National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Operation and Structure of Right-Wing Extremist Groups in the United States, 1980-2007 (ICPSR 25722) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

The purpose of this study was to address some of the gaps in what is known about right-wing terrorism by (1) comparing right-wing extremist "advocates" with "implementers", and (2) identifying internal processes related to organizational planning and group roles by focusing on how right-wing extremist groups recruit new members. Using a wide variety of secondary sources, the principal investigator collected data beyond what was available in the AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639) and constructed an alternate database, the Right-Wing Terrorist Recruitment (RWTR) database, that related to terrorist recruitment and individual-level risk factors. The research team collected data on a total of 112 persons from 16 right-wing extremist (RWE) groups. In order to analyze the recruitment process, the principal investigator developed a new codebook that included a greater number of variables designed to measure different dimensions of the recruitment process. Some of the variables the investigator included were already in the American Terrorism Study dataset, however, the variable categories were revised. Other variables were included in light of prior terrorism studies and related scholarship such as research in the areas of social movements and new religious movements. The investigator also designed variables to measure the structural characteristics of the recruitment process. The dataset includes a total of 82 terrorist recruitment and individual-level risk factor variables.

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Dataset(s)

Dataset
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Study Description

Citation

Simi, Peter. Operation and Structure of Right-Wing Extremist Groups in the United States, 1980-2007. ICPSR25722-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-04-30. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR25722.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2006-IJ-CX-0027)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   extremism, offender profiles, radicalism, terrorism, terrorist attacks, terrorist profiles, terrorists

Smallest Geographic Unit:   city

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1980-01--2007-08

Date of Collection:  

  • 2006-01--2007-08

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:   All right-wing extremist (RWE) indictees included in the AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639).

Data Types:   administrative records data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   The purpose of this study was to address some of the gaps in what is known about right-wing terrorism by (1) comparing right-wing extremist "advocates" (i.e., those who advocate terrorism but have not committed such acts) with "implementers" (i.e., those who extend upon violent rhetoric and actually commit these acts or at least plan to), and (2) identifying internal processes related to organizational planning and group roles by focusing on how right-wing extremist groups recruit new members.

Study Design:  

Using a wide variety of secondary sources, the principal investigator collected data beyond what was available in the AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639) and constructed an alternate database, the Right-Wing Terrorist Recruitment (RWTR) database, that related to terrorist recruitment and individual-level risk factors. Data collection and coding of information for each indictee was completed group by group. The research team collected data on a total of 112 persons from 16 right-wing extremist (RWE) groups. The amount of information available for each indictee was not evenly distributed. In some cases there was little information, while in other cases there was a large amount of information that was available. The principal investigator and a graduate assistant worked closely during both the collection and coding process. The researchers collected data for each indictee and analyzed each source. This allowed the researchers to check and verify their interpretations of the data as well as the accuracy, meaning, and relevance of the information.

In order to analyze the recruitment process, the principal investigator developed a new codebook that included a greater number of variables designed to measure different dimensions of the recruitment process. Some of the variables the investigator included were already in the American Terrorism Study dataset (how recruited, role in the terrorist organization, socioeconomic status, education level, occupation, and military background), however, the variable categories were revised. Other variables were included in light of prior terrorism studies and related scholarship such as research in the areas of social movements and new religious movements. Variables derived from prior terrorism research included: the indictee's age at the time of recruitment, mental health history, family mental health history, past and current substance abuse, exposure to childhood abuse (physical and/or sexual), childhood neglect, and sibling birth order. The investigator also designed variables to measure the structural characteristics of the recruitment process:

  1. type of recruitment involved (e.g., face to face, indirect)
  2. the number of recruiters
  3. the geographic location of recruitment
  4. social location of recruitment
  5. the length of recruitment
  6. the age of recruiter(s)
  7. the gender of recruiter(s)
  8. the relational contact between recruited and recruiter.

Sample:   The indictees were selected based on their inclusion in the AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639) which was used to establish the parameters of the sample. Specifically, right-wing extremist (RWE) indictees were selected from the American Terrorism Study dataset, providing a sampling pool of 112 persons from 16 RWE groups. All indictees in the sample can be considered "implementers", but at varying stages of implementation.

Weight:   none

Mode of Data Collection:   record abstracts

Data Source:

The Right-Wing Terrorist Recruitment (RWTR) data were collected using a variety of secondary sources that included: newspaper articles, Web sites (e.g., government, terrorist group, watchdog groups, research institutes, personal information finder sites), peer-reviewed academic articles, journalistic accounts including books and documentaries, scholarly books, documents made available by the Freedom of Information Act, watchdog group reports and publications, information from the group or indictee, court transcripts, police reports, FBI 302's (agent reports), surveillance records/transcripts, witness transcribed interviews, and psychological evaluations/reports.

AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639)

Description of Variables:  

The dataset includes a total of 82 terrorist recruitment and individual-level risk factor variables. More specifically, the dataset includes variables derived from prior terrorism research, variables that measure the structural characteristics of the recruitment process, and other background and miscellaneous variables, some of which were derived from the AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639).

Variables derived from prior terrorism research included: the indictee's age at the time of recruitment, mental health history, family mental health history, past and current substance abuse, exposure to childhood abuse (physical and/or sexual), childhood neglect, and sibling birth order. The principal investigator designed the following variables to measure the structural characteristics of the recruitment process:

  1. type of recruitment involved (e.g., face to face, in-direct)
  2. the number of recruiters
  3. the geographic location of recruitment
  4. social location of recruitment
  5. the length of recruitment
  6. the age of recruiter(s)
  7. the gender of recruiter(s)
  8. the relational contact between recruited and recruiter.

Other background and miscellaneous variables include group name, gender, date of birth, media to recruit, catalyst event, type of group, level of involvement, case outcome, incarceration, witness protection, living, beliefs, childhood and current socioeconomic status, annual income, education level, academic failure, current occupation, chronic unemployment, marital status, children, parental involvement, childhood and current religious preference, history of physical aggression, history of physical aggression type, and suicidal ideation. Variables also include childhood/adolescent gang affiliation, fire starter, runner, property offenses, truancy, problems with authority, delinquent peer group, witness to violence, and type of violence witnessed. Other variables include status of parent?s marriage during childhood, child abandoned by mother and/or father, father, mother, and siblings ever incarcerated, adult criminal conduct, military experience, branch, and length of service, reason for leaving military, military special training, prior group membership, prior number of group memberships, prior type of group memberships, and prior type of roles in prior groups.

Response Rates:   not applicable

Presence of Common Scales:   none

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

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