By Bridget Johnson, Originally published in The American Spectator
Lone wolf” has become a designation without meaning as the terror model has evolved into the international network of independent operatives that terror groups have been hoping for all along.
Consider the attackers who have never strayed from U.S. soil or only know their jihadi “bros” via Twitter to be like terror contractors. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula prefers to call the lone method “open-source jihad.” ISIS, which at times has used the title “special services secret agent” for its “lone mujahid,” seems to like the term “lone wolf” because the designation basically proves that its model of DIY jihad is working while stumping the pundits who are convinced that real organizational jihad somehow must include a wad of cash from an Arab country and jumping through flaming hoops at a dusty training camp reachable only by drone.
An official order handed down from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not necessarily a more serious attack; it just means there were more moving parts in the plan. More exchanges of funds, more travel, more communications — what terrorists these days see as just more opportunities to get caught.
ISIS believes in its caliphate, and al-Qaeda believes that it will establish the real caliphate. But they don’t want their operatives gathered as sitting ducks for airstrikes or scurrying to caves in Tora Bora. Imagine a world map laid out on a table, and knock a salt shaker over across the map. They want those insidious grains everywhere. Hard to spot, and just when you think you swept them all up, you haven’t.