logo image

NEWARK, Calif. - January 26, 2015 A number of unique characteristics of the January 7 terrorist attack against satirical French magazine “Charlie Hebdo” allowed terrorists to succeed despite counter-terrorism efforts, according to a new report by Dr. Gordon Woo, catastrophist and terrorism risk expert at RMS, the world’s leading catastrophe risk management firm.

“The ‘Charlie Hebdo’ attack is the only successful macro-terror attack in France since RMS started modeling terrorism risk in 2001,” said Dr. Woo. “In the game theory of modeling terrorism risk, the outcome is impacted as much by the counter-terrorism tactics employed to stop terrorism as it is by the actions of the terrorist.”

The report, “Understanding the Principles of Terrorism Risk Modeling from the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Attacks in Paris,” developed after conducting on-the-ground reconnaissance, explains some of the key factors that made “Charlie Hebdo” an attractive target and led to an attack that succeeded despite counter-terrorism efforts:

  • Secrecy and avoiding surveillance are paramount to thwarting counter-terrorism efforts: The more operatives involved in a plot, the greater the chance it will be interdicted. According to RMS' analysis, a plot with two operatives has a 46 percent chance of being interdicted, compared to a 95 percent chance of interdiction for a plot involving 10 operatives. The chance of interdiction can be further reduced if the operatives are closely interconnected. Keeping a plot within the family – as in the case of the two brothers who carried out the “Charlie Hebdo” attacks – further limits the chances of interdiction. 
    Although the plot was sufficiently compact to have a reasonable chance of avoiding French security, the three key operatives had known terrorism ties. However, counter-terrorism efforts were focused mainly on new Jihadis returning from Syria and they were not thought to pose enough of a danger to be kept under surveillance.
  • Macro-terror attacks leverage maximum impact: The attack against the Paris offices of “Charlie Hebdo” was impactful because of the ideological symbolism of the target, on par with the assassination of a senior political official in terms of societal impact.
  • Publicity impact is key to targeting: Major cities are at higher risk of attack because of the publicity platform they present. Paris is the latest among internationally recognized cities to have experienced macro-terror, joining Madrid, London and Boston.
  • Target substitution displaces terrorist threat: Terrorist targeting is relative; terrorists will attack the softer of two similarly attractive targets. The editorial committee of “Charlie Hebdo” had low security compared to other targets of similar value – President Hollande and other political leaders, for example.
  • Terrorists follow the path of least resistance in choice of weaponry: Porous European borders allow light military weapons such as those used in the “Charlie Hedbo” attack to be shipped across the continent by road, and many Jihadis returning from the Middle East have professional training and battle experience in their use.

Implications of Charlie Hebdo attacks on future terrorism risk in France: “The ‘Charlie Hebdo’ attack marks a turning point in the episodic historical western alliance confrontation with Islamist extremism. Blasphemy is an affront to the faithful of any religion. For a few in the extreme tail of the distribution of deeply offended Muslims, the personal insult to their faith in the form of blasphemy may be felt so gravely as to be worth avenging with their lives,” said Dr. Woo. “Not only is France a prime terrorist target for French Jihadis, but foreign extremists may travel to France inspired, and even funded, by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to uphold the honor of the Prophet.”

As an acknowledged international expert on catastrophes, Dr. Woo has 30 years of experience in all branches of catastrophe science, covering both natural and man-made hazards. He is the author of two acclaimed books: “The Mathematics of Natural Catastrophes” (1999) and “Calculating Catastrophe” (2011). Dr. Woo is the chief architect of the RMS terrorism risk model and was recently named by Treasury & Risk magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in finance. He has also lectured on terrorism at the NATO Center of Excellence for the Defense against Terrorism and testified before the U.S. Congress on terrorism risk modeling.

RMS will be hosting a webinar on terrorism threats and risk management in 2015 and beyond on January 28. Experts on terrorism and catastrophe risk management are available for comment by contacting pr@rms.com.

