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New concerns about the lone wolf

The barbershop is usually a place for discussion on just about any subject. Recently, one person reflecting on tragic events both in America and in Britain suggested that we are living in times when it matters little where you are, and that one must be constantly alert for the unexpected from the “lone wolf” terrorist. It made me think a little deeper about the danger of terrorism.

Bermudians, like many other people around the world, enjoy vacations abroad, with shopping a key activity. Most of us have visited places where there was never a thought of something terrible happening that would create fear of serious harm or worse. Although many countries have stepped up security in places of entertainment and shopping centres, they are mindful of the dreaded lone wolf syndrome, which is extremely difficult to detect until it is too late.

The lone wolf is often someone with no criminal background, but who has fallen prey to evil material streaming through cyberspace put out by groups opposed to a world outside of their ideology. They seek recruits to inflict as much harm as possible to those who object to their doctrine. Perhaps the most feared group is better known as Isis, who make it no secret that the Western world is their prime target.

When a lone wolf in any country becomes radicalised, even without direct contact with the one of the world's most dangerous terrorist organisations, they become a threat because in most cases these people expect to die when they decide to commit mass murder. Police forces around the world face a mammoth task, using some of the latest technology in attempting to detect signs of plots to harm innocent citizens.

However, it is almost impossible at times to get inside the mind of someone who has been radicalised, but is able to mingle with people without revealing a trace of evil intentions.

Making it even more difficult is that there are people in every society who on the surface appear to be dangerous because of reasons unrelated to terrorism. This is why in America there is a renewed thrust to get across-the-board background checks for persons who purchase powerful military-type weapons, often with deadly consequences.

When a reporter in that country recently purchased a powerful assault rifle from a gun dealer in the space of seven minutes, it exposed once again flaws in carrying out proper checks before selling such a weapon. The exercise was carried out by a news service, and the female reporter told CNN that she had more trouble turning the weapon over to police than she had in making the purchase.

One can only wonder how many deadly weapons are in the hands of dangerous people at present through such loopholes, with the clock ticking towards yet another deadly act against the innocent. On the battlefield, soldiers usually know where the enemy is located, but a lone wolf at times could even be a neighbour. When they strike, there is seldom any notice.

With the horrors of Orlando still fresh in the memory, the brutal murder of a sitting Member of Parliament in Britain, Jo Cox, left many wondering what is happening to our world. The killing carried out in broad daylight raises questions about safety, especially from the ever-present and radicalised lone wolf, who is waiting to strike at any target.

Her death at the hands of a twisted mind out of control makes the lone wolf attacker a menace to every free society on Earth. While there are no easy answers to this dilemma, the killing of Jo Cox should at least set off alarm bells for everyone to be more alert about their surroundings, no matter how safe things may appear. It is not the way most people in a free society want to live, but unfortunately a grim reality is that terrorism has become the enemy of all who cherish peace and harmony.

What is happening to our world? floral tributes to Jo Cox lie on Parliament Square outside the House of Parliament in London (Photograph by Matt Dunham/AP)

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Published June 25, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 25, 2016 at 2:24 am)

New concerns about the lone wolf

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