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The Lone Wolf Terrorist! Who is he? What does he think?
Is he the guy next door? The girl next door? What
triggers the Lone Wolf Terrorist to turn from a model citizen into a
Beast of Terror? Is it the spark of war? Find out.
23, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 529
The Ugliest Side Of War:
Lone Wolf Terrorism
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb. 23--The FBI, CIA
and Homeland Security are more concerned with a rash of "lone wolf"
Terrorist attacks than a concerted assault by al-Qaeda should the U.S.
I tend to agree. Nothing is more
frightening than the "Lone Wolf Terrorist." He or she is the
person who acts without the consent of the group, is a fringe radical
member or sympathizer with a cause taking it upon himself or herself
to avenge or retaliate, or, in some cases, only needs an excuse to
unleash his or her Beast of Terror.
I've witnessed Lone Wolf Terrorists in actions.
Terrorist prepared to unleash his Beast of Terror
They are the
ugliest part of any war.
They twist and pervert war into a personal
killing field or a stage upon which they can carve, torture, mutilate
and deform all sense of humanity.
In a recent FBI bulletin, the internal
intelligence unit reported: "Many lone extremists have no links
to conventional terrorist groups. In fact, FBI analysis suggests
that psychological abnormalities, as much as devotion to an ideology,
drive lone extremists to commit violent acts."
Robert S. Mueller III
Robert S. Mueller III,
the bureau director, cited the threat of lone extremists in testimony
last week to the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
Recent "Lone Wolf Terrorists" (LWT) include the
sniper attacks in Washington D.C. and the yet unsolved anthrax
letters. There was no organization behind these acts.
People with a twisted cause sought to unleash their venom on others.
There was no link or paper trail leading up to their acts, as might be
found in an organized Terrorist cell.
In July 2002 when Hesham Mohamed Ali Hadayet, an
Egyptian immigrant, fatally shot people at El Al Airlines' ticket
counter at Lost Angeles International Airport, it signaled the flavor
of a LWT. No links between the attacker and any Terrorist
group has been found.
Timothy J. McVeigh, executed for the 1995 bombing
of the federal building in Oklahoma City, plotted the bombing after a
Michigan militant group distanced itself from him because "it became
apparent that his views were too radical," stated the F.B.I. bulletin.
Major Terrorist groups such as Hamas and
Hezbollah have factions in the United States and pose a threat should
the U.S. go to war. However, the F.B.I. and other security
organizations keep close tabs on their movements and may be able to
stop or limit any damage they try to create.
It is the unexpected and unsuspected,
however, that worries security analysts.
Angeles Watts riot August 1965
It is the "avenging
angel syndrome" that a certain individual may feel against the
U.S.--whether he or she is a citizen or not (ala Tim McVeigh)--that
triggers a thirst for blood and unleashes the Beast of Terror within.
examples of LWT. Television cameras show evidence of
people looting as though all their animal instincts were forced to the
surface by chaos, and, in some cases, crowds of normally civilized
people turning into beasts as they pull innocent bystanders out of
vehicles and begin kicking and clubbing them to death.
Years ago in the jungles of Vietnam I
witnessed the Lone Wolf Terrorist come to life many times, in greater
and lesser degrees.
One of the first instances was in a
small village we were sweeping through. All the men had
fled, fearful they would be taken prisoner. The only
people left were the older women. A young Marine, perhaps
17 or 18, not yet burdened with a beard, asked an old Vietnamese woman
for water. He used the Vietnamese words: "Toy kaan nook".
We were taking a
smoke break as the engineers ahead cleared the path of booby traps and
mines. It was sweltering. Most of us lay down
on the cool earth in the shade, resting our packs on the ground.
Williams, the young soldier who asked the woman for water, was next to
me. He was standing. He was a stocky kid with shocking
blonde hair, a light complexion and burning blue eyes. I
often thought of him as a Hitler Jugend (youth) throwback, for he was
quiet and his gaze fierce and fixed as though he were seeking
single-handedly to win the war. He spoke little with
others and gave almost no information on himself, an uncommon trait
for a teenage warrior for most them babble on endlessly.
When the old wrinkled woman, probably less
than five feet and no more than 80 pounds wet, brought him a bucket of
water she drew from the well, Williams tipped it up and took a gulp.
