Author Topic: 22 March 2017: Attack In London  (Read 3838 times)

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Online Journeyman

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2017, 11:10:07 »
It's obvious ...mental illness....
The World Health Organization claims that "27 percent of the adult population had experienced at least one of a series of mental disorders in the past year...  35 percent of lone-actor terrorists demonstrated a potential mental-health disorder."1 That isn't a substantial deviation from the broader population.  Beyond potential 'disorders' and into full-blown 'psychoses,' in a sample of 500 terrorists, only four had "hints that they experienced beliefs that were not based in reality."2


Dismissing terrorists as crazy is both too easy, and not supported by those preferring informed opinion.


1.  Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn and Edwin Bakker, “Analysing Personal Characteristics of Lone-Actor Terrorists: Research Findings and Recommendations,” Perspectives on Terrorism, Volume 10, Issue 2, April 2016, 44.

2.  Marc Sageman, Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 84.
I even read works I disagree with;  life outside  an ideological echo chamber.

Offline Flavus101

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2017, 11:25:54 »
Yeah I think I saw that now that you mention it.  That said, there's no problem with converting to Islam per say.  It's obvious (to me, anyway) that this convert (and too many others) have some combination of mental illness combined with a very bad influence before/during/arter the conversion.

While we may use the term "mental illness" at times to justify why a person committed an act that the vast majority of people would never dream of committing, I do not believe that we are doing ourselves any favours.

I think that we have used "mental illness" way too broadly over the past few years to explain away the motive of why a bad person committed an action. I think we need to just accept that there are bad people in the world who function perfectly fine mentally (personally I think they are often much more intelligent than your average person, or at least more cunning) however their morality has strayed away from normal society and they view horrendous crimes as a legitimate method of enacting change.

When we just chalk things up to "mental illness" we are doing a disservice to the victims and to those who actually suffer from a mental illness. Often I want to just label those grown men who fantasize over My Little Pony as mentally ill. In reality they are just lost souls who are looking for some companionship and when the next "cool thing" comes around they will immerse themselves in that.

Offline jmt18325

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2017, 11:44:01 »
The World Health Organization claims that "27 percent of the adult population had experienced at least one of a series of mental disorders in the past year...  35 percent of lone-actor terrorists demonstrated a potential mental-health disorder."1 That isn't a substantial deviation from the broader population.  Beyond potential 'disorders' and into full-blown 'psychoses,' in a sample of 500 terrorists, only four had "hints that they experienced beliefs that were not based in reality."2


Dismissing terrorists as crazy is both too easy, and not supported by those preferring informed opinion.


1.  Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn and Edwin Bakker, “Analysing Personal Characteristics of Lone-Actor Terrorists: Research Findings and Recommendations,” Perspectives on Terrorism, Volume 10, Issue 2, April 2016, 44.

2.  Marc Sageman, Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 84.


I think I'm using the term a little too broadly, and I apologize.  It's not a mental illness per the definition, as much as it is a predisposition towards something.  I shouldn't have used the words mental illness. In other words, I feel that someone like this has somewhat of a predisposition towards doing something like this.  For too many people like this, Islam seems to have what they're looking for.

Offline Brihard

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2017, 11:59:15 »
Mental illness does not mean someone is not responsible for something. You can be nuttier than squirrel crap, but still understand the nature and quality of your actions - that you ARE hurting people and that society DOES consider it wrong.

Part of the issue with us flippantly dismissing these lone wolves as inevitably mentally ill is that some of our conceptions around mental illness necessarily rest on assumed norms. We assume it normal that a person has a desire to survive, and that if they desire to die, or don't care that they do, then they MUST be mentally ill. This is not necessarily the case though. It is possible for a belief system to shift a person's baseline rationality and invalidate these assumptions. If a person genuinely believes - and not in a delusional, psychotic way, but through firm ideological or religious adherence - that their individual life is subordinate to something bigger, then that can change some major underlying behavioural norms such that our assumptions don't work anymore.

Among all these 'lone wolf' attackers we'll see a few different kinds. There will be the 'radicalized losers', the generally younger ones who have been socioeconomic failures. A few years back they would have donned a trench coat and shot up a college, but still would not have found meaning to their lives or deaths. Now they can add that 'meaning' component through online self-radicalization.

