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Longevity of American Terrorists: Factors Affecting Sustainability, [United States], 1980-2015

Resource Type
Dataset : aggregate data, event/transaction data
  • Smith, Brent L.
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Publication Place
Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice
Free Keywords
Schema: ICPSR
counterterrorism; environmentalists; extremism; offenders; radicalism; terrorism; terrorist profiles; terrorists
  • Abstract

    These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator if further information is needed. This study examined the longevity of individual terrorists using data from the American Terrorism Study (ATS). Using these data, researchers examined the longevity of individual terrorists in relationship to five major factors: 1) the possible effects of changes in the Attorney General's Guidelines for terrorism investigations; 2) the impact of ideology, which may indirectly affect longevity through perpetrator and incident characteristics; 3) lone actors versus group participation; 4) the extent of participation in preparatory activity; and 5) the sophistication of the incidents in which the person participated. Previous ATS research funded through National Institute of Justice (NIJ) by focusing on individual terrorists, instead of terrorist groups. The collection includes 1 SPSS data file: ICPSR_Data_File_Edit.sav (n=346; 15 variables).
  • Abstract

    The purpose of this study was to analyze factors associated with the longevity (the ability to commit acts of terrorism and evade capture) of terrorists.
  • Methods

    The study examined the extent of participatory involvement, recruitment decisions, communication methods, incident characteristics, financial stability, precursor conduct, and spatial variations among terrorists with greater or lesser longevity. Data analyzed included over 676 persons indicted in "officially designated" federal terrorism cases from 1980 to the present collected as part of the American Terrorism Study (ATS) and maintained in an Oracle relational database that included over 400 demographic, legal, behavioral, and spatial and temporal variables. Data on these 676 persons included information on 2,311 precursor activities and nearly 200 post-incident behaviors. Over 1,600 of these preparatory acts are now "date stamped" and linked to terrorist incidents.
  • Methods

    The data file (ICPSR_Data_FileEdit.sav) contains 15 variables covering the following topics: Longevity (number of days between date of first preparatory activity and date of neutralization); Participatory activity (number of meetings divided by number of incidents); Relevant Attorney General guidelines (Levi, Smith, Ashcroft, Mukasey); Loner/group involvement; Sophistication level; Demographic variables include ideological category, gender, and level of education.
  • Methods

    Presence of Common Scales: None
  • Methods

    Response Rates: Not applicable
  • Abstract


    • DS1: Dataset
Temporal Coverage
  • Time period: 1980--2015
  • 1980 / 2015
  • Collection date: 1980--2015
  • 1980 / 2015
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled Universe
The 346 indicted persons in the American Terrorism Study (ATS) database who were linked to the planning or completion of a terrorist attack in the United States during 1980-2015 and for whom sufficient information to establish longevity (a "start" and "end" date of terrorist activity) was available. Smallest Geographic Unit: None
At the time of the current project, the American Terrorism Study (ATS) included 1,140 case studies linked to 1,425 federal "terrorism-related" court cases involving 1,922 indictees. Data collection was complete on 605 terrorism incidents in the United States from 1980 to present. Analyses were limited to the 693 indicted individuals in the ATS who were linked to the planning or completion of a terrorist attack in the United States. All persons in the universe were selected.
Funding institution(s): United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2015-ZA-BX-0001).
One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions; consult the study documentation to learn more on how to obtain the data.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 37175 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR37175.v1

Update Metadata: 2019-08-29 | Issue Number: 2 | Registration Date: 2019-08-29

Smith, Brent L. (2019): Longevity of American Terrorists: Factors Affecting Sustainability, [United States], 1980-2015. Archival Version. Version: v0. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.