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International Cooperation, Not Unilateral Policies, may be the Best Counterterrorist Strategy
Unformatted Document Text:  non-U.S. attacks was the huge importance of the 80s wave for the latter. While it included only 11 of the terrorist groups in the analysis, from the late 1970s until the early 1990s, it was responsible for the vast majority of all terrorist attacks by these groups against non-U.S. targets. Thus, while the 70s wave reached a smaller peak in 1978 and a higher peak in 1991, it was totally overshadowed by the rise of the 80s wave. Similarly, while the 21 st century wave showed some increases after the mid-1990s, these increases were dwarfed by the 80s wave. In short, our trajectory analysis revealed considerable similarities in the attack patterns of these groups against the U.S. and non U.S. targets over the 35 years spanned by the data. For both, we found four distinct trajectories—three sequential waves and a fourth trajectory made up of groups that attack sporadically or were short lived. For both the U.S. and non-U.S. attacks, the sporadic trajectory accounted for nearly half of all the groups in the analysis. However, there was a substantial difference between the U.S. and non-U.S. trajectories for the 80s wave: while the 80s wave was responsible for over 85% of all non-U.S. attacks, it accounted for just over 56% of all U.S. attacks. POLICY IMPLICATIONS Our findings point to several critical policy implications. First, they underscore the importance of proximity to terrorist targeting. Even though the groups identified here might have ample interest in striking the United States, actually doing so is not an easy task. Anti-American objectives are not sufficient. As Clarke and Newman (2006:139) put it, “Proximity to the target is the most important target characteristic to terrorists.” Mounting an attack against the United States from primary bases outside the United 8

Authors: LaFree, Gary. and Yang, Sue Ming.
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non-U.S. attacks was the huge importance of the 80s wave for the latter.  While it 
included only 11 of the terrorist groups in the analysis, from the late 1970s until the early 
1990s, it was responsible for the vast majority of all terrorist attacks by these groups 
against non-U.S. targets.  Thus, while the 70s wave reached a smaller peak in 1978 and a 
higher peak in 1991, it was totally overshadowed by the rise of the 80s wave.  Similarly, 
while the 21
st
 century wave showed some increases after the mid-1990s, these increases 
were dwarfed by the 80s wave.
In short, our trajectory analysis revealed considerable similarities in the attack 
patterns of these groups against the U.S. and non U.S. targets over the 35 years spanned 
by the data.  For both, we found four distinct trajectories—three sequential waves and a 
fourth trajectory made up of groups that attack sporadically or were short lived.   For both 
the U.S. and non-U.S. attacks, the sporadic trajectory accounted for nearly half of all the 
groups in the analysis.  However, there was a substantial difference between the U.S. and 
non-U.S. trajectories for the 80s wave: while the 80s wave was responsible for over 85% 
of all non-U.S. attacks, it accounted for just over 56% of all U.S. attacks.  
POLICY IMPLICATIONS
Our findings point to several critical policy implications.  First, they underscore the 
importance of proximity to terrorist targeting.  Even though the groups identified here 
might have ample interest in striking the United States, actually doing so is not an easy 
task.  Anti-American objectives are not sufficient.  As Clarke and Newman (2006:139) 
put it, “Proximity to the target is the most important target characteristic to terrorists.” 
Mounting an attack against the United States from primary bases outside the United 
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