Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sydney Siege And The Global Rise Of 'Lone Wolf Terrorism'

The Sydney siege seems to be the latest in a series of attacks this year by jihadists responding to call for “lone wolf” attackers to strike back at the West. An increasing number of "lone wolf" terrorists are responding to the West's battle against the Islamic State by launching attacks at home. This year there have been a series of attacks in Ottawa, Brussels and New York by Islamists responding to calls from the Islamic State to kill non-believers wherever they can.

“We have been seeing more and more lone attackers as a trend and Isil has pushed the idea even further and it seems to be resonating more intensely,” said Raffaello Pantucci, a counter terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute.
In Australia, police foiled a plot in September after intercepting a phone call from an Isil leader instructing followers to randomly behead a non-Muslim in Martin Place, the scene of yesterday’s siege, and capture it on camera.
“There is no doubt that many of these guys had notions of being under siege as Muslims. Some have not had the wherewithal to make it to the battlefield. They think they are being watched and that if they try to make it to a plane they will be put in jail so they do something locally,” said Thomas Sanderson, a counter terrorism expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Clockwise from left: Man Haron Monis; Michael Zehaf-Bibeau; Mehdi Nemmouche; Zale Thompso.
 
Isil is now “the vanguard of the global jihad,” he said, adding: “They are not holed up in bunkers in Pakistan, they are on the battlefield. Who are you going to want to join?” 

In May, 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche, who was under surveillance by the French police after he returned from fighting for Isil in Syria, launched a gun attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels, killing four. 

A Jewish boy stands with flowers in front of an Israeli flag and flowers laid in front of the Jewish Museum in Brussels.
 
In October, Martin Couture Rouleau, 25, ran down two Canadian soldiers in Quebec in his car, killing one of them. Couture Rouleau was known to the authorities as someone who had been radicalised and police had seized his passport in July as he tried to fly to Turkey. 

“On the map, there is a major concentration in the North East of the United States, with attacks in Detroit, Boston, New York and Ottawa. They are going for high-density media markets. Sydney fits.” 

Mr Pantucci said it is difficult for counter terrorism officials to catch lone operators. “It is a lot harder because intelligence relies on setting trip wires that people cross when they communicate with each other. If people are not talking to others and they are plotting attacks with stuff they can find in their household, like knives, it is a lot harder to find them.” 

Meanwhile, researchers said that “lone wolf” terrorists are more likely to have mental health problems than terrorists working in a group. Two studies, one by Indiana State university and one by University College London found that between one-third and 40 per cent of lone wolf attackers had identifiable mental health problems. 

The Telegraph, UK