Lone Wolf Terrorism and Mental Health Capstone

Lone Wolf Terrorism and Mental Health CapstoneLone Wolf Terrorism and Mental Health A master’s thesis Submitted to the Faculty of American Public University System by Mark Velasquez In partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Homeland Security Aug 2020 Capstone Professor Dr. Cheryl Seminara The author hereby grants the American Public University System the right to display these contents for educational purposes. The author assumes total responsibility for meeting the requirements set by the United States copyright law for the inclusion of any materials that are not the author’s creation or in the public domain. © Copyright 2020 by Mark Velasquez All rights reserved. DEDICATION The study is dedicated to my family for being my source of inspiration and for giving me the strength to keep me going even when I was close to giving up, who consistently provided their spiritual, emotional, moral, and financial support. To my friends who advised me and shared their words of encouragement that kept me going. I will always remember what you did. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I give thanks to the American Military University for the opportunity they gave me to see my dreams through by allowing me to undertake this degree, which has taken me a step closer to achieving my dreams. I would also want to thank my professor for being patient with me and for guiding me until I finished this project. I would also like to acknowledge the support accorded to me by my family through all my long nights spent with my laptop. ABSTRACT Lone Wolf Terrorism and Mental Health by Mark Velasquez Master of Arts in Criminal Justice American Public University System Dr. Cheryl Ann Seminara Lone wolf attacks have been on the rise despite measures put in place by the U.S. government to curb terrorism. Lone wolf terrorism has been linked with Abu Mohammed’s ideologies. Unlike any other kind of attack, this kind of terrorism is hard to predict. In lone wolf terrorism, there is no organizational recruitment or an organization behind the attack, and the person conducts the act on their own volition. The study below seeks to understand what the driving force of the attackers is and why the measures put in place to combat terrorism have been futile. My research findings show that there is a significant correlation between lone-wolf terrorism and mental health illnesses based on the inhumane behaviors expressed by lone-wolf attackers. Further, the research indicates that despite the policies that have been put in place by the United States to combat terrorism, Lone- wolf terrorism has been on the rise. Keywords: lone wolf, terrorism, recruitment, attack, mental health, and illness. CHAPTER I II PAGE INTRODUCTION 1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM 2 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY 3 PURPOSE OF STUDY 4 RESEARCH QUESTION 8 LITERATURE REVIEW 9 LONE WOLF TERRORIST CHARACTERISTICS 11 THE THREAT / PREVALENCE 15 THE IMPACT OF LONE WOLF TERRORISM IN THE US/ THE NEED FOR III IV RESILIENCE 17 RESEARCH DESIGN 21 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK 21 FINDINGS 25 INTRODUCTION 25 Figure 1 26 CASE SUBJECTS 29 CASE COMPARISON 42 Figure 2. NUMBER OF LONE WOLF TERRORIST ATTACK IN THE WEST BY VI MOTIVATION 45 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 50 LONE WOLF TERRORISM 1 CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION Lone wolf terrorism is an important subject of research among scholars. It is a fastgrowing form of terrorism threat in western societies, and recently researchers have sought to explore its causes, characteristics, impact, and resilience. Krstic (2018) explains that lonewolf terrorists do not require any monetary assistance and non-theoretical coaching from any nefarious group (pg. 114). This is among the advantages and many other reasons why there is a rise in this phenomenon (Krstić, 2018, pg. 119). Dickson (2015) also highlights’ lone wolf’ as arguably the fastest growing form of terrorism (pg. 2). The undetectable and unpredictable nature of lone-wolf terrorism has made it grow faster than other forms increasing its threat to western civilization (Dickson, 2015, pg. 1). As a result, the intelligence units and law administration nation agencies responsible for fighting terrorism are having a hard time addressing the increasing incidents of lone-wolf terrorism (Dickson, 2015, pg. 2). With the rise in mass shootings, such as the Las Vegas massacre in 2017, the attention on this “single actor” terrorism form has increased in recent scientific studies in different fields, including legal literature and social science (Beydoun, 2017, pg. 1213). Currently, terrorism is a major security threat throughout the world. There are increased efforts to understand the rise of particular terrorism ideologies, public support for those activities, effects, policy efforts, and resilience (Beydoun, 2017, pg. 1214). Researchers recognize that unlike other