Analyzing the terrorism data in the U.S
Analyzing the trends in terrorism data after the 9/11 attack.
The word terrorism gives everyone goosebumps. After the attack on the world trade center (9/11), the word “terrorism “was on every person’s mind. This attack shook the whole united states to the core. In a moment, 2,977 people had lost their lives and more than 6000 people got injured. The U.S. put a great effort to find and root out terrorist groups, both at home and abroad. Thus, the U.S. War on Terror began. Terrorism can be domestic or international. This project is based on these international and domestic attacks’ stories. I wanted to analyze how things have changed after this attack.
The majority of people think the crime rate and terror attacks in the U.S are increasing day by day. For my curiosity, data was collected from the Global Terrorism Database from 1970 to 2019 except 1993 and I will attempt to answer the following questions:
- Which country has the maximum no. of attacks over the years and where the U.S stands.
- Total no. of attacks and comparison among neighboring countries (The United States, Mexico, and Canada).
- Was there an increase in the number of attacks in the U.S after 2001?
- What kind of weapons were used mostly?
- How many people were killed per Target type and weapons?
Global Terrorism Dataset
This dataset is available on Kaggle’s website and can be found on The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) which is also an open-source database. The dataset includes information on terrorist attacks around the world from 1970 through 2019 except 1993. The GTD includes systematic data on domestic as well as international terrorist incidents that have occurred during this time and now includes more than 180,000 attacks. This database is maintained by the researchers at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), headquartered at the University of Maryland.
My focus is on the North American region specifically The United States. This Dataset contains 135 columns. But for the analysis, I used only the following columns.
Year, Country name, City, Region, Attack type, Weapon type, Weapon Subtype, No. of killings, Target type, and Group behind the attack. The other unnecessary columns were deleted.
Methods and tools
Pre-processing of data such as loading data, renaming columns, deleting unwanted columns, and excluding null values were done using Tableau. The analysis and visualization were also done using Tableau. I did aggregations (summing attacks/year, attacks/country/year, summing fatalities/target type, summing fatalities/year, etc.) and created bar charts to show trends.
1. Which country has the maximum no. of attacks over the years and where the U.S stands.
I was curious if there has been a significant increase in terrorist attacks over the 49 years of data(1970–2019). The unit of analysis was attacks. Sum of attack type broken down by country name and the view was filtered on the country name, which keeps 20 of 205 members(by using parameter top 20).
The above plot shows in 49 years, Iraq and Afghanistan suffered a lot as most of the attacks happened there(83,911 and 63,098 respectively). India is at position 3 and the United States is at no. 14 and 12,783 no. of attacks happened in the U.S.
2. Total no. of attacks and comparison among neighboring countries (the United States, Mexico, and Canada).
I have been living in North America (Canada) since 2018 and I wanted to find out how safe is Canada as compared to neighboring countries(for this question). But my main focus was the United States in the whole analysis.
If we see the plot and table data, Canada had a minimum no. of attacks over the years and out of which 210 attacks were facility/infrastructure attacks, 126 explosive attacks, and 96 unarmed attacks. There was no case of hijacking. When I compared these countries, in the U.S 6,440 cases of facility attacks, 4,236 cases of bombing and 676 cases of armed attacks were recorded(more than total attacks recorded in Canada).In Mexico, the maximum no. of hostage kidnappings was recorded (624).
There might be a number of reasons behind the record braking attacks in the U.S. One is population, Canada’s population is 37 million which is lower than California’s population (more than 39 million). The second reason could be the economy. The third biggest reason to target, the U.S stands at rank 1 in the world’s power rankings and Canada at position 12.
3. Was there an increase in the number of attacks and fatalities in the U.S after 2001(9/11)?
After 9/11’s tragedy, the FBI’s no. priority is to protect the nation from these attacks. FBI is working closely with its sources to destroy the terrorist cells and operatives and to cut off support provided to foreign terrorist organizations. The Below plot shows the trends. of attacks and fatalities in the United States between the years 2001 and 2019.
The view is filtered on Year, which keeps years from 2001 to 2019. After the year 2001, no. of attacks were decreased to 138. It kept fluctuating over the years. In the year 2006, 30 attacks(minimum amount over the years) were reported with 0 fatalities. Maximum no. of fatalities were recorded during 2001 (3,014) and it decreased to 0 from 2002 to2008. When attacks increased after 2014, no. of fatalities also increased to 98 in the year 2017. The maximum no. of attacks was recorded in the year 2019 (369) with minimal fatalities.
4. What kind of weapons were used mostly?
Data shows five types of weapons were used over the years. I used two variables here, types of weapons and sub-types of weapons.
% of Total attacks for each weapon sub-type broken down by weapon type. The view is filtered on the weapon sub-type, which excludes null. Percents are based on the whole table. The most used weapon was of incendiary/ flammable type. 40% of Arson, Gasoline/alcohol, and Molotov cocktails were used to attack. The second most used weapon was explosives such as Pipebomb, Dynamite, Time fuse, and other unknown explosives. More often used explosive was unknown (22.99%). A chemical weapon was least used to attack(less than 1%).
5. How many people were killed per Target type and weapons?
Data is filtered on country name i.e U.S and to answer this analysis question, I Summend no. of fatalities for each type of target. The color shows details about the type of weapon used during the attacks to kill people.
The above plot showed, Most of the targets were Business (office/buildings) people and Firearms (handguns, etc.) were used that killed 194 persons. The second target of explosive attacks was government properties where 198 people were killed. If we explore a bit more, by plotting no. of killings per Target type only.
The above bar plot showed a total no. of 2,939 fatalities were recorded when the target was Private citizens and properties followed by government facilities (399 no. of killings). 53 people have died when the target was religious institutions.
I started this data story with a series of questions. Based on my analysis, here are the key findings:
- Iraq and Afghanistan suffered the most attacks over the years. The reason might be Iraq is the second-largest crude oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after Saudi Arabia. The USA was at position 14 with 12,783 total no. of attacks.
- The majority of attacks happened in the U.S over the years as compared to Canada and Mexico.676 cases of armed assaults were recorded in the U.S(more than the total no. of attacks recorded in Canada).
- No. of attacks and fatalities were decreased after the 9/11(2001) attack. Fatalities decreased to 0 from the year 2002 to 2008. Because the FBI was working closely with its sources to destroy the terrorist cells and operatives. Maximum attacks were recorded in the year 2019(i.e. 369) by killing less than 50 people.
- 40 % of the incendiary type of weapons used to attacks followed by explosive weapons (38%)out of which 23% were unknown explosives.
- The majority of people were killed in attacks when explosives and firearms(handgun, rifle, etc.) were used (due to the legalization of guns in the U.S). Most often, private citizens & property and government buildings/ facilities were the targets of the attacks.
- Kaggle, “Global terrorism Database”. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.kaggle.com/START-UMD/gtd.
- Global terrorism database. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/.
- Statistics Canada, “Canada tops G7 growth despite COVID”. Retrieved February 10,2022,from from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220209/dq220209a-eng.htm.
- U.S News, “Power”. Retrieved February 12,2022,from https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/power-rankings
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. Hopefully, you have learned something along the way!