Lone wolf (terrorism)
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A lone wolf, lone-wolf terrorist, or lone actor, is someone who prepares and commits violent acts alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group. He or she may be influenced or motivated by the ideology and beliefs of an external group and may act in support of such a group. In its original sense, a "lone wolf" is an animal or person that generally lives or spends time alone instead of with a group.
Observers note the attacks are a relatively rare type of terrorist attack but have been increasing in number, and that it is sometimes difficult to tell whether an actor has received outside help and what appears to be a lone wolf attack may actually have been carefully orchestrated from outside.
- 1 Origins of the term
- 2 Current usage
- 3 Mental health factors
- 4 List of lone wolf terrorist attacks
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Origins of the term
The term "lone wolf" was popularized by white supremacists Alex Curtis and Tom Metzger in the 1990s. Metzger advocated individual or small-cell underground activity, as opposed to above-ground membership organizations, envisaging "warriors acting alone or in small groups who attacked the government or other targets in 'daily, anonymous acts.'"
Terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins of the RAND Corporation prefers the term stray dog to lone wolf. According to Jenkins, most individuals involved in such attacks "skulk about, sniffing at violence, vocally aggressive but skittish without backup". Though these individuals seem to be acting alone, there are often ties between lone wolves and terrorist organisations for example, terrorist backed online content.
The term "lone wolf" is used by US law enforcement agencies and the media to refer to individuals undertaking violent acts of terrorism outside a command structure. The FBI and San Diego Police's investigation into the activities of a self-professed white supremacist, Alex Curtis, was named Operation Lone Wolf, "largely due to Curtis' encouragement of other white supremacists to follow what Curtis refers to as 'lone wolf' activism".
The term lone wolf is used to distinguish terrorist actions carried out by individuals from those coordinated by large groups. Terrorist attacks that are carried out by small cells are not classified as lone wolf attacks. Lone wolf attacks are far more rare than attacks carried out by groups. Since 1940, there have only been around 100 successful lone wolf attacks in the United States. The number of attacks is increasing, however, and has grown each year since 2000. Lone wolves generally come from different demographics than far right attackers as well. As compared to those on the far right, lone wolf attackers who become inspired by al-Qaeda and ISIS tend to be younger and better educated. According to studies, lone wolves have more in common with mass murderers than they do with members of the organized terrorist groups that often inspire them.
While the lone wolf acts to advance the ideological or philosophical beliefs of an extremist group, they act on their own, without any outside command or direction. The lone wolf's tactics and methods are conceived and directed solely on their own; in many cases, such as the tactics described by Curtis, the lone wolf never has personal contact with the group they identify with. As such, it is considerably more difficult for counter-terrorism officials to gather intelligence on lone wolves, since they may not come into contact with routine counter-terrorist surveillance.
A 2013 analysis by Sarah Teich, a research assistant at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, found five emerging trends in Islamist lone wolf terrorism in North America and western Europe between 1990 and 2013:
- An increase in the number of countries targeted by lone wolves from the 1990s to the 2000s.
- An increase in the number of people injured and killed by lone wolves.
- Increased effectiveness of law enforcement and counter-terrorism.
- Consistency in the distribution of attacks by "actor types" (loners, lone wolves, and lone wolf packs).
- An increase in the number of attacks against military personnel.
In the United States, lone wolves may present a greater threat than organized groups, and terrorists have not been limited to Muslims. According to the Christian Science Monitor, "With the exception of the attacks on the World Trade Center, experts say the major terrorist attacks in the United States have been perpetrated by deranged individuals who were sympathetic to a larger cause – from Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to the Washington area sniper John Allen Muhammad," both native-born Americans.
Some groups actively advocate lone wolf actions. Anti-abortion militant terrorist group The Army of God uses "leaderless resistance" as its organizing principle. According to The New York Times, in news analysis of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Al-Qaeda activist Samir Khan, publishing in Inspire, advocated individual terrorist actions directed at Americans and published detailed recipes online.
Lone wolf terrorists are frequently thought to only be Muslims, however, this is not always the case. Lone wolf terrorists may sympathize with and consider themselves part of larger groups, but they are not truly a part of them. Often, the attacks are attributed to people who have a mixture of political and personal grievances. The attackers can have no actual affiliation to the group that claims them, but instead become radicalized online and through external media outlets.
