View Full Version : Lone Wolves: outside the USA

04-26-2011, 01:49 PM
I'm writing a thesis on radicalization of Lone Wolf Terrorists (LWTs). Does anyone know of any Russian study on the signs of terrorist (preferably LWT) radicalization/recruitment. Thank you!

04-26-2011, 04:09 PM
Moved from another thread after posting by new member.

I have suggested searching SWC, with the search features as we have debated Lone Wolves and radicalisation, although not to my knowledge much about Russia. Plus to check on the work by Dr Cerwyn Moore, University of Birmingham (UK) and ICSR, which have recent work and a paper on Lone Wolves.

04-27-2011, 03:02 PM
That is a tough one because Russia is peculiar. The LWTs would be more likely to be of the right-wing/nationalist bent; Muslims in Russia who radicalize go and join up with insurgent groups in Central Asia or the North Caucasus.

There have been, increasingly, instances of Muslims who radicalize over the internet through videos and podcasts; this includes Russian citizens who are not from the North Caucasus. But they go join insurgent groups.

The Russian approach to terrorism is different than ours, as is their field of psychology.

07-30-2012, 07:33 PM
I know we have touched upon this issue before, but the next post prompted this new thread's creation. One particular thread comes to mind 'Norway attacks: what happened and the implications':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=13830

There are three existing threads, but I expect wolf(s) / wolves / lone appear in just over a hundred threads:
1. Lone Wolf shooting's occuring in France:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=15299
2. Lone Wolf attack thwarted in NYC:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=14595
3. Russian Lone Wolf Terrorists:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=13152

07-30-2012, 08:07 PM
A book published December 2011 by an Australian academic, La Trobe University sociologist Dr Ramon Spaaij, reviewed in the Australia newspaper 'the Age':
the first in-depth analysis of such terrorism worldwide over the past four decades. In the book, Dr Spaaij examines the key trends, features and dimensions of lone-wolf terrorism, explores what drives these individuals to commit mass violence and discusses how this might be effectively countered.

If you look analytically at the data, the overall number of fatalities is very low and a lot of the attempts by lone-wolf terrorists fail because they are poorly executed. At the same time, lone-wolf attacks have been on the rise: up by 45 per cent globally and by 412 per cent in America between the 1970s and the 2000s.

But is there a type of person who might be prone to act as a lone wolf? Dr Spaaij says no. Each individual terrorist has unique characteristics and there is no single profile that would fit.

His book ends with an appendix of 14 pages listing nearly 200 cases of lone-wolf terrorism committed over the past 40 years.

This did surprise me:
America stands out not only because of the sheer number of individuals who have gone on murderous rampages but also because well over half the attacks by lone-wolf terrorists over the past 40 years also occurred in that country. To that extent, lone-wolf terrorism seems a very American phenomenon.


Note I expect single shooter incidents, like that in Colorado recently, are not included as the majority are not acts of terrorism. Although I would expect the Ft. Hood shootings are included.

Amazon link, which has no reviews:http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Lone-Wolf-Terrorism-SpringerBriefs/dp/9400729804/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343678671&sr=1-5&keywords=Ramon+Spaaij

08-01-2012, 03:23 PM
Here's a curve ball for interested parties to ponder - the potential for wholesale mayhem when that Venn diagram overlaps, where two (or more) Lone Wolves team up.

(Edward E. Newman sez "Terrorism? What terrorism?")

Yeah, I know : that contradicts the term 'Lone Wolves' (and maybe even the basic foundations of why these nutters do what they do) but in this case, the threat could be exponential.

In any case, it seems like an area of counter-terrorism folks should be keeping tabs on anything the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit cranks out.

Maybe this is why so many serial killers work in pairs. It's nice not to feel alone in a world full of victims or enemies. It's no wonder Waltraud Wagner, the Austrian Angel of Death, convinced her friends to kill with her. It just seems natural. You and me against the world... - Chuck Palahniuk

08-01-2012, 03:29 PM
A book published December 2011 by an Australian academic, La Trobe University sociologist Dr Ramon Spaaij, reviewed in the Australia newspaper 'the Age':

This did surprise me:

America stands out not only because of the sheer number of individuals who have gone on murderous rampages but also because well over half the attacks by lone-wolf terrorists over the past 40 years also occurred in that country.

