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Rockefeller College Researchers Explore the Connections Between Hate Crimes and Terrorism in the United States

Rockefeller College Professors Kathleen Deloughery and Victor Asal, along with UAlbany colleague Ryan King, have received a $40,000 extension on their grant "Hot Spots of Hate and Violence: Analysis of Factors Related to Hate Crimes and Terrorism" from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses for Terrorism (START), a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence based at the University of Maryland.  

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Kathleen
Deloughery

What is the association between hate crimes and terrorism in the United States? Do these two types of behaviors have common determinants? These are among the questions Drs. Deloughery, Asal, and King pose in their research.

To date, the research has shown that hate crimes are more likely to follow from a terrorist attack than to lead up to one. This is true for terrorist attacks on symbols of core American values as well as those performed by groups with a religious motivation. These types of attacks were followed by an increase in the number of hate crimes against minorities. Interestingly, their research revealed that while hate crimes tend to follow from these types of attacks, they only do so for a short period following the attack.

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Victor Asal
The research being performed by the team is particularly relevant today given recent high profile instances of terrorist plots, such as the Boston Marathon Bombing earlier this year and the Times Square bomb plot in 2010. The team's findings could have a direct impact on policymaking. "This is exactly the kind of research we need to get a better handle on lone-wolf terrorism like the Boston Bombing," said Rockefeller College Center for Policy Research Director Victor Asal.

With the extension of their current grant, the researchers will continue to look more specifically at information on attacks within countries. They will also look more closely at the different types of terrorism that occur — the most notable being lone-wolf scenarios, those that are perpetrated not by a group or institution, but by a single individual acting independently of any affiliation. Deloughery points out that lone wolves are more common in the United States than in other countries. Because of this, the team is exploring whether lone-wolf actors in the U.S. behave more like terrorist groups or individuals who commit hate crimes. This research could have significant implications for policymakers and researchers of terrorism and hate crimes alike. According to Deloughery, "Models for violent hate crimes do a better job than models for group terrorism at fitting the data on lone-actor terrorism."

In September 2012, Deloughery, Asal, and King published "Close Cousins or Distant Relatives? The Relationship Between Terrorism and Hate Crime" in the journal Crime & Delinquency. The article was largely based on research conducted under this grant.