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

Oct. News: Background information on far-right homicides, attacks on religious institutions, radicalization, package bombs


Oct. News: Background information on far-right homicides, attacks on religious institutions, radicalization, package bombs

October 29, 2018
Far-Right Fatal Ideological Violence against Religious Institutions and Individuals in the United States: 1990-2018
Following the Oct. 27, 2018 shooting at a Jewish Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, START researchers compiled background information from the United States Extremist Crime Database (ECDB) on ideologically motivated, fatal far-right violence in the United States, generally, and far-right extremist homicides and plots related to religion and religious institutions, specifically. According to the ECDB, between 1990 and 2018 there were over 217 ideologically motivated homicide incidents committed by far-right extremists in the United States. Most of these (n= 166) far-right fatal attacks were committed by white supremacists against social minorities, as they targeted persons due to their racial or religious background, sexual orientation or identity. A small percentage were targeted for being ideological enemies of the far right or viewed as worthless to society (e.g., homeless). More than half of the victims in this group were targeted because they were racial/ethnic minorities. Read more.
 
Terrorist Attacks Against Religious Targets in the United States, 1970-2017
Between 1970 and 2017, 150 terrorist attacks in the United States targeted religious figures and institutions. Fifteen of these attacks were lethal. They killed 42 people, including three perpetrators, and injured 38 others. The majority of these attacks (79%) targeted places of worship, including churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. Fourteen percent targeted religious figures, including imams, ministers, priests, and rabbis; and 7 percent targeted religiously-affiliated institutions, primarily community centers.  Read more.
 
Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States, 1948-2017
START has updated its Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) database with new data to now include more than 2,100 Islamist, far-left, far-right and single-issue extremists who have radicalized to violent and non-violent extremism in the United States from 1948 through 2017. Far-right extremists make up the largest ideological group in the database (n=922), followed by Islamist extremists (n=496). The remainder of the individuals in the data are far-left extremists (n=367) or individuals in the “single-issue” category (n=364), whose beliefs vary.
Terrorist Attacks Involving Package Bombs, 1970-2017
Between 1970 and 2017, 560 terrorist attacks involved explosives in letters, parcels, or packages sent in the mail or made to appear as if they were sent in the mail, according to a new fact sheet with analysis of START’s Global Terrorism Database. Terrorist attacks involving package bombs were least likely to be successful compared to attacks involving other types of weapons, with explosives detonating in 39 percent of all package bomb attacks. In comparison, 55 percent of pipe bomb attacks (excluding those sent in packages) were successful. Overall, 89 percent of all terrorist attacks worldwide during this period were successful, regardless of weapons used. Read more.
ICYMI: Ideological Motivations of Terrorism in the United States, 1970-2016
A START report on terrorist attacks and deaths in the United States from 1970-2016 showed that the proportion of terrorist attacks by religious and right-wing extremists was on the rise in United States, and that attacks between 2010 and 2016 were typically carried out by individual perpetrators who were only loosely linked to a specific organization or ideological movement. Based on analysis from START’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD), the report categorizes the by the ideology of the attacker(s) and explains the ideological patterns of these attacks by decade. Read more.
 
 
Terrorism 360 podcast aims to educate, provide variety of perspectives
START has launched a new podcast series, Terrorism 360, which features interviews with leading experts on terrorism offering their insights on the threat of terrorism and the effectiveness of counterterrorism policy, as well as recommendations for policymakers. Created and hosted by START Founding Director Gary LaFree, Terrorism 360 aims to inform its listeners of the complexities surrounding the study of terrorism and argues that sensible policy on terrorism requires an objective, science-based approach, as well as a wide variety of perspectives. The 14 episode first season, released weekly, features researchers who have contributed directly to scholarship on terrorism and hold diverse opinions. Guests include: Martha Crenshaw, Bruce Hoffman, Gina Ligon, Brian Jenkins, Mark Juergensmeyer, David Rapoport, Jessica Stern, John Mueller, Marc Sageman, Clark McCauley, Arie Kruglanski, Brent Smith, John Monahan and Stevan Weine. Read more and listen now.
 

DISCUSSION POINT
Beyond Identity: How the Quest for Significance Impacts Politics and History
In this editorial piece, Arie Kruglanski explores how fundamental psychological needs can underlie radicalization and violent extremism. 
Read more.
 

