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Terrifying Statistics Sept2008

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QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF LETHALITY OF TERRORIST INCIDENTS WORLDWIDE SINCE 2004.

QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF LETHALITY OF TERRORIST INCIDENTS WORLDWIDE SINCE 2004.

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  • Dr. Hoffman based his analysis on the Rand Data base. He went on to state that while the overall number of terrorist incidents had been decreasing, the fatalities had been increasing. He attributed this to four factors: increase in availability of small arms and light weapons, need to be more spectacular, greater capacity for killing (due to technology advancements, and rise in Islamic extremist groups. The latter in particular has been the focus of national security strategies.
  • Jenkins interview in paper: http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Security/?id=1.0.1478036070 1975 Rand report: The report presents a chronology of incidents of international terrorism that took place between 1968-1974. Most of the material is based on press reports, although other sources were used as well. Only incidents that had clear international repercussions were included--incidents in which terrorists went abroad to strike their targets, selected victims or targets that had connections with a foreign state (e.g., diplomats, executives or the offices of foreign corporations), or created international incidents by attacking airline passengers, personnel and equipment. International activities of such groups--an IRA bombing in London, for example, or the kidnapping of a foreign diplomat in Uruguay--were included. The thousands of reported acts of terrorism in Indochina and the numerous cross-border raids by Arab guerrillas and Israeli commandos were excluded, except for the major episodes. The State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism, published in early 2002, revealed that terrorist attacks have scaled back in number in recent years, even though more casualties have occurred. (1) The late 1980s were a high point for the number of terrorist attacks, with the incidence of attacks exceeding 600 annually in the years 1985-88. With the exception of 1991, the number of terrorist attacks after 1988 decreased to fewer than 450 every year, reaching their recent low point in the years 1996-98, when the number of attacks was about 300. The number of attacks has increased slightly since 1998, when there were 274 attacks, but the level has not reached the number realized in any of the years of the 1980s. This report is not a linear progression from a large number to a small number of attacks, but the trend revealed is one of a decreasing incidence. Yet even if the frequency has decreased, the danger has not.
  • The definition of what is counted as an act of terrorism is critically important in analysis of the data. There are many different definitions for terrorism. This is actually a policy issue at the national and international level. Different countries have different definitions of terrorism, based on the way they want to treat it as a criminal offense. So there are both national level and international level debates over what constitutes and act of terror. This impacts the way that countries and institutions and researchers within countries report on incidents of terrorism. These examples are the most widely accepted and used, but are not universal. This introduces measurement errors in the independent variables (rhs) and in the dependent variable.
  • A closer look indeed reveals a great variation in the number of deadly victims, which clearly is a result of unusual, spectacular attacks with a high number of casualties: e.g. the series of bombs in Lebanon against American targets in 1983 with dozens of victims for each attack, the 329 victims on a hijacked aircraft between Montreal and London in 1985 by Sikh militants, the 270 victims on the PanAm 103 Flight that crashed in Lockerbie (Scotland) in 1988, the bombs in Bombay in 1993 that resulted in 317 deaths, the attack in Colombo (Sri Lanka) by the Tamil Tigers in 1996, and of course the attacks on September 11, 2001. Such attacks explain a higher number of casualties as opposed to the downward trend in the amount of attacks. Bruce Hoffman, a co-author of the 1999 RAND report, hypothesized at the time that the increase in lethality might be attributed to four factors: (1) the perceived need by terrorists to be increasingly spectacular to gain public attention; (2) a greater capability within terrorist groups for killing due to refinement of skills and availability of weapons; (3) the active role of nation states in supporting and sponsoring terrorism, and (4) a confluence of new adversaries, motivations, and tactics in religiously motivated terrorist groups. With respect to the latter, citing statistics from the RAND-St. Andrews Chronology of International Terrorism [2] , Hoffman concluded that “ terrorism motivated in whole or in part by religious imperatives has often led to more intense acts (or attempts) of violence that have produced considerably higher levels of fatalities—at least compared with the relatively more discriminate and less lethal incidents of violence perpetrated by secular terrorist organizations. In brief, religious terrorism tends to be more lethal than secular terrorism .”
  • Casualties increasing at higher rate than fatalities or incidents Number of incidents was decreasing from 2000-2001, but has been steadily increasing since. Casualties have always been increasing during same time.
  • Fatalities as a proportion of overall casualties does not vary same as C/I; F/I is increasing only slightly relative to C/I. F/C is relatively constant as C/I varies from 2004-2007. Suggests that while something is driving up the number of casualties per incident, it is not something that increases fatalities per incident at same time. If the attributions from before are true, then this is NOT what one would expect, unless the numbers of religiously motivated incidents, Islamic in particular, were a smaller percentage. But in fact the opposite is true. So we do regression analysis to explore further.