A large number of terrorists determined by authorities to have been lone wolf attacks inspired by ISIS and/or its ideology, were later found to have been recruited, trained and directed remotely by ISIL to carry out the attacks.
Mental health factors
Lone wolf terrorists are highly likely to be afflicted by a mental illness. Studies have found that more than 40% of lone wolf terrorists have been diagnosed at some point in their life with a mental illness. This puts lone wolves as being 13.5 times more likely to suffer from a mental illness than a member of an organized terrorist group, such as al-Qaeda or ISIS.
Mental health challenges are thought to make some individuals among the many who suffer from certain "psychological disturbances," vulnerable to being inspired by extremist ideologies to commit acts of lone wolf terrorism.
List of lone wolf terrorist attacks
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Africa, the Middle East and Asia
- On 15 November 1988, Barend Strydom, a Christian Afrikaner, shot and killed seven people, and wounded 15 more, in and around Strijdom Square, Pretoria, South Africa. He declared that he was the leader of the White Wolves organisation, which proved to be a figment of his imagination.
- On 24 February 1994, Israeli Baruch Goldstein, a former member of the Jewish Defence League and follower of the Kahanist movement, opened fire inside the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, killing 29 people and injuring at least 100.
- On 19 March 2005, Egyptian national Omar Ahmad Abdullah Ali detonated a car bomb outside a theatre filled with Westerners in Doha, Qatar, killing a British director and injuring 12 others. Police believe he was acting alone.
- On 4 August 2005, Israeli Eden Natan-Zada, an alleged Kahanist, killed four Israeli Arabs on a bus and wounded 12 before being killed by other passengers. Natan-Zada was a 19-year-old soldier who had deserted his unit after he refused to remove settlers from the Gaza Strip. Less than two weeks later, on 17 August 2005, Asher Weisgan, a 40-year-old Israeli bus-driver, shot and killed four Palestinians and injured two others in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh.
- On 4 September 2006, Nabil Ahmad Jaoura, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, opened fire on tourists at the Roman Amphitheatre in Amman, Jordan. One British tourist died and six others, including five tourists, were injured. Police said he was not connected with any organized group but was angered by Western and Israeli actions in the Middle East.
- On 6 March 2008, Alaa Abu Dhein opened fire on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, killing eight and injuring 11 before he himself was shot dead. His family denied he was a member of any militant group, and described him as intensely religious.
- On 2 July 2008, Husam Taysir Dwayat attacked several cars with a front-end loader. He killed three Israelis and injured dozens more before being shot to death. He was not a member of any militant group.
- 22 September 2008: Jerusalem BMW attack in which a Palestinian used a BMW as a murder weapon.
- On 19 August 2010, an individual Uyghur was suspected in having planted a bicycle bomb in Aksu that killed 7 people.
- In January 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, Pakistan was assassinated by a lone wolf.
- 4 August 2014: the Jerusalem tractor attack.
- On 1 December 2014, Romanian-American Ibolya Ryan was stabbed to death in Abu Dhabi by an attacker apparently targeting a random foreigner.
- 3 October 2015: a series of knife stabbings around Israel occurred, including the Lions' Gate stabbings, this spate of attacks by lone-wolf Palestinians has sometimes been dubbed the "Knife Intifada." These occurred through the early months of 2016, then became sporadic. Social media incitement is considered as a possible cause for many of these attacks.
- During late 1991 and early 1992 in Sweden, John Ausonius, a man with right-wing sympathies shot eleven dark-skinned people, killing one.
- In February 1992, RUC Constable Allen Moore shot three Catholic men dead with a shotgun in the Belfast Sinn Féin head office on Falls Road. Moore committed suicide shortly afterwards before arrest.
- Between 1993 and 1997 in Austria, Franz Fuchs engaged in a campaign against foreigners, and organizations and individuals he believed to be friendly to foreigners. He killed four people and injured 15, some seriously, using three improvised explosive devices and five waves of 25 mailbombs in total.
- In April 1999 in London, David Copeland targeted blacks, Asians and gays with nail bombs, killing three and injuring 129. His aim was to start a race war. He was sentenced to at least 50 years and is now in a secure mental hospital.
- On 6 May 2002, in the Netherlands, nine days before elections, Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was murdered by Volkert van der Graaf, who said that he killed the politician for his having exploited Muslims as "scapegoats."
- On 11 May 2006, the Belgian student Hans Van Themsche shot and killed a Malinese au pair and the 2 year old child she was caring for, before being caught by police. He told police he targeted people of different skin color.
