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There is No Such Thing as a 'Lone Wolf' Terrorist

There is No Such Thing as a 'Lone Wolf' Terrorist

Yes, there are some people who are just insane and they do mass murders for insane reasons. That is not terrorism.

But I don’t believe any of the terrorist acts that we have seen were “lone wolf” scenarios, no one working entirely alone.

A lone wolf is said to be one who plans and executes a terrorist act without contact with a larger group. He is impossible to predict or track because he is doing everything himself and doesn’t talk to anyone. If caught he doesn’t no anyone, he was inspired remotely, not personally.

The media are quick to jump on the “lone wolf” scenario, because it fits with the Obama adminstrations politically corrent stance that radical Islam is not to blame for the acts of individuals, and that 

The police and FBI often report no connections to radical groups. But this doesn’t mean there are ACTUALLY no connections, it mean they COULD NOT FIND a connection. But would it surprise you if those connections existed? It shouldn’t.

Think about the people on the other side. I’m not talking about terrorists, I’m talking about the CIA, MI6 and the dozens of other intelligence services around the world who communicate with their agents and information sources, completely illegal in every instance in the host country. That’s what they do, they are good at it.

The CIA performs (my educated guess) somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 street operations per year all over the world. And yet if you here of any agents getting rolled up, its a highly unusual event. They are just good at it. Its called “tradecraft.”

But terrorist organizations are good at this too. Often they are trained by intelligence professionals on one side or the other, they know all about operating in cells, about communicating securely, about what NSA listens to, about FBI investigative and tracing techniques, and how to use “cut-outs” to protect themselves. Plus they have the added advantage of not having to follow any laws.

The CIA’s case officers (i.e. the most capable spies on Earth) often have to operate in environments where their “cover” has been blown, often just because they have been operating in so many places. And yet they still manage to do their work under surveillance of the host government. There are techniques and tactics that work even under these circumstances.

A sophisticated terrorist who meets someone who might be useful isn’t going to invite that person to the terrorist frat house to hang out. These guys think ahead. He is going to develop that person covertly, using communications methods that cannot be tracked or observed by the authorites.

Ever heard of TOR (the onion router)? Its a system developed by the U.S. Government to hide communications. Its available to anyone and it works quite well. It is very difficult to track someone using this. With the added security of using a coffee shop through a free email service, and coded language in the message content, and you’ll find its utterly secure. 

Dead drops and brush passes are all the rage in the highbrow spy movies, but mostly its common sense and the ability to avoid certain kinds of cameras and people you know. Training and experience are very powerful.

The terrorist “cell” structure (where they operate in groups of 3-5 and are not aware of the activities of the other cells) has been a successful strategy for over a hundred years. It still works.

No, the absence of evidence of a connection to radical Islam does not mean there is no connection. Terrorist are very competent and at the top levels are very sophisticated. Terrorists often recruit the same way the CIA does and can be just as skilled. The FBI has a much tougher job, since they have to catch the mistakes of professionals, which don’t always happen.

Let’s not be fooled.

Editor’s note: The author is a former U.S. intelligence officer, and has been through this training. He also worked aganst the communications of the bad guys.

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