Terrorist attacks perpetrated by lone actors have already occurred in several countries, and this phenomenon is emerging as a threat to the security of both NATO members and other countries worldwide. In this context, a lone actor, or 'lone wolf’, is someone who individually prepares or commits violent acts in support of an ideology, group or movement, but who is acting outside of the command structure and without the assistance of any group. Up to now, these individual acts have been seen as almost impossible to forecast, but it is nevertheless important to develop a responsible security policy which takes them into account and incorporates planning for counteraction, prevention and response.
This book presents papers, written by leading experts in the field, which reflect the subjects presented at the workshop 'Loan Actors – An Emerging Security Threat', part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme, held in Jerusalem in November 2014. The papers are divided into five sections: the threat of lone actor terrorism; case studies; countering and responding to the threat; legal and ethical aspects; and foresight and policy aspects.
The insights, information and recommendations shared in this book will be of interest to all those involved in developing a more efficient response policy to this emerging threat.
Terrorist attacks which have been conducted by lone actors in several countries (Norway, Israel, US, GB etc.) challenge concepts of national security and counter-terrorism approaches. A lone actor in this context is generally seen as someone who individually prepares or commits violent acts in support of ideology, some groups or movements. He acts alone, outside of any command structure and without assistance from any group (Bjelopera, 2013).
The definition of lone actor terrorism could be extended to include individuals that are inspired by a certain group but who are not under command of other person and who are not members of a group or organisation. They might be members of a network, but this network is not a hierarchical organization in the classical sense of the word (Bakker and de Graaf, 2011).
So far Lone Actor terrorism could have been considered “wild cards” – occurrences that are almost impossible to forecast but might result with high impact. Past events of this category came all by surprise some of them with dramatic and serious results. They are under research and investigation in order to get relevant insights to improve the needed counter actions in order to prevent these all together. The profiles of a potential actor as well as the modus operandi might offer clues for a better response to this particular threat. Furthermore, many of the lone actors or so called “lone wolves” display a degree of commitment and high motivation and empathy to extremist movements – providing leads for prevention of new rounds of radicalization.
The threat of “lone wolves” is an emerging threat impacting the security of NATO countries and many other countries worldwide. A responsible security policy should thus take this threat into account and plan for counteraction which on the one hand will prevent this kind of threat to be realized and on the other hand be able to respond once such an event happens. The experience and knowledge gained from past events can teach us a lot if the right lessons are shared and understood. Studying the profiles of persons who developed to be “lone wolves”, understanding their social background and the reasons which brought them to act might help in preventing and retarding others to follow their steps. Evaluating the modus operandi as well as the technology and measures available for response and counter action can better the preparedness to such events. Furthermore the availability of nonconventional means as well as new technologies which might result in weapons of mass casualties, add a new dimension to this threat in the future.
This emerging threat was the key subject of a NATO workshop convened in Jerusalem on 4–7 November 2014. The goal of the workshop was to discuss and challenge the phenomenon of “lone wolves” and its impact on national security. Papers and discussions during the workshop examined its roots, evaluated its impacts and mainly discussed technological, economical, ethical and legal aspects of counter-terrorism approaches.
The workshop, as well as the papers included in the current book, covers many issues related to the threat of lone actor terrorism. These include:
1. Exploration of the relations between “lone wolves” and security issues as well as policies and governance needed to address security risks posed by a rapidly changing environment.
2. Review of case studies and lessons learned as well as after actions applied associated with terror response.
3. Social background of “lone wolves”
4. Special considerations when taking into account CBRN incidents
5. Interdisciplinary approaches and improved social and technological strategies to cope with the threat.
6. The impact of “lone wolves” terrorism on national and international security.
7. The Technology aspect of counter-action-Early warning, identification, detection
8. Ethical and legal aspects of the fight against lone actors
9. Proposed policies and counter measures.
The present book thus covers the whole spectrum of issues related to the phenomenon through papers written by leading experts in the field. The chapters in this book were written by subject matter experts and mainly reflect the subjects presented during the workshop.
The extensive discussions conducted during the workshop yielded important and operational insights and recommendations for future policies. Following are some key results:
1. Lone/solo actor terrorists are an emerging threat. We have only touched the tip of the iceberg and much research is need on all fronts to make national and international communities better prepared and more resilient to this rising threat.
2. NATO and other relevant international organizations are called to give priority to assess this kind of threat in order to coordinate and develop preparatory means in the national and international levels. As part of this process NATO is called to evaluate its present charter in this field and adapt it, if needed, to the actual circumstances realized.
3. Centres for threat assessments are recommended to be established at the National level.
4. It is recommended to evaluate red flags/weak signals of possible relevant threats and build relevant scenarios. It is also proposed to develop a catalogue of wild cards covering low probability high impact scenario in order to reduce surprise attacks as much as possible.