I find that assertion interesting. I wonder what a comprehensive and unbiased tally would indicate.

Not the best source, but a starter list -


08-01-2012, 05:41 PM
Adam G,

Your cited list gives nineteen incidents, ten in the USA; with 156 dead in the USA and 184 elsewhere - 87 in Norway last year.

IIRC the author's book did not include the Oslo incident, so that may explain better his conclusion I cited.

08-01-2012, 11:00 PM
Here (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2179995/A-mass-shooting-happens-FIVE-days-America-Interactive-map-shows-gun-violence-epidemic-sweeping-nation.html#ixzz22Bj) is another source. More crime based anti-gun lobby stuff, but still makes for an interesting gander.

08-03-2012, 04:43 AM
Like I said, a thorough and unbiased database would be interesting to see.

A jilted teenager has been arrested after killing nine people and wounding four others in a knife attack in northeast China, state media reported on Thursday.

A Chinese man who became a symbol of the fraught relationship between doctors and their patients after he stabbed four hospital staff has been convicted of murder.

08-03-2012, 04:44 AM
I'll bet $20 we see more "Falling Down" (http://jalopnik.com/5931342/a-guy-just-drove-a-tractor-over-seven-cop-cars-in-vermont) scenarios like this as well.

08-07-2012, 01:12 PM
Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, could be a wolf.

(CNN) -- Police in Florida are trying to solve a mystery surrounding a man arrested with an enormous stash of fake military, law enforcement and medical paraphernalia including federal badges, police radios and even a full NASA flight suit and helmet.

In all, Roy Antigua had about 200 suspicious items when he was arrested this month, said James Steffens, chief of the New Port Richey Police Department.


08-11-2012, 02:47 PM
After recent events in the USA lone wolves appear to be under the microscope again, although with little new learnt to date.

The link is to the UK Daily Telegraph report, based on an an article in The Daily Beast:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/the-daily-beast/9468620/Analysis-trying-to-identify-far-right-killers-before-they-strike.html

It opens with:
How can we tell when someone who is not making clear threats is actually plotting to commit a serious crime or murder? The simple answer: we can’t.

It refers to:
A new report released Wednesday by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START, showed that murders carried out by right-wing extremist groups have been on the rise recently—nearly doubling since the mid-2000s. (The author being Joshua Freilich, a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College).

According to the START report, far-right extremist individuals or groups committed 21 ideologically motivated homicides between 2008 and 2010, nearly twice as many as they did between 2005 and 2007. START found that 348 people have died at the hands of far-right individuals or groups in the U.S. between 1990 and 2010—nearly half of those in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The report found basic trends, but no clear pattern that might provide a blueprint for preventing another Oak Creek or Oklahoma City.

Link to the START report:http://www.start.umd.edu/start/announcements/announcement.asp?id=391

08-12-2012, 02:12 PM
From Raffaello Pantucci, an ICSR analyst:
...with Breivik and Page we are facing two men who killed a group of people seemingly detached from any clear group, but driven by a violent set of ideas. The fact they had an ideology of some sort distinguishes them from Holmes. And it is this that defines them as Lone Wolf terrorists rather than simply a crazy kid with a gun. They were seeking a goal that has a framework that exists outside their minds. This is not to explain or justify or glorify their actions in some way, but rather to say that in categorical terms it is more useful to understand them as politically motivated actors rather than deranged people with guns who act for no reason. And if we can understand the ideology and refine our other markers to some degree, it might be possible to identify such individuals.


Raff refers to a 2009 DHS report on Right Wing Extremism, as did another SWC member who drew attention to this portion:
(U//FOUO) Lone Wolves and Small Terrorist Cells
(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing
extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. Information
from law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations indicates lone wolves and small terrorist
cells have shown intent—and, in some cases, the capability—to commit violent acts.
— (U//LES) DHS/I&A has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the most
significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy—separate from
any formalized group—which hampers warning efforts.
— (U//FOUO) Similarly, recent state and municipal law enforcement reporting has warned of the
dangers of rightwing extremists embracing the tactics of “leaderless resistance” and of lone
wolves carrying out acts of violence.
— (U//FOUO) Arrests in the past several years of radical militia members in Alabama, Arkansas,
and Pennsylvania on firearms, explosives, and other related violations indicates the emergence
of small, well-armed extremist groups in some rural areas.

