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Across the Universe? A Comparative Analysis of Violent Radicalization Across Three Offender Types With Implications for Criminal Justice Training and Education

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2016
122 pages
Using a series of bivariate and multivariate statistical analyses, this study compared demographic, psychological, and offense-related behavioral variables across and between 71 lone-actor terrorists and 115 solo mass murderers.
The study found little to distinguish these two violent offender types in their socio-demographic profiles. Their behaviors, on the other hand, differed significantly in the degree to which they had interacted with co-conspirators, their antecedent event behaviors, and the degree to which they lacked information prior to their attack. Unlike lone terrorists, mass murderers' violence was spontaneous due to unplanned physical or emotional conflicts. Lone terrorists, on the other hand, were motivated to commit violence due to ideologically based conflicts or differences with potential target victims. Regarding threat or risk, there are a number of overlapping questions that must be considered, including what type of action is most likely, under what conditions is a particular mass violence attack likely to be perpetrated, and what interventions are likely to be effective in preventing or mitigating the perpetration of violence. Lack of predetermined intent and strategy distinguishes mass murderers and lone terrorists. The lone terrorist tends to engage in more observable behaviors and planning than the mass murderer, which presents more of an opportunity to observe and assess preparatory actions and intervene to prevent the planned violence from occurring. 3 figures and approximately 100 references

Date Published: June 1, 2016