This Research Note outlines some of the key findings of the CLAT project pertaining to 1) attack methodology and logistics; 2) political engagement and online activity and 3) leakage and interactions with authorities.
Authors wishing to submit a piece of work should review the author guidelines and then email submissions to Analysing the Processes of Lone-Actor Terrorism: Research Findings by Clare Ellis, Raffaello Pantucci, Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn, Edwin Bakker, Melanie Smith, Benoît Gomis and Simon Palombi Abstract This Research Note presents the outcome of an investigation into the processes of lone-actor terrorism which was part of the Countering Lone-Actor Terrorism (CLAT) Project. The research is based on a database of both plots and attacks across the twenty-eight EU member states, plus Norway and Switzerland, in the period 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2014.
Process Variables: Attack Methodology and Logistics Ninety-eight lone-actor terrorist plots were identified for the period 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2014.
They involved seventy-nine led by individuals, twelve by dyads and seven by triads.
Analysis of the Database Due to the limitations of the data, it did not support detailed and sophisticated quantitative analysis.On average, lone-actor terrorist plots resulted in 1.99 fatalities and 4.58 injuries, with large standard deviations of 8.30 and 24.60, respectively.However, these figures are partly skewed by the attacks perpetrated by Anders Breivik on 22 July 2011. 77 people were killed and 242 injured on that day alone, illustrating the harm a single individual can cause.Casualty rates were also examined within ideological sub-groups: including the attack by Breivik, it was found that right-wing attacks caused 260 injuries and ninety-four fatalities, while religiously inspired attacks killed 16 people and injured 65 more.These results mirror findings across the West more broadly, where 80 per cent of deaths from lone-actor terrorism have been attributed to right-wing extremists, nationalists, anti-government elements or other forms of political extremism, rather than religiously inspired terrorism. Civilians are the most common target of plots in the data-set (35 per cent) –many of them are from specific ethnic and religious minorities, are asylum seekers and immigrants. More than one third of lone-actors who targeted civilians were religiously inspired (37 per cent), followed by right-wing perpetrators (25 per cent) and school shooters (20 per cent).However, longitudinal analysis suggests an overall increase in lone-actor terrorism in the period under consideration.It is important to keep in mind that information on recent plots is more detailed and more readily available thanks to the rise in digital archives of news reports; however, even acknowledging this potential bias in the data collection, the overall trend nevertheless appears clear.Most plots and attacks took place in Great Britain (38) and France (11).In ten of the thirty countries studied, no lone-actor terrorist plot could be identified across the entire period of fifteen years.The research team took steps to compensate; however, some cases will undoubtedly have been missed.There are also some important limitations to the data collected.