Why lone wolf attacks are becoming a major feature in modern terrorism

RT - 16 January 2014

The strengthening of counterterrorism measures by Western states has forced terrorists to abandon their normal tactics and switch to a new, destructive strategy – individual jihad, or so-called "lone wolf” terrorism.

Last December a UK court found two Nigerians, Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, guilty of killing English soldier Lee Rigby in front of dozens of passersby in the southeast London district of Woolwich. The soldier was dismembered with a hatchet in broad daylight on May 22, 2013. The horrific scene was recorded on witnesses’ mobile phones, with one of the murderers warning of more violence as the soldier lay on the ground. The two young men will be sentenced in January 2014.

No connection between the two young men and terrorist groups was proven, and Adebolajo claimed in police interviews that the killing was justified because the pair were engaged in a holy war in retaliation for the deaths of Muslims in Afghanistan at the hands of British troops. Later, Al-Qaeda issued a statement praising its "brothers” for choosing "lone wolf” jihad tactics.

Around 2011, the rise of individual jihad began to be noticeable. This was partly provoked by the fact that the West significantly increased its counterterrorist measures, mobilized the intelligence services, and strengthened control over the media – especially the Internet. These measures created serious challenges for terrorist organizations. Moreover, many leading theorists and practitioners of jihad were killed or seized during operations led by the US Army. The new ideologists of Al-Qaeda found a solution – carrying out terrorist attacks in countries where counter-terrorism measures were weaker, such as Syria and Mali.

Jihad on open fronts means that the mujaheddin hold under their control certain territories with settlements that serve them as a base for mobilization and concentration of their forces, training and recovery. In other words, jihad took the form of open confrontation with their opponents.

However, the considerable technical advantage of the US Army and its Western allies complicated this strategy. It became necessary to find a new concept of fighting. And that’s how the ideas of individual terrorism, also known as "lone wolf attacks,” began to become more widespread. (continue reading...)