Now that the Sydney siege has ended we can be expect to be patronised by talk that Man Haron Monis, also known as Mohammad Hassan Manteghi, was a “lone wolf” so we should just chillax. First out of the blocks on this one is, of course, the Guardian.
This lone wolf explanation is offered to us as some sort of reassurance that Islamic extremists in general and Isis in particular are not a sophisticated terrorist group capable of mounting and executing large-scale attacks on Westerners, Western targets and the Western way of life.
Man Haron Monis, like the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, may fit the ‘lone wolf’ profile to which, I say, so what? This does not mean they are not Islamic terrorists. The fact is a sophisticated terrorist group with informants and sleepers, such as those in the IRA in the 1980s, is not necessary any more.
First, this is because the lone wolves frequently enjoy considerable hospitality in the Western country they secretly hate. They are either born and bred there – like the 7/7 bombers – or enjoy asylum safe in the knowledge that the host country will not ask them to do anything as radical as assimilate with its values.
Secondly, with social media and the internet much of the hard-core recruitment is easily done for the Islamic extremists outside the hated West. All the ‘lone wolf’ must do is log on, get inspired and choose the right flag. This does not suddenly make a terrorist into a lone wolf – as if a lone wolf is easier to handle and slightly cuddlier then your previous 1980s terrorist.
It is perhaps true that a large-scale attacks need some sophisticated planning – like knowledge of the trains, an underground map and a willingness to die for the cause. But Islamic extremists no longer need this – a café siege here, a soldier beheading there, is just as terrifying as your ‘classic’ attack on a transport system. Perhaps more so.
The other reason for this trumpeting of the lone wolf is it means the liberal media can shut down any debate, any debate at all, on whether there are causes or reasons within Islam itself that might trigger such terrorist acts. I am not arguing that there are but the mainstream media should not be permitted to shut down debate so ruthlessly in this manner. It is worth a discussion at least.