Fighting the Lone-Wolf Terrorist
How is Donald Trump’s plan to wipe out terrorism in America going to rid the USA of lone-wolf terrorist attacks? During his campaign, he vowed to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.”
But even if Trump happens to squash ISIS throughout the Middle East, if there happens to be a dozen determined ISIS sympathizers alive and well in the USA who are adept at bomb making, who can fight proficiently and even adeptly like urban guerrillas, and who happen to be heavily armed with not one of them having an iota of concern or worry about taking part in a solo suicide terrorist assault, how does our President plan to fight terrorism then? There are some measures that America can take in fighting these lone-wolf monsters, and much of it is just common sense.
American white supremacists Alex Curtis and Tom Metzger - during the 1990’s - encouraged other white supremacists to commit violent acts independently, as to avoid detection. Thus, Curtis and Metzger are responsible for the term ‘lone wolf’ terrorism. These days, terrorist groups like ISIS encourage acts of terror that are basic, inexpensive, and unsophisticated, like renting a van and driving it into the crowd at an outdoor event or a crowded city sidewalk. A cheap, 10-inch hunting knife purchased at a department store for $15 can do as much damage as a Savage .308 high-power rifle with a scope or an AR-15 assault rifle. So committing an act of terror need not come with a costly price tag. For anyone desperate, committed, and violent enough, the entry fee for getting into the modern-day terrorism game can be cheaper than the cost of a ticket into a movie theater.
Even prisoners heavily guarded and watched constantly come up with some of the most lethal shanks and even swords – like they say, the devil’s hands never rest. A resentful homicidal inmate will spend all night for two weeks, perhaps even a month, sharpening some thin bar he happened across laying on the floor in the laundry room or the prison yard that he snuck into his cell. While his cellie is sound asleep, he will work to tirelessly and meticulously transform the blunt piece of metal into a very sharp knife. It’s all too late when he attacks another inmate with it and kills him.
Here is a comprehensive, but not a complete list, of lone-wolf terrorists who have struck in the USA in just the past few years. Some of them were driven and inspired by radical Islamic propaganda, but others were spurred on by white supremacy, growing police brutality (mainly against minorities like young black men), violence stemming from anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion rage, and some leave big question marks concerning a motive. Some domestic terrorism in the past few years seems to have been performed terror’s sake. Although many of the lone-wolf terrorist attacks of the past few years involved young Middle Eastern men, others were committed by Caucasians and African-Americans. Let’s not forget that the worst act of domestic terrorism was committed by a well-decorated Gulf War soldier, Timothy McVeigh, a Caucasian, who was responsible for the detonation of a truck bomb that he parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. The Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people and injured over 600, with the majority being young children.
* Outraged about Donald Trump’s election to the Presidency, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, opened fire on members of the Republican congressional baseball team at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., June 15 in close proximity to a dugout, which made it difficult for law enforcement to put Hodgkinson in their gun sights because his position was like that of a soldier in a fox hole. Steve Scalise, majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives, along with two members of Mr. Scalise’s Capitol Police team, lied wounded. A Republican member of the U.S. House from Michigan, Mike Bishop, was quoted in The New York Times as saying about what witnesses described as “an elderly white guy with a beard” and his act of terrorism as: “There was so much gunfire, you couldn’t get up and run, Pop, pop, pop, pop — it’s a sound I’ll never forget.” Hodgkinson, who lived in a suburb of Saint Louis, was killed by law enforcement, but only after his shooting rampage lasted for what seemed to be an eternity. Scalise returned to his job as a federal legislator in late September, saying he is a “living example that miracles really do happen.” Scalise was quoted by CNN as saying: “You know, I mean, my femur was shattered. The hip and pelvis had serious damage where the bullet went through and, you know, did some damage to areas that had to be shored up with steel plates … they did a phenomenal job of rebuilding, you know, kind of rebuilding Humpty Dumpty. I mean, there were, there was a lot of damage inside that that had to get fixed.”
* Omar Mateen killed 49 people at a gay night club in Orlando, Fla., and wounded 58 others on June 12, 2016. This son of Afghan immigrants, inspired by ISIS, was killed by police during a shootout after this slaughter fest.
* Micah Johnson killed five police officers in Dallas, Texas, and wounded seven others. He was a U.S. Army combat soldier in Afghanistan. It was later discovered that Johnson had a fascination for radical black-power groups on his Facebook page. Police used a robot-carried explosive device to kill Johnson. A young African-American, Johnson only tried to shoot white people during this rampage, during a time of fevered racial unrest in Dallas in early July, 2016. Ironically, Johnson’s shooting spree resulted in the death of another member of the U.S. military.