Related Resources
March 22, 2021
RMS Launches New Climate Change Models

Newark, CA – March 22, 2021 – RMS, the world’s leading catastrophe risk solutions company, today announced the forthcoming launch of a new suite of Climate Change Models to help customers assess the near and long term impacts of climate change on physical assets and their businesses, in order to make the best possible risk and financial decisions.   According to RMS CEO, Karen White, “Today there are no robust or consistent frameworks that can quantify the physical risks posed by catastrophes in a changing climate at the depth required.  The innovative suite of RMS Climate Change Models changes that, giving the market a powerful new set of tools. With increasing Board-level attention, stakeholder scrutiny, and regulatory pressure, businesses need to operationalize climate change analytics to make better decisions and enable better transparency. It is clear that the financial impacts of climate change are not solely a “future problem”. The increasing incidence of wildfires, floods and hurricanes mean that climate change insights need to be incorporated into financial decisions that are being made today, in parallel with long term strategic planning and meeting increasing regulatory, environmental, social and governance (ESG) and TCFD reporting requirements, and investor and customer demands. This necessitates a climate change framework and models fully consistent with today’s catastrophe risk analytics and one which addresses the challenges posed by physical climate change risk and its broad impact across all relevant time scales – from today through to the end of the century.” Most RMS models, including all major peril models, already incorporate the impact of climate change up until now – but more is required to meet the evolving and significant market needs. The new RMS Climate Change Models take our existing capabilities further with forward-looking predictive insights and analysis. The new Climate Change Models empower RMS’s economic modeling framework with the best climate science consensus, including from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  The new models will be generally available in June for major peril models North Atlantic Hurricane, Europe Inland Flood and Europe Windstorm. Further models and geographies will follow this initial model suite launch. The RMS climate change solutions also include climate change specialist advisory and consulting expertise and regulatory, ESG and TCFD support.   The Climate Change Models address the perils most impacted by climate change and feature: Probabilistic modeling to capture events across different climate change scenarios The ability to adjust time horizons and Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) A proprietary industry and economic exposure database to deliver more accurate and impactful climate change models Embeddable software which integrates into existing workflows to facilitate seamless and easy operationalization  Consulting and additional expertise supporting regulatory submissions and activities, and providing insights from these new models today   Commenting on the RMS climate change solutions, Eric Letourneau, SVP, Group Head of CAT Accumulation Management, QBE, said: “The insights on climate risk provided by RMS have enabled us to better understand climate-related risks and opportunities for our business, to report those insights to financial stakeholders, and to develop and test strategy for our business. We can embed these analytics in our business processes, confident that we have consistency with how we measure underwriting risk and capital requirements now and in the future.” The new RMS Climate Change Models, data, and analytics empower organizations to: Understand the impacts climate change may have on capital and assets today and in the future Price and manage risks to better reflect changing conditions Confidently communicate risks posed by climate change to all stakeholders Comply with regulatory submissions in an efficient and sustainable way RMS has been modeling natural catastrophe risk for the insurance industry for more than 30 years and has been leading research into the impact of climate change on catastrophic losses since RMS’s involvement in the 2007 4th IPCC Assessment Report.   You can learn more about RMS Climate Change solutions here:   https://www.rms.com/climate-change  

Read More
March 17, 2021
TigerRisk Strengthens Global View of Catastrophe Risk With Next-Generation RMS High-Definition Models

NEWARK, Calif. – March 17, 2021 – RMS®, the world’s leading catastrophe risk solutions company, and TigerRisk Partners, the leading risk, capital, and strategic advisor to the global insurance and reinsurance industry, today announced the expansion of their partnership to include additional models and data in a new multiyear agreement. With this agreement, TigerRisk can now access the full RMS global natural catastrophe risk models suite. This includes RMS High Definition Models™ such as the RMS North America Wildfire HD Models, RMS Europe Flood HD Models, and RMS Europe Severe Convective Storm HD Models. This complements TigerRisk’s longstanding implementation of the RMS natural catastrophe view of risk in the U.S. on RMS RiskLink®. “We are committed to providing our clients with best-in-class solutions as they navigate this volatile risk landscape,” said Rod Fox, chief executive officer of TigerRisk. “Our clients depend on us to help them maintain a competitive edge, and it’s important we work alongside organizations that can help us support their needs. Our expanded partnership with RMS  ensures that we can increase the value we bring to our clients and continue to deliver solutions for managing global risk profitably.” Karen White, chief executive officer of RMS, said, “TigerRisk Partners has established themselves as an innovative reinsurance broker and capital advisor firm in the market. As a valued partner of RMS for over a decade, their investment in analytics aimed at providing the best insights and services for their clients mirrors our commitment to the market. We look forward to continuing to support TigerRisk with the most trusted view of risk in the industry as they grow their business and enhance their services.”

Read More
December 15, 2020
RMS Estimates that Total Insured Losses from the 2020 Western U.S. Wildfires Will Be Between US$7bn – US$13bn

