At the most elementary level, science begins with counting things: atoms, earthquakes, distance from the earth to the sun, or even worldwide terrorist attacks. It seems clear that we cannot do a very good job of combating terrorism if we cannot first count how much of it there is. Imagine trying to construct policies to reduce crime without knowing how much crime there is or to reduce cancer without knowing how much cancer there is. Although effective policy against terrorism depends especially on hard data and objective analysis, the study of terrorism has lagged behind many other fields in the social and behavioral sciences, leading psychologist Andrew Silke (2001:11) to observe that terrorism research “exists on a diet of fast food research: quick, cheap, ready-to-hand and nutritionally dubious.” But despite Silke’s gloomy appraisal, criminologists have been making important contributions to the research literature on terrorism for years and progress has been especially rapid in the years since the coordinated attacks of September 11, 2001.
LaFree, Gary. 2013. "Lone-Offender Terrorists." Criminology & Public Policy (July): 59-62. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1745-9133.12018/abstract.