Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $470,383)
Intelligence analysts have sought for years to identify "pre-incident indicators" that may be used to identify terrorist threats. Consequently, the NIJ funded a series of projects to examine the geospatial and temporal patterns of terrorists' precursor conduct. Geospatial findings from these projects are being used by a number of agencies for investigative and response planning purposes. Temporal data is more difficult to obtain, but we have found important differences in the planning cycles of terrorist groups that provide analysts, investigators, and prosecutors with guidance regarding variations in the length of the terrorists' planning process and optimum times for intervention. Until recently, however, sufficient data has not been available to conduct a crime-specific analysis of these precursor activities.
The goal of this project is to identify the temporal dimensions of terrorists' precursor conduct to determine if these behaviors occur in a logical sequenced pattern. The project will particularly focus upon identification of sequenced patterns that vary by group type, group size, and incident type. The project is interested in ascertaining whether characteristics of the planning process associated with these three issues are correlated with the successful completion or prevention of terrorist incidents.
In order to accomplish this, the project will analyze data drawn from "officially designated" federal terrorism cases from 1980-present collected for the NIJ as part of the American Terrorism Study (ATS) and now maintained in an Oracle relational database that includes over 400 variables on 819 defendants charged with 10,917 federal criminal counts. The database currently includes data on 3,345 precursor activities and nearly 800 date stamped preparatory acts linked to a terrorist incident. Additional data on new cases will be collected as part of the proposed project.