The Continuing Threat from Lone-Wolf Terrorists in America - In Homeland Security

In their article last month, In Homeland Security spotlighted the ongoing threat from Lone Wolf individuals, specifically sighting Cesar Sayoc who was, “…arrested in Plantation, Florida, for allegedly mailing more than a dozen homemade parcel bombs to liberal politicians and media affiliates, including CNN.”

Who Are Lone Wolf Terrorists?

“Domestic terrorists in the U.S. are usually loners who are often frustrated with their personal and professional lives. They are usually unmarried and often align with an extremist organization that they feel will understand and nurture their rage – a group that gives them a sense of belonging that they have never felt.” -- In Homeland Security

Despite this, the fact is that we don't really know who lone wolf terrorists are or will be.

We do know they often they suffer from mental illness. While they may identify with a larger terror group. they act on their own with no contact or direction from a group of any size. Lone wolves often act on beliefs or philosophies that guide known terrorist groups, but despite where their inspiration comes from, their plots are self-directed.

Examples of lone wolf attacks range from the classic Unabomber to the ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama. And while many of the widely reported on mailroom lone wolf attacks involve explosives, there are just as many chemical and biological threats.

Even hoax-threats by lone wolfs are costly to your organization causing stress for evacuated workers, continuity disruption and harm to organizational reputation in the news.

Why is this important?

Because social media monitoring is often seen as an infringement on individual rights, forewarning is limited, and organizations can be taken by surprise. Furthermore, the often classic solitary character of lone wolves hinders early detection.

Widespread use of social media and general online communication has facilitated either inspiring or educating a lone wolf in the best tactics to carry out harm.

Complacency could be costly for your organization. For the price of a stamp - the mailroom is an open door to possible lone wolf threats. It is important to take these threats into consideration for your organizations full security plan.

How do we protect our organization?

By nature, lone wolf terrorism is hard to predict. Therefore, organization’s must employ all the latest protections to mitigate all possible avenues for these types of possible threats to business continuity.

Preventing attacks by employing advanced detection devices is critical. X-ray screening is not sufficient to detect all threats, and is primarily used to detect explosives.

Additional training and specialized equipment is needed to detect targeted chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats.

Basic steps for Mailroom Safety include:

  • Put a plan in writing
  • Install correct sensor equipment
  • Train employees
  • Run practice drills

If this is not possible, consider outsourcing mail screening to a third party or sending mail to a third party screening facility.

As always, I appreciate your comments. smartin@sobran-inc.com