* Eric Rudolph was a Caucasian serial bomber who carried out a number of attacks in the Deep South from 1996 to 1998, killing two people and injuring more than 100. Rudolph was on the F.B.I.’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List until he was caught in 2003. Responsible for the Centennial Olympic Park Bombing in Atlanta on July 27, Rudolph was preoccupied with terrorism sprouting from his own anti-gay and anti-abortion convictions. In a plea bargain, he was sentenced to four consecutive life terms rather than facing the death penalty. Rudolph is incarcerated in the ADX Florence Supermax prison near Florence, Colo.
* In July 2015, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez killed five people at a military recruitment center and a U.S. Naval Reserve base in Tennessee. He was a 24-year-old electrical engineer who grew up in Chattanooga as part of a conservative Muslim family.
* U.S. Citizen Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a permanent U.S. resident, left their baby with grandmother and then massacred 14 people in early December, 2015. Farook and Malik were killed in a shootout with police at this deadly site, the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif.
* Two gunmen wielding assault rifles outside an exhibit featuring cartoon images of Muhammad at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, injured a security officer before Nair Soofi and Elton Simpson were killed by police. The art exhibit and contest was hosted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative and approximately 200 people were in attendance.
* Faisal Mohammed stabbed four people with a hunting at the University of California campus on Nov. 4, 2015, in Merced, Calif., before being shot dead by university police. This lone-wolf terrorist was believed to have been inspired by radical Islamic beliefs, according to federal authorities.
* Between Sept. 17-19, 2016, there were four bombings in densely populated communities on the Eastern seaboard, in Seaside, N.J., New York, N.Y. (in Manhattan), and Elizabeth, N.J. Ahmad Khan Rahami was named as the lone-wolf perpetrator of all four incidents in which 31 people were injured in one of the bombings. He was inspired by extremist Islamic ideology.
* On the morning of Nov. 28, 2016, a car ramming and a mass stabbing occurred at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, leading to 11 people required to be hospitalized for injuries. Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan was inspired by ISIS terrorist propaganda.
* James Holmes will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing 12 people and wounding 70 more at a Century movie theater near Aurora, Colo., during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Then age 27, Holmes was armed with a pistol, shotgun, and rifle and randomly shot into the darkened theater before he was arrested outside in the parking lot. He had no criminal record before the shooting and there are still a lot of question marks why this young white guy became such a deadly menace.
Conventional war, increasing military spending, revving up attacks on ISIS and other terrorists in the Middle East, and threatening these lethal monsters with “tweets’ will not do anything to stop lone-wolves determined to attack in the USA. If anything could stop such threats, helping our law enforcement officials at the city and county levels develop better ways to find and monitor potential terrorist groups and lone wolves could be a cheaper and more worthwhile way to stop terror in its tracks. This does not mean for law enforcement to be arresting and detaining innocent people on racial profiling conditions alone – cold, hard, calculated investigative work within the boundaries of our civil rights guarantees should be followed to the fullest. Like every large- and medium-sized city has a vast network of sophisticated investigation and policing for narcotics, the same should hold true for homeland security and anti-terror policing and investigations. Our cities, particularly our major cities, need to start implementing sophisticated anti-terrorism bureaus within their police departments. Relying on federal law enforcement to fight domestic terrorism is not the right remedy. The local police know the city they work in day in, day out, the best, and law enforcement must begin working toward developing anti-terrorism investigation and monitoring at a much broader and intense level.
There is something very wrong, too, about equipping police departments with military-style vehicles, firearms and other armaments, and even uniforms. The only thing the militarized police do these days is further alienate and scare residents. Seeing a whole fleet of military vehicles parked near a police precinct frightens and intimidates Joe and Sally Good-Citizen. Such brazen and ostentatious displays of power and might also serve to provoke and incite the criminal element to escalate their game - sometimes even into the terrorist realm. A few required military vehicles, along with SWAT teams armed with military equipment, like assault rifles, may be necessary, but the Tulsa or Bakersfield police should not look like the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.