Terrifying Statistics Sept2008 Terrifying Statistics Sept2008 Presentation Transcript

  • Terrifying Statistics Nancy K. Hayden Quantitative Analysis Qualifying Exam September 15, 2008
  • Presentation Outline
    • Policy Issue
    • Research Design
    • Data Summary and Model Specification
    • Regression Analysis
    • Policy Implications
    • Summary
  • At the turn of the century….
    • One horrific September morning, a terrorist attack, in the United States, sent the stock market reeling and sparked anti-immigrant sentiment.
    • Another attack, in Madrid, plunged Spanish politics into turmoil over issues of war and peace.
    • Politicians in the U.S. took to describing the war on terror as a struggle of good versus evil.
    • Religious leaders, quoting scripture, proclaimed that the end of the world was at hand…
    The year…..1901
  • National Security Strategy in 2008
    • For the foreseeable future, this (strategic) environment will be defined by a global struggle against a violent extremist ideology that seeks to overturn the international state system…Violent extremist movements such as al-Qaeda and its associates comprise a complex and urgent challenge… 1
    • The most dangerous groups are associated with religious extremist movements in the Middle East and South Asia… 2
    • Motivated by extreme, even apocalyptic ideologies , some terrorists’ ambitions to inflict mayhem seem unlimited… 3
    3] 1 ] 2]
  • Policy Question
    • 1999 Bruce Hoffman testified to Congress in Senate Hearings:
      • “ Terrorism motivated in whole or in part by religious imperatives has often led to more intense acts (or attempts) of violence that have produced considerably higher levels of fatalities — at least compared with the relatively more discriminate and less lethal incidents of violence perpetrated by secular terrorist organizations. In brief, religious terrorism tends to be more lethal than secular terrorism .”
    • Is this attribution valid today?
  • Why Does it Matter?
    • Who
      • Counterterrorism strategies vary depending on motivations, resources, and capabilities of group
    • Targets
      • Prevention strategies vary based on what is likely to be attacked
    • Lethality
      • Consequence management strategies vary based on likelihood of wounded versus dead
  • Lethality of Terrorism is Changing*
    • 1975 “Terrorists want a lot of people watching and a lot of people listening and not a lot of people dead.” [1] .
    • 1994 “Terrorists don't want a seat at the table; they want to destroy the table and everyone sitting at it." [2] .
    • 1999 “While the overall number of worldwide terrorist attacks decreased in the 1990s, overall fatalities per attack have increased” [3] .
    • [1] Jenkins, Brian (March 1995) International Terrorism: A Chronology, 1968-1974 , RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Ca.
    • [2] Woolsey, James R. Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism , report of the National Commission on Terrorism, Washington, DC, June 5, 2000.
    • [3] Lesser, Ian O. (ed), Bruce Hoffman, John Arquilla, David Ronfeldt, Michele Zanini, Brian Michael Jenkins (1999) Countering the New Terrorism , RAND Corporation, Santa Monica .
    • *Data Sources used by analysts for these conclusions:
    • 1. RAND-St. Andrews Chronology of International Terrorism, a computerized database of international terrorist incidents that had occurred worldwide since 1968, was the primary source of data on terrorist incidents in 1999. The chronology was continuously maintained since 1972 (when it was created by Brian Jenkins), first by RAND and from 1994 – 1998 by the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrews University, Scotland.
    • 2. U. S. State Department Global Terrorism Trends 2002
    H: E(V/I)>>E(F/I) H: E(F/I)=E(V/I) F/I t=2000 > F/I t=1990 | I t=2000 < I t=1990
  • Research Questions
    • Has the lethality of terrorism continued to rise, plateau, or decline in the past decade?
    • Do the claims of religiously motivated extremism – Islam in particular -- provide value in explaining the lethality rates?
    • Are there factors besides group motivation with equal -- if not more -- explanatory power for variations in lethality than religious extremism?
  • Definition of Terms
    • U. S. State Department
      • The term terrorism means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
      • The term international terrorism means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country.
    • RAND-MIPT Data Base, Global Terrorism Database
      • Terrorism is defined by the nature of the act, not by the identity of the perpetrators or the nature of the cause. Terrorism is violence, or the threat of violence, calculated to create an atmosphere of fear and alarm. These acts are designed to coerce others into actions they would not otherwise undertake, or refrain from actions they desired to take
      • Domestic terrorism is defined as incidents perpetrated by local nationals against a purely domestic target.
      • International terrorism : incidents in which terrorists go abroad to strike their targets, select domestic targets associated with a foreign state, or create an international incident by attacking airline passengers, personnel or equipment.
