Suicide attacks have long been considered the hallmark of jihadist terrorism, but the truth is that the increase in the number of jihadist terrorist attacks in the West after about 2011 can be accounted for by increases in different types of terrorist attacks. The number of suicide attacks remains fairly constant throughout the time period that has been examined in this report (2004-2017), but there are strong increases in what one could call self-preserving attacks (attacks in which the perpetrator is trying to survive) and suicidal attacks (attacks in which the perpetrator does not kill himself, but rather tries to get police officers or military personnel to kill him). This dual trend towards suicidal and self-preserving attacks might be related to the increase in the number of lone-actor terrorists, who generally have a preference for weapon types that are easier to acquire and use than the IEDs that are typically used in suicide attacks. As suicidal terrorists will attack security forces and self-preserving attackers will try to escape, the operational response to these kinds of attacks should be different from the response to a suicide attack. It is important that protocols and training scenarios are adjusted to reflect the increases in self-preserving and suicidal attacks.
How to cite: Van Dongen, Teun. "The Fate of the Perpetrator in the Jihadist Modus Operandi: Suicide Attacks and Non-Suicide Attacks in the West, 2004-2017." The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism - The Hague 8, no. 12 (2017).