It is another day and another article from the Guardian graces us. The headline ‘Isis beheading video brings calls for rethink of UK domestic terrorism fight‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/aug/21/james-foley-isis-beheading-uk-counterterrorist-fight-in-crisis), was what called my attention. If ISIS events are now making Twitter change its policy, then I definitely need to take another look at the other articles. Yet, what is the Guardian article actually about? The article goes into several events, but has two parts that do matter. The first one is “The UK government was under pressure to rethink its approach to tackling domestic extremism as security services, led by MI5“, which is only part of an ’emotional sentence’ to rile the public. The second one was “Some 500 Britons are believed to have gone to Syria and Iraq and joined Islamist groups fighting there. Some 200 are estimated to have returned to the UK“, the rest are nice titbits, but the meat is there, now for the funny part. I already highlighted that need and that issue on June 8th 2013 in my blog ‘Privacy and (fake) fears‘, where I wrote:
They need these abilities to fight the existing and growing threat called ‘the lone wolf terrorist’. These people are guided by sources like ‘Inspire’ magazine, which is created by AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). It is however not that simple. The real lone wolves get their ‘guidance’ remotely from sources most do not know and all that under the eyes of the Intelligence Community. To have a grip on stopping these people, monitoring the internet is essential to keeping us the common people safe.
This is why all these false ‘privacy’ driven issues. I personally still believe that a fair bit is scared to be caught out as they are doing the girl in the office, the neighbour’s wife of have a few dodgy fake investments lined up. Lust and Greed tend to be excellent bringers of worries.
I did like this quote “Former officers from MI6, the UK’s foreign intelligence service, have downplayed the threat to British security, while MI5 and the police have emphasised the threat“. I think they are both right, let me explain. ISIS has other fish to fry, for the most it wants to extent through Jordan into Sinai, when they have three sides pushing Israel and mounting up pressure to Egypt, possible hoping to radicalise the members of the Muslim Brotherhood that are in hiding now. That would be their first interest in setting off the ‘tinderbox of agony’ (sorry, I was playing Diablo 3 last night). So, that proves MI6, but what about MI5? Well, the 200 returned soldiers are still in the UK and it is very likely that part of that group is more in league with the vision of ISIS then the safety and comfort that the UK had offered them as they grew up in the UK. These people can convey messages, set up new ways to deliver news (like trough private channels in a MMORPG game in Facebook or freely downloaded, which is impossible to monitor) and recruit new people who have not left the UK, which would be a disadvantage to MI5. Now it is important to know that this is all speculation on my side. I cannot prove that this is happening, but is it not more likely than not that an extremist would like to propel his ‘rightness’ onto others? In that regards it might be nice to read ‘Avoiding the Traps of Extremism‘ by Samuel López De Victoria, Ph.D (at http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/10/07/avoiding-the-traps-of-extremism/). It is a decent piece, it is easy to read and it gives you a view that many can easily relate to. It also highlights on the dangers why extremism would be too easily brought to the hearts of the younger followers. No matter how much better life is in the UK, people there have had a very hard decade and only now, slowly is there the chance, not the assurance of economic relief. These recruiters are here in the twilight of a recession recruiting those who are at the end of their patience and that is what MI5 can clearly see (and with them a few others).
So they are both right, but there is a third part to this. This is again pure speculation, but from the events, when proven true, we could come to the conclusion that ISIS is playing a different game again. It is almost like someone took a look at American football and we see that they do not have one tactician in charge but two. Almost like offense and defence, but in the case of ISIS it is the daytime war commander for armies and open warfare and a night-time tactician, who is setting up the play for the lone wolf tactics. Perhaps the death of Osama Bin Laden taught them to not leave it all with one man and if that is true, what other changes did they make?
This is where I agree and disagree with Dr Erin Saltman who stated that the best way to identify the lone wolf is that if this person makes a mistake and tells one family member then they might call the police. I reckon that Erin is on the same train I am on. My disagreement is because I think that the chance of that is extremely unlikely and if we want to stop these lone wolves, we need an entirely new playbook, because the current approach is unlikely to work. I still believe that in the end it will be GCHQ that will need to bring forth the innovation that will allow MI5 to complete its mission, because message traffic has forever been the only weak link in any war that required communication.
A few come to mind, but none will be revealed here. Good hunting!