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Lone Wolf Terrorism

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  • Phillips Peter J

    () (University of Southern Queensland)

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the insights that might be generated into the nature of 'lone wolf terrorism’ through the application of economic analysis. Orthodox approaches, particularly (standard) expected utility analysis and game theoretical analysis, are discussed. These tools prove useful in developing preliminary or 'first order’ insights. The lone wolf terrorist exhibits a number of idiosyncrasies that present challenges to both economic analysis and government security policy. An alternative analytical framework is constructed wherein a terroristic agent makes choices on the basis of a preference ordering constructed over two moments of the distribution (measured in terms of fatalities generated by terrorist attacks). Seven predictions are yielded from the mean-variance theoretical framework and numerical estimates are computed as preliminary steps towards the full exploration of the implications of the framework. Most importantly, depending on their level of risk aversion (or risk seeking behaviour), lone wolves are expected to predominantly choose assassination, armed attack, bombing, hostage taking or unconventional attacks. Furthermore, within a range of between one and two standard deviations from the mean, it is possible that the quadratic utility function will reach a maximum. Following attacks of a certain magnitude (in terms of fatalities), it might be expected that the lone wolf will withdraw from activity for a period of time. This analytical approach may assist governments and security agencies facing the threat of lone wolf terrorism.

Suggested Citation

  • Phillips Peter J, 2011. "Lone Wolf Terrorism," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 17(1), pages 1-31, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:pepspp:v:17:y:2011:i:1:n:1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Atkinson, Scott E & Sandler, Todd & Tschirhart, John, 1987. "Terrorism in a Bargaining Framework," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 1-21, April.
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    15. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
    16. Peter Phillips, 2009. "Applying Modern Portfolio Theory To The Analysis Of Terrorism. Computing The Set Of Attack Method Combinations From Which The Rational Terrorist Group Will Choose In Order To Maximise Injuries And Fat," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 193-213.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bpj:pepspp:v:18:y:2012:i:3:p:3:n:9 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Azam, Jean-Paul & Ferrero, Mario, 2017. "Jihad against Palestinians? : The Herostratos syndrome and the paradox of targeting European Jews," TSE Working Papers 17-874, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    3. Phillips Peter J, 2012. "The lone wolf terrorist: sprees of violence," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(3), pages 1-3, December.

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