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US 'terror hotspots' studied

Nearly a third of all terrorist attacks from 1970 to 2008 occurred in just five metropolitan U.S. counties

COLLEGE PARK, Md. | January 31, 2012

Five urban counties lead in a study of U.S. 'terror hot spots' but rural areas are not exempt from terror attacks, a study has found.

Nearly a third of all terrorist attacks from 1970 to 2008 occurred in just five metropolitan U.S. counties -- New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Washington -- but events continue to occur in rural areas also, researchers at the University of Maryland said.

The researchers defined a "hot spot" as a county experiencing a greater than average number of terrorist attacks, more than six across the entire time period of the study, 1970 to 2008.

Smaller, more rural counties such as Maricopa County, Ariz., which includes Phoenix, have seen an increase in incidents of domestic terrorism in recent years, they said.

"The main attacks driving Maricopa into recent hot spot status are the actions of radical environmental groups, especially the Coalition to Save the Preserves," said Gary LaFree, director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism based at the University of Maryland.

"So, despite the clustering of attacks in certain regions, it is also clear that hot spots are dispersed throughout the country and include places as geographically diverse as counties in Arizona, Massachusetts, Nebraska and Texas," LaFree said in a UM release Tuesday..

The researchers said their study also found time trends in terrorist attacks.

"The 1970s were dominated by extreme left-wing terrorist attacks," study co-author Bianca Bersani at the University of Massachusetts-Boston said. "Far left-wing terrorism in the U.S. is almost entirely limited to the 1970s with few events in the 1980s and virtually no events after that."

Ethno-national/separatist terrorism was concentrated in the 1970s and 1980s, religiously motivated attacks occurred predominantly in the 1980s, extreme right-wing terrorism was concentrated in the 1990s and single issue attacks were dispersed across the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, the study found.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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