From pg.7:http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/rightwing.pdf

08-13-2012, 01:25 PM
In the previous post I referred to a 2009 DHS report on Right Wing Extremism, today I found an interview of the lead analyst involved from the summer of 2011, which after recent events makes interesting reading for a non-American.

It ends with:
What worries me is the fact that our country is under attack from within, from our own radical citizenry. There have been a lot of small-scale attacks lately, whether it's three mail bombs sent to U.S. government facilities in Maryland and D.C., or a backpack bomb placed near a [Martin Luther King Jr. Day] parade in Spokane, Wash., or two police officers gunned down at a traffic stop in West Memphis, Ark., [by antigovernment extremists in May 2010].

These incidents are starting to add up. Yet our legislators, politicians and national leaders don't appear too concerned about this. So, my greatest fear is that domestic extremists in this country will somehow become emboldened to the point of carrying out a mass-casualty attack, because they perceive that no one is being vigilant about the threat from within. That is what keeps me up at night.


I am aware of the role of the SPLC and there is a thread from 2009 on the DHS report:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=7094

08-13-2012, 06:39 PM
Perspectives on Terrorism has a review of 'Understanding Lone Wolf Terrorism' by Dr Ramon Spaaij:
Spaaij makes five ground-breaking observations.
First, Spaaij found that lone wolves tend to create their own ideologies that combine personal frustrations with broader political, social or religious grievances. Though important, this finding also highlights the difficulties of assigning clear-cut motives for the terrorist attacks. Second, and contrary to research indicating that terrorists do not suffer from any identifiable
psychopathology, Spaaij shows that lone wolves are likely to suffer from some form of psychological disturbance. Third, lone wolves are inclined to suffer from social ineptitude: to varying degrees, they are loners with few friends and prefer to act alone. Fourth, even though lone wolves are by definition unaffiliated with a terrorist organisation, they may identify or sympathize with extremist groups and may have been members of such groups in the past. These organisations provide “ideologies of validation” for lone wolves and function as communities of belief by transferring personal frustrations onto the transgressive “other.”

Fifth, and most important in terms of prevention, lone wolf terrorism does not take place in a social vacuum. Instead, radicalisation can manifest itself in an activist stance involving the expression of one’s political beliefs and a hyperactive search for both physical and verbal confrontation with adversaries. In other words, lone wolves tend to broadcast their intent to
commit violence.


10-27-2014, 12:38 PM
As lone wolves / lone wolfs / wolf return as an issue, following the two muders in Canada, a new review of the Spaaji book:http://myemail.constantcontact.com/WHAT-DOES-THE-RECENT-SPATE-OF-LONE-WOLF-TERRORIST-ATTACKS-MEAN--by-Daveed-Gartenstein-Ross.html?soid=1114009586911&aid=NTVA0fJIrmM

11-11-2014, 11:39 AM
For once a RUSI Journal article is on-line and free:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03071847.2014.969941#.VGHyd2et0dU

Raffaello Pantucci, a RUSI analyst, has long considered and written on Lone Wolves. The latest RUSI Journal has an article 'A Death in Woolwich:The Lone-Actor Terrorist Threat in the UK' and the Abstract says:
Recent events in Syria and Iraq have shown in horrifying starkness the increased participation of British jihadists in terrorist fighting in the Middle East. In response, many have called for increased measures against home-grown radicals, to prevent them from travelling abroad to fight for the Islamist cause and, crucially, to stop them from carrying out attacks upon their return. Raffaello Pantucci analyses the difficulties of identifying potential terrorists among the many individuals who move within radical Islamist circles, and the even more challenging task of pinpointing those susceptible to self-radicalisation who could, without direct guidance, carry out dangerous acts of lone-actor terrorism.

12-29-2014, 11:55 PM
A re-assessment of lone wolves / lone wolfs by Rafaello Pantucci (now at RUSI), entitled 'Stand firm, the lone-wolf strike is a sign of reduced terror':
Given the work I have done on this topic, it might seem I am contradicting myself, but I think the point is that all of these threats have to be kept into perspective. Lone actor terrorism is going to be a growing priority (as the end of this year has brought into sharp focus), but when held up against the sort of plotting we have seen in the past (and might still face in the future), we are dealing with a very different threat and this ought to be reflected in threat perceptions.


