Mainstream Finally Catching Up with the Terrorists

There’s something peculiar about this new focus on lone wolf terrorists:

After 9/11, it was the men who went to radicalized mosques or terror boot camps who were seen as the biggest terror threat. Today, that picture’s changed: Authorities are increasingly focusing on the lone wolf living next door, radicalized on the Internet – and plotting strikes in a vacuum. …
And President Barack Obama said in a CNN interview on Aug. 16 that a “lone wolf” terror attack in the U.S. is more likely than a major coordinated effort like the Sept. 11 attacks.

Anybody remember John Allen Muhammed and John Lee Malvo, the Beltway snipers, back in 2002? Or how about the El Al Airlines shooter, also that year?
As I recall, it was a subject of some debate whether such acts ought to be counted on the tally of radical Islamic terrorists. The tendency was to resist the conclusion that the real root cause of terrorism was the ideology that drove its adherents to kill, even when their own deaths were necessarily part of the method.
On a tangential note: reading the article, one can’t help but worry that the reality of these lone wolves is going to be used as justification for the intimate, deep monitoring that might actually catch terrorists by the content of the video clips that they watch online. Of course, historical practice suggests that the government won’t find itself able to limit its intrusions on those who fit a very narrow profile, but will insist on monitoring everybody, everywhere (you know, so as not to show prejudice).
If that’s the direction that we’re headed, the American people ought to choose endurance of small-scale terrorist attacks, rather than of Big Brother.

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mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

“the American people ought to choose endurance of small-scale terrorist attacks, rather than of Big Brother.”
I can’t agree more. At some point, you have to ask if it’s worth it to just accept the very remote chance of ‘something happening’ vs. building a $300 Billion government agency that’s tasked with basically spying on innocent people.
So far, the money spent on counterterrorism overall has VERY poor returns compared to life-saving spending elsewhere or even no spending in the first place. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be looking for terrorists or trying to anticipate their next move, just that it shouldn’t distract from other, more important tasks of the FBI, NSA, CIA, and local law enforcement. Right now my problem is drug dealers lowering my quality of life, not terrorists; The folks in Virginia ought to be trying to destroy the supply chain of the former.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

The tendency was to resist the conclusion that the real root cause of terrorism was the ideology that drove its adherents to kill, even when their own deaths were necessarily part of the method.

Just like the violence seen in the anti-abortion movement? I suspect you’d resist making that leap, even while seeming to have no problem doing the same to the billion + Muslims of the world.
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/1998/summer/anti-abortion-violence

Over the last 20 years, anti-abortion terrorists have been responsible for six murders and 15 attempted murders (see Lake of Fire), according to the National Abortion Federation. They have also been behind some 200 bombings and arsons, 72 attempted arsons, 750 death and bomb threats and hundreds of acts of vandalism, intimidation, stalking and burglary.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
10 years ago

No, not at all like that. Pro-liters have no problem acknowledging that seeing abortion as murder may lead some people to conclude that violence is justified to stop it. And most pro-liters are able and willing, even eager, to declare such violence to be at odds with the underlying belief and, in any case counterproductive to the cause.
Last I looked, incidents have fallen off quite a bit, over the last decade. Perhaps the response from the movement is part of the reason.
By contrast, the ideology of radical Islam tours it as a positive good to kill those whom adherents see as enemies of the faith.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

OK, so the pro-life movement and fundamentalist Christianity in general should be considered “the real root cause of terrorism,” examples of “ideolog[ies] that [drive] adherents to kill.” Fine by me, but I’m guessing there are quite a few fundamentalist Christians who would beg to differ.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

Reminded me of this btw from a couple of months ago…
“The 100% Scared Doctrine: The Ever-Expanding National Security Complex”
http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/06/09/the-ever-expanding-national-security-complex/

For food-borne disease more generally, the CDC estimates that 48 million (or one of every six) Americans get sick yearly, 128,000 are hospitalized, and about 3,000 die.
By comparison, in the near decade since 9/11, while hundreds of Americans died from E. coli, and at least 30,000 from food-borne illnesses generally, only a handful of Americans, perhaps less than 20, have died from anything that might be considered a terror attack in this country, even if you include the assassination attempt against Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the Piper Cherokee PA-28 that a disgruntled software engineer flew into a building containing an IRS office in Austin, Texas, killing himself and an IRS manager. (“Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well” went his final note.)
In other words, in terms of damage since 9/11, terror attacks have ranked above shark attacks but below just about anything else that could possibly be dangerous to Americans, including car crashes which have racked up between 33,800 and 43,500 deaths a year since 2001…
Here, then, is one of the strange, if less explored, phenomena of our post-9/11 American age: in only one area of life are Americans officially considered 100% scared, and so 100% in need of protection, and that’s when it comes to terrorism.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

I still don’t quite get what you’re driving at, which is why a first I thought you were impuning the religion.
Whose “tendency was to resist” that conclusion? Certainly many, many in the media hyped ad nauseum the connection between terror to Islam. I type in “Islam” and “Terror” and get 53 millino hits.
And what “ideology… drove its adherents to kill?” It seemed here that you’re talking about Islam itself, not about liberation movements which use Islam as a source of inspiration. I’d say terrorism is a common tactic in many resistance movements (the real root cause) more so than any religious veneer.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

I am disturbed by the analogy to pro-lifers. Perhaps someone with a better memory than I can chime in. I seem to recall that part of the disparity is under reporting and that there have been numerous acts of violence by the pro-abortionists. As mentioned, the number of these crimes seems to have fallen off in recent years. Or, are no longer news worthy.
I find some analogy to my position in “hate crimes”. This is thought of as a “white problem”. Reference to FBI statistics indicates that the number of racial hate crimes by blacks and whites is about equal. Comparison of the relative percentages of the population (blacks are about 1/6th) indicates that blacks must be far more likely to commit a hate crime. As to the under reporting, I have noticed in my own experience (largely the Boston Globe) that when a white is arrested, there is immediate demand for prosecution as a hate crime. When a black is arrested “the possibility of a hate crime is being investigated”. This is an impression, I have never done a statistical analysis.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

My post above reminded me of what I think is an excellent example. Late in 2009, Lionel McIntyre, a black Architecture Professor at Columbia, became engaged in a heated discussion of “white privilege” with Camille Davis, a white female employee of Columbia. Prof. McIntyre is what is known as an “activist”. According to witnesses, he “sucker punched” Ms. Davis to the face, breaking her glasses and severely bruising her. Seems pretty obvious to me, but the NY police refused to charge him with a “hate crime”.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

My post above reminded me of what I think is an excellent example. Late in 2009, Lionel McIntyre, a black Architecture Professor at Columbia, became engaged in a heated discussion of “white privilege” with Camille Davis, a white female employee of Columbia. Prof. McIntyre is what is known as an “activist”. According to witnesses, he “sucker punched” Ms. Davis to the face, breaking her glasses and severely bruising her. Seems pretty obvious to me, but the NY police refused to charge him with a “hate crime”.
I am not a fan of “hate crime” laws, I think it is government over reach. But if we have them, it seems reasonable to demand “equal protection”.

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