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Symposium #9


The collection of open source data on violent extremism and terrorism has revolutionized our understanding of the characteristics and complexities of violent political action. For the past 16 years, Dr. LaFree has been closely connected with two of the largest efforts to collect and analyze open source data on terrorism: the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) and the Profiles of Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) data. The GTD begins with a universe of over 1.6 million articles published daily worldwide in order to identify the relatively small subset of articles that describe terrorist attacks.

Dr. LaFree’s team of researchers convert this pipeline into an unclassified matrix which describes the characteristics of worldwide attacks from 1970 to the present. The PIRUS data are instead limited to terrorist attacks against the United States and include individual level data on about 1,800 individuals who have been associated with acts of illegal political extremism. Dr. LaFree’s presentation will focus on what these two unclassified data bases can tell us about the nature of the terrorist threat to the United States and the world.

This symposium is part of our Homeland Security Symposium Series focused on addressing supplemental educational/training needs with different homeland security enterprise related domains requested by our stakeholders. This endeavor is funded by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, Office of University Programs, under the Borders, Trade, and Immigration Institute. There are no attendance fees associated with this symposium. Attendees or their respective agencies are responsible for applicable travel costs.


Dr. Gary LaFree - Director, National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism  - University of Maryland


Gary LaFree is professor of criminology and criminal justice and director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. Dr. LaFree has served as president of the American Society of Criminology (ASC) and was named a fellow of the ASC in 2006. He is a member of the US Attorney General’s Science Advisory Board and the National Academy of Science’s Crime, Law and Justice Committee. Dr. LaFree’s recent books include Countering Terrorism with Martha Crenshaw (Brookings Press) and Putting Terrorism in Context (with Laura Dugan and Erin Miller). He received his Ph.D. in sociology from Indiana University and for many years was the Chair of the Sociology Department at the University of New Mexico.

Download Powerpoint for Session 1 and for Session 2


Research in Brief
After-Action Report

Watch the Symposium Webcast
"Black Swans and Burstiness" by Dr. Gary LaFree
"Predicting Violent Extremism" by Dr. Gary LaFree


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The Center for Law and Human Behavior
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The University of Texas at El Paso
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