Foreign Policy: The Islamic State and the End of Lone-Wolf Terrorism

A suicide bomber attacked after a pop concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 and injuring 60. The Ariana Grande concert was largely attended by young girls and women. The attacker, Salman Abedi, 22, was born to Libyan parents in England, and the Islamic State claimed credit for inspiring the attack. Analysts warn of more random attacks as the war in Syria shrinks ISIS territory, fighters return home and the group continues to inspire online. “This is a core security problem for open Western societies: So-called lone actors may be inspired by the recruitment videos and hashtag campaigns delivered via social media by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, but they move to action on their own, without direct communication with terrorist groups’ leadership,” explain Jen Easterly and Joshua A. Geltzer for Foreign Policy. They term “lone-wolf” may be a misnomer as the Islamic State builds an online community, adept at messaging and targeting individuals disappointed with their own societies and searching for a cause and chance to influence history. The Virtual Caliphate, a study by Charlie Winter, describes six narratives for recruitment and propaganda including brutality, mercy, victimhood, war, and utopia. The need for belonging, a search for a community of like thinkers, may be a key motivator. ISIS urges its band of followers to be opportunistic and creative, waging attacks on home communities with whatever they can improvise. – YaleGlobal

Foreign Policy: The Islamic State and the End of Lone-Wolf Terrorism

Lone-wolf terrorism may be a misnomer: Followers do not operate alone, and there are no easy answers to defeating an online community of terrorists
Jen Easterly and Joshua A. Geltzer
Thursday, May 25, 2017

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Jen Easterly served as a special assistant to the president and senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council.  Joshua Geltzer is a fellow in New America’s International Security program. He served from 2015 to 2017 as senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council staff.

Copyright Foreign Policy 2017

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