Lausanne, Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Center, publisher of the World Competitiveness Yearbook, “the leading annual report on the competitiveness of countries,” has just released its 28th edition of the publication. From their website:
The USA toppled as world’s most competitive economy
IMD World Competitiveness rankings released
30 May 2016 – The USA has surrendered its status as the world’s most competitive economy after being overtaken by China Hong Kong and Switzerland, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Center.
The sheer power of the economy of the USA is no longer sufficient to keep it at the top of the prestigious World Competitiveness Ranking, which it has led for the past three years.
The IMD World Competitiveness Center, a research group within IMD business school, has published the ranking each year since 1989 and it is widely regarded as the foremost annual assessment of the competitiveness of countries.
The 2016 edition ranks China Hong Kong first, Switzerland second and the USA third, with Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Canada completing the top 10…
Disappointing to hear, but not altogether shocking.
You can read the entire piece on IMD’s website here.
Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)
Euro Pacific Capital CEO/Chief Global Strategist Peter Schiff appeared on the FOX Business show Countdown to the Closing Bell last Wednesday. Host Liz Claman asked Schiff, who correctly-predicted the housing market crash and 2008 economic crisis, about where he was investing these days. He replied:
Well, my strategy has been the same for quite some time because I understand the problems that underlie the U.S. economy, how the Federal Reserve is exacerbating them in the name of trying to solve them, and so I want to invest abroad. We still favor equities, but I look at international equities. I look at value. I look at good dividends. And I want to own companies that are not dependent on the consumer…
A map was subsequently displayed that showed “Peter’s Global Area Picks”- Australia, Chile, China, Denmark, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Singapore, and Sweden.
Claman also brought up precious metals in the discussion. Particularly, silver. From their exchange:
CLAMAN: Let’s put up the miners, because you feel that the miners now have an opportunity to really rise. Silver below $20 an ounce these days. That seems to me like a good buy because it’s so cheap.
SCHIFF: Well, it did get as high as $50 a couple of years ago. But it started the rally from below $4. So, we’re in a big bull market. We’ve been pausing for the last couple of years. But I think it’s the pause that’s going to refresh. I think what drove the metals market lower in 2013 was the false belief in a U.S. recovery, and the idea the Fed was through with QE, and that we were on the verge of a tightening cycle. None of that is true. We are slipping back into recession. Janet Yellen is going to launch an even bigger round of QE than what Bernanke launched. And this is going to be very bullish for gold and silver. But it’s not going to be bullish for the U.S. economy.
“Safeguarding Your Portfolio By Investing Abroad”
By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)
(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)
Back when I was toiling away on “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street” a couple of years ago, I came across something that made me chuckle. I don’t remember the source, but in the wake of all the government bailouts and intervention after the global financial crisis really reared its ugly head in 2008, it was said one of the most popular books in Russia at the time was Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.
While in America, Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto was a hot item.
I have a feeling this was more commentary than fact, but what reminded me of this was something I stumbled on the other day on the Washington Times website. Jennifer Harper blogged on the Water Cooler on December 17:
A new rating of the most “democratic” nations on the planet places the U.S. in 15th place in a list of 104 countries. Who made the assessment? The Vienna, Austria-based Democracy Ranking annually rates the democracy among world populations based on “quality,” taking into account such factors as political rights, civil liberty, press freedom, corruption, political stability, “gender gap” issues and myriad socioeconomic indicators.
Nordic nations — where governments tend to flirt with socialism — dominate the lead. The top 10 nations on the list are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland and Austria.
Harper noted that the United States dropped from 14th to 15th place in the latest rankings.
Next time some politician or somebody else proclaims we live in a model democracy, a beacon for the world to follow, I’ll have to remember these rankings.
In the meantime, it’s business as usual here in Amerika.
“Glenn Beck presents the Obama National Anthem”
Just kidding. I’ll keep toiling on in the plutocracy.
You can find out more about the Democracy Ranking’s findings on their website here.