Then he spat it in her face.
"You're tying to poison me," he shouted.
"You old V.C. bitch. You're trying to poison me."
I glanced up. He was virtually
directly overhead. He dropped the bucket and began to choke the
old lady. At first I and the others thought he was joking, but I
could see the muscles on his forearms bulge and hear the gasps of the
I leaped to my feet and grabbed Williams'
forearms to break the hold. "Let her go," I shouted. But
his arms were like iron bars. No matter how hard I pried
at them they only tightened. He had the old woman off her
feet. Her face was turning blue.
"Let her go!" I screamed in his ear, my
lips only an inch away. His eyes were glazed, fixed
hypnotically on watching the life drain from the woman's face, digging
his thumbs deep into her fragile, weathered neck.
I grabbed my rifle and lifted it up in a
threatening gesture, the butt of the rifle stock aimed at the side of
Williams' head. "Let her go or I'll bash your head in!"
He didn't blink. His eyes narrowed. A smile
cracked at the corners of his set mouth.
I reared my rifle butt back and smashed it into
Williams' skull as hard as I could. The blow sent him reeling to
the dirt, his fingers still clutching at the woman's throat.
woman attacked by a Beast of Terror
He was dazed enough we pried
his fingers loose. The woman gagged and gasped and
scrambled away. Williams muttered, "She was trying
to poison me...poison me."
Williams wasn't punished. He was
chided for going over the edge, and his behavior was chalked up to too
much sun. But I knew differently. So did the
rest of us who knew him as little as we did. Williams was
a Lone Wolf Terrorist.
He had a perverse thirst for killing.
I ran across many others like Williams in my more
than 100 different combat operations with various units.
I didn't stay with any one unit for long, and hop-scotched from one
patrol or sweep to another, always looking for stories.
I got to see far more than most could imagine by having the fluidity I
did to move from unit to unit.
There were those who liked to shoot bodies in
half. They would come across a wounded or dead enemy and
put their weapon on automatic, then let it rip until a portion of the
body, arm, torso, head, was severed by the bullets.
Others like to mutilate the dead bodies.
There were still others who would kill
anything that moved--women, children--those who were obviously without
weapons. One of the rules was to only fire at those with
weapons so that the innocent villagers would not be slain with the
Viet Cong. But war triggered a bloodthirstiness in some,
demanding that they "kill, kill, kill, kill."
Terrorist in Vietnam
these Lone Wolf Killers.
They shied from them.
War endorsed their behavior. It
gave them a platform upon which to display their perverse sense of
power of death over life. Some were garrulous about
their "kills" and prattled on about how many they had "wasted,"
attempting to impress others that they were great gladiators.
But those of us who knew them were aware they often took credit for
kills they didn't make, and would stand over a dead body and claim it
was their mark, some even having their pictures taken as though they
were great hunters with some prize trophy under the heel of their
Then there were the quiet ones.
They seethed. Inside, locked behind glassy eyes that
expressed no humanity, boiled some infernal flames of hate and anger
that they had learned to block and disguise. They
were cold humans. They usually ate alone, said little,
asked nothing of anyone. They were ghosts of human beings,
feeding on the rivers of blood and itching to engage the enemy so they
could sate some inward desire to destroy.
I'm sure they were all like Williams.
They all saw the enemy as seeking to kill them. I'm sure
they had mimeographed death warrants against all who wore black
pajamas and smelled of fish oil and spoke in sing-song tones.
When Timothy McVeigh planned to blow
up the federal building, I'm sure he saw everyone inside it as part of
the "government conspiracy." The innocent women and
children were just part of the "free fire zone," they were just
"casualties of war." Or, perhaps he just lumped them in as part
of the "enemy camp," drawing an invisible line on the sidewalk so that
those on one side were part of the "enemy."
The Washington D.C. snipers shot
randomly at people, killing women, men, black, white, shooting
children--it didn't matter. Death was the goal, victim
demographics a non-concern.
The Terrorists who flew their planes
into the World Trade Center and Pentagon obviously lumped all into one
category, disregarding the innocent as they placed the target--"death
to many"--in their cross-hairs.
I suppose that's why I fear the
Lone Wolf Terrorist the most of all the threats that face America when
and if we attack Iraq.
We have over 300 million people in
this nation, all cut from a wide and diverse cloth of humanity.
