Beware the Known Wolf Attacker
What do terrorist attacks from Ft. Hood to the Boston Marathon, Manchester, and the London Bridge have in common? For all the pundit-prattle and the endless handwringing over what to do to prevent future attacks, the answer is obvious -- and it’s not “if you see something, say something”. It’s if you know something do something.
In virtually every terrorist attack we find that the perpetrators were on this or that watch list, had been previously reported to police, or were otherwise known to authorities. British PM Teresa May might want stricter controls on cyber chatter, but let her explain how terrorists can be, not only on police radar but on British TV shown practicing their craft, and British authorities do nothing.
These are not “lone wolf” attacks, but rather “known wolf” attacks by jihadis already on the radar of authorities who are otherwise too short on resources or too intimidated by political correctness to do anything. As ABC News reported on suspects in the London Bridge attack:
One of the three men who were shot and killed by police following the terrorist attack that killed seven people in London on Saturday night was previously known to authorities as a potential threat…
The Metropolitan Police released the names and photographs of two men, identified as Khuram Shazad Butt, 27, a British citizen of Pakistani descent, and Rachid Redouane, 30, who claimed to be Moroccan and Libyan….
According to the police, Butt was known to authorities, while Redouane was not. “There was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned and the investigation had been prioritised accordingly,” the police said in a statement….
Butt was featured in a 2016 documentary on the British Channel 4 called “The Jihadis Next Door” alongside members of a group that openly campaigned for Sharia law.
In one scene, which appears to have occurred in July of 2015, Butt can be seen praying with members of the group in front of a black flag. They are shown being confronted by police, and according to the documentary, were detained for an hour and released without any charges.
According to Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, research director of George Washington University's Program on Extremism, there are about three thousand people authorities considered possible threats, and this group was among the most extreme.
You can’t be said to be under the radar when you are caught on film flying the black flag of ISIS and openly supporting imposition of Sharia law in Britain, something which is anathema to basic human rights and everything Western civilization. Instead of supporting Facebook censorship of jihadi posts, how about arresting and deporting the jihadis or, better yet, through, dare we say it, extreme vetting never admit them in the first place.
Manchester terrorist Salman Abedi was also a known wolf whose activities authorities were well aware of. As Muddasser Ahmed noted in the Independent:
“What more can a law abiding Muslim do?” asked an exasperated radio host yesterday morning, after it emerged that the Manchester bomber’s family and friends tipped off MI5, who then missed five opportunities to stop him….
Our Prime Minister was Home Secretary and in charge of MI5 when they were tipped off about Abedi -- do the victims’ families have a right to an explanation of why the warnings were not heard?...
Abedi flew a black Jihadi flag out of his window in Manchester. He was banned from his mosque. His Imam reported him. His family reported him. His friends reported him. He wasn’t a lone wolf -- he was a known wolf.
Most terrorists are indeed known wolves, and they are not quite as alone as they are portrayed in a liberal media obsessed with avoiding any mention of a global threat from radical Islamic terror. They speak of “home-grown” terror because kids are born in the country. Being born in Britain to parents from a terrorist haven doesn’t make one British. Radicalization, spoken as if it were some disease you can be vaccinated against, begins at home.
Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan was also a known wolf whose communications with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki indicating a clear and present danger were known to the FBI:
Last Thursday, as the jury in the trial of Nidal Hasan was deliberating, outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared on CBS News and discussed a string of emails between the Fort Hood shooter and Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Islamic cleric with ties to the 9/11 hijackers. The FBI had intercepted the messages starting almost a year before Hasan’s 2009 shooting rampage, and Mueller was asked whether “the bureau dropped the ball” by failing to act on this information. He didn’t blink: “No, I think, given the context of the discussions and the situation that the agents and the analysts were looking at, they took appropriate steps.”
In the wake of the Fort Hood attacks, the exchanges between Awlaki and Hasan—who was convicted of murder on Friday -- were the subject of intense speculation. But the public was given little information about these messages. While officials claimed that they were “fairly benign,” the FBI blocked then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s efforts to make them public as part of a two-year congressional investigation into Fort Hood. The military judge in the Hasan case also barred the prosecutor from presenting them, saying they would cause “unfair prejudice” and “undue delay.”
No communication between a U.S. Army Major and a radical Islamic cleric can be considered “benign” and not worth pursuing. Nor should these communications and the truth they reveal ever be kept hidden from Congress or the American people.
While we conduct blanket surveillance on innocent Americans for political purposes in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights, we couldn’t catch the Tsarnaev brothers as they traveled abroad and back while plotting their terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized:
It boggles the mind that we didn't listen to the Russians when they warned about the Tsarnaev brothers in part because, well, they're the Russians. But we want to preserve the records of every housewife in Des Moines because data mining that arguably invades the privacy rights of innocent Americans might reveal something.
One person whose privacy was not invaded by U.S. intelligence was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as he repeatedly visited the al-Qaida online magazine Inspire for its recipe "Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."
The NSA's blanket surveillance did not detect Tsarnaev's interest in building the pressure cooker bombs he would use to devastating effect at the Boston Marathon. The massive databases that we are building a massive facility in Utah to store also failed to uncover the online communications that Tsarnaev had with a known Muslim extremist in Dagestan.
The Tsarnaev brothers weren’t lone wolves. They were known wolves, among many interviewed by or known to the FBI to no avail. As CBS News reported:
As first reported by CBS News correspondent Bob Orr, the FBI interviewed Tsarnaev, the elder brother of at-large bombing suspect Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, at the request of a foreign government to see if he had any extremist ties, but failed to find any linkage…
This is an issue they've had in the past. They interviewed Carlos Bledsoe in Little Rock, Ark., before he shot up an Army recruiting station in 2009. They were also looking into Major Hasan Nadal before the Fort Hood shootings.
The media and liberals ignore the evidence regarding the known wolves who lurk among us, including the jihadi who drove a vehicle into a crowd at Ohio State, got out and began stabbing people, as in London:
Hundreds of people admitted to the United States as refugees are the subjects of FBI counterterrorism investigations involving ISIS -- including some individuals from countries cited on President Trump’s revised travel ban…
Nearly a third of the 1,000 FBI domestic terrorism cases -- 300 -- involve those admitted to the U.S. as refugees, a Department of Homeland Security official said Monday. That number was confirmed later in the day by Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a news conference. Officials said some of those 300 came to “infiltrate” the U.S., while others were radicalized once they were in the country…
Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan rammed his car into a crowd at The Ohio State University in November after posting a message on Facebook warning America not to interfere with Muslim communities.
The notion of the lone wolf is a false narrative. We know in many cases who they are, where they are, what they’re thinking, and what they are planning to do. So do other governments, which is why after each terrorist attack suddenly there are raids picking up known terror suspects or accomplices.
Wouldn’t it be nice, just once, if we got to these known wolves before they attacked, killed, and maimed the innocents that these governments, and ours, are sworn to protect and keep alive?
Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.