Another kind are those who are already living criminal/deviant lifestyles and, similar to the 'meaning' absent the radicalized losers, they get drawn into an identity, often in the incarceral setting. This dude may have been one of thsoe.

Common factor in both of these is that they are likely recent converts, likely have a shallow if any grasp of the religion/ideology, and likely have minimal external direction. YouTube or their cell mates lead them to radicalization, but they still direct their own actions.

More rarely we have those who are externally directed- those who seek a two way interaction and who get latched onto by someone who recognizes a potential smart bomb and wants to direct them. They may have grown up in the belief system but radicalize later after an ideological shift. Rarely they may be those who have been sent to infiltrate a society from abroad and then to attack.

Mental illness may be a vulnerability factor in any or all of these, but does not suffice to explain them. Mental illness will rarely cause someone to kill, and where it does there is usually a disorganized psychosis in play.
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Offline jmt18325

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #29 on: March 27, 2017, 12:42:22 »
Brilliant post.

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #30 on: March 27, 2017, 12:43:57 »
I feel that someone like this has somewhat of a predisposition towards doing something like this.
There's very, very little evidence of any sort of a 'terrorist personality.' Radicalization is a process, not an end-state, which usually includes Group- and Individual-motivation. 

Two recurring factors seem  to be a frustration/grievance and a charismatic personality to guide the way. The grievance can meld something like "'Crusaders' oppressing the Muslim homeland" (Group) with being bullied at school (Indiv), where they are felt as part and parcel of the same problem. There is no shortage of frustrations -- nationalism, egalitarianism, anarchy, abortion; it's not just  Islamist extremism....

Add a charismatic person (Imam, online propagandist, role models, etc), who gives explanations for the disappointing world and suggested outlets for their previous helplessness. A new-found sense of purpose enhances a positive self-image, perhaps for the first time. They increasingly withdraw into a small group of like-minded people (this site is not immune to echo-chambers of ideological reinforcement), where more intense indoctrination occurs, and.....ta da.... kids blow up so young these days.


Turning to Brihard... I hate the term "Lone Wolf";  most are "stray mutts" (as you know).  Lone Wolf gives it a glamour that may appeal to "copy cat" others, and in the bigger picture, only rare cases like Ted Kaczynski qualify for the term.  Two weeks before Zehaf-Bibeau got himself 'martyred' 36 times on Parliament hill, he was a drug-addled loser with a string of failed personal and financial dealings;  suddenly.....he's a LONE WOLF TERRORIST!!!  Ooohhhhh.

But even lone actors are seldom "alone."  While being physically loners in plotting or conducting attacks, the Internet makes for their imagined community. Here, they may interact with a larger extremist community, which provides affirmation and encouragement. This reinforces their radicalization trajectory until they cross that “violence threshold” where they see themselves as combatants defending their communities (at home or abroad) in accordance with their recently-articulated grievances.

I know, tl;dr  ;)


Edit: grammar.   :'(
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 12:47:50 by Journeyman »
I even read works I disagree with;  life outside  an ideological echo chamber.

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #31 on: March 27, 2017, 12:47:52 »
... I know, tl;dr  ;)
Hard to get those nuanced shades of grey in there via Twitter-length philosophical pronouncements, though  ;D
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Offline Brihard

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #32 on: March 27, 2017, 13:59:47 »
From a security standpoint, these vehicle attacks are a bit of a game changer. They are not something we are going to be able to consistently, adequately defend against. We have a limited capacity to 'target harden' major events and the most high profile symbolic targets, but that's about it. As a front line professional in this field, in a city where this is a real concern, this is an attack pattern that I worry about.

These attacks seem to cease in one of a few ways:
- The attacker voluntarily ceases the attack to attempt to evade capture or death; e.g. Belgium a short time ago, or Berlin around Christmas.
- The driver is incapacitated with lethal force, e.g., Nice, Jerusalem IDF attack.
- The driver voluntarily exits to continue the attack by other means like knives or guns, e.g., the Lee Rigby murder.
- The driver crashes (on their own, or with help) and is unable to continue the attack with the vehicle, e.g., the attack in St Jean, Canada, or westminster, or other attacks. This seems to be the most common way the ramming stops, but often precipitates a continued attack by other means.

Stopping a vehicle attack with gunfire is unreliable. You typically won't disable the vehicle in a timely manner. Incapacitating the driver is a chancy thing at best, though quantity of gunfire has a quality of its own.

