Via Press release (Eurekalert)
Report from START: Discovery Networks Hostage-Taking a Rare Terror Event
U.S. Violent Terror Rarely Against Media, Capital; Rare for Environmentalists
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A new report by terrorism researchers at the University of Maryland concludes that the deadly hostage-taking incident at the Discovery Communications headquarters in suburban Washington, D.C. meets the criteria of a terrorist act – a rare one for media organizations and the nation’s capital region. Hostage-taking, though, is a familiar pattern in capital-region terror, the researchers add.
The report from the University of Maryland’s START Center – the federally funded National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism – also finds that there has never been any environmentally inspired suicide eco-terrorism in the United States, and probably the world, but draws no conclusions about whether that’s what occurred in this case.
START maintains the world’s most comprehensive unclassified database of terrorism incidents, and is designed to make it useful to scientists and policy-makers seeking to understand the behavior of terrorists and terror organizations. The report is based on an analysis of this data.
“The use of violence by radical environmentalists is extremely rare, and usually the target is property not people,” says Gary LaFree, who directs the University of Maryland START Consortium and its Global Terrorism Database. “We’ll count this incident as terrorism – the perpetrator has a history of politically inspired activism and his tactics were violent.”
START researchers analyzed the following information in the Global Terrorism Database, which includes more than 85,000 incidents worldwide since 1970:
GLOBAL TERRORISM DATABASE
The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) is an open-source database including information on terrorist events around the world from 1970 through 2008 (with annual updates planned for the future). Unlike many other event databases, the GTD includes systematic data on domestic as well as international terrorist attacks and now includes more than 87,000 cases. For each GTD incident, information is available on the date and location of the incident, the weapons used and nature of the target, the number of casualties, and – when identifiable – the group or individual responsible. The full dataset can be downloaded through the “Contact” section of the website at http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/.
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence based at the University of Maryland. START uses state-of-the-art theories, methods, and data from the social and behavioral sciences to improve understanding of the origins, dynamics, and social and psychological impacts of terrorism. Additional information on START is available at: http://www.start.umd.edu.