Research: Hostage-Taking Incident At Discovery Communications Meets Criteria Of Terrorist Act

A new report by terrorism researchers at the University of Maryland concludes that the deadly hostage-taking incident at the Discovery Communications headquarters in suburban Washington, D.C. meets the criteria of a terrorist act -- a rare one for media organizations and the nation's capital region. Hostage-taking, though, is a familiar pattern in capital-region terror, the researchers add.

The report from the University of Maryland's START Center -- the federally funded National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism -- also finds that there has never been any environmentally inspired suicide eco-terrorism in the United States, and probably the world, but draws no conclusions about whether that's what occurred in this case.

START maintains the world's most comprehensive unclassified database of terrorism incidents, and is designed to make it useful to scientists and policy-makers seeking to understand the behavior of terrorists and terror organizations. The report is based on an analysis of this data.

"The use of violence by radical environmentalists is extremely rare, and usually the target is property not people," said Gary LaFree, who directs the University of Maryland START Consortium and its Global Terrorism Database. "We'll count this incident as terrorism -- the perpetrator has a history of politically inspired activism and his tactics were violent."

START researchers analyzed the following information in the Global Terrorism Database, which includes more than 85,000 incidents worldwide since 1970.
 
The full report is available online at http://www.start.umd.edu/start/announcements/Background_Report_Discovery_building.pdf.

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