- On 2 March 2011, in Germany, Arid Uka shot and killed two United States soldiers and seriously wounded two others in the 2011 Frankfurt Airport shooting. German authorities suspected that this was an Islamist attack, which would make it the first deadly act of this kind in Germany.
- On 22 July 2011, in Norway, Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in two consecutive attacks. First, he killed eight people with a heavy car-bomb placed in the heart of the Norwegian government headquarters in Oslo. An hour later, he appeared at the summer camp of the Worker's Youth League, the youth organization of the Labour Party, at the island of Utøya, 35 kilometers west of Oslo. He shot for approximately 90 minutes, killing 69 people.
- In 2012, French Islamist Mohammed Merah killed seven people in the city of Toulouse. He was eventually killed after a 32-hour siege at his flat in the city.
- On 26 May 2013, in La Défense, a man stabbed soldier Cédric Cordier in the throat. Cordier was hospitalized but officials said his throat wound was not life-threatening. The man, named as Alexandre Dhaussy, was a convert to Islam.
- On 20 December 2014, in Joué-lès-Tours, France, a Burundi-born French national attacked the local police station with a knife while shouting 'Allahu Akbar'. He managed to injure three police before he was shot dead.
- On 14 July 2016, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille day in Nice, France killing 86 people.
- On 18 August 2017, Abderrahman Bouanane stabbed 10 people in the city of Turku, Finland, causing several critical injuries and killing 2 people.
- On 25 January 1993 Pakistani national Mir Aimal Kansi shot CIA employees in their cars as they were waiting at a stoplight, killing two and injuring three others. He reportedly got angry watching news reports of attacks on Muslims and stated his motive was that he was "angry with the policy of the U.S. government in the Middle East, particularly toward the Palestinian people".
- On 10 March 1993, American Michael Frederick Griffin murdered Dr. David Gunn in Pensacola, Florida, shooting him three times in the back. Reportedly he yelled, "Don't kill any more babies," just before the shooting.
- On 6 August 1993 American Neo Nazi Jonathan Preston Haynes shot and killed Wilmette, Illinois plastic surgeon Dr. Martin Sullivan, claiming that he wanted to warn the world about the coming extinction of Aryans. Haynes also confessed to the unsolved 1987 killing of San Francisco hair-colorist Frank Ringi.
- On 4 October 1993 Lynda Lyon Block and common-law husband George Sibley Jr., members of the American Patriot Movement on the run from a domestic abuse charge, shot and killed Opelika, Alabama police Sergeant Roger Motley while officer Motley was performing a welfare check on the family.
- On 1 March 1994 on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, Lebanese-born immigrant Rashid Baz shot at a van of 15 Chabad-Lubavitch Orthodox Jewish students that was traveling on the bridge, killing one and injuring three others.
- On 29 July 1994 Dr. John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett were killed by American anti-abortion extremist Paul Jennings Hill with a shotgun blast to their heads. Mr. Barrett's wife June, a retired nurse, was injured in the attack. Hill was sentenced to death by lethal injection and was executed on 3 September 2003.
- On 16 September 1994 white supremacist, anti-government extremist, and self-proclaimed assassin for the Citizens for the Kingdom of Christ Timothy Thomas Coombs shot Missouri Highway Patrol Corporal Bobbie J. Harper through the chest in the kitchen of his McDonald County, Missouri home. Colonel Fred Mills, chief of the Missouri Highway Patrol, later said he believed Harper was shot in retaliation for an incident three months earlier, when Harper and other officers arrested Robert N. Joos on charges of "simulating legal process" for serving "people's court" papers. Coombs was never caught.
- On 30 December 1994 anti-abortion extremist John C. Salvi III carried out fatal shootings at two Planned Parenthood reproductive health clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts, killing two and wounding five.
- Timothy McVeigh is often given as a classic example of the "lone wolf". McVeigh was convicted and executed for the 19 April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people and injured hundreds with a truck bomb. Though McVeigh conceived of, planned and carried out the bombing, he did not act totally alone. Terry Nichols was convicted of conspiring with him, though his involvement was limited to helping mix the fertilizer and other bomb ingredients; McVeigh had threatened to harm him and his family if he did not help.
- Between 1978 and 1995, Theodore Kaczynski, known as the "Unabomber", engaged in a mail bombing campaign that killed three and wounded 23. He threatened to continue the bombings unless his anti-industrial manifesto was published by The New York Times, which acquiesced.
