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UMass Lowell Poll: More Americans Worried about Terrorism since Marathon Bombings


LOWELL - Nearly two-thirds of Americans are more concerned about a terrorist attack in the United States since the Boston Marathon bombings in April and believe the threat of terrorism has increased in the last decade, according to a new national poll by UMass Lowell.

Half of those surveyed say the bombings made them think the United States is too involved in the affairs of other countries, according to the poll, released yesterday at the opening event for the university’s new Center for Terrorism and Security Studies. The event, “New Security Challenges,” also included news that more than $1 million in research grants has been awarded to the center by the National Institute of Justice.

The program, which drew approximately 200 representatives of the counterterrorism, law enforcement and academic communities to the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, featured Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis; Nicholas Rasmussen, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center; Vincent Lisi, special agent in charge, FBI Boston Division; Roger Cressey, a UMass Lowell graduate and former National Security Council deputy for counterterrorism whose U.S. government roles included managing the responses to the Sept. 11 and USS Cole attacks; and Andrea Cabral, Massachusetts secretary of public safety. UMass Lowell’s College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences sponsored the event.

Associate Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion, presented the results of the poll at the program.

“Opinions about security and terrorism have been deeply impacted by the events of 2013. Despite the belief by a majority of Americans that the threat of terrorism has grown in the last 10 years, they are conflicted over how much of their privacy they are willing to give up to fight the war on terror, an issue brought to the forefront by the revelation the National Security Agency collects data on telephone and Internet activity,” he said.

More of the respondents classified the Boston Marathon bombings as domestic terrorism than international terrorism (75 percent to 60 percent), according to the poll, which was conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Center for Public Opinion and surveyed 1,000 American adults online between Sept. 6 and Sept. 12 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.87 percent. The poll, written and analyzed by Dyck, also looked at Americans’ attitudes about privacy; whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning; and whether the U.S. should take military action in Syria. (More on the results are available below and full data is available at

Davis – who has emerged as a leader on local law enforcement’s role in battling terrorism in the days since the marathon bombings – presented the keynote address at yesterday’s opening event for the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies.

“Sharing experiences and lessons learned with our law enforcement partners helps all of our organizations become better prepared. The opportunity to have an open and frank discussion is incredibly valuable as we face future challenges,” said Davis.

The ongoing threat of domestic terrorism and the need to study those behind it and develop solutions are among the reasons the new Center for Terrorism and Security Studies opened at UMass Lowell this fall. The center brings together three of the top experts in academia to lead new degree programs and research efforts.

Based in UMass Lowell’s new $40 million Health and Social Sciences Building, the center is part of the School of Criminology and Justice Studies, which was elevated from department status on June 1.