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As noted by several scholars, there has been a massive growth in research related to terror and extremism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Federal agencies have invested millions of dollars in funding to understand violent extremism, particularly through the use of quantitative assessments of behavior. As a result, there are several widely recognized databases of terror and extremist violence against targets in the US and abroad.
These studies provide invaluable insights into the nature of extremist activities, though it should be noted that much of the foundational literature established before the 9/11 attacks involved qualitative research methods. Scholars generally used interviews of extremists and actors, as well as media analyses to understand the framing of these issues in various outlets. These methods are still applied today, and are a vital component of research, regardless of whether data have been developed from traditional sources or information acquired from online sources.
This special issue was developed to reflect the scope of terrorism research utilizing qualitative methods, with pieces that highlight a diversity of data and viewpoints, ranging from case studies developed from larger data sets to traditional interview methods to mixed qualitative and quantitative models. These works also demonstrate the diversity of theories that can be applied to this form of crime, whether social learning theory to examinations of affect. I must thank the authors whose work appears in this issue as their scholarship demonstrates the diversity of knowledge and state of the art in the field of terrorism research. I would also like to thank Dr. Vieraitis for her careful management of this issue. I hope you enjoy this issue and benefit from the insights of the scholars appearing here.