forms of terrorism, lone-wolf terrorism has many research questions that need to be answered with high-quality data (Dickson, 2015, pg. 2). Bangura (2015) explains that it is easy to single out young Muslim men as susceptible to recruitment to militant recruitment campaigns (pg. 8). However, following attackers the non-affiliation to a particular terror group and the rise in incidents of attacks and injuries, it is an important subject of study in terrorism (Beydoun, 2017, pg. 1213). The single actor terror attack has impacted government LONE WOLF TERRORISM 2 security policies successfully established since the 9/11 attack (Danzell, and Maisonet, 2016, pg. 136). This literature review on lone-wolf terrorism includes scholarly sources that explain its history, global prevalence, and impact on policy and the state’s need for resilience. Statement of the Problem Members of the society are expected to co-exist peacefully and run mutually beneficial initiatives. The presence of deviants in society not only devastates social development, but it serves a significant drain to societies and their constituents. The presences of deviants, such as lone-wolf terrorists, are suggestive of the abnormal functioning of society, therefore the need for urgent redress. Indeed, lone wolf crimes represent a significant issue in contemporary society. This issue is of great concern to stakeholders in society because it deprives society members of harmony that is core to social-economic and political advancements. Lone wolf terrorists have caused huge issues not only for the members of society but also for policymakers and intelligence agents. The prevalence of lone-wolf terrorists petrifies societies across the world, mainly because the nature of these crimes is difficult to comprehend. They are often isolated and withdrawn from other members of society, deeming it extremely challenging to gather information about their malicious intent. From the existing literature, it is convincing that lone wolf terrorism has been a growing threat in the last few decades. As Wilson (2013) postulates, the U.S and other western societies have been experiencing alarming rates of lone wolf crimes, with most of them having adverse impacts on the quality of living for societies. Besides western countries, states such as Canada, Portugal, Poland, and the Netherlands have reported high rates of lonewolf terrorism (Weimann, 2012). The rate of lone wolf crimes accounts for 3% of the total terrorist attacks that have happened in the last ten years. The seriousness of lone-wolf attackers across the world is attributable to a range of extremist tenets and ideological groups. LONE WOLF TERRORISM 3 In the global context, men account for the most significant threat of lone-wolf terrorism. There is a need for studying and understanding lone wolf terrorism phenomena because it would shed light on measures and strategies to curb the problem. An enhanced understanding of the issue would better coexistence in society by eliminating and reducing potential dangers that lone wolf terrorism presents to general members of society. Therefore, a probe into this area would be instrumental in reducing deviant characters in society, thereby enhancing lives. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this qualitative study is to evaluate the association between lone-wolf terrorism and mental health problems and determine the measures that can help address the rising incidences of terrorist activities. The study seeks to expound on the connection between lone-wolf terrorism and mental illness using case studies. This study will entail an examination of the history and current rise of lone-wolf terrorism, followed by an evaluation of the characteristics depicted by lone-wolf actors. Finally, the study will present the threats of lone-wolf terrorism and the impacts of these attacks within the United States. From another dimension, the goals of this study would be to identify and describe concepts underlying the lone wolf crime phenomenon, define lone wolf attacks, investigate the history and current prevalence of the issue, assess the characteristics of lone-wolf crimes, specify associated threats, highlight its impacts in the U.S., and determine the need for resilience. Researchers are interested in establishing the nature of lone-wolf terrorism to identify more relevant measures to contain the problem. A better understanding of this question would help examine why individuals engage in terror activities. For example, it would contribute to the understanding of radical philosophies that see people engage in violent crimes. The unique profile of lone-wolf actors makes it challenging to investigate this phenomenon. In regards to this, this study will articulate on the profile of lone-wolf actors to better understand their personality and define avenues that help eliminate deviant behaviors. LONE WOLF TERRORISM 4 The study is also inspired by the need to recommend policies and initiatives to alleviate lonewolf criminal activities. The