"Timothy McVeigh, the Sept. 11 hijackers and Eric Rudolph all had something in common -- they selected targets hundreds of miles from where they lived. McVeigh wandered the Midwest living as a transient before making his bomb in Herington, Kan., and driving 250 miles south to blast the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The Sept. 11 hijackers traveled hundreds of miles to their targets. And Rudolph drove nearly 300 miles from Murphy, N.C., to bomb an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala. For local police departments searching for ways to stop terrorist acts before they occur, this does not bring much comfort. When looking at these attacks, officers might get the impression that there is not much they can do about terrorism other than improving physical security at high-risk targets. But were these infamous terrorists typical? Although we know a great deal about the behavior of traditional criminals, little information has been available about terrorists. Are they much different from conventional criminals, who tend to commit their crimes close to home? Research has shown that traditional criminals are spontaneous, but terrorists seem to go to great lengths preparing for their attacks -- and may commit other crimes while doing so. How long does this planning take? And do different types of terrorist groups vary in preparation time?"
National Institute of Justice: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov
NIJ Journal (July 2008), No. 260