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Terrorism Research Before and After 9/11 - Interview With Gary LaFree

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2011
1 page
This video and its transcript cover an interview with Gary LaFree at the 2011 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Conference regarding the influence of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on terrorism research.
LaFree concludes that 9-11 had an immediate and huge impact on funding for all types of studies on terrorism. Prior to 9-11, the event propelling much of the terrorism research in the United States was the Oklahoma City bombing, which involved domestic terrorism. Prior to that event, terrorism research in the behavioral and social sciences was rare, It was not a large specialization in criminology, psychology, or political science. Even after 9-11, there has not been a huge amount of government funding for terrorism research. LaFree is concerned that there has not been more research on the criminal justice processing of people for terrorism-related charges. The Federal system is currently processing about 350 people in prison for terrorism-related charges. LaFree believes that until now there has been little focus on terrorism in the research community because it was considered a foreign concern and research work would have required studies in foreign countries where the terrorist groups were active. Also, terrorist groups have until recently been short-lived, typically disappearing within a year or two. Terrorist groups that had sustained their operations and increased their threat over time had not emerged until Al Qaeda came on the world scene and began perpetrating large-scale violence in western countries. The events of 9-11 marked an increased perception in America of the significance of research on the ideology, dynamics, tactics, and resources used by terrorist groups that have persisted in propagating violence across international borders.

Date Published: June 1, 2011