Some time ago, the invaluable Patrick Poole coined the term “known wolf,” sharply shredding the conventional Washington wisdom that “lone wolf” terrorism is a major domestic threat.
Pat has tracked the phenomenon for years, right up to the jihadist attacks this weekend in both the New York metropolitan area and St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Virtually every time a terror attack has occurred, the actor initially portrayed as a solo plotter lurking under the government’s radar turns out to be — after not much digging – an already known (sometimes even, notorious) Islamic extremist.
As amply demonstrated by Poole’s reporting, catalogued here by PJ Media, “lone wolves” –virtually every single one — end up having actually had extensive connections to other Islamic extremists, radical mosques, and (on not rare occasions) jihadist training facilities.
The overarching point I have been trying to make is fortified by Pat’s factual reporting. It is this: There are, and can be, no lone wolves.
The very concept is inane, and only stems from a willfully blind aversion to the ideological foundation of jihadist terror: Islamic supremacism.
The global, scripturally rooted movement to impose sharia — in the West, to incrementally supersede our culture of reason, liberty, and equality with the repressive, discriminatory norms of classical Islamic law — is a pack. The wolves are members of the pack, and that’s why they are the antithesis of “lone” actors. And, indeed, they always turn out to be “known” precisely because their association with the pack, with components of the global movement, is what ought to have alerted us to the danger they portended before they struck.
This is willful blindness, because of the restrictions we have gratuitously imposed on ourselves.
The U.S. government refuses to acknowledge the ideology that drives the movement until after some violent action is either too imminent to be ignored or, sadly more often, until after the Islamic supremacist has acted out the savagery his ideology commands.
The U.S. government consciously avoids the ideology because it is rooted in a fundamentalist, literalist interpretation of Islam. Though it is but one of many ways to construe that religion, the remorseless fact is that it is a mainstream construction, adhered to by tens of millions of Muslims and supported by centuries of scholarship.
I say “the U.S. government” is at fault here because, contrary to Republican campaign rhetoric that is apparently seized by amnesia, this is not merely an Obama administration dereliction — however much the president and his former secretary of State (and would-be successor) Hillary Clinton have exacerbated the problem.
Since the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, the bipartisan Beltway cognoscenti have “reasoned” (a euphemism for “reckless self-delusion”) that conceding the Islamic doctrinal roots of jihadist terror — which would implicitly concede the vast Islamist (sharia-supremacist) support system without which the global jihadist onslaught would be impossible — is impractical.
But how could acknowledging the truth be impractical?
Especially given that national security hinges on an accurate assessment of threats?
Bipartisan Washington “reasons” that telling the truth would portray the United States as “at war with Islam.” To be blunt, this conventional wisdom can only be described as sheer idiocy.
We know that tens of millions of Muslims worldwide, and what appears to be a preponderance (though perhaps a diminishing one) of Muslims in the West, reject Islamic supremacism and its sharia-encroachment agenda. We know that, by a large percentage, Muslims are the most common victims of jihadist terror. We know that Muslim reformers are courageously working to undermine and reinterpret the scriptural roots of Islamic supremacism — a crucial battle our default from makes far more difficult for them to win. We know that Muslims, particularly those assimilated into the West, have been working with our law enforcement, military, and intelligence agencies for decades to gather intelligence, infiltrate jihadist cells, thwart jihadist attacks, and fight jihadist militias.
None of those Muslims — who are not only our allies, but are in fact us — believes that America is at war with Islam.
So why does Washington base crucial, life-and-death policy on nonsense?
Because it is in the thrall of the enemy. The “war on Islam” propaganda is manufactured by Islamist groups, particularly those tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.
While we resist study of our enemies’ ideology, they go to school on us. They thus grasp three key things:
(1) Washington is so bloated and dysfunctional, it will leap on any excuse to refrain from strong action;
(2) the American tradition of religious liberty can be exploited to paralyze our government if national defense against a totalitarian political ideology can be framed as hostility and persecution against an entire religious faith; and
(3) because Washington has so much difficulty taking action, it welcomes claims (or, to be faddish, “narratives”) that minimize the scope and depth of the threat. Topping the “narrative” list is the fantasy that the Islamist ideological support system that nurtures jihadism (e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood and its tentacles) is better seen as a “moderate,” “non-violent” partner with whom we can work, than as what it actually is: the enemy’s most effective agent. The stealth operative that exploits the atmosphere of intimidation created by the jihadists.
In other words, in proceeding from the premise that we must do nothing to convey the notion that we are “at war with Islam” — or, in Obama-Clinton parlance, in proceeding from the premise that we need a good “narrative” rather than a truth-based strategy — we have internalized the enemy’s worldview, a view that is actually rejected by our actual Islamic allies and the vast majority of Americans.
The delusion comes into sharp relief if one listens to Hillary Clinton’s campaign bombast. Robert Spencer incisively quoted it earlier this week:
[W]e know that a lot of the rhetoric we’ve heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular ISIS, because they are looking to make this into a war against Islam, rather than a war against jihadists, violent terrorists, people who number maybe in the maybe tens of thousands, not the tens of millions, they want to use that to recruit more fighters to their cause, by turning it into a religious conflict. That’s why I’ve been very clear. We’re going after the bad guys and we’re going to get them, but we’re not going to go after an entire religion and give ISIS exactly what it’s wanting in order for them to enhance their position.
Our enemy is not the mere “tens of thousands” of jihadists. (She’s probably low-balling the number of jihadists worldwide, but let’s indulge her.) It is not merely ISIS, nor merely ISIS and al-Qaeda — an organization Mrs. Clinton conveniently omits mentioning, since it has replenished, thanks to Obama-Clinton governance and despite Obama-Clinton claims to have defeated it, to the point that it is now at least as much a threat as it was on the eve of 9/11.
ISIS and al-Qaeda are not the sources of the threat against us. They are the inevitable results of that threat.
The actual threat, the source, is Islamic supremacism and its sharia imposition agenda.
The support system, which the threat needs to thrive, does indeed include tens of millions of Islamists, some small percentage of whom will inexorably become violent jihadists, but the rest of whom will nurture the ideological aggression and push the radical sharia agenda — in the media, on the campus, in the courts, and in the policy councils of government that they have so successfully influenced and infiltrated.
Obviously, to acknowledge that we are at war with this movement, at war with Islamic supremacism, is not remotely to be “at war with Islam.” After all, Islamic supremacism seeks conquest over all of Islam, too, and on a much more rapid schedule than its long-term pursuit of conquest over the West. Islamic supremacism is not a fringe movement; it is large and, at the moment, a juggernaut. But too much of Islam opposes Islamic supremacism to be confused with it.
Moreover, even if being at war with Islamic supremacists could be persuasively spun as being “at war with Islam” — i.e., even if we were too incompetent to refute our enemies’ propaganda convincingly — it would make no difference.
The war would still be being prosecuted against us. We have to fight it against the actual enemy, and we lose if we allow enemies to dupe us into thinking they are allies. We have to act on reality, even if Washington is too tongue-tied to find the right words for describing reality.
The enemy is in our heads and has shaped our perception of the conflict, to the enemy’s great advantage. That’s how you end up with inanities like “lone wolf.”