26 January 2015
The attacker in the December 2014 Sydney hostage crisis was not a ‘lone wolf’, but an amateur, part of a growing trend that international terrorist groups have encouraged. This strategy works because it uses the amateurism itself to evade standard counterterrorist practices, expands potential targets, and takes advantage of governments’ overreaction to terrorism.
Australia was shocked by the Sydney hostage crisis in December, in which a single shotgun-wielding attacker, Man Haron Monis, took hostages for 18 hours in the Lindt Café in Sydney’s Martin Place, shutting down Sydney’s central business district, and ultimately resulting in the deaths of two hostages and the attacker. During the standoff, Monis showed a flag with the shahada – the Muslim article of faith – and demanded an Islamic State flag.
As is inevitable in such attacks, the news media immediately looked for connections to known terrorist groups and, when nothing substantive was found, claimed that Man Haron Monis was an example of a ‘lone wolf’ attacker, arguably a troubled individual rather than a terrorist. But this is a flawed way of thinking about the Sydney attack and others like it. In fact, such attacks may represent a new trend in terrorism, one for which the term ‘lone wolf’ is a misnomer.
…Justin V. Hastings is Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Comparative Politics at the University of Sydney. He is a past Visiting Scholar at the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.
CENS / Online
Last updated on 03/12/2015