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Lone Actor Terrorists: A Residence-to-Crime Approach

Marchment, Z; Bouhana, N; Gill, P; (2020) Lone Actor Terrorists: A Residence-to-Crime Approach. Terrorism and Political Violence , 32 (7) pp. 1413-1438. 10.1080/09546553.2018.1481050. Green open access

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Although there has recently been a considerable increase in research into lone actor terrorism, one of the main areas that remains understudied is that of target selection. The lack of empirically driven studies that can guide prevention measures is a notable oversight. This paper applies methods from environmental criminology to examine the residence-to-attack journeys of 122 lone terrorist acts in the U.S and Europe. The distance decay effect was evident, and significant differences were found between subgroups. Individuals were more likely to travel further if a) they were in the U.S, b) they had links to a wider network, c) they had a single-issue ideology, d) they attacked an iconic target, e) they attacked a symbolic building, or f) they used a bomb as their main weapon. A few case studies are discussed which highlight a need to conduct further research that considers the whole nodal network of an individual. The findings suggest that distance can be put forward as a constraining factor on lone actor target selection and provide support for the notion that the spatial decision making of terrorists is similar to traditional criminals.

Type: Article
Title: Lone Actor Terrorists: A Residence-to-Crime Approach
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2018.1481050
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2018.1481050
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: lone actor terrorism, target selection, distance decay, environmental criminology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10052950
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