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Tuesday, November 10

"ISIS is not looking for a few good men; one crazy will do." When is an attack terrorism?

As readers know I'm against publicizing 'random' killings on the proven theory that the killers design their attacks with publicity in mind. But I think the quote I feature in the title and the report it's from to be worth study. The report, ISIS flag, radical manifesto raise questions about Calif. campus stabber's motive, by Malia Zimmerman and Hollie McKay at Fox News (November 10) wades into the long debate about when a murderous attack can be considered a terrorist act:
The California college student who stabbed four people last week was carrying an image of the black flag of ISIS according to a report Tuesday, as well as a handwritten manifesto with instructions to behead a student and multiple reminders to pray to Allah, yet authorities continued to insist Faisal Mohammad's motives had nothing to do with radical Islam.
The 18-year-old, who was killed by a campus police officer to end the Wednesday morning attack, was a loner who was incensed at being booted from a study group, according to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke. But the extreme way Mohammad dealt with his rage, the presence of the printout of Islamic State's black flag and the deadly plans spelled out in the two-page document he carried could indicate there was more to the attack than simple rejection.
"This fits exactly with what ISIS is looking for, individuals to go and do an act of terrorism unilaterally," said Patrick Dunleavy, former deputy inspector general of the New York State Police Criminal Intelligence Unit and author of the 2011 book The Fertile Soil of Jihad: Terrorism’s Prison Connection.
"The fact that he may have been kicked out of a study group does not preclude this being a lone wolf act. It only needs some sort of trigger, which could be totally unrelated to Islam, that causes him to act on his rage and attribute it to Allah."

Dunleavy likened it to the case of Alton Nolen, who allegedly beheaded a former co-worker at a food plant in Oklahoma City in 2014. While he was angry over a workplace issue, his actions were likely the result of radicalization, said Dunleavy.

"ISIS is not looking for a few good men; one crazy will do," Dunleavy said. "This is what a lone wolf looks like."
The printout of the ISIS flag was reported Tuesday by the Merced Sun-Star, citing a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity on Monday. The official also said Mohammad’s manner of dress during the attack and some of the websites he may have visited in the days leading up to the incident ultimately led local authorities to hand control of the investigation over to the FBI.
Warnke confirmed that decision, saying “new information” had been discovered on Saturday about Mohammad, who was shot and killed by police during the episode.
“I met with the FBI Saturday night and turned over copies of all evidence we’ve collected to that agency and the UC Merced police department,” said Warnke. “As far as any further investigation into any outside influence, the FBI will be handling that from now on.”
Lots more in the report.

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