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Lone wolf (terrorism): Wikis


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A lone wolf or lone-wolf fighter is someone who commits violent and/or non-violent acts in support of some group, movement, or ideology, but does so alone, outside of any command structure.


Origins of the term

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the term "lone wolf" was popularized by white supremacists Alex Curtis and Tom Metzger in the late 1990s:

On Curtis: Curtis encouraged fellow racists to act alone in committing violent crimes so that they would not incriminate others. He called for the elimination of nonwhites by "whatever means necessary" and promoted assassination, illegal drug sales and biological warfare as useful strategies. He popularized the so-called "5 words" - "I have nothing to say" - which he urged extremists to use whenever questioned by police as a highly effective means of obstructing prosecution.[1]

On Metzger: One of the most influential aspects of Metzger's right-wing activism has been his advocacy of the "lone wolf " or "leaderless resistance" model of extremism, which favors individual or small-cell underground activity, as opposed to above-ground membership organizations.[2]

Current usage

The term "lone wolf" was subsequently adopted by US law enforcement agencies and by media to refer to individuals following this strategy. The FBI and San Diego Police operation to investigate Curtis' activities was named Operation Lone Wolf, "largely due to Curtis' encouragement of other white supremacists to follow what Curtis refers to as 'lone wolf' activism".[3] Currently, the term "lone-wolf terrorism" now refers to any acts that take place outside a command structure, regardless of ideology.

Usually, the lone-wolf terrorist shares an ideological or philosophical identification with an extremist group, but does not communicate with the group he or she identifies with. While the lone wolf's actions are motivated to advance the group's goal, the tactics and methods are conceived and directed solely by the lone wolf, without any outside command or direction. In many cases, as in the tactic as envisioned by Curtis, the lone wolf never even has any personal contact with a larger group. Because of this, lone-wolf terrorism poses a particular problem for counter-terrorism officials, as it is considerably more difficult to gather intelligence on lone-wolves, compared to conventional terrorists.

In the United States, lone-wolves may present a greater threat than organized groups. According to the Christian Science Monitor, "With the exception of the attacks on the World Trade Center ... the major terrorists attacks in the United States have been perpetrated by deranged individuals who were sympathetic to a larger cause - from Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to the Washington area sniper John Allen Muhammad".[4]

Relatedly, anti-abortion militants The Army of God use "leaderless resistance" as its organizing principle.[5][6][7]



Lone wolves in the United States

Lone wolves in Europe

  • From 1991 to 1992, John Ausonius, a Swedish petty criminal, carried out a series of shootings mainly targetting immigrants. Dubbed the Laserman by the press as he used a rifle fitted with a laser sight for some of his attacks, Ausonius killed 1 man and injured 10 others.
  • Between 1993 and 1997, Franz Fuchs, a xenophobic Austrian, engaged in a campaign against foreigners and organizations and individuals whom he believed to be friendly to foreigners. He killed four people and injured 15, some of them seriously, using three improvised explosive devices and five waves of 25 mailbombs in total.
  • In April 1999, neo-Nazi David Copeland became known as the "London nailbomber" after a 12-day bombing campaign aimed at London's black, Asian and gay communities, killing three and injuring 129.

Lone wolves in the Middle East

  • On 24 February 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a former member of the Jewish Defence League and follower of the Kahanist movement[14], opened fire inside the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, killing 29 people and injuring at least 100.[15]
  • On 4 November 1995, Yigal Amir, a follower of Meir Kahane, assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and injured a security guard at a rally held in support of the Oslo Accords in Tel Aviv, and was sentenced to life plus 14 years in prison. Amir was a law student at Bar-Ilan University and a right-wing activist who had strenuously opposed Rabin's signing of the Accords.
  • On March 19, 2005, Egyptian national Omar Ahmad Abdullah Ali detonated a car bomb outside a theatre filled with Westerners in Doha, Qatar, killing a British director and injuring 12 others. Police believe he was acting alone.[16][17]
  • On 4 August 2005, Eden Natan-Zada, another alleged Kahanist, killed four Israeli Arabs on a bus and wounded 12 before being killed by other passengers.[18] Natan-Zada was a 19-year-old soldier who had deserted his unit after he refused to remove settlers from the Gaza Strip. Less than two weeks later, on 17 August 2005, Asher Weisgan, a 40-year old Israeli bus-driver, shot and killed four Palestinians and injured two others in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh.
  • Nabil Ahmad Jaoura, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, opened fire on tourists at the Roman Amphitheatre in Amman, Jordan, on September 4, 2006. One British tourist died and six others, including five tourists, were injured. Police said he was not connected with any organized group but was angered by Western and Israeli actions in the Middle East.[19]
  • On 6 March 2008, Alaa Abu Dhein opened fire on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, killing eight and injuring 11 before he himself was shot to death. His family denied he was a member of any militant group, although they said he was intensely religious.[20][21]
  • On 2 July, 2008, Husam Taysir Dwayat attacked several cars with a front-end loader. He killed three and injured dozens more before being shot to death. He was not a member of any militant group.[22]

See also


External links


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