Are we missing the warning signs to prevent lone terrorist attacks?

September 13, 2017
Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

The terrorist who killed 12 people and injured dozens more in the 2016 Berlin Christmas Market attack was removed from the country's surveillance list a month earlier, but he presented five specific warning behaviors prior to the attack according to later analysis. How a better awareness of these warning signs and an understanding of the perpetrator's history of radicalization might help improve future risk and threat assessment is the focus of the article "'Jihad Against the Enemies of Allah': The Berlin Christmas Market Attack from a Threat Assessment Perspective," published in Violence and Gender.

Authors Nils Böckler and Jens Hoffmann, Institute Psychology and Threat Management, Darmstadt, Germany, and J. Reid Meloy, University of California, La Jolla, present a case study of 24-year-old Anis A., the terrorist responsible for the Berlin attack, noting that German security authorities had a lot of information on him leading up to the attack. In the article, they trace terrorist development in Germany, examine the role of the Internet and the strategy of leaderless resistance, and discuss patterns of radicalization against the background of Islamist ideology and, specifically, ISIS-related radicalization.

"These authors are some of the finest experts in their fields and their dissection of this terrorist act in Berlin will not only be informative, but will also serve as a blueprint to study other cases and to develop models to even prevent these types of cases in the future." says Editor-in-Chief Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, Forensic Behavioral Consultant and Senior FBI Profiler/Supervisory Special Agent (ret.) and currently, Director of the Forensic Sciences Program, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

Explore further: EU to target internet as part of counter-radicalization plan

More information: Nils Böckler et al, "Jihad Against the Enemies of Allah": The Berlin Christmas Market Attack from a Threat Assessment Perspective, Violence and Gender (2017). DOI: 10.1089/vio.2017.0040

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