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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2016

17

O

ur 24/7, ratings-

driven media

tend to have a bias

toward novelty and

sensation, often rel-

egating factual and

objective informa-

tion to an after-

thought. Coverage

of terrorism, such

a dominant feature

of the international

landscape in the

recent period, is certainly no

exception—which is why the Univer-

sity of Maryland’s Global Terrorism

Database is noteworthy.

A comprehensive open-source

database with information on ter-

rorism events from 1970 through

2014, GTD’s data is collected and

assembled through a rigorous

and time-consuming process that

ensures its credibility and is, thus, a

tremendous resource for research-

ers, analysts and scholars.

GTD gathers information from

a wide range of media sources.

Because there is no universally

accepted definition of terrorism,

GTD includes a broad range of

events, with the aim of compiling a

data set that is helpful to as many

interested users as possible.

But before any information is

added to the database, its accuracy

and the credibility of its source or

sources are vetted by an advisory

panel made up of professors with

special expertise from top universi-

ties and terrorist experts from the

National Consortium for the Study

of Terrorism and Responses to Ter-

rorism.

This process takes more than six

months. As a result, data for 2015

will not be added until August 2016.

When new documentation on an

event is available, entries are modi-

fied accordingly, through the same

process.

The GTD houses organized data

on more than 140,000 domestic

and international terrorist inci-

dents. For each case, the date of

the incident, location, weapon(s)

used, nature of the target and,

when identifiable, the individual

or group responsible is given. The

website offers user-friendly search

tools and step-by-step help.

With free access and download

to more than 50MB of expertly

vetted information, the GTD is an

important contribution to a better

understanding of the grim reality of

terrorism and its impact on foreign

affairs.

—Dastan Sadykov,

Editorial Intern

SITE OF THE MONTH: Global Terrorism Database (

www.start.umd.edu/gtd

)

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