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Lone Wolf Terrorists: What Motivates Them?


According to the Global Terrorism Index, lone wolf attackers are the main perpetrators of terrorist activity in the West. Since 2006, 98% of all deaths from terrorism in the US have resulted from attacks carried out by lone actors, resulting in 156 deaths, according to the index.

 Notable lone wolf terrorist attacks in the West have included:

  • On May 2014 in Belgium, four people were killed by a shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels by a former ISIL member.
  • In 2012, again in Brussels, the Imam of a Shiite mosque was killed by a firebomb.
  • On 7 January 2016 in Paris, a man wearing a fake explosive belt attacked police officers
  • In June 2016, a man kills a police commander and his partner outside their Paris home
  • On July 14, Bastille Day, a lone actor drove a cargo truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 85 people.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

McCauley, Clark and Sophia Moskalenko. 2017. "Lone Wolf Terrorists: What Motivates Them?" Defence Procurement International (March). https://www.defenceprocurementinternational.com/features/land/lone-wolf-terrorist-attacks-on-the-west

Additional Info