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International Cooperation, Not Unilateral Policies, may be the Best Counterterrorist Strategy
Unformatted Document Text:  Terrorism event data bases generally use the electronic and print media to collect detailed information on the characteristics of terrorist attacks. LaFree and Dugan (2007) describe eight of these event data bases, with varying coverage going back as far as 1968. In LaFree et al. (2009) we included both domestic and transnational terrorist events in an examination of the attack patterns of 53 foreign non-state organizations identified by the Department of State as posing the greatest threat to Americans. This strategy was animated by the overwhelming public and policy preoccupation with the questions of “why do they hate us” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks (Crenshaw, 2001). This frequently asked question led us to focus on foreign groups that target or have targeted the United States in order to put al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks in perspective. In addition, most quantitative analysis of terrorism to this point has used terrorist attacks as the unit of analysis, often in relation to country-level data on economic, political and social indicators (e.g., Enders and Sandler, 2006). We noted a near complete absence of analyses of the groups themselves and their targeting patterns. Thus, we linked attacks to the specific groups that the U.S. government itself deemed most threatening to U.S. interests. ATTACK PATTERNS OF 53 ANTI-US FOREIGN TERRORIST GROUPS Total attacks against the United States by these groups were considerably higher in the 1970s and 1980s and declined in the 1990s—a likely consequence of the decline of Marxist-Leninist oriented terrorist groups following the collapse of the Soviet Union and developments in the Middle East after the first Gulf War. After reaching a high point of 38 attacks in 1974, total attacks against the U.S. declined to a low of 5 attacks in 1980. 3

Authors: LaFree, Gary. and Yang, Sue Ming.
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Terrorism event data bases generally use the electronic and print media to collect 
detailed information on the characteristics of terrorist attacks.  LaFree and Dugan (2007) 
describe eight of these event data bases, with varying coverage going back as far as 1968. 
In LaFree et al. (2009) we included both domestic and transnational terrorist events in an 
examination of the attack patterns of 53 foreign non-state organizations identified by the 
Department of State as posing the greatest threat to Americans.  This strategy was 
animated by the overwhelming public and policy preoccupation with the questions of 
“why do they hate us” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks (Crenshaw, 2001).  This frequently 
asked question led us to focus on foreign groups that target or have targeted the United 
States in order to put al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks in perspective.  In addition, most 
quantitative analysis of terrorism to this point has used terrorist attacks as the unit of 
analysis, often in relation to country-level data on economic, political and social 
indicators (e.g., Enders and Sandler, 2006).  We noted a near complete absence of 
analyses of the groups themselves and their targeting patterns.  Thus, we linked attacks to 
the specific groups that the U.S. government itself deemed most threatening to U.S. 
interests.  
ATTACK PATTERNS OF 53 ANTI-US FOREIGN TERRORIST GROUPS
Total attacks against the United States by these groups were considerably higher in 
the 1970s and 1980s and declined in the 1990s—a likely consequence of the decline of 
Marxist-Leninist oriented terrorist groups following the collapse of the Soviet Union and 
developments in the Middle East after the first Gulf War.  After reaching a high point of 
38 attacks in 1974, total attacks against the U.S. declined to a low of 5 attacks in 1980. 
3


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