Terrorists Don't Act Alone

Wolves are not born in a vacuum, they are born in packs. In fact, the term 'lone wolf,' is a misnomer--self-radicalization does not exist. Radical Islamists recruit in social environments such as radical mosques, social media chat rooms and radical schools and neighborhoods, just to name a few. Sophisticated groupthink and manipulation techniques are used to brainwash recruits into believing that killing infidels, or non-believers, is honorable.

Promises such as 72 virgins, forgiveness for family members, along with payment for martyrs, provide incentives for terrorism. But the most effective inducement is the radical Islamist ideology that most terrorists espouse. Packs of new recruits are trained together by using social processes that create a competitive environment. Ego plays a part in trying to one-up one another, thereby escalating the violence and hatred towards the infidel, the unbeliever. Social psychologist Albert Bandura reported that violence is "socially determined." Radicalization occurs in this type of environment, not in secluded basements of a parents' home.

Immediately following a terrorist attack, one of the first queries is whether a terrorist acted alone. According to Fox News, it is estimated that there are 23,000 jihadists, and 20,000 people who are a residual risk in the U.K. today. The current Manchester murder investigation is uncovering the fact that recruits are embedded in a jihadi network, plotting terror attacks, even though it may seem as though they are acting alone. As the Manchester investigation proceeds, it has been reported that after seventeen raids, eleven suspects have been arrested. Perhaps some of those raids have uncovered underground social groups in addition to links to Libya and other networks.

The web of Islamist terrorism is connected worldwide, radicalizing foot soldiers much faster than law enforcement can keep up. In this case, the terrorist Salman Abedi, was on New Scotland Yard's radar screen before his attack at the Ariana Grande concert, but could not be arrested without probable cause. Until Abedi targeted and killed the young teens as they exited the Manchester arena, (seats up to 21,000 fans), no crime had been committed. To arrest a known wolf, clear evidence of an attack must be found--and clearly, jihadis are taking advantage of this freedom. Author Patrick Poole coined the phrase, 'known wolves,' to describe these jihadis.

The tangled web of jihad is not always visible underneath the mask of "known wolves." Dozens of websites teach prospective jihadis how to build sophisticated explosive devices. Al-Qaeda created Inspire, an online magazine which describes in gruesome detail how to build suicide bombs.  The Anarchist Cookbook, is another site with chat rooms where prospective jihadis can share information in a social setting and learn how to build an IED, (Improvised Explosive Device,) using household items such as pressure cookers.

Violence is the primary vehicle for communication in radical Islamism. The more death, the stronger the message. The jihadists' ultimate goal is to enforce Sharia law worldwide. The brutal attack in Manchester tacitly spoke of the Islamist disdain for loud music, unescorted young girls, and forbidden dress, displaying non-compliance with Sharia law.

Islamist terrorists are fond of symbolism and this heartbreaking and brutal attack occurred on May 22, two months to the day after British terrorist Khalid Masood attacked the reins of power in the United Kingdom.  Dozens of young teens' lives were cut short and over 63 innocent youths wounded in the jihadi-martyrdom bombing claimed by ISIS. We should prepare for more attacks along the horizon, especially on national holidays.

Islamic radicalization is an extreme political doctrine submitting to the tenets of jihad through the socialization from an archaic interpretation of Sharia law. When innocent bystanders and children are savagely attacked, as they were in Manchester, we are reminded that we are in a battle to defend our civilization against barbarism. The justification for these attacks stems from the extreme jihadi ideology that uses references from the Qu'ran, as a political tool. Extremist fundamentalists reminded us once again, that Salafi-jihadism is not compatible with freedom and democracy. Terror, as an instrument for political change, attacks the very foundations of our democracies and Western values. We are all victims of a subversive radical Salafist ideology, from Manchester to London, to New York to Tel Aviv to Paris and beyond.

We must stand together to eradicate our common enemy that rejects freedom in favor of a militant totalitarian belief system. Radical Islamists are masters of manipulation by using a recruiter, a plan, and a radical ideology to indoctrinate their followers. This must be stopped. There must be a way to stop known wolves, before they act.

What Can Be Done?

With all due respect to Prime Minister Theresa May, vigilance and more security services will not be enough to keep Britons safe. Terrorists must be acknowledged, delegitimized, and demonized.

President Donald Trump on his recent Middle East tour stated, "drive them out." Every country, including the Arab and Muslim countries, must be a part of the solution, especially because the victims of Islamism are often Muslims themselves. President Trump called for NATO countries to attack the terrorist hubs and "drive them out of this world."

If the Islamist soldiers come to realize that they are pawns in a violent game, dying as collateral damage for radical Sharia, would they continue to steal young lives, including their own? What if the media demonized, discredited and disregarded terrorist acts? Or if anti-Islamist Muslims discouraged violent extremism as a farce with fools-gold rewards after death? 

The U.S. must learn from Europe's mistakes and create stronger border control, tighten immigration laws, stand strong against radical Islamic lobbies, and protect our Constitutional freedoms. That is only the beginning. The number one job of the British Prime Minister and the President of the United States is to keep our countries safe and secure. Citizens must demand answers about what our leaders are doing to make it so.

Valerie Greenfeld is the author of Backyard Caliphate: Radicalization in our Neighborhood.  Visit her blog at backyardcaliphate.weebly.com.

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