If you thought Islamic State had already come up with every horrific and creative way to hurt people, you were wrong.
ISIS is now campaigning and providing instructions to its “lone wolf” supporters for carrying out terrorist attacks with poisons in crowded malls, International Institute for Counter Terrorism Deputy Director Eitan Azani told a press briefing on Wednesday.
Azani made the comments along with ICT Director Boaz Ganor ahead of the IDC Herzliya institute’s conference next week on terrorism.
The deputy director described the new tactic as part of a more general trend in which ISIS is upping its push on social media for followers “to carry out jihad on enemy land, which is the opposite” of “when ISIS called for recruits to come” to Syria and Iraq.
The shift represents ISIS’s acknowledgment that it is near defeat in terms of holding territory and that its best chance to maintain influence is with foreign ISIS-inspired attacks, Azani said.
Ganor explained that ISIS-inspired attacks are situations where “the terrorist says he is with ISIS” and “ISIS takes credit for the attack,” but these are both self-serving, false claims.
In truth, with ISIS-inspired attacks, the organization provided no direct orders, guidance or planning to the terrorist and did not even know about the attack until it occurred, said Ganor.
However, both ISIS and the attacker want to capitalize on connecting to each other.
Ganor explained that part of beating terrorism is identifying how terrorists think.
He displayed photographs of terrorists in a wide variety of situations, with the sole unifying factor that “they are all smiling” because they “believe what they did was beneficial and honorable.”
Just because ISIS-inspired lone wolves evaluate their costs and benefits differently than most people, does not mean their thinking cannot be diagnosed and, one hopes, used to de-radicalize potential attackers.
Azani said that Western countries have not been smart enough in fighting radicalization in the stage before potential recruits become hardcore jihadists.
“The radicalization of attackers in Spain” connected to the recent attacks there “took a long time, but no one noticed they were getting radicalized.”