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Op/Ed Politics Terrorism

The New Face of terror: Lone Wolf Terrorism

When people think of terrorism, they might think about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. This might be right, but terrorism has changed a lot since 9/11. In recent years the United States and Europe have seen attacks that have been conducted by a small group of people or by a single person. These kinds of attacks have little to no financial support or communication from a large organization. These attacks are often referred to as ‘Lone Wolf Terrorist’ attacks.

The United States has not had a major terrorist attack since the 9/11 attacks; but has seen a growing number of homegrown terrorist attacks over the last few years. These homegrown terrorists are called Lone Wolf Terrorists. A Lone Wolf Terrorist is an “individual who operate alone, without accomplices and outside of a formal terrorist organizational or command structure.” This kind of terrorism is hard to detect; these individuals do not communicate, receive any material support or guidance from any organization. This kind of terrorism is hard to detect and it is hard to identify a person or persons before they commit acts of violence.

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The threat of Lone Wolf terrorism is very real and is something that we may see more often. Since the 9/11 attacks, law enforcement has increased security in the United States, and many other countries have also taken steps to secure their countries and protect their citizens.  This has made it difficult for terrorist organizations to plan and execute any large-scale attack like the 9/11 attacks. But small-scale attacks that can be conducted by one or two people, with little to no support from a large organization, are the new deadly threat.

A large terrorist attack like the 9/11 attacks require a lot of planning and financial support, and can involve the communication and coordination of a lot of different people. But smaller attacks that involve one or two people can go undetected until it is too late. For example, the recent attacks in Paris and in London were very deadly and can be considered low tech. These attacks did not involve any major training or a lot of money. Some of the latest attacks have involved only vehicles and knives.

In the recent terrorist attack in London, three men in a white van plowed into pedestrians on London Bridge, then exited their vehicle and began stabbing people in nearby Borough Market. Eight were killed and dozens injured in this deadly attack. This attack did not involve a major network of planning or coordination…these people used a vehicle and knives.  This is something anybody can get without attracting attention from law enforcement. ISIS has taken credit for the attack, and several people have been arrested, but there have not been any links that indicate that ISIS provided any support to the attackers.

LW BostonIn the United States the threat of Lone Wolf terrorist attacks are also very real and it is something that the U.S. has also seen in the past. On April 15, 2013, two homemade bombs detonated 12 seconds and 210 yards from each other in Boston. The two people who committed the attacks were two brothers that had immigrated to the United States as children with their families. During the search for the two suspects, one them was killed in a shoot out with police and the second suspected was wounded and arrested.

After the FBI conducted their investigation, it was revealed that the two attackers were motivated by extremist Islamist beliefs and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both suspects were self-radicalized and not connected to any outside terrorist groups.

The Boston bombing suspects are a true example of Lone Wolf terrorism, because they were self-radicalized and had no connection to any terrorist organization. The method that they used to create the bombs was also very low tech, having learned how to make the bombs on the internet. The materials that were used to create the bombs were also very low tech.  They used everyday products to create the bombs that can easily be found in any store in the United States.

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The motivation behind a Lone Wolf terrorist attack can be as complex as trying to identify a person before they commit these attacks of violence. There are many different reasons that are used to justify these acts of violence. These reasons could political, anti-government or religious. Each one of these reasons can be used by hate, political or terrorist groups to justify their actions. The United States government defines terrorism as ‘‘premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents”. This means that these kinds of attacks target civilians or non-combatants, for the high probability of casualties and injury. These attacks also have a long-lasting psychological effect on people.

One of the biggest questions in law enforcement is “How can we identify people who are planning to commit a terrorist attack?”  This question is as complex as the motivation behind an attack, because there is no specific rule or specific group of people who can be singled out as a possible terrorist. This is what makes identifying, tracking and stopping Lone Wolf terrorism attacks for difficult.

A target of a terrorist attack can be as difficult as trying to find the people who commit these violent acts, because anything that has a large cowed of people can be a target. On May 22, 2017, in Manchester, England, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb near an exit outside a of theater when several people were leaving a concert. In this case the bomber never entered the theater; he waited for a large crowd of people to exiting the venue before he detonated a bomb.  This kind of attack is hard to stop or to identify.LW End

Law enforcement is still trying to find ways of identifying people before they commit these acts of violence.  But finding these people can be difficult, especially when people use freedom of speech to spread their radical ideology.  The people who hate America and want to kill innocent people use our constitutional rights to enter the United States to spread their violent ideology.  This is what makes identifying Lone Wolf terrorist so difficult, but it is important for people to know and understand that if they see or hear of something that they feel is not right, they should report it to law enforcement immediately. This could help identify someone who is planning a violent attack against innocent people. But many people stay quiet when they see or hear something because they are afraid of being labeled as racist.  Until we as Americans can overcome this kind of stereotype, the United States will continue to be vulnerable to any possible attack.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Gruntworks, the staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site

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1 comment on “The New Face of terror: Lone Wolf Terrorism

  1. Thomas Larsen

    They don’t seam to do as much damage as ‘isis planed raids do. To combat them we need to win the war of ideology, that means education and the skill to questioning authorities when they are not rationel. And we need to accept that the price we pay for democracy and all that goes with our way of life, is that irrational cultures will try to kill us. Thats my 2 cents worth.

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