Hunting Lone Wolves

Bruce Schneier linked to this Naval Postgraduate School Thesis by Nathan R. Springer [pdf]:


This thesis will scrutinize the histories of our nation’s three most prolific domestic lone wolf terrorists: Tim McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, and Eric Rudolph. It will establish a chronological pattern to their radicalization and reveal that their communal ideological beliefs, psychology, attributes, traits, and training take place along a common chronological timeline. Their pattern of radicalization can be used as an indicator of lone wolf terrorist radicalization development in future cases. This thesis establishes a strikingly similar chronological pattern of radicalization that was present in each terrorist’s biography. This pattern can identify future lone wolf terrorist radicalization activity upstream. It can provide a valuable portent to apply in the analysis of potential lone terrorists, potentially enabling law enforcement to prevent tragedies emerging from the identified population through psychological assistance, evaluation, training, or, in the worst case, detention.

The political, economic, cultural, and social environment in the United States lends itself to a recurrence of the 1990s and domestic terrorism.     The paper discusses the common themes in McVeigh, Kaczynski, and Rudolph.  The paper ends with the hope that knowing the chronology of radicalization could possibly lead to detection, but their preference for isolationism, non-existent social skills, and survivalist mentality means that there would essentially no people who would notice or care that they had disengaged from society.

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