There are those walking around like Williams seething and boiling
inside, constrained by some thin thread of civility to not burst out
of their psychological hells and explode upon the masses.
I'm sure a number of them are apolitical.
They are human time bombs waiting for the spark that ignites the
madness within. They only need some tinder to ignite.
Chaos creates chaos.
War is the ultimate chaos of humanity.
War is a
sanction for killing
It is a
sanction for killing.
To the twisted mind, it waves the red flag
before the eyes of the Beast of Terror. It awakens inside those
percolating psychopaths the authority to kill, to maim, to murder.
I'm sure there are many anti-American
personalities who will see the war in Iraq as an assault of Big Bully
America upon the oppressed citizens of the Middle East.
I'm sure there are many walking around who
see every American as their enemy, and who secretly and quietly
applaud every death of an American as a symbol of justice for the
crimes America has committed upon the world--crimes manufactured by
convoluted thinking, but a deep-seated hatred toward everything the
West and the United States represents.
These fringe LWTs are not part of any
organized group. They are those who may think America and
Israel are acting in concert to rule the Middle East, or those who
despise the incursion of Western influence into native lands.
Equally, there are those who are just angry at
the world in general. They are the Tim McVeighs, the
snipers in Washington D.C. They are the Children of the Beast of
Their presence in this impending war is
another reminder to me of the importance of Vigilance.
Somewhere along the line these Lone Wolf
Terrorists were fed a steady diet of Terrorism. They were
not taught Vigilance. They were not nurtured by Parents of
Vigilance who taught them the power of Courage over Fear, or the
impact of Conviction in the face of Intimidation, or, most
importantly, the primary purpose of human existence--to do what is
right for the future of the Children's Children's Children of all
lands, of all kinds and shapes.
Had these Lone Wolf Terrorists been
brought up with the Shield of Vigilance and taught to use the Sword of
Vigilance to ward off Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, they would
respect not demean life. They would not hate themselves and
others, or be subject to the sparks of war as an excuse to unleash
their Beast of Terror upon others.
Human beings retreat to the safest
and most secure place possible in the absence of good training.
They retreat to survival. And, for the twisted, survival means
the extermination of those whom they feel are "out to get them."
In the most perverse cases, that's
I've been in "free fire zones" where
the rule was, "if it moved, kill it. Don't think, just kill it."
At that moment, all humanity blanks
one's mind. Only when you walk through the mangled bodies and
see the victims' faces and note that many did not have weapons, and
that some are women and children, do you sit down and cry. But
then it's far too late. Your Beast of Terror has done his deed.
He licks his chops while you shed your tears, tears that can never
wash the blood of Terrorism away.
I fear that such a scene might replay
itself in America once war is waged in Iraq.
retrain the "LWTs" in the art of Vigilance
I fear some twisted
soul might don his or her killing gear after the first bomb or bullet
is fired, and stalk the community in search of a "free fire zone,"
feeling compelled to act against a society that he or she feels has
held him or her prisoner to civilization, and now that war is
unleashed, the gates of civilization are lowered. The
Beast of Terror is now authorized to roam free.
But I also have the belief that if
these people who are our Lone Wolf Terrorist powder kegs had been
trained under the Principles of Vigilance, they could stow the Beast
of Terror in a safe place.
No matter how much the Beast of
Terror might roar in their ears, they would hear instead the chanting
of the Sentinels of Vigilance--"Do What's Right For the Children's
Children's Children! Do What's Right For the Children's
I believe the antidote for the Lone
Wolf Terrorist is the Pledge of Vigilance, and living the Principles
for a Lone Wolf Terrorist is Vigilance
Unfortunately, I fear it is too late to unwind the twisted
thinking of many. But not too late to start training
their children to think in Vigilant terms.
If we do suffer
from the Lone Wolf Terrorists, let it be a lesson that
we need to promote the Pledge of Vigilance with great
ferocity in the future. That way, when and if another
war occurs, we may not have to worry about the person
we least suspect as our enemy.
You can help insure
tomorrow's security today. If you haven't, take
the Pledge of Vigilance and pass it on to everyone you
meet. You never know. You could be passing
it on to the next Tim McVeigh.
Feb 22.--When Cities Protest War,
Shouldn't They Also Promote Vigilance?
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