Recently completed research (Smith et al., 2016) suggests that radicalization toward violence is best viewed as a process – a journey that begins with a less-radical identity and moves toward a more radical identity and corresponding orientation. Efforts to test this theoretical assertion revealed that the process of identity construction involves a variety of behaviors that David Snow has referred to as “identify work” (Snow and Machalek, 1983; Snow and McAdam, 2000; Snow, 2004; Cross and Snow, 2011). One type of identity work –demonstration events – appeared to be particularly relevant to our ability to predict radicalization toward violence and subsequent terrorism. The commission of acts in preparation for a terrorism incident serves to “demonstrate” the individual participant’s commitment to the cause as well as solidifying their radicalization to violence. The number and type of these demonstration events were significantly related to the terrorists’ rank or status in the cell or group, the severity of preparatory crimes they committed, and the number of terrorism incidents in which the individual was involved (Smith et al., 2016).
Smith, B. L., Gruenewald, J., Damphousse, K. R., Roberts, P., Ratcliff, K., Klein, B. R., & Brecht, I. (2016). Sequencing Terrorists' Precursor Behaviors: A Crime Specific Analysis. Research Projects. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/tercpr/11