Orlando and Nice attacks: Domestic violence links to radicalisation

Originally Published by BBC News 22 July 2016. Original linked here.

In the aftermath of the recent mass killings by lone attackers in Orlando and Nice, more details have come to light about the attackers’ histories and identities. Both attackers had track records of domestic violence, records of depression and questions around their sexual identities.

As the Islamic State group (IS) continues to stake claim on exported attacks on the West, it has also disseminated a range of identity politics and gender norms.The message is less about empowering individuals through religion, and more about attracting insecure and threatened individuals with a psychological need for control and simple answers. Continue reading

Newsweek Podcast Ep. 2: Hunting Lone Wolves

Episode two of Newsweek’s Foreign Service podcast asks how governments can prevent erratic and unpredictable attacks by so-called “lone wolf” terrorists. Published 21 July 2016. Link to Newsweek Foreign Service Podcast here

Gavin Long, the man who killed three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday, had past links with radical groups. But in politically charged Youtube videos infused with violent rhetoric, he insisted he acted alone. In Nice, where Mohamed Bouhlel killed at least 64 people and wounded dozens more with a truck, the Islamic State Militant Group (ISIS) took credit for the carnage. But Bouhlel’s links with the group are unclear, and likely indirect.

So how do you prepare for attacks that come without warning or large-scale planning? Do we now live in a world where any angry, isolated person who comes across the right messages can become a terrorist? Or, with the right knowledge, can governments and security services separate genuine dangers from false alarms, and turn those most at risk of perpetrating appalling crimes back from the brink?

This episode discusses the question from our London office with Hillary Hurd, who has studied religious-inspired violence and strategies for post-conflict rehabilitation, and Erin Marie Saltman, a senior researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Link to podcast: https://soundcloud.com/newsweek-foreign-service/episode-two-hunting-lone-wolves