CHARLOTTE, N.C., September 19, 2016 — The Western world appears to have remained static in its approach to worldwide terrorism, but the jihadists continue to modify and evolve.
One popular buzzword in the media today is the concept of “lone wolves.” President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry claim that the Islamic State is systematically losing territory it conquered in the Middle East, which seems like a good thing.
But Islamic extremists have evolved, masterfully using the internet and taking full advantage of modern technology. In its own way, that juxtaposition feels backwards.
Jihadists following a 7th century ideology to wage their perpetual war against the world should not have a technological advantage over anyone, much less against the country that created Silicon Valley.
In their ideal world, ISIS would continue their march to a new caliphate, but as long as they can keep Western leaders too off-balance to deal with their shifting tactics, their strategy and ultimate goals are being accomplished.
Following the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, al-Qaeda released a 20-year plan with seven stages to defeat the West. We are now living in the 15th year of the program and facing Stage 6. With considerable assistance from the West, intended or not, global terrorism is just five years away from completing its task.
Phase 6 of the al-Qaeda-ISIS plan includes the occurrence of “lone wolf” attacks in virtually every corner of the planet. Most of the time, these so-called solo terrorists are homegrown products who have knowledge of their area of operation.
It is inaccurate to call homegrown terrorists “lone wolves” in the purest definition of the word; they have already been indoctrinated into the Islamist philosophy. Furthermore, they have been trained in all aspects of terror operations from surveillance and bomb making to the minutest detail of how to carry out an attack.
When Osama bin Laden was alive, he understood the value of the internet. His “homeless” army could carry out their assignments on their own schedule, at their own pace but with complete internal contact with mentors who could guide their every strategy.
Bin Laden, his mentor, Palestinian sheikh Abdullah Azzam, and Egyptian hard-liner Sayyid Qutb, a key player in the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood, all knew that the monster they were creating could operate without their personal leadership.
Once they established their system and had enough followers to perpetuate it, it would be a self-fulfilling proposition that could use cyberspace as its primary conduit for communications.
The internet has allowed jihadi sympathizers to operate more openly and without detection. It is a system which requires no true acquisition of land. It needs only willing minds that are open to brainwashing and the “romance” of jihad.
Obama and Kerry will continue to insist that their foreign policy strategies are working until Obama’s final few lame duck months come to an end, and continue to insist it in their memoirs. The Islamic State would prefer to hold on to its territory, but their goal is victory, however they attain it, and they will revel in bringing the West to its knees even without land.
What that means however, is that we may be on the verge of witnessing more and more terrorist attacks carried out by these so-called “lone wolves.”
As the attack in New York over the weekend shows, tip-toeing around whether it should or should not be termed “terrorism” directly plays into the hands of the perpetrators. If another attack happens tomorrow or the next day, the response from the West and local law enforcement will be the same.
In the end, a series of attacks during a concentrated period of time may overwhelm law enforcement officials while numbing the American people to the reality of what is happening.
The wolves are out there, but they are not alone.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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