Time RangeThe RAND database covers the time period from 1968 through 2009. Data for 2009 are not available for some areas; see the Research Coverage page for a full list.
The following provides additional detail on the definitions used to populate the database.
Terrorism is defined by the nature of the act, not by the identity of the perpetrators or the nature of the cause; key elements include:
- Violence or the threat of violence
- Calculated to create fear and alarm
- Intended to coerce certain actions
- Motive must include a political objective
- Generally directed against civilian targets
- Can be a group or an individual
Excerpt from Defining Terrorism by Bruce Hoffman:
“. . . We may therefore now attempt to define terrorist as the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change. All terrorist acts involve violence or the threat of violence. Terrorism is specifically designed to have far-reaching psychological effects beyond the immediate victim(s) or object of the terrorist attack. It is meant to instill fear within, and thereby intimidate, a wider “target audience” that might include rival ethnic or religious group, an entire country, a national government or political party, or public opinion in general. Terrorism is designed to create power where there is none or to consolidate power where there is little. Through the publicity generated by their violence, terrorist seek to obtain the leverage, influence and power they otherwise lack to effect political change on either local or international scale.”
Terrorist Incident Report Definitions
INCIDENT ID : After the report has been created, each report is assigned a sequential number. The number is roughly correlated with the total number of incidents in the RDWTI database.
INCIDENT DATE : The date that the terrorist attack occurred.
SOURCE DATE : The date the new source was published.
INFORMATION SOURCE : The name of the information source. Reports are generally based off of two or more sources. All source documentation is kept in paper form for each report.
DOMESTIC/INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT : The default setting for this variable is ‘domestic incident’. To be counted as an ‘international’ incident an element of the attack must involve a foreign entity (i.e. perpetrator, target, etc.).
US CASUALTY/PROPERTY ATTACK : Default setting is ‘no’; if a US citizen is a casualty of the attack or if US-owned property is attacked or damaged then ‘yes’ is entered.
SUICIDE MISSION : Default setting is ‘no’; if the attackers use ‘suicide’ tactics as part of the attack then ‘yes’ is entered.
ATTACK CLAIMED : Default setting is ‘no’; if the perpetrator(s) group claims the attack and this claim is deemed to be credible then ‘yes’ is entered.
STATE SPONSORED : Default setting is ‘no’; if a state is behind/responsible for an attack and this claim is deemed to be credible then ‘yes’ is entered.
- NOTE : State sponsored terrorism is no longer considered as a terrorist attack by the RDWTI.
COORDINATED ATTACK : Default setting is ‘no’; if the attack is a part of a series of separate attacks planned to occur sequentially then ‘yes’ is entered.
- NOTE : Simultaneous bombings at the same location are considered to be one incident.
INTERRRUPTED ATTACK : Default setting is ‘no’; if the attack is stopped before the attackers are able to carryout their intended attack then ‘yes’ is entered.
- NOTE : The attackers must demonstrate movement toward the target for ‘attack’ to be counted.
COUNTRY : Country where attack occurs.
CITY : City where attack occurs.
- NOTE : Province is used if city cannot be determined or if attack occurs in rural area.
REGION : Region where attack occurs. Analyst chose from the following options:
|North America||Middle East/Persian Gulf|
|Latin America||South Asia|
|Western Europe||East and Central Asia|
|Eastern Europe||Southeast Asia and Oceana|
PERPETRATOR 1 : Group responsible for the attack. Responsibility can be established through a credible claim or analyst can enter the responsible group based off of their regional knowledge.
- NOTE : ‘Other’ is used when attacker is known but not part of a terrorist group; ‘Unknown’ is used when attacker is unknown.
PERPETRATOR 2 : If a second group is responsible for the attack they are listed here; default setting is no entry. Responsibility can be established through a credible claim or analyst can enter the responsible group based off of their regional knowledge.
MULTI-PERP (>2) : Default setting is ‘no’. If more that two groups are responsible than ‘yes’ is entered. The groups not mentioned in the Perpetrator 1 & 2 field will be entered in the description field.
TACTIC: The tactic used in the attack is listed here. Analyst chose from the following options:
TARGET: Target of the attack is entered here. Analyst chose from the following options:
|Abortion Related||Non-governmental Organization|
|Diplomatic||Private Citizens and Property|
|Educational Institutions||Religious Figures/Institutions|
|Food or Water Supply||Tourists Transportation|
WEAPON: Weapon used in the attack is entered here. Analyst chose from the following options:
|Remote-detonated explosive||Biological Agent|
|Fire or Firebomb||Chemical Agent|
|Knives and sharp objects||Unknown|
DESCRIPTION: Captures all relevant information related to how the attack occurred, the possible political motivation(s) behind the attack and the result of the attack. All incidents entered since August 2009 if an IED is used now capture information related to the device including type of explosive, size of device, trigger and all other relevant information.