Armed and Explosive? An Explorative Statistical Analysis of Extremist Radicalization Cases with Military Background

By Håvard Haugstvedt and Daniel Koehler

Extremist infiltration of armed forces, and the spread of violent radicalization among service members and former soldiers, are a growing international concern. With an increased number of active duty and former soldiers involved in extremist and terrorist milieus, the public fears that national security might be compromised by potential terrorists using their training, equipment, and networks against the countries they swore to protect. This is a serious impediment to the trust in authorities for many nations. However, little empirical research exists on either the scope of the problem, or the specific risk factors that might be involved in turning military personnel toward extremism. In this paper, we utilize the “Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States” (PIRUS) dataset to shed light on the vulnerability and risk factors into the extremist radicalization of military personnel. Our findings indicate that far-right radicalized individuals with military backgrounds are more likely to suffer from trauma, a diminution of social standing, having difficulties in romantic relationships, and exclusion from participation in social groups or organizations, compared to far-right radicalized individuals without military backgrounds. Mental illness, grievance, and anger toward society are also more present in the far-right military group compared to the non-military group.

Håvard Haugstvedt & Daniel Koehler (2021) Armed and Explosive? An Explorative Statistical Analysis of Extremist Radicalization Cases with Military Background, Terrorism and Political Violence, DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2021.1957675

Published Aug. 30, 2021 10:15 AM - Last modified Sep. 24, 2021 1:07 PM