The homeland security domestic extremism lexicon – issued on 29 March 2009 – identifies the most common lone wolf causes, which propels individuals to carry out acts of terror. While the underlying tactical process has many similarities in almost all known cases, the ideological aspects of violence differ drastically. The lexicon stresses that extremism described therein is of non-Islamic nature, as Islamic terrorism (as analyzed above) warrants a thorough analysis independently of other connections.
Animal rights Extremism – the group focused on protecting animal rights, giving them equal status to humans, therefore considering places such as meat packing plants to be on a par with concentration camps.
Anarchist Extremism – a movement of groups or individuals who advocate society devoid of government structure or ownership of individual property.
Anti-abortion Extremism – a movement of groups or individuals who are virulently anti-abortion and advocate violence against providers of abortion-related services.
Anti-Immigration Extremism – a movement which opposes illegal immigration, particularly from Mexico (mostly arriving through various rivers, hence the derogatory term wetback for Mexican illegal immigrants).
Anti-Technology Extremism – also known as neo-Luddites, they target universities and laboratories. The most famous example of the group is Theodore Kaczyński (also known as the Unabomber for his target preference), a proponent of anarcho-primitivism. Kaczyński wrote a manifesto detailing his views on why industrial society is going to doom the human race as we know it due to omnipresent surveillance and uniformity.
Environmental Extremism – a movement using violence to end what they perceive environmental degradation by humans. Also known as ecoterrorism. Greenpeace may be seen as a mild expression of environmental extremism.
Neo-Nazis – a group centered on Adolf Hitler’s beliefs. Frequently engaging in ardent Holocaust denial, the group believes the Nordic race, or – more widely – the white race, is not only superior but at risk of extinction due to low childbirth rate; the group calls for a racial war to save the Caucasian race and for restoration of what the group calls the natural order of life with racial segregation. Given the ideological aspects, group operating in each country often believes their expression of white pride is the most accurate one.
Sovereign Citizens – a rightwing extremist movement composed of groups or individuals who reject the notion of U.S. citizenship. They claim to follow what they believe to be God’s law or common law and the original ten amendments (Bill of Rights) to the U.S. constitution. The group does not believe in paying taxes, any form of vehicle registration or personal identification. The group often targets law enforcement and government officials.
Militia Movement – a group similar to sovereign citizens, conducting paramilitary exercises as a countervailing force to the U.S. government. The group is a bastion of the second amendment (the right to bear arms).
Phineas priesthood – the group which believes the Biblical story of Phineas justifies, or even calls for, inter-racial killing.
These groups are a mere fraction of the groups operating throughout the U.S. and the world. Obviously, it is virtually impossible to ascertain how many groups – either producing or influencing – lone wolves, actually exist. There are attempts, however, to gather as much intelligence about these groups as possible, mainly by the FBI.
Homeland security mentions the alternative media, which it defines as various information sources that provide a forum for interpretations of events and issues that differ radically from those presented in mass media products and outlets. Homeland Security is acutely aware, however, the alternative media’s reach is expanding rapidly, oftentimes pushing the mainstream media outlets to the sidelines.
The fact remains, whereby modus operandi is relatively similar regardless of which group is involved. By extension, individual method of operation involves meticulous planning and subsequent violence to attain a given goal.
The ideological background (the why) varies, but individual phases starting with an impulse leading to homicidal ideations, to testing in a controlled environment and finally carrying out an actual attack (the how) meant to exert pressure on society to change its ways as desired by assailants, are almost always grounded in identical reasoning.
Psychopathy: A Neglected Factor.
Psychopathy is a psychological trait making lone wolves especially dangerous. The trait is largely neglected and misunderstood by the population at large. Unfortunately, psychopathy is a significant factor not just in terrorism studies, but in daily interactions with society as well.
Psychopaths can be found in all walks of life. A debate as to what causes psychopathy rages on, with experts divided into genetic and societal factors.
To differentiate between the two, psychopaths usually pertain to a genetic factor, while sociopaths are created as a result of their pathological upbringing, where social norms and morality are skewed to suit the needs of a group.
Let us take a look at the psychopathy checklist, a diagnostic tool invented by Robert Hare, Ph.D., a Canadian expert on psychopathy who has been studying the phenomenon for circa thirty years. Psychopaths are essentially predators that don a mask of sanity in order to mesmerize potential victims.
