View Full Version : How do you spot the terrorist?

08-15-2015, 07:30 PM
Dr Paul Gill, University College of London, a criminologist / terrorism researcher and his work is having some effect. Largely funded by the US DoD. With my emphasis.

A Canadian article helps to explain briefly:
Until recently, there was basically one answer: You focused on those who had the backgrounds and life experiences that you think might to lead to violent terrorism and looked for those who subscribed to the sort of extreme beliefs or radical ideas that other terrorists had expressed. Could it be that terrorists are not people with extreme ideas trying to build up the courage to turn them into murder, but rather violence-prone people hunting for some excuse to turn their proclivities into deeds?

In a highly influential 2014 paper titled “Bombing Alone: Tracing the Motivations and Antecedent Behaviours of Lone-Actor Terrorists,” Dr. Gill and his colleagues analyzed known terrorists not by what they thought or where they came from, but by what they did.

In the weeks before an attack, terrorists tend to change address (one in five) or adopt a new religion (40 per cent of Islamic terrorists and many right-wing terrorists did so). And they start talking about violence: 82 per cent told others about their grievance; almost seven in 10 told friends or family that they “intended to hurt others.”A huge proportion had recently become unemployed, experienced a heightened level of stress or had family breakdowns. And most had done things that looked like planning – including contacting known violent groups.

In other words: People who commit violent terror attacks, it turns out, are not identifiable by the ideas they hold, but rather by the things that they do. The violence comes first, the thinking second.


The cited paper is here in full and free:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1556-4029.12312/full

Or you can listen to an ICSR podcast (23 mins):https://soundcloud.com/warstudies/dr-paul-gill-lone-actor-terrorism

The author's UCL slim bio:https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=PGILL80