In a study conducted a few years ago of 119 lone actor terrorists by Paul Gill and John Horgan, the authors (shockingly) discovered that in the vast majority of cases in the days and weeks leading up to the attacks, in 82.4% of the time, other people knew something about the terrorist’s grievances and/or intent. In 79% of the time people were aware of the terrorist’s commitment to an extremist ideology and in 64% of cases, family and friends were aware of the plot because the terrorist told them! Finally, in a majority (59%) of cases, the terrorist produced letters or made public statements outlining his beliefs. These statements include both letters sent to newspapers, self-printed and self-disseminated leaflets, and statements in virtual forums.
Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Zahi Salman, admitted to the FBI she had been with him when he purchased the ammunition and a holster for the gun. In one instance, she even drove her husband to the gay nightclub, Pulse, because “he wanted to scope it out.”
Yet Noor did nothing to prevent the tragedy. Like in so many other cases described in the study above, she stood by and let her husband murder 50 people in cold blood.
While this is not a unique example of the so-called “bystander effect,” it certainly is among the more shocking ones that someone could have, but chose not to, lift a finger to prevent such an atrocity. In most cases, fear of the potential repercussions of what would happen to them if they reported a loved one that planned to commit a terrorist act is paramount. Williams, Horgan and Evans refer to this as hindering ‘vicarious help-seeking’ in which friends and family can potentially intervene to help a radicalized individual seek help and prevent an attack.
Read more at the Daily Beast
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