By Jim Kouri
University researchers funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security discovered that New York City’s borough of Manhattan was the target of terrorists more often than any other U.S. city.
The study was conducted by terrorism experts at the University of Maryland and the University of Massachusetts-Boston, who included criminal acts committed to achieve political, social, religious and economic goals in their definition of a “terrorist plot or act.”
Researchers discovered 343 incidents of terrorism documented in Manhattan between 1970 and 2008, a span of 38 years. Meanwhile, Los Angeles — the study’s number two target — had 155 incidents during the same period.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the majority of terrorist acts were committed by leftists, such as the Weather Underground, or nationalists, such as the Puerto Rican independence group FALN who were followers of Cuba’s Fidel Castro.
In the 1990s and beyond, the perpetrators of terrorist plots and acts were and are radical Islamists, both foreign and homegrown, according to the study.
One-third of all reported attacks in the United States — a 780 total — occurred in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, DC.
While large, urban counties such as Manhattan and Los Angeles have remained hot spots of terrorist activities across decades, the researchers discovered that smaller, more rural counties such as Maricopa County, Arizona – which includes Phoenix – have emerged as hot spots in recent years as domestic terrorism there has increased.
The researchers defined a “hot spot” as a county experiencing a greater than the average number of terrorist attacks – more than six attacks across the entire time period of 1970 to 2008. Sixty-five of 3,143 U.S. counties as hot spots. “Mainly, terror attacks have been a problem in the bigger cities, but rural areas are not exempt,” said Gary LaFree, director of the study and lead author of the new report.
“The main attacks driving Maricopa into recent hot spot status are the actions of radical environmental groups, especially the Coalition to Save the Preserves. So, despite the clustering of attacks in certain regions, it is also clear that hot spots are dispersed throughout the country and include places as geographically diverse as counties in Arizona, Massachusetts, Nebraska and Texas,” states LaFree.
Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, endured being denigrated and called an Islamophobe by Muslim groups and some Democrat lawmakers when he called for committee hearings on radical Islam, homegrown terrorism and other topics.
Responding to this report, King said he wasn’t surprised at all. “New York is Number One when it comes to Islamic terrorism,” he said.
(Thanks to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence based at the University of Maryland. The research was conducted at Maryland and the University of Massachusetts-Boston.)