New Report Outlines Shared Traits of Potential Assassins

               Federal Study Compiled to Assist Law Enforcement

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- While there is no specific profile of a
would-be assassin, a new Justice Department report indicates many of those who
have committed or attempted to carry out such crimes share certain behaviors.
The National Institute of Justice-funded study, conducted by the U.S. Secret
Service and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, was compiled to aid law enforcement
agencies in identifying and assessing those who could pose a threat to public
figures before that individual comes within lethal range of a target.
    The report, "Protective Intelligence and Threat Assessment
Investigations," is based on a study of all persons who have attacked or posed
real threats to public officials or figures in the United States in the last
50 years.  The report found that assassinations and attacks on public figures
are not necessarily prompted by mental illness, but are the products of
understandable and often discernible processes of thinking.  It also found
that most people who attack others perceive the attack as the means to an end
or a way to solve a problem, and an individual's motives and selection of a
target are directly connected.
    "Recent events in our nation's Capitol underscore the importance of this
report," said Jeremy Travis, Director of the National Institute of Justice.
"This can be a most useful tool at possibly preventing such future criminal
    The report, which was designed to learn about pre-attack behaviors of
persons who target prominent public officials and figures, found that few
assassinations in the United States -- even those  targeting major political
figures -- have had purely political motives.  The study's examination of more
than 80 individuals, who either attacked or got within near-lethal range of a
public figure target, identified eight major motives.  They are:

    * To achieve notoriety or fame.
    * To bring attention to a personal or public problem.
    * To avenge a perceived wrong; to retaliate for a perceived injury.
    * To end personal pain; to be removed from society; to be killed.
    * To save the country or the world; to fix a world problem.
    * To develop a special relationship with the target.
    * To make money.
    * To bring about political change.

    The report outlines how law enforcement agencies can establish programs
and systems to identify and prevent persons with the means and interest to
attack a protected person.  The guide may also assist law enforcement and
security agencies responsible for investigating and preventing other kinds of
targeted violence, such as stalking, domestic violence or workplace violence.
The report takes law enforcement agencies through the entire threat assessment
process, from designing a protective intelligence program to investigating
suspicious persons to closing a case.
    Protective intelligence programs are based on the idea that the risk of
violence is minimized if persons with the interest, capacity and willingness
to mount an attack can be identified and rendered harmless before they
approach a protected person.
    To obtain a copy of "Protective Intelligence and Treat Assessment
Investigations" (NCJ 170612, 59 pp.), contact the National Criminal Justice
Reference Service at 800-851-3420.  To download a copy or to obtain additional
information about Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and its programs, visit
OJP's web site at
    * OJP and its component agencies' press releases are available for use
without restriction.

SOURCE  National Institute of Justice

CONTACT: National Institute of Justice, 202/307-0703; or Charles
Miller, 202/514-9800