Sunday, May 09, 2010

CBS 60 Minutes: the "Lone Wolf Problem"

On Sunday Night, May 9, CBS "60 News" featured a 20 minute report by Steve Kroft, “Uncovering the Roots of Homegrown Terrorism”, about lone-wolfs who grow up in the west and become attracted to jihadist ideology. (A variation is other lone wolfs like Timothy McVeigh who get attracted to extreme Right Wing or neo-Nazi ideology.)  New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly contributed to the report.

The concern is that someone like Faisal Shahzad is almost undetectable before the fact. Something goes wrong in the person’s life, and the person is attracted to absolutist ideology, and willing to throw away the entire rest of his life (as Richard Clarke told NBC this morning) to “make a point”. The person believes that letters to the editor or blog postings will not attract attention, but violent acts will. Ironically, the person may have been recruited partly by jihadist websites, now often available in English. All of this sounds like a curious observation in view of all other discussion in recent years about “free entry” to the Internet and how the Internet (both social media and conventional blogs) have “democratized” public policy debate.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

The White House said on Sunday that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the Incident in New York City May 1. It seems that the greatest problem comes from people acting alone or in very small groups that contact Al Qaeda cells or other groups overseas. So far these small groups have not gotten access to WMD technology.

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