Monday, February 27, 2012

Warning: 'Lone wolf' terrorists work in packs

This artist rendering shows Amine El Khalifi before U.S. District Judge T. Rawles Jones Jr. in federal court in Alexandria, Va., Friday, Feb. 17, 2012. El Khalifi, a 29-year-old Moroccan man was arrested Friday near the U.S. Capitol as he was planning to detonate what he thought was a suicide vest, given to him by FBI undercover operatives, said police and government officials. (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)
Khalifi was not was simply a "lone wolf," as assumed by officials like Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the Maryland Democrat who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as by most reporters and editors in the mainstream media. Lone wolves don't band together with others claiming to be comrades on a lethal mission. Khalifi believed he was acting in concert with al Qaeda, which he asked to join. He thought his attack was to be coordinated with a larger one being mounted by other al Qaeda operatives. In short, he believed he was on the al Qaeda terrorist team. So using the term "lone wolf" to describe Khalifi is, at best, a misnomer and at worst a dangerous misrepresentation.

It is not surprising, however, to hear the term being used to describe how Muslim terrorists plan to unleash their bloody, destructive rage against innocent men, women and children. Recall last summer when President Obama told Wolf Blitzer of CNN that a lone-wolf attack was "the most likely scenario that we have to guard against right now. When you've got one person who is deranged or driven by a hateful ideology, they can do a lot of damage, and it's a lot harder to trace those lone-wolf operators." Similarly, Janet Napolitano, Obama's secretary of Homeland Security, said lone wolves "were harder to detect in part because by their very definition, they're not conspiring with others, they may not be communicating with others, there's very little to indicate that something is under way."

But by Napolitano's own words, Khalifi doesn't fit the "lone wolf" profile because he believed "Hussein" and "Yusuf" were his al Qaeda co-conspirators. It doesn't matter that they were in fact FBI operatives working undercover to ferret out Khalifi-style plots. And there is nothing in the FBI's criminal complaint filed in federal court last week against Khalifi to suggest he had to be pushed or otherwise encouraged to participate in the plot. Which leaves us with this issue: How many more Khalifis are out there, having resided undisturbed here in the U.S. illegally for years just waiting to connect with co-conspirators, ready to don suicide vests and cause carnage in a crowd? Next time, the FBI might not catch them in time to prevent the carnage.

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