A new report by the Homeland Security-funded National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism (START) details trends in terrorism and other crimes throughout the United States from 1970 to 2008.
The report finds that during the 38-year span, about one-third of all terrorist attacks occurred in five metropolitan U.S. counties.
The largest numbers of events were clustered around major cities:
- Manhattan, N.Y. (343 attacks)
- Los Angeles County, Calif. (156 attacks)
- Miami-Dade County, Fla. (103 attacks)
- San Francisco County, Calif. (99 attacks)
- Washington, D.C. (79 attacks)
Though the report says that most terror events took place in major metropolitan areas for the time period, it concedes that terrorism events spurred on mostly by “domestic actors” contributed to terrorism trends in more rural areas:
While large, urban counties such as Manhattan and Los Angeles have remained hot spots of terrorist activities across decades, the START researchers discovered that smaller, more rural counties such as Maricopa County, Ariz. – which includes Phoenix – have emerged as hot spots in recent years as domestic terrorism there has increased.
The researchers defined a hotspot as a county that experienced more than six terrorist attacks over the time period examined. The report also breaks down the terror activity by geographical regions and found that areas are usually prone to specific types of terror attacks, “For example, Lubbock County, Texas, only experienced extreme right-wing terrorism while the Bronx, New York, only experienced extreme left-wing terrorism.”
As for trends over time, the researchers said that the 1970s were dominated by extreme left-wing terrorist attacks, but they believed far left-wing terrorism in the United States is almost entirely limited to the 1970s with few events in the 1980s and virtually no events after that. They blamed far-right groups for the largest number of attacks in the 1990s and said single-issue attacks were dispersed across the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
The report categorizes terrorists in the following ways: extreme right-wing, extreme left-wing, religious, ethno-nationalist/separatist and single issue.