This report presents preliminary findings from the project entitled, “Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States” (PIRUS), which is being conducted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).
The project, which is currently in its third and final year, is focusing on policy-relevant trends among individuals radicalized in the United States since World War II. The project is combining a quantitative dataset of radicalized individuals with in-depth case studies on their radicalization processes. The database will be composed of Islamist, Far Left, and Far Right individuals who have radicalized to violent and nonviolent extremism in the United States. From the summer of 2013 to the spring of 2014, data has been collected for just over 1,500 individuals, and about 100 qualitative case studies have been developed. The current research brief draws on the completed data set, using indexes that measure various risk factors for radicalization, as well as individual variables that measure specific conditions or events of interest to those studying radicalization. This report indicates that many extremists were arrested, killed, or died in action from the late 1960s to early 1970s as a result of the surge in Far Left extremism in that period. Another peak in radicalization occurred in the 1990s with significant Far Right extremist activity, spiking again in the mid-2000s. Soon after the 9/11 attacks, a new wave of radicalization occurred, which primarily involved Islamist extremists. Summaries are provided of conditions and events common among the various ideologies held by extremists.