The Terrorism and Extremist Violence in the United States (TEVUS) Database and Portal is based on four related open-source databases. The portal compiles behavioral, geographic, and temporal characteristics of extremist violence in the United States dating back to 1970. Through the portal, users are able to build search queries based on four data types including specific events, perpetrators of an act of terrorism or an extremist crime, groups, and/or court cases related to terrorism and extremist crime in the United States. Currently, the TEVUS Portal allows users access to data related to over 2930 terrorist incidents, 2445 pre-incident activities, and 260 extremist crimes in the United States and identifies relationships between these events and individuals (3393), groups (392), and court cases (414) in a dynamic, unique interface.
The datasets included in TEVUS utilize open-source information exclusively, including media reports and court case documents. Due to the largely clandestine nature of terrorism and extremist criminality, as well as the limitations of open-source data, there may be instances of missing or incomplete data on a given violent incident or organization. For example, finding open-source information that explicitly describes an individual or group’s ideological motivation for a given attack can be difficult. Therefore, commonly assumed ideological motives may exist but may not be included in TEVUS. Consequently, queries of the database based on ideology may result in a return of only a subset of the relevant data actually contained in TEVUS.
The portal is not updated in “real-time,” and the search results are not predictive. Rather, information obtained through the portal provides valuable historical perspective that may be used to contextualize real-time events. TEVUS users should expect data in the portal to be available only after the data collection, quality control and refinement processes are complete. Subject to funding, START updates the portal annually after the research teams code new or historical cases.
In order for an individual to be named in the database, that individual must be a known perpetrator of an act of terrorism or an extremist crime who has been tried and convicted or killed in the act; information on suspects currently under investigation or those on a “watch-list” is not available. Further, to protect civil liberties, individuals who are not indicted or convicted are marked with a generic placeholder in place of their names. In addition, specific individual characteristics, such recorded mental health issues or any behavioral characteristic other than those associated with a criminal conspiracy such as procuring a weapon or conducting reconnaissance of an intended target, are not available in the portal. While certain names and characteristics are withheld, case related information is still represented within the portal. More information on individual cases and incidents may be a matter of public record.
Finally, while every effort is made to ensure consistency and quality, error in data collection and categorization is always possible. It is recommended to corroborate findings and provide feedback to START so that the portal can be continually improved over time. As such, your feedback on the portal and the data accessed through it during this phase of the project is particularly important. You can submit comments and queries through the portal itself or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the TEVUS Database and portal do have limitations, it is equally important to note their capabilities. When used properly, the TEVUS Portal is a powerful tool that helps practitioners make informed, data-driven decisions. Law enforcement officers, analysts, and civilians alike are able to build customized search queries based on a wealth of data that provides valuable context on terrorism and extremist violence in the United States. Users can explore data locally, regionally or nationally and over time. The data displayed in the TEVUS Portal allows users to explore a robust collection of inter-related data across the nation dating back to 1970.
TEVUS can help an end user develop case studies, contextualize new incidents as they occur, and investigate cold cases and larger conspiracy cases. For example, a user may discover that a specific terrorist or extremist group had ties to other individuals, groups, or incidents that were not previously understood, or that a given group had a history of violence in another geographic location in the United States distinct from its current area of operations. In addition, users can examine the relevant activities of perpetrators prior to a given attack and may see those activities both on a timeline and plotted geographically. Through TEVUS, users may develop an understanding of how a violent attack comes to fruition. This type of TEVUS-generated information may be included in reports and presentations. For example, an analyst may develop a report about the use and frequency of weapons and tactics used against specific target-types in a geographic location over a specific period of time that may help inform the allocation of resources in the future.
The ATS data included in TEVUS includes a total of 414 court cases, spanning 1978 through 2016. Due to the logistics and nature of collecting the court case data and of the court cases themselves, TEVUS users should be aware that not all terrorism related court cases from this time span appear in the TEVUS portal though a representative sample is provided and with each additional data load more court cases are added. For a court case from the ATS to be included in the TEVUS portal it must be a federal court case where the charges are terrorism related according to the Attorney General/FBI guidelines on terrorism investigations. Furthermore, the case must be closed and at least one person was either convicted or the person died prior to trial. Questions related to the ATS data should be directed to email@example.com. For more information about the ATS please visit the Terrorism Research Center’s website: http://www.trc.uark.edu.
To cite the TEVUS Database, please use this format: National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). (2015). Terrorism and Extremist Violence in the United States Database (TEVUS) [Data file]. Retrieved from https://tap.cast.uark.edu/
This research was supported by the Resilient Systems Division of the Science and Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through Award Number 2009-ST-108-LR0003 made to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or START.
The individual databases that contribute to the portal have received funding from various additional sources since their inception. For more information about funding sources for each of the databases please visit their individual websites.
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) is supported in part by the Science and Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through a Center of Excellence program led by the University of Maryland. START uses state‐of‐the‐art theories, methods and data from the social and behavioral sciences to improve understanding of the origins, dynamics and social and psychological impacts of terrorism. For more information, contact START at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.start.umd.edu.