Harper, Jennifer. “’Most democratic’: U.S. is 15th on the list.” Water Cooler. 17 Dec. 2012. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2012/dec/17/most-democratic-us-15th-list/). 20 Dec. 2012.
It was only a matter of time before the terrorists got their hands on the following. From the CBS News website on Monday:
A Norwegian man has received terrorist training from al Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen and is awaiting orders to carry out an attack on the West, officials from three European security agencies told The Associated Press on Monday.
Western intelligence officials have long feared such a scenario — a convert to Islam who is trained in terrorist methods and can blend in easily in Europe and the United States, traveling without visa restrictions.
Officials from three European security agencies confirmed Monday the man is “operational,” meaning he has completed his training and is about to receive a target. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly. They declined to name the man, who has not been accused of a crime.
Norwegian? Oh well, so much for profiling…
“Best part of Aziz Ansari in Observe and Report”
(Warning! Strong language)
“AP: Al Qaeda trains Norwegian to attack West.” Associated Press. 25 June 2012. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57460126/ap-al-qaeda-trains-norwegian-to-attack-west/). 27 June 2012.
One last post about terrorism this week. Scott Stewart of the global intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or STRATFOR, has authored a series of Security Weekly reports entitled “Fundamentals of Terrorism.” The first of these, “The Myth of the End of Terrorism,” was released on February 23. It’s a good, informative read, and serves as a reminder that just because major terror attacks directed against the United States and its interests haven’t been too successful lately, the threat hasn’t gone away. Reprinted with permission of STRATFOR:
The Myth of the End of Terrorism
By Scott Stewart
In this week’s Geopolitical Weekly, George Friedman discussed the geopolitical cycles that change with each generation. Frequently, especially in recent years, those geopolitical cycles have intersected with changes in the way the tactic of terrorism is employed and in the actors employing it.
The Arab terrorism that began in the 1960s resulted from the Cold War and the Soviet decision to fund, train and otherwise encourage groups in the Middle East. The Soviet Union and its Middle Eastern proxies also sponsored Marxist terrorist groups in Europe and Latin America. They even backed the Japanese Red Army terrorist group. Places like South Yemen and Libya became havens where Marxist militants of many different nationalities gathered to learn terrorist tradecraft, often instructed by personnel from the Soviet KGB or the East German Stasi and from other militants.
The Cold War also spawned al Qaeda and the broader global jihadist movement as militants flocking to fight the Soviet troops who had invaded Afghanistan were trained in camps in northern Pakistan by instructors from the CIA’s Office of Technical Services and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. Emboldened by the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and claiming credit for the subsequent Soviet collapse, these militants decided to expand their efforts to other parts of the world.
The connection between state-sponsored terrorism and the Cold War ran so deep that when the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union’s collapse, many declared that terrorism had ended as well. I witnessed this phenomenon while serving in the counterterrorism Investigations Division of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) in the early 1990s. While I was in New York working as part of the interagency team investigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a newly appointed assistant secretary of state abolished my office, declaring that the DSS did not need a Counterterrorism Investigations Division since terrorism was over.
Though terrorism obviously did not end when the Berlin Wall fell, the rosy sentiments to the contrary held by some at the State Department and elsewhere took away the impetus to mitigate the growing jihadist threat or to protect diplomatic facilities from it. The final report of the Crowe Commission, which was established to review the twin August 1998 bombing attacks against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, explicitly noted this neglect of counterterrorism and security programs, as did the 9/11 Commission report.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered a shift in international geopolitics by leading the United States to concentrate the full weight of its national resources on al Qaeda and its supporters. Ironically, by the time the U.S. government was able to shift its massive bureaucracy to meet the new challenge, creating huge new organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, the efforts of the existing U.S. counterterrorism apparatus had already badly crippled the core al Qaeda group. Though some of these new organizations played important roles in helping the United States cope with the fallout of its decision to invade Iraq after Afghanistan, Washington spent billions of dollars to create organizations and fund programs that in hindsight were arguably not really necessary because the threats they were designed to counter, such as al Qaeda’s nuclear briefcase bombs, did not actually exist. As George Friedman noted in the Geopolitical Weekly, the sole global superpower was badly off-balance, which caused an imbalance in the entire global system.
