Intel Report Says Terrorists Scrap Large-scale Plots for Stealth Solo Attacks
January 4, 2017
A confidential government report says terrorist groups such as the Islamic State have all but abandoned trying to put together huge plots such as the Sept. 11 attacks and warns counterterrorism agencies of a “new landscape” where lone killers strike and massacre quickly thanks to the digital age.
The report by the National Counterterrorism Center marks a historical shift that requires the FBI, CIA and other agencies to try to locate the mobile and digital-savvy loner, and not necessarily detect a complex plot.
“The steady rise in the number of lone actor operations is a trend which coincides with the deepening and broadening of the digital revolution as well as the encouragement of such operations by terrorist groups because intensified [counterterrorism] operations have disrupted their ability to launch larger plots,” the NCTC says in a report obtained by The Washington Times. “Lone actors now have greater capability to create and broadcast material than a decade ago, while violent extremists can contact and interact with potential recruits with greater ease.”
The report was circulated Dec. 28 to counterterrorism agencies across the country.
The analysis says the new faces of extremist violence are “small autonomous cells” and “individual terrorism.”
“Recent rapid technological change, which allows terrorists to reach a large audience quickly and directly, has enabled them to achieve their messaging goals without launching large-scale attacks which demand significant physical infrastructure,” says the NCTC, which operates under Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper.
“Increasingly, thanks in part to the digital revolution, they can rely on what Syrian terrorist Abu Musab al-Suri called ‘individual terrorism.’ With ISIL losing territory and the al-Qa’ida network increasingly decentralized, individuals and small autonomous cells may increasingly take the initiative in both the murderous and messaging dimensions of violent extremism,” the report states.
The Islamic State, which holds territory in Iraq and Syria, has created armies in over a dozen countries and is known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.
In a speech last month to troops at U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, President Obama touted his counterterrorism efforts by saying no group has launched a complex plot from abroad against the United States during his presidency.
Critics say that may be true but that Islamic terrorist attacks are increasing globally.
The massacres in San Bernardino, California, in 2015, and last summer in Orlando, Florida, are just two examples of this type of terrorism.
Other examples: An Islamic State agent gunned down 39 New Year’s revelers at a packed nightclub in Istanbul. Also this holiday season, Anis Amri, a lone terrorist devoted to the Islamic State, drove a truck through a Berlin outdoor Christmas market, killing 12.
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