Terrorism Rises, But Good Research On Preventing It Does Not


Terrorist attacks connected with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State grew by 300 percent from 200 attacks per year between 2007 and 2010 to 600 in 2013, says the Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland. The study of terrorism has not led to more effective antiterrorism policies and thus to less terrorism, writes Anthony Biglan of the Oregon Research Institute in the New York Times. Jon Baron of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy has identified only two experimental evaluations of antiterrorism strategies. One involved development aid to Afghan villages and the other camps to reduce pre-election violence in Nigeria.

Imagine how much more we would know about the prevention of terrorism if even a small proportion of the hundreds of antiterrorism efforts in the past 15 years had been properly evaluated, Biglan says. In 2012, the National Institute of Justice began a program to study domestic radicalization. Over the first three years it has funded nearly $9 million in research. While the studies underway should contribute to our understanding of the risk factors that contribute to radicalization, none of the projects funded thus far is adequately evaluating a strategy to prevent radicalization.

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