5. One of the needed counter actions is an effective cooperation between the operational levels and the population. Much Intelligence is in the hands of policemen in the streets and the citizens. Proactive cooperation between law enforcement forces and the citizens would help to reduce the threat. It is not good enough to keep the research and information in the hands of the upper echelons. We need to stream the information downwards to the people who are handling the threat in the streets and provide them with better tools and knowledge gathered to better analyse future risks and cope with actual attacks.
6. International cooperation (e.g., European programs, NATO) – The outcome of the workshop shows us that the Lone-Actor scenario is a multinational threat and should concern the international community.
In conclusion, the threat of Lone Actor Terrorism is difficult to anticipate and needs special preparedness activities. NATO and its allies can benefit from recommendations for an advanced response policy to this kind of threat. In that context the insights, information and recommendations shared in this book will help develop a more efficient response policy to the emerging threat.
Lone wolf terrorism is a growing threat throughout the world. From Anders Breivik in Norway, who murdered scores of young people in a bombing and mass-shooting attack, to Nidal Malik Hasan in the United States, who killed several of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, lone wolves have demonstrated that they can be as dangerous as organized terrorist groups. Who are these terrorists and how is the Internet influencing their behavior? These are key questions that need to be answered in order to understand the dynamics of lone wolf terrorism. This article will discuss the backgrounds and motivations of lone wolf terrorists, why they have proven to be so innovative and creative in their attacks, and why there have been so few female lone wolves when there have been many women in organized terrorist groups. There will also be a discussion of how the Internet has provided the perfect breeding ground for isolated individuals with terrorist tendencies, but how it may also prove to be their undoing.
The following analysis introduces a detailed discussion of the epistemology of the present-day lone wolf terror phenomenon; in turn, providing critical insights into practicable preventative measures to counter this accelerating global development. Through an objective study of the limited, but compelling threads of commonality observable as a general rule of lone wolf styled attacks, preemptive security procedures can be successfully implemented within law enforcement operations. Such possibilities are based on a basic key indicator profiling of the lone wolf actor with greater emphasis placed on the cohesive modus operandi prior to the attack itself – a traceable cycle of behaviors irrespective of religious, political and personal influences framed in the virtual society of the 21st Century.
This paper explores the change in contemporary terrorism scenario to point out the translation process from a well-organized archetype of terrorism based on ideology, strategic vision and goals to a totally de-structured and atomized phenomenon, the Lone Wolf Terrorism. The Lone Wolf actor has to be retained not a mere criminal but a complex product of the cultural globalization of terror. He belongs to a “pollinated” generation of terrorist actors. The present contribution focuses on the role of cyber-culture, creating the infosphere, to ignite the cyber-individualism. That explains the appeal of the “Culture of Terrorism” based on “cool” cyber-media products sharing especially in the Web. The Lone Wolf self-proclamed jihadi Terrorist is not just a radicalized actor but he builds his own Self (step-by-step) interacting through the “terrorist infosphere” and “i-volving” because of the force of the decennial (cyber-) enculturation multilevel process.
The threat of biological and chemical weapons is one of the more threatening threats. This is a consequence of the fact that if used against unprotected population it will result in a very great number of casualties a mass effect. The possible use of such weapons by terrorists as well as lone actors is thus very worrying. However, fortunately enough, such a threat has not really been realized in the last decades. In very few cases in which such weapons/agents were used by terrorists the number of casualties was small. A mass effect has not happened. Such a scenario can still be considered a wild card. A wild card is an event with a small probability but a high impact. Technology might change this situation in the far future giving lone actors new potential means to terrorize society. Being a wild card such a possibility calls for necessary protection means and relevant defense response.
There is very little agreement amongst scholars, practitioners, and others in a definition of terrorism. The “sole practitioner” concept is equally elusive, with terms ranging from lone wolf to lone actor to lone operator. The concept of cyberterrorism appears to be so controversial that the very existence of this threat is disputed. This paper defines the concept of the lone operator cyberterrorist, a topic that is nearly absent in the literature. This paper will present a working definition of these terms with which to start the conversation, and compare and contrast the motivation and characteristics of the lone operator terrorist and lone operator cyberterrorist.
With the success of the crackdown on traditional terrorist cells, terrorism has evolved to generate “self-activating” terrorists. That shift has been openly acknowledged by the Obama administration. Lone wolf terrorists are perceived as particularly dangerous for a number of reasons: their ability to think outside the box; their looser affiliation with organized terrorist movements, making their movements harder to track, anticipate, or arrest, and their decisions regarding the level of violence they wish to achieve unconstrained by the desire not to alienate supporters; and their easy access to self-radicalizing material and technologies of mass violence (Spaaij, 2012; Simon, 2013).
