Recording Terror: The Global Terrorism Database (GTD)

Data Bank   Do you ever have the need to research terrorist activities of the past, or want information on patterns in terrorism for any given year between 1970 and 2011? If so, look no further than the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which includes organized data on approximately 104,000 incidents of international, transnational, and domestic terror that have taken place worldwide – with the additional intention of annual updates that will be included in the future. For each incident entered in the database, the date, geographic location, weapons involved, nature of the target, and number of casualties is recorded impeccably by an online system that can be accessed by anyone who visits the website. Additionally, those responsible for the violence – whether they are an individual, terrorist cell or political entity – are included with the information that is easily available.

Twenty Top Ranking Countries in terms of Total Terrorist Attacks and Fatalities, 1970 to 2007

Twenty Top Ranking Countries in terms of Total Terrorist Attacks and Fatalities, 1970 to 2007

The origins of GTD can be traced back to the Pinkerton Global Intelligence Services (PGIS), which trained retired Air Force personnel from 1970 until 1997 to glean through wire reports, international newspapers, and governmental information for the purpose of gauging the threat of terrorism to the clients they served around the world. As a result of the 911 attacks on the United States, researchers from the University of Maryland obtained the database – and with funding provided by the National Institute of Justice they managed to digitize the information by very late 2005. A great deal of information for the year 1993 was lost in a corporate move by Pinkerton and has never been retrieved, leaving a gap in the data for that period of time. In April of 2006, the Department of Homeland Security provided funding that allowed for extending the record of terroristic events to the year 2007, but this additional information is notably different in the sense that the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS) utilized analysts that sifted through already documented cases of terrorism, rather than the real-time, day-by-day recording of events that had occurred through Pinkerton. CETIS also applied a new definition of terrorism to this research that had not been in place prior to 2001. GTD now includes information on over 104,000 terrorist attacks up through 2011, with incidents reported since 2007 coming in the original real-time, day-by-day tradition of Pinkerton.

The Institute for the Study of Violent Groups (ISVG), located at the University of New Haven, collected data on terrorism that took place between April of 2008 and October of 2011, thereby providing information that the University of Maryland later incorporated into the database. GTD now characterizes the database in the following terms, as mentioned at the website:

  • Contains information on over 104,000 terrorist attacks
  • Currently the most comprehensive unclassified data base on terrorist events in the world
  • Includes information on more than 47,000 bombings, 14,000 assassinations, and 5,300 kidnappings since 1970
  • Includes information on at least 45 variables for each case, with more recent incidents including information on more than 120 variables
  • Supervised by an advisory panel of 12 terrorism research experts
  • Over 3,500,000 news articles and 25,000 news sources were reviewed to collect incident data from 1998 to 2011 alone

As described by GTD, “the database records up to 120 separate attributes of each incident, including approximately 75 coded variables that can be used for statistical analysis.” As each event is recorded, certain information is considered carefully as it is entered into the system, including:

  • incident date,Pie
  • region,
  • country,
  • state/province,
  • city,
  • latitude and longitude (beta)
  • perpetrator group name,
  • tactic used in attack,
  • nature of the target,
  • identity, corporation, and nationality of the target (up to three nationalities),
  • type of weapons used (up to three weapons types),
  • whether the incident was considered a success,
  • if and how a claim(s) of responsibility was made,
  • amount of damage, and more narrowly, the amount of United States damage,
  • total number of fatalities (persons, United States nationals, terrorists), and
  • total number of injured (persons, United States nationals, terrorists)

Statistics garnered from the Global Terrorism Database demonstrate that attacks have quadrupled in the world since September 11, 2001. However, deaths in terrorism attacks seem to have peaked in the year 2007, at the height of the Iraq War. In the decade following the 911 tragedy, those countries most affected by terrorism were Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Yemen – largely due to the violent activism of Islamic extremists or the ongoing war against terrorism. As summarized by The Huffington Post, the West’s war against al-Qaeda “may have simply made matters worse – while whether they made the U.S. homeland safer was impossible to prove.”  Over the forty years included in the Global Terrorism Database, more than a third of the attacks on U. S. soil occurred in the 5 urban “hot spots” of New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Also ranked high by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) are the cities of Chicago and Seattle. The three terrorist groups responsible for the most attacks within the U. S. homeland from 2001 to 2011 were the Earth Liberation Front (50), the Animal Liberation Front (34) and al-Qaeda (4). Worldwide, terrorists generally utilize the most readily available weapons to carry out their acts of violence: firearms and explosives. The video below is a “visualization” of the  2008 information revealed by GTD, as presented by digital artist Joao Martinho Moura. Before leaving this website, we kindly ask that you please remember to sign the petition by clicking the link below.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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Museum of Tolerance: Campaigning for a Live-and-Let-Live World

