The Islamic State has been faithful to its promises turning the month of Ramadan into a succession of terrible attacks that have shocked the whole world. If from the military point of view ISIS forces are giving ground to the Iraqi and Syrian forces, the weapon of terrorism is confirmed as the best method to achieve far more important victories than a city or location near Mosul. Brian Michael Jenkins has compared terrorism to a "theater" and never as now are the main actors showing great acting, leaving the audience astonished, devoid of any will. A few days ago, Italy mourned its deaths in Bangladesh, doing so in its own way, sterile from every reaction on the political level, but with a morbid media offensive, to the limit of the tolerable, bringing to life the lives, death and miracles of the victims without giving any concrete answer.
Suicide attacks or military actions?
In the first place it is necessary to make distinctions useful in order not to fall into errors common to a lot of printed paper or newscasts. Episodes like the one in Dacca, or the more recent one in Nice are not to be included among the suicide attacks. An attack perpetrated by one shaihd, in fact, it presupposes the death of the attacker, not by the hands of others, but by his own will. The bombing at the Brussels airport last March is a suicide attack because the terrorists, after having spread panic with small arms, triggered their death belt by causing them to explode. The same applies to the explosions that took place in front of the Stade de France in November of the 2015 which, fortunately, caused the death of the attackers involving only one innocent person; much more dramatic was the episode of the theater Bataclan also in that circumstance the terrorists acted by combining machine-gun fire with jackets filled with explosives.
In Dhaka the four jihadists of the Islamic State were not tied to any detonating charge and their break-in in the restaurant had all the characteristics of a military assault: although they had with them some grenades, they mostly used automatic weapons and not the last cutting tools to rage on all those who could not recite the passages of the Koran. All four knew that their chances of surviving a firefight with the police were low, nevertheless they were aware that they had at least a chance to escape or, at worst, be injured and caught.
Even the dramatic event of Nice is not to be considered a suicide attack since the Tunisian who drove the truck could be stopped or killed on the spot well before his mad killing run began. This has not happened and unfortunately the consequences have been seen: the jihadist has died riddled by the blows of the National Police, taking with it over 84 victims including numerous children and over injured 200.
Il liaison which connects the various attacks is precisely the claim of the self-styled Islamic State which can count on the support of a deadly weapon hidden in every city where young Muslims reside - not necessarily marginalized - with an internet connection. The terror system - as stated by Franco Iacch - is entirely developed online: the journey of faith has now become a question of Password e download that allow access to education on how to build a bomb or get the right weapon for each type of target.
The terrorists of Paris, Brussels, Dhaka and Nice have in common the fact of having acted independently, as cells more or less connected with the central base of the Islamic State which has immediately claimed the authorship of all the attacks.
Lone wolves and packs of wolves
The action of isolated individuals or groups influenced by the Islamic State or by al-Qaeda, but not directly connected to the organizations, has become the most common and dangerous phenomenon that has hit Europe and the rest of the world after the attack of the Towers twin. The reinforcement of this type of "proxy" terrorism was generated by the fragmentation of al-Qaeda that occurred after the 9 / 11 and now seems to have become the main weapon used by ISIS1. Everything is therefore attributable to a manifest military difficulty of the radical Islamist world that fails to support the military pressures put in place by the coalition.
Although the Islamic State is regressing geographically, nothing has affected its ideological force which, as for the Foreign Fighter, is an easily exportable and rapidly spreading evil. According to the analysis of Marc Sageman, immediately after the suicide bombing in New York and the start of Enduring Freedom, the attacks organized and led directly by al-Qaeda Core (the managing nucleus of bin-Laden) were just the 20% against an 54% realized by organizations or individuals that were inspired by it. With the birth of the Islamic State the phenomenon has doubled and in some cases it has also taken on a competitive trend that testifies to the perverse confrontation between the old Islamist fringe (al-Qaeda) and a new generation of jihadists (ISIL then ISIS). To tell the truth in this field the Islamic State has feared a quite clear superiority with respect to al-Qaeda. The use of online propaganda and "social networks" has always been a strength of the Islamic State which manages to maintain contact with the various sleeping cells, also providing an extraordinary database for those wishing to move towards the path of the "holy war". Investigators who dismantled the Islamist cell in Rio de Janeiro, ready to afflict the Olympics, verified that the terrorists' oath to ISIS had taken place via online procedure.
