Sri Lankan Suicide Bombers: More Examples of Family Affiliated Terrorism
By: Dean C Alexander
This first monograph of its kind discusses the characteristics of family terror networks and chronicles case studies involving various kin relationships (e.g., brothers, husbands/wives, and fathers/sons)
Overwhelmingly, jihadism was the ideology connected to the 118 instances of families affiliated with terrorism that were analyzed. Jihadism was found in 85% of the cases with other precepts occurring comparatively rarely (15%). The non-jihadists associated with kin terrorism were aligned with mostly right-wing radicalism (e.g., sovereign citizens, militia, and white supremacy).
Fortunately, the book also proposes a six-stage model for predicting the formation of family terror networks. At Stage 1, a family member (F1) is exposed to a radical ideology and supports a movement associated with this extremist tenet. During Stage 2, the family member (F1) approaches another family member (F2) or multiple family members (F3–4) about the possibility of following the extremist ideology. At Stage 3, a family member (F2) or multiple family members (F3–4) accept, accept with reservations, or reject the extremist tenets of their family member.
In Stage 4, several options are conceivable. F1 takes part in a terrorist act or otherwise supports the movement. F1 and F2 carry out a terrorist attack or support the movement. Alternatively, F1 and F2 may leave extremism. Another path affords either F1 or F2 to remain enthralled by radicalism while the other's support ends. F3/F4 may follow any of the paths of F1/F2.
During Stage 5, assuming F2 has left radicalism (or never accepted it initially), F2 may try to directly influence F1 to leave radicalism or indirectly do so by reaching out for aid from others (e.g., law enforcement, religious and civic communities, friends, etc.). Alternatively, assuming F1 has left radicalism, F1 may pursue efforts to dislodge F2 from extremism along the same path mentioned in this stage. At Stage 6, F1 may decide to: leave extremism, protest F2's efforts, leave the premises (assuming they live together), cease communications with F2, attack F2, or pursue other actions. Alternatively, F2 may decide to follow the same path mentioned in this stage.
Family terror networks are likely to remain prevalent for the foreseeable future. Belief systems advocating political violence exist in some families. It is natural to share enthusiasm about newly found ideology, including extremist tenets, with easily swayed family members. The ability of family members to pressure others to support extremism remains strong.
The recent terror attacks in Sri Lanka are the latest example of family affiliated mass casualty terrorist incidents. Such terror networks must be countered with proper tools. More particularly, one must comprehend the nature and features of family affiliated terrorism; and concomitantly apply the six-stage model to predict the formation of possible family terror networks. This book very aptly provides the tools by which to achieve these important goals.
The book is available from Amazon.com and other retailers. The volume has been featured in PoliceOne, Security Magazine, American Security Today, European Eye on Radicalization, and The Jerusalem Post, among other publications. Since publishing on terrorism in 1991, Professor Dean C. Alexander has published three other books on terrorism, including: The Islamic State: Combating the Caliphate Without Borders, Business Confronts Terrorism, and Terrorism and Business. He has trained law enforcement and military personnel in the United States and abroad on terrorism and counterterrorism issues His insights on terrorism have been featured in domestic and international media. Professor Alexander can be reached at dc-alexander@
Prof. Dean C. Alexander