U.S. citizens may believe they are the prime target of terrorist attacks, but that isn’t correct. Of major attacks over recent years by 53 organizations identified by the State Department as key terrorist groups, 16,346 have been made on non-U.S. targets and only 570 on U.S. targets, says Gary LaFree of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism at the University of Maryland. LaFree spoke yesterday to the National Institute of Justice annual conference near Washington, D.C.
LaFree’s consortium maintains a public database on terrorist attacks worldwide at the website www.start.umd.edu. It now includes 78,000 attacks from 1970 to 2008 and soon will be updated to cover about 100,000 attacks through last year. Although the U.S. has largely been spared terror attacks on its home soil, it is logical to think that it will be a target in the future because about 80 percent of U.S. citizens live in densely populated urban areas, LaFree said. He spoke as part of a panel on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.