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American Terrorism Study, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study was conducted in response to a lack of existing data collections relating specifically to acts of American terrorism. A primary goal of the study was to create an empirical database from which criminological theories and governmental policies could be effectively evaluated. The American Terrorism Study began in 1989 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Terrorist Research and Analytical Center released a list of persons indicted as a result of investigation under the FBI's Counterterrorism Program. Since that time, FBI has released additional lists to the principal investigators. After receiving a list of persons indicted in federal criminal court as a result of an official terrorism investigation, the researchers reviewed the cases at either the federal district court where the cases were tried or at the federal regional records center where the cases were archived. The researchers divided the dataset into five distinct datasets. Part 1, Counts Data, provides data on every count for each indictee in each indictment. This is the basic dataset. There were 7,306 counts from 1980 to 2002. Part 2, Indictees Data, provides data on each of the 574 indictees from 1980-2002. Part 3, Persons Data, provides data on the 510 individuals who were indicted by the federal government as a result of a terrorism investigation. Part 4, Cases Data, provides one line of data for each of the 172 criminal terrorism cases that resulted from a federal terrorism investigation. Part 5, Group Data, provides one line of case data for each of the 85 groups that were tried in federal court for terrorism-related activity. Each of the five datasets includes information on approximately 80 variables divided into four major categories: (1) demographic information, (2) information about the terrorist group to which the individual belongs, (3) prosecution and defense data, and (4) count/case outcome and sentencing data.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. A login is required to apply for access.

    A downloadable version of data for this study is available however, certain identifying information in the downloadable version may have been masked or edited to protect respondent privacy. Additional data not included in the downloadable version are available in a restricted version of this data collection. For more information about the differences between the downloadable data and the restricted data for this study, please refer to the codebook notes section of the PDF codebook. Users interested in obtaining restricted data must complete and sign a Restricted Data Use Agreement, describe the research project and data protection plan, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  Counts Data - Download All Files (23.9 MB)
DS2:  Indictees Data - Download All Files (6.8 MB)
DS3:  Persons Data - Download All Files (6.6 MB)
DS4:  Cases Data - Download All Files (5.8 MB)
DS5:  Group Data - Download All Files (5.6 MB)

Study Description

Citation

Smith, Brent L., and Kelly R. Damphousse. American Terrorism Study, 1980-2002. ICPSR04639-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2007-07-30. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR04639.v1

Persistent URL:

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (1999-IJ-CX-0005)
  • Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT 106-113-2000-064)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   crime prevention, terrorism, terrorists, terrorist attacks, terrorist prosecution, district courts, FBI, federal prisoners, national security, sentencing

Smallest Geographic Unit:   Federal judicial district

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1980-01--2002-08

Date of Collection:  

  • 1980-01--2002-08

Unit of Observation:   Part 1: Count for each indictee in each indictment, Parts 2 and 3: Individual, Part 4: Case, Part 5: Group

Universe:   Indictments from federal "domestic security/terrorism investigations" in the United States from 1980 to 2002.

Data Types:   administrative records data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) Data include persons indicted as a result of a federal "domestic security/terrorism investigation." Users should note that some persons included in this dataset were acquitted or their cases were dismissed. (2) New data on the 2002 to 2004 cases are still being collected and will be available in subsequent releases of the dataset.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   This study was conducted in response to a lack of existing data collections relating specifically to acts of American terrorism. A primary goal of the American Terrorism Study was to create an empirical database from which criminological theories and governmental policies could be effectively evaluated. In addition to this goal, the study had three objectives: (1) to examine the characteristics, patterns of behavior, and tactics of American terrorist groups in the post-guidelines era to determine if terrorist groups have been modifying their tactics in response to prosecutorial success, (2) to assess the impact of potential changes in the first objective on prosecutorial and sanctioning strategies employed during the post-guidelines era and to determine the types of evidence and charges most likely to lead to successful prosecution of terrorism cases, and (3) to determine whether the introduction of federal sentencing guidelines have reduced the sentence disparity between terrorists and similarly situated non-terrorists.

Study Design:   The American Terrorism Study began in 1989 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Terrorist Research and Analytical Center released a list of persons indicted as a result of investigation under the FBI's Counterterrorism Program. Since that time the FBI has released additional lists to the principal investigators. Because the FBI released these lists to the principal investigators, the American Terrorism study strictly adheres to the FBI's definition of terrorism, which is: "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives" (see TERRORISM IN THE UNITED STATES, Washington, DC: US. Government Printing Office, 1997). Furthermore, the study ensures adherence to the practical application of the definition by restricting itself to data collection only, on cases that occurred as a result of an indictment stemming from a federal "domestic security/terrorism investigation." After receiving a list of persons indicted in federal criminal court as a result of an official terrorism investigation, the researchers reviewed the cases at either the federal district court where the cases were tried or at the federal regional records center where the cases were archived. The researchers divided the data collection into five distinct datasets. Part 1, Counts Data, provides data on every count for each indictee in each indictment. There were 7,306 counts from 1980 to 2002. This is the basic dataset, and it is the one that should be used to conduct count-based analyses. Part 2, Indictees Data, provides data on each of the 574 indictees from 1980 to 2002. This is the dataset to use to analyze the outcomes for individuals indicted for an act of terrorism in the United States. Part 3, Persons Data, provides data on the 510 individuals who were indicted by the federal government as a result of a terrorism investigation. This would be the appropriate dataset to use for demographic analyses. Part 4, Cases Data, provides one line of data for each of the 172 criminal terrorism cases that resulted from a federal terrorism investigation. Part 5, Group Data, provides one line of case data for each of the 85 groups that were tried in federal court for terrorism-related activity. The "common denominator" for all cases in the sample is the count. All subsequent data on individuals, terrorist group affiliations, prosecution/defense strategies, and sentencing are replicated for each count. Consequently, analyses can be conducted on variables using any of the four major units of analysis.

Sample:   The American Terrorism Study began in 1989 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Terrorist Research and Analytical Center released a list of persons indicted as a result of investigation under the FBI's Counterterrorism Program. That initial list included over 200 persons from more than 20 terrorists groups active in the United States from 1980 to 1989. Since that time, the FBI has released additional lists to the principal investigators. The second list included those indicted from 1990 to 1996. The third list included persons indicted from 1997 to August 15, 1998. The fourth list included those indicted from August 16, 1998 to August 15, 2002. The fifth and most recent list included those indicted from August 16, 2002 to August 15, 2004. To be included in this dataset, individuals must have been indicted under a federal "domestic security/terrorism investigation" between 1980 and 2002. Data collection from those indicted from 1998 to 2002 is approximately 98 percent complete. With the exception of a few defendants who have remained fugitive, data collection on cases filed between 1980 and 1997 is complete.

Weight:   None

Mode of Data Collection:   record abstracts

Data Source:

Data were obtained from the United States District Court case records from 1980 through 2002.

Description of Variables:   Each of the five datasets includes information on approximately 80 variables divided into four major categories: (1) demographic information such as the age, race, and sex of the defendant, (2) information about the terrorist group to which the individual belongs including types of preferred and actual targets of the group, (3) prosecution and defense data, which includes identification of the charges, method of prosecution, and other variables reflecting defense strategies such as types of motions filed, and (4) count/case outcome and sentencing data for each defendant.

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)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Related Publications (see Notes)

Variables

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