Tracking Global Terrorism Trends, 1970–2004

  • Gary LaFree
  • Laura Dugan


Terrorism is a form of crime. Yet compared to most types of crime, terrorism poses unique data collection challenges. As a result, even basic descriptive questions about terrorism have been difficult or impossible to answer: What are the long-term trends in terrorist attacks? Is the number of fatalities associated with terrorist attacks increasing over time? What types of attacks are most common? What types of weapons do terrorists use most frequently? How long do terrorist groups last? In this chapter, we analyze data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) to provide a descriptive account of more than 82,000 domestic and international terrorist attacks that occurred between 1970 and 2004. We provide detailed information on global and country-level terrorism trends, regional characteristics of terrorism, and characteristics of the major groups that have employed terrorist methods. We also examine how terrorism rates compare to more common forms of crime. We conclude with a discussion about important research questions for the future.


Terrorist Attack Terrorist Group Homicide Rate Democratic Country Global Terrorism Database 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Support for this work was provided by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), grant number 2002-DT-CX-0001 and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), grant number N00140510629. We would like to thank Erin Miller, Susan Fahey and Brandon Behlendorf for assistance with data analysis. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NIJ or DHS.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), and Department of Criminology and Criminal JusticeUniversity of MarylandMDUSA

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