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Lone Wolf Terrorism in America

NCJ Number
Mark Hamm
Date Published
February 2013
2 pages
This is the video and transcript of a presentation on the methodology and findings of a NIJ-sponsored study of "lone-wolf" terrorism in America, with attention to prevention strategies based on an understanding of the radicalization process.

"Lone-wolf" terrorism is the term used to describe someone who acts alone in a terrorist attack without the help or encouragement of a government or a terrorist organization. What classifies a violent act by a lone individual as a terrorist attack is the political basis for the action. The study is focusing on lone-wolf terrorism committed from 1940 to 2012 and including two cases in the first part of 2013. One finding is that the lone-wolf terrorist tends to broadcast his/her intention to commit violence, usually because they are acting out of a commitment to send a message through the attack. The study will produce the largest database that has ever been created on lone-wolf terrorism. The data will cover 16 variables. The data show that some lone-wolf terrorists were radicalized in the military; some were radicalized in the workplace, and others on the internet. The goal of the study is to provide police and policymakers a document that facilitates identifying a potential lone-wolf terrorist prior to an attack.