In a matter of days, France and Great Britain were victims of what is commonly known as lone wolf terrorist attacks with a somewhat similar attack in the Maldives though the exact circumstances of the latter are still not that clear.
Such assaults are carried out by persons in the grip of an ideology and who are prepared to kill innocent people in order to advance a particular religious or political view.
These attacks are usually committed by a radicalised individual with simple means, usually a knife or a vehicle, and without any backup – even if, eventually, in cases where radicalised Muslims are involved ISIS often claims responsibility.
This, though, does not mean that the group’s hierarchy would have had prior knowledge of the plans, but rather expresses a form of approval of the attacks.
In the British attack, an individual who had just been released from prison due to minor terror-related offences went on a stabbing spree in a London street. In the French case, the police shot and wounded a man armed with a knife after he attacked officers inside a police barracks in eastern France. This was the second such case in a couple of months.
In October, an employee at the police headquarters in central Paris went on a knife rampage inside the building, killing four people before he was finally shot dead. He had converted to Islam a decade earlier.
Both cases continue to highlight this multifaceted threat of lone wolf attacks the and vulnerabilities and difficulties connected to them.
In the British case, the terrorist was still under surveillance and the prompt response by the police avoided a greater toll.
Although the UK authorities were fully aware of the potential danger the individual posed, legally their hands were tied.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson went on to say that he would act to stop the early release of convicted terrorists from jail,while a senior cabinet minister said that “Islamist extremist terrorists” were in a different category to other offenders and must not be released until deemed safe to be on the UK’s streets.
But this is easier said than done and there are tremendous legal challenges to overcome., Before anything else, applying legislation retrospectively to people already in prison would definitely be challenged in the courts.
Ultimately, lengthening prison sentences doesn’t solve the problem because these individuals are still going to have to come out at some point. Besides, the main challenge is radicalisation and in some cases, it is deepened further while in prison.
It is completely understandable that anxious members of the public will look for quick fixes, but the authorities should not rush into anything with the risk of further aggravating the situation. The phenomenon of lone wolf attacks needs to be confronted by a well-planned and solid strategy.