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Building and Analyzing a Comprehensive Open Source Data Base on Global Terrorist Events, 1968 to 2005

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Prince George's County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2005, $106,702)

Data problems have long plagued efforts to study terrorist incidents. Increasingly, researchers have made progress in developing open source data bases that treat terrorist strikes as a unit of analysis. Our research group at the University of Maryland (UMD) has recently computerized the largest of these event data bases, originally collected by the Pinkerton Global Intelligence Service (PGIS). The PGIS data base includes extensive information on more than 67,000 terrorism incidents that occurred around the world since 1969. However, the PGIS data has several methodological weaknesses and its collection efforts ended altogether in 1997. RAND Corporation has a long and distinguished record in the area of terrorism and counter-terrorism research. Moreover, RAND began collecting an event-based terrorism data base that resembles the PGIS data in 1998-at exactly the same time that the PGIS data collection ended. This project will bring together the UMD team that computerized the PGUIS data with a RAND team that has long-standing expertise in the collection and analysis of terrorist event data. The UMD-RAND partnership will allow us to produce a geo-coded, integrated terrorist event data base, stretching from 1970 into the future. It will be by far the most extensive and empirically defensible terrorist event data base of this type ever assembled. Following the creation of the data base, the UMD-RAND team will prepare an extensive report that will trace the development of terrorist strategies around the world over the past 35 years. Key issues to be addressed in this report include successes and failures of specific counter-terrorist strategies; evidence of innovation in terrorist methods and strategies and how these innovations have spread over time and space; economic impacts of terrorist strikes (limited initially to the U.S.); trajectories of terrorist events over time' the extent to which terrorist groups have targeted the United States over time; and how terrorist target selection has evolved. We will prepare a major research monograph base on the final report.

Date Created: September 20, 2005