“Loon” Wolf Terrorism
boston-bomber-1024x768Terrorists inspired by a cause but lacking affiliation with an established terrorist organization, are commonly referred to as lone wolf terrorists. For example, the Boston Marathon bombers planned and executed their cowardly attack under the banner of jihad, but they received no training or support from other jihadists. Regardless, they were able to spill innocent blood and paralyze a major U.S. city for several days. Additionally, the younger Tsarnaev brother clearly outlined their motive in a note written just before his capture.

Cold. Calculated. But nobody questioned the Tsarnaev brothers’ sanity.

The Orlando nightclub massacre unfolded much differently. The gunman claimed to be a jihadist, but his articulation of the cause was incoherent and led investigators and the media to raise mental illness as the underlying cause. Ditto for the 2014 café attack in Sydney, Australia. Events like these are sometimes referred to as “loon wolf” terrorist attacks (a term coined by Max Abrahms).

Unfortunately, the confusion between bonafide terrorism and violent crime committed by the mentally disturbed fuels partisan bickering that doesn’t help the cause. Conservatives are labeled Islamophobic fear-mongerers. Liberals are naïve and politically correct. Remember this after the next attack and wait for all of the information to unfold before asking yourself if the attack was an act of terror or a high profile violent crime committed by a deranged individual.

What Do We Actually Know

Lone Wolf terrorism is difficult to study but here are four things we know to be true:

  1. Rarely does a person simply snap without warning. According to the Department of Justice, approximately 60% of lone wolves telegraph their intentions ahead of time. For example, they make disturbing comments and express sympathy for radical causes (online and off), become noticeably angrier about their gripes, and behave differently in the days or weeks leading up to the attack. Acquiring weapons and gear is also a red flag.
  2. Love wolves are trending toward attacking harder targets (i.e. police, government facilities, etc.)
  3. Long guns (e.g. AR-15) are becoming weapons of choice over explosives and handguns. Bombmaking is an esoteric skill that few people can pull off without hands-on training from an experienced practitioner. Rifles are typically easier to buy in the U.S. than handguns, but they also offer greater accuracy and ammunition capacity than handguns. A 9mm round fired from a pistol will travel approximately 1200 feet per second. A .223 or 5.56 round fired from an AR-15 will leave the barrel at approximately 3200 feet per second. This difference in velocity – along with barrel length – accounts for the increased accuracy and overall effectiveness of long guns.
  4. Lone wolves are innovative. According to Jeffrey Simon, “…lone wolves have been among the most innovative terrorists throughout history. From vehicle bombings to anthrax letters, they have many times been ahead of the curve in introducing new terrorist tactics.”

Vehicular Terrorism

6a0177444b0c2e970d01b8d2062921970c39-ways-to-serve-and-participate-in-jihad-1-638The recent vehicular attack in Nice, France, was horrifying – but it wasn’t surprising. Al Qaeda and ISIS have been calling for such attacks for several years. These pictures below come from Al Qaeda’s online magazine, Inspire. The article specifically instructed jihadists to weld sharp, metal beams to the front of the truck to act as blades.

Note: The date on the magazine is in accordance with the Islamic/Hijri Calendar which began in AD 622 when Mohammed left Mecca for Medina. 2016 would therefore be expressed as 1437 H.

Bulletproof headscarf

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Ballistic defense technology continues to evolve. The shemagh (headscarf) pictured here is bulletproof. If the number and severity of terrorist attacks and mass shootings increases – so will the civilian market for defensive technology. Colombian Miguel Caballero has been on the cutting edge of ballistic fabrics, but if demand continues to grow there will be quite a bit of competition.

Stay Informed. Be Prepared.

We are not helpless. Here are 5 ways to mitigate risk and save lives. Share them with people you care about.

Two Book Recommendations

Spot the Lie by Houston, Floyd, Carnicero, & Tennant. All four authors are former CIA interrogators. Learn how to recognize deceptive behavior and properly frame questions. The techniques are applicable for law enforcement, private security, and even parenting. No experience necessary – this is a quick and useful read.

Victor in the Rubble by former CIA officer Alex Finley is a satirical look at the Global War on Terror (GWOT) that showcases bureaucracy and incompetence on both sides – complete with terrorists giving each other powerpoint presentations and admonishing suicide bombers to keep receipts for expense reports. Read it. It’s hilarious. I hope she sells a million copies.

Your Questions

When will the next Mark Landry book be out? (Vicky – Phoenix, AZ)

eBooks versions will be available on October 31st, 2016! Audiobooks and paperbacks will follow shortly thereafter. I’ll sound the alarm when preorders are available.

Do you have any advice for other authors? (Doug – St. Louis, MO)

It depends on your goal. If you write for the sheer joy of writing – just keep writing. It’s a hobby. No pressure. But if your goal is to build a following and make a living – it’s a much tougher game. Jump in with both feet. Work hard. Pull no punches. Be bold. Nobody is going to open the door, invite you inside, and offer you a seat at the table. So kick the door off the hinges, approach the table, and make room for yourself. Also, have thick skin. At the end of the day it’s entirely subjective. Some people will love your stuff and lavish you with praise. Others will hate your stuff and insist you have no business writing at all. Ignore both groups, stay humble, and just keep writing.

Amazon Reviews for Wrong Town are exceptional! Do you read them? Just curious. (Barbara – Orlando, FL)

I read the first 100 or so Amazon reviews just to get my thumb on the pulse of my readers. There are about 300 more reviews that I haven’t seen and have no plans to read but not because I’m ungrateful. Amazon reviews are for potential readers – not me. Additionally, I’ve personally found that there is no upside to reading reviews. Good reviews are a quick shot of dopamine that wears off quickly. But the buzzkill from a bad review lasts much longer. I know other authors who follow every word of every review of their work but I think that’s a distraction and ultimately unproductive. I’d rather track sales and work on the next book. Here’s one of my favorite blog posts on how to take criticism. It’s worth three minutes of your time.

That’s it for now. Let me know if you have any specific questions and I’ll do my very best to answer them for you.

Note: I am in the Dominican Republic through early August and will be posting pics and videos of cool things on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Follow along and thanks again for helping spread the word about Wrong Town and the Mark Landry series. If you’re reading this – you’re an early fan of the series and I appreciate your support more than you could ever know.

Stay safe. – Randy