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White Paper: Perspectives on Terrorism and Responses to It


White Paper: Perspectives on Terrorism and Responses to It

START researchers contribute to better understanding of terrorism

October 30, 2013Jessica Rivinius

START researchers contributed articles to a recent white paper covering various perspectives of terrorism and approaches to understanding the phenomenon. Topics ranged from strategic and adaptive considerations of terrorism to analytical considerations.

The new white paper expands on a previous paper that sought to better refine and address the "disease" (preconditions, perceptions and underlying drivers) and not just the "symptoms" (terrorist attacks) of terrorism.

START researchers’ contributions include:

  • "Two Possible Profiles of Lone-actor Terrorists," by Clark McCauley and Sophia Moskalenko. In it, they argue that lone-actor terrorists may share common characteristics that could help identify high-risk individuals. Specifically, they examine the profile types: disconnected-disordered, in which individuals are loners with a history of mental disorder; and caring-compelled individuals who feel personal responsibility to bring to justice those responsible for making innocent others suffer.
  • "Leveraging Advances in Qualitative Methodology to Analyze Radicalization," by Peter Henne, Jonathan Kennedy, John Sawyer and Gary Ackerman. In it, they discuss radicalization research’s shortcomings, several aspects of the study of radicalization that complicate attempts to understand the phenomenon and how qualitative methods can, at least partly, address those issues.

The white paper was written and published by the Strategic Multi-Layer Assessment office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The paper can be downloaded here.