The FBI has just published a report on lone offender terrorist attacks in the U.S., taking a look at the backgrounds, behavioral characteristics, and circumstances surrounding 52 attacks since 1972. The study specifically examined offenders who carried out attacks independent of any direction from a terrorist group or organization. Among its key findings, the report noted that:
- 83 percent of offenders had previously exhibited behavior that was hostile or aggressive;
- 96 percent of offenders produced writing or videos intended to be viewed by others;
- In 25 percent of the cases, at least one other individual became aware of the offender’s research, planning, or preparation for an attack;
- In every case, bystanders expressed concern over behaviors at some point prior to an attack; and
- In most cases, offenders attacked targets that had no or minimal security.
In a message in the report, FBI Director Christopher Wray said prevention efforts are enhanced by early recognition of potential issues and reporting by those closest to a person of concern. “Bystanders need guidance to recognize concerning behaviors and overcome natural resistance to reporting,” Wray said. “Just as important as early recognition by bystanders is the need to have well-trained, skilled, and competent receivers of that reporting.”