Lone Wolf Jihad

Why al-Qaida’s (and Islamic State) ‘Lone Wolf Jihad’ is real and tactic in long term strategy…….


There is a lot of good and very smart people in the Counter-Jihad whom I greatly admire and respect, who still reject the category of ‘Lone Wolf’ jihad, and they would be wrong.

Back in May of 2013, over at The Jewish Press, Lori Lowenthal Marcus filed a little discussed article on this phenomenon, and since that time, it has been proven time and again to have been correct. Here’s an article from the AFP which underlines Marcus’ now four year old, but very timely piece.

Washington (AFP) – Increasingly unable to mount centrally planned, big-impact attacks, the ill group now relies on “virtual entrepreneurs” who work independently from the jihadist leadership to cultivate smaller lone-wolf attacks, researchers say.
According to researchers at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, evidence now shows that many so-called lone-wolves are in reality encouraged and directed by IS operatives to undertake attacks for which the group can then claim credit.
“These are guys who take it on themselves to come up with innovative new ways to spread jihadist ideology and encourage attacks,” said Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, who with Seamus Hughes authored the research.
What is new, he told AFP, is that these individuals, sometimes also described as “virtual coaches”, appear to be developing attack plans without direction or oversight from IS leaders, using social media and encrypted messaging.
“We are under the impression that they are left largely to their own devices. They are using their own innovation to come up with new ways to attract people and encourage them to attack, and also come up with new ways for people to attack the West,” he said.

The whole idea behind ‘Lone Wolf’ jihad is the instructing of potential jihadists from afar with no actual face to face link. Whether it be by online manuals or virtual instruction, the end results are the same, the maximizing of civilian or even military carnage with the least amount of capital and effort. Lone Wolf jihad is a tactic inspired by one of al-Qaida’s main masterminds of Islamic terrorism. The only reason why most of my colleagues are revolted by the term, is due to how the media has traditionally used it to downplay the role of jihad and international jihadi groups. We need to correct that misuse of the term and properly administer it when necessary. This is a real phenomenon with devastating effects.

Online Jihadi ‘Mein Kampf’ Urging: ‘Attack Sporting Events’

The global jihadi masterminds endorse a new style of operation, particularly for those in the non-Muslim world arena: small cells, few connections, low cost munitions and high density, high profile crowds. “It’s the al Suri Strategy come home to roost.”



His name is Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, although he’s also known as abu Musab al Suri (the Syrian).  Perhaps his most significant contributions to the cause of global jihad was his insistence that the old-style al Qaeda, with its rigid hierarchical structure, was a disaster for the movement and had to be jettisoned in favor of a different strategy.  In his 1600 page manifesto, al Suri stressed the need for the global jihadi movement to create a new fighting style focused on “individual terrorism.”


This innovation, also known as “leaderless jihad,” is a strategy designed to escape detection. Al Suri advised followers not to have cells or “brigades” larger than ten members, and ideally the cells would be in the single digits.  He also advocated that jihadists use the Internet and other methods to gather their information to conduct attacks. Those unwilling to embrace his strategy before and in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, have now largely become believers, whether by necessity or by revelation.


But perhaps al Suri’s greatest significance to those of us still reeling from the horrors of the Boston Marathon bombings, is advice he offered in this magnum opus, written while on the run between 2001 and 2005, “The Call for Global Islamic Resistance.” It is available online.


In CGIR al Suri urged his followers to select places for terrorist attacks which could produce maximum carnage for minimum cost. For example, he wrote, “sports competitions attract thousands of spectators and television cameras.” He also suggested local sleeper cells focus on oil fields and transportation systems – think of recent events in Algeria and Canada. The CGIR is considered “the textbook of home-grown terrorism”; it has also been referred to as the “Jihadi Mein Kampf.”


NOTE: Read both Lori Lowenthal Marcus’ article here, and the AFP report here to full understand what Lone Wolf jihad actually is.

2 Responses

  1. All jihad is jihad. Lone wolf to Al Qaeda, it is all the same. It is the result of Islamic theology’s incitement to subdue the world for Islam.

    Trying to parse out the killers one at a time is a waste of time.

    1. It’s only to point out a tactic, they’re actually using a three pronged approach, individual, cell and full army assaults

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