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American Terrorism Study: Patterns of Behavior, Investigation and Prosecution of American Terrorists, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
45 pages
This study of domestic terrorism in America had the primary goals of creating an empirical database from which criminological theories and governmental policies could be effectively evaluated.
A related objective of the study was to examine the characteristics, patterns of behavior, and tactics of American terrorist groups to determine whether terrorist groups have been modifying their tactics in response to prosecutorial successes under U.S. Justice Department guidelines. Another objective was to assess the impact of potential changes in terrorist activity on prosecutorial and sanctioning strategies, as well as the types of evidence and charges most likely to lead to successful prosecution of terrorism cases. A third objective was to determine whether the introduction of Federal sentencing guidelines had reduced the sentence disparity between terrorists and similarly situated nonterrorists. The study obtained information on 33 cases that involved 186 "indictees" charged with 1,241 criminal counts. The data set contained information on approximately 80 variables divided into four major categories: demographic information, information on the terrorist, prosecution and defense data, and court/case outcome and sentencing data. Among the findings were that the use of uncoordinated violence strategies by terrorist groups appeared to be much more widespread than anticipated. Further, various groups had begun to implement strategies specific to their organizational goals and/or ideology. Finally, when viewed in context, the decline in plea bargaining during an era when plea bargaining has been increasing, the suggested reduction in disparity in sentencing between terrorists and nonterrorists, and the elimination of "group role" as a significant predictor of sentence length suggest that the Office of the Attorney General should conduct further analyses of these issues. 16 references and 10 tables

Date Published: January 1, 2001