- On 9 October 1995 an unknown saboteur pulled spikes from the rails and overrode the railroad's safety system near Palo Verde, Arizona, causing the Sunset Limited train to derail, killing Mitchell Bates, a sleeping car attendant, and injuring 78 passengers, 12 of them seriously. Four identical notes signed "Sons of the Gestapo" claiming to be from an anti-government, anti-police terror cell were found at the accident site. No one has been arrested for the crime.
- Between 1996 and 1998, Eric Rudolph engaged in a series of bombings against civilians in the Southern United States, resulting in the deaths of three people and injuries to at least 150 others. His targets included abortion clinics, gay nightclubs, and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Some people have called him a Christian Identity adherent, a claim Eric flatly denies in his writings.
- On 12 April 1996 anti-government white supremacist Larry Shoemake shoots eight African-Americans from an abandoned Jackson, Mississippi restaurant before committing suicide.
- Between 1996 and December 2001 anti-abortion extremist Clayton Waagner sent envelopes to more than 500 abortion providers containing a white powder and a note which said, "You have been exposed to anthrax. We are going to kill all of you. From the Army of God, Virginia Dare Chapter." For the anthrax letter spree, he received a 53-count indictment, and on 3 December 2003, he was convicted on 51 of the 53 counts, including charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, threatening the use of weapons of mass destruction, and mailing threatening communications. He was sentenced to 19 years in a federal prison.
- On 16 January 1997 anti-abortion extremist Eric Rudolph set two bombs to explode, one an hour after the first, destroying the Sandy Springs Professional Building in Atlanta, Georgia, containing the Atlanta Northside Family Planning Service. The second blast is apparently designed to injure or kill responders such as firemen, paramedics, and others responding to the first blast. Seven people are injured in the blasts.
- On 19 August 1997, self-declared sovereign citizen Carl Drega opened fire on two New Hampshire state troopers following a traffic stop, killing both of them. Drega then stole one of the officers' Police Car, drove to the office of Colebrook, New Hampshire District Court judge Vickie Bunnell, shooting her in the back when she tried to flee, then shot & killed Dennis Joos, editor of the local Colebrook News and Sentinel, as he attempted to disarm Drega after Bunnell fell. Drega then returned to his property and set his house on fire, and wounded three other law enforcement officers before being shot to death in a firefight with police.
- On 23 February 1997, Ali Hassan Abu Kamal opened fire in the observation deck of the Empire State Building, killing one and wounding six others before committing suicide.
- On 26 March 1997 Michigan Militia activist Brendon Blasz is arrested for plotting to bomb the federal building in Battle Creek, Michigan, the IRS building in Portage, Michigan, a Kalamazoo television station, and federal armories.
- On 23 April 1997 Neo-Nazi National Alliance member Todd Vanbiber is arrested with a dozen or so pipe bombs after accidentally setting off one he was building. The bombs were part of a series of bank robberies Vanbiber was carrying out to help fund the National Alliance.
- During the weekend of 2–4 July 1998, white supremacist, and member of the white separatist organization now known as the Creativity Movement, Benjamin Nathaniel Smith embarked upon a three-day, two-state shooting spree, targeting racial and religious minorities across Illinois and Indiana. Smith also shot at but missed another nine people. On Sunday, 4 July, while fleeing the police in a high-speed chase on a southern Illinois highway, Smith shot himself twice in the head and crashed his automobile into a metal post. He then shot himself again, in the heart, this time fatally. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
- On 23 October 1998 anti-abortion extremist James Charles Kopp assassinated Dr. Barnett Slepian as Dr. Slepian made his son soup in their kitchen after attending his father's funeral. The FBI notes that Dr. Slepian's assassination bears much similarity to shootings in the Rochester, New York area, and three Canadian cities during the fall of 1997, in which abortion doctors were shot in their homes. Kopp has been charged by Canadian authorities in the 1995 shooting of an Ontario, Canada doctor, Hugh Short, one of a string of Remembrance Day Shootings.
- On 29 October 1998 sovereign citizen Scott Joseph Merrill shot a county road worker in Emery County, Utah in an ambush-style attack. Merrill claimed that he acted on a commandment from God to kill the county road worker, believing this commandment to supersede Utah law.