This article draws from Picart's prior work on the use of “monster talk” as a form of public preachment (Picart and Greek, 2007; Picart and Browning, 2013), but as applied specifically to the formation and radicalization of three American lone wolf terrorists, Colleen LaRose (Jihad Jane) and the Tsarnaev Brothers (the Boston Marathon Bombers). This article treats the Tsarnaev brothers as essentially lone wolf terrorists because they become self-radicalized, arguably, principally independently of each other, and only collaborate on the planning and execution of the Boston Marathon Bombing when they have self-radicalized. Crucial to this chapter's analysis is the distinction between radicalization of thought and radicalization of action because a theoretical rhetoric of radicalization does not automatically convert into a rhetoric of radical action (McCauley & Moskalenko, 2013). The internet plays a crucial role in this galvanization of monster talk into monstrous action. The article focuses specifically on case studies of Colleen LaRose and the Tsarnaev Brothers to analyze how different factors weigh in the psychological and sociological formation of lone wolf terrorists, and what ultimately motivates and galvanizes them, to move from a rhetoric of radical talk to a rhetoric of radical action.
In this article a discussion about counterinsurgency, foresight approaches and lone wolf challenge will be provided. Foresight can be defined as a component of strategic counterinsurgency operation with many benefits. Typically social settings of counterinsurgency operation are turbulent, complex and in some cases chaotic. Foresight should be linked to social practices of counterinsurgency agencies. In chaotic and emergent conditions, possibilities of foresight analyses are limited. This is why foresight analyses should be applied in such way that they enable proactive actions. Early warning systems and foresight diagnoses, prognoses and prescriptions should serve directly expected phases of counterinsurgency operations (pre-operation phase, operation phase and phase after counterinsurgency operation). If stakeholders want to develop effective early warning systems in relation to lone wolf challenge, it requires updated information of psychological and sociological behavior patterns of potential lone wolves. Early warning systems (and also weak signal systems) should be tailored to identify and recognize alarming psychological and social signals of potential lone wolf activities. In general, mass counterinsurgency attacks are problematic because larger trauma behavior (with terror behavior) can be expected to happen. In this conceptual study, alternative eight patterns of lone-wolf terrorism will be presented. These identified patterns are based on morphological analysis. To understand lone wolf phenomenon, we need more empirical research about these alternative psychological and sociocognitive patterns. Concerning terror intelligence challenges, we can note that probably the pattern where terror attack is solo, non-directional and not ideologically motivated is the most challenging pattern of lone world terror phenomenon. On the other hand, the social pattern where terror attack is not solo, and it is directional, clearly rationally motivated and also ideologically motivated is the easiest lone wolf pattern to be observed before the attack happens. If we are able to contextualize the lone wolf phenomenon and identify facilitation channels and causal qualities of lone wolf behavior, it is possible to development effective counter operations of lone wolf terror. Other social patterns of lone wolf terror are more or less complex issues to be observed beforehand. Understanding lone wolf terror and explaining causal and complex relationships of lone wolf phenomenon need more research in the future. Especially supportive incentive mechanisms of lone wolf terror (ideological support, operational support and psychological support) need more scientific attention. Issues of anti-fragility, resilience, flexibility, adaptability, artificial intelligence support, and weak signal sensors are going to be critical challenges in the global battle against lone wolf terrorism.
The purpose of this paper is to provide an outline for a multidimensional and integrative “Radicalization Prevention Center” primarily for “second generation” Americans that would be funded by the U.S. Federal government and administered through state, municipal, and county governments insofar as smaller units of governance have integral knowledge about the “lay of the land” and corresponding demographics that serve to improve effectiveness and efficiency issues.
The number of lone actor terrorist attacks has increased in recent years. These have taken the form of bombings, shootings, stabbings, the deployment of chemical or biological agents, and the use of vehicles as a weapon. The medical response to such attacks primarily involves patient care once the incident is over. However, in the case of lone actor attacks that take the form of an active shooting, a modified response by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers may allow for treatment of some victims before the scene is fully secured. Two recent active shooter incidents in Pennsylvania, the West Nickel Mines Amish school shooting and the Kraft Foods plant shooting in Philadelphia, are presented with a description of medical issues encountered. The Rapid Assessment Medical Support (RAMS) program, developed by the Philadelphia Fire Department and the Philadelphia Police Department based on lessons learned from these and other such incidents, is one way that EMS providers can initiate patient care at active shooter incidents in areas that have been cleared by police but not secured. It is based on the premise that care of victims is a shared responsibility of police and EMS. It involves close coordination and ongoing training between the two departments with a priority given to early hemorrhage control, airway management, patient evacuation away from the immediate threat, and rapid transport to a trauma center. The RAMS program represents one way to potentially save lives during lone actor attacks.