With the continued diminution of the jihadist threat, underscored by the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden and the fall in Libya of the Gadhafi regime (which had long employed terrorism), once again we appear on the brink of a cyclical change in the terrorism paradigm. These events could again lead some to pronounce the death of terrorism.
Several developments last week served to demonstrate that while the perpetrators and tactics of terrorism (what Stratfor calls the “who” and the “how”) may change in response to larger geopolitical cycles, such shifts will not signal the end of terrorism itself.
The Nature of Terrorism
There are many conflicting definitions of terrorism, but for our purposes we will loosely define it as politically motivated violence against noncombatants. Many terrorist acts have a religious element to them, but that element is normally related to a larger, political goal: Both a militant anti-abortion activist seeking to end legalized abortion and a jihadist seeking to end the U.S. military presence in Iraq may act according to religious principles, but they ultimately are pursuing a political objective.
Terrorism is a tactic, one employed by a wide array of actors. There is no single creed, ethnicity, political persuasion or nationality with a monopoly on terrorism. Individuals and groups of individuals from almost every conceivable background — from late Victorian-era anarchists to Klansmen to North Korean intelligence officers — have conducted terrorist attacks. Because of the impreciseness of the term, Stratfor normally does not refer to individuals as terrorists. In addition to being a poor descriptor, “terrorist” tends to be a politically loaded term.
Traditionally, terrorism has been a tactic of the weak, i.e., those who lack the power to impose their political will through ordinary political or military means. As Carl von Clausewitz noted, war is the continuation of politics by other means; terrorism is a type of warfare, making it also politics by other means. Because it is a tactic used by the weak, terrorism generally focuses on soft, civilian targets rather than more difficult-to-attack military targets.
The type of weapon used does not define terrorism. For example, using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device against an International Security Assistance Force firebase in Afghanistan would be considered an act of irregular warfare, but using it in an attack on a hotel in Kabul would be considered an act of terrorism. This means that militant actors can employ conventional warfare tactics, unconventional warfare tactics and terrorism during the same campaign depending on the situation.
Terrorist attacks are relatively easy to conduct if they are directed against soft targets and if the assailant is not concerned with escaping after the attack, as was the case in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. While authorities in many countries have been quite successful in foiling attacks over the past couple of years, governments simply do not have the resources to guard everything. When even police states cannot protect everything, some terrorist attacks invariably will succeed in the open societies of the West.
Terrorist attacks tend to be theatrical, exerting a strange hold over the human imagination. They often create a unique sense of terror dwarfing reactions to natural disasters many times greater in magnitude. For example, more than 227,000 people died in the 2004 Asian tsunami versus fewer than 3,000 on 9/11, yet the 9/11 attacks produced a worldwide sense of terror and a geopolitical reaction that has had a profound and unparalleled impact on world events over the past decade.
Cycles and Shifts
A number of events last week illustrate the changes happening in the terrorism realm and demonstrate that, while terrorism may change, it is not going to end.
On Feb. 17, the FBI arrested a Moroccan man near the U.S. Capitol in Washington who allegedly sought to conduct a suicide attack on the building. The suspect, Amine el Khalifi, is a clear example of the shift in the jihadist threat from one based on the al Qaeda core group to one primarily deriving from grassroots jihadists. As Stratfor has noted for several years, while these grassroots jihadists pose a more diffuse threat because they are harder for national intelligence and law enforcement agencies to focus on than hierarchical groups, the threat they pose is less severe because they generally lack the terrorist tradecraft required to conduct a large-scale attack. Because they lack such tradecraft, these grassroots militants tend to seek assistance to conduct their plots. This assistance usually involves acquiring explosives or firearms, as in the el Khalifi case, where an FBI informant posing as a jihadist leader provided the suspect with an inert suicide vest and a submachine gun prior to the suspect’s arrest.
