Lone wolf terrorism

Authored by: Bruce Bongar , Anna Feinman , Renata Sargon

The Routledge International Handbook of Military Psychology and Mental Health

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367237066
eBook ISBN: 9780429281266
Adobe ISBN:


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Lone-wolf terrorism is a subcategory of suicide terrorism which can be defined as an individual self-radicalized actor committing violence due to political, religious, or anti-institutional motivations. Researchers in this area have found that lone-wolf terrorists often share psychological factors such as mental illness, social withdrawal, suicidality, and impulsivity. A history of trauma, personality disorder traits, and substance abuse have also been posited as other common links. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) holds the highest number of incarcerated terrorists including the largest number of non-local inmates in the world. Targeting lone-wolf terrorists in a traditional military manner has produced limited results. Researchers contend that the creation and implementation of a comprehensive military counterterrorism deradicalization strategy that is humane, dignified, and specific to this population is essential due to the increasing number of small-scale attacks, the substantial number of soft targets across the world, and the potential for large-scale destruction. This chapter discusses interrogation and deradicalization tactics, such as the use of a central spokesman, inmate organizational structures, controlled family visits, and providing education. The study of lone-wolf terrorism is deeply rooted in the multidisciplinary approach, yet there are differing views and limited research on the subject.

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