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A Community-Level Comparison of Terrorism Movements in the United States

Studies in Conflict and TerrorismJournal abstract

The aim of this article is to identify characteristics of communities where persons indicted under terrorism charges lived, planned, and prepared prior to carrying out a terrorist act. Guided by a model of community deterioration and using data from the Terrorism and Extremist Violence in the United States database, findings indicate: (1) half of all census tracts where terrorists planned and prepared for attacks were located in the western United States; nearly one fourth were in the Northeast; (2) nationally, terrorist pre-incident activity is more likely to occur in census tracts with lower percentages of high school graduates for Al Qaeda and associated movements (AQAM) terrorism but not for far-right terrorism, higher percentages of households living below the poverty level, more urban places, and more unemployed; and (3) communities with terrorist pre-incident activity are different types of places compared to those where there was no pre-incident activity, generally between different regions of the country, and specifically in terms of differences across far-right and AQAM terrorist movements.