Lone wolf, terrorism, public policy, governance, bureaucracy, homeland security, nims, counter terrorism


Since the fall of September, 2011, there has been a major increase in awareness and study of global terrorism. Academia, the media, politicians, and the average citizen all have varying definitions, ideas, and concerns about terrorism. The focus has mainly been on international terrorism. Terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda have permeated the discussion. However, there is a growing concern of the "lone wolf terrorist." A lone wolf terrorist acts without a terrorist organization and is capable of having his/her own radical agenda with the audacity and simplicity to carry it out solely and enact great damage. The focus in the United States and globally has been on international lone wolf terrorists. This is important, but a longstanding concern (that often goes without much conversation) is the domestic lone wolf terrorist. Using Gustav Freytag’s Triangle and Rational Choice theory, it is shown that lone wolf terrorism must be examined by the United States government to ensure safety of its citizens. A lone wolf terrorist is characterized as a United States citizen who enacts a terrorist action without being part of an organization or terror group. His motives are extremist in nature. This thesis examines the iii growing phenomena of the domestic lone wolf terrorist. In doing so, the primary function is to look at an even starker reality: that some lone wolf terrorists have served in the military, and during service have shown to portray radical thoughts and actions. Furthermore, these lone wolf terrorists used their military training and weapon insight to enact their catastrophic aims. This thesis uses a case study methodology to examine three lone wolf actors. From the Oklahoma City Bombing, to the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta and on to the Ft. Hood shootings the studies find that in all cases the actors did have radical beliefs, military training and used that training in concert with their attacks. This thesis can be used as a discussion about lone wolf terrorism, but also about governance. The findings show an increased need for the Department of Defense to work closely with the Department of Homeland Security and seek greater advice from organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to conduct better psychological studies and examinations of military personnel. A disclaimer must be made that this thesis does not, in any way, seek to disparage the amazing amount of work and sacrifice of United States government personnel and agencies. This thesis aims to provide research towards improved understanding and combating of lone wolf terrorism.


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Graduation Date





Sadri, Houman A.


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science; American and Comparative Politics








Release Date

December 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic