Expert examines fight against lone wolf terrorism

Raffaello Pantucci, an associate fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, examined what countries are doing to counter the threat of lone wolf terrorism in an recent editorial for Homeland Security Today.
Lone wolf terrorist acts such as Anders Behring Breivik's successful attack  in Oslo in July and Nidal Hasssan, who killed 13 in a Fort Hood, Texas, shooting spree, have increased concern by security planners. Countering these effective lone wolf attackers can be an "elusive art," Homeland Security Today reports.
"Preventing lone wolves is something that is inherently difficult," Pantucci wrote, according to Homeland Security Today. "An individual who sits at home passively consuming literature they find online and then decides to construct a bomb or some other lethal device using commonly available material is very hard to detect or prevent. The usual trip-wires that are in place to catch individuals who are in communication with networks of radicals abroad are not triggered. And if these individuals are careful enough, it is perfectly possible for them to stay under the radar until they decide to carry out their act."
In the United Kingdom, the Channel Project was set up to identify and dissuade at-risk individuals from continuing down a dangerous path. In France, individuals are arrested and prosecuted on the basis of being involved in terrorist plotting and no distinction is made as to whether they are acting alone or not. The United States has taken the approach to identify individuals, often through online activity, and to send covert agents in to identify what the individual might be planning. The undercover agents will then assist the individual in order to establish documented actions that can be used in court.
It is difficult to tell if the approach by the U.S. is eliminating or accelerating the issue of lone wolf terrorism. Without the instigation of undercover police officers, suspects may not have attempted to carry out a terrorist attack. This raises the question of whether some lone wolves are being created by the very counterterrorist operations that are supposed to prevent them from becoming lone wolf terrorists.
"The problem of lone wolves is that it does not yet have a perfect solution," Pantucci wrote, Homeland Security Today reports. "And as the problem evolves, many more strategies to try to counter them will be necessary. But the root of the problem continues to be the Al Qaeda ideology that many lone wolves claim to be followers of, and that continues to find resonance among young western Muslims. Until this ideology fades, we will continue to see the emergence of more lone jihadists."