve as a root of international terrorism—we turned to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a public-policy think tank. To rank each country’s internal terrorism problem, we enlisted iJet, a risk-assessment firm based out of Annapolis, Maryland, whose 50 staff analysts monitor operational threats and events worldwide.

We then averaged CSIS top-to-bottom security rankings (Rick Nelson, director of the homeland security program at CSIS, stressed that their top four countries prove a far more significant danger than the bottom eight) with iJet’s rankings on internal turmoil.

If two countries were tied, the country with a greater external threat rating was ranked higher.

Lauren Streib reported and wrote this article.