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Lone Wolf Attack – Threats on India

Lone Wolf Attack - Threats on India

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-3- Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

In news:

  • The knife attack at a park in Reading, a town west of London,which killed three people and injured three others, is yet another reminder of the threat of lone wolf attacks the U.K. is facing.
  • Last November, the British government reduced the official threat level from “severe” to “substantial”, which means attacks could happen but there was no intelligence of an immediate terror strike.
  • Since then, the country has seen three major incidents.
  • In November, a 28 year old youth, who had been jailed for terror offences, killed two with a knife at the Fishmongers’ Hall, London.
  • In February this year, a 20-year-old was shot dead by police when he launched a knife attack in south London.

Lone wolf:

lone actorlone-actor terrorist, or lone wolf is someone who prepares and commits violent acts alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group. They may be influenced or motivated by the ideology and beliefs of an external group and may act in support of such a group.

Why is it difficult to counter:

  • While the lone wolf acts to advance the ideological or philosophical beliefs of an extremist group, they act on their own, without any outside command or direction.
  • The lone wolf’s tactics and methods are conceived and directed solely on their own; in many cases.
  • The lone wolf never has personal contact with the group they identify with.
  • As such, it is considerably more difficult for counter-terrorismofficials to gather intelligence on lone wolves, since they may not come into contact with routine counter-terrorist surveillance.

Emerging trends:

five emerging trends in lone wolf terrorism in North America and western Europe between 1990 and 2013:

  • An increase in the number of countries targeted by lone wolves from the 1990s to the 2000s.
  • An increase in the number of people injured and killed by lone wolves.
  • Increased effectiveness of law enforcement and counter-terrorism.
  • Consistencyin the distribution of attacks by “actor types” (loners, lone wolves, and lone wolf packs).
  • An increase in the number of attacks against military personnel

Risks in India:

  • There have not been much of lone wolf attacks in India.
  • But the current security scenario poses an adverse condition.
  • This yearhigh alert was issued to security forces across the country by central intelligence agencies, warning of possible ‘lone wolf’ attacks by Islamic State (IS) operatives targeting high-risk dignitaries in the run-up to the Republic Day celebrations.
  • A communication issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs to all the States stated that the overall security scenario in the country remained a cause for concern on account of the threat emanating from Pakistan and the Afghanistan-Pakistan belt.
  • Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) continued to provide infrastructural and other financial/logistical assistance to terror groups, particularly the Lashkar-e-Taibaand the Jaish-e-Mohammad, operating in that country
  • The reported nexus between home-grown terror outfitsand Pakistan-based extremist organisations in terms of procurement of weapons, technology and training has added a new dimension to the threat scenario.
  • Home affairs referred to the “success” of the IS in radicalising a few Indian youthsand attracting certain sections of the local population/Indian diaspora to participate in its activities or support terrorist groups operating in India, the alert warned of a desperate individual resorting to some extreme measures.
  • Significantly, the IS has urged its followers to carry out ‘lone wolf’ attacksin the country of their residence.
  • The porous coastline of southeastern and southwestern Indiawas an easy landing ground for terror outfits to push their men and material into the country, the note
  • Inputs indicate that Sri Lankaand Maldives were used by Pakistan-based terrorist elements for anti-India activities.
  • The recent withdrawal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Articles 370 and 35Aand the earlier pre-emptive air strike on non-military targets inside Pakistan by Indian Air Force had considerably enhanced the threat from these outfits.
  • Inputs also indicated terrorist groups’ efforts to sneak intocoastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala via sea route.

What is needed :

  • Deploying adequate manpowerat airports, railway stations and bus stations to mount surveillance on anti-social elements and their known hideouts.
  • The government and the security agencies need to adopta multi-pronged approach towards radicalisation, which is anchored in human intelligence, strong ties with communities and community leaders and deradicalisation programmes.
  • Using technological interventions like National Cyber Crime Coordination centre.

Source:” The Hindu“.


Discuss the emerging trends in lone wolf terror attacks in the world. What kind of risk does it pose on India?