Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “Terrorism”

Terrorist Organization Profiles

Terrorist Organization Profiles – http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are some examples of nationalism based terror groups?
  • What are some Canadian terrorist organizations?
  • Who were the Peace Conquerors?


Updated through 2008, this is the place to go for background on terrorist groups you either want in your stories as they are or as models for fictional terrorist groups you plan to create.

This database can be searched by keyword or browsed by location, ideology or organization name.

Each Record contains Mothertongue name, Aliases, Bases of Operation, Date formed (when available), Strength (when available), Classifications (Ideology), Financial Sources, Founding Philosophy, current goals, Key Leaders (when available), Related Groups, US Government Designations and Other Governments’ Designation.

Searching groups by ideology, it appears that nationalism is a stronger motivator than religion in the period the US has been tracking terrorist groups. 208 organizations are tagged as religiously motivated, but 339 organizations are tagged as Nationalist/Separatist.

About 30 groups are classed as racially inspired. The oddest sounding name to me is the Phineas Priesthood, a group of anti-Semitic US white supremacists who take their inspiration from the Jewish priest Phineas. Interestingly, no attacks are attributed to it in the Global Terrorism Database.

Global Terrorism Database

Global Terrorism Database – http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What terror attacks can be attributed to anti-abortion opposition?
  • How many terrorist linked biological attacks have taken place since 2001?
  • What are some attacks in China that killed more than 100 people each?

This database covers terrorist attacks from 1970 through 2012 and covers both international and US domestic terrorism. The database can be browsed or searched by keyword. For example, searching on abortion brings up 257 incidents since 1970, with virtually all in the United States.

Search results include GTD ID, Date of Attack, Country, City, Perpetrator, Fatalities, Injured, Target Type. The results list can be sorted by any column by clicking its heading. Clicking on a specific incident brings up a summary of the attack and a number of details including the news accounts of the accounts.

An Advanced search allows you to search by: When, Region, Country, Perpetrator, Weapon Type, Attack Type, Target Type, Terrorism Criteria and Causalities. If you are using multiple criteria, be sure to pick a country or region before selecting other criteria.

Back in 2011, a search for attacking resulting in more than a 101 deaths in the United States pulled up four attacks: Timothy McVeigh’s killing of 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995 and the three attacks on 9/11. Looking globally, there have been 118 terrorist incidents killing more than a 101 people at once. Ten of these have taken place in Iraq since 2006.

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