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Crimes Committed by Terrorist Groups: Theory, Research, and Prevention, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2005
267 pages
This study examined terrorists' involvement in a variety of crimes as a means of funding terrorist activities in the face of the decline of state-funded terrorism.
A secondary analysis of the American Terrorism Study (ATS) database compared the criminality of international jihad groups with domestic right-wing groups. Six case studies of crimes committed by international jihad groups and domestic right-wing groups were selected from the ATS based on frequency distributions of criminal counts filed against the groups. Trial transcripts, official reports, previous studies, and interviews with law enforcement officials and former terrorists were analyzed to identify opportunities and skills that contributed to successful crimes, as well as events and lack of skill that caused planned crimes to fail. This report of the research includes terrorist biographies and descriptions of their organizations, strategies, and terrorist plots. Factors related to the criminality of terrorist cells are identified in the domains of religion, charismatic leadership, intra-group conflict, terrorism's cultural codes and mythologies, as well as women's role in terrorist groups. The study also conducted a content analysis of the prevalent themes in the closing arguments recorded in trial transcripts. The variables examined included the characteristics of crimes committed by terrorist groups, criminal opportunities, criminal skills, and controls. Terrorists' crimes examined included motor vehicle violations, immigration fraud, manufacturing illegal firearms, counterfeiting, armed bank robbery, assassination, money laundering, and smuggling weapons of mass destruction. Attention is given to transnational organized crime. The crimes were analyzed through the perspectives of routine activity theory and social learning theory. One of the most significant findings were the attempts by domestic terrorists to forge alliances with international jihad groups. 9 tables and 96 references

Date Published: June 1, 2005