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Michael H. Becker is a Doctoral Student at American University in the Justice, Law, and Criminology program. He has a M.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland. His work focuses on radicalization and violent extremism and aims to develop empirical strategies for understanding how individuals come to engage in political crime and criminal violence.
September 2019 - present
- Research Assistant
- Worked under Dr. Gary LaFree coordinating work through the Maryland Governor’s Office on Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) and the Maryland Crime Research and Innovation Center (MCRIC).
August 2018 - September 2019
- Research Assistant
- Worked under Dr. Gary LaFree, collaborating with colleagues in the analysis and drafting of manuscripts using quantitative and qualitative data from the Profiles in Individual Radicalization in the United States dataset.
May 2018 - August 2018
United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute
- Conducted research and provided analysis on the topics of terrorism, transnational organized crime, cybercrime, and human trafficking. Aided in drafting of grant applications and professional reports.
The United States has adopted the targeted killing of high-ranking members of terrorist organizations to disrupt terrorist networks and exert general deterrence. The most salient of these killings occurred on 2 May 2011, when US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Although general deterrence suggests this should result in decreased subse...
This research examines the relationship between social control and social learning variables on involvement in violent vs. non-violent extremism. Using data from the Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) database (n = 1,757), this study presents a series of logistic regressions. Among radicalized individuals, weaker soc...
This study examines how attitudes of activism and systematic decision-making are related to support for political violence. Using unique data from a randomly selected sample of undergraduate and graduate students (n = 503), this study explores how activism, systematic decision-making, and political affiliation coincides with existing support for po...
There is a paucity of research comparing gang members and domestic extremists and extant studies find few explicit linkages. Despite this, there remains a great deal of interest in possible similarities between these criminal groups. Driving this interest is the possibility of adapting policies and practices aimed at preventing entry into criminal...
Although political violence has been perpetrated on behalf of a wide range of political ideologies, it is unclear whether there are systematic differences between ideologies in the use of violence to pursue a political cause. Prior research on this topic is scarce and mostly restricted to self-reported measures or less extreme forms of political ag...
The United States is facing an ongoing threat of political violence due to widespread anti-government sentiment that has proliferated across social media platforms. Most saliently, these violent sentiments manifested in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol during the certification of the 2020 general election. This research extends prior w...
Targeted killings are a prominent strategy for combatting terrorism and are regularly claimed to deter political violence. Employed against terrorist leaders like Osama bin Laden and others who are argued to be prominent terrorist threats, a growing body of evidence suggests that targeted killings do not achieve their desired general deterrent impa...
Former extremists and terrorists (‘formers’) are seen as key messengers and mentors in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE). Their assumed effectiveness rests on their unique, intrinsic source credibility due to their biography. Having ‘walked the walk’ and ‘talked the talk’, it is widely assumed that such individuals are ideal to pr...
Although political violence has been perpetrated on behalf of a wide range of political ideologies it is unclear whether there are systematic differences between ideologies in the use of violence to pursue a political cause. Prior research on this topic is scarce and mostly restricted to self-reported measures or less extreme forms of political agg...
The proliferation of public WiFi networks in small businesses, academic institutions, and municipalities allows users to access the Internet from various public locations. Unfortunately, the nature of these networks pose serious risks to users' security and privacy. As a result, public WiFi users are encouraged to adopt a range of self-protective b...
In criminological research, scholars present learning and social control theories as competing explanations for criminal behavior. While this has extended to specific offenses and analogous behaviors, it has less frequently been related to ideologically-motivated extremist behavior. This study considers the explanatory power of these two schools of...