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Why 'lone wolf' bombers fizzle out in India

July 18, 2013 13:29 IST

"Those who have met Emerson Begolly in person might describe him as a shy young man. But online, the 24-year-old was the complete opposite -- he forcefully incited jihadi violence against Americans and Jews."

This is the Federal Bureau of Investigation's note on Emerson Begolly, a 'homegrown' terrorist who was sentenced to eight-and-a-half-years in jail for leading an online forum that encouraged terror attacks against the American army.

Begolly, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or the 'Boston bomber' and Kafeel Ahmed, the prime accused in the Glasgow bombing, are all 'lone warriors'.

They are self-proclaimed jihadis who are not part of a terror outfit or a module. Such lone warriors draw their inspiration from fundamentalist websites which preach hatred and intolerance.

The concept of a terrorist who operates all by himself has not yet taken off in India.

“It takes a major bomb blast or a 26/11 type attack for people to sit up and take notice in India. Comparatively less destructive strikes, like the ones carried out by militants in Kashmir or by Naxals, do not stir up the emotions of the public,” said former RAW chief C D Sahay.

“Such 'lone wolf' terrorists usually target their worst enemy -- the United States -- as they know even a minor strike on American soil will garner massive attention. Thanks to extremely tight security measures, it is virtually impossible for major terror groups like Lashkar-e-Tayiba or the Al Qaeda to carry out a strike there,” said Sahay.

In the US, he says, a single act of terror draws as much coverage as serial blasts do in India.

When a lone terrorist carries out an attack, the chances of thwarting such a strike become slim, as the planned strike does not require a group action.

Since terrorists like Begolly and Tsarnaev run one-man shows, detection and prevention of their terror activities is extremely hard, said the IB officer.

Terror outfits further provoke such brainwashed 'warriors' by promoting right-wing vitriol online.

An Intelligence Bureau official explains that internet has an all-pervasive presence in the United States. It is easy for self-motivated terrorists to find inflammatory content online and connect with like-minded fundamentalists.

The National Security Agency’s much-criticised PRISM programmed, which reportedly conducts electronic surveillance on Americans, was designed to monitor this kind of subversive activities by misguided citizens.

"Terror outfits find it easy to set up sleeper cells and carry out high-impact attacks in India. They are helped by a dedicated home-grown outfit. That will never happen in America," pointed out Sahay.

Image: A collection of fireworks found inside a backpack are seen in a handout photo released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ' Photograph: Reuters

Vicky Nanjappa