Leaderless Resistance and Lone-wolf Terrorism

The following sample Terrorism Studies research paper is 882 words long, in APA format, and written at the undergraduate level. It has been downloaded 431 times and is available for you to use, free of charge.

I. Introduction:

A. Lone-wolf terrorism with leaderless resistance is an increasing threat to national security. A lone wolf terrorist could be a radical right-wing activist or a jihadist. However, little is known about the individuals making them hard to track and therefore hard to prevent their terrorist acts. Lone wolf terrorists use the wide berth of the internet to communicate and acquire materials. 

II. Increasing lone wolf terrorism:

A. The emergence of lone-wolf terrorists operating largely in cyberspace and without formal organization has created an increasing dilemma in today’s security environment. (Bates, 2012, Weimann, 2012). The United States has become the number one enemy and target for lone-wolfs. 

1. Lone wolf terrorists often are inspired by others but work autonomously, making intelligence gathering to prevent an attack a challenge for security officials. (Bates, 2012, Betz, 2012, Eby 2012, Nesser 2012, Spaaji, 2012).

2. Most of the plotting of lone-wolf terrorists occurs online making cybersecurity an integral part of national and homeland security. 

3. Little is known about the psychological profile of the lone wolf terrorist. Groups of terrorists are better understood as they are mostly ideological. Little is known about lone-wolf terrorists. Eby begins the process of attempting to understand lone-wolf terrorists on an individual basis using case studies and statistics to begin the process of hopefully developing ways to predict potential acts of lone-wolf terror in the future (Eby, 2012). 

III. Effect of lack of leadership:

A. A leadership vacuum is occurring among radicalized organizations who formerly had hierarchal leadership. With a leadership structure, certain acts were prohibited as they were considered detrimental to the organization’s overall mission. Without leadership, terrorists are going rogue. (Dishman, 2005, Joose 2007, Sabou, 2012).

B. Ecoextremism is a form of radical social movement where radical extremism is increased absent a strong leader, or a leader who is rejected because they may see a wider mission of the organization and curtail potentially harmful acts.  (Michael, 2012, Joose, 2007). 

C. History shows effective leaderless resistance as a force of social change. Sabou documents the effective resistance of the Czech people to German occupation in 1939-1945 (Sabou, 2012). 

IV.   Internet fosters the growth of lone-wolf terrorism:

A. The internet reaches nearly every part of the world. It was clear that social media played a major role in the Arab Spring

B. US intelligence recently testified before Congress that cybercrime is among the greatest threat to US security because so much of the infrastructure is controlled by computers. 

C. There is so much data moving so fast that monitoring it for trends that could indicate a single individual is plotting a terrorist act could be nearly impossible.  

V. Analysis/Conclusion:

A. This paper was on leaderless resistance and the threat of lone-wolf terrorism. 

1. Leaderless resistance was discussed by Michael, Sabou, Bates, and Josse.  

2. Lone wolf terrorism was discussed by Bates, Eby, Dishman, Nesser, Spaaij, Betz. Specific emphasis on the role of the internet in leaderless resistance was given by Weinman and Betz.

B. The authors present a convincing argument that lone wolf terrorism is indeed on the rise and a serious threat to national security. 

C. The authors also admit how little they know about lone-wolf terror and leaderless resistance except to examine past acts for consistencies. The scholars presented here are moving in that direction. 

1. More needs to be researched on the psychology of the lone wolf (Bates, 2012) Eby 2012, Nesser, 2012, Spaaij, 2012). 

D. The internet is a powerful and unwieldily tool used by lone-wolf terrorists to interact with others without a formal hierarchal leadership to check the radical ideas of the lone wolf (Betz, 2012, Weimann, 2012). 

1. Terror acts rise without leadership presenting a security nightmare. 

2. More research needs to be done on the phenomena of lone-wolf terrorism and the effect of leaderless resistance. Since the issue is ripening over the past decade, some historical research including underground movements of the past may help inform current research on leaderless resistance, lone wolf terror, and cybersecurity. 


Bates, R. (2012). Dancing with wolves: Today's lone wold terrorists. The Journal of Public and Professional Sociology, 6(6). Retrieved February 21, 2013, from http://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/jpps/vol4/iss1/1

Betz, D. (2012). Cyberpower in strategic affairs: Neither unthinkable nor blessed. Journal of Strategic Studies, 25(5), 689-711.

Dishman, C. (2011). The leaderless nexus: Where crime and terror converge. Terrorism studies: a reader (pp. 331-344). Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Eby, C. (2012). The nation that cried lone wolf: A data-driven analysis of individual terrorists in the United States since 9/11. Monterey: Naval Postgraduate School.

Joosse, P. (2007). Leaderless resistance and ideological inclusion. Terrorism and Political Violence, 19(3), 351-368.

Michael, G. (2012). Leaderless Resistance: The New Face of Terrorism. Defense Studies, 12(2), 257-282.

Michael, G. (2012). Lone wolf terror and the rise of leaderless resistance. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

Nesser, P. (2012). Research note: Single actor terrorism: Scope, characteristics and explanations. Perspectives on Terrorism, 6(6). Retrieved February 21, 2013, from http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/231/html

Sabou, Jr., J. S. (2012). Czech resistance to German occupation, 1939-1945: A case study of decentralized networks engaged in irregular warfare. San Diego: San Diego State University.

Spaaij, R. F. (2012). Understanding lone wolf terrorism: global patterns, motivations and prevention. Dordrecht: Springer.

Weimann, G. (2012). Lone wolves in cyberspace. Journal of Terrorism Research , 3(2), 75-90. Retrieved February 21, 2012, from http://ojs.st-andrews.ac.uk/index.php/jtr/article/view/405/430