This chapter sets out to answer two questions: what kind of people become terrorists, and what is the process whereby they become terrorists? Two kinds of information will be used to answer these questions. Sociodemographic data are available for 818 named individuals who were indicted/arrested for terrorist crimes, were killed by police, or blew themselves up. For a smaller number (136) we have biographies which give more detailed and qualitative information. (A biography was defined as an account of an individual’s life history, however brief.)
Of those whose age is given, the majority are under thirty, and there are few above fifty years old or below eighteen. Usually the age at the time of arrest and indictment are the same, but in the case of those who evade capture for a long time, the age when indicted is used. Although some types of terrorists are younger than others, in the aggregate they are not particularly youthful. The older terrorists are often the leaders, and leaders tend to be noticeably older than their followers. Overall about one in twelve (8.1 percent) of those indicted/arrested for terrorist offences are women, although this figure varies between different types, being highest for leftist revolutionaries, Puerto Rican independistas, and anti-abortionists, and lowest among the Cuban émigrés, Islamic extremists, and the Klan. In fact, no Cuban or Islamic terrorists were women, and the lone Klanswoman was unique in other respects, since she was the only Klan-affiliated individual to be killed by law enforcement during this early period.
Each group of terrorists has a distinct ethnic and occupational profile. The ethnic differences are the most obvious. Most of the groups can be defined, and define themselves, in ethnic or racial terms. The black groups were composed almost exclusively of blacks, the Jewish