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Investigating Key Risk Factors across Violent and Non-Violent Extremists in the United States

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $74,406)

The applicant proposes to aid counterterrorism efforts by enhancing assessment psychometric evaluations, identifying effective risk factors across varying groups, and assessing violence risk for the two greatest U.S. security threats; jihadists and far-rightists; for improved counterviolent extremism efforts. The dissertation will investigate and contribute to risk factors commonly highlighted by prior studies and risk assessment tools (Violent Extremism Risk Assessment Version 2 (VERA-2) and Extremism Risk Guidance 22+ (ERG22+)). It will compare the factors across and within two groups: violent jihadists and violent far-right extremists, versus nonviolent jihadists and nonviolent far-right financial crime extremist offenders in the U.S. The student will apply rational choice and social network theories to inform individual, situational, and group overlap between risk factors using offender-level attribute data from the open-source U.S. Extremist Crime Database (ECDB) for over 2,200 violent and nonviolent criminal extremists and associates during 1990-2018. They will 1) create a codebook to fully operationalize these risk factors, 2) pretest the codebook with 32 cases (excluding the random samples), 3) randomly sample 210 violent and 210 nonviolent far-right and jihadist offenders from the ECDB, 4) validate existing ECDB attributes for select offender variables, 5) enhance the ECDB by collecting new data using new variables to fully measure risk factors, 6) conduct multivariate analyses, and 7) craft six case studies. Quantitative analyses include exploratory factor analysis to determine associations between the dichotomous variables, and binary logistic regression to investigate risk factor similarities/differences across and within groups. Six qualitative case studies will explore contextual nuances of these risk factors (unique behavioral manifestations of risk) at the individual level. Dissemination plans include an NIJ report, journal articles, conference presentations, conversation op-ed, and summary reports to relevant agencies.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 18, 2020