Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Countering Lone Actor Terrorism: Data Collection & Analysis

This project aims to improve understanding of, and responses to, the phenomenon of lone actors through analysis of comprehensive data on cases from across Europe.

Duration
2014  -   2016
Contact
Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn
Funding
European Union European Union
Partners

Project Partners:

        
Royal United Services Institute
                  
Chatham House

Institute for Strategic Dialogue

The Polish Institute of International Affairs

International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague

Nationaal Coördinator Terrorismebestrijding en Veiligheid

Association of Chief Police Officers

As intelligence agencies and law enforcement have become increasingly adept at detecting and disrupting large-scale terrorist plots, potential attackers have instead turned to smaller scale, less sophisticated assaults. In part, this trend reflects a decision by wider extremist groups to adopt lone actor terrorism as a tactic, with both Daesh and Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula trying to inspire their supporters to carry out such attacks. In other cases, individuals, dyads or triads judge that a lone actor attack will have greater chance of success, or perhaps lack connections to a wider network. Whatever the case, there is a growing trend of individuals or small cells acting in isolation from a wider group to conduct terrorist activity. 

Lone actor terrorists are perceived as presenting acute challenges for law enforcement practitioners in detection and disruption; acting without direct command and control from a wider network, it is assumed that without such communications they may evade the traditional ‘trip-wires’ that would bring them to the attention of the authorities. Through the construction and analysis of a database of 120 perpetrators from across Europe, the project seeks to improve understanding of lone actor terrorists, their behaviour, and their activities in the period leading up to their intended attack, therefore assisting European governments and frontline workers to counter the threat.

Literature Review

Raffaello Pantucci, Clare Ellis and Lorien Chaplais

Definitional Workshop

Edwin Bakker and Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn

Database Workshop

Sebastien Feve and Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Analysis Paper

Clare Ellis, Raffaello Pantucci, Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn, Edwin Bakker, Benoît Gomis, Simon Palombi and Melanie Smith

Lone-Actor Terrorism: Policy Paper 1: Personal Characteristics of Lone-Actor Terrorists

Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn and Edwin Bakker

Lone-Actor Terrorism: Policy Paper 2: Attack Methodology and Logistics

Simon Palombi and Benoît Gomis

Lone-Actor Terrorism Policy Paper 3: Motivations, Political Engagement and Online Activity

Melanie Smith, Sabine Barton and Jonathan Birdwell

Lone-Actor Terrorism Policy Paper 4: ‘Leakage’ and Interaction with Authorities

Clare Ellis and Raffaello Pantucci

Lone-Actor Terrorism: Toolkit Paper 1: Practical Guidance for Mental Health Practitioners and Social Workers

Edwin Bakker and Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn

Lone-Actor Terrorism: Toolkit Paper 2: Practical Guidance for Security Practitioners

Clare Ellis and Raffaello Pantucci

Lone-Actor Terrorism: Final Report

Clare Ellis, Raffaello Pantucci, Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn, Edwin Bakker, Benoît Gomis, Simon Palombi and Melanie Smith

 

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