This paper explores some of the key challenges and opportunities concerning the prevention and control of lone actor terrorism. It is argued that lone actors do not operate in a social vacuum and that the interaction points between lone actors and their social environments can render lone actors both visible and vulnerable. This is explored through a particular focus on lone actors' use of, and engagement with, social media and the internet, which presents both challenges to and opportunities for the prevention and interdiction of lone actor terrorism.
To fight a war you must accurately identified the enemy. The enemy is not ‘terror’, which is a tactic; it is Islamist Jihadism, which is to Islam what Nazism was to German culture – a perversion rooted in social, psychological and theological pathologies inherent to the culture. This essay is an attempt to identify some of these pathologies and to outline a grand-strategy appropriate to combating and defeating the Islamist/Jihadist threat to 21st century civilization.
Lone actor adds a new dimension to the global security landscape, not only that of the safety point of view, but most of all the ethical and legal perspectives. As a glocalized phenomenon, it needs global framework with local action. How can security strategies be developed in a climate of continuous dilemmas, with no legal regimes to address the related and emerging threats, lack of international consensus, and arguments that only trigger counterarguments? What is the balance between surveillance for security and civil liberties? How can S&T evolve safely, without hindering innovation? As the forces shaping national and international security become more complex, so do the options the military should consider. Sometimes, defense and moral approaches provide very different answers. The military approach might not always be the appropriate one to security challenges. We need more dynamic political systems to face the present and emerging security challenges, including the lone actor phenomenon. [Note: in this article, there are several terms used for lone actor, based on the relevant slight differences.]
This note serves as an introduction to the American legal system's attempts to deal with lone wolf terrorism. It outlines the general approach that courts employ in legal proceedings, with particular emphasis given to terrorism cases. The note also provides an overview of key antiterrorism laws and their applicability to lone wolf terrorists, including enhanced governmental tactics and emerging technologies. This paper concludes by considering various proposals for legal reform and how these proposals might impact the threat of lone wolf terrorism.
The paper explores the problem of lone actor terrorism in the context of the evolving counter-terrorism policy of the European Union. As e relatively new security threat in the European Union lone actor terrorism has not been adequately addressed in relevant strategic documents, legal acts and policies. The need for an ideological approach in countering lone actor terrorism at the European level is emphasized.
Visionarios are a tool to explore and test assumptions about a system, in this case a small element, and perhaps an optimistic depiction, of the anti-drug and terrorist violence community of the city of Chicago. When used in conjunction with functions such as planning or training in an institution, like many that are described by the story, the ability to understand the complex relationships that exist in real world systems, or the ability to see unintended consequences of decisions can become more obvious. Typically, visionarios are developed through discussions with subject matter experts. Visionarios, coupled with decision support tools such as system mapping or complex computer models that simulate reality, enable policy-makers and decision-makers to think through the ramifications of potential approaches to problem solving and improve system performance. Usually, next steps include the development of a systems map, with its key elements and their interdependencies. Visionarios are usually a part of an overall planning process that includes risk analysis across the entire sociological, technological, economic, environmental, and political spectrum and allows for stress testing of potential solutions to enduring problems institutions are facing.
A lone wolf terrorist is a single individual acting essentially alone who kills or injures people or inflicts or plans to inflict significant damage on infrastructure at a single instant or over time to bring about their political, religious, or ideological aims. SIMAD stands for Single Individual Massively Destructive – a lone wolf who uses or plans to use a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). The availability WMD's to individuals is increasing, for example, through the availability of synthetic biology. A Real Time Delphi study of the evolution of Lone Wolf terrorism was conducted with 57 worldwide experts. When the group was asked to estimate the year when a lone wolf might kill or wound 100,000 people in a single attack, the average response 2067. However, the group was sharply divided; self-identified security experts judged much later dates or “never.” While the severity of future attacks appears to be growing, the potential for pre-detection is also growing, giving rise to a new kind of arms race. This study provides early warning of a possibly serious and growing threat; the time should be used to help find strategies that can minimize the threat.
Recent terror acts took place in cities like Sydney, Australia; New York, U.S.A.; Ottawa, Canada; Oslo, Norway, Copenhagen, Denmark and more. These events were carried out by individuals who acted alone, the so called “lone wolf”. The motivations of these loners vary. For some, their relationship with society provided the backdrop for violence. Many of them were left behind and became the “black sheep” of society. Urban terrorism and especially lone actor terrorism has become an important phenomena and a significant threat to urban society worldwide. This behavior of some of the terrorists is rooted in their low quality of life and in their inability to integrate into society. This paper first discusses the roots of loneliness of individuals in modern urban areas and then examines the approach of “new urbanism” as a possible solution to address this phenomenon.
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