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Terrorist ‘Radicalising Networks’: A Qualitative Case Study on Radical Right Lone-Wolf Terrorism


The threat posed by terrorism today is changing rapidly—as have methods of study of this phenomenon, including analysis of radicalisation and the ‘terrorist cycle’. This chapter takes a qualitative approach to one aspect of contemporary terrorism, self-directed (‘lone wolf’) terrorism by right-wing extremists. Predominately plaguing the USA at first, solo actor terrorism by fascist extremists crossed the Atlantic in 1999 with David Copeland’s attacks in London, and most horrifically with Anders Behring Breivik’s murder of 77 people in Oslo and Utøya in 2011. Like these two terrorist murderers, the two case studies discussed here, Neil Lewington and Ian Davison, were also radicalised online through ‘passive’ and ‘active’ networks of support. Although interdicted before committing acts of terrorism, the different pathways of online radicalisation by Lexington and Davison are the central subject here.


  • Self-directed terrorism
  • Radicalisation
  • Lewington
  • Davison

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  1. 1.

    See the Crown Prosecution Service website for statements on these two cases, online at:, and [last accessed 19 Mar 2017]. for information on the cases.

  2. 2.

    For more on this theme, see my review of Roger Griffin’s Terrorist’s Creed in Modernism/Modernity 20 March 2013.

  3. 3.

    For instance, [last accessed 19 March 2017].

  4. 4.

    For example, see the useful introductory chapters to two recent, book-length studies: Paul Gill, Lone Actor Terrorists: A Behavioural Analysis (Routledge, 2015), and Ramon Spaaij, Understanding Lone Wolf Terrorism: Global Patterns, Motivation and Prevention (Springer, 2012).

  5. 5.

    The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in June 2016 by Thomas Mair would certainly also be subsumed under this category, since the offender displayed clearly far-right sympathies. The investigation revealed that Mair was motivated by extreme right-wing beliefs.

  6. 6.

    See, for example, [last accessed 8 March 2017].

  7. 7.

    See Combat 18 /Blood & Honour homepage, no date, online at: [last accessed 8 March 2017].


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Feldman, M. (2018). Terrorist ‘Radicalising Networks’: A Qualitative Case Study on Radical Right Lone-Wolf Terrorism. In: Steiner, K., Önnerfors, A. (eds) Expressions of Radicalization. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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