PUBLICATIONS
How “Alone” are Lone-Actors? Exploring the Ideological, Signaling, and Support Networks of Lone-Actor Terrorists
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism
Hofmann, David C.
 
Situational Crime Prevention and Terrorism: An Assessment of 10 Years of Research
Criminal Justice Policy Review
Freilich, Joshua D., and Jeff Gruenewald, Marissa Mandala
 
Paying It Forward: Sustaining the Transatlantic Relationship with Canada’s Mission in the Baltics
MLI Commentary
Leuprecht, Christian, and Joel Sokolsky, Jayson Derow
 

EVENTS & DEADLINES
Book Talk: Women in the Crossfire: Understanding and Ending Honor Killing
12 p.m. Nov. 14 at START headquarters
Dr. Robert Churchill, former Elton Professor of Philosophy at George Washington University, will give a presentation on his book, “Women in the Crossfire: Understanding and Ending Honor Killing.”
Register to attend.

DEADLINE: Nov. 11, Apply for Spring 2019 internship 
Students from any university should apply by Nov. 11 (final deadline) for START's Spring 2019 internship program. 

DEADLINE: Jan. 12, 2019, Apply for Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis
START offers a fully online Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis through the University of Maryland's Graduate School. The program is delivered in a synchronous format using multiple online platforms provided by the University of Maryland, College Park.


TRAINING

START IN THE NEWS
Washington Post: Pittsburgh shooting comes amid rise in hate crimes, growing anxiety about right-wing extremism
This Washington Post article about the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and recent attacks cites the Global Terrorism Database and quotes GTD Program Manager Erin Miller.
 
NPR: With Technology, Law Enforcement Gets Better at Threats By Mail
START Director William Braniff is quoted in this NPR article and NPR broadcast about law enforcement intercepting threats by mail. The article appeared in more than 50 outlets and the radio report was broadcast at affiliates throughout the country. He also appeared on this AirTalk radio show and in this WJLA article, which appeared in nearly 60 outlets across the country.
 
Christian Science Monitor: What mail bombs say – and don’t say – about political discourse 
START researcher Victor Asal is quoted in this Christian Science Monitor article about the recent mail bombs considered within the broader political discourse.
 
The Atlantic: If the pipe-bomb mailings aren’t terrorism, what is?
START researcher Martha Crenshaw is quoted in this Atlantic article about whether the mail bombs can be considered terrorism.
 
TIME: This week’s attempted bombings raise alarms, but experts say it doesn’t mean the country is more violent
START researcher Joseph Young is quoted in this TIME article about the recent mail bombs.
 
Boston Herald: Mail bombs put Dems on high alert
START researcher Gary Ackerman is quoted in this Boston Herald article about the recent mail bombs targeting high profile Democrats.
 
The Globe and Mail: Suspicious packages sent to De Niro, Biden as investigators focus on leads in Florida
GTD Program Manager Erin Miller is quoted in this Globe and Mail article about the investigation into mail bombs being sent to multiple high profile figures.
 
Foreign Policy: The Fight Against Terror Needs Better Data
This Foreign Policy article on researching terrorism uses data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD).
 
The Conversation: The psychology of closure – and why some need it more than others
START researcher Arie Kruglanski is quoted in this The Conversation article about the psychology of closure.
 
Nature: Retool AI to forecast and limit wars
This Nature article on artificial intelligence and conflict forecasting uses data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD).
 
Vice: Tracing the Tactics of 21st-Century Youth Protest
START researcher Erica Chenoweth is quoted in this Vice article about nonviolent protest.
 
This is a selection of news clips from the past month.
A complete list of START’s media coverage can be found 
here.

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The START Consortium is dedicated to generating knowledge of the human causes and consequences of terrorism. Applying rigorous standards to both research and education, START seeks to illuminate one of the most highly politicized and understudied phenomena in the social sciences for students, practitioners and policy-makers. Funded primarily through research grants to date, START is seeking to generate an endowment that will provide the flexibility and autonomy to ensure that it can continue to serve as an objective source of data and empirically based analysis into the future.  To donate, or for more information, please click here.