Comparing Role-Specific Terrorist Profiles

36 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2011

See all articles by Paul Gill

Paul Gill

International Center for the Study of Terrorism. Pennsylvania State University

Joseph K. Young

American University; American University - School of International Service

Date Written: March 16, 2011

Abstract

While research on who and why individuals engage in terrorism has moved a long way since psychopathological and psychoanalytical approaches dominated, there remain gaps and shortcomings in our knowledge and approaches to understanding who is likely to engage in this form of political violence. Conventional wisdom posits that terrorists are typically male, uneducated, impoverished and between the ages of 18 and 23. Studies and emerging patterns over the past decade have refuted many of these stereotypes. Of the existing empirical research in the literature, single-case studies dominate. Although highly informative, they are also context-specific and thus their findings may not easily translate to other conflict areas. To address these shortcomings, the socio-demographic and role profiles of 219 Palestinian suicide bombers are compared with 510 terrorists indicted within the United States. These cases allow us to simultaneously compare the profiles of two very different contexts. More importantly, we are able to evaluate and compare the profiles of suicide bombers with more conventional terrorists.

Keywords: Terrorists, Suicide Bombers, Roles in Terrorist Organizations, Terrorist Profiles

Suggested Citation

Gill, Paul and Young, Joseph K., Comparing Role-Specific Terrorist Profiles (March 16, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1782008 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1782008

Paul Gill

International Center for the Study of Terrorism. Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States

Joseph K. Young (Contact Author)

American University ( email )

School of Public Affairs
4400 Massachussetts Ave
Washington, DC 20016
United States

American University - School of International Service ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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