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START Newsletter: Expert commentary, background on Boston Bombings

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)


Discussion Point: Thinking Beyond Deterrence
In this editorial piece, Laura Dugan says despite the punishment given to Boston Bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev and any co-conspirators, punishment alone will not deter aspiring terrorists. She urges officials to understand the nature of the grievances of those who could join the terrorist movement and try to undermine terrorists’ influences on these vulnerable constituencies using conciliatory strategies in addition to deterrence.
Full story…
Discussion Point: From the Caucasus to Boston and Beyond
In this editorial piece, Gordon M. Hahn offers his commentary on how connections between the global jihad, groups like the Caucasus Emirate, and individuals like the-Tsarnaev brothers represent the kind of inter-linked cascade of networked influence and social movements that now define the global jihad. He says we should stop focusing on Chechnya and turn our attention to the global jihad.
Full story…
Assessing the likelihood of Hate Crime in wake of Boston Attacks
In the wake of the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon, a team of START researchers compiled and answered some frequently asked questions about the relationship between hate crimes and terrorism. In examining the more than 500 terrorist attacks occurring between 1992 and 2008 in the United States, the researchers (Kathleen Deloughery, Ryan King, Victor Asal and R. Karl Rethemeyer) found that in the weeks following a terrorist attack, the number of anti-minority hate crimes increased if the attacks were made against symbols of core American values (such as the Pentagon) or believed to be perpetrated by groups with a religious motivation.
Full story…
Additional commentary in the news media from START researchers
In the wake of the Boston Marathon attack, START researchers have responded to numerous news media requests with relevant background information and expert analysis. A sample of news clips is available on our website.
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Background Report: Terrorism and the North Caucasus
The FBI has identified Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev as the prime suspects in the bombing of the Boston Marathon and identified them as ethnic Chechens who resided in the United States, one of whom traveled to the North Caucasus as recently as 2012. In this background report, START reviews the modern history of terrorism by groups and individuals operating in and around the Caucasus as investigators and analysts work to confirm or deny possible ties to Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Full story…
Background Report: Boston Marathon Bombings
In light of the series of bombs that exploded near the finish line at the Boston Marathon on April 15, START compiled data on the history of terrorism in Boston, terrorist usage of coordinated attacks in the United States and terrorist attacks at previous marathons around the world.
Full story…



Al-Qa’ida-Related Terrorism: Violent Incidents and Foiled Plots
In this START Research Highlight, researchers present a preliminary study that offers an overview of the violent incidents and plots committed or attempted by supporters of al-Qa’ida and associated movements (AQAM) inside the United States since 1990. Researchers Joshua D. Freilich, Jeffrey Gruenewald, Steven M. Chermak and William S. Parkin focus on these movements because they are widely viewed as posing a great threat to public safety. Data are drawn from the United States Extremist Crime Database.
Full story…
Americans more likely to think about terrorism than violent crime
More Americans think about terrorist attacks than violent crime victimization or hospitalization, according to a new START report. The study revealed that about 15 percent of those surveyed had thought about the prospect of terrorism in the United States during the preceding week, significantly more than the percentage who said they thought about the possibility of hospitalization (10 percent) or violent crime victimization (10 percent).
Full story…
Background Report: Ricin Letters Mailed to President and Senator
The START Background Report examines terrorist plots and attacks involving biological agents from 1990-2011, finding that terrorist organizations, cells and lone actors with political or ideological motives expressed interest in or plotted (22%), pursued acquisition of (44%), threatened (8%) or used (26%) 21 different biological agents in 74 separate incidents.
Full story…


