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How unique are terrorist suspects? Investigating similarities and differences between terrorist suspects, their siblings, and other suspects  

Published onAug 10, 2022
How unique are terrorist suspects? Investigating similarities and differences between terrorist suspects, their siblings, and other suspects  
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How unique are terrorist suspects? Investigating similarities and differences between terrorist suspects, their siblings, and other suspects
Description

This article contributes to the debate in terrorism research on how unique terrorist suspects (i.e. individuals suspected of crimes with terrorist intent) actually are and whether or not specific theories are necessary to explain their behavior. Our study compares terrorist suspects from the Netherlands with their siblings and nonterrorist suspects to find out whether and how terrorist suspects are unique. Inspired by criminological theories involving social bonds, regression analyses were conducted utilizing registry data on household compositions, socio-economic status (SES), and criminal histories. A key finding is that terrorist suspects seem to have more in common with other suspects than with their siblings; besides prior criminal involvement, no significant differences were found between terrorist suspects and other suspects. Terrorist suspects were significantly less often married, had a lower SES, and were more often previously suspected of crimes as compared to their siblings. Particularly, lacking employment is a differentiating factor for terrorist suspects and siblings. Our findings stress the necessity to investigate in-depth under what circumstances and how a disadvantaged background (e.g. lack of social bonds, criminal history) can lead to becoming a terrorist suspect.

 

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