    • NCTC Worldwide Incident Tracking System
      • Database counts incidents in which sub-national or clandestine groups or individuals deliberately or recklessly attacked civilians or noncombatants (including military personnel and assets outside war zones and war-like settings).
  • Terrorism Incident Data Sources
    • RAND/MIPT (Prior to 2004)
    • National Counter Terrorism Center WITS (2002-2004)
      • Original data from RAND/MIPT database merged with St. Andrews Database and updated
      • Definitions for terrorism, international terrorism, and domestic terrorism consistent with U.S. State Department
      • 28,000 domestic and international incidents reported for 129 countries from 2002-2004 (Including Iraq & Afghanistan)
      • Independent variables: perpetrator characteristics, attack type, weapons, geographic location, targets
      • Dependent variables: fatalities, victims, # incidents
    • Global Terrorism Data Base (START, UMD)
  • Literature Review 2000-2008: Trends Are Changing Differentially Richard Coolsaet, September 2006 Global Terrorism Database, UMD, 2008
  • Global Incident Trends 2000-2007 [1] Data from the NCTC Worldwide Incident Tracking System, available at http://wits. nctc . gov/Incidents .do Data from the START GTD2 Database is available at http://209.232.239.37/gtd2/Default.aspx Casualties Have Increased Steadily At Higher Rates than Fatalities 0 10000 20000 30000 40000 50000 60000 70000 80000 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Data Source: National Counter-Terrorism Center's Worldwide Tracking System and START GTD2, Accessed On-Line August 2008 Dead Incidents Casualties Wounded
  • 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 C/I F/I Normalized Trends 2000-2007 Casualty Rates Fall/Rise Faster Than Lethality Rates Data from National Counter-Terrorism Center's Worldwide Tracking System and START GTD2, Accessed August 2008 F/C F/W
  • Data Analysis
    • NCTC WITS Data Base 2002-2004
      • Time averaged regional & country level clustering
      • Multivariate linear and Linear-ln regression models
      • Independent Variables
        • Religious Extremists (Islamic Sunni, Islamic Shia, Islamic Unknown, Christian, Jewish), Clan/ethnic rivalries, Secular/Political/Anarchist, Unknown
        • Economic, geopolitical, and social factors
  • Summary Statistics
  • Model Building
    • Linear models unsatisfactory
    • Generate new dependent variables
      • X1= ln(# incidents)
      • X2= ln(fatalities)
      • X3= ln (victims)
      • X6 = ln (Secular/political/anarchists)
      • X7 = ln (unknowns)
      • X8 = ln (IE Sunnis)
      • X9 = ln (clan/ethnic)
    • Conduct single variable and multivariate analysis
  • Robust Regression Models
    • Linear (not robust)
        • Y =b 0 + b i X i + e
    • Linear Transformations
        • Ln (Y) = b 0 + b i X i + e
        • Y = b 0 + b i Z i + e , Z i = ln (X i )
        • Ln (Y) = b 0 + b i Z i + e , Z i = ln (X i )
    • Nonlinear Transformations
        • Y = (b 1 * b 2 ) Sum X i Two Parameter Exponential Growth Curve
        • Y = (b 1 * b 2 ) X i * X k Two Parameter Exponential Growth Curve
        • Y = b 1 * (1 - b 2 X i ) Two Parameter Asymptotic Regression
        • Y = b 0 + b i X i 2 + e Fractional multivariate Polynomial
      • Y = #F, #F/I, #F/V
      • X i = #incidents/country
      • i = 1 Islamic Sunni
      • 2 Islamic Shia
      • 3 Islamic Unknown
      • 4 Christian Extremist
      • 5 Jewish Extremist
      • 6 Clan/Tribal/Ethnic
      • 7 Secular/Political/Anarchist
      • 8 Unknown
  • Fail to Reject Null Hypothesis 0.107429 -0.53004 0 -1.32 0.160307 -0.2113037 Constant 0.00016 -0.00165 0.049 -2 0.000413 -0.0008254 Unknown 0.00016 -0.00017 0.931 -0.09 8.42E-05 -7.28E-06 Secular/Political/Anarchist -0.50132 -1.03363 0 -5.73 0.133864 -0.7674746 Jewish Extremists 0.059422 0.023 0 4.5 0.009159 0.0416426 Clan/Ethnic/Tribal 0.077998 0.032139 0 4.78 0.011532 0.0550688 Christian Extremists 0.002527 -0.00062 0.23 1.21 0.00079 0.0009558 Islamic Extremist Total [95% Confidence Interval] P>|t| t Robust Std. Error Coefficient Number of Incidents for: Root MSE = 1.35   Variables R-squared = 0.1180   Prob > F = 0.0000   Measure: Ln (F/I) F( 6, 85) = 26.13           No. of obs = 92