Secretary Janet Napolitano visits START
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited START last month to meet with scholars and students and to learn more about the center’s ongoing terrorism research projects and its extensive education and training efforts.
Full story…
Under Secretary Sonenshine speaks on public diplomacy successes
The U.S. Department of State’s public diplomacy programs for countering violent extremism , which support local television programs, women and interfaith programs, now extend into social media and have shown success, said Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine during a talk last month hosted by START.
Full story and video…
START intern launches career as Navy pilot
For Erika Anderson, a START intern majoring in communications and public relations, her inspiration to be a pilot came from the strong influences around her. After four years of hard work, good grades and physical preparation, Anderson sets off after graduation for flight school at the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida to fulfill her dream of flying helicopters.
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Students: Apply for START funding
START is accepting applications from pre- and post-doctoral students for its Terrorism Research Award Program (Apply by May 1) and also accepting applications from undergraduate students for its Undergraduate Research Program (Apply by May 28).
Full story…
Apply for Fall START internships
Students from all universities and colleges are encouraged to apply for START internships for the Fall. Applications for a Fall internship must be received by July 14 (priority deadline June 2).
Full story…
Online summer course on terrorists’ financial activities and counterterrorism finance
Open to all at the undergraduate or graduate level, this course on “Dollars to Designations: Terrorist Finance and the Methods Deployed to Counter Terrorist Finance” provides an introduction to terrorists financial activities and counterterrorism finance and sanctions policy.
Full story…
Call for papers: Special Issue of Terrorism and Political Violence
In this special issue of Terrorism and Political Violence, Guest Editors Joshua Freilich and Gary LaFree propose a direct focus on “Criminological approaches to the study of terrorism.”  
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Ethnic Conflict: An Organizational Perspective
Authored by Victor Asal and Jonathan Wilkenfeld, this  article explores how in regard to ethnic conflict, organizations often change their policies and shift back and forth between violent and nonviolent strategies, occasionally adopting both at the same time. In the process, this article provides a counter-balance to generally accepted wisdom concerning the relationship between ethnicity and conflict. Article available here…


United Arab Emirates: Seven arrested with suspected ties to al-Qa`ida
According to the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), seven individuals from unmentioned Arab countries were arrested under the pretext that they were part of a “terrorist cell” linked to al-Qa`ida. Currently, the UAE is holding a mass trial for 94 individuals accused of having ties to radical a radical Islamic group and involvement in a suspected plot to oust the government.  
Full story…
Afghanistan: Taliban captures foreigners after helicopter makes emergency landing
The Taliban has claimed it kidnapped 11 civilians after the civilians’ helicopter was forced to land due to poor weather conditions.  According to news sources, those currently in captivity are eight Turks, two Russians and an Afghan translator. 
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Somalia: Suicide attack on court complex kills more than 20 people
At least 20 people were killed on April 14 when a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives near the gate of a Mogadishu court complex, destroying it.  This allowed several gunmen to enter the compound and a gun battle ensued.   Media sources report an al-Shabaab representative claimed responsibility for the attack.
Full story…


Faculty Research Assistant, Global Terrorism Database (GTD)
START is hiring three faculty research assistants to work at START’s headquarters on the Global Terrorism Database. GTD Research Assistants are responsible for performing a variety of tasks meant to assist in the ongoing collection and coding of terrorism event data. Apply by May 8, 2013 for best consideration.
Apply now…


In the week following the Boston Marathon bombings, START researchers spoke with more than 100 reporters resulting in stories appearing in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, MSNBC, Fox News, Reuters, The Guardian, O Globo, BBC News and Voice of Russia. Below is a sampling of news clips.
New York Times: Bombings end decade of strikingly few successful terrorism attacks in US
Gary LaFree is quoted throughout this story on terrorist attacks in the United States. The Global Terrorism Database is also heavily cited. Full story…
C-SPAN: Americans’ views on terrorism and violent crime
Bill Braniff is interviewed on a recent START report on U.S. Attitudes toward Terrorism and Counterterrorism. Full story…
NBC News: Terrorism expert talks about Boston bombing
Anthony Lemieux is interviewed in this segment about the Boston Marathon Bombings. Full story…
United Press International: After Boston bombings, an outpouring of digital empathy
Michele Gelfand is quoted in this article about the public response to the bombings in Boston. Full story…
Psychology Today: The Radicalization of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Clark McCauley authored this post on the mechanisms of radicalization based off findings from his 2011 book with Sophia Moskalenko, “Friction: How radicalization happens to them and us.” Full story…
National Journal: How the government searches for the Boston Marathon bomber
Laura Dugan is quoted in this article on the bombings in Boston. Full story…

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.

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