Patterns in terrorism with different motivation

Brent Smith at the University of Arkansas (home page) has looked extensively at the patterns of preparation and attack of different kinds of terrorists: Islamist, left-wing, right-wing, environmental, and so on. What he has discovered is that there are systematic patterns to their preparations (timing, locations, types of ancillary activities) and attacks that differ depending on the flavor of group. Presumably this is subcultural, but also relates to typical sizes, and maybe complexity of attacks.

This work is helpful to investigators because it suggests when and where to look for attackers before an attack, and when and where to look for traces and forensic evidence after an attack. For example, attackers tend to live more or less exactly north, south, east, or west of where they carry out their attack (in the U.S.). Presumably this reflects the presence of the interstate highway system.


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