As intelligence agencies and law enforcement have become increasingly adept at detecting and disrupting large-scale terrorist plots, potential attackers have instead turned to smaller scale, less sophisticated assaults. In part, this trend reflects a decision by extremist groups to adopt lone actor terrorism as a tactic, with groups trying to inspire their supporters to carry out such attacks. In other cases, individuals, dyads or triads judge that a lone actor attack will have greater chance of success, or perhaps lack connections to a wider network. Whatever the case, there is a growing trend of individuals or small cells acting in isolation from a wider group to conduct terrorist activity. Such lone actor terrorists are perceived as presenting acute challenges for law enforcement practitioners in detection and disruption; acting without direct command and control from a wider network, it is assumed that without such communications they may evade the traditional “trip-wires” that would bring them to the attention of the authorities.
Through the construction and analysis of a database of 120 perpetrators from across Europe, the Countering Lone Actor Terrorism (CLAT) project sought to improve understanding of lone actor terrorists, their behaviour, and their activities in the period leading up to their intended attack, therefore assisting European governments and frontline workers to counter the threat.
About the project
Project CLAT project constructed and analysed a database of 120 lone actors from across Europe, produced multiple Policy Papers and an Analysis Paper, as well as Two Toolkit Papers. The final findings of this project are accessible at CLAT Final Report.
In the Media
This project received numerous mentions in the media. These include:
The Guardian (22 June 2016) ‘Rightwing ‘lone wolves’ kill more than Islamic terrorists acting alone, says report’
Trouw (12 March 2016) ‘Onderzoek: terreur door extreemrechtse ‘lone wolves’ wordt onderschat’ (in Dutch)
International Business Times (1 March 2016) ‘Neo-Nazi lone-wolf attacks in Europe are more deadly than ISIS-inspired terrorist plots’