Terrorism database

Right up front, I’ll point out that this could be very useful in political discussions about the current state of American. However, until I’ve had time to view more of the data and get an idea of what’s in there, I’ll avoid any actual discussion of political implications. That out of the way, now is a good time to read up on the global terrorism database put together with funding from the Department of Homeland Security.

The majority of terrorist attacks result in no fatalities, with just 1 percent of such attacks causing the deaths of 25 or more people.

And terror incidents began rising some in 1998, and that level remained relatively constant through 2004.

These and other myth-busting facts about global terrorism are now available on a new online database open to the public.

The database itself is accessible through a University of Maryland web site.

I haven’t looked at much of the data, so I don’t have a good idea as to what is contained in the database. I don’t know how the database creators defined terrorism. I don’t know the reliability of sources for all the information. I can’t even comment on the presentation, as I’ve only looked over the available data a little bit. There is a lot unknown about the database, and I’ll really need to look at what is there before I can discuss it much. I do expect others will study the information and start pointing out trends, problems in the data, actions of concern and so on. It’s just a matter of time, because there is a lot there that needs considering.

It looks like the database only contains information on actual attacks, which I can understand. However, it would be interesting to me to also have available the same view with added data on attempted/planned attacks that we know about (i.e., Fort Dix). One interesting snippet from the LiveScience write-up on the database follows:

Searches of the database have uncovered some additional unexpected statistics. For instance, terrorist groups are not so long-lived, with about 75 percent of such alliances formed between 1970 and 1997 lasting no more than one year.

From 1998 through 2004, India reportedly experienced the greatest number of terror attacks (1,000), followed by Colombia, the Russian Federation and Iraq, which came in fourth with nearly 500 attacks.

LaFree and a colleague mined the database for clues about the effectiveness of counter-terror measures. Among their findings announced last year: British counter-terrorist interventions used in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1992 may have backfired and actually aided in a terror backlash.

I fear that we will ultimately see a similar outcome from our anti-terrorism efforts, and that in the future we might well face more risk of terrorism than we would have had we chosen different means of combating terrorism after the September attacks. And I don’t intend that as any sort of political attack, because I’m not offering any opinion on what should have been done, whether any or all responses post-9/11 were appropriate, nor what has or hasn’t been stopped as a result of our efforts. I think terrorists work to use anything we do as a recruiting tool, and no matter what steps we take in America to fight terrorism, we risk making the future outlook worse if we aren’t careful. (via Bruce Schneier’s security blog)

[tags]DHS funded terrorism database publicly available, Terrorism, Global terrorism database, Analyzing global terror attacks[/tags]