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Michigan State University

Terrorism: Reference Resources


Reference resources is where you will find encyclopedias, handbooks, and bibliographies to help you get started on your work. Note some are available online, but others may be print resources.

Global Terrorism Database

Global Terrorism Database. The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) is an open-source database including information on terrorist events around the world from 1970 through 2013 (with annual updates planned for the future). Unlike many other event databases, the GTD includes systematic data on domestic as well as international terrorist incidents that have occurred during this time period and now includes more than 125,000 cases.

GTI's Terrorism Index

GTI's Terrorism Index measures the impact of terrorism in 162 countries. To account for the lasting effects of terrorism, each country is given a score that represents a five year weighted average.

Rand's Terrorism and Homeland Security Collection

Explore Rand's Terrorism and Homeland Security collection of resources.  Search by format or subtopic.

Suicide Attack Database

Suicide Attack Database

The Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism (CPOST) maintains a searchable database on all suicide attacks from 1982 through June 2016. The database includes information about the location of attacks, the target type, the weapon used, and systematic information on the demographic and general biographical characteristics of suicide attackers. The database expands the breadth of the data available in English using native language sources (e.g., Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Tamil) that are likely to have the most extensive relevant information. For see a map of all suicide attacks from 1982-2013, click here.


Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC)
Your source for comprehensive, independent and nonpartisan information about federal enforcement, staffing and spending. Issues reports on such topics as terrorism, immigration, etc. Provide access to a data warehouse for a fee.

New York Times Terrorism Feed

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New York Times Terrorism Room for Debate

Check out the New York Times Room for Debate on Terrorism, providing a number of sessions such as:

When Jihadists Come Home, January 12, 2015 : How should Western governments treat their citizens who return after training with Islamic extremists?
When Satire Cuts Both Ways, January 10, 2015 : Can satirists sometimes be too provocative and outrageous? Should they hold themselves back?
Is ‘Don’t Do Stupid Stuff’ the Best Foreign Policy? September 2, 2014 : Is caution and deliberation rather than quick action a better way to serve the national interest in a treacherous world landscape?
Homegrown Terrorists and the West, August 28, 2014 : What can be done to stop young Muslims from adopting radical views and joining militant groups?
How to Stabilize Iraq and Stop the March of ISIS,June 15, 2015 : What can be done to stabilize Iraq and stop the gains from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria?
Do Drone Attacks Do More Harm Than Good? September 25, 2012 : Strikes have fueled anti-American sentiment, but also have taken out some terrorist targets. Are they making the U.S. safer or simply reducing casualties?

Basic Online Reference Resources

Blackwell Reference Online (Note option to select Politics) : A compilation of resources featuring Wiley-Blackwell’s acclaimed companions, handbooks, dictionaries and guides from across the social sciences and humanities.

Gale Virtual Reference Library : Includes encyclopedic articles on historical and contemporary research topics.  You may have to click more than once to make this link work.

Oxford Reference Online : Contains online versions of dictionaries and encyclopedias previously published in paper by the Oxford University Press.

Sage Reference Online : Includes numerous encyclopedias and handbooks, primarily in the Social Sciences.




Oxford Bibliographies Online : Criminology : Terrorism. The study of terrorism is one of the most topical yet controversial issues in the field of criminology and criminal justice today. There is no single agreed-upon definition of terrorism, or of what constitutes a terrorist. Terrorism can be domestic or international, based upon single issues or broad ideologies, with or without a religious foundation, and explained from a variety of psychological and sociological perspectives. The goals of this bibliography are to expose the reader to the debate surrounding the definition of terrorism; examine the major data sources available to empirically examine terrorism issues; review major theories of terrorism from psychological and sociological perspectives; explore the link between religion and terrorism; explore who becomes a terrorist and why, as well as why some groups or movements employ terrorist tactics while others do not; and discuss domestic terrorism, including left-wing and right-wing groups and issues.