- On 29 January 1999, white supremacist Paul Warner Powell killed 16-year-old Stacie Reed because he was angry that she had a black boyfriend. Powell then waited, for Stacie's 14-year-old sister, Kristie Reed, to come home from school. When she did, Powell raped her, slashed her throat, stabbed her, and left her for dead. Kristie survived the attack and was able to testify against Powell.
- On 3 April 1999 Neo-Nazi skinhead Jessy Joe Roten fired shots into the home of a multi-racial family in St. Petersburg, Florida, killing 6-year-old Ashley Mance and the wounding of her twin sister Aleesha and younger half-sister Jailene Jones.
- On 15 May 1999, anti-government extremist Kim Michael Cook shot & killed Palmer, Alaska police officer James Rowland Jr. during a welfare check. Authorities believe that Cook killed the officer in ambush because of his hatred of law enforcement.
- On 10 August 1999, Buford O. Furrow, Jr., a member of the white supremacist group Aryan Nations, attacked a Jewish daycare in Los Angeles, injuring five, and subsequently shot dead a Filipino American mail carrier.
- On 28 April 2000, white supremacist Richard Scott Baumhammers began a racially motivated crime spree in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which left five individuals dead and one paralyzed. Baumhammers was pulled over in his Jeep and arrested at 3:30 p.m. EST in the town of Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Baumhammers' spree lasted two hours and ran a 15-mile trail that crossed three townships.
- On 13 October 2000 Palestinian American Ramses "Ramzi" Uthman set an arson fire in the Temple Beth El in Syracuse, New York, causing extensive damage to the temple building. According to an acquaintance's testimony, after Uthman set fire to the Temple, he yelled "I did this for you, God!"
- In May 2002, Lucas John Helder placed a series of 18 pipe bombs packed with BBs and nails in mailboxes across the US, rigging to explode as the mailboxes were opened, injuring 6, including 4 mail carriers. Helder sent a manifesto to The Badger Herald of the University of Wisconsin–Madison decrying government control of our daily lives, complaining of the illegality of marijuana, and promoting astral projection as a method to reach a higher level of consciousness.
- On 4 July 2002, Egyptian-American Hesham Mohamed Hadayet opened fire at an El Al ticket stand at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), killing two.
- On 3 March 2006, Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar drove a Jeep Cherokee into a crowd of students at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, injuring nine people. Press accounts said that he "matches the modern profile of the unaffiliated, lone-wolf terrorist"
- On 28 July 2006, Naveed Afzal Haq, saying "I am a Muslim American, angry at Israel", perpetrated the Seattle Jewish Federation shooting in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, killing one woman and wounding five others.
- On 27 July 2008 Jim David Adkisson fired a shotgun at members of the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist church congregation during a youth performance of a musical, killing two people and wounding seven others. After his arrest, Adkisson said that he was motivated by hatred of Democrats, liberals, African Americans and homosexuals.
- On 31 May 2009, anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder murdered obstetrician George Tiller.
- On 10 June 2009 White Supremacist, Holocaust denier, and Neo-Nazi James Wenneker von Brunn drove his car to the 14th Street entrance of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, shooting Museum Special Police Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns when he opened the door, killing him. Two other Special Police Officers stationed with Officer Johns, Harry Weeks and Jason "Mac" McCuiston, returned fire, wounding von Brunn with a shot to the face. While awaiting trial, von Brunn died on 6 January 2010.
- On 18 February 2010, Joseph Andrew Stack III flew a small personal plane into an office complex containing an IRS office in Austin, Texas after posting a manifesto on his website stating his anti-government motives and burning his house. One person other than Stack died; 13 were injured.
- On 4 March 2010, John Patrick Bedell, a self-proclaimed Libertarian and 9/11 truther, shot and wounded two Pentagon police officers at a security checkpoint in the Pentagon Station of the Washington Metro rapid transit system in Arlington County, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. The officers returned fire, striking him in the head. He died a few hours later, on the next day, 5 March 2010.
- On 10 May 2010, Sandlin Matthew Smith set off a pipe bomb at the rear entrance of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. No one is injured in the attack, but authorities found remnants of the pipe bomb at the scene, and shrapnel from the blast was found a hundred yards away. FBI agents later learned Smith was staying in a tent in Glass Mountain State Park in northwest Oklahoma. When approached by federal and state law enforcement officers Smith drew a firearm, and was fatally shot.
- On 18 July 2010, 45-year-old convicted felon Byron Williams was stopped by a CHP officer for speeding & weaving through traffic on I-580 in Oakland, California. After being approached by the officer, Williams or the officer began firing with a handgun. As additional CHP officers arrived on scene Williams started firing an M1A .308 rifle, and the CHP returned fire, firing a collective 198 rounds from pistols, shotguns, and .223 rifles, hitting Williams multiple times in the arms & legs. Oakland police confirmed at Williams' 20 July arraignment that Williams planned to target the San Francisco offices of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the Tides Foundation. Investigators reported Williams told them he wanted to "start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU."
- On 17 August 2010, 29-year-old Patrick Gray Sharp parked his truck and trailer in front of the Texas Department of Public Safety building in McKinney, Texas about 30 miles north of Dallas. Sharp set fire to the truck, which contained spare ammunition, and attempted to set fire to the trailer, which was believed to contain an improvised explosive device. Sharp then opened fire on the building's offices and windows, on employees who were outside, and on first responders with multiple firearms. Responding police returned fire, and when they reached Sharp found him dead of a gunshot.
- On 1 September 2010, James J. Lee, an Anti-immigrant environmental activist armed with two starter pistols and an explosive device, took three people hostage inside of the Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Mr. Lee was shot & killed by police after a 4-hour standoff.
- On 2 September 2010 school bus driver and self-proclaimed member of the "American Nationalist Brotherhood" Donny Eugene Mower threw a Molotov Cocktail through the window of the Madera Planned Parenthood Clinic. After being arrested Mower also acknowledged having vandalized a local mosque.
- On 26 November 2010, Somali-American student Mohamed Osman Mohamud is arrested by the FBI in a sting operation after attempting to set off what he thought was a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting in Portland, Oregon. He was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
- On 28 November 2010, 24-year-old Cody Seth Crawford firebombed the Salman Al-Farisi Islamic Center in Corvallis, Oregon in response to Mohamed Osman Mohamud's attempted car bombing of a Portland, Oregon Christmas tree lighting.
- On 17 January 2011, a Neo-Nazi and racist with connections to the National Alliance, Kevin William Harpham, placed a radio-controlled pipe bomb on the route of that year's Martin Luther King Jr. memorial march. The bomb was discovered before it was exploded, the parade was rerouted, and the bomb defused.
- On 21 July 2011, Sovereign Citizen Joseph M. Tesi was stopped by a Colleyville, Texas Police officer for multiple traffic warrants. Mr. Tesi exited his vehicle with a gun drawn and pointing at the officer, the officer drew his weapon in response, and there was an exchange of gunfire, during which Mr. Tesi was struck in the face and foot. Mr. Tesi, a member of the Moorish National Republic Sovereign Citizen movement, had previously sent letters to the court about his traffic warrants threatening to use "deadly force" if any Police officer attempted to arrest him on his own property.
- On 1 April 2012 Francis G. Grady put an incendiary device in a window of the Grand Chute, Wisconsin Planned Parenthood clinic, causing a small fire which damaged the building but injured no one.
- On 17 June 2012 fugitive tax protester Anson Chi accidentally injured himself while attempting to blow up a Plano, Texas natural gas pipeline. Police officers find an explosive device, bomb making chemicals & equipment, and books on terrorism in his bedroom in his parents house.
- On 5 August 2012 40-year-old white supremacist and neo-Nazi Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Page took his life by shooting himself in the head after he was shot in the stomach by a responding police officer.
- On 15 April 2013, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev set off two pressure cooker bombs at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding over 260 others.
- On 1 November 2013 Paul Anthony Ciancia, aged 23, is accused of opening fire in Terminal 3 of the Los Angeles International Airport with a .223-caliber Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle, killing a U.S. Federal Transportation Security Administration officer and injuring several other people. After the shooting ended, Ciancia was found to be carrying a note stating that he "wanted to kill TSA" and describing them as "pigs". The note also mentioned "fiat currency" and "NWO", the latter likely being a reference to the New World Order conspiracy theory.
- On 13 April 2014 Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., former leader of the White Patriot Party, advocate of white nationalism, white separatism, and a proponent of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, opened fire at a Jewish Community Center and at a retirement home in Overland Park, Kansas, killing 3.
