The Lone Wolf Threats

"The term ‘Lone wolf terrorist’ is a lesser-known phrase used mostly in the security community and counter-terrorist domain. An even lesser-used term in the Indian security context."

The Lone Wolf Threats
Radicalised minds breed lone terrorists, a possible further threat to India’s national security.

The term ‘Lone wolf terrorist’ is a lesser-known phrase used mostly in the security community and counter-terrorist domain. An even lesser-used term in the Indian security context. A lone wolf terrorist is a person who engages in acts of violence with the intent to harm and kill people or certain groups. The motivations of such a person may differ from case to case, it may be religious hate, ethnic hatred, or ethnic superiority. In the case of ‘Timothy McVeigh’ an American domestic terrorist, his acts of violence were not motivated by religion or race but rather by a sense of revenge against his government. Timothy had bombed the Federal building in Oklahoma City, USA.

The rise of such lone terrorist attacks came to be termed as lone wolf terrorism, persons belonging to radical militant ideologies can also be admitted into this category.

The ‘Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing case which happened on April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City, USA is a great example. Timothy McVeigh’ was former US Army personnel who served in Iraq. He was famous for his racial behavior during his time as a soldier which is believed to be one of the reasons to have shaped his radicalism against the US federal government. His anger towards the US federal government is the result of the 1992 Ruby Ridge and the 1993 Waco siege incidents along with American domestic policies on taxes and foreign policies.

He argued that his acts are a legitimate reaction against a tyrannical government. In his letters and interviews, he had been holding superficially grudges against the American system promoting him to propagate against US federal government. The radical form of this protest was the April 19th, 1995 bomb attack which killed 168 people and injured 680 innocents.

For India, similar acts have started to occur, for example, On 28th June 2022, the beheading of ‘Kanhaiya Lal Teli’ in Udaipur, Rajasthan, caused a national steer and local political turmoil. Both the assailants involved in Kanhaiya’s killing were not directly affiliated with a terrorist organisation but were members of a religious Islamic organisation based in Pakistan. The assailants carried out the brutal murder of Kanhaiya, who had shared a social media post of BJP politician Nupur Sharma, criticising Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Offended by the post, the assailants killed him and boasted about the act on social media.

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In both the above-mentioned case, the assailants are offended by certain acts of government or individual citizens which goes against their own beliefs. Adhering to their agitation they finish off their frustration in the most atrocious acts. The psychological similarities noted in acts by lone wolf terrorist is their beliefs against a system of exploitation and an irrational sense of superiority in their faith, race, or ideology. They find justifications to initiate false propaganda against a person, religious community, or government followed by extreme acts of violence.

Another similar pattern in the assailants’ personalities is that they had a difficult childhood, surrounded by subjugation and some form of poverty or lack of personnel or professional success. The assailants justify their acts because of their own bad experiences and social disappointment which were aggravated by the current system. They see this as a mark of injustice, it’s not empirically possible for governments to monitor each grievance of their citizenry, even though there are mechanisms in place for it.

As stated before, such assailants are not directly affiliated with one terror group but rather motivated by their unsound logic and circumstances. Also, most of lone-wolf terrorists are citizens of the state and not foreign entities. This is a great threat not just to the state but also to individual citizens of a nation. As it is difficult for the state to denote the possible threat it becomes complex for the state machinery to always protect all citizens.

Thus, it is more of a threat to human security inside a state as the state security finds it impossible to denote the threat in time as the threat itself is part of the system. Motivations of the attackers are born out of psychological deviance rather than social and political.

The fundamental issues in human security are to protect individuals from any threat to their life which is not state-centric in nature. It also aims to protect and provide freedoms to all individuals. The issue of individual freedom is that without reasonable restriction, individual terrorist acts are not avoidable as the state in certain matters requires special rights to operate against the principle of individual freedom. The use of technology has also made matters worse for security agencies.

Laws such as Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in India and the Patriot Act in the USA are criticised for the breach of privacy at the cost of security. Which according to certain experts is an oxymoron as a violation of privacy is the failure of security. Privacy and individual security are the core of human security. Rising terror threats from lone wolf and state-sponsored terrorists have put states in a dilemma to choose between state security or individual security, any compromise is problematic in a democracy and ultimately to the security of both factors.

In conclusion, both India, the USA, and in general, the West have been able to write off major threats but do face intermediate acts of violence though small in impact. But with a complex legal framework, a clash between individual rights and state security, destructible technology, and fast mediums of communication maintaining balance has become a great challenge. The solution could be found in keeping human security and state security parallel to each other in importance while framing policies and managing on-ground security. Enhancing social policies and even psychological support to people in possible deviance or manipulation from terror groups and who lap on to communal, ethnic tension given rise to by prominent social members would help to reduce any form of hate.

About The Author

Nitish Chavan is a master’s student at Rashtriya Raksha University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat campus, and is pursuing his Defence and strategic studies degree.

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