  • 1.3538 0.80532 1.9574 2.1563 1.5086 Root MSE 0.118 0.0674 0.4463 0.4072 0.51 R2 26.13 3.64 18.82 13.72 28.65 F stat -0.1603065 -0.0926574 -0.2300059 -0.2182293 -0.1401613   -0.2113037 -13.76*** 2.157741*** 2.921397*** 1.937586*** constant -0.0115324 -0.0047789 -0.0263876 -0.0248255 -0.176332   .0550688*** .0178312*** .1060668*** .1011805*** .0619576*** Christian Extremists -0.0007903 -0.0010032 -0.0018457 -0.0026957 -0.0019517   0.0009558 0.0011778 0.0009986 -0.0002175 -0.0000397 Islamic Extremists -0.133864 -0.2393788 -0.368594 -0.374376 -0.287189   -.767474 *** -.4303998* -0.0283797 0.5999251 .9010966*** Jewish extremists -0.0091592 -0.0061902 -0.0542253 -0.0605002 -.0575932   .0412111*** .0110253 0.0137341 0.0048487 -0.0266665 Clan/Ethnic/Tribal -0.0000842 -0.0001462 -0.0002162 -0.0003532 -0.0002474   -7.28E-06 -0.0001454 .0007742*** .0009843*** .0008397** SPA -0.0004128 -0.000376 -0.0014067 -0.0015739 -0.013974   -.0008254** -0.0005336 .0051339*** .0062707*** .0065276*** Unknown Ln (F/I) Ln (F/V) Ln (Fatalities) Ln (Victims) Ln (I)  
  • Data Issues and Threats to Validity
    • Measurement/Reporting error and inconsistencies in both the dependent and the independent variables introduce threats to internal validity
    • Nonlinearity in data introduces specification error
    • Non-homogeneity groups introduce selection bias and threats to external validity
    • Omitted variable bias
      • Presence of local & regional conflicts
      • Availability of small arms & light weapons
    • Outliers and skewness
  • Variable Obs Mean Std. Dev. Min Max ln (GNI/capita ) 134 6434.060 10414.1700 90 46000 Literacy Rate 125 77.828 22.9584 19 100 Gender gap 135 7.042 11.6273 -29 38 Aggressed against141 .639 1.8604 0 19 Aid to aggressor 140 .600 1.1367 0 6 Aggressor 140 .193 .7577 0 7 Territorial conflict 141 .362 1.5458 0 3 Aid Lethal conflicts 132 .212 .4460 0 2 Omitted Variables for New Regressions Improved Predictions
  • Best-Fitting Regression model to 95% C.L.
      • Ln (#F/incidents) =
      • 1.733731*** - .3100291***(Ln[GNI/capita]))+.0233429**(GGap)+.0415228***(CE)
      • R2=.2775
      • F 19.5
  • Conclusions & follow Up
    • Data does not support hypothesis that religious extremism is significant factor for lethality of terrorist incidents 2002-2004
    • All else being equal, the data supports the hypothesis that variation in fatalities/victims is correlated only to variations of incidents per country perpetrated by secular/political/anarchists
    • Omitted variables to add to model: victim characteristics and attack types
    • Model variations to explore: cluster by regions
  • Policy Implications
    • Current U.S. Policy is focused on “winning hearts and minds” in war on terrorism of Muslim world, based on assumption that greatest threats are from Islamic extremism
    • Data suggests that lethal threats from terrorist incidents are not correlated to Islamic extremism, so the policies may have no bearing. Instead, should focus efforts on stabilizing conflict regions where secular/political/anarchist terrorist organizations are engaged.
  • Data Issues
    • Measurement/Reporting error and inconsistencies
    • Nonlinearity
    • Non-homogenous groups
    • Omitted variable bias
      • Presence of local & regional conflicts
      • Availability of small arms & light weapons
    • Outliers and skewness
  • Conclusions & follow Up
    • Data does not support hypothesis that religious extremism is significant factor for lethality of terrorist incidents 2002-2004
    • All else being equal, the data supports the hypothesis that variation in fatalities/victims is correlated only to variations of incidents per country perpetrated by secular/political/anarchists
    • Omitted variables to add to model: victim characteristics and attack types
    • Model variations to explore: cluster by regions
  • Policy Implications
    • Current U.S. Policy is focused on “winning hearts and minds” in war on terrorism of Muslim world, based on assumption that greatest threats are from Islamic extremism
    • Data suggests that lethal threats from terrorist incidents are not correlated to Islamic extremism, so the policies may have no bearing. Instead, should focus efforts on stabilizing conflict regions, improving economic conditions, and empowering women.