Per the U. S. Department of Justice, Homegrown violent extremists have been defined as “those who encourage, endorse, condone, justify, or support the commission of a violent criminal act to achieve political, ideological, religious, social, or economic goals” (U. S. Department of Justice). Per authors, Mark Hamm and Ramon Spaaj, a lone wolf terrorist can be identified as the construction and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence committed by a single individual who does not receive orders, direction or material support from outside sources to pursue political change linked to a formulated ideology (pg. 3). Based on this definition, it is clear to me that Eric Rudolph can be identified as a homegrown violent extremist, particularly, a lone wolf terrorist.
In addition, a person who takes matters into their own hands and perpetrates attacks in the name of some specific issue, such as abortion is what led to Rudolph’s attacks. Furthermore, an individual can be identified as a lone wolf terrorist if there are personal and political grievances involved, followed by the identification of an enabler, followed by broadcasting of terrorist intent and finally, the triggering event.
Eric Rudolph’s Christian identity was certainly his political grievance (e. g. , perception of unjust injury to a larger group or cause), in which he felt abortion is murder, therefore, unjustified and wrong to a larger body of individuals. When the regime in Washington legalized, sanctioned and legitimized this practice, they forfeited their legitimacy and moral authority to govern, which ultimately enabled his actions to commit terrorist acts against others.
Another enabler involving his attacks because of homosexuality was in response to the attempt to force society to accept and recognize this behavior where he believed that making society accept that sort of behavior should be met with “force if necessary” (CNN). Based on the definition of a lone wolf terrorist, I believe Eric Rudolph meets the criteria to be identified as a lone wolf terrorist. His actions were solely based on his beliefs without orders from an outside entity and with no motive to accomplish goals set by some organization. His actions were purely self-motivated because of his Christian belief.
There are many individuals that can be identified as homegrown violent extremist, such as some individuals who have taken part in the Black Lives Matter Movement in which certain individuals who have taken things to the extreme and have begun to kill individuals for their social objectives. Based on the definition presented above, other individuals that I believe who can be identified as homegrown violent terrorist, particularly, lone wolf terrorist include Timothy McVeigh, Omar Mateen, and Theodore Kaczynski who conducted extremely violent actions as part of their, political, social, religious or ideological goals.
Timothy McVeigh was the individual responsible for the truck bomb explosion outside of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which left 168 people dead and hundreds of individuals injured. Per McVeigh, his actions were defined as a retaliatory strike; a counter strike for the cumulative raids that federal agents carried out over the preceding years. McVeigh felt that the Federal government was becoming too militaristic and violent and felt that they needed to be stopped from caring out attacks against civilians.
McVeigh has identified his bombing as a pro-active strike against these forces and their command and control centers (federal buildings) by sending a message to government in which he felt was becoming too hostile. Timothy later identified his actions as justified because he felt his actions were in correlation to the U. S. governing system for bombing or launching missiles against government installations and their personnel.
Based on his actions and motive, I would identify Timothy McVeigh as a homegrown violent extremist, particularly, a lone wolf terrorist because he conducted his actions on the sole basis of his personal agenda. Another individual that I feel can be identified as a homegrown violent extremist is Omar Mateen. Mateen was the individual who earlier this year conducted an attack on a gay night club, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida. Omar Mateen took his violence to the extreme, by conducting the worst mass shooting in the United States, in which he was responsible for killing forty-nine innocent individuals.
Per several media outlets, Mateen’s motive for his actions rooted from America bombing Syria and Iraq and killing innocent people (McLaughlin). Mateen stated that he felt the pain of the people getting killed in those areas, particularly, the pain of the women and children faced. Per Mateen, his enabler of the attack was a result of the air strike that killed ISIS leader Abu Wahid (McLaughlin). Although Mateen stated his allegiance to Islamic Radicalism, his actions were in result of his ideological beliefs.
He actions committed were not orders given to him by an Islamic terrorist organization, but instead committed because of his goal to achieve his ideological objectives by justifying his actions because of the U. S. prompting him to commit the attack. Thus, I think identifying him as a lone wolf terrorist makes perfect sense, because he had an articulated ideology that motivated to carry out his attacks without receiving direction or material support from outside sources to pursue his goals of seeking justice for those who felt pain for.
In addition, another individual who can be identified as a homegrown violent extremist is Theodore Kaczynski. Kaczynski was responsible for mailing and delivering sixteen packaged bombs to scientists, academicians and others over a seventeen-year period, killing three people and injuring twenty-three. Kaczynski was an individual who was socially awkward and had a hard time socializing, although he was a bright individual, he became weary of the path the world was following and began to develop a life that feared the government and technology.
Kaczynski felt that the industrial revolution and its consequences had created a disaster for humanity and believed that the development of technology would worsen the situation by completely taking control over everything on Earth. Thus, Kaczynski wanted to advocate a revolution against the industrial system by fulfilling his objective to overthrow the economic and technological basis of the present society.
Based on his motive to commit his crimes, I would certainly identify Kaczynski as a lone wolf terrorist because he did not have any outside motive from an outside entity such as a terrorist organization. His actions were a result of his fear of the innovation and technological advancement. Kaczynski was a lone-actor perpetrator of violence who had some degree of political grievance who ultimately decided to pursue his objectives without any direction or material support from an outside source.
In conclusion, homegrown violent terrorists are individuals who have either encouraged, endorsed, condoned, justified, or supported the instruction of a violent criminal act to achieve political, ideological, religious, social, or economic goals (U. S. Department of Justice). Moreover, a lone wolf terrorist is an individual who chooses to act as a homegrown violent extremist in which a single individual creates and exploits fear through violence or the threat of violence without receiving orders, direction or material support from outside sources to pursue political change linked to a formulated ideology (Hamm & Spaaj, pg. 3).
It is imperative that homegrown violent extremist, particularly, lone wolf terrorist is closely researched to help identify when an individual might be identified as person who contains motives to commit domestic terrorism. This will help the fight against terrorism, especially against domestic terrorism and lone wolf terrorism. It is important that the fight against lone wolf terrorism is difficult to combat since it is hard to identify lone wolf terrorists until after the fact that the criminal activity has been committed.
To help combat both homegrown violent extremist and lone wolf terrorism, I think the individuals I introduced above should be closely examined to help identify the terrorist-like characteristics of Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh, Omar Mateen and Theodore Kaczynski to help identify such individuals before they conduct their terrorist activities.