While many in the media tend to ridicule individuals like el Khalifi as inept, it is important to remember that had he succeeded in finding a real jihadist facilitator rather than a federal informant, he could have killed many people in an attack. Richard Reid, who many people refer to as the “Kramer of al Qaeda” after the bumbling character from the television show Seinfeld, came very close to taking down a jumbo jet full of people over the Atlantic because he had been equipped and dispatched by others.
Still, the fact remains that the jihadist threat now predominantly stems from unequipped grassroots wannabes rather than teams of highly trained operatives sent to the United States from overseas, like the team that executed the 9/11 attacks. This demonstrates how the jihadist threat has diminished in recent years, a trend we expect to continue. This will allow Washington to increasingly focus attention on things other than jihadism, such as the fragmentation of Europe, the transformation of global economic production and Iran’s growing regional power. It will mark the beginning of a new geopolitical cycle.
Last week also brought us a series of events highlighting how terrorism may manifest itself in the new cycle. On Feb. 13, Israeli diplomatic vehicles in New Delhi, India, and Tbilisi, Georgia, were targeted with explosive devices. In Tbilisi, a grenade hidden under a diplomatic vehicle was discovered before it could detonate. In New Delhi, a sticky bomb placed on the back of a diplomatic vehicle wounded the wife of the Israeli defense attache as she headed to pick up her children from school.
On Feb. 14, an Iranian man was arrested after being wounded in an explosion at a rented house in Bangkok. The blast reportedly occurred as a group was preparing improvised explosive devices for use against Israeli targets in Bangkok. Two other Iranians were later arrested (one in Malaysia), and Thai authorities are seeking three more Iranian citizens, two of whom have reportedly returned to Iran, alleged to have assisted in the plot.
While these recent Iranian plots failed, they nonetheless highlight how the Iranians are using terrorism as a tactic in retaliation for attacks Israel and Israeli surrogates have conducted against individuals associated with Iran’s nuclear program.
It is also important to bear in mind as this new geopolitical cycle begins that terrorism does not just emanate from foreign governments, major subnational actors or even transnational radical ideologies like jihadism. As we saw in the July 2011 attacks in Norway conducted by Anders Breivik and in older cases involving suspects like Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh and Theodore Kaczynski in the United States, native-born individuals who have a variety of grievances with the government or society can carry out terrorist attacks. Such grievances will certainly persist.
Geopolitical cycles will change, and these changes may cause a shift in who employs terrorism and how it is employed. But as a tactic, terrorism will continue no matter what the next geopolitical cycle brings.
The Myth of the End of Terrorism is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
There’s a lot of material being released about the July 22 bombing/shootings in Norway. Not having the time these days to sort through it all, I was lucky enough to unearth the following analysis of the incident by Scott Stewart from the global intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or STRATFOR. Stewart does a terrific job summarizing the attack, providing relevant details, and exploring the bigger picture. Reprinted with their permission…
Norway: Lessons from a Successful Lone Wolf Attacker
By Scott Stewart
On the afternoon of July 22, a powerful explosion ripped through the streets of Oslo, Norway, as a large improvised explosive device (IED) in a rented van detonated between the government building housing the prime minister’s office and Norway’s Oil and Energy Department building. According to the diary of Anders Breivik, the man arrested in the case who has confessed to fabricating and placing the device, the van had been filled with 950 kilograms (about 2,100 pounds) of homemade ammonium nitrate-based explosives.
After lighting the fuse on his IED, Breivik left the scene in a rented car and traveled to the island of Utoya, located about 32 kilometers (20 miles) outside of Oslo. The island was the site of a youth campout organized by Norway’s ruling Labor Party. Before taking a boat to the island, Breivik donned body armor and tactical gear bearing police insignia (intended to afford him the element of tactical surprise). Once on the island he opened fire on the attendees at the youth camp with his firearms, a semiautomatic 5.56-caliber Ruger Mini-14 rifle and a 9 mm Glock pistol. Due to the location of the camp on a remote island, Breivik had time to kill 68 people and wound another 60 before police responded to the scene.
