Lone wolf attacks are a thing of the past…because Daesh is moving to bigger and worse attacks.
The Brussels bombings have made it plain that the scale of the threat posed by the Islamic State to the West is far larger than most Westerners had previously thought. That threat is no longer limited to the radicalization of the approximately 5,000 European citizens who left the comfort and safety of their homes to fight alongside the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq and, more recently, Libya. Nor has it only expanded to include so-called “lone-wolf” plots — self-organized attacks carried out by homegrown radicals. The Brussels bombings have made it painfully clear that the Islamic State is determined to plan and direct attacks in the West that are far more sophisticated and lethal than such small-scale mayhem.
It would be understandable if the public expressed anxiety and dismay about this metastasized danger. But the West’s counterterrorism officials are not entitled to feel surprise. For anyone paying close enough attention, the Islamic State’s expanded capabilities have been evident for well over a year.
And people like me who warned about this were called Islamophobic, scare-mongerers, intolerant and racist…except we were right.
After the U.S.-led coalition began launching airstrikes against Islamic State targets in August 2014, the group’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, responded with a call for supporters to carry out lone-offender terrorist attacks targeting the West.
If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.
Since then, Islamic State supporters and sympathizers have tried to answer his call. The January 2015 attacks in Paris on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store caused some confusion because some operatives appeared to be tied to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), while others were inspired by the Islamic State. Looking back, however, it appears that these terrorist “frenemies” (the groups they respectively affiliated themselves with were fighting one another in a jihadi civil war back in Syria) were still part of the lone-offender phenomenon. They may have been inspired by groups based in the Middle East, but they were not directed by them.
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