Predicting Suicide Attacks: Characteristics of Bombings in Israel
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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The threat of suicide bombings in the United States and elsewhere prompted the Department of Homeland Security to commission the Naval Research Laboratory NRL to develop a method for predicting the determinants of suicide bombing attacks. As a test case, NRL chose to study bombings in Israel, where many such attacks have already taken place and where the data describing them are particularly good. NRL focused on four Israeli cities Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Netanya and on three terrorist groups Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad from 1993 to 2006. The first part of the NRL study identified spatial preference patterns. It found that areas at high risk for attack included those with bus routes, main traffic routes, and parking areas. For the second part of the study, NRL turned to RAND to enhance the predictive ability of the methodology by incorporating socioeconomic, demographic, and political aspects of suicide bomber attacks. RAND researchers tested these variables both quantitatively and qualitatively. The quantitative analysis focuses on Jerusalem, while the qualitative analysis includes all four cities.
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