The Sydney siege is yet another dangerous reminder called Lone Wolf Terrorism. This is a concept that we have seen happening several times and the Kafeel Ahmed-Glasgow case just marked the beginning of that concept. While the reports suggest that the Sydney siege may be a case of lone terror, let us explore how much more dangerous this concept is.
A lone wolf terrorist is one who acts independently. He subscribes to a particular terrorist group's ideology but is not part of it. What better scenario for a terrorist group which has people freelancing for them and propagating their message free of cost without them have to invest anything.
The Kafeel Ahmed case
This Bangalore boy attempted to blow up the Glasgow airport. He was indoctrinated online. He never joined any terrorist group, but drew inspiration from the Al-Qaeda. He pieced together a bomb with step by step instructions online. Fortunately he was not successful in his attempt and was neutralized before he could strike.
Emerson Begolly and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Both these persons worked independently of any group. They were self motivated and Begolly in particular was found to be extremely aggressive online. In fact he was described as a forceful online jihadi who incited crimes against the Americans and Jews.
In both these cases like the Kafeel Ahmed incident it was seen that they were all indoctrinated on the web. They did not contact any terrorist group directly or go join their camps. They decided to wage a war on their own quoting the ideology of terrorist groups.
How it benefits terror groups
All these terrorist groups need to do is continue posting content online. Repeatedly reading such material influences such people. These terrorist groups are aware that attacking countries such as the United States or its allies results in an extreme response. None of them have forgotten the 9/11 and post Afghanistan fiasco.
In such a scenario it always helps to have lone wolves doing the job for them. The terror groups and the lones wolves never interact. There is no mailing or financial transactions.
Low intensity high impact
An attack carried out by a lone wolf normally has a low intensity. Unlike the 26/11 attack which had a coordinated effort with the help of handlers guiding them, a lone wolf acts on his own.
Look at the Sydney case for instance. The intensity in terms of losses is much lower compared to a 26/11 attack. But then it has grabbed world wide attention. A black flag has been waived and the attacker has even sought an audience with the Prime Minister in case the hostages are to be released.
For the Intelligence Agencies lone wolf terror is a nightmare. The Sydney case is a good example of this. The entire focus of the Intelligence in Australia was focused around a big attack by the ISIS. After 2003 it was for the first time that the agencies there raised the alert level to very high.
It is extremely difficult to gather intelligence on lone wolf terrorists. They coordinate with none and do everything on their own thus leaving no scope for picking up intercepts. This particularly is a nightmare for the Intelligence agencies.