Program to Prepare Communities for Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attacks

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Project Details


The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) will support the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission and partners in two (2) primary capacities for its work on a “Program to Prepare Communities for Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attacks.” First, START will prepare materials exploring the tactical diversity of perpetrators carrying out terrorist attacks in the United States, including both completed attacks and also tactics advocated for in propaganda pieces. Second, START will create a web portal to serve as a repository and free of charge access points to first responders for materials created during the overall project.


START researchers will leverage the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) to conduct a thorough analysis of tactics used in terrorist attacks in the United States since September 11, 2001.

  1. The GTD is the most comprehensive dataset of its kind, including information on terrorist attacks around the world, from 1970 through 2016. The database, which is drawn from unclassified media sources, contains information on the date, location, perpetrators, targets, weapons, and tactics relevant to each event. Data collection is ongoing, and information on attacks that occurred in 2017 will be complete in June 2018. The analysis will use the most current GTD data available to ensure that the analysis is up-to-date.
  2. START researchers will supplement this analysis of terrorism in the United States with information on tactics used in terrorist attacks in other Western democracies, as points of context and comparison.
  3. The analysis will focus on CCTAs but also place them in context of more broadly used tactics in the United States, including tactics used in mass-casualty terrorist attacks.
  4. The analysis will disaggregate terrorist attacks in the United States and in comparable Western democracies based on the motivating ideology of the perpetrator in accordance with the needs of the project, and in accordance with the empirical patterns revealed by the data.

START researchers will investigate the use of propaganda by relevant perpetrator groups to encourage or inspire various tactical threats.

  1. This analysis will begin with a review of literature produced by analysts and agencies that have established expertise on the use of propaganda to promote tactical threats.
  2. The analysis will systematically leverage primary and secondary resources to investigate both the use of propaganda as it relates to tactical threats, and links between these notional tactics and those used in attacks that have been carried out.


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