Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Management

Committee Director

Wolfgang Pindur

Committee Member

Leonard I. Ruchelman

Committee Member

G. William Whitehurst

Committee Member

Bruce Rubin

Committee Member

Berhanu Mengistu


This study identifies strategies to mitigate the impact of terrorist attacks against the domestic urban environment. It uses multiple qualitative research methods to identify patterns of attack used by terrorists against urban targets in the United States and suggest ways for policymakers to mitigate the effects of a terrorist attack through not only physical, but also organizational, political, legal, and social strategies. It uses case analysis, literature review, and interviews with experts in domestic terrorism preparedness to develop and suggest solutions.

Terrorism, as with other criminal acts, can best be met by implementing strategies to mitigate the impact of this form of crime. Governments are simultaneously confronted with a rapidly growing number of potential terrorist targets that must be secured, and constrained by democratic principles from utilizing many technological devices to secure those targets. Creating an effective security system that protects against a wide range of terrorist attacks while it continues to afford a maximum exercise of democratic freedoms and privileges is a formidable task.

Several broad, theory-based categories of defending urban spaces are considered. This study builds on past research and extends defensible space theory with careful consideration of the special challenges in dealing with terrorist attacks. The potential for terrorist attack is reviewed, and an understanding of who the domestic urban terrorists are, why they may attack the urban built environment, what might they attack, and what can be done about it is developed. Recommendations for public policy and future research are presented.