Exploring Global Terrorism

Exploring Global Terrorism

Aliza Goldberg

RAND Corporation’s database of all terrorist attacks from 1968-2009 reveals that the most common weapons used by terrorists was explosives and the most terrorist attacks occurred in 2006. The most fatalities from a single attack happened on 9/11, but the most overall deaths from terrorist attacks happened in Iraq. The number of attacks over the course of 41 years was truly staggering, as seen from map visualizations of the database.
RAND Corporation, a well-known American think tank focused on international military affairs, began this database in 1980 after forming the Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism in 1972. Rand uses the common academic definition of terrorism, quoting terrorist scholar Bruce Hoffman to specify that terrorism is:
1. violent
2. meant to create fear
3. intended to coerce counteraction
4. politically motivated
5. against civilians
6. by either a group or an individual
Since terrorism can be difficult to classify, the data may be skewed. Other terrorist attacks may have gone unreported. Borders and names of countries have changed over the last 41 years, which may have led to some analysis errors. The database ends in 2009, so terrorist attacks since then, such as the rise of ISIL, are not included.

I cleaned the database to turn the dates into recognizable times and to eliminate the “unknown” and “other” perpetrators only for analysis of terrorist groups. With bar graphs, I the “year of terror” (2006), the weapons used, how fatal those weapons were and the top deadliest countries.

Using a Mapquest API key, I geocoded all of the terrorist attacks by city or country. I used a pivot table to isolate all of the locations, so that the geocoding process would be more streamlined.

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