The driver voluntarily dismounting to evade, or dismounting to shoot/stab isn't an element within our control.

So, what's left that we can impact is making it more likely the vehicle will crash, or being able to pin/crash into the vehicle. A vehicle can be made more likely to crash with permanent or temporary obstacles - bollards, serpentine barricades, vehicles temporarily positioned, etc. Realistically we can only do this in a few cases.

So that leaves us at square one. Some dude goes dirka dirka in a five ton truck, we need to either stop the driver with force, or force him to dismount. This basically leaves emergency responders trying to slow the threat down with our vehicles, block/stop it with our vehicles if we have the mass/horsepower, or slow him down enough that we can shoot him in the face. All of that will take time, and if the target was chosen well, mass casualties will be basically inevitable.

EDIT TO ADD: And just so it's clear, I'm not saying anything here that isn't already broadly known and covered in the media. There's nothing secret about this vulnerability.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 14:21:42 by Brihard »
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #33 on: March 27, 2017, 15:16:29 »
Very clear explanation, and thank you for that. These attacks seem well suited to the individual or small party who wished to strike the "enemy" with maximum shock and awe, but with a variable and uncertain result in terms of casualties. The suicide bomber or not who packs a car, van or truck with explosives is the next step up the scale of horror and effectiveness. See oh so many in Afghanistan as well as the marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 and Oklahoma City for examples of actions that are almost impossible to defend against. These attacks require a degree of preparation and planning that might, I say again, might provide an opportunity for the security services to detect and forestall it before the event.

As someone slated to attend the centenary of Vimy Ridge on 9 April, I can only hope (and do believe) the security services are working overtime and are preparing for all sort of contingencies.

Offline Flavus101

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #34 on: March 27, 2017, 16:06:35 »
Thanks for those well thought out posts Brihard!

Old Sweat, I know someone going to that ceremony as well. I also trust that the security services are working hard.

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #35 on: March 27, 2017, 16:55:11 »
OS, I will be there with you in spirit.  My great uncle fell on the first day with the 10Bn, I would have loved to be there for this occasion, but alas.  Have a drink and toast to them for me while you're there please and have a safe, memorable journey.

Offline itsmylocker

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Re: 22 March 2017: Attack In London
« Reply #36 on: March 27, 2017, 17:15:13 »
There's very, very little evidence of any sort of a 'terrorist personality.' Radicalization is a process, not an end-state, which usually includes Group- and Individual-motivation. 

Two recurring factors seem  to be a frustration/grievance and a charismatic personality to guide the way. The grievance can meld something like "'Crusaders' oppressing the Muslim homeland" (Group) with being bullied at school (Indiv), where they are felt as part and parcel of the same problem. There is no shortage of frustrations -- nationalism, egalitarianism, anarchy, abortion; it's not just  Islamist extremism....

Add a charismatic person (Imam, online propagandist, role models, etc), who gives explanations for the disappointing world and suggested outlets for their previous helplessness. A new-found sense of purpose enhances a positive self-image, perhaps for the first time. They increasingly withdraw into a small group of like-minded people (this site is not immune to echo-chambers of ideological reinforcement), where more intense indoctrination occurs, and.....ta da.... kids blow up so young these days.


Turning to Brihard... I hate the term "Lone Wolf";  most are "stray mutts" (as you know).  Lone Wolf gives it a glamour that may appeal to "copy cat" others, and in the bigger picture, only rare cases like Ted Kaczynski qualify for the term.  Two weeks before Zehaf-Bibeau got himself 'martyred' 36 times on Parliament hill, he was a drug-addled loser with a string of failed personal and financial dealings;  suddenly.....he's a LONE WOLF TERRORIST!!!  Ooohhhhh.

But even lone actors are seldom "alone."  While being physically loners in plotting or conducting attacks, the Internet makes for their imagined community. Here, they may interact with a larger extremist community, which provides affirmation and encouragement. This reinforces their radicalization trajectory until they cross that “violence threshold” where they see themselves as combatants defending their communities (at home or abroad) in accordance with their recently-articulated grievances.



Edit: grammar.   :'(

There's a think-tanker whose work I have been following closely for a while, and he has written extensively on the whole 'lone wolf' thing which, I agree, is overblown. He has a piece out today that is worth reading.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-kingdom/2017-03-27/lone-wolves-no-more?cid=int-lea&pgtype=hpg