witnessed that operations done by lone individuals has proven to be much
more successful. So what can we learn from this? Group operations have a
greater tendency of failing than lone operations due to the idea (of
the operation) escaping the mind and tongue to other individuals. Even
if those individuals are trustworthy in your eyes, there is still that
1% chance that someone from the intelligence agencies are listening in
and paying attention to your groups' actions or that the person you are
talking to might be working for the enemy or that he might be pressured
at a later period to give information to them. With lone operations
however, as long as you keep it to yourself, nobody in the world would
know what you're thinking and planning.
Every single homegrown
plot against the U.S. since September 11 that involved more than one
person has failed, most often because law enforcement caught wind of it.
Nevertheless, homegrown jihadists keep talking about their plans, and
keep getting caught.
Although there are rare individuals who are
capable of acting in complete isolation, jihad is ultimately a social
and political activity. By its very definition, it is tied to an
overwhelming sense of community with the global Muslim Ummah. Being a
solitary jihadist is like being a solitary majorette. It's certainly
possible, but you're likely to feel foolish marching around your
basement in uniform.
The problem with individual jihad is,
ironically, its individuality. Although loose lips are probably the most
operationally significant manifestation of this failure to conform, it
works on the ideological level as well.
For instance, Al
Qaeda's leaders and its most visible propagandists have repeatedly
drummed their justifications for killing American civilians. From an
operational standpoint, civilian targets are easier to hit, but Al Qaeda
also estimates that they make for more effective theater, driving home
the point that no Americans are safe from the terror network's reach for
as long as its list of grievances remains unsatisfied.
are people who do not take part in the war," Yemeni-American Al Qaeda
propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki said in a May 2010 video translated by
MEMRI. "The American people in its entirety takes part in the war,
because they elected this administration, and they finance this war [by
paying their taxes]."
In late 2010, Inspire published an article
by AQAP's resident scholar, 'Adil Al 'Abab, which reiterated the
justification for attacking civilians. Earlier issues of Inspire
suggested tactics such as driving a truck fitted with lawnmower blades
into crowds of civilians and picking off any survivors with firearms.
are only three cases where Awlaki is known to have provided specific
operational guidance to would-be terrorists. All three were attempted
airline bombings aimed at killing civilians: the 2009 Christmas day
plot, the 2010 UPS cargo plane plot, and a 2010 effort to target British