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A comparison of target types, weapon types, and attack types in suicide-terrorism incidents before and after 9/11 terrorist attacks

Abstract

The empirical research on the effects of 9/11 attacks on suicide terrorism is limited. The purpose of this research is to examine the effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on attack types, weapon types, and target types in suicide terrorism worldwide and the trends in the suicide attack outcomes before and after 9/11. The data were obtained from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) and included suicide-terrorism incidents between 1981 and 2018. The results of monthly interrupted time-series analyses and negative binomial regression tests comparing pre-9/11 and post-9/11 showed that the 9/11 terrorist attacks had significant impacts on the target types, attack types, and weapon types in suicide-terrorism incidents. The results, limitations, and policy implications are discussed.

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Notes

  1. The total number of terrorism incidents would have been higher, but “doubtful terrorism incidents” in the Global Terrorism Database are not included (GTD 2019).

  2. The terms suicide attack and suicide terrorism are used interchangeably in the GTD; however, for consistency, the term suicide terrorism was used in the current study.

  3. According to the GTD (2019), the incidents that did not meet all of the following criteria were deemed doubtful terrorism incidents (GTD 2019, p. 0):

    1. (1)

      “The violent act must be aimed at attaining a political, economic, religious, or social goal.”.

    2. (2)

      “There must be evidence of an intention to coerce, intimidate, or convey some other message to a larger audience (or audiences) than the immediate victims.”.

    3. (3)

      “The action is outside the context of legitimate warfare activities, insofar as it targets non-combatants.” (GTD 2019, pp. 15–16).

  4. The countfit command in Stata was used to determine which model best fit the count data used in the current study. The results are not reported here.

  5. Durbin–Watson d statistic (hereafter d) can take on values between 0 and 4, which indicates no serial correlation if d = 2, positive autocorrelation if d < 2, and negative autocorrelation if d > 2 (Linden2015, p. 491). However, a rule of thumb is that d values in the range of 1.5 to 2.5 are considered to be relatively normal and autocorrelation, therefore, is not a concern (Kenton 2019).

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Appendix: Newly created variables

Appendix: Newly created variables

Original variable Original attributes Combined attributes New created variables
Attack type    
 1 Assassination Assassination Assassination
 2 Armed assault Armed assault + unarmed assault Assault (armed/unarmed)
 3 Bombing/explosion Bombing/explosion Bombing/explosion
 4 Hijacking Hijacking + hostage taking [barricade incident] + hostage taking [kidnapping] Hijacking/hostage taking
 5 Hostage taking [barricade incident] Facility/infrastructure attack Facility/infrastructure attack
 6 Hostage taking [kidnapping]   
 7 Facility/infrastructure attack   
 8 Unarmed assault   
 9 Unknown   
Weapon type    
 1 Biological+ Chemical Chemical
 2 Chemical Firearms Firearms
 3 Radiological+ Explosives + incendiary Explosives/incendiary
 4 Nuclear+ Melee Melee
 5 Firearms Vehicle (not to include vehicle-borne) Vehicle
 6 Explosives   
 7 Fake weapons+   
 8 Incendiary   
 9 Melee   
 10 Vehicle   
 11 Sabotage equipment+   
 12 Other   
 13 Unknown   
Target type    
 1 Business Business Business
 2 Government [general] Government [general] + Government [diplomatic] Government (general/diplomatic)
 3 Police Police + military Security forces (military/police)
 4 Military Airports & aircraft + maritime (includes ports and maritime facilities) + transportation (other than aviation) + telecommunication Transportation/Telecommunication
 5 Abortion related+ Educational institution + religious figures/institutions + NGO Institutions (education/religious/NGO)
 6 Airports & aircraft Food or water supply + utilities Food or water supply/utilities
 7 Government [diplomatic] Journalists & media + tourists Journalists & media/tourists
 8 Educational institution Private citizens & PROPERTY Private citizens & property
 9 Food or water supply Terrorists/non-state militias + violent political parties Terrorists/non-state militia/violent political parties
 10 Journalists & media   
 11 Maritime (includes ports & maritime facilities)   
 12 NGO   
 13 Other   
 14 Private citizens & property   
 15 Religious figures/Institutions   
 16 Telecommunication   
 17 Terrorists/non-state militias   
 18 Tourists   
 19 Transportation (other than aviation)   
 20 Unknown   
 21 Utilities   
 22 Violent political parties   

+Attribute does not involve any suicide-terrorism-related incidents and therefore was not considered when new variables were created.

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Demir, M., Guler, A. A comparison of target types, weapon types, and attack types in suicide-terrorism incidents before and after 9/11 terrorist attacks. Secur J (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41284-021-00301-6

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Keywords

  • Suicide terrorism
  • 9/11 terrorist attacks
  • Attack type
  • Target type
  • Weapon type