December 5, 2017

Israel’s Response to Lone Wolf Terrorism

Sam Lurie '19, Sophie Goldman '19, Gidi Fox '19

October 31 saw New York City’s deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11.  Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, inspired by Islamic State (IS), drove a rented pickup truck into a bike path in Lower Manhattan, killing 8 and injuring 11.  The attack is a new entry in the continuing lone wolf terror attack crisis.  More and more often, especially in Europe,  terrorists acting individually, known as lone wolves, are radicalized by IS and commit heinous acts acts of violence and murder.  
Lone wolf terrorist attacks are spontaneous and very difficult to detect.  In a press conference with the Flame, Major-General Avshalom Peled, Commander of Israeli National Police Academy, noted that it is very difficult detect lone wolves.  He said that when an entire group of terrorists plot an attack, the intelligence community can monitor that group.  However, lone wolves are single people, often radicalized by terrorist organizations through the internet.  Therefore, it is almost completely unknown who to monitor as a potential lone wolf.  
Nevertheless, there are patterns in lone wolf terrorism.  Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, said that lone wolves all get similar directions from Islamic terrorists online, “Get a knife, get a car, kill infidels.”  Peled noted that by driving his vehicle through a crowd, “[Saipov] did what all lone wolves all over the world do today.”
Kemp said with thanks that more attacks are stopped than actually take place; many are in fact stopped because of intel provided by Israel.  “Many people in NY and Europe would be dead today if not for intel provided by the Israelis.”
Still, the big question is how to prevent these types of attacks.  Both Peled and Kemp outlined their own detailed plans.  Peled emphasized the importance of reacting quickly and efficiently after each attack in order to keep the most people safe and obtain the most intelligence possible to enhance Israel’s existing method of counterterrorism, what he calls the “six layers of security.”
The first layer is the use of operational and tactical methods to reinforce the law enforcement forces on the streets after an attack and to deploy specialty anti-terror forces to protect locations of interest from additional attacks.
 The second layer is to call together a responsive joint command where commanders and representatives from all security agencies in the country meet in a joint command center so that quick decisions can be made and to ensure that all agencies are joining their forces.  
The third layer is intelligence.  “You cannot win a war without intelligence, “ Peled added.  Immediately after an attack, Peled stresses the need of shared intelligence between agencies.  Additionally, meticulous intelligence must be obtained about the attacker and method of attack so that the counter-terrorism community can learn from each attack and develop new ways to prevent them.  
The fourth layer is dialogue with neighbors.  After an attack in Israel, Israeli agencies keep channels of communication open with leaders in Arab towns and the West Bank.  In America, this principle can be applied to channels of communication between states, or even with Mexico and Canada after an attack.  Additionally, Peled expressed the importance of speaking to Muslim religious and public figures to order their followers to turn away from terrorism.  
The fifth layer is training all law enforcement and military agencies in counter-terrorism as well as the implementation of new counter-lone wolf training.
The sixth and final layer is the public.  Peled explained, “The public is paramount.  We see them as our eyes and ears - alerting us about a suspicious object, person or [about a potential] danger.
In the continuing fight against lone wolf terrorism, Israel’s counter terrorism methods can serve as a blueprint for countries around the world follow in the effort to secure the public and prevent the devastation that just one person acting alone can bring.


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