It’s no secret the world has become a much more dangerous and complicated place in the 21st century. Terrorism itself has evolved, and so has the way our federal government is combatting and defending against it.
What has become clear is that violent extremist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda have evolved to become influencers and master manipulators online and abroad. They’re not as focused on becoming an army of covert foot soldiers attempting to penetrate U.S. borders. The result of this is the evolution of the lone wolf attacker, a typically misguided and desperate soul who loses touch with reality and is somehow convinced or brainwashed into inflicting maximum damage through violence. We’ve seen this play out recently in the United Kingdom.
Since 2001, the United States has suffered over 40 lone-wolf terror attacks perpetrated by a diverse array of personality types. Although there is no single, universally accepted definition of a lone-wolf terror attack, academics generally define a lone wolf as a single attacker who plans and commits violent acts alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group.
The perpetrators of these terrible atrocities may be influenced by extreme political ideologies claiming religious motivations, or they may be disgruntled or mentally ill. In many cases, a combination of these factors are at play. The point is, profiles for these lone-wolf terrorists are consistently challenging to identify, which therefore makes prevention of individual attacks particularly difficult. The threat, needless to say, is even greater with those in positions of trust. Airport or airline employees and contractors with access to military installations with secure credentials are examples of individuals who are sometimes susceptible to these downfalls.
Where lone wolves or any violent threats are concerned, the goal is to stay “left of boom.” Popularized in military circles during the months and years after 9/11, the phrase “left of boom” refers to the moments before an explosion or attack – a period when you still have time to prepare and avert a crisis. Right of boom, by contrast, includes the chaotic and deadly moments after the explosion or attack.
Law enforcement, public safety, and military officials associated with the people who perpetrate these terrorist acts. Research suggests early detection through preventative measures like situational awareness, monitoring Internet and social channels, and if needed, psychological screenings and interventions, are the best approaches to thwarting lone wolf attacks.
Individuals who carry out these attacks do follow a similar path from ideological influence to radicalization to violence. This path begins with a grievance that leads to moral outrage and anger projection, which leads to some sort of trigger point or justification for violence. At this point in the process, most people do not act.
However, for the few who do act, either alone or in a group, the perpetrators tend to wade into an ideological end-state culminating in a terror attack. The fact that a process exists provides officials with some map to begin gathering information that might lead to prediction and prevention. Our public servants want to get left of boom in order to disrupt the chain of events that could lead to an attack.
At NEC, we’re passionate about the safety and security of all citizens. We are committed to providing solutions that assist our clients in identifying people, patterns, and predictions. For over 40 years, NEC Corporation has provided screening and background check information for purposes of law enforcement and applicant background checks. Our systems have cast the widest nets in identifying these individuals from searching local, state, FBI, DHS, Interpol and other biographic and biometrics databases.
NEC adheres to FBI, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and other industry standards for data exchange, as demonstrated by our customer install base. These deployments could allow law enforcement agencies to receive immediate notification of fault. Other random and frictionless screening with use of facial recognition may provide clues on relationships, associates and more. Such existing services can be augmented with publicly available biographic data including travel and purchase patterns to form the foundation of a collective dataset that would assist in analysis and identification of suspicious patterns leading to a prediction.
If we can look at an individual’s identity, patterns of life, and associations – among other data points – we can help our clients get closer to predicting and preventing lone-wolf attacks. We pride ourselves on being passionate problem solvers with an eye toward cutting-edge solutions that deliver precise and trusted results. If you’d like to hear more about our solutions and how we are solving the challenge of the threat among us, please contact us today.
People. Patterns. Predictions.
NEC Corporation of America’s Advanced Recognition Systems team is committed to developing and delivering public safety solutions that keep people safe.
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