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Imagining a Shift Toward Serial Terrorism

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Most terrorist attacks in recent years have resulted in the quick death or capture of the suspect. This thesis examines the hypothesis that terrorism in the United States, from groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, changes in tone, scope, and scale to obtain multiple attacks from each individual adherent. While historically most serial killers try to conceal their crimes, some have taunted the government and the populace with their acts and, in so doing, engendered tremendous fear in large groups of people over significant periods. This thesis examines three cases of well-known serial killer events the Zodiac killer, BTK, and the D.C. Beltway snipers and compares them to three recent cases of terrorism in Boston, San Bernardino, and Orlando. It employs a comprehensive comparison of these six incidents to study the congruency, differences, discourse, patterns, and effects of each to examine the possible impacts and implications of terrorists who use tactics similar to serial killers. The output provides key takeaways pertaining to possible policy implications for the law enforcement community and its situational awareness.

Subject Categories:

  • Unconventional Warfare

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