Open MindedLocated in Los Angeles, California, the Museum of Tolerance (MOT) is one of the most unique establishments of its kind in the whole world. As an educational entity dedicated to the examination of racism and prejudice amongst the human race, it is also closely allied with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the celebration of Jewish human rights. Opened in 1993 for a cost of $50 million, the main exhibit focuses on the tragedy and history of the Jewish Holocaust, but it also places great emphasis on the general concerns of human rights throughout our global society – including the closely associated issues of bullying and hate crimes. The overall educational goal is to challenge each and every visitor to confront prejudice, ethnic narrow-mindedness, and inhumanity while also promoting worldwide racial and cultural tolerance. Since its inception, the museum has hosted over 4 million guests from every corner of the globe, including Jordan’s King Hussein and the Dalai Lama. The message is intended to be universal in nature, because it “is not a Jewish museum — it’s an academy that broadly campaigns for a live-and-let-live world.” In recognition of its dedication to peace and intercultural dialogue, the Museum of Tolerance has been the recipient of the Global Peace and Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations. The success of the MOT in Los Angeles has led to the establishment of similar entities in New York City and Jerusalem.

Wiesenthal Center

The Museum of ToleranceI Is Part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
Photo credit: Smart Destinations / / CC BY-SA

Since the concept of tolerance is a very abstract ideal to communicate through display, most of the exhibits in the museum are very high tech and interactive in their delivery, with the intention of touching the heart and mind in dynamic fashion. One of the most distressing and heartrending sections of the museum is the area actually dedicated to the Holocaust, which includes film clips depicting actual deportation scenes and simulated concentration camps. Upon entering this area, each visitor is issued a “passport” imprinted with the name of a child whose life was dramatically altered by the Nazi regime that governed Germany in the 1930s and during World War II. The fate of each child represented on the simulated passports becomes evident as the visitors make their way through the exhibit, which also presents an outdoor Berlin Café of the 1930s, Simon Wiesenthal’s office, and a “Hall of Testimony” dedicated to the courage and sacrifice of Holocaust victims and survivors. In another area of the museum, the Tolerancenter features a 1950s diner with video jukeboxes that “serve” an interactive menu of scenarios on subjects such as bullying, drunk driving, and hate speech – with ability for the visitors to vote their opinions and question the main characters in the vignettes. The “Millennium Machine” is another facet of the Tolerancenter that confronts the worldwide need to end human rights abuses, including the threat of terrorism. A “time machine” not only presents various forms of intolerance, but also engages the visitor to find the solutions – thereby indicating that humans might create the problems, but they also have the potential ability to prevent them.

Other facets of the museum addressing the advancement of tolerance in the world seem endless, but here is a smidgen of the possibilities. A state-of-the-art video with 16 screens presents a “Civil Rights Exhibit” – an archival documentary chronicling the struggle for civil rights in America. Inspired by actual ongoing research conducted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is an area of the museum sporting touch screen computer terminals that expose the alarming escalation of hate on the internet. Another gripping film entitled “In Our Time” speaks of present-day hate groups throughout the world in places such as Rwanda and Bosnia, where intolerance, human rights violations, and hatred have led to tragic consequences involving genocide similar to the Holocaust. “Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves,” the most recent “multimedia immersive addition” to the museum, is a celebration of the plurality in ethnic backgrounds that make up the rich fabric of American society. A special exhibit entitled “Para Todos Los Ninos” (For All The Children) traces the history of discrimination in California against all non-White citizens, including those of Mexican descent.


The Museum of Tolerance Strongly Supports Multiculturalism
Photo credit: theloushe / / CC BY-NC-ND

So, just how integral to ending the scourge of terrorism is the concept of tolerance? In answer to such a question, the relationship is huge, because intransigence in thought and belief lies at the very heart of terroristic violence. In a world ruled by intolerance, narrow-mindedness stands supreme – meaning that differences in religion, wardrobe, personal opinion, cultural protocol, body language, and verbal accent become points of extreme difference that can lead to hatred and violence. In such a state of affairs, concern over the differences that separate one culture from another become an obsession in which there is a lack of respect for the basic commonalities that bind us together as humans, leading to a tragic breakdown in empathy and respect for the qualities that make each culture unique. Fostering the level of tolerance in the world would go far in lessening the prevalence of cultural tension, hatred, terrorism, and war. As stated by the present Chairman of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, Frederico Mayor Zaragoza, let us educate for tolerance in our schools and communities, in our homes and workplaces and, most of all, in our hearts and minds.” All the more reason for the establishment of a monument such as the one sponsored by this web site. Please join us and sign the petition by clicking on the link below.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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