Most Terrorists Aim At Non-U.S. Targets


An accounting of nearly 17,000 terror attacks worldwide from 1970 to 2004 found that only 3 percent were directed at the United States. When they occurred, the attacks aimed at the U.S. were far more lethal than those aimed elsewhere. The research was published in the new issue of Criminology & Public Policy, a journal of the American Society of Criminology, by Gary LaFree of the University of Maryland,, with Professors Sue-Ming Yang of Georgia State University and Martha Crenshaw of Stanford University. “U.S. decision makers might be well advised to avoid parochialism and keep in mind that even the most seriously threatening groups direct most of their attention elsewhere,” says the authors, who believe international counterterrorism cooperation is the best way to protect against future terrorist attacks.

In the same issue of the journal, Professors Brent Smith of the University of Arkansas and Kelly Damphousse of the University of Oklahoma examined the life spans of terrorist groups and found that recruitment practices, security measures and ideological relevance contributed to the group surviving. Joshua Freilich and David Caspi of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Steven Chermak of Michigan State University examined the evolution of four racist U.S. organizations and found that they were able to expand because they had necessary leadership and finances, took advantage of political opportunities, and were internally cohesive. Researchers found that terrorist groups disbanded primarily due to law-enforcement response and intervention.

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