Some critics have blamed Donald Trump’s incendiary and nationalistic language, but right-wing extremism has long thrived in the US and in Europe before him or Brexit.
‘Lone wolf’ attacks have accelerated since last summer. Not only has Trump inspired the believers of his own ideas, but also he gave a kiss of life to the Islamic State who itself calls for lone wolves to commit attacks worldwide. Trump not only banned Muslims from several Muslim-majority countries from entering US, but he also removed a white supremacist group from the terror watch program.
My current academic research is about ISIS’s recruitment strategies through media. I will explore some similarities that I have seen between ISIS’s Lone wolves and the far-right wing lone wolves that the media might call Trump’s lone wolves.
To understand this era of increasing individual terror attacks one should understand “lone wolves” as the term is based on their behaviour. Usually, wolves are social animals that live in packs. However, some wolves leave the pack and become “lone wolves”. As per Cambridge’s explanation, A lone wolf terrorist is someone who prepares and commits violent acts alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group. However, he may be influenced or motivated by the ideology and beliefs of an external group, and may act in support of such a group.
The lone wolf concept reflects accurately how ISIS has managed to globalize its network. We in the media might think that ISIS content is disgraceful and that no one would follow this. The reality is that there is always someone who takes differently to these messages. Many of the lone wolves of ISIS were self-radicalized. They go over the media and search for this sort of material or others who share the same ideas. Things that we believe disgusting and unacceptable to us, finds new meaning in their personal context.
One previous lone wolf attack months before Wednesday’s attack in London involved an Egyptian suspect who was shot after wielding a knife at soldiers patrolling the Carrousel du Louvre. That attack was similar to what happened in Canada’s Quebec City mosque hours after Canadian prime minister declared that his country welcomes the Muslims that Trump banned from entering the USA. The Canadian French young attacker Alexandre Bissonnette, who shot dead 6 and injured 19, is a fan of the American President Donald Trump and far-right French politician Marine Le Pen. Now this week we have an attack by a white man in New York, and an “Islamist related” lone wolf attack in London.
One essential part of the behaviour of a wolf is waiting for the right moment to attack. Fifty people were at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre when the shooting began. This left six dead, 19 wounded. The Canadian French attacker rented an apartment near the mosque and visited the site several times.
The Munich anti-immigrant attacker in September 2016 targeted a busy shopping area. He even posted on the internet that he will provide free meals at McDonald’s to increase victims. He killed 9 and wounded 21 others before committing suicide. Authorities said the gunman was motivated by anger at immigrants. The shooter shouted “Bloody foreigners!” at the scene of the attack.
This week in London the attacker chose to attack Parliament, which carries with it lots of symbolism. The attacker also ran over people on the busy Westminster Bridge. The lone wolf attack in New York City where a white man fatally stabbed a black man — and did so in New York City, because in his own words, it was “the media capital of the world”. He travelled specifically to New York City because he wanted to kill black men and “make a statement”.
ISIS recently published an article in its English-language magazine, Rumiyah, that encouraged lone-wolf attacks, noting that using vehicles can reap “large numbers of casualties.” This call triggered similar attacks from IS’s lone wolves. An attack by a truck blowing into a crowd carried out by a Tunisian wolf killed 84 people in the French Riviera city of Nice months before, and is clearly consistent with Wednesday’s London attack which has now been claimed by IS.
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