Oxford Bibliographies Online : International Law : Terrorism. International law has struggled to regulate terrorism for over a century, beginning with efforts to cooperate in the extradition and prosecution of suspects, including through unsuccessful League of Nations efforts to define and criminalize terrorism as such. Until 2001 most international attention focused on transnational criminal cooperation against terrorism, through the development of method-specific “prosecute or extradite” treaties (concerning, for instance, violence against aircraft or ships, hostage taking, or attacks on diplomats) but without defining terrorism as a general concept or crime. It may, however, be possible to qualify some terrorist acts as war crimes or crimes against humanity. Since the 1970s, there were ambivalent efforts through the UN General Assembly to develop normative frameworks to confront terrorism per se, which often came unstuck on the controversial issues of “state terrorism” and liberation movement violence. Greater consensus was achieved by 1994 with the General Assembly’s adoption of a declaration against terrorism. There appears to exist an international consensus that terrorism per se is wrongful, even if disagreement remains about identifying precisely what constitutes terrorism. The effort to deal with terrorism as such suggests that the international community views terrorism as more than its underlying physical parts, which are already crimes in most national legal systems and under certain transnational treaties. The special wrongfulness of terrorism is perhaps signified by its intimidation of civilian populations, its coercion of governments or international organizations, and its political, religious, or ideological aspect. Terrorist violence has also sometimes raised certain problems under the law of armed conflict and the law on the use of force, as well as occasionally attracted sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council. Terrorism was generally dealt with, however, through the application of general legal norms rather than through the emergence of terrorism-specific rules. After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, sharper international focus was brought to bear on the legal challenges presented by terrorism and counter-terrorism in numerous specialized branches of international law (particularly in the law of state responsibility, the law on the use of force, and international humanitarian law), as well as in the institutional practices of the UN Security Council and the impacts of counter-terrorism measures on international human rights law. By 2011 the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon even declared the existence of an international customary law crime of transnational terrorism, although that decision has proven highly controversial as not supported by state practice. Efforts to negotiate a comprehensive international convention against terrorism have continued since 2000, with disagreement remaining over the scope of exceptions. There is also now increasing debate about whether a field of international anti-terrorism law is emerging.

Oxford Bibliographies Online : International Relations : Terrorism. Terrorism is a multidimensional concept in which most definitions (there are at least 100) include the use of violence or force, with an emphasis on instigating fear or “terror.” International terrorism can be considered the use of psychologically, culturally, morally, or legally “unacceptable” violence, or else the threat to use such force or violence, by state, anti-state or even non-state actors, generally with the intent to achieve or express some form of political, social, economic, or ideological goal, belief, or statement that crosses state boundaries or results in some form of international repercussion or response. The goals of this bibliography are to familiarize the reader with works that seek to explain the American and international responses to the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, which arguably represented the greatest single act of anti-state international “terrorism” in history. Concurrently, the bibliography also chooses works that seek to explain the reasons for those attacks and their possible consequences. As it is state or military leaderships that have generally been responsible for the most significant acts of international “terrorism” throughout history, and not anti-state actors, this bibliography also seeks to emphasize those books that explore the complex interaction between state-supported and anti-state violence. The bibliography also chooses works that explore how globalization affects the tactics and strategies of the new terrorism and what policies states and international organizations need to adopt to deal with this form of threat.

Oxford Bibliographies Online : Social Work : Terrorism.  Once rather a marginal niche subject for a few scientists willing to defy the long-established borders of the traditional grand academic disciplines, terrorism studies are currently experiencing a boom—a boom that transformed a niche subject that did not really sit well with any of the established disciplines of social science into a major (research) industry. The current boom in terrorism studies can be explained by just two dates: 9/11 and 7/7. The events of 9/11 triggered the boom in the United States, while the London bombings on 7 July 2005 did the same for the United Kingdom. To a much lesser degree, terrorism studies also saw a certain upswing in Spain after the Madrid train bombings on 11 March 2004. Still, the current boom seems to be mainly an Anglo-American phenomenon; there is no similar boom noticeable in Germany, France, India, or Japan, for example. In the United States and the United Kingdom, however, the study of terrorism and homeland security is big business now: for state institutions lobbying for a bigger share of the pie, for security consultants and private security firms trying to sell their expertise and their products, for the media competing with each other to sell their stories—and for academia, of course, where individual researchers or whole (new) think tanks compete for ever larger research grants. No wonder every six hours, a new English-language book dealing with terrorism in general or some aspect of it is published, and no wonder the field of terrorism studies branched out into many subfields, each dealing with their own specialized research agendas, such as suicide terrorism, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) terrorism, or aviation and maritime terrorism. Consequently, it gets ever more difficult even for specialists to keep track of the huge number of publications on terrorism. This bibliography provides an overview of this still-growing field of studies and the still-growing number of publications.

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