In his book, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, doctor Robert Hare names the following psychological traits as part of psychopathy checklist, i.e. a system of tests designed to detect psychopaths in the criminal justice system:
Glibness/superficial charm – psychopaths are congenial, even charming; this is merely a façade to lure their prey.
Grandiose sense of self-worth – psychopaths often suffer from messianic complex. They are ‘’masters unto themselves’’.
Pathological liar – telling a lie and telling the truth is the same to psychopaths. They have no moral compass.
Lack of remorse or guilt – psychopaths do not have the ability to feel any kind of remorse or guilt.
Shallow affect – psychopaths are easily enraged, although they use rage as a control mechanism rather than a genuine emotional state.
Failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions – it is always someone else’s fault.
Parasitic Lifestyle – psychopaths feed off of others as much as they can; they rarely produce anything of worth.
Easily Bored – psychopaths require a constant adrenaline rush.
Calculating – a psychopath always thinks what’s in it for me.
As we can see, these traits may result in a perfect storm, creating a deranged offender, i.e. a lone wolf. Lone wolves are often locked in their own world, interacting with others via the Internet, a state of affairs which only reinforces their delusions.
As much as they are delusional, lone wolves are perfectly capable of executing their plan down to the tiniest detail. The public often mixes psychopathy with psychotic behavior, which are two distinct conditions.
A deranged individual who is incapable of interacting with the world without attracting suspicion due to highly visible pathology cannot be a successful lone wolf. Lone wolves know exactly what they are doing and they often use their psychopathic tendencies (lone wolf does not have to be a full-fledged psychopath, but psychopathic traits such as manipulative and charming go a long way in creating a congenial image in society).
Lone wolves often share a messianic component with each other, a belief they must convey a certain message to the world. They are above the law and above any kind of norms, a belief they shared with psychopaths.
The modern world offers plenty of opportunity for lone wolves to find a cause. Islamic extremism is particularly prolific. A constant barrage of news desecrating Islam can be found on a daily basis.
A relatively recent example of a Youtube movie – Innocence of Muslims – and subsequent riots in many Muslim countries proved how seemingly insignificant actions can spiral out of control. Indeed, we could observe how the angry masses blamed entire governments for actions of an obscure director.
Certain cases are difficult to categorize, i.e. they are a mixture of lone wolf tactics and a deranged individual in action. Jared Lee Loughner – who attempted to assassinate a member of the US House of Representatives Gabrielle Giffords – could not really explain the motives. They did not appear to be political, nor did they appear to be personal. His videos are available on Youtube to this day, but they offer no tangible insight into Loughner’s mind.
The specter of lone wolf – and terrorism in general – is here to stay. After Newtown massacre, Home Security posted an active shooter survival video. The agency recommended to find a place to hide where the shooter is less likely to find you and consider trying to overpower the shooter with whatever means are available. Grab scissors when confronted by a gunman. The last statement is particularly perplexing, given the recent gun control debate in America.
Are we then to presume, then, that lone wolves are insane? Courts around the world appear reluctant to acknowledge that lone wolves are deranged individuals. The legal system is fully aware how beneficial insanity defense is to criminals. Besides, lone wolves exhibit levels of meticulousness and premeditation not found in insane individuals. In countries where human rights are not of particular concern, lone wolves face death penalty. Had Anders Breivik been insane, he most likely would not have prepared for every eventuality.
 Hare, R. Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. The Guilford Press, 1999. Page 32.
 ‘’Innocence of Muslims’’ on Youtube. 15 April, 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpuxiZcB6HU>
 Rudegeair, Peter. ‘’Man behind anti-Islam film that stoked riots has no regrets.’’ 27 November, 2012. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/26/us-protests-nyt-idUSBRE8AP0YV20121126>
 Jared Loughner’s Youtube channel. 12 March, 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/user/Classitup10>
 CBS News. ‘’Homeland Security posts active-shooter survival guide video.’’ February 2, 2013. <http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57567077/homeland-security-posts-active-shooter-survival-guide-video/>
 Department of Homeland Security. ‘’DHS Domestic Terrorism and Homegrown Violent Extremism Lexicon’’. June 3, 2012. < http://publicintelligence.net/domestic-terrorism-and-homegrown-violent-extremism-lexicon/>
 Fields, Gary. Perez, Evan. ‘’FBI Seeks to Target Lone Extremists.’’ May 27, 2012. <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124501849215613523.html>
 Homeland Security. ‘’Domestic Extremism Lexicon.’’ 15 November, 2012. <www.fas.org/irp/eprint/lexicon.pdf>