The Entire Concept of a Lone Wolf Terrorist is Fake News


Matthew Clark

May 24, 2017

3 min read




Each and every time another dastardly jihadist terrorist attack is inflicted on the world, headlines emerge that the savagery was carried out by a “lone wolf” terrorist.

As a lawyer who deals in facts, the absurdity of this concept is beyond the pale. The mountain of evidence that has been amassed in the wake of dozens upon dozens of radical Islamic terrorist attacks points to one and only one conclusion – there is nothing lone about jihadist terrorism.

To be sure, there have been instances of lone wolf attacks – singular individuals who are carrying out their own deranged mass murder. The Unabomber and the Oklahoma City bombings (though even that was two individuals) come to mind. These were one-off acts of terror.

As I have written before, radical Islamic terrorism on the other hand is anything but.

Sometimes we get lost in the details of each attack. Did this particular terrorist go to a terrorist training camp and receive instructions from an Osama bin Laden-type leader of a specific named terrorist group to carry out a specified attack on a delineated target at an agreed upon time?

This is a pre-9/11 mentality that plagues our media, much of our government, and our collective understanding of the threat we face.

Sometimes the simplest facts are the ones that get overlooked the most.  For example, Dabiq and Inspire magazines. Would a lone wolf terrorist have international magazines? Think about it. There are actual magazines put out by radical Islamic terrorist groups that call for precisely the kinds of attacks that we have witnessed: soft targets, large vehicles mowing people down, military targets, etc.

Would a lone wolf terrorist have an intricate network of social media platforms? Do lone wolf terrorists recruit new members? Do lone wolf terrorists have a caliphate?

The questions border on absurd. Of course not.

Further, jihadists are not “self-radicalized.” They are indoctrinated, inculcated, and brainwashed by radical Islam – many times on social media, by online magazines, or in many of the worst cases by terrorist leaders like Anwar al-Awlaki (even long after he was dispatched from this Earth). Reading Inspire magazine, being indoctrinated by the teachings of al-Awlaki, and pledging allegiance to ISIS or al Qaeda are not signs of self-radicalization. They are not the creation of lone wolfs.

Likewise, "ISIS inspired" is a deadly distraction from reality. It ignores the scores of direct calls upon followers of ISIS and adherents to radical Islam to take up the sword, to carry out very specific types of attacks on enumerated categories of targets. Each and every one of the recent attacks – Manchester, Paris, Nice, Orlando, San Bernardino, and on and on – were not merely inspired; they were ISIS directed.

Describing the post-9/11, asymmetrical, jihadist threat we face as individual lone wolf attacks is not just oversimplification; it’s obfuscation. It’s not true. It doesn’t match the facts. It isn’t reality. It’s fake news and should be treated as such.

It’s time for America to come to terms with the reality that radical Islamic terrorism – jihad – is a coordinated global cancer that must be rooted out.