Terrorism is a form of crime. Yet compared to most types of crime, terrorism poses unique data collection challenges. As a result, even basic descriptive questions about terrorism have been difficult or impossible to answer: What are the long-term trends in terrorist attacks? Is the number of fatalities associated with terrorist attacks increasing over time? What types of attacks are most common? What types of weapons do terrorists use most frequently? How long do terrorist groups last? In this chapter, we analyze data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) to provide a descriptive account of more than 82,000 domestic and international terrorist attacks that occurred between 1970 and 2004. We provide detailed information on global and country-level terrorism trends, regional characteristics of terrorism, and characteristics of the major groups that have employed terrorist methods. We also examine how terrorism rates compare to more common forms of crime. We conclude with a discussion about important research questions for the future.
LaFree, Gary, and Laura Dugan. 2009. "Tracking Global Terrorism, 1970-2004." In To Protect and Serve: Police and Policing in an Age of Terrorism, eds. David Weisburd, Thomas E. Feucht, Idit Hakimi, Lois Felson Mock, and Simon Perry. New York, NY:Springer. 43-81.