study is also motivated toward assessing the occurrence of lonewolf crimes and levels of the threat they pose to society as large. It is believed that its occurrence varies from region to another, highlighting the need for understanding patterns pertinent to this phenomenon. When the purpose of the study is fulfilled, governments among other stakeholders will have improved capacity to respond to instances and threats brought about by lone wolf crimes. Research Question Why is there a rise in lone-wolf terrorism? Research Design The research strategy for the study is both doctrinal and empirical. The doctrinal study included analysis of research articles, books, and multiple case studies. An empirical study primarily covered questionnaires and interviews. In general, positivism, post-positivism, and interpretivism are the three core research philosophies that offer different views necessary for understanding internal and external social realities. Like research produced by scientists, research-based on positivism viewpoints uses experiments and research strategies and focuses on the generalization of the research findings. In contrast, interpretivism assumes the existence of several realities that need to be discovered by the researcher by actively interacting with the subject under investigation. (Cresswell, 2003). From the social behavior perspective, the positivist belief that empirical investigation is focusing the systematic and rational investigation. This approach is also called “naive realism.” To provide different options and understanding to that of naïve realism, the interpretive paradigm came to life with the focus on understanding and significance of the social world; it seeks to understand situations, processes, influences, and descriptive analysis (Guba & Lincoln, 2005). Interpretivism, therefore, has the epistemological stance that LONE WOLF TERRORISM 5 recognizes the social aspect of research, does not see the world as orderly or quantifiable, and recognizes other influences. Based on the above, the research leans to apply the later, given the fact that it focuses on understanding multiple realities. (Krauss, 2005). One of the objectives of this research is to understand the processes, influences, dynamics, actors, and the interplay of lone-wolf terrorism. Based on this objective, the research strategy employed in this study will be interpretivism. Using interpretivism as a theoretical point of departure, the researcher conducted a thorough, holistic, and in-depth investigation of data collection and analysis. In a bid to investigate the facets of lone-wolf attackers, define the distinct profiles, and possibly make reasonable conclusions and recommendations, the study needs to employ a solid, reliable research approach. Without a reliable research approach, the study would likely not head in the required trajectory, or it would yield substandard findings. This study adheres to a qualitative approach methodology. It utilizes existing literature and case studies to generate data about lone terror attackers, thereby shedding light on proposals and protocols that could be used to enhance the situation of interest. LONE WOLF TERRORISM 6 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW The history and development of lone-wolf terrorism are among the key subjects of research among scholars in recent scientific studies. Lone wolf terrorism refers to the act of deliberately promoting fear and threat of violence by one person seeking for political change by advancing individualized ideology or that of another organization independently without accomplices (Beydoun, 2017, pg. 1213). Dickson (2015) provides significant events that lead to the radicalization of individuals without suspicion by the authorities (pg. 3). The history of lone-wolf terrorism trace back to the leaderless resistance of the nineteenth century (Dickson, 2015, pg. 4). Nesser (2012) explains that anarchists in the 19th century staged political assassination as single individuals (pg. 64). In the 1980s, extremist groups like Ku Klux Klan rose against the US government. During the crackdown, the group founded the ideology of individuals as a critical tool to rise against the government (Dickson, 2015, pg. 5). The leaderless guerrilla warfare and individual terrorism rose in the 1990s, even among members of AL Qaeda. Bakker and DeGraaf (2014) explain the word ”lone-wolf terrorism” became popular by Tom Metzger and Alex Curtis in the 1990s. They incited radicals to plot attacks as individuals to evade being arrested (Bakker and DeGraaf, 2014, pg. 46). Therefore, the term lone wolf rebel is by no means an unusual strategy but an ancient approach that has resurfaced source (Baker & DeGraaf, 2014 pg. 47; Nesser, 2012 pg. 62; Dickson, 2015 pg. 3). Lone-wolf terrorism interest rose in both the terrorism and counter-terrorism organizations after Andres Breivik executed seventy-seven individuals in the states of Utova and Oslo, Norway, in 2011 (Baker & DeGraaf, 2014, pg. 50). Nesser (2012) also explains that leaderless resistance is an important strategy that militant groups use when they are under pressure from the counterterrorism efforts (pg. 67). LONE WOLF TERRORISM 7 Dickson (2015) associates the current rise in lone-wolf terrorism to the ideology of Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, the Islamic State (IS) terror group. He incited the Muslims and IS followers and sympathizers to eliminate the unbelieving enemies (Dickson, 2015, pg. 3). Particularly they foster significant change from the development of radical opinions to radical actions without detection (Dickson, 2015, pg. 3). Dickson (2015) cites McCauley and Moskalenko (2014) that it is problematic for individuals to change from advancing radical opinions to radical actions (pg. 7). Publicly known extremists, including by law enforcement and intelligence despite constant monitoring and investigation, can attack without detection. In most instances, some of the individuals who advance radical actions start to advance the heuristic ideas as activists demanding policy change (Dickson, 2015, pg. 4). Nesser (2012) also explains the difficulties security agencies and intelligence experiences seeking to prevent the attacks propagated by the single actors (pg. 6). The individuals are anonymous, and they plan the attacks in an isolated space utilizing their discretion to select targets and the forms of attacks. When the security agencies increase the security measures, they either change the form of attack or the target depending on their risk aversion. Islamic militant groups publicize their attacks, but the lone wolf attackers are likely to remain anonymous without publication of their affiliations (Nesser, 2012, pg. 67). Nesser (2012) distinguishes the current state of single actor terrorism (lone-wolf terrorism) from the historical leaderless resistance. In leaderless resistance, the lone attackers maintained horizontal networks but avoided interaction with a central command. In lone-wolf terrorism, the individuals act independently without accomplices (Nesser, 2012, pg. 68). The lone wolf terrorists are isolated from organized networks, although other times, they are considered to have contact with organized extremists for radicalization. However, the nature of their contact is poorly specified. Hence, lone-wolf terrorists are clearly defined as individuals engaging in terror activities on their own without requiring any monetary LONE WOLF TERRORISM 8 assistance and non-theoretical coaching from any nefarious groups (Nesser, 2012, pg. 72; Krstić, 2018 pg. 120). Beydoun (2017) explain that mass shootings are among the most form of terror attacks by single individuals in America. Differences occur in the presumption of terrorism, depending on the ethnicity of the killer. When the perpetrator is Muslim, it is easy to presume terrorism, but it is dismissed for non-Muslim white. Lone Wolf Terrorists Characteristics Researchers are also concerned about the radicalization process that yields lone wolf terrorism. It is the primary force for people to be involved in terror, and in most instances, deradicalization is an effective strategy to combat terrorism (Decker & Pyrooz, 2011, pg. 153). Individuals and groups engage in terror action following radicalized beliefs. McCauley and Moskalenko (2014) explain the characteristics of people who foster terror attacks as a lone actor creating a profile using a two-pyramid model. The two-pyramid model indicates a difference in advancing radical opinion and propagating radical action. Unlike group-based terrorists where the individual characteristics (profile) are not critical to terror actions, lonewolf terrorists have a unique profile (McCauley and Moskalenko, 2014, pg. 69). Leaders of Islamic militant groups advance specific ideologies and push members to actions (Bangura, 2015). This distinction is important since, with internet tools like video posts, chat rooms, and social networks, there is an extensive spread of radicalized beliefs (Decker & Pyrooz, 2011, pg. 153). Upholding the radical ideas and advancing them is different from the advancement of violence. While the radicalized beliefs among members of a terror group can be mobilized to terror activity, how the lone wolf terrorists eventually foster terror attacks is a major concern (McCauley & Moskalenko, 2014, pg. 69). McCauley and Moskalenko (2014) reviewed three lone-wolf terrorist cases and compared the results of assassins and school attackers. The results highlighted differences in radical opinion and radical action. This result is consistent LONE WOLF TERRORISM 9 with previous findings on the radicalization process and terrorism. Decker and Pyrooz (2011) provide evidence for the radicalization of members in a terror group. However, they also found that the extent to which the radicalized beliefs result in an action is problematic (pg. 153). McCauley and Moskalenko (2014) describe “lone wolf” as either ‘‘disconnecteddisordered’’ or ‘‘caring-compelled’’ individuals. ‘‘Disc …