Classic WhoWhatWhy: Only “Lone Wolves” Commit Terror?

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Chattanooga shootings in which nine Marines were gunned down by a 24-year-old shooter is one of a long string of such unnerving events. Early word from law enforcement suggests the attack, like so many others in recent years, is being blamed on a “lone wolf”—someone with no connection to known terrorist or other organizations. The authorities almost always assure us that such incidents are isolated, carried out by individuals who are either mentally ill or irrationally hostile to “our way of life.” Back in 2012, WhoWhatWhy Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker questioned this analysis. Examining the larger historical role such violence has played, Baker shows how certain incidents—including “false flag” attacks instigated by governments but blamed on dissidents—have radically transformed societies. His article is as relevant today as ever.