Shortly before the attack, Breivik posted a manifesto on the Internet that includes his lengthy operational diary. He wrote the diary in English under the Anglicized pen name Andrew Berwick, though a careful reading shows he also posted his true identity in the document. The document also shows that he was a lone wolf attacker who conducted his assault specifically against the Labor Party’s current and future leadership. Breivik targeted the Labor Party because of his belief that the party is Marxist-oriented and is responsible for encouraging multiculturalism, Muslim immigration into Norway and, acting with other similar European governments, the coming destruction of European culture. Although the Labor Party members are members of his own race, he considers them traitors and holds them in more contempt than he does Muslims. In fact, in the manifesto, Breivik urged others not to target Muslims because it would elicit sympathy for them.
Breivik put most of his time and effort into the creation of the vehicle-borne IED (VBIED) that he used to attack his primary target, the current government, which is housed in the government building. It appears that he believed the device would be sufficient to destroy that building. It was indeed a powerful device, but the explosion killed only eight people. This was because the device did not bring down the building as Breivik had planned and many of the government employees who normally work in the area were on summer break. In the end, the government building was damaged but not destroyed in the attack, and no senior government officials were killed. Most of the deaths occurred at the youth camp, which Breivik described as his secondary target.
While Breivik’s manifesto indicated he planned and executed the attack as a lone wolf, it also suggests that he is part of a larger organization that he calls the “Pauperes Commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici (PCCTS, also known as the Knights Templar), which seeks to encourage other lone wolves (whom Brevik refers to as “Justiciar Knights”) and small cells in other parts of Europe to carry out a plan to “save” Europe and European culture from destruction.
Because of the possibility that there are other self-appointed Justiciar Knights in Norway or in other parts of Europe and that Breivik’s actions, ideology and manifesto could spawn copycats, we thought it useful to examine the Justiciar Knights concept as Breivik explains it to see how it fits into lone wolf theory and how similar actors might be detected in the future.
An Opening Salvo?
From reading his manifesto, it is clear that Breivik, much like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, believes that his attack is the opening salvo in a wider campaign, in this case to liberate Europeans from what Breivik views as malevolent, Marxist-oriented governments. These beliefs are what drove Breivik to attack the Norwegian Labor Party. As noted above, it is also clear that Breivik planned and executed his attack alone.
However, he also discusses how he was radicalized and influenced by a Serbian living in Liberia whom he visited there. And Breivik claims to have attended a meeting in London in 2002 to “re-found the Knights Templar.” This organization, PCCTS, which was founded in 2002, is not related to the much older official and public chivalric order also known as the Knights Templar. According to Breivik, the PCCTS was formed with the stated purpose of fighting back against “European Jihad” and to defend the “free indigenous peoples of Europe.” To achieve this goal, the PCCTS would implement a three-phase plan designed to seize political and military power in Europe. In his manifesto Breivik outlines the plan as follows:
• Phase 1 (1999-2030): Cell-based shock attacks, sabotage attacks, etc.
• Phase 2 (2030-2070): Same as above but bigger cells/networks, armed militias.
• Phase 3 (2070-2100): Pan-European coup d’etats, deportation of Muslims and execution of traitors.
As outlined in Breivik’s manifesto, the 2002 meeting was attended by seven other individuals, two from England and one each from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Russia. He also asserts that the organization has members from Serbia (his contact living in Liberia), Sweden, Belgium and the United States who were unable to attend the meeting. Brevik states that all the members of the PCCTS were given code names for security, that his code name was “Sigurd,” and that he was mentored by a member with the code name “Richard the Lionhearted” (presumably a Briton). Breivik claims that after meeting these individuals via the Internet he was carefully vetted before being allowed to join the group.