The bombers in Brussels or Paris have been called "lone wolves" because of their autonomous behavior. Raffaello Pantucci's studies on the actions of the Lone Wolves speak of causal and mixed tactics: "they always prefer bombs, groups or individuals also tend to use knives, pistols or even other simpler forms of weapons"2. Their activation is unpredictable, they do not respond to any rituality, they are sudden and lethal, nevertheless the latest events have shown an extraordinary cause / effect relationship that presupposes planning that is anything but unexpected. But the most important thing is the connection that these apparently solitary cells have with the principals, residing in other places. Also in this case, Pantucci even better cut out their profile by placing them in the category of Lone Wolfes Pack, the wolf pack3. THE Lone Wolves and Lone Wolves Pack Islamists have only the appearance of being isolated, but at the operational level they have contacts with other extremists, inside and outside the country in which they operate. Their radicalization is independent, although in many cases the martyrs have benefited from training trips to Pakistan, Afghanistan or Syria. The process of indoctrination is therefore a complex mechanism and we must not think of recruitment campaigns designed to ensnare young people in mosques, the approach often takes place outside of them, between relatives or small groups of friends4. This commonality of intent takes shape precisely in the so-called "Wolf Pack" where not only an individual, but a group of people is dragged along the path of radicalization. Potential bombers act intermingled with the community, silently working and carefully sifting through targets to hit. Marc Sageman defines them as the "third wave", referring to those who spontaneously radicalize and have the faculty of self-financing5. The attacks carried out on European soil have all been low-cost, but the most serious thing - notes Sageman - is that many jihadists have invested the money received from the public assistance of the host country as unemployed or refugees.
Replication to this type of terrorism is demanding and onerous, given the involvement of different sectors of public security, but also of the economy and the social sector. It's a big puzzle where the pieces are very small and almost always one is missing. The work done by the Intelligence is fundamental also because the only effective way to avoid these attacks is to prevent them at the root, preventing the terrorists from reaching their goal. We know, in fact, that the "lone wolves" carry out their preparatory action within a recognizable social context: and they are assiduously involved in activities that can be traced, followed and observed in the bud, within their pressure groups6.
The fight against radicalization is the subject of debate, however, given the recent events, it is clear that the European states have by now the blunt weapons and exhausted ideas. Although several EU states invest profusely funds for programs to integrate and recover degraded areas, the "indigenous" provenance of terrorists confirms that this is not enough.
Meanwhile, the Jihad wins and not only thanks to its unpredictability, but also thanks to a morbid journalism, careful to seize every moment of tragedies, duplicating its media effect. The continuous broadcasting of images of death captured by the mobile phone, the macabre dance of people fleeing or even the transmission of the family tragedy of all the victims involved becomes an appreciable gift to global jihadism. There is certainly a sacrosanct right to inform and be informed, but what we see is a senseless spot of fear, an explicit invitation not to feel safer anywhere. Here, then, is how television and bad journalism actively contribute to the realization of that stage on which terrorists seek fame, glory and applause. What happened in Munich a few days ago is the example of how i media feed the panic and may even negatively affect the work of the security forces. A message on Facebook, followed immediately by a post on Twitter they have, in fact, obliged the German police to adopt extraordinary emergency measures only to then confront a deranged eighteen year old frustrated by bullying. This too is certainly a victory for the terrorists, absent from the crime scene, but well rooted in everyone's mind.
1 M. Sageman, Confronting al-Qaeda: Understanding the Threat in Afghanistan, in "Prespectives on Terrorism", Vol. 3, Issue 4, December 2009.
2 R.Pantucci, C.Ellis, L. Chaplais, Lone-Actor Terrorism, Countering Lone-Actor Terrorism Series n. 1, RUSI, December 2015, p. 14.
3 R. Pantucci, A Typology of Lone Wolfes: Preliminary Analysis of Lone Islamist Terrorists, in “Developments in Radicalisationand Political Violence, March, 2011.
4 L.Vidino, Radicalization, Linkage and Diversity. Current Trends in Terrorism in Europe, in "Occasional Paper", RAND Corporation, Santa Monica CA, 2011, p. 7.
5 M. Sageman, Leaderless Jihad. Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century, Philadelphia, 2008, p. 140.
6 Lone-Actor Terrorism, op. cit., p. 15.