The types of attack you can expect with a Lone Wolf, may include:
Bladed weapon attack similar to the murder of British soldier on the streets of London, to make as violent and brutal a statement as possible. Just so the message wouldn’t get lost his attackers stated:
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you…many, many… throughout the Koran, that we must fight them as they fight us, an eye for and eye, tooth for a tooth”
Instead of one sensational attack, it may be multiple, premeditated murders like the recent “Jihadi Serial Killer,” who claimed:
“My mission is vengeance. For the lives, millions of lives are lost every day.” When asked to clarify, it was “done for vengeance for the actions of the United States in the Middle East… just doing [his] small part.”
Kidnapping of non-Muslim citizens and the filming of a brutal execution that will be posted on the internet. Perhaps a beheading, perhaps a crucifixion, then the body displayed in a public area for the biggest shock value. Thanks to ISIS’ use of social media, the thrill of being famous and getting worldwide coverage could cause some to emulate the executions that are occurring in Iraq and Syria. The more brutal and shocking, the bigger the message will be.
Small IED in a crowded venue similar to the Boston Marathon bombing. Hitting a sporting event, concert, festival, night club, etc. Use your imagination and think about your own home town. Think about places where a small, backpack-sized IED would inflict maximum casualties.
Heavily armed gunmen going into a populated venue and attempting to kill as many people as possible. This could be used in coordination with either a small IED or suicide vest. Targets could be malls, schools, mega churches, public transportation or college dorms. I think these type of attacks will stay away from government targets due to the amount of security and armed guards normally found in these locations. Gun free zones will allow the gunmen to have more time to systematically go through and execute as many people prior to armed officers arriving.
Car bombs, whether big or small can be made, with instructions from Jihadi websites. The bigger they are, the more materials required and the greater the chance of getting caught. The Vehicle Borne IED (VBIED) can be used either in a suicide type attack, or can be parked and set off remotely or with a timer. Devastating by themselves, if used in conjunction with another type of attack as described above, either as a decoy or to take out first responders, it has the potential to significantly multiply the chaos and casualties.
None of these methods require many resources that are difficult to acquire. Look at the news coverage of any “mass shooting” type of crime in America, and you can see the effectiveness and appeal for someone who is trying to make a religious statement with a maximum impact. This statement would get them noticed and praised throughout the international Jihadi world, which is what many of them desire.
MDCOA – Lone Wolf terrorist attack
Add multiple players to any of the above, and it will give them even more options and flexibility to cause death and destruction. The more players, the more chaos, but it also becomes harder to control the OPSEC. So at most it will consist of 2-3 people who are related, or have known each other a long time.
This article first appeared in The Havok Journal 18 July, 2015.
Loren Schofield started his career in the infantry and as soon as he was eligible attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection. He spent the next 16 plus years serving in the various positions within the Special Forces Regiment. He served in the 25th ID, 10th SFG (A), 3rd SFG (A) and retired as an instructor in the Special Forces Advanced Mountain Operations School. He served on a Mountain Team, Mobility Team, and in a Special Forces Direct Action Company. He deployed twice to Kosovo, the first time in 1999, eight days after the air war ended, and was there for his second trip during 9/11. From April of 2002 to May of 2009 he deployed five times to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq. Loren started his Special Forces career as an 18E and in 2008 graduated the SF Intel Sgt’s Course and became an 18F. He is a graduate of SFARTAETC, SF Mountain School, Jumpmaster, and multiple civilian mountaineering-related schools.