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Pathways to Violent Extremism - Interview With John Horgan

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2016
1 page
In this video and accompanying transcript, John Horgan, professor at Georgia State University, discusses the types and ideologies of lone-actor terrorists and how the "bystander effect" creates challenges to early prevention and intervention in possible domestic radicalization situations.

Horgan mentions his background in forensic psychology and his 20-year study of terrorism. The current interview followed his symposium presentation on his research (funded by the National Institute of Justice) that compared "lone-wolf" terrorists with other kinds of mass murderers. The research has determined that there is no one profile of lone-actor terrorists; however, there are three groupings that emerged within the lone-actor category of terrorist. There are religious lone actors; extreme right-wing lone actors (anti-government types); and single-issue terrorists, such as environmentalists or animal protectionists. Overall, the research rejects as myth the popular view that there are no observable warning signs evident in persons at high risk for lone-actor terrorism. The analysis of approximately 119 lone-actor terrorists found that in 80 percent of cases, friends, family members, and coworkers were aware that the lone actor was at risk for or was planning a violent event. The major problem in preventing these lone-actor violent events is that those exposed to the warning signs are not reporting what they have heard or observed. The key issue raised by the research is how to encourage and guide the reporting of those who have knowledge or suspicions that a person they know is planning a violent event.

Date Published: July 1, 2016