Lone actor terrorism has become a significant challenge for Western democracies. Previous studies have failed to point out a comprehensive profile of lone terrorists, and suggested that examining more specific sub-groups of lone actors, sharing contextual factors or ideology, may produce such a profile. The current study examines the sub-group of vehicle-borne lone terrorists, who committed their attacks in Israel and the West Bank between January 2000 and March 2016. Based on confidential and open-source data, we find that general sociodemographic characteristics did not produce a unique profile of attackers. However, a deeper examination of behavioral factors preceding the attack yields common traits. Specifically, we find that previous experience—both in different forms of unlawful behavior and in training related to the attack method—was significantly related to a successful attack. Similarities in regards to the triggers for the attack and personal motivations also emerge, suggesting that while operating independently, lone actors are very much influenced by ongoing events. We conclude that focusing on a sub-group of lone attackers following a spatio-methodologicaloriented approach contributes to the construction of a profile for lone terrorists, and discuss these findings in the context of mitigation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 608354.
© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.