Nearly a third of all terrorist attacks from 1970 to 2008 occurred in just five metropolitan U.S. counties, but events continue to occur in rural areas, spurred on by domestic actors, according to a report published January 31, 2012 by researchers in the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence based at the University of Maryland.
The largest number of events clustered around major cities:
Manhattan, New York (343 attacks)
Los Angeles County, Calif. (156 attacks)
Miami-Dade County, Fla. (103 attacks)
San Francisco County, Calif. (99 attacks)
Washington, D.C. (79 attacks)
While large, urban counties such as Manhattan and Los Angeles have remained hot spots of terrorist activities across decades, the START researchers discovered that smaller, more rural counties such as Maricopa County, Ariz. – which includes Phoenix – have emerged as hot spots in recent years as domestic terrorism there has increased.
The START researchers found that 65 of the nation’s 3,143 counties were “hot spots” of terrorism.
They defined a “hot spot” as a county experiencing a greater than the average number of terrorist attacks, that is, more than six attacks across the entire time period (1970 to 2008). Gary LaFree is director of START and lead author of the new report. He said:
Mainly, terror attacks have been a problem in the bigger cities, but rural areas are not exempt.
Researchers also found time trends in terrorist attacks. Bianca Bersani, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, said:
The 1970s were dominated by extreme left-wing terrorist attacks. Far left-wing terrorism in the U.S. is almost entirely limited to the 1970s with few events in the 1980s and virtually no events after that.
According to the new report, ethno-national/separatist terrorism was concentrated in the 1970s and 1980s, religiously motivated attacks occurred predominantly in the 1980s, extreme right-wing terrorism was concentrated in the 1990s and single issue attacks were dispersed across the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
The complete report Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United State, 1970 to 2008, is available online: http://ter.ps/9j.
Bottom line: According to a January 31, 2012 report, nearly a third of all terrorist attacks from 1970 to 2008 occurred in just five metropolitan U.S. counties. But events continue to occur in rural areas, spurred on by domestic actors, according to researchers from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence based at the University of Maryland.