A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

CBRN: Violent Non-State Actor Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Data Portal

The prospect of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism has been a source of policy, strategic, and policy concern since the mid-1990s. In the course of ongoing research conducted by the Unconventional Weapons & Technology Division (UWT) of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), it became clear that despite extensive expenditures of money and effort by a multitude of agencies and institutions, there was still very little substantive empirical analysis on this topic. Most discussion of CBRN terrorism phenomenon was theorizing based on a limited number of high-profile events or speculation based on non-CBRN analyses.

UWT was determined to address the concerns about CBRN terrorism in an analytically robust fashion. However, when UWT researchers moved to address this issue, it became clear there were no databases allowing for robust quantitative (or even qualitative) analysis. Existing datasets were either extremely narrow (e.g., collecting only on biological incidents over a limited time) or recorded too few variables to be useful (e.g., chronologies). Most datasets treated all sources as being of equivalent reliability and competence and were generally too inclusive (little effort to validate event details or occurrence). In addition, with the exception of START’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD), the datasets were not being revised or updated.

In order to provide a basis for rigorous empirical analysis of the CBRN terrorism phenomenon, UWT developed three databases: Profiles Of Incidents involving CBRN and Non-state actors (POICN); Chemical And Biological Non-State Adversaries Database (CABNSAD); and Radiological And Nuclear Non-State Actor Database (RANNSAD). These databases represent the largest open source publicly available databases on ideologically motivated CBRN events and individuals who pursue and/or use CBRN weapons.

Under the auspices of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Research and Engineering (USD(R&E)) Basic Research Office (BRO), the Violent Non-State Actor CBRN Data Portal serves as the permanent home and provides an online presence for these CBRN databases.

START Investigators