SWJ Blog
02-16-2015, 11:01 AM
'Lone Wolves' Spotlighted in the Fight Against Violent Extremism (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/lone-wolves-spotlighted-in-the-fight-against-violent-extremism)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/lone-wolves-spotlighted-in-the-fight-against-violent-extremism) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

SWJ Blog
08-13-2015, 01:31 PM
Effectiveness of Threat Assessment Models for Lone Terrorists (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/effectiveness-of-threat-assessment-models-for-lone-terrorists)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/effectiveness-of-threat-assessment-models-for-lone-terrorists) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

SWJ Blog
08-15-2015, 01:10 PM
Report: Lone Wolf Terrorism (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/report-lone-wolf-terrorism)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/report-lone-wolf-terrorism) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

SWJ Blog
09-13-2015, 01:14 PM
Al Qaeda Chief Urges Lone Wolf Attacks, Militant Unity (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/al-qaeda-chief-urges-lone-wolf-attacks-militant-unity)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/al-qaeda-chief-urges-lone-wolf-attacks-militant-unity) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

02-16-2016, 07:00 PM
A new research project led by RUSI, with SME Raffaello Pantucci in the lead, it has a few published papers already and has a European focus:https://rusi.org/projects/lone-actor-terrorism

03-30-2017, 08:13 PM
Jason Burke, of The Observer, has a long read in The Guardian, a sister UK newspaper, which is excellent and could fit in several threads. The title is 'The myth of the ‘lone wolf’ terrorist' and sub-titled 'In recent years, references to such attacks have become inescapable. But this lazy term obscures the real nature of the threat against us.

Three sample passages:
Lazy talk of “lone wolves” obscures the real nature of the threat against us, and makes us all less safe.

What research does show is that we may be more likely to find lone wolves among far-right extremists than among their jihadi counterparts.

Any terrorist, however socially or physically isolated, is still part of a broader movement.Link:https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/mar/30/myth-lone-wolf-terrorist

04-12-2017, 07:49 PM
Last week I attended an EU-funded project end conference, known
as PRIME (Preventing, Interdicting and Mitigating Lone Actor Terrorism) in London, with a mixed audience of academics, practitioners and others.

There were sessions on:

Peripheral and Embedded: Patterns of lone actor radicalisation Dr Lasse Lindekilde, Aarhus University

Lone actor extremists’ attack planning and preparation: A data driven analysis Dr Bart Schuurman, Leiden University

Lone terrorists – A study of run-over attacks in Israel Dr Simon Perry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Going beyond indicators in the analysis of lone-actor events: Implications for CT Dr Paul Gill, University College London

Operational Dimensions of countering lone-actor extremism Dr Kacper Gradon, University of Warsaw

Communicating to prevent, interdict and mitigate lone actor terrorism Dr Julia Pearce and Dr David Parker, King’s College London

For each sub-project there were large posters on display and if anyone wants them, one or all, PM me with an email address and I can dispatch them. They are too large to load here.

PRIME has a website, but the end reports are not yet openly published (as required by EU funding):http://www.fp7-prime.eu/home_page

12-16-2017, 06:26 PM
A curious article 'Sweden's 'laser man' killer John Ausonius goes on trial in Germany' in The Guardian that suggests John Ausonius, 64yes, a convicted Swedish immigrant who became an extremist nationalist, who was responsible for eleven shootings 1991-1992 now serving a life sentence, inspired German nationalists to kill and Andreas Breivik too in July 2011. HE is due to appear in a Frankfurt, Germany court charged with a 1992 murder of a Holocaust survivor:
Ausonius was the first white nationalist in Europe to adopt a “lone wolf” tactic of militant action, operating under the radar in order to avoid being detected and stopped by authorities.The German shootings have appeared before in another thread:
The case in Frankfurt has been reopened partly because of speculation that the “laser man” shootings served as a blueprint for killings carried out between 2000 and 2007 by German neo-Nazi terrorist group National Socialist Underground (NSU).Link:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/13/swedens-laser-man-killer-john-ausonius-trial-germany-murder-woman-frankfurt

12-27-2017, 11:43 AM
A book chapter title in full: 'Terrorist ‘Radicalising Networks’: A Qualitative Case Study on Radical Right Lone-Wolf Terrorism' which is behind a pay wall and added here for the free, extensive bibliography.

