ISIS had called on its supporters through social media to carry out attacks on Halloween. For example, in France, a country in which young people recently started celebrating the holiday, an ad appeared the day before Halloween with an image of a machete dripping blood over the Eiffel Tower.
The text on the ad (shown above) read: “Enjoy their gathering. Terrorize October 31” and “Get out before it’s too late,” seemingly a message to the French to abandon their country to jihadis.
The image was shared on a Twitter account that distributes news about Islamic State (ISIS), jihadi videos and images.
ISIS’ own magazine Rumiyah has extensively encouraged its followers to conduct “lone wolf” vehicular attacks, with one issue providing a step-by-step guide on how to procure a heavy truck and perpetrate such an attack.
In the guide, ISIS recommended to avoid “off-roaders, SUVs, and four-wheel drive vehicles” because they “lack the necessary attributes required for causing a blood bath.”
“Smaller vehicles lack the weight and wheel span required for crushing many victims,” the article stated, while double-wheeled trucks “[give] victims less of a chance to escape being crushed by the vehicle’s tires.”
While attacks such as the one in New York may have carried out by one person, calling such attack the work of a “lone wolf” is deceiving.
ISIS has built a sophisticated network that allows such individuals to be encouraged, tutored and ideologically supported every step of their twisted journey from the inception of the idea to the execution of a terrorist attack.
Social media is not localized. It is a powerful tool that has aided the Islamic State, without which a huge percentage of their successful recruitment of volunteers would most likely not have happened.
Young people who have grown up in the age of the internet are comfortable participating in virtual reality. Thus, online connections — through encrypted messaging, “inspirational” videos and even “personal” contact through video chatting — is as good as the real thing.
To call any terrorist in our day a “lone wolf” is a misnomer – and a dangerous one, as it takes the attention off finding and shutting down the trail of responsibility and focusing solely on the individual.