For starters, the Second Amendment be damned, if someone in a city has just bought five AR-15s, three AK-47s and two Uzis, the local police department should have gun laws effective that can easily track such an individual. In fact, if and when this type of purchase occurs, the local police department should be given a red alert warning. Having such a data bank available for police to utilize has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. It’s a Homeland Security issue. This thing about going south to a gun show in Alabama and bringing back all these goodies with nobody knowing about it has to stop.
Our police departments should not be in a rat race to stay in competition with the weapons that the criminal element has in their possession. The prime reason we have militarized police departments these days is because of the automatic and semi-automatic weapons that are easily attainable to anyone. Five guys from a criminal enterprise who stop in the EVERY GUN UNDER THE SUN TENT SALE and purchase weaponry fit for a U.S. Marine Corps tactical unit will never be outmatched by kitchen knives or bows and arrows, after all. There is an escalation of arms between our country’s thin blue line and the thugs they have to go out every day and night and monitor, if not apprehend and take into custody.
I know I’m going to send bells blaring on the progressive left when I call for an immediate death sentence consequence for any criminal convicted of killing a police officer. Much stiffer incarceration penalties should also be levied for anybody who seriously maims a member of law and order who is doing their job. It should be federally mandated and supported by every state. Any lone-wolf terrorist or group of thugs who commit a crime and police end up as targets for these heinous miscreants to get their “prize” or “fame” or “revenge” should be seen as true terrorists and should suffer the consequences all terrorists face - with the stiffest penalties imaginable. If there is reason to take the death sentence off the table, it can be done through the courts, but a much harder line needs to be set in place for anyone committing violence against a member of the law and order community. This will be a coerced way, but a good way, to have our citizenry start respecting local, state, and federal law enforcement.
Having our cities involved with community policing efforts would be a good way to keep track of any suspicious lone-wolf attacker, too. Neighbors are nosy, let’s face it. They know what the guy next door is like, along with what the guy two doors down is up to, and they know what people across the street are doing – in fact, they know a lot more about what goes on in their neighborhood than we can imagine.
Fostering healthier relationships and better communications in our communities with our local city cops and county law enforcement officials can serve as a surrogate intelligence system. We need not go back to the overly friendly and ultra-polite days of Mayberry, but it’s time for our cops and our citizens to get along, if for no other reason than to keep our cities safe against violence, and at its worst form this violence erupts into acts of domestic terrorism. There will have to be some give and take here and the police cannot continue to cover for fellow officers who have a proclivity to use police brutality. There is no place for a hotheaded and demented “killer cop” on any police department. Police officers will have to start policing themselves to assure that everyone in the ranks adheres to the codes of professionalism when dealing with the public, and yes, this even includes the criminal public. Every police officer in every police department nationwide needs to begin following a proper continuum-of- force protocol when trying to apprehend or arrest someone. Police should never have their first option of force be to draw their weapon (unless, of course, there is a weapon drawn on them). Shooting unarmed victims has created more than just a few demonstrations turned to riots in the past several years. Also, there should be more outside, independent investigations of police killing or maiming citizens. Leaving investigations up to the police department from which the officer in question shot an alleged “perp” is not a good way of handling such matters. Even if final findings are based in soundness and truth, they will always be considered wrong and suspect. It’s just the way people are these days, let’s face it.
Over time, creating a healthier relationship between law enforcement and our urban and rural communities will pay off, but it will take some time. A lot of healing is required and trust doesn’t come overnight. If a group of teenage boys living with an aging grandparent fear the guy across the street is making bombs after he comes home from work, they’ll surely inform a police officer of this, if their trust can be established with law enforcement. Yes, these kids are scared and wonder what the weirdo is up to in setting off those loud bombs in the backyard whenever the freight train drowns out some of the explosive percussion when is screams down the tracks. During his cruising rounds, Patrolman Russ Bales stops to chit-chat with them sometimes, so the boys decide to let Bales know of what they’ve witnessed with the guy across the street.
For better communications between citizens and police in our cities and towns, there would have to spawn a newfound trust in neighborhoods, especially in urban communities, between the police and the people who live there. Citizens would have to begin to like having a police presence in their neighborhoods again, rather than thinking of the thin blue line as “the enemy.” And this might call for more police so those on duty have adequate back-up and are working sane weekly hours so they are not stressed-out much of the time.
