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The Situated Contexts of American Terrorism: A Conjunctive Analysis of Case Configurations

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 46 Issue: 6 Dated: 2019 Pages: 884-901
Date Published
18 pages

This study examined how combinations of situational factors are associated with patterns of terrorist success and failure.


The study applied Sacco and Kennedy's criminal event perspective and Clarke and Newman's situational crime prevention approach to the study of terrorist opportunity structures. Using data from the American Terrorism Study (ATS), the current study used conjunctive analysis to investigate how opportunities for terrorist attacks and prevention are situationally positioned. The study focused on the combinations of terrorists' ideological and situational factors that were associated with terrorist outcomes in the United States. Although the study's findings generally show that the simplest forms of terrorism, including combinations of lone actors using unsophisticated weapons against nonhuman targets after little preparation, were associated with successful outcomes, there was heterogeneity in situated opportunities for preparing for and committing terrorism across terrorism movements. These findings add insights into terrorism prevention strategies and help build a foundation for future comparative research on terrorism outcomes. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019