Australia Attack Leads to Discussion on “Lone Wolf” Terrorists
When Australian police rolled into a Sydney cafe in 2014, Australia was in the middle of the worst terrorist attack it had seen since 1978 when a bombing at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney killed two people.
Man Haron Monis, an Iranian exile, and self-proclaimed Sheikh died in the re-taking of the cafe along with three of his hostages. Well known throughout Australian by law enforcement, Monis had been posting hate letters to families of Australia soldiers slain in Afghanistan. Monis had also been charged in 2013 with being an accomplice to the gruesome slaying of his ex-wife.
As police moved in, witnesses saw heavy gunfire and stun grenades exploding. The explosive ending a stand-off that saw 22 hostages held; five of those had escaped earlier.
Not just content with sending threatening letters, Monis was also facing over 40 charges of sexual assault.
“He had a past of violent crime, radicalism, and mental imbalance, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Canberra.
Australia, an ally of America, has stayed on high alert for attacks by home-grown extremists who were returning from fighting in the Middle East.
Prepared to Negotiate
According to a spokesman, police were preparing to negotiate with Monis in exchange for the release of some of the hostages. Monis refused to communicate directly with law enforcement.
Monis’ demands included being able to debate personally with Abbott, live on ABC.
Ultimately, the police forced entry to the cafe after Monis had killed the manager, Tori Johnson.
Things to Come?
Kate Barrelle, an expert in radicalisation, told an Australian inquest that Monis’s history could have permitted authorities to predict he would commit a terrorist act.
Barrelle claimed mental health issues including narcissism and an anti-social personality disorder motivated Monis.
Despite a lack of evidence indicating that Monis expected to die during the siege, he may have started to think his death would be a positive thing.
Phillip Boulten, attorney for the family of Katrina Dawson, who was killed by police bullets as they stormed the cafe, asked if “police should have picked up on the fact that Monis continued to carry on in this fashion and were predictors of his committing a terrorist act”.
” I believe that is a reasonable assumption,” said Barrelle. “The science is not there to back it up with predictive tools, but that shouldn’t stop people from using their best judgement.”
Is the “Lone Wolf” Theory a Legend?
The folklore of the lone wolf rebel believes terrorists are born. The live solitary lives like the Unabomber and strike at random targets only to vanish.
That’s not often the situation. Terrorists are more apt to be created, not born.
“Lone wolf” attackers apt to be male; more inclined to have an education past high school and have undergone a life changing event such as a job loss, a shattered relationship or other event that changed their traditional life.
Having experienced some dislocating event, they frequently find a new alliance — face to face or on the Internet— with a militant group. The same applies to someone who picks an extremist Islamic organization, a right-wing gathering or also a left-wing party — each chase more clashes than conventional activism.
To carry out their hostilities, revolutionary groups need attackers which reach beyond the typical network. Terrorists attempt to enlist discontented persons to their fight and give them space to decide how an assault could be conducted. These groups willingly sacrifice power and authority over the new followers, and the new recruits are harder to attack and stop.
“Lone wolves” are anything but alone. Despite the media, the government and even groups like ISIS which all use the title, the fresh terrorists remain united with the organization — even if they have not had in person contact or flown to the Middle East for training.
The new volunteers pull in household members and other compatible individuals. Cases similar to the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Oklahoma City Bombing and 9/11 were conducted by “lone wolves”. However, one study showed 24 cases from 2013 to 2015 were marked “lone wolves” even though only 30 percent of the attacks suggested a lone attacker.
Use of the term lone wolf may not be accidental. It is simpler to explain the assault as one that can’t be checked instead of admitting that these people are just alone. Connections nevertheless endure, and there are spots to be linked. In the aftermath of an assault like Monis’, the links will gradually surface and show that few were truly “lone wolves”.