Newark, CA – December 15, 2020 – RMS, the world’s leading catastrophe risk solutions company, estimates insured losses from the record-breaking western U.S. wildfires this season will be between US$7.0 and US$13.0 billion. These losses reflect estimates as of December 1, 2020 and represent an update from the previously estimated losses from fires up to September 20, 2020. The ignition of the highly damaging Glass Fire and additional spread of the CZU and LNU Complex Fires represent the most notable activity in California since September 20. RMS insured losses represent estimates from major wildfires in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado at December 1, 2020: Region Insured Losses (USD $ bn) as of 1 December, 2020 Northern California Oregon and Washington Colorado 5.0 - 9.0 1.0 - 3.0 Up to 1.0 The RMS estimate includes losses from property damage, including evacuation and smoke damage, business interruption (BI), and additional living expenses (ALE) across residential, commercial, and industrial lines. Smoke and evacuation are expected to be significant contributors to losses for the wildfires this season, contributing about 20 percent of losses in California and Colorado and about 35 percent in Oregon and Washington. The estimate also accounts for notable post-event loss amplification (PLA) from property damage (25 to 30 percent) and business interruption/ALE (up to 100 percent or greater). The RMS loss estimate is based on detailed modeling of fire spread, ember accumulations, and smoke dispersion of the fires utilizing the U.S. Wildfire High-Definition (HD) Model, part of the North America Wildfire HD Model suite, released in February, 2019. The model covers the entire contiguous U.S. and explicitly simulates ember and smoke to support detailed analysis of the impact of a wildfire beyond historical fire perimeters. The model’s findings were supported by Damage Inspection Specialist (DINS) damage surveys for California Fires, published damage reports from federal and respective state agencies for the Oregon, Washington, and Colorado fires, and the RMS U.S. Wildfire Industry Exposure Database. Michael Young, Vice President, Product Management said: “2020 represents the most destructive fire season on record, in terms of burn area in California. Since August, 69 major fires that exceeded 1,000 burned acres each, have burned so far. Five of the six largest ever California wildfires have occurred in 2020, with over 4.4 million acres burned in total to date. While fires earlier in the season were dominated by ignitions sparked by the intense lightning storm in August, extreme wind-driven fires dominated the last few months. A similar phenomenon resulted in record-breaking fires in Oregon as well this season, with over 20 major fires driven by extreme winds, burning more than 1.2 million acres so far. In October, Colorado experienced its three largest destructive fires with more than 24 major fires burning 850,000 acres in total. Rajkiran Vojjala, Vice President, Model Development said: “This wildfire season reaffirms the growing catastrophic nature of this peril. Wildfire risk is clearly evolving, not only in California, but also in other states, as we observed in Oregon and Colorado. While changing climate patterns have significantly influenced the record-breaking fires this season, several other factors also profoundly affected the ignition potential and expected losses from these events in different ways. Most notable amongst them are the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) measures undertaken by utilities, preparedness and response of firefighters in Northern California despite COVID-19 challenges, and recent legislative actions governing wildfire claims settlement such as the California Senate Bill 872. RMS is currently engaged with various stakeholders in evaluating these factors and understanding their impact on the emerging risk profile of this peril as part of its wildfire modeling agenda.”   END The technology and data used in providing this information is based on the scientific data, mathematical and empirical models, and encoded experience of scientists and specialists. As with any model of physical systems, particularly those with low frequencies of occurrence and potentially high severity outcomes, the actual losses from catastrophic events may differ from the results of simulation analyses. RMS SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL RESPONSIBILITIES, OBLIGATIONS AND LIABILITY WITH RESPECT TO ANY DECISIONS OR ADVICE MADE OR GIVEN AS A RESULT OF THE INFORMATION OR USE THEREOF, INCLUDING ALL WARRANTIES, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, WARRANTIES OF NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. IN NO EVENT SHALL RMS (OR ITS PARENT, SUBSIDIARY, OR OTHER AFFILIATED COMPANIES) BE LIABLE FOR DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES WITH RESPECT TO ANY DECISIONS OR ADVICE MADE OR GIVEN AS A RESULT OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS INFORMATION OR USE THEREOF.

Read More
About RMS

Risk Management Solutions, Inc. (RMS) shapes the world’s view of risk for insurers, reinsurers, financial services organizations, and the public sector. We empower organizations to evaluate and manage global risk from natural and man-made catastrophes, including hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, climate change, cyber, and pandemics.

RMS helped pioneer the catastrophe risk industry, and continues to lead in innovation by offering unmatched science, technology, and 300+ catastrophe risk models. Leaders across multiple industries can address the risks of tomorrow with RMS Risk Intelligence™ (RI), our open, unified cloud platform for global risk, which enables them to tap into RMS HD models, rich data layers, intuitive applications, and APIs.

Further supporting the industry's transition to modern risk management, RMS spearheaded the Risk Data Open Standard (RDOS), a new modern open standard data schema designed to be an extensible, flexible, and future-proof asset within modeling/analysis systems.

RMS is a trusted solutions partner, enabling effective risk management for better business decision-making across risk identification and selection, mitigation, underwriting, and portfolio management.

Visit RMS.com to learn more and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Media Contacts

Matthew Longbottom

PR Lead, EU and APAC
+44 20 7444 7706 prteam@rms.com

Devonne Cusi

PR Lead, Americas
+1 551 226 1604 prteam@rms.com
News CTA

Join Us at Exceedance 2021

close button
Overlay Image
Video Title

Thank You

You’ll be contacted by an RMS specialist shortly.

RMS.com uses cookies to improve your experience and analyze site usage. Read Cookie Policy or click I understand.

close