The Operational Terrorist Mindset – Behavioural Lessons from Trained and Non-trained Bad Actors

Mr Steve Longford1
1New Intelligence, Canberra, AU

Basic science research in the last decade has made major inroads into understanding the process of indoctrination, radicalization, and extremism that underlies the motivation for bad actors that leads up to the decision to commit acts of violence. With regard to understanding the individuals who become terrorists, the current state of knowledge strong suggests that no set of demographic characteristics reliably distinguish terrorists from non-terrorists. What is not known, however, are the specific behavioural indicators of terrorists and other bad actors as they are engaged in an act of violence. Such knowledge is important for many security-related scenarios including checkpoint security, venue and perimeter security, patrol and reconnaissance missions, and many others.

For the first time in Australia we will present some of the results of a first-of-its-kind, qualitative study on the Operational Terrorist Mindset conducted by Professor David Matsumoto from the University of San Francisco. He extracted the specific cognitions, emotions, expressive behaviours and instrumental behaviours that were mentioned by source data and weighted them by their consistency across sources. Based on these findings, he has developed operational lists of behavioral indicators of bad actors as they are actively engaged in an operation. This presentation will extrapolate on this research and explore implications for workplace threats


For over 2 decades Steve has been assessing threats made against individuals and organisations for the private and public sectors.  He has made sometimes outrageous claims based on flawed analysis and poor information collection protocols.  He has placed a number of individuals at risk by failing to identify the seriousness of threats made against them and similarly been the root cause of unnecessary and wasteful expenditure of resources on individuals who were under no real threat at all.  His advice has sent large teams of investigators in completely the wrong direction and it is highly likely that a number of extortion demands have been met unnecessarily by large corporations based on his advice.  He has been described as arrogant, opinionated and lacking any significant self-awareness, but luckily for him he has created a significant international network or researchers, practitioners and clinicians who continue to provide him both support and material.

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