This project was an outgrowth of two previous NIJ projects being conducted under NIJ’s Research and Evaluation on Domestic Radicalization to Violent Extremism program area. The first of these projects, which ended in 2015, focused upon testing one of the most prominent theoretical models of extremist radicalization -- identity and framing theory. One of the findings from examination of this theoretical model is consistent with the notion that “people want to be associated with a winner.” Recruitment and commitment, crucial to the lifespan of any terrorist movement, improve when the movement has been able to commit successful terrorist incidents (Freilich, Chermak, and Caspi, 2009), particularly if the offenders escaped unscathed. In the second project, which focused upon the temporal sequencing of terrorists’ precursor behaviors,2 a somewhat serendipitous finding emerged to crystalize the current issue. A preliminary analysis of the differences between “lone actors” and members of “cells or groups” revealed that lone actors “survived” substantially longer than members of cells or groups before being arrested or indicted. Although we later found this relationship to be spurious, it was worthy of further examination.
Smith, B. L., Gruenewald, J., Ratcliff, K., Roberts, P., & Brice, M. (2018). The Longevity of American Terrorists: Factors Affecting Sustainability. Research Projects. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/tercpr/5