Radicalization of life scientists to terrorism
Smith, Jacqueline Christine.
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. This project examines common trends in the backgrounds of life scientists that have been radicalized to terrorism. This examination required a review of the general radicalization and recruitment processes, a comparison of the path that life scientists (individuals with technical skill in the biological sciences) take to violent extremism, and an evaluation of several discrete variables covering the background and characteristics of documented terrorists. By examining 18 cases of radicalized scientists, this paper aims to outline a more focused method for threat reduction groups to identify scientists with applicable weapons of mass destruction (WMD) skills that are at high risk of working with terrorist groups. Nine cases consist of scientists that committed, or attempted to commit, acts of biological terrorism and the nine other subjects are scientists with applicable weapons of mass destruction (WMD) skills who chose to commit other acts of violent extremism. By comparing these groups to each other and to the general terrorist population, this thesis concludes that several factors provide counter-terror groups with guidance and indicators that will assist in identification of potential threats to security. The paper also provides evidence contrary to common theories about several radicalization factors previously believed to be indicators, which did not prove to be explanatory with regard to scientist radicalization. If these factors can be identified and demonstrated as predictive, scientists with WMD applicable expertise fitting this profile should be engaged as a top priority by the United States Government (USG) non-proliferation community.
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