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Interrogation themes for anarchists

Anarchists rationalize and justify their behavior by capitalizing on peaceful movements


The key to eliciting the truth is not to condemn or place judgment on the individual.

AP Photo/Allison Dinner

The anarchist is one who uses violent means to overthrow the established order rebelling against authority or the ruling party. Unfortunately, during 2020, we have seen these crimes increase exponentially.

The offenders are acting in their narrow self-interest, while free to make up their rules as they go with no need to provide logical reasoning. We would all agree that peaceful protesting is not an issue. However, when rioting, vandalism of property, arson, deployment of lasers and fireworks against police officers and other illegal destructive acts take place, legitimate protesting escalates to a crime.

The approach in eliciting the truth with most offenders is to morally, not legally, excuse their behavior while minimizing the seriousness of their crime: “Lou, the reason you shot that guy was that he insulted your girlfriend, refused to apologize, became cocky and laughed in your face. Lou, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t let this split-second mistake in judgment define your life. You’re not a bad guy, you just made a bad decision, right?”

That is the unabridged version of how to obtain the truth from such homicide offenders. However, the mindset of the anarchist is different. There is a more effective, seemingly unorthodox, approach to consider.

You understand their motive

The tactic to consider would be to advise the offender that you don’t condone their behavior but understand their motive to build a better society, ideology and way of life for all, at the expense of engaging in such aggressive behavior.

Anarchists rationalize and justify their behavior by capitalizing on peaceful movements. Their philosophy and motives are to build a better society, via illegal means, as the means justify the end. Power and control are the core concept of this individual.

The key to eliciting the truth is not to condemn or place judgment on the individual. The following themes can be used in obtaining a confession:

  • Praise the suspect for being intelligent, bold, or daring.
  • Blame others who mistreated the suspect, their family, or friends.
  • Suggest their intent was to build a society based on equity for all
  • Suggest their intent was to build a better world for all.
  • Praise developing a new and improved social system via assertive methods.
  • Suggest their original intent was to take on an unresolved challenge.
  • Suggest it was not personal with the victim.
  • Compliment the media for their continued coverage of inequities.
  • Compliment the suspect’s intense emotional conviction.
  • Blame others for not taking on the challenge of change.

Case example

A peaceful protest took a turn for the worse when an individual threw a Molotov cocktail at a patrol car. Fortunately, the officers escaped with minor injuries.

Amy was spotted running from the flame-engulfed vehicle and was apprehended. She agreed to talk to the officers who brought her to a nearby library for questioning.

She was read her rights and consented to discuss her presence at the crime scene. Her story contained several inconsistencies.

When asked if there would be any reason her DNA or fingerprints would be on any of the shards of glass from the bottle, she changed her story from denying involvement to say someone handed her the bottle, which she then handed to another person. She was shortly thereafter advised that she was not being truthful. The process of eliciting the truth from her via the interrogation proceeded as follows.

“Amy, you and I know that you threw the Molotov cocktail at the police vehicle parked on Main Street tonight. The reason I’m talking to you is to find out your motivation. After talking to you I truly believe you are a sincere person with high morals. I don’t condone what you did but do compliment you for being bold, clever and daring while trying to bring attention to the strife between law enforcement and the community. In other words, enough is enough, and let’s all get together.

“I truly believe your intent was to bring us all together. Words sometimes don’t work and you decided to kick it up a notch to make life better for all. You did what others wanted to do, to bring attention to a simple problem. That problem was for all of us to live together in peace. Sometimes peace has a cost and you were willing to throw that flaming bottle at the car. That certainly brought media coverage which I am sure was your intent.

“You know I’m right when I say, your mindset was, ‘What can I do to stop all of this violence throughout the country over these past several months?’

“As I said, I don’t condone what you did but understand your conviction. Also, you were obviously emotionally stressed with the escalating protesting and simply wanted to punctuate the moment that drew attention. You sure did that. You simply wanted to have people understand the situation and all work together in harmony, right?”

Following Amy’s admission to throwing the Molotov cocktail, corroborative information was necessary to obtain to validate her admission:

Where did the bottle with fluid come from? “My boyfriend Charlie handed it to me.”

Did you light it? “No, he did.”

Then what? “He told me to throw it as hard as I could at the police car.”

Where did the bottle come from? “Charlie and I had a chardonnay earlier today and we decided to use it.”

How did the flammable fluid get into it? “Charlie took a piece of plastic hose and siphoned it from his car’s gas tank.”

Why did you throw it? “Because we just wanted to prove a point.”

That point was? “That the violence needs to stop and we all need to talk and just get together.”


Anarchist crimes are often committed by narcissist-type individuals who need constant praise and to feel they are always right. To criticize this individual would be the worst interview tactic; rather complimenting and validating their behavior is a better alternative to obtain the truth.

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Louis C. Senese is VP of John E. Reid and Associates and has been employed for over 40 years. He’s conducted thousands of interrogations and volunteered assistance in cold cases. Listen to Lou interviewed on, podcast #4. He is the author of “Anatomy of Interrogation Themes” and has presented hundreds of specialized training programs to federal, state and local law enforcement, military, federal and NATO intelligence agencies. He has taught throughout the U.S., as well as in Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and the U.A.E. Contact him at