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The Threat and Work of Lone Wolf Terrorists in America (Research Paper Sample)

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Lone Wolf Terrorism in the U.S.Student’s Name:Institutional Affiliation: Abstract Terrorism is the indiscriminate employment of actual violence or threats of violence by a faction against the general public as a means of instilling fear among the citizenry as a means of coercion or intimidation in order to achieve a religious, ideological, economic or political aim. However, we should also note that not all acts of violence that are propagated to achieve some socio-economic or political change are defined as terrorism. As such, for an act to be considered as terrorism, it must fulfill the following elements. The first qualification is the use of actual violence or the threat of actual violence. The second one is the presence of an objective which can either be political, religious, economical or ideological. Further, the goal behind the attack is mostly instill fear to the society in order to coerce the state or society to fulfill a demand made by the terrorists or it can be a statement whose aim is to strengthen an ideal held by the attackers. Third, the threat or attack should be indiscriminate on innocent civilians meaning that everyone is a target. The belief behind the attack is that loss of innocent civilian life is an acceptable consequence for the faction to achieve its goals. Finally the attack it is perpetrated by a faction in the society. There are many forms of terrorisms propagated by different perpetrators and for different ideals. This essay looks at terror activities perpetrated by a lone wolf terrorist. Key Words: Terrorism, Lone wolf, Attacks, Perpetrator, religion, Ideals, Ideology, Radicalization, Islamic, Political, Social Lone Wolf Terrorism in the U.S. Introduction Terrorism is one of the chief challenges facing the modern society as it is a threat to global peace and stability. Nevertheless, terrorism is not a new phenomenon in the history of man. Since time immemorial, man has propagated acts of terror against his fellow man for different reasons and by different factions for different reasons. However, over the last couple of years there have been increased terror attacks with majority being perpetrated against the United States and her allies. These attacks have been executed for different reasons and by different factions that include lone wolves. Lone Wolf Terrorist The phrase ‘Lone Wolf’ is a label given to a terrorist who commits acts of terror alone and outside any known terror group. It was popularized by Alex Curtis (a white supremacist) and Tom Metzger who envisaged warriors acting alone to attack the government in anonymous attacks. The term is derived from characteristics of a “lone wolf” which lives and hunts alone instead of belonging to a pack. Therefore, a lone wolf terrorist does not have any affiliations with any terror group and he acts on his own outside any form of command structure. It means that he or she has no party, group or commander directing his or her actions. He or she thus prepares plans and executes the attacks without the assistance and outside the command structure of any terrorist group. However, he may act in support and to the advancement of an ideology held by an external group but he is not a part of their ranks (Spaaij, 2010). For a person to be thus considered as lone wolf terrorist, he or she must fulfill three main elements; (a) operate individually, (b) do not belong to an organized terrorist group or network, and (c) whose modi operandi are conceived and directed by the individual without any direct outside command or hierarchy (Spaaij, 2010). It thus a term used to differentiate the terrorist actions propagated by an individual from those carried out and coordinated by a group. History and Rise of Lone Wolf Terrorism Lone wolf is a military strategy that was adopted by leaderless resistance movements especially in the 19th century. It was mostly employed by anarchists for political assassinations and bombing as a way of furthering their political, social and economic propaganda by deed (Nesser, 2012). An excellent example is provided by Mikhail Bakunin who was a Russian anarchist. He is remembered for propagating lone wolf attacks by stating that violence occurs by individuals due to the desire to participate in an activity which is revolutionary (Bakker and de Graaf 2010) These actions were carried out by individuals who acted alone or in small groups and thus the phrase lone wolf. In America, the tactics were adopted by separationist groups like the White supremacists to rebel and resist the government. An excellent example is offered by the case of Alex Curtis who was a white supremacist and also a lone wolf terrorist. More recently, the effectiveness of the lone wolf tactics has caught the attention of large terror groups like Al-Qaeda and IS who have begun to encourage lone wolf tactics. For instance, the official spokesman for the terrorist group Islamic State (IS), Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, urged followers, sympathizers and Muslims living in western countries to “kill in any manner” (Kirkpatrick, 2014). This call was not directed to any group in particular but to radicalized individuals. Lone Wolf Attacks in the U.S Lone wolf terror attacks have been on the increase over the last couple of years especially in the Homeland. This has made lone wolf terror arguably the most important terrorist trends in the modern society (Joosse, 2015). Although law enforcement and counter terrorism agencies feel that lone wolf attacks are rare, they have increased in frequency since the year 2000. There are however many attacks that are classified as lone wolf terror attacks that have been mis classified. For instance, attacks by far right terror groups should not be considered as lone wolf attacks unless they have been planned and committed by an individual who has no affiliation to the groups and their only commonality is their shared ideologies. Further, according to recent data, the increase in lone wolf terrorists’ attacks in the country has largely been blamed on the increasing ISIS and Al-Qaeda radicalization in the U.S. The growth of the internet and technological accessibility has also been a large factor in the increased radical process. Majority of radical processes and terrorist recruitment is now being down through online sites and in the dark web. This has increased the terrorists groups reach and it has enabled them to create and develop lone wolf terrorists across the globe. Development of a Lone Wolf Terrorist As earlier highlighted, lone wolves are lone operators, whose activities are committed in isolation from any organized terrorist groups, networks or organization. As such, this makes it very difficult to pin point their motivation for committing the violent acts. Therefore, there is no universally agreed upon profile that can be used to characterize a typical lone wolf terrorist (McCauley & Moskalenko, 2014). However, a study of the individual cases provides that a lone wolf can develop as a result of; Psychological issues: A large body of literature has established that most lone wolf attacks are prompted by a psychological or social concern affecting the perpetrator. According to Martha Grenshaw (1992), most terror activities are borne out hatred for the establishment and/or the need for revenge. An excellent example is the case of Seung Hui Cho who on 16th April 2007 murdered 32 people and injured 17 others at a university in Virginia. His motives were largely revenge and restitution to the institution and society that he felt had harmed him. As such, studies shows that individuals who have a higher propensity to suffer both socially and mentally may readily turn to violence as a way of venting their frustrations on others and the government. Ideological: These are motivational ideals that motivate individuals into acts of terror. The primary motivational factors include religious ideologies or political views. However, there are those who argue that lone wolf terrorists have combined their own personal psychological concerns with political or religious ideals (Stern, 2003). Radicalization: This is the most dominant cause of lone wolf terrorism in the United States today. The phrase describes the process or action of causing an individual or a group to adopt extreme and radical ideals in religious, social and political issues to the extent that their aspirations and beliefs undermine or reject the status quo or expressions of a civilized society. The extreme radical ideals then lead or direct the individual to take up arms in order to enforce his or her views upon the society which in turn leads to terrorism. One of the most common form of radicalization in the modern age is Islamic radicalization. It seeks to enforce Islamic radical teachings and ideals in the modern world like developing jihadis and enforcement of sharia laws. The Islamic radicalization has seen a rise in terrorism activities across the globe and in the U.S. with many terrorists believing that they are fighting a “holy war” or a “jihad” (Dickson, 2015). There has been growing incidents of lone wolf attacks instigated by IS especially in 2014 that suggest that Islamic extremists are increasing threats, developing radical opinions and shifting to radical actions without any interference or detection. An excellent example includes the Lone wolf attack by Zale Thompson in New York. The attacker was a radicalized Muslim who had converted his name to Zaim Farouq Abdul-Malik who attacked four New York City police officers. Challenge of Lone Wol...
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