For Immediate Release
July 28, 2008
Contacts: Neil Tickner, 301 405 4622 or email@example.com
UM-Based Center Gets $12M to Study Homegrown Terrorism
College Park, Md. - A team of more than 50 social scientists, armed with new federal funding, will extend its research into radicalization and the formation of terrorist groups in the United States and abroad. The researchers will also study the effectiveness of counter-terror strategies, as well as efforts to build community resilience to attacks.
"Terrorists rely on help from sympathetic social networks, so a thorough understanding of these can help policy-makers refine their counter-terror strategies - both in the United States and abroad," says Gary LaFree, director of the University of Maryland-based National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a three-year old collaboration of 30 research institutions. "We need to understand the tipping points that radicalize political activism and ultimately trigger the use of political violence. We want to learn, for example, whether the underlying dynamics of radicalization are the same in the United States and abroad."
Recent START research revealed an actual drop in the number of Middle East political organizations that turn to violence. Since 2001, 14 percent of such organizations used political violence as a tool compared to 52 percent in the mid-1980s.
Funding for the new round of research comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). START will receive nearly $12 million over three years.
"We've assembled a broad pool of research talent from several fields and dozens of institutions, and this gives us a unique opportunity to advance the understanding of terrorist and counter-terror behavior," LaFree says. "We've already begun to answer some of the questions about the counter-terror strategies that work and others that are counter-productive. The grant renewal will enable us to work with an even broader range of partners, each with unique expertise."
AMONG THE PLANNED RESEARCH:
An ongoing activity at START is the development of the world's largest and most comprehensive database of terror incidents. International in scope, it covers all incidents since 1970. START plans to have the Global Terrorism Database completely current by the end of 2008.
DHS FUNDING RENEWED
START began in 2005 as one of the Department of Homeland Security's Centers of Excellence, the first to focus on behavioral science. The current funding renewal follows a rigorous, competitive application process.
"START has provided significant advances in research and findings in the area of terrorism and response to terrorism events," said DHS's Matthew Clark, director of the Science and Technology Directorate's Office of University Programs. "START has demonstrated the value of its contributions, and merits this continued funding from the Department of Homeland Security. We are firmly convinced that their expertise in the multi-faceted nature of terrorism will continue to benefit the Nation's defense against such acts through better understanding, preparedness tactics and security measures."
START will receive $5.2 million in the coming year and an anticipated $11.7 million through 2011.
For more information on START and its plans for the next three years:
For Information on the DHS Center of Excellence program:
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