Can identifying mental illness stop terror attacks?

By The Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 15, 2014 at 12:51 p.m.



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LONDON (AP) — New studies have found that mental problems have a significant link to attacks by so-called lone wolf terrorists.

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

An Australian sociologist and a researcher at Indiana State University looked at 98 lone wolf attackers in the U.S. They found that 40 percent had identifiable mental health problems, compared with 1.5 percent in the general population.

Their conclusion? Mental illness is not the only factor that drives individuals to commit terrorist acts, but it is one of the factors.

Mental illness could make lone wolf attacks easier to foresee: One of the London researchers, Paul Gill, said 60 percent of the attackers he studied leaked details of their plans, sometimes telling friends or family.

He and a co-researcher are working with a British counterterrorism unit as police try to develop ways of distinguishing genuine threats from hot-headed talk.

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APPHOTO LON102: FILE - This undated file image provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police shows Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, who shot a soldier to death at Canada's national war memorial day on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Radical Muslim Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed a soldier outside Canada's parliament. Right-wing extremist Larry McQuilliams opened fire on buildings in Texas' capital and tried to burn down the Mexican Consulate. Al-Qaida-inspired Michael Adebowale and an accomplice hacked an off-duty soldier to death in London. Police said the three perpetrators of recent attacks were terrorists and motivated by ideology. Authorities and family members said they may have been mentally ill. (AP Photo/Vancouver Police via The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, File) (25 Oct 2014)

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APPHOTO LON101: FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014 file photo, an Ottawa police officer runs with his weapon drawn outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Radical Muslim Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed a soldier outside Canada's parliament. Right-wing extremist Larry McQuilliams opened fire on buildings in Texas' capital and tried to burn down the Mexican Consulate. Al-Qaida-inspired Michael Adebowale and an accomplice hacked an off-duty soldier to death in London. Police said the three perpetrators of recent attacks were terrorists and motivated by ideology. Authorities and family members said they may have been mentally ill. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick, File) (22 Oct 2014)

<<APPHOTO LON101 (10/22/14)££

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