Date of Award

2-2017

Document Type

Capstone-Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program Name

National Security Studies

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Cynthia M. Nolan

Abstract

The threat of a homegrown terrorist attack is the greatest threat facing the United States. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired attacks are more destructive and more dangerous than ISIS-directed attacks because perpetrators are harder to identify. In this study, five cases were applied to the three models of radicalization to determine which best describes the phenomena and how effective they are to help authorities anticipate cases of homegrown radicalization. None of the models tested were flawless in predicting the radicalization process of would-be homegrown terrorists. Silber and Bhatt’s (2007) model was the only model in which all elements of the model were observed in the five case studies. However, elements of Gartenstein-Ross and Grossman’s (2009) model were easier to identify and categorize and would be the most effective tool for predicting radical behavior but it also requires family, friends, and alert community members to recognize the shift in behavior and report it. As ISIS becomes more savvy and encourages its followers to become better at evading authorities, these models will become less effective as tools to disrupt plots and prevent future attacks.

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