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We need a theory on lone-wolf terrorism

“Terrorism: The unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” — Code of Federal Regulations Sociologists have theories about almost everything concerning people and society. I’ve been a sociologist for more than four decades, yet I’m not aware of any theory that attempts to explain the motivations or actions of lone-wolf terrorists.

On Monday, the day after 50 people died and 53 more were injured in a mass shooting, Hillary Clinton told “Good Morning America” that she will establish a “dedicated team” to tackle the problem of such terrorists, if she is elected president. Undoubtedly, this task force will be charged with tracking potential mass murders and, it is hoped, preventing possible suspects from accomplishing their goals.

In addition to these pursuits, I suggest that it is extremely important for us to understand the circumstances that propel individuals to engage in this socially reprehensible behavior. This knowledge is essential because not all lone-wolf assassinations can be attributed to French scholar Olivier Roy’s concept of the “Islamicization of radicalism.” ...

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