Also, one of the main threads holding all the lone-wolf terrorists in common is that they suffered severe mental health problems when they committed these acts of terrorism. Trump’s federal budget calls for drastic reductions in social programs, such as those meant to treat the mentally ill. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the trite saying goes, and during a more stable and progressive political climate, it will be imperative that much more money needs to be spent on programs to help the mentally ill. Long-term, in-patient psychiatric treatment for those suffering grave mental illness conditions like manic depression and paranoid schizophrenia needs to take precedence, so that there is no disparity between classes in the area of emotional wellbriety. The poor and the middle class, as well as the wealthy, should rest assured in knowing that their loved ones can recover from these terrible diseases. The days of having a little mental health facility serve an entire city, strictly on an outpatient basis, are turning into a disaster. We need to invest in mental health programs and facilities in our urban and rural areas. Today, states have only one or two state mental health centers that treat in-patients on a longer-term basis. Being on a waiting list to be admitted into such a facility is ridiculous and dangerous. Sometimes, the person waiting to be treated is like a ticking time bomb, ready to explode on any given hour of any given day. Shoving a very sick individual a few pills in a vial and sending him on his way is no remedy, but that’s basically what’s going on today.
Much more investment is required in helping our military veterans adjust to civilian life after they return home from wars. Having our best and boldest go off to foreign lands and fight tours of duty only to return home to a country that doesn’t seem to give a damn about them needs to change. There are throngs of homeless vets wandering around in our largest cities and our most remote rural areas. Many of them suffer from emotional strife and require mental health treatment. If we’re going to accept our vets back to our country as we’ve been doing for far too long now, let’s just not fight any more wars. What results, far too many times, is someone who really knows how to manipulate the threat of force and violence and a bloodbath is reported on the local or national news on some dark and dreary, hellish night.
Having our vets come home without the proper support is not only selfish and cruel on our society’s part, it is also stupid in that hungry, homeless, emotionally ill veterans, many of whom also suffer from substance abuse problems, can change shirts from patriot to terrorist without warning or reason. They can really create bedlam and bloodshed, after having spent years learning and training on various methods of warfare. Consider the wreckage and carnage created by the Oklahoma City bomber, Tim McVeigh. The truck bomb blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings. For the most part, McVeigh acted alone, or at least was the mastermind (within a very small circle) of this horrific act of terror, which caused an estimated $652 million worth of damage. According to Wikipedia: “Extensive rescue efforts were undertaken by local, state, federal, and worldwide agencies in the wake of the bombing, and substantial donations were received from across the country. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) activated eleven of its Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, consisting of 665 rescue workers who assisted in rescue and recovery operations. The Oklahoma City bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil until the September 11 attacks six years later, and it still remains the deadliest incident of domestic terrorism in United States history.”’
McVeigh was sentenced to death for his crime. On June 11, 2001, he was given a lethal injection. While most death row inmates wait 15 years or longer for their final punishment, McVeigh’s sentence was expedited and he was killed only four years after his conviction. Terry Nichols, a conspirator, was given eight life terms for the deaths of eight federal agents and another 161 life terms by the State of Oklahoma for the deaths of those innocents inside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Another conspirator, Michael Fortier, was sentenced to 12 years and since then, has been released. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer and nitromethane stacked full inside a truck the size of a box truck used by moving companies, parked on the street in front of the building, was detonated to create this Luciferian hell on earth.
In closing, Donald Trump’s answer to fighting terrorism by ICE arresting anyone looking to be here illegally has to stop. A young Iranian mother working on becoming a U.S. citizen by holding a green card and working in a hot laundry six days a week does not fit the profile of a lone-wolf terrorist. Neither does a family of migrant workers from Mexico working in the hot Florida orange fields. Deporting these people for having a different heritage and background than White Anglo Saxon Protestant, and a religion not fitting into the Judeo-Christian mold, is no reason for them to be arrested and deported. Besides, it is against Constitutional Law. Sending a family of Chaldean Catholic immigrants who gained U.S. citizenship back to Iraq where they will all face being beheaded because they do not belong to Islam is evil. But that’s the Trumpensteinian way of fighting terror. Yes, it’s as draconian, evil, and barbaric as anything else this madman has come to hold as his way of “fixing things”.
It’s time to fight smart against terror and all of us should accept the fact that no matter how hard we fight, lone-wolf terrorism will surely continue to rear its ugly head on occasion and it is something that is very hard to squash. The alternatives I’m offering here might not be possible in the dark days of Trump, but working toward healthier cities, towns, and counties may be something to work toward during a more stable and progressive day, when these days of insanity and volatile politics-gone-haywire have quelled to a whisper rather than a vociferous roar.