Tags: lone | wolf | sydney | islam

Vigilance — Key to Thwart Lone Wolf Attacks

By Sunday, 21 December 2014 08:43 AM Current | Bio | Archive

We have talked for many years about the phenomenon of “lone wolf” terrorism. We have predicted its rise. We need predict no longer. Lone wolf terrorism is here.

As evidenced by recent events in Sydney, Australia, only the latest in a long string of such attacks, this threat is very real. This does not mean that the long-standing threat from more traditional terrorist networks has gone away. We need to continue to defend ourselves against that as well.

However, we cannot afford any longer to appear surprised or disoriented by the actions of individuals acting on the their own after a period of radicalization.

It is time, in other words, to stop wringing our hands and fretting and to get to work devising strategies to deal with this danger.

The first step in devising such strategies is to take a look at our preconceived notions regarding the threat.

Commentators have for sometime characterized the threat of lone wolf in this way. They have described individuals sitting silently in their basements staring at computer screens becoming progressively angrier, more radical and more prone to violence.

In this narrative, these individuals emerge from obscurity fully formed as terrorists and never having given any indication whatsoever of the radicalization process they were undergoing. They leap from the shadows. explode from the silence and attack.

It may be that such cases exist. If so they are not the norm.

In fact, as in the case of the Sydney gunman, there are typically a long string of events that have signaled the direction the individual is heading.

The classic case is, of course, Major Nidal Hassan, who shot and killed 13 of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas. He was described by many of his coworkers and peers as having extremist views. He was in regular contact with known al-Qaida personnel abroad.

He was even investigated by the FBI prior to the shootings but ultimately characterized as posing no threat.

Another such case is that of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston bomber. Friends and relatives had for years noted Tamerlan’s increasing radicalization and expressed concerns about it.

Prior to staging the attack on the Boston Marathon, Tamerlan had traveled to Chechnya, a known hotbed of Islamic radicalism, the Russians had passed to us a threat warning regarding his activities and the FBI had investigated him. As with Hassan, Tsarnaev was found to pose no threat, and the case was closed.

To date, in short, we have done too little, far too late, and our responses to acts of lone wolf terrorism have largely been limited to responding to an attack and cleaning up the carnage afterward. It is time to stop chasing the threat. We need to get ahead of the game.

First and foremost, we need to become much more aggressive and much more proactive. Our actions need to come much earlier in the radicalization process, and they need to be much more effective.

When there is an individual who has demonstrated a proclivity for violence who is obviously well along in the radicalization process, we need to put that individual behind bars as quickly as possible.

Had the Australians followed that guidance, the gunman in Sydney would have been in jail rather than murdering people in a coffee shop. If that means we need to take a hard look at our existing statutes and contemplate new legislation, so be it.

I am not suggesting criminalizing free speech. I am suggesting aggressively going after individuals who are acting in concert with known terrorist organizations and espousing their ideology.

If we are not yet at a juncture where it is possible to prosecute and put someone behind bars, we need to be more forward leaning in mounting human and technical surveillance and monitoring the actions of extremists via human sources. The civil liberties concerns here are obvious.

If we are unprofessional and juvenile, such operations will end up focusing not on true threats but on every individual who has the audacity to criticize American foreign policy or support a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.

We cannot afford that. Operations conducted with discipline and tightly focused on individuals who are expressing or providing support for known terrorist groups can, however, be highly effective without devolving into witch hunts.

Whatever we do, however, has to be real, proactive and concrete. Watchlists are fine. In and of themselves, however, they do nothing to actually constrain an individual’s movements or actions inside a nation. We don’t need more process or bureaucracy. We need solutions.

All of this may be uncomfortable for us. The last thing we may want to contemplate thirteen years after 9/11 is the thought of a new type of threat and the necessity for new efforts to combat it. We have no choice. Out there everyday new lone wolves are being born. They are not truly invisible. They are not really silent.

The question is, Are we listening?

This column appeared first in Epic Times.
Charles S. Faddis, president of Orion Strategic Services, LLC, is a former CIA operations officer with 20 years of experience in the conduct of intelligence operations in the Middle East, South Asia, and Europe. He is the senior intelligence editor for AND Magazine and a contributor to a wide variety of counterterrorism and homeland security journals. His nonfiction works include "Operation Hotel California," a history of the actions of his team inside Iraq from 2002 to 2003, "Willful Neglect," an examination of homeland security, and "Beyond Repair," an argument for intelligence reform. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2020 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

1Like our page
We need to become much more aggressive and much more proactive to head off lone wolf attacks.
lone, wolf, sydney, islam
Sunday, 21 December 2014 08:43 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved