Can identifying mental illness stop terror attacks?

Can identifying mental illness stop terror attacks?

A radical Muslim killed a soldier outside Canada’s Parliament. A right-wing extremist opened fire on buildings in Texas’ capital and tried to burn down the Mexican Consulate. An Al-Qaida-inspired assailant hacked an off-duty soldier to death in London.

Police said all three were terrorists and motivated by ideology. Authorities and family members said they may have been mentally ill. A growing body of research suggests they might well have been both.

New studies have challenged several decades of thinking that psychological problems are only a minor factor in the making of terrorists. The research has instead found a significant link between mental problems and “lone wolf” terrorism.

Now academics and law enforcement officials are working to turn that research into tools to prevent deadly attacks.

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