02-04-2018, 05:54 PM
Tried to find a pre-existing niche for this article, realized we lack a thread on the overall topic.

MILAN — A lone Italian gunman wounded six African immigrants in a two-hour series of drive-by shootings Saturday in Macerata, a small Italian city where just days earlier a Nigerian man was arrested in the gruesome killing of a teenager, officials said.
The shooting suspect was identified as Luca Traini, a 28-year-old with no previous record.
Traini had run on a slate for the antimigrant Northern League party in a local election last year in the town of Corridonia, but the party lost. The news agency ANSA quoted friends as saying he had previously been affiliated with Italian extremist parties like the neo-fascist Forza Nuova and CasaPound.


02-04-2018, 05:59 PM
Deniz Naki, who currently plays for a Kurdish team, told German newspaper die Welt that he had been driving in the far-right lane on the highway on Sunday night when he "suddenly heard shots." He said that the shots came from a black car driving in the left lane.

Naki, who has been outspoken about military operations against Turkey's Kurdish ethnic group by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government , said he believed the attack was politically motivated.

Bonus "How Germany handles guns" video at link

11-29-2018, 07:26 PM
Raffaello Pantucci's latest commentary (which is posted here and on the similar US thread), which is sub-titled:
Recent attacks perpetrated by extreme right wing terrorists in the US are undoubtedly linked to the upcoming mid-term elections, reflecting the reality that the country’s charged political scene may be pushing would-be terrorists into action.

01-06-2019, 09:21 PM
A lengthy article in the Jerusalem Post which claims to:
A unique research project reveals what makes lone wolves tick – and what could discourage future recruits......a team he assembled interviewed 45 lone wolf terrorists serving time in Israeli jails. In a rare mix of government support for the project and interest by the lone wolves to tell their stories, all but one of 46 interviewees who ICT requested participated in the program.
There is a fair amount of selling a service from an Israel think tank.

03-19-2019, 11:11 PM
This should be interesting, whenever the Dutch deign to release the contents of said letter.

Dutch prosecutors investigating the murder of three people on a tram said a letter found in the gunman's getaway car was among the reasons why a terrorist motive was being seriously considered.

Three people were killed and three others seriously wounded in the attack in the central city of Utrecht.

Turkish-born suspect Gokmen Tanis was arrested on Monday evening.

No connection has been found between Mr Tanis and the victims of the attack.

Police said on Tuesday that armed officers had arrested another suspect, a 40-year-old man, in Utrecht. A statement said he was "suspected of involvement" and his role was under investigation.

I'd suggest that being a psychopath is actually a prerequisite to being a terrorist.

A 47-year-old woman called Angelique told Algemeen Dagblad that Tanis was a drug user with a criminal record who was facing trial for raping her in 2017. She said he had recently been freed from custody after violating the conditions of an earlier release.

"He's not a terrorist but a psychopath," she said.


04-14-2019, 02:21 PM
This post covers several topics so in a moment it will be copied to other threads on CT, lone wolves (inside the USA and beyond).

Bruce Hoffman has two articles on the rise of the extreme right as a threat.

The first is quite short and the second via WoTR is longer.

So No.1:https://www.cfr.org/article/how-serious-white-nationalist-terrorism and No.2:https://warontherocks.com/2019/04/back-to-the-future-the-return-of-violent-far-right-terrorism-in-the-age-of-lone-wolves/

Paul Gill, a UK-based academic writes on lone wolves after Christchurch:https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2018689150/lone-actor-terrorists-a-behavioural-analysis

Raffaello Pantucci (RUSI) adds his commentary, which mainly applies to the UK:https://raffaellopantucci.com/2019/03/17/the-extreme-right-was-once-a-loose-group-of-loners-not-any-more/

Then Steve Metz on why lone wolves and a somewhat pessimistic viewpoint IMHO:https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-age-of-the-lone-wolf-terrorist/

A NYT graphic on the links between white extremists:https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/03/world/white-extremist-terrorism-christchurch.html