June 16, 2016


Why lone wolves fail (Daniel L. Byman | June 16, 2016, Brookings)

Because lone wolves like Mateen are not usually trained, they often fail, and even when they succeed, they are less lethal than "professional" terrorists. The post-9/11 record of plots in the United States shows most of the would-be terrorists to be bumblers. The contrast with the attackers in Paris in 2015, Madrid in 2004, and London in 2005 is striking. In each of these attacks al-Qaida- or Islamic State-linked attackers, working together, bombed and shot their victims, leading to 130, 191, and 52 deaths, respectively. Compare that with the three worst jihadist attacks in the United States in that period: Orlando, San Bernardino, and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, where a total of 76 people died.

Sustaining the attacks is another problem. In Orlando and San Bernardino, the terrorists died in shootouts with the police. In Boston, the terrorists successfully shut down the city with a primitive bomb at the marathon. But rather than conducting more attacks, leaving town, or otherwise preparing for the next round of mayhem, they went out to party with friends. This tactical amateurism diminishes not only the death count of these attacks, but also their terror value.

Often the targets lone wolves pick are less strategic and symbolic, reflecting their personal agendas more than those of the group. The jury is still out as to why Mateen chose the Pulse nightclub for his murders, but the San Bernardino attack occurred during the office Christmas party at a community health center where one of the killers worked. San Bernardino is a city few in the world had heard of, hardly an iconic choice like Paris, London, or Madrid. The Islamic State can still brag about killing its enemies, but the cachet of shooting patrons of an LGBT nightclub or office party is low.

Undisciplined attackers can also embarrass a group or a cause. The white supremacist movement, for example, had to contend with Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The attack that killed 168 people not only struck a symbol of what McVeigh believed to be an oppressive federal government, it also killed 19 children and three pregnant women. It was tough to portray McVeigh's cause as heroic after that.

Suspect in MP killing described as quiet, polite and reserved (Helen Pidd North, 16 June 2016, The Guardian)

Jo Cox is believed to have been gunned down by her own constituent, a jobbing gardener little known beyond the Yorkshire estate on which he lived.

But police were last night probing claims that the suspect, named locally as Thomas Mair, 52, had dangerous political affiliations, following witness accounts that he shouted "Britain first" as he launched the fatal assault on Thursday afternoon.

Rather few of us who oppose transnationalism will be claiming that this incident shows us a core truth about our faith in sovereignty.

Posted by at June 16, 2016 3:30 PM