The diary section of Breivik’s manifesto reveals that during the planning process for the attack Breivik traveled to Prague to obtain firearms and grenades from Balkan organized-crime groups there (he had hoped to obtain a fully automatic AK-47). Breivik was not able to procure weapons in Prague and instead was forced to use weapons he was able to obtain in Norway by legal means. It is interesting that he did not contact the Serbian member of the PCCTS for assistance in making contact with Balkan arms dealers. Breivik’s lawyer told the media July 26 that although Breivik acted alone in conducting his attack, he had been in contact with two terror cells in Norway and other cells abroad. Certainly, Norway and its partners in EUROPOL and the United States will try to identify these other individuals, if they do in fact exist.
In phase one of the PCCTS plan, shock attacks were to be carried out by individuals operating as lone wolves or small cells of Breivik’s so-called Justiciar Knights, who are self-appointed guardians who decide to follow the PCCTS code outlined in Breivik’s manifesto and who are granted the authority to act as “a judge, jury and executioner until the free, indigenous peoples of Europe are no longer threatened by cultural genocide, subject to cultural Marxist/Islamic tyranny or territorial or existential threats through Islamic demographic warfare.”
Breivik’s manifesto notes that he does not know how many Justiciar Knights there are in Western Europe but estimates their number to be from 15 to 80. It is unclear if this is a delusion on his part and there are no other Justiciar Knights or if Breivik has some factual basis for his belief that there are more individuals like him planning attacks.
While some observers have noted that the idea of Justiciar Knights operating as lone wolves and in small cells is similar to the calls in recent years for grassroots jihadists to adopt lone wolf tactics, it is important to understand that leaderless resistance has been a central theme of white supremacist groups in the United States since the early 1990s. While Breivik did not express any anti-Semitism in his manifesto (something he has been heavily criticized for on U.S. anti-Semitic websites), clearly the anti-immigration and anti-Marxist ideology of the PCCTS has been influenced more by white hate groups than by al Qaeda.
Moreover, the concept of a self-identified Justiciar Knight is quite similar to the idea of a “Phineas Priest” in the leaderless resistance model propagated by some white supremacists in the United States who adhere to “Christian Identity” ideology. In this model, Phineas Priests see themselves as lone wolf militants chosen by God and set apart to be his “agents of vengeance” upon the earth. Phineas Priests also believe that their attacks will serve to ignite a wider “racial holy war” that will ultimately lead to the salvation of the white race.
Leaderless resistance has also been advocated by militant anarchists as well as animal rights and environmentalist activists who belong to such groups as the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front. So it is not correct to think of leaderless resistance merely as a jihadist construct — it has long been used by a variety of militant actors.
Lone Wolf Challenges
One of the great strengths of our enemies, the Western European cultural Marxist/multiculturalist regimes is their vast resources and their advanced investigation/forensic capabilities. There are thousands of video cameras all over European major cities and you will always risk leaving behind dna, finger prints, witnesses or other evidence that will eventually lead to your arrest. They are overwhelmingly superior in almost every aspect. But every 7 headed monster has an Achilles heel. This Achilles heel is their vulnerability against single/duo martyr cells. — Anders Breivik
As STRATFOR has long discussed, the lone wolf operational model presents a number of challenges for law enforcement, intelligence and security officers. The primary challenge is that, by definition, lone wolves are solitary actors, and it can be very difficult to determine their intentions before they act because they do not work with anyone else. When militants are operating in a cell consisting of more than one person, there is a larger chance that one of them will get cold feet and reveal the plot to authorities, that law enforcement and intelligence personnel will intercept a communication between conspirators, or that the authorities will be able to insert an informant into the group.
This ability to fly solo and under the radar of law enforcement has meant that some lone wolf militants such as Joseph Paul Franklin, Theodore Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph were able to operate for years before being identified and captured. Indeed, from Breivik’s diary, we know he took several years to plan and execute his attack without detection.
As the Breivik case illustrates, lone wolves also pose problems because they can come from a variety of backgrounds with a wide range of motivations. While some lone wolves are politically motivated, others are religiously motivated and some are mentally unstable.
In addition to the wide spectrum of ideologies and motivations among lone wolves, there is also the issue of geographic dispersal. As we’ve seen from past cases, their plots and attacks have occurred in many different locations and are not confined just to Manhattan, London or Washington. Lone wolf attacks can occur anywhere.
Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to differentiate between those extremists who intend to commit attacks and those who simply preach hate or hold radical beliefs (things that are not in themselves illegal in many countries). Therefore, to single out likely lone wolves before they strike, authorities must spend a great deal of time and resources looking at individuals who might be moving from radical beliefs to radical actions. This is a daunting task given the large universe of potential suspects.
In spite of the challenges presented by lone wolf operatives, they are vulnerable to detection at several different stages of their attack cycle. One of these vulnerabilities comes during the planning stage when weapons are acquired. From reading Breivik’s diary, it is clear that he felt exposed as he tried to purchase the chemicals he needed to build his IED. Because of this vulnerability, Breivik created an extensive cover story that included renting a farm in order to explain his purchase of a large quantity of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. The farm also provided a private, spacious place for him to construct his IED.
Breivik also exposed himself to potential detection when he traveled to Prague to attempt to purchase weapons. One of the criminals he contacted could have turned him in to authorities. (In June 2011 we saw a jihadist cell in Seattle detected and arrested while attempting to buy guns from a criminal acquaintance. Another small cell was arrested in New York in May 2011, also while attempting to obtain weapons.) Even if Breivik had succeeded in purchasing weapons in Prague, he would still have been vulnerable as he smuggled the weapons back into Norway in his car (though it is important to remember that EU countries have open borders so security checks would not have been too stringent).
Breivik also exposed himself to detection as he conducted surveillance on his targets. Interestingly, in his diary, Breivik goes into excruciating detail discussing how he manufactured his device based on information he was able to obtain from the Internet, but he mentions very little about how he selected specific targets or how he conducted surveillance on them. He mentions only that he visited the sites and programmed the locations into his GPS. He also discusses using a video camera to record his attack but does not mention if he used still or video cameras in his target surveillance. How Breivik specifically chose his targets and how he conducted surveillance on them will be important for the Norwegian authorities to examine.
Finally, Breivik mentions several times in his diary that the steps he was taking would be far more difficult if he were a foreign-born Muslim instead of a Caucasian Norwegian. This underscores a problem we have discussed with profiling suspects based on their ethnicity or nationality. In an environment where potential threats are hard to identify, it is doubly important to profile individuals based on their behavior rather than their ethnicity or nationality — what we refer to as focusing on the “how” rather than the “who.”
Not All Lone Wolves are Equal
Finally, in the Breivik case we need to recognize that Norwegian authorities were dealing with a very capable lone wolf operator. While lone wolf theory has been propagated for many years now, there have been relatively few successful lone wolf attacks. This is because it takes a special individual to be a successful lone wolf assailant. Unlike many lone wolves, Breivik demonstrated that he possessed the intelligence and discipline to plan and carry out an attack that spanned several years of preparation. For example, he joined a pistol club in 2005 just in case he ever needed to buy a gun through legal means in Norway, and was able to rely on that alternate plan when his efforts to purchase firearms in Prague failed. Breivik was also driven, detail-oriented and meticulous in his planning. His diary documents that he was also extremely patient and careful during the dangerous trial-and-error process of manufacturing explosives.
It is rare to find a lone wolf militant who possesses all those traits, and Breivik stands in stark contrast to other European grassroots operatives like Nick Reilly or Bilal Abdullah and Kafeel Ahmed, who made amateurish attempts at attacks. Breivik appears to have been a hard worker who claims to have amassed some 500,000 euros by working a variety of jobs and selling a communications company. After some unsuccessful speculation on the stock market he still had enough money and credit to rent the farm and the vehicles he used in the attack and to buy the required bomb components, weapons and body armor. In his diary he says that he began his two tasks — writing the manifesto and conducting the attack — with a war chest of 250,000 euros and several credit cards.
