An internationally renowned lone-wolf terrorist researcher says this week’s massacre in Las Vegas is typical of the deliberate and well-planned behaviour of the hundreds of lone-wolf subjects and mass murderers he and his colleagues have studied.
Dr Spaaij, a sociologist at Victoria University, has conducted academic research over the past ten years into the motivations and patterns of behaviour and indoctrination of more than 200 lone-wolf terrorists.
This research, and the biographies and data that map the pathways of lone-wolf terrorists, is contained in a new book published earlier this year by Columbia University Press, The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism.
The book conducts quantitative and qualitative analysis into lone-wolf terrorism in the USA – where most of these instances occur – between 1940 and 2016.
Along with co-author Dr Mark Hamm of Indiana State University, Dr Spaaij is among the few researchers in the world to correspond directly with lone-wolf terrorists who are now in prison.
Their research distinguishes between radicalised terrorists who are motivated by a group ideology, and the alienated individuals who become armed warriors due to a combination of personal and political grievances.
The research shows that:
- Lone-wolf terrorism is increasing
- Lone-wolf attacks are harder to stop, but tend to be less deadly, than those planned and executed by groups
- Lone-wolf attackers are inspired by diverse ideologies
- Lone wolves are more likely than other terrorists to experience mentally illness.
The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism builds on Dr Spaaij’s 2012 book, Understanding Lone Wolf Terrorism: Global Patterns, Motivation and Prevention.
Dr Ramon Spaaij is available for comment on 0415 629 349.