Signals of how and why socio-politically motivated crimes are completed

This post continues our series sharing pre-publication versions of chapter introductions in our upcoming book titled “Prosecuting Political Violence: Collaborative Research and Method”

Chapter 2

Signals of how and why socio-politically motivated crimes are completed
by Tia Turner and Brenda Uriona

Attacks against others, whether extremist, politically motivated, crimes of hatred, as well as those of terrorism, are either found successful or unsuccessful.This depends on a number of factors, and thus affects the counterterrorism protocol individuals see worldwide. In this chapter, Turner and Uriona utilize the Prosecution Project (tPP) dataset to assess characteristics hypothesized to be major factors for determining the success or failure of an attack.This measure is set by a completion of crime variable.The authors compare completion of crime to the existing framework of “success” developed by Brian Jackson and David Frelinger of the RAND Corporation, which states (1) terrorist group capabilities and resources, (2) the requirements of the operation, and (3) relevance and reliability of security countermeasures all have an effect on the completion of a crime. However,Turner and Uriona expand upon the framework by assessing the larger area of socio-politically motivated crimes in addition to the combination of variables group affiliation, primary tactic, and othered status.

Of the 2,451 cases (as of 1 June, 2020) within tPP dataset, a sample was taken as evidence and used in frequency analysis and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA). These frequency analyses were of operational complexity, measured by either violent or nonviolent tactic approach; group capabilities, measured by positive or negative group affiliation; and the othering of an instigator. Whether these variables are found to have any considerable indication toward crime completion is dependent on the sample created for the purposes of this chapter. Some cases were removed, as they possessed insufficient descriptive demographic information. Meaning, they could not be used to clearly define at least one of the three variables analyzed, primary tactic, group affiliation, or completion of crime. By taking from Jackson and Frelinger’s study, Turner and Uriona hypothesize group affiliation and tactic to be significant indicators on crime completion.They predict crimes in the dataset committed by perpetrators with group affiliation utilizing a nonviolent tactic will be the most likely to succeed.

Lastly, the authors expect to find crimes committed by an othered perpetrator to be less likely to succeed. As evidenced by the results of frequency analysis and QCA of the sample, the researchers determined a significant dependent relationship between group affiliation and crime completion as well as a meaningful dependent relationship between tactic and crime completion; thus concluding both group affiliation and tactic to be significant indicators of a crime’s success. Ultimately, othered status was not found to have any considerable indication of crime completion. Turner and Uriona proved the validity of Jackson and Frelinger’s framework and showed its usefulness for analyses on crimes outside the realm of terrorist attacks. This method of testing with the unique tPP dataset allows for input on how important vigilance to these particular signals might be toward counterterrorism efforts.

By finding these patterns through QCA, advantages of how and with what a crime is completed or not can continue to develop notions of other pre-incident indicators, aiding in future security measures. Through this chapter, Turner and Uriona hope readers may see the flexibility of the QCA method and the variables discussed above. Regularly testing pre-incident indicators with either new or exist- ing frameworks will help promote further expansion within this field and others.

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