Breivik also is somewhat unique in that he did not attempt to escape after his attacks or become a martyr by his own hand or that of the authorities. Instead, as outlined in his manifesto, he sought to be tried so that he could turn his trial into a grandstand for promoting his ideology beyond what he did with his manifesto and video. He was willing to risk a long prison sentence in order to communicate his principles to the public. This means that the authorities have to be concerned not only about other existing Justiciar Knights but also anyone who may be influenced by Breivik’s message and follow his example.
There is also the possibility that individuals who do not adhere to Breivik’s ideology will seek to exploit the loopholes and security lapses highlighted by this incident to conduct their own attacks. Breivik’s diary provides a detailed step-by-step guide to manufacturing a successful VBIED, and the authorities will be scrutinizing it carefully to address the vulnerabilities Breivik exposed before those instructions can be used again.
Norway: Lessons from a Successful Lone Wolf Attacker is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
My prayers go out to all those affected by those atrocious acts committed in Norway last Friday.
In the aftermath of the shootings/bombing, new calls are emerging for increased regulation of fertilizer and firearms around the world. From Australia’s Yass Tribune this morning:
Breivik allegedly made his bombs from the tonnes of readily available fertilizer and had easy access to the guns that he used in his killing spree. This begs the question of gun ownership and it is disturbing to hear that the Shooters and Fishers Party has already begun to influence our newly elected state government with the opening up of our state forests for the purpose of hunting and shooting. The party has also tried, so far unsuccessfully, to have shooting introduced into the state schools. Perhaps the sale of fertilizer, if it is not already regulated, should also be subject to closer scrutiny.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Also from the “land down under” today comes this from the Herald Sun:
THE shooting spree in Norway should force Australia to ban semi-automatic handguns, Greens leader Bob Brown says…
Senator Brown said reports the killer had used a semi-automatic handgun should force a re-think of Australia’s laws.
“These would not necessarily be prohibited in Australia,” he told reporters in Hobart.
“We Greens have repeatedly called for these to be made illegal. There are limited potential uses of them, but very, very few beyond that of the police forces.
“There is no good reason for semi-automatic pistols to be in circulation in Australia and it’s one of those things that we mustn’t wait for the worst to happen before we act.”
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Getting back to chemical fertilizer, Aled-Dilwyn Fisher wrote the following this morning on the “Views and News from Norway” website:
Calls for stronger regulation of the sale of ammonium nitrate fertilizers have been made following the suspected use of the materials in the bombing of Oslo on Friday July 22 – with experts suggesting that new EU regulations set to be introduced in Norway are not enough…
Meanwhile, the Danish government has already announced its intention to better regulate the distribution of fertilizer. Lars Barfoed, the Danish minister of justice, was reported by news agency NTB to have said that his government “will learn from this event, and for that reason we will obviously go through the rules in order to see if there is a need to tighten up.”
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
History reminds us that violence of the magnitude that took place in Norway is nothing new, and bad people will keep using any means at their disposal to carry out such carnage, whether the tools be military-grade or off-the-shelf. All the guns and ammonium nitrate fertilizer in the world could disappear this very instant- and it would still be only a matter of time before the next mass casualty terror attack takes place.
Millett, Brian. “How safe are we from shooting and bombing?” Millett’s Musings. 25 July 2011. (http://www.yasstribune.com.au/blogs/milletts-musings/how-safe-are-we-from-shooting-and-bombing/2236735.aspx?storypage=1). 25 July 2011.
“Norway shooting should force gun law change, says Greens leader Bob Brown.” Herald Sun. 25 July 2011. (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/norway-shooting-should-force-gun-law-change-says-greens-leader-bob-brown/story-e6frf7jx-1226101441515). 25 July 2011.
Fisher, Aled-Dilwyn. “Calls to regulate fertilizer after bomb.” Views and News from Norway. 25 July 2011. (http://www.newsinenglish.no/2011/07/25/calls-to-regulate-fertilizer-after-bomb/). 25 July 2011.
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