- On 6 June 2014 sovereign citizen Dennis Marx drove up to the Forsyth County, Georgia court house with a rented SUV full of improvised explosives, guns, ammunition, smoke grenades, and supplies, while wearing body armor and more explosive devices, ostensibly to plead guilty to charges of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute. Mr. Marx was spotted by Forsyth County Sheriff Deputy James Rush while the deputy was performing a routine security sweep outside the court house, exchanged gunfire with Mr. Marx, the sound of which alerted deputies within the court house, 8 of whom opened fire on Mr. Marx, killing him.
- On 8 June 2014 anti-government conspiracy theorists & former Bundy Ranch protesters Jerad and Amanda Miller shot & killed two Las Vegas police officers at a restaurant before fleeing into a Walmart, where they killed an intervening armed civilian. The couple died after engaging responding officers in a shootout; police shot and killed Jerad, while Amanda committed suicide after being wounded.
- On 11 August 2014 Sovereign Citizen Douglas Lee LeGuin started a dumpster fire in an upscale Dallas suburb, planning to occupy a house there as his own sovereign nation, opening fire on fire & police first responders before surrendering to SWAT officers.
- On 23 October 2014 in the 2014 New York City hatchet attack, a radicalized Islamic convert, Zale F. Thompson, charged at 4 NYPD officers with a hatchet. He injured 2 of them, and the two that weren't affected shot him to death.
- On 28 November 2014 self-proclaimed member of the Phineas Priesthood Larry Steve McQuilliams went into downtown Austin, Texas with firebombs, and improvised explosive devices firing over 100 shots into the Austin Police headquarters, the Federal Courthouse, the Mexican Consulate (which he also attempted to firebomb), and a local bank, before being killed by a mounted Austin Police officer with a 1 handed 312 feet shot through the heart.
- On 3 May 2015, two men fired rifles outside an exhibit featuring cartoon images of Muhammad at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. A security officer was injured and the men were killed by police.
- On 4 November 2015, Faisal Mohammed stabbed and injured four people with a hunting knife on the campus of the University of California, Merced in Merced, California. He was then shot dead by university police. Mohammad's history was put under investigation by federal authorities due to questions raised about possible Islamism inspired lone wolf terrorism. The Federal Bureau of Investigation eventually concluded that Mohammad was inspired to commit the attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
- On 2 December 2015, in the 2015 San Bernardino attack, 14 people were killed and 22 injured in an Islamic extremism-inspired mass shooting at San Bernardino, California, United States. A married couple, Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, attacked the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training event and holiday party.
- On 7 January 2016, a self-radicalized, lone wolf gunman targeted and shot a uniformed Philadelphia police officer.
- On 12 June 2016, in the Orlando nightclub shooting, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old Muslim American of Afghan descent, opened fire at the Pulse gay nightclub, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. He pledged allegiance to ISIL during the attack.
- On 17–19 September 2016, there were four bombings or bombing attempts in Seaside Park, New Jersey; Manhattan, New York; and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Thirty-one civilians were injured in one of the bombings. Ahmad Khan Rahami was identified as a suspect in all of the incidents and apprehended on 19 September in Linden, New Jersey, after a shootout that injured three police officers. According to authorities, Rahami was not part of a terrorist cell, but was motivated and inspired by the extremist Islamic ideology espoused by al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda chief propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki.
- On 28 November 2016, in the Ohio State University attack, a car ramming attack and mass stabbing occurred at 9:52 a.m. EST at Ohio State University (OSU)'s Watts Hall in Columbus, Ohio. The attacker, Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan, was shot and killed by the first responding OSU police officer, and 11 people were hospitalized for injuries. According to authorities, Artan was inspired by terrorist propaganda from the Islamic State and radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
- On 1 October 2017, Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old U.S. citizen, opened fire with an automatic weapon from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, on a crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, which was taking place near the hotel. At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 wounded from gunshots and other injuries. Paddock, who killed himself, was described by police as a lone wolf, although, as of yet, the police have refrained from describing the incident as an act of terrorism.
- On 20 October 2014, in the 2014 Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu ramming attack, the radicalized Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu citizen Abu Ibrahim AlCanadi ran a soldier down and shot another. Couture-Rouleau was, in the aftermath, shot dead by an officer of the Sûreté du Québec.
- On 22 October 2014, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau opened fire at the National War Memorial. One soldier was shot. The suspect ran to the Parliament of Canada. The suspect was then engaged in a shoot out with security and police forces.
- On 29 January 2017 in the Quebec City mosque shooting, Alexandre Bissonnette, a Political science student at the University of Laval, opened fire in the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City and killed six worshipers.
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